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GMAT Strategy: 770 in 2 months

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GMAT Strategy: 770 in 2 months [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 13:57
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Hi all,

Haven't posted much, but I've definitely gotten a lot of inspiration from the stories posted here, so I thought I'd share my own GMAT experience.

Test date: 7/28/2012
Official score report: 8/14/2012
Q - 49 (83rd percentile)
V - 48 (99 percentile)
AWA - 6.0 (90th percentil)
IR - 8 (93rd percentile)
Total - 770 on the first try!!

Background: I double majored in English and Political Science, and am looking to do a JD/MBA. Took the LSAT last summer and will start law school this month; applying as a 1L for the same university's b-school. Am generally stronger on verbal (as evidenced by the LSAT) but am quick on my feet with quant, especially as I have extensive experience tutoring the SATs/other standardized tests. Obviously the GMAT is different and more difficult in many ways, but I was able to apply many of the tips I teach for other tests on the GMAT. A lot of it also had to do with being mentally prepared: quant, for example, only tests high-school level math, but in a very tricky way. Practice with the tricks and be absolutely solid on the basics, and it's very possible to get a good score.

Strategy:

1. Practice tests: I studied for the GMAT for about two months (discarding the time I took a GMAT cold a few months ago, just to see what it was like). While I skimmed and did problems from the OG (12th ed.) I concentrated on building up stamina on actual exams, which I tried to take every 1-2 weeks to begin with, and every 2 days when it got closer to the test. I would always practice test in a simulated environment (get up around the time I would for the real test, eat bfast, get in a routine, etc.).

Practice test score progression:
12/20/2011: MGMAT 1 - 710 (47Q, 40V) -- first test, done cold
6/16//2012: GMAT Prep 1 - 760 (49Q, 46V)
6/23/2012: Princeton Review - 790 (51Q, 48V)
7/9/2012: MGMAT 2 - 780 (51Q, 45V)
7/13/2012: Veritas Prep - 730 (51Q, 42V)
7/20/2012: MGMAT 3 - 750 (48Q, 45V)
7/22/2012: MGMAT 4 - 740 (47Q, 45V)
7/24/2012: MGMAT 5 - 760 (49Q, 45V)
7/26/2012: MGMAT 6 - 780 (51Q, 45V)
7/27/2012: GMAT Prep 2 - 760 (50Q, 42V)

2. The GMATClub Toolkit app (for iPad/iPhone) is great for training with distractions: While the problems weren't necessarily all very hard, there was a good variety, and it was useful to be able to download more questions from the Gmatclub forum. It was great to get some quant/verbal exercise in during train transits, lunch, etc - you rack up a lot of hours doing problems during little breaks, and it was also a perfect way to practice doing problems even with distractions. I know people say that it's important to not be distracted, wear headphones, etc, but sometimes you just can't help those sorts of things happening during your test -- and because you're nervous, you're even more likely to be distracted by little things than you usually are. Using the GMATClub Toolkit on the subway or elsewhere was therefore perfect -- I could learn to get into test mode even with tons of loud noise around, and it definitely paid off on test day (no distractions even without headphones - I don't think I even noticed anyone leaving the room once).

3. Cross-training with the LSAT for verbal: This obviously isn't for everybody, but it's great for people who want to bring their verbal scores up. The LSAT is like a more difficult version of the GMAT Verbal: it has one reading section, two critical reasoning sections, and one logic games section (which can be ignored when prepping for the GMAT). For those who have some trouble and want a ton more practice on the CR questions, the LSAT is absolutely great -- one practice LSAT will have about 50 critical reasoning questions, and doing them in a row will really strengthen your ability to focus and concentrate on what to look for when you approach critical reasoning. I've attached a sample LSAT to this post in case anyone wants to see what I mean - the questions in the reading section and in the critical reasoning line up with the GMAT pretty well. If you absolutely want to be solid on the GMAT verbal, practice a ton and be ready for everything in all possible permutations (the LSAT has a larger variety of CR questions, so I was ready for anything the GMAT could throw at me).

4. Know the basics by heart: this is particularly true for quant. Once I remembered the basics of any math problem, I could almost always solve it (although timing was difficult to pin down, at first - until I got over my fear of skipping/guessing on questions once the 2-min/question limit elapsed)-- but a ton of practice helped me apply the basic rules to as many permutations as possible, and as quickly as possible. In terms of the sentence completion, always go back to the basics of grammar: The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White - you can find it on Amazon) is an incredible grammar resource, as well as a great general reference if you're writing any sort of essay -- including an application. If you know all of these rules and can apply them to your own writing, the GMAT sentence correction seems much, much easier.

Hope these resources help!
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Re: GMAT Strategy: 770 in 2 months [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2012, 08:59
Hey congrats,thats a great score!!
What kind of questions did u encounter during the exam,especially in quant.Which topics u feel one should stress more on in quant?
Were the questions at same level of difficulty as seen in GMATPREP?

Thanks,
Shreera
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Re: GMAT Strategy: 770 in 2 months [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2012, 17:45
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I don't think there was anything specific stressed in quant, outside of the ordinary (a few complicated geometry or combinations problems toward the end, mostly algebra and arithmetic). I didn't keep track of time as much as I should have, and stressed over one or two problems, and that brought down my score because I had to guess on a few at the end, but the difficulty level was not very different from GMATPrep - and maybe a touch easier than MGMAT, on the whole.
Re: GMAT Strategy: 770 in 2 months   [#permalink] 16 Aug 2012, 17:45
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