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GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!!

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GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2010, 12:14
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Hi everyone,

I've used this forum a bunch of times for random answers to questions and to read through other people's debriefs . . . so I wanted to add my own. Hopefully my experience can help you through studying.

A few background facts about me:
-I am not a good standardized test taker. I first got an 1190 and then a 1240 on my SATs (clearly nothing remarkable) - so I was nervous about facing this thing. However, my biggest weakness is vocab, so I was glad to learn that there was no vocab on the gmat.
-I also took the GRE (I ended up changing life plans) about 6 months before I started studying the gmat. I didn't put nearly as much prep work into that test, but I know I started out with something of math foundation that not everyone starts with (I got a 580 verbal and a 730 math on my GREs - but for those not familiar, the verbal on the GREs is harder and the math is easier).
- I work a lot of hours (55+) so I knew this was going to be difficult. I ended up getting up an hour early each morning. I know that this approach isn't for everyone - but if you work a demanding job, you know how difficult it can be to leave work at a decent time . . . and then you can be stressed, tired, etc. Starting in the morning allowed me to guarantee myself at least one hour of study time per day.

I took the test today (January 4, 2010). I began preparing for this around the beginning of October. I bought a book by the Princeton Review and another book by Barron's. Both COMPLETELY worthless if you plan to score above 600. I read through them and realized that I needed help . . . so I enrolled in Manhattan Gmat's course. My course started on 10/17/2009. Right before I began my course, I took one of the official gmat tests and got a 650 - so I was fairly happy with that base (I think that base was primarily due to my previous GRE studying), but I wanted to score above a 720.

First month or so:
90% of my time was spent going through MG's prep books. Most of these are really good. As everyone states, their sentence correction book is unparalleled. However, I also think that their number properties book is amazing. I think that over 50% of the test questions can be answered from just really really learning this book.

Second moth or so:
Really upped my intensity. Started working on the gmat club tests (those things are REALLY hard). Did terribly on most of them. I worked through 19/25 of them - I would HIGHLY recommend these tests with two caveats:
1. Do not, do NOT, become discouraged if you score badly. For a few of them, I got in the 32% or something . . .
2. Not every problem on there is realistic. There are soem problems that have ridiculous computations; some DS problems violate the basic rule of ds (the statements contradict each other sometimes).
The huge benefit of these problems is that they challenge you to focus on very difficult quantitative problems. My suggestion would be to give them a shot and then honestly assess your weaknesses. Maybe the problem is way off base, but maybe you can learn something from it anyway? Anyway, that's how I approached these.

These were taken over the three months - here are my MG test scores (about one every two weeks):

1. 660 (44Q, 36V)
2. 700 (46Q, 39V)
3. 650 (43Q, 36V) - I had to do a lot of soul-searching after this one
4. 700 (46Q, 39V)
5. 710 (46Q, 41V)
6. 710 (47Q, 40V)

Last month:
Kept plugging away at MG test and gmat club tests. I took the second official practice test two weeks before test day - got a 750 (49Q, 42V) - was REALLY happy with that score - so my mission was to not go downhill from there.

In the last week or two - mainly just reviewed. Did almost all the OG problems above like 600 or so level. Went through my 500+ notecards, etc.

Test day:
Went to sbucks in the morning - went through a few OG problems; went through some of my critical notecards. Drank coffee. Tried to prepare myself for any potential score. Went to the test center, took the test. AWA was as-expected. Math had some screwy problems - I'm guessing some of these were test problems, but who knows. It also felt like I was getting a wide range of problems. Some of the problems felt really easy and some were very very difficult. And then I made a stupid (stupid!) mistake on the last one and got it wrong - I was so pissed. Anyway, took a break, came back and did verbal. SC was a little easier than I thought it was going to be - logic was a little harder. Although, overall, my verbal went up 2 (from my official practice test) and my math stayed the same - so it could have just been the harder questions. After taking the test, I felt worse than I had felt from my practice tests. If I had to guess, I was going to guess that I scored around a 700-720 - not awful (I wasn't going to cancel my score) - but I felt a little disappointed. When I clicked to see the actual score, my face just beamed. I was so happy (still am!).

A few notes about the actual test center:
- I went to the one in Herald Square (NYC). They are REALLY strict. You CANNOT study in the room. So if you want to review things, I suggest going to starbucks or something beforehand.
- If you are not a US citizen, BRING YOUR PASSPORT. The guy in front of me didn't know that rule and he wasn't able to take the test - I felt so bad for him.

Overall notes (I'm almost done I promise)
1. Notecards, notecards, notecards. I didn't keep an error log (I'm not that organized of a person). I know this would drive some people crazy - but it didn't bother me. But I did make over 500 notecards. I read them in the subway, while waiting for people, before I went to bed, while cooking . . . etc.
2. I would recommend that you focus on SC earlier. I think my verbal score went up by 2 in the last two weeks b/c I realized how weak I was in SC. In the beginning, when I was scoring in the mid-30's on my verbal, the SC questions were not that hard - so I was not missing them disproportionately. However, when I improved my reading comp and CR (not that hard to improve), I should have spent more time on SC accordingly.
3. To take an official course or not. I really liked Manhattan Gmat. I felt like the courses were targeted for people trying to get around 680-720. However, for me, this was really good in that it gave me a solid foundation and then I used gmat prep, etc. to make up the extra difference. Regardless of whether you take an official course, I would highly recommend almost all of their books (biggest exception is geometry - missing a lot of key pieces). They also give you weekly tutoring appointments with your class - I happened to get one guy over and over (Horacio) - who was amazing and really helped me with stuff.

Alright, I'm done - going to go take a nap!

Wanted to share with everyone - thanks to everyone who has posted and helped me through this thing. Let me know if you have questions now that I'm on the other side of the fence.

Daniel

Last edited by danielduq on 04 Jan 2010, 13:15, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2010, 12:42
danielduq,

Congrats on your great score; what a way to kick New Year Off!
ATB for your apps
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2010, 12:53
Congrats danielduq! That's a great improvement. Thanks for the good debrief.

Good luck with your apps.
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 05 Jan 2010, 17:08
Congratulations!
I keep imaginning my face after seeing the results on the monitor ;) I have 25 more days to go!
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 00:58
Hey Daniel,

Awesome post and tips! Congrats :)

I don't think I ever read a debrief that shared a lot of things in common with me and thus, making this read much more personal and enjoyable.

First off, I only scored 1190 (690 Math, 500 Verbal) on my SAT as well. I couldn't get around to studying all that vocab. Second of all, I'm currently enrolled in MGMAT in-person prep course and just recently took the first DIAG, I scored a 660 (44Q, 36V). I hope that I can get the same GMAT score as you when I take the test :P

I just got a couple questions.

How long after the MGMAT prep course did you take the exam? Did you follow MGMAT's recommended 2-4 week timeframe?

What did you put on your notecards? My MGMAT instructor told us to put down OG problems we were having trouble with. I'm using the Study Organizer/OG Tracker btw.

You mentioned that CR/RC wasn't hard to improve on. Did you follow MGMAT's strategy of diagramming? It seems to me when I do this, I waste a lot of valuable time. Takes me like 5 minutes to read/diagram an RC.

Also, you said you caught your weakness in SC pretty late? What did you do? Read the SC guide again?

Any other tips?

Thanks. Sorry for all the questions. I'm just trying to streamline my approach with yours :-D
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 04:37
Congrats! One of the best scores I've seen here
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 09:02
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Hey back - that's funny, definitely a lot of similarities!

I added responses below:


akuma wrote:
Hey Daniel,

Awesome post and tips! Congrats :)

I don't think I ever read a debrief that shared a lot of things in common with me and thus, making this read much more personal and enjoyable.

First off, I only scored 1190 (690 Math, 500 Verbal) on my SAT as well. I couldn't get around to studying all that vocab. Second of all, I'm currently enrolled in MGMAT in-person prep course and just recently took the first DIAG, I scored a 660 (44Q, 36V). I hope that I can get the same GMAT score as you when I take the test :P

I just got a couple questions.

How long after the MGMAT prep course did you take the exam? Did you follow MGMAT's recommended 2-4 week timeframe?

Yes. My course finished on December 19 and I took the test on Jan 4. If anything, I thought that was too much time - I think if you put in a lot during the course, you should be ready in two weeks.

What did you put on your notecards? My MGMAT instructor told us to put down OG problems we were having trouble with. I'm using the Study Organizer/OG Tracker btw.

Anything and everything. For SC, I would put a lot of idioms. For math problems, I would try and put just the piece I didn't understand . . . i.e. if there were five steps, I didn't put all five if I got steps 3-5.

You mentioned that CR/RC wasn't hard to improve on. Did you follow MGMAT's strategy of diagramming? It seems to me when I do this, I waste a lot of valuable time. Takes me like 5 minutes to read/diagram an RC.

Ehhhh. I tried it - I think it helped me learn. I probably used it once on the actual test. I do think it's good practice b/c it makes you go through the critical aspects - but I think it's best to phase out of that as you get closer to the actual test. Just my opinion.

Also, you said you caught your weakness in SC pretty late? What did you do? Read the SC guide again?

It's funny. I got a tip from my brother (English major in college, really smart). When I went back to PA for Christmas, we were doing a few SC together - he obviously had no prior training in these questions and kept getting them right. I was like, wtf? How are you getting all these? His tip was just look at the verb. I think I always tried to focus on 10 different things - but he's right. If you focus on the verb, you can generally eliminate 2-3 answers right off the bat. I used this during the test and I think it really helped.

Any other tips?

My only other tip - which I should have posted above - is to not get too hung up on any one particular MG math question. Some of their test questions require like 50 steps and 10 minutes. You'll never see something like that on the GMAT.

Good luck!

Daniel

Thanks. Sorry for all the questions. I'm just trying to streamline my approach with yours :-D
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 10:37
Congrats...Great score
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 15:25
Congrats Daniel. Great score and very helpful review.
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2010, 16:32
Great improvement!
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2010, 02:07
Congrats..great improvement there..nice to read the debrief
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2010, 07:18
danielduq wrote:
Hey back - that's funny, definitely a lot of similarities!

I added responses below:


Thanks a lot Daniel. I appreciate the help!
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2010, 08:09
Daniel,
Congrats! for the GMAT score and All the very best and best wishes for your Apps.. your Debrief was Very helpful.

How ever i have a little Suggestion.

while answering Akuma's Question reg. SC you indeed mention about Focus on the Verb and suggested by that way you can Eliminate 2 or 3 choices?
Assuming this Focusing on the Verb means... Focus on the Verb in the Answers choices or on the Packages say make a note about the Verb while you gaze through the Passages.

Really appreciate if you post if you could explain us with a good example may be 1 or more SC's Questions. I am sorry being a Botheration but any simple Tip with good Explaination will help as all.
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!! [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2010, 09:24
Congrats... great score.
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Re: GMAT summary: 650 to 760 (49Q, 44V)!!!   [#permalink] 08 Jan 2010, 09:24
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