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Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730!

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Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 10:35
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Hello GMAT Clubbers,

I took the GMAT today for the second time and am very proud of my 730 Q48/V42 score!!
This is a going to be a rather detailed post, because I feel that I need to give back to the many contributors of the forum. I looked for hope many times here and dreamed about the day when I would write about my success too :-D

My journey:
It has been a very long journey since I started to study the GMAT. Non English native speaker and with a background that did not prevail anything good in quant, I expected the GMAT to be tough and therefore decided to start studying a year ago in August even though I was not planning to apply to business school for another three years. I just wanted to make sure that I took enough time to do it right, but I sure never thought it would take out a year of my life!

I studied on and off for the first 4 months and started an intense study schedule at the beginning of 2010 with the objective to take the test in March/April. I took it for the first time in April and obtained a very disappointing 570! This score wasn't representative of my actual level, which was about 640, but everything got ruined on test day because of a very high level of stress that made literally sick a few days before and until the test day.
Massive lesson learnt here: I shouldn't have booked the exam without being certain that I can reach the level aspired (my goal was 710). The only reason I booked the test was because I was so tired of working on the GMAT, I had been working about 3 hours per working day (after and before work) + 10 hours per weekend. I sacrificed my everything for the GMAT and all I wanted was to get my life back! Pressure was too high and I realized that I wasn't ready yet two weeks before the test, so stress won me over...

I took me about two weeks to recover from the test, I felt so down and ashamed of my score. When studying for the GMAT, I had had many ups and downs, as everyone does, but this one took me down badly. Yet, I couldn't let my story with GMAT finish with such low score, so I built a retake plan with the fundamental rule 'work hard but don't forget to live', which I did fro May onwards.

At the end of July, I felt that I was getting close to my dream score (710) but needed an additional push. So I decided to work with a private tutor. At this stage, a group class would have been a waste of time, I just needed specific coaching on my weaknesses. I worked with a tutor that I found via gmatix.com for a few sessions, mostly on quant, my main weakness. It helped me a lot to grasp concepts that I had issues with and also boosted by confidence. When the G day arrived, I knew that I had done everything I possibly could have and felt much more comfortable than the previous time.

My prep:
I went through many different phases of work. During the first 4 months, I focused on getting up to speed on the quant, I really had to learn everything from scratch (even had to learn how to make a division...). Once my math level was acceptable, I started to work with the Manhattan GMAT books, which I highly recommend for getting good GMAT basics. I based all my practice on the OG guide version 12 and the two small quant and verbal versions, it goes without saying that this is a must on the book list.

During the four months before my first test, I continued with the same tools and took many practice tests with MGMAT. I also highly recommend their test for their difficulty level and closeness to the real GMAT, most high level questions are actually too high but that makes it good practice.

My retake strategy was to focus on my weaknesses and really tackle them. As everyone advised, I was keeping track of my weaknesses and had a clear idea of what they were, but my mistake was to assume that these areas/topics were too hard for me anyway, so I didn't really spend on fixing them. In May/June, I choose one topic per week, reviewed the concept thoroughly and practice as much I could until I am sure to get it. I also took many full length practice tests to get me used to focusing for 4 hours, as this was a main weakness. My study material remained the same, no need to use 10 different books, the important is to pick them right. Only for one week before the exam, I studied with Kaplan 800, which was a big push in terms of difficulty but also a big confidence booster because I didn't bad at all with it!

My tips:
- everyone says it, because it is so true: PRACTICE as much as you can!
- track your weaknesses and then work on each of them to ensure they are no longer weaknesses (by the way, we will always have weaknesses on the GMAT, as the level get harder as you go through it)
- be also aware of your behavioral weaknesses (just came up with the word): although it is good to know that you are weak in geometry, inequalities.... it is crucial to know whether you mess up a questions because if stress, timing, lack of focus, fear...
- take your time to study, don't rush into taking the test without being sure that you can reach the aspired level
- stay positive and don't be discouraged because of low practice test scores or low real test scores, everything is possible, it is just a matter of time and hard work

The last thing that I would like to say is that everyone can do it, no matter what their background is. When I was a kid and until not so long ago, everyone told me that I was no good in math and unable to deal with numbers. I thought that too, and when I got my 570 I really thought that I was not good enough, I thought many times about giving up on my MBA dream. In the end, I told to myself that I could at least try to get a 680...
But here I am today, after a lot of hard work and positivism I lifted my level to 730 :shock:

If I can, you can!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 21:19
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Congratulations for the great score!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 10:46
Congratulations!

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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 12:04
Congrats dude, great jump. Do you mind sharing your practice scores ?
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 12:11
nifoui,

Congratulations on the improvement. Your experience is inspirational.

thank you!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 12:16
Awesome score and improvement, very inspiring debrief thanks for that, and kudos to you
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 13:26
Thanks guys!

Below are my practice tests scores, pretty much from the beginning to two weeks ago...

Manhattan GMAT 520 (Q33/V29)
Manhattan GMAT 580 (Q37/V33)
Manhattan GMAT 520 (Q27/V35)
GMAT Prep 1 590 (Q36/V35)
Manhattan GMAT 600 (Q37/V35)
GMAT Prep 1 660 (Q43/V38)
Manhattan GMAT 620 (Q39/V35)
Manhattan GMAT 580 (Q37/V33)
GMAT Prep 1 690 (Q44/V40)
Manhattan GMAT 640 (Q40/V37)
GMAT Prep 1 710 (Q43/V44)
GMAT Prep 2 660 (Q44/V38)
GMAT Prep 2 660 (Q46/V35)
Manhattan GMAT 640 (Q44/V34)
GMAT Prep 2 680 (Q44/V39)
Real GMAT 570 (Q36/V31)
Knewton 590 (Q38/V35) - I strongly do not recommend to use this test, too difficult, not realistic score
Manhattan GMAT 670 (Q44/V37)
Manhattan GMAT 670 (Q44/V37)
Manhattan GMAT 600 (Q36/V36)
Manhattan GMAT 710 (Q44/V42)
GMAT Prep 2 730 (Q47/V42) - two weeks before today's test, felt good ;)
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2010, 13:38
nifou,

I really wish I had your tenacity. I noticed there was a gradual improvement in your Q scores.

It's also important that you peaked at the right moment. Did you prepare any flashcards that you might be willing to share with us?

enjoy the moment.
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 17 Oct 2010, 08:21
thankss
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 18:45
Impressive story. It's fascinating to watch the scores over time.
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:00
Awesome score nifoui ! I bet you will be applying to LBS. I see your scores are pretty much around 670. And yet your final score is 730 - that's brilliant! So my friend please let us know if you sat there to score just 700. Because I have seen people who sat there to score 800 and barely got 590. Is this because of the peer pressure ? The rule of the game is let the game show you around, not you ! Not trying too hard is the best way to land a big score. Am I correct? Free up your mind ! Isn't that works the best in a psychological trap?

Plus if you could elaborate the verbal strategy then that be great! Did you study Verbal or you just managed it in the last few days since you said its not your defense - quant was the area that you needed help.

One last question - I bet Manhattan 670 is best to get you around in 700 dot. Nothing more nothing less - is that correct?

Manhattan GMAT 670 (Q44/V37)
Manhattan GMAT 670 (Q44/V37)
Manhattan GMAT 600 (Q36/V36)
Manhattan GMAT 710 (Q44/V42)
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:34
Expert's post
Congratulations - fantastic improvement!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 21:18
that's awesome!! Great improvement!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 04:23
congrats!!! very inspiring debrief....

i recently took Knewton and got a worse score 490 ( 35 Q, 24 V)

i had 16 Q's wrong in quant n 14 wrong in verbal... after ur point on knewton , i am little relieved that it might not be my score...

can you please tell how difficult were the RC, SC and CR q's when compared to OG individually. esp , the difficulty of RC when compared to OG as you have taken the gmat recently.

Also, did you guess any q's in verbal or you had time for all the 41 q's

thanx in advance ... looking forward for ur response...
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 07:37
awesome job. congrats!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2010, 05:21
Thanks for your feedback. My test is in a few days, I think I worked a bit too hard and I am burned out. I'll chill out a little.

Thanks for reporting your mgmat test results. They are rather close to mine, so I feel confident with my final outcome.
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2010, 10:59
hi!!!
first of all well done and respect for the score of 730!!!! its true the gmat is a mental thing too, you have to be mentaly strong to restart after a delusion!!! very important is the motivation to face the gmat, with the right motivation you can go far!!!
very good story with a great happy end!!!
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2010, 21:16
What an inspirational debrief!!!

Well the thing which worked for you seem to be knowing your weakness area and then working on it.

Normally lot of people are unable to recognize their weakness area and even some recognize its difficult to work and convert it to positive or strength.
Congrats on your super score and I owe kudos for ur debrief...:)
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 23 Oct 2010, 10:28
Hey guys,
For some reason, I wasn't notified of replies on my post... so I'm seeing questions only now. Let me reply, hoping it's not tool late!

akaydee asked a while ago whether I made flashcards, I did a little bit at the beginning but didn't end up using them much. I mostly used a lot of the information available on this site actually, some great post about specific subjects were on my favorite's folder.

Interesting questions nusmavrik. My aim was 710 when I started to study, seeing my scores I reduced the goal a bit and thought i'd be happy with a 690 or so. The pressure of the score did have a huge impact on me and that is what made me fail my first test so miserably. I think it is important to not aim too high and keep in line with current abilities, otherwise the whole experience is so stressful and feels impossible.
I actually spent some time on the verbal part, although not as much as the quant. I particularly needed to improve on CR, my best take for that is the LSAT logical reasoning bible. Very thorough book that really made my CR skills improve.
Regarding MGMAT, I felt that the tests were very hard, especially in the quant section and actually I was afraid of MGMAT tests. I think that pressure made me score less on them, so I wouldn't really say that MGMAT is good for 700 only. I do recommend however Kaplan 800 for high score, toward the end of study, it pushes your limits hard.

srivicool - don't worry about Knewton... and also see how my scores went down sometimes. We all have ups and downs about the GMAT and that's what makes it hard to keep up and not give up. But really, don't give up!
I tought RC in the real GMAT was very comparable to OG and GMAT Prep ones, not easier nor more complex. Same for CR, but I found SC questions longer and trickier, although that might very have been only because I was reaching a very high verbal level. I think I guessed the last 2 verbal and quant, not enough time for all. I assumed that it is ok to guess very few questions at the end if it enables you to take more time on harder questions and make your score go up.

Keep up the motivation, most of the GMAT happens in mental strength and persistence.

Now back to my essays to B-schools.... :)
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730! [#permalink] New post 23 Oct 2010, 10:46
After looking at your Mgmat and Gmat scores, I m hoped I may also crack 730.

Your verbal score is fantastic !! :P
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Re: Happy end to the long journey from 570 to 730!   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2010, 10:46
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