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Hello GMAT experts! Need your words of Wisdom!

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Hello GMAT experts! Need your words of Wisdom! [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2013, 14:41
Hey Guys,

Let me start with an introductions. I am a long time reader of this forum but just signed up to be a member. I am a 26y old male that spent the majority of my life in India. I have a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and came to the US in 2008 to get a Masters in Industrial Engineering with a Manufacturing focus. I went to the university of texas( arlington) and graduated in 2010 with a 3.7 GPA. Even before I graduated, I had a job with a Fortune 500 Manufacturing Giant.

I moved to North Carolina in 2010 and have been working for the aforementioned manufacturing company ever since. In a short time, I have established myself and management sees me moving into a management position in a couple of years. Since my mind has always been to go into operations management, I decided to prepare myself by getting an MBA. After researching all through 2012, I decided that the Cross Continent MBA program from Duke would be the best bet for me. I had my interview with them in Q4 last year and they seemed interested in my profile. They did however want me to take the GMAT just to strengthen my application.

I decided to pay for one of the top prep companies for the GMAT and took up a 8 week course. Throughout the classes, I seemed to be pretty strong in answering questions and was consistently getting 3 out of 4 questions right. While I did not practice too much the first month( work schedules are crazy) I took Fridays off all through Feb to prepare for my test. I took my first GMAT Prep Test on Feb 19th and scored a 650(Q 40 V 39) (Missed 4 questions in quants due to pacing). Having taken both verbal and quant diagnostics from the test prep company, I figured my weaknesses were Data sufficiency questions( Percent, exponent, geometry) and Sentence correction. So I spent one of the last two weeks before the test shoring up my strengths( I worked out the Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry manuals in their entirety). The last week before my test, I started working on Data sufficiency questions and figured out a new strategy to attack some of them.

Now comes what I feel was the biggest mistake through my prep for the test. Since work schedules did not allow me to take the entire week off, I got Thursday off( Now that I think back, it was stupid to have scheduled the exam for a Friday). Anyways long story short, I ran a practice marathon a day before the actual one. I was nervous and focused on pace rather than working on each problem. I finished the test and disaster- I scored a 630(Q 37 V 39). A 20 point drop from prep 1 even though I finished all the questions this time. I became extremely nervous and figured my attempts at improving data sufficiency did not in fact work. So I spent the rest of the day working DS problems and just before going to bed read through the sentence correction guide all over again.

D-Day:
I woke up at 5 AM. Got ready to go to the test. Then browsed my index cards and cheat sheets for about an hour and left my place at 7 AM. The test center was 10 mins away.So I reached there way ahead of my 8 AM start time. Went through the security checks and started my test at 8. The AWA session went okay. It was a really boring topic and since it was such a dry topic, was hard to pick on points to shoot the author with. I still managed to figure it out, used my standard template and finished the section a min before time ran out.

Then moved to IR. Once again started with a really long paragraph with two data tabs. For some reason( maybe because I was nervous) I was skimming through the text. Then read the question and had to go back and read it again( did not pay attention the first time around). This had 3 questions to go with it. I found myself going back to the tabs more than I normally did in my practice tests. I worked through the questions and ran out of time when I came to the 11th question. Ended up missing the last one.

Took the option break and ate a banana, drank some water and talked to myself that it was going to be okay. I got into the Quant section with this mentality. The first few questions were problem solving and i was getting the answers pretty quickly( under 2 mins) and seemed to be getting them right. Then a couple of rate problems. Then came my achilles heel- DS. I get one question answer it, get another one that was seemingly harder got it too, then one more harder?, then I am thinking Am I doing well or it is giving me more of these because I am screwing it up. After answering about 8 DS questions, I got taken to what I thought was a simple geometry question( I actually was getting Geometry questions at 95% hit rate during my study sessions). So without putting too much thought into it, I moved on and kept working problems which for some reason didnt seem challenging enough plus I had not encountered a Combinatorics or Probability question yet. Until question 32 or so which is when I saw one( nothing too complicated). I finished the quant section a min ahead of time and moved on to Verbal.

Verbal went the okay( never been able to say if I was doing well or not.) and I was more interested in finishing the test and seeing my score than actually spending time on each question to apply my strategies. I found myself skimming through RCs once again. I did get to a couple of really hard CR questions in the middle( method, Inference, plan etc) that I thought meant I was doing really well. This gave me some confidence because I thought that this could help me overcome my quant mistakes. I finish the exam, click on Submit score since I figured I did decently enough and BOOM! The test score pops up; I feel a drop of sweat roll down my forehead; Q 37 V 37 TOTAL 620. I was shocked. At the same time figured that I may have screwed up somewhere in the last two weeks of my prep. By the time I walked out of the test center, I had already decided that I was better than this and I would retake the exam within the next month.

So here I am. 1 month to go for my application deadline. Plan to write take my second attempt right before applying. Target still remains 700+. I remember my instructor giving us an example of Tiger Woods- How he would change his swing every so many years and every time he changed his swing, he would take 3 months before he got it all right again. I think I changed my swing too close to the test. So I am going to spend the next month getting to that magic 700.

Here is what I have in mind.

1. Perform a SWOT analysis.
2. Create an error log
2. Spend 2-3 hours a day working on weaknesses( Plan to use my test prep material I paid out of my nose for, MGMAT practice tests, GMAT club problems)
3. 1 practice test every saturday.
4. Spend Sunday reviewing the SWOT and update according to Error logs and practice test results; Draft plan for the following week.
5. Repeat for 4 weeks.
6. Take GMAT- Hit 700+( hopefully)

Here is where you come in. I want you to use your expertise and GMAT cracking powers to shoot holes in my plan, suggest additions, suggest a whole different plan or just give me tips and tricks to get to that 700. I have seen enough good threads in this forum that I hope to hear great responses from the members here. Thanks in advance for any advise you can provide.

I will be posting frequent updates on this thread on my progress so hopefully one day this thread will turn into a guide for future GMAT takers who find themselves in the same position as me.
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Re: Hello GMAT experts! Need your words of Wisdom! [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2013, 16:54
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Hi BlueDevil,

You should definitely not schedule your exam on a Friday. We recommend scheduling a Monday (take off Friday if you can) - or take it on Tuesday (in which case you would take off Monday). That would give you several days in a row to prepare mentally and review everything in studied in the past month or so.

Interesting, earlier today we received a video testimonial from someone similar to you - Indian male applicant from North Carolina - at first I thought you were the same person. But clearly your story is different.

Doing a full length practice test on a Saturday morning is a good idea. Then spend the rest of the day reviewing your mistakes there. We recently released a beta diagnostic here: http://www.gmatpill.com/official-guide-gmat

Feel free to use this online error log to keep track of your progress: http://www.gmatpill.com/gmat-practice-test/

Do NOT let IR affect your psychology because the main show begins with Quant and Verbal. So if you don't finish IR - so be it. Just move on and focus when it actually matters.

Based on your score, I would focus my prep first on DS and then on PS. Quant seems to be your bottleneck at the moment.

If you travel a lot and would like to maximize your GMAT study efficiency on-the-go, be sure to download GMAT apps (including the GMAT Pill app) to help you along the way.
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Re: Hello GMAT experts! Need your words of Wisdom!   [#permalink] 11 Mar 2013, 16:54
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