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How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months!

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How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 03 May 2011, 13:32
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This is one story I can never get tired of telling. It has motivated many souls and have changed many lives in small or big ways. It’s not about getting a 770 really, but what it is about is chasing your dreams which teaches you to why failures are the first step towards success.

A Little Background

Life was good when I was doing my engineering at IIT Delhi. The future looked bright and getting into India’s top B-schools aka IIMs looked more like a natural phenomenon than an endeavor. Complacency surrounded me and brought a series of failures. CAT (Career Apti Test) was a disaster; I failed miserably. Till now I have taken CAT two times and screwed up the DI section both the times. Having scored fairly high in both the quants and verbal sections, I convinced myself that DI was just not my cup of tea. I can’t tell you how stupid I feel when I look back and realize I had no backup plan. Over-confident as I was that I would make it to the IIMs, I never really thought about the job. I applied for the very first companies to come to the campus which turned out to be IBM. I was devastated, to say the least, to see all my batch mates go to IIMs and some to big companies like McKinsey, BCG, ML, etc. I felt like a loser. I still believe that my preparation was not bad, but some things are just meant to happen in a certain way. I can’t express in words how miserable I felt when I had to leave IIT with a mediocre IT job. I did some introspection and got some advice from my sister who’s in US. She told me something which now I firmly believe in : “everything happens for a reason”. May be I didn’t clear CAT because I have something better to look forward to. She told me to prepare for GMAT and meanwhile get the feel of the industry. That’s what I did. I didn’t try to switch my job and do anything funky. I took an optimistic stand at the state of things and looked for areas of weakness in profile which I hoped to iron out at IBM.

I came to Pune in Aug ’05 and lived there till 2011, when I finally got admitted to a B-school and moved to US. I didn’t expect my prep to start right away, so I waited and it was only in June when I started thinking about GMAT. I took out my Kaplan 2004 guide, which I had bought in IIT but never actually read. Initially the prep didn’t get kick started. The reason was that I didn’t have a test date.

LESSONS LEARNT TILL NOW:
    Forget about past failures. Remember the lessons learnt.
    Look forward…try options and always have a positive attitude.
    Have a dream and be passionate about it.
    Lastly get a test date…keep yourself on the toes and focused!!

Those Two Months

I took a test date: 30th Oct ’06. I can never forget this date. My actual preparation started only in Aug when I finally took the date. I started looking for resources on the web : PagalGuy posts, beattheGMAT, scoretop, etc. Strategizing was never a problem for me; I know how to study to make the most out of my efforts. The trick is simple: first thing is that I don’t think of/do anything when I am studying and the other thing I do, which is kinda strange but works for me, is that I make a commitment to myself and all the time I think about how bad I would feel if i didn’t keep that. So I set an honest goal of 720 for myself. Into a month of preparation, and I knew which areas I lacked in. I did a complete analysis of all my efforts and recognized areas where I needed to push myself further. I was lacking the accuracy because I was making silly mistakes. And If I could cut down my silly mistakes and brush up some old CAT concepts, a 750 is not impossible for me.

I took GMAT prep for the first time and scored 710. I was happy to see the 700 figure…and happiness is good..especially if you’ve been in a depression for a long time!! It boosted my morale and with a bolstered confidence I made a master plan for me.

The plan was for Sep and Oct…2 months. I made a big chart, basically a calendar with big blocks for each day. I collected all the material:
OG 10
Kaplan
Kaplan 800
SC Manhattan
test CDs (Kaplan, GMAT Prep, and IMS).

I made a schedule wherein I fitted all of that in those 2 months. Each day I would come after office and before having dinner, start my study sessions. At the end of the day I would cross out the date…like an executioner. The crosses gave me confidence and a sense of satisfaction and more importantly a visual map pf my progress path. It felt good to see that the days were not just passing by but I was progressing and getting nearer to my goal. I stuck post-its all over my place with quotes and motivational stuff. Each day when I woke up I would know that I would finish this section/topic/exercise today. I knew that GMAT was the only way to redeem myself. I took TOEFL on 1st Oct, which helped me get a feel of the computer test. I also learnt a lesson that always reach your centers early. I was mostly inline with my schedule and some days when I could not keep up with the schedule, I would make up for the lag on weekends. I had scheduled my sessions taking the possibility of over times at the office. Two weeks before the test I started my practice test Marathon. I had 12 IMS tests, 4 Kaplan tests, 1 GMAT test. I finished all of them in those two weeks.

12 IMS tests – not so good. CR was no way GMAT type. Quants was good. Helped me with time management in quants but totally screwed up in English mainly because CRs were very short, unlike the ones on the actual GMAT which take a good deal of time just to read the question part.

Anyway I moved to Kaplan. I was aware of the notorious reputation of Kaplan tests. So I knew that if I managed a 650 average on all 4 tests, I was doing good and i did manage that avg score.

I had kept the GMAT prep for the last, because I knew its the fairest approximation. So i took it two days before and scored a 740. I was sure i would get 740-750 on GMAT.

The last 2 days I prepared for AWA and revised my SC notes, CR pointers and did some reading, mostly about random stuff.

LESSON LEARNT:
    Keep the GMAT prep test 2 for last day.
    Memorize the format of GMAT Prep. It’s exactly the same, even the colors, except of course the questions and time limitations.

THE D-DAY

I went to Mumbai a day before and stayed at my fellow IITian friend’s place (thanks Somu!). Had a light chit-chat mostly about the good old days at IIT when all we had to do was play Quake 3 and gossip at nescafe. I woke up early and reached the center way early. The guard didn’t allow me in before time so had to wait with other anxious candidates. Finally the moment arrived. We all went in and after the usual yada lada (read formalities) entered the test room. I was totally relaxed and that’s what happens when you have honestly put in your 100%. I thought to myself, “Mukul this is your chance buddy. You have taken so many tests and scored well, there is no reason why you would screw up today. You ARE going to make it big.” And then I thought of my parents and how happy they would be if I do what I had in mind. JET SET GO : paced through the usual yada lada, arrived at the AWA section. Breezed through. Then there was the optional break after one hr of AWA…which I didn’t take!! I should have taken though, but I was too excited. I started getting tough problems after 5-6 question, which meant I was doing well. And then I got stuck in a question which my IITian ego was not letting go off. But after some time better sense prevailed and I took an intelligent guess and moved forward.

LESSONS LEARNT:
    Let go off a question after an intelligent guess if you have been trying it for more than 2.5 mins.

Overall I felt my Quants section went well, more than 50, I thought. Then took the break and after refreshing myself I buckled up for verbal. A BOLD FACE CR in the 6th question made me happy because I though I must be doing good. Now was the time to concentrate harder than ever and get this one right at any cost. I guess i did it correctly! After that I don’t know why, but I thought questions were easy. Happiness faded away and I got sad, but didn’t let myself be bothered. I finished the verbal well before time. And thennnnnnnnnnnnnnn the moment of Truth! I was so excited that I just paced through the screens (at least 10 screens) to come to a page which said, “show scores”??? Hell yesssssss!! I expected a 740 to be honest; but it said 770 !! I raised my hands and literally jumped up. I came out of the room when the invigilator looked at my score sheet and gave a big smile. I was ecstatic! Guys I am so much more relieved and confident now. I learnt a lot from my preparation. I as a person believe that what makes one an achiever is passion. If you love what you are doing, you will succeed. During my preparation time, I saw each minute as an opportunity to study for GMAT. Hence, every single minute wasted meant frustration to me. I love that itch…you know…that constant thing going inside you, which says, “hey! You gotta go back…you’re not studying”. So whenever I got frustrated or bogged down, I just told to myself that things will be just fine if I could go back to studies.

I have shared my experiences and everything I know about the GMAT with you all on my blog. I know that it has helped so many test takers over the past more than 4 yrs. I am currently enrolled at Tuck Business School, Dartmouth for fall 2011. I am proud to be admitted to an Ivy League school of my liking. I am so excited to be there. Meanwhile you guys can check out my articles on how I got into the B-school of my dreams here.

I have tried my best to make my knowledge and experiences reusable and hopefully my website will continue to serve everyone who has dared to dream. If I can do it, so can YOU! Happy GMATing!!!
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 03 May 2011, 14:32
Awesome achievement -- quite a few takeaways. Thanks for the post!
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 05 May 2011, 21:30
Congrats zaphod !!! Phenomenal score and inspirational journey .

I owe you a thanks , because reading ur debrief pumped in postive energy to get going .. have GMAt in few days ... :) .
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 06 May 2011, 06:23
BLUEMINT wrote:
Congrats zaphod !!! Phenomenal score and inspirational journey .

I owe you a thanks , because reading ur debrief pumped in postive energy to get going .. have GMAt in few days ... :) .


Glad it did! All the best. Rock on :)
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 06 May 2011, 06:27
inspirational story for all the Test takers. can you also elaborate on your strategies that you used so that we can get take yours as a baseline and build our own for prep

Thanks
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 06 May 2011, 09:06
When I was reading your prep section I was imagining you studying with the Rocky Theme "Gonna Fly Now" playing in the background :P. You have inspired me like none other.

btw Are you still living in Norwalk CT? I used to work there in the past.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 06 May 2011, 10:03
TandooriKnight wrote:
When I was reading your prep section I was imagining you studying with the Rocky Theme "Gonna Fly Now" playing in the background :P. You have inspired me like none other.

btw Are you still living in Norwalk CT? I used to work there in the past.


That's hilarious. I am in Norwalk, yes, staying with my wife who works here. Just came here. Will be moving soon to Hanover.

Glad it inspired you! Check out the website too for the story after GMAT!
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 06 May 2011, 10:09
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VSC wrote:
inspirational story for all the Test takers. can you also elaborate on your strategies that you used so that we can get take yours as a baseline and build our own for prep

Thanks
Smitha


It's actually all on my website...see signature. Too much effort to replicate. You will find everything there. But basically the underlying strategy was to study religiously everyday for 4- hours in one sitting. I am not kidding. And that's the reason I breezed through the exam which is again 4 hours long.

Also I did 50 questions everytime I practiced in one go. I also made meticulous notes of my progress and also accuracy. I star marked all questions I got wrong and which I found good/tricky/classy. I redid them 3 times atleast.

I used the OG grid. It was lot of help. I finished book-by-book. Not lots of books together. I solidified my theory first and then jumped to questions. Did not waste quuestion banks lile OG.

I used answer explanations very well, more useful than the books, mark my words.

And did not lose focus. I did not go to forums after I started my prep. I did my research all I wanted, learnt everything worth knowing, made my decisions on the books and plan. And then kinda shut off from internet. 2 months of meditation in the form of studies.

Hope that helps!

M

See my signature....it has everything i can possibly tell you.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 07 May 2011, 20:43
two months of meditation in the form of studies , thats kind of amusing.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 10 May 2011, 10:07
Congratulations on your success :) . Thank you for sharing your efforts, strategies and experiences. It did provide a detailed guidance. You did your best and got the best. I hope I do and get the same.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 10 May 2011, 10:38
garimavyas wrote:
two months of meditation in the form of studies , thats kind of amusing.


That's the best way I could have put it down. And believe me it was. Everyday was same, Come from office, sit down on my study table and start the 4 hr marathon.

M
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 11 May 2011, 11:16
arunangsude2011 wrote:
congrats

Thanks!
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 11 May 2011, 12:02
Great post !! Definitely a couple of takeaways for me. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 11 May 2011, 12:19
ardk wrote:
Great post !! Definitely a couple of takeaways for me. Thanks for sharing.

Glad you found it useful. Atb.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 11 May 2011, 23:59
TandooriKnight wrote:
When I was reading your prep section I was imagining you studying with the Rocky Theme "Gonna Fly Now" playing in the background :P. You have inspired me like none other.

btw Are you still living in Norwalk CT? I used to work there in the past.


You guys might like it. Just posted the interview of a MIT sloan admit...a close friend of mine. Read here...
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 11:05
Heard you got into Ross as well? Congrats, umich is my Alma Mater (UG)! Good school but I think you made a better decision by going to Tuck. But you wont have a real sports team to support at Tuck+wont get the feeling of cheering your football team in a stadium that holds 111,000 people!
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Last edited by TandooriKnight on 12 May 2011, 15:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 11:29
TandooriKnight wrote:
Heard you got into Ross as well? Congrats, umich is my Alma Mater! Good school but I think you made a better decision by going to Tuck. But you wont have a real sports team to support at Tuck+wont get the feeling of cheering your football team in a stadium that holds 111,000 people!

I think I can live with that. I know Tuck is not so big on football, but the outdoorsy scene is pretty good there. I am a very outdoosry person and would love to do all those beautiful trails and plus get to shoot all that with my camera...

have a look...here.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 15:02
Wow, those photographs are something else! Oh but you only need to visit puremichigan.com and you will see that Michigan (especially upstate) is extremely beautiful. Ofcourse it gets bitterly cold there to the point where your headphones wires are frozen solid if you wait for the bus 10 mins in Dec-Feb. Anyhow, Congrats!

btw: Do you plan on coming to NYC before you move to NH? I would love to meet you.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 16:52
TandooriKnight wrote:
Wow, those photographs are something else! Oh but you only need to visit puremichigan.com and you will see that Michigan (especially upstate) is extremely beautiful. Ofcourse it gets bitterly cold there to the point where your headphones wires are frozen solid if you wait for the bus 10 mins in Dec-Feb. Anyhow, Congrats!

btw: Do you plan on coming to NYC before you move to NH? I would love to meet you.


Actually I am in Norwalk, CT...going to NYC this sunday to meet a couple of friends...care to join?
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months! [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 21:08
Absolutely! Will PM you my #. Also I think we should carry on the convo there before bb or one of the mods yells at me for treating this like a facebook wall.
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Re: How I got a 770 on GMAT in Two months!   [#permalink] 12 May 2011, 21:08
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