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Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes

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Manager
Manager
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Joined: 01 Jun 2010
Posts: 69
Concentration: Technology, Strategy
GMAT 1: 710 Q50 V37
GMAT 2: 730 Q50 V38
GPA: 3.4
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 7 [1] , given: 3

Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 07:42
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My journey and the lessons I learned



Ok first of all, I m not a GMAT expert, nor am I too happy with my score. 730 is a very ordinary score for Indians and hence I definitely do not stand out as of now, based on GMAT. Will have to put in a lot of work before I am ready with my applications. I would like to share my experience during the preparation, my observations and some of the mistakes that I made.

This is not exactly a debrief per say. I did pretty much the same things those are mentioned in all the other posts. Same books and same CATs ( Manhattan, Kaplan, OG etc). But here I would like to bring out certain points which I think would have helped me, had I known before.

1. Do not waste your GMAT Prep tests. They are invaluable.
What I did wrong : I re-took the tests as often suggested to me by umpteen number of peers.Trust me, you take the tests twice, the third time you will start seeing repeats. Understand that even 5 repeat questions can take you from 700 to 750. The more frequently you write these days, the more repeats you will get and the more skewed the results will become. I had reached a point where I never got less than 790 in a GMAT prep. As you can see, my score turned out to be far below that.
My advice : Take 1 test at the middle stage of your preparation. Take another just before your exam (give some time to learn from your mistakes - I say, 15 days from your exam). Even if you plan to overwrite GMATPrep, make sure that you are least bothered about the score and more concerned about learning from the mistakes and practising.

2. Stop worrying about, and wasting time over, the algorithm of GMAT. Personally, I think it is of no use. Think about it. When you are writing the GMAT - are you even going to think whether 'this question is important so I need to get it right' or 'this question comes in the end so I can relax'? Absolutely not! Your goal should be to get every question right. Focus on your preparation more than on how to 'comprehend' the algorithm.
What I did wrong : I tried to learn every bit about the adaptive algorithms. It did not help me because the moment I entered the exam, all the junk I had learned about these algorithms was washed out.
My advice : This is just unnecessary. Period. Concentrate on getting maximum questions right regardless of their relative positioning in the exam.

3. No, Kaplan is not hard. Kaplan is not 'unlike GMAT'. What is it with everyone cursing Kaplan for preparations. Guys, I want to say something here ( and I do not claim to be preaching gospels, but writing down my observation ) : All the three versions of OG that I studied from (10th,11th and 12th editions), I pretty much saw a huge overlap of questions. I guess the 10th edition is a bit different but still. I don't think the questions are revised inside out. The statistical data that is presented in the last pages of OG (conversion of percentiles to the GMAT score) are all based on the data from January 2005 to December 2007 (please correct me if I am wrong). Guys, the GMAT is getting harder and harder year on year. Simply because the candidates keep getting better and better. I am still waiting when will the latest conversion chart be published. It essentially means that a 750 5 years ago would correspond to not more than a 710-720 today.
Where I went wrong : I ignored Kaplan till 4 days before my exam. Agreed that Kaplan tests are hard. But it is only because they force you to think in the right direction. Their passages are not only long, but also dense, which gives you the right practice. Worry not about the score, but about what you learn from those questions. In my opinion, the more you practice hard questions, the better prepared you are (it is true that one should practice only GMAT like questions, but then again, Kaplan has one of the finest teachers and GMAT champions so I pretty much assume that they of course know more than I do about 'what is a GMAT like question'). So don't get bogged down by low Kaplan scores, but properly practice each and every problem that is presented to you in those CATs and practice tests.
My advice : Take Kaplan tests as learning models. Use them as tools to create a launchpad to handle tough problems. But do those tests. They are important and it is easy to feel complacent by scoring a 750 in other 'easier, but GMAT like tests' but if the questions are not hard enough ( as they would be on the real GMAT of 2011 and ahead..remember we are not in the good old 2005-2006 days when the competition was far lesser ).

4. OG is important. But not sufficient. Analyze it this way - in OG, you have 1 hard problem for every 5 questions. If you solve OG as it is, repeatedly, your brain will get used to solving 1 hard question out of every 5. But the GMAT is adaptive, unlike the paper-book. If you keep solving questions rightly, you will keep getting tough questions, probably 2-3 in a row. Remember that your brain has to prepare for more than 2-3 tough questions in a row more so than for 1 hard question in every 5. So use OG only for practice. Don't get complacent by thinking 'Oh! I solved the OG twice, with a 90% accuracy - that should suffice'. No. That is where I went wrong. I had a 95 % accuracy in verbal and you can see 38 does not reflect that. So OG will show you what type of questions you might get on the exam. But always remember that the exam will be harder than OG. I might face some disagreement here, but this is what I observed both the times (yes - I wrote the GMAT once and got a 710. This was my second attempt).

5. Do not overstudy. This is simple. GMAT is not rocket science. You just need a month or two, fully dedicated. Towards the end, take a week off from work and get on to it. If you study for 4 months, the performance curve would reach a saturation. Remember the law of diminishing returns. So start studying and write the exam within 2 months once you feel your performance is at it's peak. Honestly, I did not dedicate myself to GMAT for more than 2 weeks. This is not an excuse. This is totally my fault and I regret now. Disconnect the broadband, switch off the TV and start working on it. It is simple high school math and basic verbal-logical reasoning. You don't need a Phd for a 780. You just need the right type of preparation in the right direction. Take every question as a learning pool. Make your own rules and start categorizing questions in different types. Maintain an excel of all those questions that defeated you. Go through those questions a week before the exam. And remember, do not waste your GMATPrep software. This software is hardly updated (I can't validate this though). Use it wisely

I hope this post helps some of you guys. Finally, a big thanks to this community in general and all the members whose inputs have been a constant source of learning and inspiration.

One last thing, try out Princeton Tests - the math is pretty easy but the verbal is quite reflective of the actual exam. The explanations are also good and in my case, the princeton CATs exactly predicted the score I was about to get on the GMAT.

Cheers and all the very best to all
Kaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesKnewton GMAT Discount CodesManhattan GMAT Discount Codes
Manager
Manager
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Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 88
Concentration: General Management, Leadership
Schools: Thunderbird '15
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Kudos [?]: 28 [0], given: 8

Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 09:49
Congrats for the good score.
I can understand your frustration in competing from one of the largest pool.
However, don't worry. It will pay off.

Good luck for your app.
Manager
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Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 88
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 2 [0], given: 0

Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 15:05
Congrats on the great score.... I agree with you the GMAT is getting trickier... i am not trying to scare anyone but its reality and from my past experience. I took the GMAT way before and also recently. I have also have noticed the difference.

I spoke to a Manhattan GMAT tutor about this observation. He stated that the reason may be because GMAC goes out there and figures out what current GMAT classes are teaching and then make changes...(Manhattan GMAT tutors are sent to take the GMAT exam in order to keep up with the changes, also when students complain the exam is getting harder, Manhattan sends their people to get the real scope)

BTW, GMAC has not updated GMATPREP and they don't plan to. I spoke with someone from GMAC whom mentioned that fact. (Because of the changes coming in 2012) GMAC will update GMATPREP then. Also new OG will be released
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Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 17:05
Great advice. Thanks for the tips.

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Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 May 2011, 23:10
I understand you targeted a higher score but 730 is a very good score.
Your suggestions reflect the real world while preparing. I agree with the timeline mentioned provided complete dedication is there.

However, had it been 750, it does not make any difference. Please focus on your apps now.
Please let us know what schools you planning to apply to..
Manager
Manager
avatar
Joined: 01 Jun 2010
Posts: 69
Concentration: Technology, Strategy
GMAT 1: 710 Q50 V37
GMAT 2: 730 Q50 V38
GPA: 3.4
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 7 [0], given: 3

Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes [#permalink] New post 13 May 2011, 07:15
chireapplicant wrote:
Congrats on the great score.... I agree with you the GMAT is getting trickier... i am not trying to scare anyone but its reality and from my past experience. I took the GMAT way before and also recently. I have also have noticed the difference.

I spoke to a Manhattan GMAT tutor about this observation. He stated that the reason may be because GMAC goes out there and figures out what current GMAT classes are teaching and then make changes...(Manhattan GMAT tutors are sent to take the GMAT exam in order to keep up with the changes, also when students complain the exam is getting harder, Manhattan sends their people to get the real scope)

BTW, GMAC has not updated GMATPREP and they don't plan to. I spoke with someone from GMAC whom mentioned that fact. (Because of the changes coming in 2012) GMAC will update GMATPREP then. Also new OG will be released


That means my analysis that GMATPrep has not been revised was correct. Thanks for the info. I spoke with a guy who wrote the exam in 2005 and also just last month. He said the same thing - the difficulty level of questions has shot up and we do not have much material to prepare from. Which is where I think Kaplan should not be ignored by all those who aim for a 700+ score. The candidates definitely need a new pool of harder questions in the official guide though.
Re: Journey to 730 - Lessons learned from my mistakes   [#permalink] 13 May 2011, 07:15
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