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Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40)

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Status: 700 (q47,v40); AWA 6.0
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Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 05 Sep 2011, 17:05
Just completed my exam. Though I am not elated, I am quite satisfied with the result but feel I could have added 20 or 30 more points if I avoided some silly mistakes. But 700 itself was a big achievement given that I barely managed 680 in the two GMAC practise tests. Here I am to share my lessons:

Lesson 1: My confidence helped me but overconfidence let me down. As everyone requires, so did I require to practice a lot of questions as part of the preparation. And all of those results told me one single fact: I was negligent, hasty or too eager to answer a question. The remedy was talking to myself and self-charading: Whenever I make a mistake, I would scoff at myself with all the best disdain in the world and the strategy worked to some extent. I would explain to myself what I screwed up and increase the learnings. My quant and SC % improved from about 60% to 90. But there was still some 10 more points to go and this is where I became over confident and started giving up the gains. I knew I was weak on (quant) inequalities and now working on that part cost me high. I could have gone at least 20-30 points ahead if I did not neglect this area..

Lesson 2: Talk to thyself more: Basically in three modes: Mother tongue for attacking CR questions, talk to the paper for RC questions and talk to yourselves while attacking SC questions.

I desperately needed to improve my verbal score from 28/41 to something higher (at least 35/41) and this is the strategy that worked for CR questions. Understanding a CR question in your native language helps immensely and this is what the first prong of the attack is about. When you translate the question and the choices into your native language, it starts breaking itselves down. You can clearly see the assumptions and the conclusions and the gaps. This is exactly what the CR questions expected of me.

Make extremely short precise of RC paragraphs. This is the easiest way to jinx these kind of questions. Use whatever you can: symbols, abbreviations, syllogisms and what not but every paragraph must be boiled down to a max 2-line confectionary that unwraps the essence of each paragraph and lays out before you the structure and gist of the passage as well. This is what I mean when I say talk to the paper. On using symbols, it helps if you remembered the notations in set theory and basic mathematics (three dots for since/therefore, ==> for implies/causes, / for such that et al).
Not that these short precise given you the answer on the 1st glance but a second/third glance will not let you down. The strategy worked for me. In practice question sets, this gave me a 100% result on RC questions. One word of caution: Ensure that you are able to decipher what your symbol-laden precise means for it defeats the whole purpose if you start practicing this tack without adequate familiarity with the symbols.

For SC questions, you need to have been the best users of the English language and that too, American and not the standard Briton. This precondition is applicable to both forms: written or spoken. If you meet this precondition, then the strategy of talking to yourselves in English helps. Evaluate each answer choice by actually plugging in the content of the choice into the main language. In other words, talk to yourself in your best English. This is after eliminating all the improper syntaxes and semantics. I think this will help you reach about 10 of the 14 SC questions. I am not sure how you'd conquer the rest. Somewhere, I started feeling that no amount of grammar grounding is sufficient to reach that awesome 14/14 mark.

PoE is indispensable: To save time, eliminating answer choices is a compulsion in Verbal. It helps to narrow down your choices on the basis of relevance and strengthener/weakener traits in CR. On RC, it pays to ignore choices with extremities and irrelevances (to your paper notes). While handling SC questions, the strategy gets even more important as it helps you zero down to at least the best 2 choices from where you can apply the "Talk to yourselves.." tool can become handy). But contrary to popular procedures, I did not make the table of all the 41 x 5 squares. I made it only when I was caught up in a mess and exceeding 15 seconds in reaching what felt was the correct choice. Perhaps, doing it for all questions may have increased my score. But there is no guarantee.

Quant questions are extremely subtle: As your examiner realizes you are smarter (because you are answering more and more questions correctly), he starts playing tricks on you. The challenge gets tougher if these tricks are combined in DS questions and that is where I think I fell slightly short.

Rely on no book but your own capabilities once you have the fundamentals: Most text books I read have had some or the other kind of problem. Either they had their own "English" or they had logical incorrectness in the solutions or did not provide complete answers to the problems they posed. This disgruntlement led me into telling myself that I will rely on these books only for factual data from those books. These books serve to the extent that they can tell you the limits of what GMAT tests you in. But to explore deep down is a part of your persona and no textbook can ever help you there. One may be able to teach you to handle some tricks and these lessons may be useful sometimes. Unfortunately, this 'ability to explore and experiment is what I felt GMAT tries to dig out from you. Moreover, the test is about the fundamentals. That complicates things even further. With fundamental building blocks, you can create any edifice. Your GMAT score perhaps reflects that ability.

Practice tests unless they are adaptive and well-constructed are a myth: No practice test will given you an accurate measure of your current position unless the test is made by the best trainers in the business or unless it is an automated test from GMAC. I scored 640, 620 on the TMH tests and 650 on the Princeton tests DVD. Paucity of time told me I had to move on to the GMAC tests and when I did, I was at 680 in one test and at 690 in the other. The final score of course was 700, the increase coming from the positive affirmations I gave myself as I was driving to the test center. I kept on telling me that I would not make silly mistakes; I will read each question thoroughly though simple or not; I will cross check my answer everytime before I confirmed it. All this convincing was done in Telugu, my mother tongue and it seems to have paid off.

I never practiced for 4 hours at a stretch. I broke it down into two or more sessions:

AWA in one session/two sessions+ Qaunt,Verbal in a two session at the beginning and
one towards the D-day. On the actual exam, use the 8 minute break to the hilt. relieve in the rest room or breathe fresh air or do your favorite chants. Recharge the batteries. That is all there is to it.

Check time: Instead of tracking time at the level of each question, I used the following table:

Time left || Questions you should have covered


||

Verbal||Quant


55 || 10 ||9
35 || 21 ||19
18 || 31 ||28
00 || 41 ||37



PS: Sorry for the bad formatting.

Though following this table is not mandatory, it gives you a rough idea where you are on the time management aspect. If you are within +/-2 of the numbers above, you should be doing well. Note that the table is skewed in terms of the time required for later half of the test. This is a problem because if you are doing extremely well, you tend to get tougher questions as the test is adaptive. In any case, regular checkpoints are valuable indicators of whether you will be able to answer all questions or not.

AWA should not be a concern if you are confident about your writing skills. Be sure to write a few essays nevertheless in the style GMAC wants, for a better score.

Thanks GMATClub for raising me form the raw score of q17/v14 to at least this level. Though I have been pretty elaborate in some aspects, I may have missed a few. If anyone needs more detail, I offer to elucidate.

PS: Follow your gut while taking the actual exam or even during preparation. No part of my write up will help you unless you applied it in a fashion that suited your style of work, comprehension and skill level.

Regards
Rahul
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Last edited by retro on 07 Sep 2011, 20:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 01:26
Hey Retro...
Thanks for your..debrief...
i enjoyed reading..your story..and strategy.


Good Luck...for your applications....
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 01:37
Congrats for the great score!!!!!!!!...........Although one thing baffles me that how come Q49 and V 40 resulted in only a score of 700!!!!.....The Gmat score calculators indicate a much higher score.........
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 02:04
gsd85 wrote:
Congrats for the great score!!!!!!!!...........Although one thing baffles me that how come Q49 and V 40 resulted in only a score of 700!!!!.....The Gmat score calculators indicate a much higher score.........


i too am wandering the same??
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:arrow: CRITICAL REASONING FOR BEGINNERS: notes & links to help you learn CR better. Click Below
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 04:29
Me 2 wondering !!! Always thought Q49 V40 = 730 ..
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 04:32
Sorry for the error but Q is 47 and not 49.

There are some minor errors of structure and grammar in my above brief. Kindly ignore them.

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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2011, 05:49
retro wrote:
Sorry for the error but Q is 47 and not 49.

There are some minor errors of structure and grammar in my above brief. Kindly ignore them.

Regards
Rahul


That explains. Perhaps when you get a chance, please update your original debrief. It scared the shit out of me - (q49, v40) = 700 :O. I was like seriously, that's a crazy split up. I would expect "at least" 720 with this split, if not more (in fact q49, v42 = ~750).

Thanks for the debrief! Good luck.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2011, 09:53
Hey Retro, Congrates for the great score.. specially verbal..V40 is great..!!!

Can you please share your overall Verbal approach?
Also, can you please share the Materials/ Books used for SC, CR and RC seperatily. I'm currently at V25-V30 and desperately need V40-V45, Any advise?

Thanks in Advance.

Peace,
Aj.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2011, 10:40
congrats man
best of luck
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 07 Sep 2011, 20:35
Ajay369 wrote:
Hey Retro, Congrates for the great score.. specially verbal..V40 is great..!!!

Can you please share your overall Verbal approach?
Also, can you please share the Materials/ Books used for SC, CR and RC seperatily. I'm currently at V25-V30 and desperately need V40-V45, Any advise?

Thanks in Advance.

Peace,
Aj.


Thanks Ajay.

The comprehensive verbal approach is just what I outlined in my debrief. Ghee seedhi ungli se nikal nahi rahee thee (Hindi adage for saying Hooks did not work. So resorted to the crooks; the term crooks means tricks and nothing illegal though;-));

To me, RC was the easiest to attack first. THe synonym for RC is "a Open-book exam". You have the freedom to explore the book while you answer the questions. Simple isn't it? If you are not convinced, then prepare your mind into that frame now. That is the only option I saw for myself. It worked too.
All information is spread right before you in black and white (to help you, some parts are in Yellow too). You need not identify the conclusions, premises or assumptions. Neither do you need to identify the parts of speech especially in extremely complex sentences. All that you need is to read the paragraphs laid out before you simultaneously emphasize 'reading between the lines'. The trick is in doing both simultaneously. And that is where the symbolic precise writing helps. A good symbol laden precise is faster written, easier to identify (if the symbols were your playschool toys), tells you what you have understood within smaller time, helps you identify the parts of the passage better and almost immediately gives you the gist of the passage. This also means you make more time for the other two areas.

CR's most frequent trick is giving you choices of irrelevance or counter choices (choices that are relevant but mislead you in the opposite direction of the logic). The moment you identify the irrelevances (some in the garb of relevant words) and contradictions, you have solved the questions half. The rest of the questions are complex and you have sufficient liberty to spend your saved time on those questions. Marking the choices with the symbols + (Strengthen) or -(Weaken) or (irrelevant)? is extremely useful. More important than these markings is that you must have understood the question to perfection. If not, you are making the wrong markings.

SC is perhaps the most complex (rather messy) one. I especially felt the rules can be twisted/torted in anyone's favor. Plus, there is this whole confusion between American and Briton usage. If you love Sherlock holmes or Charles dickens, forget them till your exam is done. The rules are vastly different. In addition to this confusion, a sentence could have multiple meanings with just one intended essence and you may have caught the wrong thread if you failed on the original intent. All in all, I was satisfied with getting about 80% of the questions right. You can call it complacency but I will call it a nice trick to reach a decent score. All this does not exclude you from learning the idioms, basic grammar rules, mostly tested area examples et al. My approach is just sufficient to get the best out of the exam.

No single book gives you all the three efficiently. I've used Professor Dave's GMAT book http://www.amazon.com/GMAT-Advantage-Professor-Dave/dp/0970175620. This book details the pitfalls, how GMAC tricks you into the wrong answers, allows you to sit in the chairs of the examiners and see how they can frame questions and gives you good drills as well. Of course, The verbal OGs (both the 12th edn and the stand alone 2nd edition) are compulsory and give you more grinding. Kaplan to some extent is useful. Especially the 800 advanced book. Their basic verbal guide is a good starting point. To compensate my weakness in some parts of the grammar like conditionals, tenses (perfect tense especially) et al, I did the exercises in Murphy's English grammar book (though this book is Briton, it gives you the role of grammar and the subtelities in their usage thru a wide set of examples. It also gives you lot of grinding thru the exercises. More specially, it's content is very well structured). http://www.cambridge.org/in/elt/catalogue/subject/project/item404854/English-Grammar-in-Use/?site_locale=hi_IN. The OG is anyway necessary because it comes from the horse's mouth straight.

Practicing a lot of questions helps although you need to take every answer with a pinch of salt if you do not like it. last but not the least, do not be disappointed if you score low on ANY test except the Actual practice tests from GMAC. In my view while practicing, you MUST demand from yourself a complete understanding of why your answer is wrong, whether your choice is correct or now. I think it helps extremely if you insist on the same principle on all the three question types.

Time management is extremely important. From about 105 minutes, I brought my time down to 65 minutes. This is because I practiced drawing out the square boxes for all questions first and then drawing only for select questions later on. My time map (detailed in the original writeup also helped quite a lot). It was the "Can I do it in-time radar". Note: 65 minutes is not early on the actual exam. Clocking 64 on practice 41-sets means merely means you will scrap through choice E of the 41st question at 74:59.

Hope this helps.

Regards
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 19:51
Hi,

Do you have any specific strategies that helped you raise your verbal score past 38 and your math score past 42? I am ultimately shooting for a 41/42 in verbal and a 45/46 in quant.

I received the following scores on the last few MGMAT tests and need to cross (or at least meet) the 700 hurdle in less than a month (test is October 4th) and I am applying second round this year. I have completed both MGMAT and Veritas courses, and hence, have all of their materials. Any help would be much appreciated!!

Last Official GMAT Test (7/21/11): 590 ( Q 34 / V 38)
MGMAT Practice Test 3 (8/13/11): 590 (Q 37 / V 34)
MGMAT Practice Test 4 (8/21/11): 590 (Q 35 / V 35)
MGMAT Practice Test 5 (9/3/11): 650 ( Q 40 / V 38)
MGMAT Practice Test 6 (9/5/11): 640 (Q 42 / V 36)

Also - I plan to take a GMAC practice exam this Sunday so any tips before then would be great!
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 20:04
Thanks a lot Rahul for your time.
Best of luck for ur apps.!!

One suggestion - Mujh see bhi ghee seedhi ungli se nahin nikal rahee hai ;-/ ... Do you think diligently working out 4-5 passages/ Day for a month will help me in RC?

Cheers.!
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Last edited by Capricorn369 on 08 Sep 2011, 22:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 20:52
great score Rahul.
Congrats :)
all d best for your future application.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 21:45
Congratulation Rahul, specially for Verbal! This is a great win! All the Best for apps!

regards,
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 22:48
MBADiva2012 wrote:
Hi,

Do you have any specific strategies that helped you raise your verbal score past 38 and your math score past 42? I am ultimately shooting for a 41/42 in verbal and a 45/46 in quant.

I received the following scores on the last few MGMAT tests and need to cross (or at least meet) the 700 hurdle in less than a month (test is October 4th) and I am applying second round this year. I have completed both MGMAT and Veritas courses, and hence, have all of their materials. Any help would be much appreciated!!

Last Official GMAT Test (7/21/11): 590 ( Q 34 / V 38)
MGMAT Practice Test 3 (8/13/11): 590 (Q 37 / V 34)
MGMAT Practice Test 4 (8/21/11): 590 (Q 35 / V 35)
MGMAT Practice Test 5 (9/3/11): 650 ( Q 40 / V 38)
MGMAT Practice Test 6 (9/5/11): 640 (Q 42 / V 36)

Also - I plan to take a GMAC practice exam this Sunday so any tips before then would be great!


All I did, I explained in my initial brief and the second one in response to Ajay's request.

Keep GMAC's pract tests for the last. They are the ones that come closest to your accurate final scores. Consume others before the D-Day.

Quant is a tough one, if you are not a juggler of the basics. With quant the strategy is practice. With Verbal, the necessity is the insight into the arguments, the essays to be read and the sentences to be corrected. Verbal is a tough call regardless of how good you are on Quant.

All the best on the practice tests as well. But do not be let down or blown away by your performance in those. Those scores are just how prepared the coaching company thinks you are and that may not be the closest relative to GMAC. But just ensure you get the reasons for the right/wrong choices fully assimilated into your thought process. Without understanding why an answer is wrong, you will never be able to correct your mistakes. Without confirming why your answer is right, there is no guarantee you will always choose the correct option always.

Regards
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 08 Sep 2011, 23:01
Ajay369 wrote:
Thanks a lot Rahul for your time.
Best of luck for ur apps.!!

One suggestion - Mujh see bhi ghee seedhi ungli se nahin nikal rahee hai ;-/ ... Do you think diligently working out 4-5 passages/ Day for a month will help me in RC?

Cheers.!


Work smart, I'd say. If you just worked on 4-5 passages each day getting 2/5 questions right on all of them, there is little benefit.

Instead practice making sense of each one of the paragraphs with one-liner (max two) liner notes. Concentrate on the approach most suitable and effective to you. Get used to it; decrease the time per question. Using GRE RC psgs may not be a bad idea as well.

Have some fun making out what this means:
HW usfl?; evry pgf 2b undstd<--1l/(2l) prcs; mthd stble 4me?;--t/q;GRE rc?

To be able to make the one liner above, I spent abt 30 secs. Practice may make you even faster.

Regards
Rahul
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q49/V40) [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2011, 06:10
I hear what you're saying buddy. I'll try above and see if it works for me.
Thank you once again!

Peace!
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2011, 19:38
congrats on the score and a very interesting story! yes your originally stated split scared me too!! lol. But welcome to the 700 club!!
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2011, 13:42
Congrats.
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MGMAT 6 650 (51,31) on 31/8/11
MGMAT 1 670 (48,33) on 04/9/11
MGMAT 2 670 (47,34) on 07/9/11
MGMAT 3 680 (47,35) on 18/9/11
GMAT Prep1 680 ( 50, 31) on 10/11/11

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CR notes
http://gmatclub.com/forum/massive-collection-of-verbal-questions-sc-rc-and-cr-106195.html#p832142
http://gmatclub.com/forum/1001-ds-questions-file-106193.html#p832133
http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-prep-critical-reasoning-collection-106783.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html?hilit=chineseburned

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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40) [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2011, 22:30
Expert's post
@Rahul: As per your request, I am giving my opinion.

First of all, congratulations! It certainly is a good score.
That said, I would be more comfortable applying to ISB with a 750. Not that it would give my chances a boost but I would have nothing to worry about losing out in 'GMAT score' aspect. Among Indian applicants, 750 is kind of 'normal'.

But then again, there are no hard and fast rules. If you can manage to produce a very good application and crack the interview (your long experience will be very helpful), a 700 is good enough. Rather than going back to GMAT prep, you should spend your time sorting out your story and figuring out what differentiates you from the next person, what unique characteristics do you bring to the table, why the school is a good fit for you, what you intend to gain from the school, what you can give back to the school, why the school should choose you over the guy who has 750, great acads and a good work ex. In my opinion, they will focus less on your acads and GMAT and more on your work ex (which has to make you shine).

Even if you do want to think about re-taking GMAT, consider this: Did you prepare well for it? Do you think you can improve markedly next time or will you rely on luck to take you 30-40 points higher? Do you know your weaknesses and are you sure you will be able to put in effort to work on them? Also, do you feel that luck played in part in reaching 700 or do you think that you deserve not only 700 but also more? Retaking GMAT doesn't reflect poorly on you but if you score around 700 next time too, it might show that you are re-taking in the hope that you will get lucky sometime. If you do take it again, it has to be for a marked improvement. You should touch 750 to show that you did not perform up to your potential the first time around and hence took it again.
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Re: Lessons from my GMAT test: 700 (Q47/V40)   [#permalink] 11 Sep 2011, 22:30
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