Score: 780 (Q50, V47, 6.0AWA)
Date (MM, YYYY): 07, 2009
Best Prep Materials: Veritas
weekend intensive verbal course
I'm not the biggest fan of debriefs because I feel like I'm showing off (which is certainly not my intent). I feel like I took the test months ago and don't really remember the specifics. But, in the interest of helping others, I'll write a little something.
I was being laid off from work due to a job relocation, I had trained my replacement, and my company was cool with me studying for test while being around in case something work related went wrong. So, for 2.5 weeks total, from 9-6ish, I spent the majority of my time studying. I'm a math guy, so anything less than perfection would annoy me. My verbal skills weren't that great in high school (I scored 630 on the SAT Verbal), but I did think they improved through college. Despite this, I signed up for a weekend intensive course through Veritas
The reasoning for Veritas
was twofold: The timing was best, and they offered a verbal-only course.
Anyway, because of the course, I had access to 8 practice tests. I didn't study anything else (until the course). I just took practice tests. I wanted to get the timing right. I actually would take the same test multiple times to make sure that concepts sunk in. Being that the test is adaptive, when you retake it and change a wrong answer (the first go-round) to a correct answer this time, you get new questions afterwards. I'd keep track of my scores the first time I took each practice test, but I would retake each test until I had a 790, and then I'd move on.
This process continued for 2 weeks. Note, I didn't study at all on the weekends (course time excluded), I thought my 40 hour weeks of studying was enough.
The weekend course was really an all day thing both Saturday and Sunday. I had my test the Thursday immediately following the course.
That Monday I wrote practice essays for the first time. I didn't think there was any need beforehand, and the course gave what was a surefire way to score a 6 on the AWA, so I just needed to make sure the timing worked. For the rest of the week, I just took practice tests during work. My scores were improving and I was consistently 730+ with verbal scores being anywhere from 38 to 49.
Test Day: My test was at noon. I actually went into work beforehand. I did some work-related stuff and actually looked over a math section. While math is by far my best subject (and I didn't need the extra practice), taking a practice math section actually eased my nerves.
In general I think it's good to go into a test on a high note. I saw I scored 51 on the practice math, and I was ready to go.
I got to the test center, checked in, go my picture taken, palm scanned, etc, and asked them about whether I could have a snack after the essays. I'm not very superstitious, but I do have one superstition that stems from winning a middle-school math contest, I eat a twix bar before any math-related standardized test. It worked during mathcounts, and I kept it through the SATs, APs, and international math contests, and I wasn't about to change now.
I wrote my essays. The topics were not difficult, and I stuck to Veritas
' format. After 2 essays, I took my break, ate my twix and then went back to the test. The math section was harder than I expected. I normally would have about 7 minutes left over on practices, and here I only had 3.5 minutes left when I was done. Maybe I was trying to be extra careful, or maybe the test was harder than I expected. In any case, it was done, and I didn't feel great about it.
The verbal section was next. I tried to read every question aloud under my breath (Very quietly - almost completely inaudibly). Maybe it keeps me focused, or maybe I do better when I hear something as opposed to reading it (particularly when it comes to grammar). Whatever it was, I was pretty on that day. I remember thinking to myself, "these questions weren't that hard, I must have royally F'd up the beginning". In any case, because I thought the questions were easy, I really convinced myself that I bombed the test. But, it was over.
I clicked the button to end the test, and it asked if I wanted my scores. I took a minute (seriously - you can score a 780 and have NO IDEA that you did that well), and decided to see the score.
To all you kiddies out there wondering whether you should cancel your test - DON'T CANCEL YOUR SCORE.
Say whatever you want, but my first focus was on the math. When I saw 50 rather than 51, I was really pissed. For a moment, I was thinking to myself, "damn, I knew I screwed up the test, I can't wait to see how badly I did on the rest". And then I saw the verbal score and was pleasantly shocked. And then I saw the 780 and I just laughed. I left the room with a smile ear to ear, and 8 months later, I don't have any idea how it happened.
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