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Long post, ride to 760.

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Long post, ride to 760. [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2004, 08:20
I took the test GMAT yesterday and I am fairly happy about the outcome (760 - Q-49, V-44). I was a silent lurker on this forum for the past month or two, and it helped me immensely. A lot of inspiration came from the posts under "share your experience" forum, so I think it's fair enough that I should contribute. I started preparing about 2 months ago, however picked up steam only about 1 month ago. Here's my experience.

Well, two months ago I had almost no idea about the format of GMAT etc. so I ordered Princeton Review and Kaplan 800, after I read reviews on Amazon. I already had a OG that I found somewhere lying in the dorm where I used to live. I figured out quite early that SC would be the thing to beat, as I am quite good with logic and reading ( I read many online-newspapers thoroughly everyday). It's my opinion that to master SC, you first need the fundamentals of grammar. No matter how good you think you are with your intuition, if you lack grammar fundamentals, you will hit the potholes fairly often. Just to increase your scoring in SC from 70% to 85-90% requires a big leap in your skills. A great site to add muscle to your grammar skills is http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/. I regard this website as a big contributor to my overall preparation. Coming from a Engineering background, quantitative was never a serious problem ( Will come back to it later).

I started out giving a Crack-GMAT test, scored 620 or so and I was completely off on timing and did quite bad overall. So I started reading OG SC and doing Verbal exercises from downdowndown.net (many of their RC/CR overlaps with OG). I was doing roughly 70-75% in SC, 90-95% in CR, and close to 90% on RC, however these practice tests were not under timed conditions. I think it is a good idea to start off without timing yourself, focussing on getting answers correct. With sufficient practice, timing will come on its own. I took PP1 around middle August and scored 730 ( V-38, Q-50). Somehow, I found OG/PP questions to be more intuitive and less vague than Princeton/Kaplan.

Soon I was giving at couple of tests every week, and spent some time thinking about what I could do to improve. I cannot understate the importance to undertaking this mental exercise. I realized that the problem with my Quant was only silly mistakes and I was desperately looking to get rid of this problem. I found this post about silly mistake epidemic (http://www.testmagic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11422) very helpful and helped cut down my silly mistakes from average of 3-5 mistakes per 37 to around 1-2 per 37.

For RC, I found the 'shortcut' by princeton, Manhattan GMAT etc. about skimming the passage and answering questions to be complete rubbish. It just doesn't work for me. I concentrated on reading the whole passage thoroughly ( with practice you can be quite quick with it), and I rarely refered back to the paragraph when answering RC questions. However for questions that involve specific names, events or details you know where to find them quickly, if you had read the paragraph carefully.

In the last three weeks, I noticed significant improvements in SC/RC. I gave 4-Crack GMAT, 3- Princeton, 3 Kaplan and 3 Manhattan GMAT tests. I gave my PP2 about 2 weeks ago (OG was 60 % done) and scored 780.
OG is easier than Kaplan or Crack-GMAT. I found the Manhattan GMAT CD to be quite good and it is fairly adaptive compared to others.

Here's my practice scores (In chronological order)

Crack-GMAT 1 610
Princeton 1 690
Kaplan 1 580
PP 1 (before OG) 730
Manhattan GMAT 1 670-690
Crack-GMAT 2 665
Kaplan 2 620
Princeton 2 730
Kaplan 3 640
Manhattan GMAT 2 710-740
Crack-GMAT 3 710
PP2 (after 60% OG) 780
Manhattan GMAT 3 690-710
Crack-GMAT 4 680


I gave my last test 3 days before the actual exam. A found in the last weeks, I was rushing through problems and making silly mistakes. I used the strategy mentioned somewhere in this forum - "Take a deep breath after a problem, conciously relax yourself and look at the problem carefully".

A day before the test :
I took a day off from work, I did nothing. Oh yes, just looked at AWA/AWI for an hour in the afternoon for the first time. I do not think AWA is worth spending a lot of time. I then, with to the Gym and worked out furiously for a hour and a half. THis helped me calm down immensely. However I could not sleep well that night, probably slept 4-4.5 hours (instead of the planned 8). However in the morning, after deciding that any nervousness at this point would amount to cowardice, I was all pumped up and went to the test center. I arrived almost an hour before scheduled test that began at 8. Had a banana, and some tea to keep me alert. I was quite relaxed at this point of time.
AWA was a breeze, no surprises.
Quant was, however not what quite I expected. The first four questions were INCREDIBLY easy, I could solve them in like < 10seconds, but double checked them that cost me some time (which I needed it desperately later on). Suddenly around 4,5 there were some tough DS on number theory, Probability and geometry. I was lagging behind my schedule. I was forced to make a guess around Q14-15 just to put the question behind me. Questions followed no specific pattern, 2-3 really hard ones and a really easy one and so on.. I got one really easy SD and one easy Data interpretion. The hard ones required tedious calculations, and were quite tricky. By the time I had finished Q18 I had only 31 mins left. Q-24-27 were quite tough as well. I had to finish last 8 questions in 10 mins. But they were quite easy and I finished the last one with around 15 seconds to spare.
Took a break and decided to hit the verbal section HARD.
The first SC took me 3 mins to solve.. most SCs were long and wordy, although most often I could narrow down to 2 and I had to work between these two. Soon I could see ETS coming out with their tricks, one after another. RCs saved my day though, as I was spending much more time than usual on CRs and SC's. For most RC's I did not bother to refer back to the paragraph. The choices were pretty clear. When I finished Q30 I had only 18 mins remaining, and I knew a long RC was coming.. I concentrated hard and finished Q38 with 2 mins remaining. The last two I had to in 1 min.. The last one I am sure was wrong as I just guessed C.
Looking back on the test, I am forced to think of the famous line "No war plan survives the first contact with the enemy". This is so true. After you are pressed for time, you rely on your intution, which you have built with practice. With right preparation your intution becomes more and more accurate as it imbibes the fundamentals from your understanding of the concepts.
In both Quant and verbal although I was pressed for time, I had a feeling that I did fairly OK with the tough ones. I had come prepared not to even think twice about cancelling, so just went ahead and saw 760 99 percentile ( Q-49 (90), V-44(98) ). My eyes were aching and I was tired, but had to go and work!!!!

I undertand this is a fairly long post, but if this helps someone, I will feel that I have given back to the forum I owe so much. Let me know if there are questions, I will be happy to answer them.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2004, 09:09
Good one. Congrats!
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2004, 09:22
Terrific. Great Score. Congrats. All the best in your apps.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2004, 13:45
congratulation zukax. Thank you for your detailed experience and all the best in your future endeavors.

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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2004, 20:46
Good post. thank you for sharing your experience.

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 [#permalink] New post 14 Oct 2004, 04:28
Excellent post!! Wow.. I am impressed. Your observation about intuition is spot on!
Congratulations.
What do you think of Kaplan Verbal?
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 [#permalink] New post 14 Oct 2004, 07:41
congratulations on your stellar score.
I have a question about your preparation for Q.
What did you use for studying/ practising Probability /Permutations Combinations and statistics? HAd you joined 'delta course'?
Please tell us how you prepared for these areas.
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 [#permalink] New post 14 Oct 2004, 11:25
I come from an engineering background, so I did not do any prep for Quantitative. I just did the practice tests that I listed in post. A day before I just went over SD/Mean etc. I did not solve any OG/Princeton/Kaplan etc.
However if you do not have the requisite background, I would strongly encourage you to spend time getting comfortable with concepts, specially number theory and geometry. ETS has a tendency to test these concepts, particularly in the DS questions.
  [#permalink] 14 Oct 2004, 11:25
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