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Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41)

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Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2011, 07:29
Guys, it’s finally over!!! I took the GMAT yesterday (9/10) and the received 740, a score that I did not expect given the anxiety and several known mistakes throughout the test. I’ve been a speculator on this site and have benefited TREMENDOUSLY from experiences from others, so I’m excited to have a chance to give back to this community.

Quick Intro
• I’m not a native English speaker but have been in the US for over 15 years
• I was never a good test taker; if I had to guess on a question, my answer is almost always wrong – once guessed a 10 question T/F quiz and got them all wrong (some would argue that getting all wrong is harder to do than getting them all right!)
• Relatively slow reader but can understand the gist of a passage most of the time
• I’m pretty good at math but have VERY SHORT attention span and am prone to make careless mistakes; I also have very good mental math skills (used to multiply three three-digit numbers in seconds but that ability has started to fade after elementary school; now it’s hit or miss)

The Long Ride
• Started studying 2 years ago, but demanding work schedule and irresistible vacation trips have put on and off of studying – NOT A GOOD WAY TO STUDY
• Serious studying for the past 4 months; average 1-2 hours on weekday (not consistently) and 5-8 hours on weekends
• Took the GMAT back in July for the first time and scored a 690 (Q48; V37) and was extremely disappointed; ironically, I thought I did better during that test than during the one I took yesterday. I decided to retake because I’m aiming for top 5 schools, and my verbal score did not reflect my true ability at all

Materials Used
Study Material Recommended
OG11, OG12 - for obvious reasons
• Verbal Review 2nd Edition – good extra practice if verbal is your weakness
• Knewton (on-line class) – OG like questions, and each question tests on a very specific skill/knowledge category
• MGMT SC – enough said by others; awesome for non-native speakers

Study Material Not-Recommended
Kaplan Premier – too few practice questions; I got it for the diagnostic tests
• Grockit – test questions not very organized; some math questions are beyond GMAT level
• Aristotle RC – unlike others on this form, I didn’t find this material too useful; some of the passages are ridiculously hard; there were passages in which I didn’t recognize any word on the passage other than the linking verbs
• SC1000 – STAY AWAY. I know many have benefited from this material, but I spent more time trying to figure out what the right answer is than learning. The collection of questions seems to focus on “special cases.” Not a good material to build fundamentals.
Diagnostics (In order of usefulness)
• GMAT Prep v1 and v2 – math is easier than the real thing; verbal is representative of the real test
• MGMT (6 tests) – very difficult math but all derived from basic math principles (unlike some other material that tries to insert discrete math in the problems); verbal was very similar to GMAT Prep – interesting to see it’s scoring algorithm, but I’m not sure if it’s representative of the actual GMAT algorithm
• Knewton (6 tests) – good practice but ignore the score; I’ve once got two questions wrong in math and received a raw score of 47
• 800GMAT – static questions, but questions are similar to MGMT
Kaplan (Free Test) – Questions were pretty easy, but like others have mentioned, the scores are artificially low
Veritas / Princeton Review (Free Test) – I honestly don’t remember how I felt about this test. I just remember I scored in the 750 range
Kaplan (6 tests with purchase of Kaplan Premier) – Impossible RC passages, other question types are similar to those of Knewton’s
• Grockit – funky algorithm; I’m not sure how the test scores are calculated

My Study Strategy – not really a strategy but the route that I went through
• I started with randomly doing problems in OG and other sources (listed above) to ground myself. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is simply working on the problem and check answers WITHOUT understanding why I picked the wrong choice
• I go through one diagnostic every week (normally on a Saturday or Sunday) and review my mistakes during weekdays; not a bad way to tackle it now I look bad, but this approach wasted a lot of time because I did not focus to master on specific section at a time. I normally score around 700 – 730ish with occasional 760 and 770.


General Recommendation
• Use official or official-like questions
• Build fundamentals; don’t just work through the problems. For example, dedicate time to focus JUST ON number property
• Flag questions you’ve guessed and review them – doesn’t matter if you got them right or wrong
• Rework the same problems that you got wrong until you fully understand the concept
• Learn to let go; if you work on a math problem more than 2 times, you are not going to get it right. Guess and move on.
• Don’t study when you can’t absorb new information; hours invested do not represent information absorbed. If you are exhausted from a long day, just rest. I’ve experienced this problem the most, because I normally work 10-12 hour days. To make sure that I’m in the best condition to learn, I started waking up 5 in the morning and make GMAT the first thing I do.

Specific Recommendation
Problem Solving
• Read the question part of the question twice to make sure you fully understand what’s been asked
• Think about whether there is an easy way to work this problem. Don’t just dive in.
• Write out variables as you read the question stem (e.g., if Mary learns twice as much as Jay, then M = 2J)
• Work on the question slowly – avoid calculation mistakes because PS normally takes a longer time to solve

Data Sufficiency
• Don’t solve the problem; only need enough info to solve the problem
• Plug in numbers; I know algebra equations are cooler, but they don’t work as well
• As yourself: what is the concept being tested on? (e.g., number properties, areas of triangles)
• Write down what you can derive from the question stem before looking at the two conditions

Critical Reasoning
• Use negation test on assumption questions (turn will to will not)
• If A cause B, best way to weaken the argument is to find something else that would also cause B
• Understand sufficient and necessary conditions (all apples are fruits, but not all fruits are apples)
• Read the question SLOWLY – every sentence in a critical reasoning passage has a purpose. Ask the question “why is the test taker giving me this information?”
• If you find an answer, select it and move on (something I learned from my LSAT prep years ago)
• After reading choices A-E and you still can’t decide which choice is right, reread the passage

Sentence Correct
• Read the question slowly – constantly be on a lookout for errors that are easy to spot (e.g., subject / verb agreement, pronoun usage)
• DON’T JUST FOCUS ON ALL THE GRAMMAR RULES. The whole intend for GMAT SC is really whether a sentence is conveyed in an unambiguous way. The difficult SC questions are often exceptions to the rule. For example, I struggled with the exception to the “touch” rule for noun modifiers
• For fluent-English speakers, don’t like your ears trick you

Reading Comprehension
• I don’t have any tricks… I read the question and answer
• I do not like strategies that suggest you to skim through the passage. That approach doesn’t work for me. If I read the passage carefully, I normally don’t have to look back to find details.
• Create maps to highlight the intent of each paragraph /section.
Kaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesKnewton GMAT Discount CodesVeritas Prep GMAT Discount Codes
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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
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Concentration: Social Entrepreneurship, General Management
GMAT 1: 770 Q51 V45
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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2011, 07:33
Congratulations!! :)
_________________

Link to my debrief: gmat-debrief-770-q51-v45-120508.html

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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2011, 07:45
Congratulations :)
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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2011, 09:15
Congratulations :)
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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2011, 09:29
metallicfacez Congratulations on your score! can you provide your knewton test scores? also, can you comment on Knewton course and how it helped you?
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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2011, 17:47
Simba2012 wrote:
metallicfacez Congratulations on your score! can you provide your knewton test scores? also, can you comment on Knewton course and how it helped you?



Please see my Knewton scores listed below. I don't think Knewton's algorithm is representative of the real GMAT; in fact, same could be said about other diagnostic tests I've taken. In all instances below, I've missed less than 5 questions in quant, and 10 questions in verbal. Test 5 was the weirdest one. I ran out of time on verbal and guessed the last 5 questions, yet I received the highest verbal score.

1) 710 (Q-47, V39) - Free
2) 700 (Q-48, V37)
3) 710 (Q-49, V37)
4) 700 (Q-48, V37)
5) 710 (Q-47, V40)
6) 650 (Q-45, V35)

Overall Comment

I wouldn't say Knewton attributed a whole lot to my final score, but that's because I was already hitting the 700s prior to enrolling. Looking back, I wish I had started with Knewton for the fundamental concepts. They do a nice job of focusing on explaining different question types, and I find their explanations on the "wrong" choices extremely helpful.

For verbal, I think their CR and RC were better than their SC. I would definitely study the MGMT SC, if you're having problem in that area.

For math, I didn't really learn much... my math has been pretty strong, so I often just left the audio play in the background while looking at used cars online.

They don''t have that many practice questions, but the question types are comprehensive of those on the actual test. Also, their instructor forum was a bit weaker than MGMT's (timing and level of detail)

Hope this helps!
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Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2011, 18:11
That helps, thanks metallicfacez!
Re: Long ride, but I got here - GMAT Debrief 740 (Q-49, V-41)   [#permalink] 12 Sep 2011, 18:11
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