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My experience 660 (Q46 V 35) 82 percentile overall AWA:5.5

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My experience 660 (Q46 V 35) 82 percentile overall AWA:5.5 [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:33
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mohater wisely cautioned me about not setting myself for a failure. He was right, and I accepted this score with humility. I did not go mad about this score, for I understand it is only a test and I must have screwed up.

My first post on gmatclub is from Nov 2009. That is when I started thinking about an MBA. Followed the novice's plan and got all MGMAT books and Kaplan premier edition. First, I read through the Kaplan book and familiarized myself with the nuts and bolts of the exam. Then I started going through the MGMAT strategy books. I was painfully slow in finishing them. But I had good excuses: raising a toddler and an infant; and finishing my PhD. I found 1 or 2 hours here and there to study after the kids were asleep. Thanks to my wife, who took one for the team, I went to local library most of the times after the day's work. Anyhow, I finished studying without going through OG 11 questions, and gave my first GMAT Prep and scored a 640 (Q48 V30). I knew I had to up my game in verbal.

I started working through OG 11. I also bought an iPod specifically for the GMAT Toolkit. This toolkit is great; it not only stores the answers, but also stores the timings. Best part, of course, is the instant checking of the answers.

After a long summer vacation, I gave one MGMAT CAT and scored a 600. I forgot everything that I had learned. So, lesson # 1: do not take a long break if you intend to take the real exam right after the break. I studied everything again for two weeks and attempted MGMAT CAT again and scored a 700 (Q47 V38). I gave other MGMAT CATs and GMAT Preps almost every other day for two weeks and scored the following:

GMAT PREP 2 44 38 650
GMAT PREP 1 (R) 48 36 690
MGMAT 4 42 41 690
MGMAT 5 44 38 680

Using the MGMAT assessment reports, I analyzed my weak areas and found that I sucked at word translation problems (30% accuracy) and also at 700-800 level problems. I had attempted GMAT Club tests, which were generously given to me for my suggestions on the GMAT Toolkit, intermittently. But I had been following Jeff Sackmann also, and noticed that his examples closely follow the GMAT pattern. So, I bought the extreme challenge and word problems challenge set. And I kept redoing the OG problems. I redid OG SC problems, ones which I got wrong, at least thrice. I also redid OG PS/DS problems which I solved incorrectly or took a long time to solve them (not parallel, I know). I was doing well in CR and RC, but still solved all the incorrect CRs.

I was "peaking" this time; I knew most of the GMAT patterns and how to solve various problems. I knew the major concepts, and my timing was almost right. Then came the kicker: I had a chance of taking the real test in a week, as a slot had opened up. But exactly after ten days of that date, I had my PhD defense and a major job interview, so guess what I did. I chickened out, as I thought I could score higher if I finish the harder material. I thought after the defense and the interview I will complete the GMAT Club tests, Jeff Sackmann's material, GMAT Prep SCs, and GMAT Prep Quant. So, lesson # 2: take the exam when you are "peaking," simply when you think you are ready.

After a successful defense and a solid interview, I did complete 50% of the GMAT Prep SCs (198 total), not only solving them, but also looking for the explanations on the MGMAT forums. Ron Purewal is the man. I also completed Jeff Sackmann's extreme challenge and word problems challenge. Then I attempted MGMAT 6 with and essay and scored a 670 (Q45 V36). Did you notice that downward trend? One day prior to exam, I sneaked out of work and attempted a GMAT Prep, which had many repeats in the verbal, again and scored 690 (Q46 V39).

On the exam day, I dropped kids to school and wife to work, and prepped myself for positive thoughts and results. I went to the test center and hour early and got a computer right away. Finished the essays comfortably. Took a break, ate some snacks, drank Monster energy drink (good++), and returned to the test confidently. I was calm and confident as I ever could be. All but one questions were of moderate difficulty, and I was very confident in answering them all. Finished the quant section with 20 seconds left on the clock.

Very happy with my quant performance, repeated the same exercise in the next break and started my verbal. Again, most questions were of moderate difficulty. I thought I saw the right answers in all the SCs, had doubts about one CR and one RC, but overall I was very happy and confident about my performance. Did not see any boldfaced CRs, which I had seen repeatedly in MGMAT and in GMAT Prep, but I saw few weird CRs, unlike I had seen before.

Calmly and confidently I filled out the questionnaire, and received a slight shock to see a 660 (Q46 V35). But thankfully, following mohater's suggestion, I had prepared myself to accept such a score. Walked out of the test center wondering what happened. Currently, I am thinking of my next steps.

In sum (<--learned from an AWA template):
1. Take the exam when you ready; don't wait too long
2. Study only from GMAT like material. MGMAT's CAT material is convoluted; Jeff Sackmann's material is good
3. Practice the OG: some things you will learn only after practice, such as correct idioms (prefer to, different from, mistook x for y, considered X)
4. Know the concepts
5. Know the tips and strategies, such as, avoid extreme words, 3-2 split, infer as little as possible, back-solving, picking numbers for VICs, etc
6. Don't fret over unessential things, such as, experimental questions, permutation/combination questions, what to wear and drink
7. Set-up yourself for success and not for failure (Jeff Sackmann and mohater)
8. Always remember that when you read a debrief or some study tips those tips or experiences may or may not work for you; succinctly said: YMMV.
9. Elements of style and Painless grammar are useful books. Both are easy to read, and Painless grammar will teach you grammar in funny, basic way. I strongly recommend it to non-native speakers having trouble understanding MGMAT SC guide. Doing Grammar is also very good, but I did not retain much from this book.

Best study material:
1. OG
2. GMAT Prep
3. MGMAT study guides
4. Jeff Sackmann's challenges

Other useful material:
1. Painless Grammar
2. Elements of Style
3. Doing Grammar
4. NYT. read this piece, a very good study material for CR and RC, objectively, identify assumptions and conclusions: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/books ... .html?_r=1


About me (you can skip this part without losing any critical information):
I hail from India, but I have been in the US for past 9 years. Most of my education was in non-English languages. 1-4 grade I learned everything in Marathi, 5-7 I learned everything in English (I bombed these years, history was the worst), 8-10 (math and science in English), 11th onwards everything in English. I had very weak foundations of English grammar. My English mostly sucked, but I took some concrete steps to improve my English about 9 years ago. I read many English articles, ranging from tech to science. (anthropology and astronomy are my favorite). I have many English writing books, from Elements of style to Elephants of style. I have some English grammar books, from Wren and Martin to Painless grammar. I still have not grasped English grammar completely, but I have not quit. I was heavily involved in many extracurricular activities during my studies.

The following is a response to a post I saw yesterday:
I am a beneficiary of India's affirmative action program, infamously known as "reservations." For those who do not see value in it and clamor about "merit," please know that there are millions of untouchables and other backward castes in India who still lack basic amenities and education, who still live and work in the most unhygienic conditions, who still live in fear and persecuted for the reasons they cannot control, and who are competing without having the competitive advantage of well-educated parents and relatives. Merit is an abstract notion, no test, including the GMAT, can test your capabilities and predict your success in future. I know this because my doctoral research involved predicting student success, and many classical academic performance indicators fail to predict the student persistence in college, but only family background, including parent's education and parent's income level, have a lot of predictability.

Case in point is the book Outliers, especially the study of students with very high IQs. I am fortunate that my father left his village and took upon education. Others are not as fortunate as I am. Compare this situation: a person trained for marathon for years and a person whose legs were tied for most of his life, but later was given a chance to train. Of course, at first, the person with lot of experience will compete better and thus will have "merit" compared to the person whose legs were tied. But nobody can predict the success in later years or of later generations. I am aware of the negatives of an affirmative action program, but I also know that for the greater good, it is necessary, else we will never have a level playing field. Opportunity matters, I know it did to me.

[EDIT: changed astrology to astronomy. of course astrologists would like to believe that astrology is a science, it is not]

Last edited by therockobama on 16 Sep 2010, 11:27, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 13:03
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no, i have not fully accepted this score. I am on the bottom 80% range of most of the schools of my choice. I will have to improve on my score. But I think I can submit some good++ essays accompanied with excellent++ recommendations. My MS/PhD gpa is 3.6+; and graduated in top 15% of my class in UG. I have solid extra curricular activities throughout my studies. I also have clear goals. I have always believed in maintaining right balance in everything. That's why my GPA does not read a 4.

Schools I would like to go to: Harvard, MIT, Michigan, Duke, Cornell and INSEAD.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:45
Wonderful and well written debrief. I’m curious, did you find Jeff Sackmann more helpful for quant or the GMATClub tests? I’m glad your score was remotely close to your practice tests and you didn’t completely choke during your test.

I wish you good luck on your apps, you deserve it after all that hard work and sacrifice.

+1 kudos for the excellent debrief.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:53
Congrats !!

Nice debrief. Good luck for the application.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 07:55
great debrief! good luck on the rest!
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 09:25
Thanks, guys.

Dawgie wrote:
I’m curious, did you find Jeff Sackmann more helpful for quant or the GMATClub tests?


Dawgie, please know that I have not scored 48+ in quant in any test, so it is imprudent of me to comment generally. However, I think that both have some value. Jeff's material is excellent practice material that is very close to the GMAT questions. I don't think I saw a single question on the real GMAT (again, I did not score high) that included complex calculations or multi-step solutions. MGMAT quant is plagued with this problem. (I also think that higher MGMAT verbal scores gave me false hopes.)

GMAT Club tests will steer you away from the traps, but they are not necessarily close to the actual GMAT problems. My key takeaways from these tests are:
1. 2 is the only even prime number
2. 0 is an integer, but it is neither positive nor negative
3. never multiply an inequality with a variable unless you know the sign of that variable
4. never divide an equation with a variable unless you know that variable is not zero
5. odd exponents are your friends
6. two equations and two variables necessarily do not mean a solution, both equations could give the same information
7. almost always there is a simpler solution to the given problem
8. when squared (or any other exponent), 1 and 0 will return the original value. i.e. a^x=a (edit: 0^0 is undefined

Last edited by therockobama on 10 Sep 2010, 10:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 09:41
660 is a good score. Can you share few tips for verbal also?
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 09:52
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 09:56
hi

thanks for the tips in the debrief... I am getting similar scores in my practice tests and not enough time to prepare.... anyhow, I will try to peak around gmat d-day!

thanks
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 11:21
kissthegmat wrote:
660 is a good score. Can you share few tips for verbal also?


First, know that verbal score can be improved. I have read walker's debrief and he has shown that with commitment and hard work it is possible to improve the verbal score. But unlike quant, English is difficult to get a firm hold on. It takes time. Some standard things that can help you are:
- read NYT, especially its editorials and critiques. NYT also prints variety of articles on science, arts, home, and business. The very kind of material that is tested on GMAT. Get a printed version than a paper version. This will force you to read.
- also, whenever you read, no matter what you read, read the material objectively. Do not blindly accept what a book or an article says (reminds me of Buddha's quote: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/4692.html). Question the assumptions, see whether the conclusions make sense. This is my natural tendency, I do not believe any random thing, unless it comes from a standard source or it stands some logic tests. One good example is chain emails of Microsoft/Yahoo awarding free money for forwarding some emails.
- also, whenever you write, no matter what you write, question yourself: are you using the most effective words and grammar to convey some idea? Can the sentence be rewritten? Remember, most of times we just need simple words to explain something.
- somethings in GMAT V are just random. You will learn those specific patterns by practicing. Even after practicing OG material many times, I still fail to answer some questions correctly, because they test some nuanced concepts, which I cannot grasp yet. This is where Ron Purewal helps the most. His explanations are thorough. (one good document is the GMAT Prep SC document, which has links to MGMAT explanations)
- there are some tips out there for RC, but IMHO, RC is hard to improve unless you enjoy reading and "understand" the passage. for me, this happened after reading lot of articles (scientific and news), web-sites, blogs, etc. Again, if you can easily understand any NYT article on humanities, answering the questions based on that passage will become secondary.
- read elements of style at least once. Concision and clarity are the biggest takeaways from this book.

Last, always remember that "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." (Eleanor Roosevelt). So, take upon the challenge and never give up.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 12:18
Which schools are you applying too?
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 12:32
i think you will be competitive from 10s+ in rankings if you got a decent gpa (unlike mine...). It seems like you accepted the score which is fine - just make sure your school selection are withing gmat/gpa reach! good luck
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 18:32
hmm then maybe you do need a retake if you have time...
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 19:22
therockobama wrote:
kissthegmat wrote:
660 is a good score. Can you share few tips for verbal also?


First, know that verbal score can be improved. I have read walker's debrief and he has shown that with commitment and hard work it is possible to improve the verbal score. But unlike quant, English is difficult to get a firm hold on. It takes time. Some standard things that can help you are:
- read NYT, especially its editorials and critiques. NYT also prints variety of articles on science, arts, home, and business. The very kind of material that is tested on GMAT. Get a printed version than a paper version. This will force you to read.
- also, whenever you read, no matter what you read, read the material objectively. Do not blindly accept what a book or an article says (reminds me of Buddha's quote: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/4692.html). Question the assumptions, see whether the conclusions make sense. This is my natural tendency, I do not believe any random thing, unless it comes from a standard source or it stands some logic tests. One good example is chain emails of Microsoft/Yahoo awarding free money for forwarding some emails.
- also, whenever you write, no matter what you write, question yourself: are you using the most effective words and grammar to convey some idea? Can the sentence be rewritten? Remember, most of times we just need simple words to explain something.
- somethings in GMAT V are just random. You will learn those specific patterns by practicing. Even after practicing OG material many times, I still fail to answer some questions correctly, because they test some nuanced concepts, which I cannot grasp yet. This is where Ron Purewal helps the most. His explanations are thorough. (one good document is the GMAT Prep SC document, which has links to MGMAT explanations)
- there are some tips out there for RC, but IMHO, RC is hard to improve unless you enjoy reading and "understand" the passage. for me, this happened after reading lot of articles (scientific and news), web-sites, blogs, etc. Again, if you can easily understand any NYT article on humanities, answering the questions based on that passage will become secondary.
- read elements of style at least once. Concision and clarity are the biggest takeaways from this book.

Last, always remember that "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." (Eleanor Roosevelt). So, take upon the challenge and never give up.


Thank you for the post and making thing clear once again for me. good luck with your apps.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2010, 20:25
What a debrief.All the best ahead....
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 21:24
Nice long debrief!!!! All the best!!!!
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 23:27
All the Best !
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2010, 00:06
what a debrief!!!

alot to takeaway frm ur experience........:)
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2010, 07:16
Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
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Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 16:37
thank you for the insight.

therockobama wrote:
kissthegmat wrote:
660 is a good score. Can you share few tips for verbal also?


First, know that verbal score can be improved. I have read walker's debrief and he has shown that with commitment and hard work it is possible to improve the verbal score. But unlike quant, English is difficult to get a firm hold on. It takes time. Some standard things that can help you are:
- read NYT, especially its editorials and critiques. NYT also prints variety of articles on science, arts, home, and business. The very kind of material that is tested on GMAT. Get a printed version than a paper version. This will force you to read.
- also, whenever you read, no matter what you read, read the material objectively. Do not blindly accept what a book or an article says (reminds me of Buddha's quote: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/4692.html). Question the assumptions, see whether the conclusions make sense. This is my natural tendency, I do not believe any random thing, unless it comes from a standard source or it stands some logic tests. One good example is chain emails of Microsoft/Yahoo awarding free money for forwarding some emails.
- also, whenever you write, no matter what you write, question yourself: are you using the most effective words and grammar to convey some idea? Can the sentence be rewritten? Remember, most of times we just need simple words to explain something.
- somethings in GMAT V are just random. You will learn those specific patterns by practicing. Even after practicing OG material many times, I still fail to answer some questions correctly, because they test some nuanced concepts, which I cannot grasp yet. This is where Ron Purewal helps the most. His explanations are thorough. (one good document is the GMAT Prep SC document, which has links to MGMAT explanations)
- there are some tips out there for RC, but IMHO, RC is hard to improve unless you enjoy reading and "understand" the passage. for me, this happened after reading lot of articles (scientific and news), web-sites, blogs, etc. Again, if you can easily understand any NYT article on humanities, answering the questions based on that passage will become secondary.
- read elements of style at least once. Concision and clarity are the biggest takeaways from this book.

Last, always remember that "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." (Eleanor Roosevelt). So, take upon the challenge and never give up.
Re: My experience 660 (Q45 V 35) 82 percentile overall   [#permalink] 06 Jun 2012, 16:37
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