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My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5)

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Intern
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Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
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My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2012, 13:22
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Hello everybody,
I took the exam on January 29th, but decided to write a debrief when I have my AWA score.
So, today I received it and can tell you my story.
Maybe this will help somebody to avoid my mistakes :)

1. My background.
I am Russian female, age 29, with a university degree in international economics and 6.5 yrs workexp - 3 yrs as an analyst (reform of Russian power industry) and 3.5 yrs in corporate governance. I've made a journey from ordinary specialist to head of division.
Last year due to many reasons I decided to immigrate to Canada, and after some time the idea of immigration through studying (and then staying there) came up to me as the quickest and most convenient way. Plus, achieving an MBA or MSc degree would let me to return to my initial profession - I devoted last years to another field of activity (law) and would like to return to economics, and focus on financial or international management.
As a result, in December 2011 I understood that I had to take the GMAT.

2. Preparation.
I was always rather successful in maths and english, and an "easy learner" in everything so I decided to prepare by myself, with no off-line or on-line prep courses.
I used the following resources:
- The GMAT Toolkit app for iPhone. Yes, I put it as the main preparation tool, and wish many great wishes to its creators, because for me it became an inexhaustible source of practice material, very, VERY convenient to use and control the progress.
- The GMAT Prep. It was a valuable source of theory to refresh my math (which I have forgotten almost completely since school and first 2 years in university)).
- The GMAT Pill. The only one prep book which I read completely. Liked the language and proposed strategies. But I was rather disappointed that they do not provide all correct answers to their practice questions for free :lol:
- GMAT Question of the day. I have not missed any question - tried to crack all of them, and by the end of preparation was almost always right;)
- OG12. I went through some theory there, and tried some practice, but it was not very convenient to use (comparing to Toolkit app, hehe), so I did not use it much. Maybe this was one of my mistakes.

My strategy was rather easy. I familiarized myself with the format of the exam and also made a diagnostics by taking GMAT Prep test 1 on the next day after I decided to take the GMAT. I scored 500 (do not remember the Q/V, both were awful)).

After that I scheduled the exam for Jan 29, passed through all theory in GMAT Prep, read GMAT Pill and some chapters of the OG, practised a bit, and took a break till the end of New Year vacations (in Russia, we have long NY vacations - about 10 days. I went to Riga with my family, and we had a great time there)).

So, after returning I had about 3 weeks to prepare in a very intensive way.

I decided to devote 1-2 days to each part (SC, RC, CR, PS, DS) and then switch to another in approximately this way:
2 days SC - 1 day PS - 2 days CR - 1 day SC again - 2 days DS - 1 day CR again and so on.
I solved questions from Toolkit app, analyzing every wrong answer, making notes on strategy and discovering the shortcuts.
My weak areas were SC, DS, strong - PS, CR, so-so - RC.
I studied for about 6-8 hours each day with breaks, and a week before the exam took the GMAT Prep 1 again. To my great surprise, I have not seen many repeats. Almost all questions except RC were not the same as 1st time. I scored 700 (Q49 V37) w/o AWA.

During the last week, I concentrated on my weak areas and made a great revision on all topics.
I also read AWA800 booklet and memorized the structure and commuters to use in the actual AWAs.

Two days before the exam I took the GMAT Prep test 2 (this time with AWAs) and scored 680 (Q49 V34). Plus, I was so exhausted by the end of the test that I could not concentrate on the last 6-8 verbal questions. At that time I understood that my another mistake was not practising AWA at other diagnostics tests.

I gave myself some rest on the day before the test, practised a bit (about 5-7 questions in every section), reviewed my notes and tried to relax.

3. Test day.
My exam was at 2 pm in Academy of National Economy in Moscow.
I had a good sleep, rich breakfast and quick way to the centre - good traffic - thanks Sunday!
The centre is rather convenient (only 4 workplaces in the room with partitions), they provide you with at least 2 scratch pads (8 pages each), 2 pens, and earplugs, and encourage to ask for more if you need. I had no discomfort with pads and pens, almost no difference with regular paper and pen. The computers were rather old but still working))
Got to the test centre about half an hour before the test, passed all formalities and started the exam.

Essays were pretty easy, I had topics about whether people should devote themselves to work only (Issue) and something about healthy food (Argument).

During the break I had a smoke (the smoking room was not far from the centre in the same building), visited restroom, ate half snickers and drank some water. Was late about 20 seconds for the Q part, but it made no difference to me as I usually finished it with 5-7 minutes left.

Maths was not so complicated as I expected, very close to that from GMAT Prep. I even had a VERY easy question: in 1994, the company's profit was 100, in 1995, it was 400. By how many percent did the profit increase? When I saw it I even thought I bombed the quant section :-D But I drove that feeling away and went on. I can say I had no extremely hard questions in quant section at all. Had to guess a couple of DS, but by the end I felt that I coped with quants.

Second break - another cigarrette, another half of snickers and some water. Was at the testing room on time.

Verbal section appeared to me a bit more difficult than that from GMAT Prep, especially in RC. The last passage was really monstrous. And again by the end of the test I was really anxious to end the exam and see the scores, so I guess I mixed last 10 questions up :( May be this is the explanation for my poor verbal score.

When I saw the scores (650 Q49 V30) I can say I was a bit dissapointed, I expected at least 680 or more.
My only cold comfort was that another 2 people who were taking exam with me scored 420 and 510)))

But on my way home I realized that the score is really good (for my targets of course, because I do not need Wharton or Harvard :) ).
Again, taking into account my rather quick self-preparation, and the fact that last time I had to pass any exams in 2005, this is a decent score as I think.
Today I received my AWA score - 5 - and I think this is very good too, regarding that I practised AWA only once before the exam.

4. Next steps.
Actually, I am going to apply this autumn, I am targeting more at MSc, less at MBA programs in Canada (York, Simon Fraser, U of Alberta, U of BC, U of Waterloo, Brock, maybe a couple more), and I need to get a scholarship as I do not have enough money for tuition fees and living costs.

So I ask you for some piece of advice - what do you think, should I retake the GMAT or not?
I feel that with more preparation I could achieve more in verbal section. My Q score is good, I have only not to spoil it.
I know that most scholarships are based on academic merit. My GPA is 3.88/4, I have not taken the IELTS yet, but expect smth like 7-7.5 there, and maybe I should achieve 700+ in GMAT to maximize my scholarship chance?

Anyway, my GMAT experience was very interesting for me, and I hope I have not lulled you to sleep by my debrief :)
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2012, 13:41
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Hey - pretty good story. And also good persistence .. I will also look into that iphone App
Intern
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Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2012, 14:02
Renagade wrote:
Hey - pretty good story. And also good persistence .. I will also look into that iphone App


Thanx!
Toolkit app costs about $25, but it is definitely worth that money :)
There is also a free version, but of course there are much less practice questions there.
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2012, 14:35
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nice debrief. It's getting late in here but I'm still awake ;). In general, I think that for a Msc programme you don't need to have such high scores as for an MBA. This depends of course on the country and school; like I said it is just a tendency.
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2012, 20:35
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A good debief - thanks! +1 Kudos from me.

I envy the smoking bit - my GMAT center did not have a smoking lounge - was a pretty difficult 4 hours:)

Jokes apart, as you say, 650 is a decent score and you dont need a higher score for your target schools. However, if you want to target a scholarship, I don't see any harm in retrying.

I think you underperformed on the verbal part and can notch up the score with hard work.

There are a lot of helpful, interesting verbal documents in GMATClub itself - do ask me and I can share the links if you decide to retake.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2012, 07:32
Thanks!
I will probably try one more time in April or May, before the new format is introduced))

Santanu76 wrote:
A good debief - thanks! +1 Kudos from me.

I envy the smoking bit - my GMAT center did not have a smoking lounge - was a pretty difficult 4 hours:)

Jokes apart, as you say, 650 is a decent score and you dont need a higher score for your target schools. However, if you want to target a scholarship, I don't see any harm in retrying.

I think you underperformed on the verbal part and can notch up the score with hard work.

There are a lot of helpful, interesting verbal documents in GMATClub itself - do ask me and I can share the links if you decide to retake.
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2012, 20:10
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On verbals, I would suggest you could have a look at the e-GMAT course and enroll for the free trial. If you like it, you can then enroll for the paid version. It's relatively cheap and is targeted at non-native speakers.

Please go through the Brutal SC, CR documents on GMATClub - and also the verbal notes by whiplash, Gayathri, spidey etc - all are free downloads. You can download them here: download.php

You could go through the GMATClub SC, CR and RC and PS, DS discussion threads, which are broken down into 700-level questions and 600-level questions. You can find these links here: viewforumtags.php

Also, please go to whiplash's profile and download all the verbal documents you'll find in her signature.

All the best!
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2012, 22:54
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Great debrief! :) I wish you the best of luck with your next GMAT attempt!
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2012, 01:58
I don't see any harm in re-taking. Especially given the fact that you scored 680 & 700 on various practice tests. That could make a huge difference in scholarship money.
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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2012, 11:25
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Hi there,

I was in the same situation a few months ago.

I decided to take the e-gmat course for verbal, and improved my raw V score by 8 points.

You may want to look into it... They have a one or two week trial (can't remember exactly how long.).

What helped me also was to try to read 4-5 pages of a book or a long article every day - start with subject matters that interest you and then move on to the longer, more tedious ones.

Before that, I was used to reading things for key words, and grabbing information I need without really paying attention to the overall content, style and structure. Getting into the habit of reading helped steer me in the right direction as far as RCs and CRs go.

Other than that, don't give up! GMAT is a beast, but it can be taken down! =)

Good luck!
Intern
Intern
Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 19

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Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2012, 03:19
Thanks for your advice! I'll try that)

Sunflwr3 wrote:
Hi there,

I was in the same situation a few months ago.

I decided to take the e-gmat course for verbal, and improved my raw V score by 8 points.

You may want to look into it... They have a one or two week trial (can't remember exactly how long.).

What helped me also was to try to read 4-5 pages of a book or a long article every day - start with subject matters that interest you and then move on to the longer, more tedious ones.

Before that, I was used to reading things for key words, and grabbing information I need without really paying attention to the overall content, style and structure. Getting into the habit of reading helped steer me in the right direction as far as RCs and CRs go.

Other than that, don't give up! GMAT is a beast, but it can be taken down! =)

Good luck!
Intern
Intern
Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 19

Reviews Badge
Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2012, 03:20
Yes, the only one reason for me to retake the exam is to have more chance for scholarship :)
I will probably do that this spring.

jazzman wrote:
I don't see any harm in re-taking. Especially given the fact that you scored 680 & 700 on various practice tests. That could make a huge difference in scholarship money.
Intern
Intern
Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 19

Reviews Badge
Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2012, 03:22
Thanks a lot ellessie!

elleesie wrote:
Great debrief! :) I wish you the best of luck with your next GMAT attempt!
Intern
Intern
Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 19

Reviews Badge
Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2012, 03:24
Thanks a lot for your valuable advice! I will look through these materials and try to keep the community informed of my future success 8-)

Santanu76 wrote:
On verbals, I would suggest you could have a look at the e-GMAT course and enroll for the free trial. If you like it, you can then enroll for the paid version. It's relatively cheap and is targeted at non-native speakers.

Please go through the Brutal SC, CR documents on GMATClub - and also the verbal notes by whiplash, Gayathri, spidey etc - all are free downloads. You can download them here: download.php

You could go through the GMATClub SC, CR and RC and PS, DS discussion threads, which are broken down into 700-level questions and 600-level questions. You can find these links here: viewforumtags.php

Also, please go to whiplash's profile and download all the verbal documents you'll find in her signature.

All the best!
Intern
Intern
Joined: 12 Dec 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Russian Federation
Concentration: International Business, Economics
GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30
GMAT 2: 690 Q49 V35
GPA: 3.88
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 19

Reviews Badge
Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5) [#permalink] New post 30 May 2012, 03:44
Just wanted to share with you that I re-took the GMAT last Saturday and improved my score up to 690 Q49 V35 (still do not know the AWA score but, as I feel, everything should be OK there).
I will try to find some more time and post a detailed debrief, but now I am not ready for that, and will write briefly.

Many thanks to E-GMAT course (I took only free trial course because I was very short of time during preparation).
Also many thanks to GMAT question of the day e-mails, they helped me much to remail in the ranks between the exams.
My advice to everybody who wants to retake the test in some months after the 1st attempt, but is not ready to study every day during this period: solving 2 questions a day from those e-mails helps not to forget everything, and easily resume your studies when you are ready to start preparing for the next exam.

I actually had about 10 days of preparation before the 2nd exam due to my new full time job, with about 2 hours of study a day.

Of course I would be more psychologically satisfied if 7 was the first digit of my score, but, in my opinion, 690 and 700 do not differ much:)

So, now I am pretty happy with my score, and do not plan to retake. I will better concentrate on IELTS and applications:)
Re: My first and maybe not last attempt: 650 (Q49 V30 AWA 5)   [#permalink] 30 May 2012, 03:44
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