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My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42

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My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2013, 10:51
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I am finally done with the GMAT and would like to pay it forward with a debrief to the awesome people of the GMAT Club community.

I fit the typical Indian, IT, Male bill and started off with my preparation a long long time ago, sometime in October 2012. I went through the GMAT OG 13 over a period of 2-3 months wherein I covered SC, CR, PS and DS in the leisure time that I had. While work kept me busy,my study time was rather sporadic, averaging 3-4 hours a week. I gave the GMAT Prep 1 back in January 2013 for the fun of it and scored a 730 - "not bad", I thought.

I ordered the set of Manhattan guides and went through them. Once I had gone through the SC, RC, PS and DS guides I took the first MGMAT CAT in March. I scored a 700 with Q46, V37. I was disillusioned about mock CAT scores and was actually disappointed for I thought I should have had the score close to where I wanted to be - a 760. I identified CR as a weak area and spent the next month or so going through GMAT Critical Reasoning bible at my own pace. I can swear by how much this book helped me and I would recommend it to anyone.

I took my next MGMAT CAT in June and determined RC as the next weak area I wanted to improve on. I spent the next few weeks going through the MGMAT guide which was quite helpful and solved questions from the OG13 and Kaplan 800. I saw considerable improvements in RC. I kept going back and forth between GMAT, laziness and work. I finally schedule the GMAT for last week of September and got to town preparing full throttle. I took another GMAT Prep 1 in mid August and scored a 750 on it with a Q49, V42 split. I didn't feel ready as yet for the GMAT and still saw room for improvement. I re-scheduled to November end.

Through October I looked for a job change and got busy with that and had to re-schedule to December end. I felt that I needed a period of 2-3 quiet weeks where in my prep could peak before knocking out the GMAT. Thankfully with a job change on the horizon, I got enough free time and stuck to my study schedule and finally took the test today. i took GMAT Prep 2 and scored a 760. Last weekend took MGMAT 5 and 6 and scored 730 and 700. Though, this past weekend I still wasn't happy with how I was doing on RC lol.

The Game changer:


In the first week of November I decided to buy the GMAT Club tests. I head read a lot about them. I am an IT engineer in India so I was always comfortable with quant but needed that one last N bomb in my arsenal for quant. Over the next month I took a GMAT club test once every 4-5 days. I analyzed my mistakes, tried to cut down on timing bottlenecks and tried not to repeat the mistakes I was making. I also reviewed any content that I felt I wasn't comfortable with. I started off with a Q33 and moved up to Q39, Q45, Q47 and then finally hit Q51 in 3 consecutive tests. I felt comfortable with Math and was confident. By the end of it I was only taking the tests every couple of days and spending rest of my time on verbal

GMAT club tests helped me out a lot and I would recommend them as a must do to anyone who is serious about the GMAT. No matter what your level or how intimidating the questions might seem, just keep doing one test at a time and learn from your mistakes, make sure you don't repeat past mistakes. There will be a scorcher every now and then that will leave you feeling out of place but then that is why GMAT club tests are great. All my timing issues were gone, I even scored a Q51 on one of the MGMATs.

What NOT to do:



I kept going in circles trying to improve my MGMAT CAT scores, those things are too damn hard! I did not see much improvements with time and was left disheartened and unsure at times. When you feel confident enough take the GMAT Prep test and if what you score under strict conditions is close to your target score, just set aside a month and go full throttle.

Material Used:



SC : MGMAT guide, KAPLAN 800, OG13, Verbal Review 2nd edition. Kaplan 800 was good because it had plenty of high level questions.
CR : MGMAT guide, GMAT CR Bible - PowerScore - This was another game changer in my GMAT. This made CR so easy that in crunch time I could get hard CRs right in 45-60 seconds.
RC : MGMAT guide, OG13, Kaplan 800 - This was a good source of tougher questions.

PS - MGMAT guides, GMAT Club quant PDF, OG 13, Official Quant Review, GMAT Club tests. I felt GMAT club quant tests were the BEST thing to do through my entire GMAT prepr.
DS - Same as above.

Learnings:



Don't read into CAT scores: My scores on the mock MGMAT CATs kept putting me off, although I was doing well on GMAT prep tests. If I could do this again I wouldn't take the mock scores too seriously. I got a 700 on the first CAT and I could have probably taken the GMAT in a month from then. I kept going in circles.

Dig Deep: If you feel you haven't done your best to work with the best content out there for your weak areas, don't compromise. I am glad I tried out the CR bible and it helped me a great deal. I would say - Don't take the test till you have ensured you've done your best to dig deep into your weaknesses. If you still see room it is still better to err on the side of caution.

Customize your strategy: Make strategies that fit your preparation, strengths and weaknesses. I had problems with DS and was relatively stronger on PS, so I always went the extra mile and spent more time during the tests on DS questions. It paid off in the end. For verbal, I usually used to take more time for SC questions, so I made my CR really strong, so much so that I generally did CR questions in 1:30 minutes while I'd spend as much as 2 minutes on SC. I would recommend customizing your timing strategies to suit your needs rather than taking ones that are optimized for someone else.

Become a master in at least a few areas: It is important to be very strong in some areas. I could knock off hard PS(rate, percentages, profit/loss, algebra ) and CR questions within a minute during the crunch time towards the end of the tests. If you attain mastery in some areas, it would give you an advantage in dealing with your weaker ones.

Do not waste questions: I read an article from Stacey Koprinsky from MGMAT in which she mentioned how doing questions from forums and other sources ruins the Mock test experience and how it inflates your scores. I never did one question from the forums but ensured that I tried to learn from every mistake that I made in the mocks. Every mock test that I took was challenging because every question was new. So if you are taking mocks to assess your progress don't go on the forums looking for questions. Knowing that I was giving my mocks under perfect exam conditions gave me a lot of confidence. I would stay back in the office, sit in a conference call cabin just to take a full length mock with IR and essay. By the time I was giving the actual GMAT I didn't feel tired even through the last part of verbal.

Time yourself: I can confidently claim that over 95% of the questions that I ever did, even in practice or after learning a new concept, were done under strictly timed conditions. This made sure that while learning new things I always gave timing a good consideration before adopting a strategy. I instantly knew what would work and what wouldn't in terms of solving a problem within the time limits.

Don't get lost in the specifics: The aim of practicing questions is definitely not to get lost in the specific. For instance it may be a waste of time trying to argue why a fact based question in a test prep company's insanely hard passage has the answer it has. Don't let these things demotivate you. Forget the specifics. Sometimes, in their attempt to shoot hard questions at you test prep companies end up creating almost impossible to get right questions. Identify these questions when you seem them and run away from analyzing them. Concentrate more on broader issues that are coming up in your practice, time and again.

Have fun with GMAT: Include GMAT learning in your day to day activities. Don't just see GMAT as a mountain that you have to climb or you will soon feel trapped under its burden. Look for ways in which you can improve your grammar while you prepare for sentence correction. Look for ways in which you can use quant questions to make your day to day calculations fun. Try to apply what you learn for the GMAT in your day to day life. I personally feel that SC has helped my grammar, CR has helped my argument skills. I can point out some basic flaws in reasoning of politicians and my managers in a click of a finger! RC has made me fond of reading, I enjoy reading lengthy but informative science related articles.

Quant Strategy:



If you have 2 months or so, I would say go through every MGMAT guide if you haven't already. Go through the GMAT CLUB Quant PDF. Cover all the basic content that there is to GMAT Quant. No compromises when it comes to covering you basics!

You will need to memorize certain things like area of an equilateral triangle is (\sqrt{3}/4)S2. You could have derived it but it really helps on having things handy to cut down on time. Another example is: For a set of consecutive integers, if the number of integers is even the median and mean are both non integers and equal to the average of n/2th and n/2th +1 term. You could probably derive this in exam but it saves you 30-60 seconds if you already have such things on your tips.

By the time you've gone through the two sources mentioned above you should have a set of notes with you that you can go through in 30 minutes- 45 minutes whenever you want to. Start going through them every day till you can fall back on them even while half asleep. Once you've prepared the notes start taking GMAT Club tests and start going through your mistakes.

Analyze and determine:

1. In Which topics and if you need more knowledge of content and basics.
2. Any timing bottlenecks or scope for shortcuts like formulae you could identify.
3. There will be 10 percent of questions that will be almost impossible within the time constraints, forget them.
4. Make sure you're not repeating similar mistakes or many mistakes in the same topic.
5. Add to your notes if there is any scope to do

After the analysis address point 1, 2 and 4. Do whatever you need to do to make amends in the next 3-4 days. Repeat. You should be on Rinse Repeat Rinse mode and I am sure within a month you will see some serious gains ;)

Don't get into the tough stuff till your basics are clear.
You're just going to waste questions taking mocks if you're taking them when you're not ready.

Reading Comprehension Strategy:



1. Let go: Wash out everything that you know about RC, let go of any notions like it is hard for you or it is a weak area. It is very possible that you never gave yourself enough of a chance to look at RC in depth and do what it takes to make yourself ready for it.
2. Learn a strategy: I would recommend going through the MGMAT guide for RC from cover to cover. It should give you enough ideas to start off with RC.
3 Practice Timing: Start attempting questions from various sources especially from OG, Official Review. These questions should be done in a strict environment; note down the time you take for each RC passage.
4. Heat the sword: Analyze the questions that you are getting wrong and identify timing bottlenecks, for instance it could be that you are spending more time on inference type questions than questions about structure of the question.
5. Sharpen the sword: For every question that you get wrong or identify as a weak area in point 4, think about how you are going to avoid a similar mistake in a similar question in another RC. Don't just think on the level of the specifics of the question, think from a broader perspective. This will give you insight into what changes you need to make to customize your RC strategy to suit your needs better.
6. Test the new sword: Experiment and play around with your new strategy, see if it works for you. If it causes other issues, for instance a decision to refer to the passage more for fact based questions may lead to timing issues. Think about these issues and improvements that could help you avoid them. Make small adjustments in attitude towards RC, fine tune your strategy.
7. Rinse Wash Rinse Repeat: Keep doing the above things till you feel that you are doing the best that you can do and that you can't do any better no matter what.

In general there are two types of questions in RC - Fact based and Structure based. For fact based questions such as "what can be inferred from the passage?" or questions about specific facts from the passage you will need to go back to the passage and verify those facts. For Structured questions a brief thought about the structure of the passage should be enough to let you answer it correctly.

Bottomline: Identify what works best for you and include it in your strategy.

CAT scores:



GMAT Prep 1: 730
MGMAT 1 : 700 - Q48, V38
MGMAT 2 : 690 - Q47, V36
MGMAT 3 : 680 - Q44, V37
GMAT Prep 1 : 750 Q49, V41
MGMAT 4: 680 - Q46, V36
GMAT Prep 2 : 760 V42, Q50
MGMAT 5 - 730 - Q51, V38
MGMAT 6 - 700 - Q48, V37

GMAT: 760 V42, Q50.

Preparation for the D day:


I think adequate sleep before the exam is the one single important factor apart from test prep.

During the weekend, I realized that I was set for the GMAT and didn't have the mental and emotional energy to do more. I celebrated my MGMAT 730 and a friend's birthday on the weekend. I did not study anything during the last two days apart from a MGMAT CAT. I had been facing problems in getting a sound sleep for a period of 3-4 days prior to the exam.

During the night before the exam I promised myself that I would NOT get out of bed before 8-9 hours, come what may. There were a lot of thoughts running through my mind. I tried to shut myself off and avoid thinking about anything at all. It helped. I was able to sleep although I had a lot of dreams and the sleep wasn't as sound as I would have liked. I did manage to feel fresh enough for the exam though.

My exam was scheduled at 5 PM and with a night's sleep I was confident of doing well.

D day snacks:



I would recommend Red Bull. I discovered that Red Bull really helps do away with the mental fatigue. I had two red bulls, one right before the exam on my way to the exam center and I split the second in two. Half after IR and Quant sections. I guess the high caffeine and sugar content help release neurotransmitters in the brain which stimulate it(thanks to a RC passage I have an idea on how this shit works!).

I also took along a couple of 5 stars and a biscuit packet.



I hope this helps someone, somewhere. I would be glad to help anyway I can. Please feel free to ask anything you like.

It has been a dream of sorts come true and I am very thankful to the great people of GMAT Club - Sling Fox's Quant notes were a life saver and gave me ideas on how to come up with my own hand written notes. The GMAT Club Quant PDF is awesome also!

Cheers.

EDIT: I realize the "it" in the title does not have a noun referer. Not enough space in the title! :P

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Last edited by soods26 on 19 Dec 2013, 19:59, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2013, 21:03
Supreme tactics and exam taking management. You are ready to be a manager :)
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2013, 01:12
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asingh203 wrote:
Supreme tactics and exam taking management. You are ready to be a manager :)


Thanks! I only have 2 and a half years of experience and feel I still have a few more years to slog away in getting myself ready for a true MBA experience. Hopefully, I will keep the focus going and bring to a sound end what has started so wonderfully.

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2013, 09:57
GMAT Prep 1: 730
MGMAT 1 : 700 - V46, Q38
MGMAT 2 : 690 - V46, Q37
MGMAT 3 : 680 - V45, Q37
GMAT Prep 1 : 750 V41, Q49
MGMAT 4: 680 - V 45, Q37
GMAT Prep 2 : 760 V42, Q50
MGMAT 5 - 730 - V51, Q38
MGMAT 6 - 700 - V48, Q37

GMAT: 760 V42, Q50.

Congrats fr ur score!! please recheck ur score ...in ur MGMAT 1:did u get 46 in verbal or in quant?? I am finding MGMAT Quant way too tough as well.. it kills my confidence everytime I take it :( I have been consistently scoring 45 in MGMAT quant :(
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2013, 19:10
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soneesingh wrote:
GMAT Prep 1: 730
MGMAT 1 : 700 - V46, Q38
MGMAT 2 : 690 - V46, Q37
MGMAT 3 : 680 - V45, Q37
GMAT Prep 1 : 750 V41, Q49
MGMAT 4: 680 - V 45, Q37
GMAT Prep 2 : 760 V42, Q50
MGMAT 5 - 730 - V51, Q38
MGMAT 6 - 700 - V48, Q37

GMAT: 760 V42, Q50.

Congrats fr ur score!! please recheck ur score ...in ur MGMAT 1:did u get 46 in verbal or in quant?? I am finding MGMAT Quant way too tough as well.. it kills my confidence everytime I take it :( I have been consistently scoring 45 in MGMAT quant :(


Thank you.

I guess post test fatigue disorder is affecting me; I have updated my correct MGMAT scores. V and Q had to be interchanged.

Q45 is not bad, you should be able to get a min Q49 on the real thing. It is true that MGMAT Quant is quite tough but I did somehow manage to score a MGMAT Q51 and it really boosted my confidence. So much so that I partied that night. lol

if I can do it I am sure anyone else can do it too. Here is how I did it:

How much time do you have before you take your GMAT? If you have 2 months or so, I would say go through every MGMAT guide if you haven't already. Go through the GMAT CLUB Quant PDF. Cover all the basic content that there is to GMAT Quant. No compromises when it comes to covering you basics!

You will need to memorize certain things like area of an equilateral triangle is (\sqrt{3}/4)S2. You could have derived it but it really helps on having things handy to cut down on time. Another example is: For a set of consecutive integers, if the number of integers is even the median and mean are both non integers and equal to the average of n/2th and n/2th +1 term. You could probably derive this in exam but it saves you 30-60 seconds if you already have such things on your tips.

By the time you've gone through the two sources mentioned above you should have a set of notes with you that you can go through in 30 minutes- 45 minutes whenever you want to. Start going through them every day till you can fall back on them even while half asleep. Once you've prepared the notes start taking GMAT Club tests and start going through your mistakes.

Analyze and determine:

1. In Which topics and if you need more knowledge of content and basics.
2. Any timing bottlenecks or scope for shortcuts like formulae you could identify.
3. There will be 10 percent of questions that will be almost impossible within the time constraints, forget them.
4. Make sure you're not repeating similar mistakes or many mistakes in the same topic.
5. Add to your notes if there is any scope to do so.


After the analysis address point 1, 2 and 4. Do whatever you need to do to make amends in the next 3-4 days. Repeat. You should be on Rinse Repeat Rinse mode and I am sure within a month you will see some serious gains ;)

Don't get into the tough stuff till your basics are clear. You're just going to waste questions taking mocks if you're taking them when you're not ready. All the best.

_________________

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2013, 06:31
Thanks for the reply!! Now that you have taken the test and scored wonderfully u don't need to be grammatically and meaningfully correct(see I have to still check for parallelism :| ).. but u can give ur mind some break..

I am planning to take GMAT in first-second week of January. In MGMAT test until 28th QUEST I get 98 percentile after that I crash to 68th percentile. You are right, I mess up my time and need to by heart some formula to save time.
Gmat club book is awesome. I have started referring to it . I have not done MGMAT guides, I guess Gmat club book covers all the topic pretty well.
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2013, 16:48
well congrats for your remarkable score, you have really done a good job.
as i am getting problems in solving RCs questions..i rarely get 3 or 4 questions right out from 14 questions..this area is the big obstacle for me to get above 650..please help me out..!!
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2013, 19:32
abhimandu1 wrote:
well congrats for your remarkable score, you have really done a good job.
as i am getting problems in solving RCs questions..i rarely get 3 or 4 questions right out from 14 questions..this area is the big obstacle for me to get above 650..please help me out..!!


Thanks!

I've added a section - "RC Strategy" in the main post; it might give you some ideas on where to start with improvements in RC.

Keep one thing in mind - If it is your weak area, you will not turn it into a strong area over night. Be patient and remember RC is the game changer for YOU in GMAT so it is expected that it rips you apart every time you aspire to do well on the GMAT. Be kind to yourself and keep working on your strategy till you master it. Don't get lost in the specifics of the passage, learn stuff from it that will help you in the next RC passage you face.

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2013, 20:13
soneesingh wrote:
Thanks for the reply!! Now that you have taken the test and scored wonderfully u don't need to be grammatically and meaningfully correct(see I have to still check for parallelism :| ).. but u can give ur mind some break..

I am planning to take GMAT in first-second week of January. In MGMAT test until 28th QUEST I get 98 percentile after that I crash to 68th percentile. You are right, I mess up my time and need to by heart some formula to save time.
Gmat club book is awesome. I have started referring to it . I have not done MGMAT guides, I guess Gmat club book covers all the topic pretty well.


One thing that GMAT verbal does is that it makes you super conscious of your grammar! I am suffering from the after effects.

If you are scoring in the 98th percentile by question 28 on MGMAT you are doing great! You might have some timing issues which make your score drop in the end. Make sure you are not spending more than 4 minutes on more than 1-2 questions. In one of the tests I was at 98 percentile by question 35, got the 36th and 37th wrong and my score was down to 79 percentile and Q48. Don't get too overwhelmed by the percentiles on mocks. You should use MGMAT and other mocks to learn how to move on from a question. You can't afford to spend more than 4:30 minutes on a question, no matter what.

If I were you I'd go all in for the GMAT CLUB quant test subscription. The questions are hard but unlike MGMAT's, they are not time consuming because they don't have lots of details in them. Those questions are genuinely hard and they helped me out a lot in ironing out issues with my timing. I memorized important shortcuts and cut down on timing issues test by test.

All the best to you. If a week before the exam something tells you that you have room for improvement, I'd say don't hesitate to postpone.

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 23 Dec 2013, 09:15
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This was so informative! I really liked how you spent time discussing what NOT to do.

I also thought that this tip was really helpful:

Time yourself: I can confidently claim that over 95% of the questions that I ever did, even in practice or after learning a new concept, were done under strictly timed conditions. This made sure that while learning new things I always gave timing a good consideration before adopting a strategy. I instantly knew what would work and what wouldn't in terms of solving a problem within the time limits.

I think we sometimes forget how the GMAT not only tests your academic knowledge, but also tests your exam-taking abilities as well. Timing is key!

Regards,

Elizabeth

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 23 Dec 2013, 13:18
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soneesingh wrote:
GMAT Prep 1: 730
MGMAT 1 : 700 - V46, Q38
MGMAT 2 : 690 - V46, Q37
MGMAT 3 : 680 - V45, Q37
GMAT Prep 1 : 750 V41, Q49
MGMAT 4: 680 - V 45, Q37
GMAT Prep 2 : 760 V42, Q50
MGMAT 5 - 730 - V51, Q38
MGMAT 6 - 700 - V48, Q37

GMAT: 760 V42, Q50.

Congrats fr ur score!! please recheck ur score ...in ur MGMAT 1:did u get 46 in verbal or in quant?? I am finding MGMAT Quant way too tough as well.. it kills my confidence everytime I take it :( I have been consistently scoring 45 in MGMAT quant :(


I had to stop doing MGMAT CATs because they were destroying my confidence. I did better on the actual exam in Quant than I did on any of the MGMAT practice exams. That isn't to say you shouldn't keep pushing hard, but I think you will probably do better on the actual test if that is how you are doing on the practice tests.
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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42 [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2013, 03:59
BethEconomistGMAT wrote:
This was so informative! I really liked how you spent time discussing what NOT to do.

I also thought that this tip was really helpful:

Time yourself: I can confidently claim that over 95% of the questions that I ever did, even in practice or after learning a new concept, were done under strictly timed conditions. This made sure that while learning new things I always gave timing a good consideration before adopting a strategy. I instantly knew what would work and what wouldn't in terms of solving a problem within the time limits.

I think we sometimes forget how the GMAT not only tests your academic knowledge, but also tests your exam-taking abilities as well. Timing is key!

Regards,

Elizabeth


I think if timing constraints were removed, the list of people with over 99 percentile on the GMAT could very well change! In practise we need to perfect every single caveat that GMAT throws at us if we are aiming at a high score.

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Re: My GMAT Debrief and how not to approach it:760 - Q50, V42   [#permalink] 30 Dec 2013, 03:59
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