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My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months

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My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 08:45
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Well, thought I'd add my GMAT experience to the forums since it seems many people gather a lot of information about the current test structure from these experience posts.

The Test

Took my test this past Saturday, which also happened to be my birthday. I had a noon test time. I woke up about 8am and kind of lounged around until about 10 or so. Ate some breakfast, then did 10 problems or so out of OG12 just to get the mind going. I showed up at about 11:15 and went through the somewhat extended check-in process. Took 15 minutes or so. The test center was pretty busy, but I was able to start the test early which was fantastic. I was already a ball of nerves and waiting another half hour in the sitting area would have been horrific.

Sat at my computer and while I was going through the test rules screens, I jotted down the AWA template proposed by Chineseburn. I only completed one set of AWA essays during all my test prep. I would say the real thing went o.k., but I wasn't too concerned. Completed both essays with plenty of time to spare. Took a 5 minute break, drank some water, ate a pear and went to the restroom. Then the real fun began.

Started the Quant section a little nervous, but by this time the AWA had calmed me down. I also had been scoring pretty well in my prep, so wasn't too concerned. My biggest problems had been time management and geometry (I spent the better part of an hour or so the previous Thursday working on geometry). The quant section went as planned. Nothing looked unfamiliar and I was feeling pretty confident by the time the section ended. I did a very good job of maintaining a solid pace. I resisted the urge to double and triple check my answers. I only received what I would consider a couple difficult questions. Two of which were geometry. I solved one and guessed the second as it was questions 36 and I only had 2-3minutes left. I also recieved a sphere questions which wasn't difficult, but surprising. Quant finished, I took another 5 minute break, drank some water, ate an apple and went to the restroom.

The Verbal section began and I became very nervous. I had somewhat struggled on the verbal. My practice scores kind of fluctuated and SC had been a pain in my ass. The whole section seemed a bit different from my practice. Maybe it was the nerves or the fact I couldn't concentrate well for the first few questions. Over the course of the section I kept putting in and removing the ear plugs. Anyways, 4 RC passages, 2 of which were short, 1 at 3 paragraphs and 1 at 4 paragraphs. Not too difficult, but I became very good at RC over my prep to the point if I missed one during practice it was a surprise. SC seemed similar to practice, a couple questions which tested idioms as part of the answer. CR, looking back at the experience, was more difficult than practice. Mostly assumptions, weaken, strengthen types. I beleive I had 1 "complete the argument" type. Again, I'm pretty solid in CR, but considering the difficulty it was a bit unsettling.

Verbal section ended and I went through the obligatory background information, which is annoying because you are just waiting to see the score.

Finished the section, clicked on report scores: 730: Q49, V41

Pretty relieved. In all my prep work I had only scored higher once, which was the second attempt at GMAT Prep #2 where I saw quite a few of the same questions. I was hoping to see Q50-51, but nope, couldn't crack it. Overall, I can't complain.

The Prep

I took GMAT Prep #1 in late June, early July and scored a 550 (Q27, V34). I had never seen a GMAT problem beforehand, so I wasn't concerned. I hadn't used much algebra and number properties in a while. I'm an engineer in the medical device field, and while we use math, this type of math doesn't show up too often. I did some research on study material and the like. Found this forum. I ordered the Kaplan Premier, OG12, OG Math, and OG Verbal. I spent a week or so going through the Kaplan book, but it wasn't doing it for me. I found out my company would pay for a class, so I did some research and settled on the Knewton On Demand course, then took the rest of July and most of August off from studying. I had already planned vacations, family was visiting, etc.

Picked up the Knewton course and began studying again in late August. I pretty much studied solely from this over the next 8 weeks or so. I occasionally would complete a GMAT Club Test. When the class finished I still had a few weeks until the test, so I cracked open the OG12 book and completed about half the PS, DS and SC sections. Only did 20 CR problems or so and didn't touch RC. With a week and a half to go I was still struggling a bit with SC, probably about 70% efficient, so I ordered Aristotle SC Grail and went through half of this. I'm not sure I gave it a fair shake. I was pretty burned out with studying at this point.

Sunday a week before the real deal I completed the last Knewton CAT. Scored another 710 which seemed to be my ceiling. Took Wednesday off from work to take the final CAT, GMAT Prep #2. This was my second attempt, but I was still struggling with time management, so I wanted to take one more test. Scored a 750. My CAT breakdown is as follows:

GMATPrep1: 550 (Q27:V34) diagnostic
Knewton Diagnostic: 590 (Q39:V34)
Knewton CAT 2: 600 (Q41:V32)
Knewton CAT 3: 710 (Q46:V42)
Knewton CAT 4: 710 (Q43:V45)
GMATPrep2: 710 (Q49:V38)
Knewton CAT 5: 660 (Q46:V35) - lost focus on the verbal section, this is when the studying was burning me out
GMATPrep1: 720 (Q49:V39)
Knewton CAT 6: 710 (Q45:V44)
GMATPrep2: 750 (Q49:V42) - second attempt

Anyways, I'm glad it is done. Now on to the applications. Thanks to everyone on the forum. This has been a great resource. Also, I really can't say enough about the Knewton class. I doubt I would have scored this well if I studied on my own.

I'd be happy to answer any questions for people who are curious.
Kaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesKnewton GMAT Discount CodesManhattan GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 12:23
Congrats. Very good score.
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 13:24
icaniwill wrote:
Congrats. Very good score.


thanks, much appreciated
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 13:42
Congrats and Gl with apps.
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 17:30
Great job!
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2011, 21:11
amazingg
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2011, 00:47
Hey - Congratulations! :-) Have you got any tips on how to manage reading comprehensions? Much appreciate the advice!
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2011, 07:00
congrats on the awesome score!
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Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2011, 07:44
donkadsw wrote:
Hey - Congratulations! :-) Have you got any tips on how to manage reading comprehensions? Much appreciate the advice!


Yeah, no problem. I think the biggest thing to realize with RC questions is the difficulty really doesn't have anything to do with the questions themselves. The difficulty lies is the passage. So, if you work on becoming better at understanding passages, you will do better on the questions. I went from probably 75% proficiency to close to 100% in the matter of 10-12 passages using the following:

    Become interested in the topic you are reading.

    Become an active reader: jot down the main points of each paragraph. As soon as I saw the number of paragraphs in the passage, I would write down a 1, 2, 3 etc down the side of a page. Then I would fill in each number with the info contained in the respective paragraph. This could be as little as a couple words or as much as a sentence or two. Do what your comfortable with. To be honest, I rarely looked back at these notes, but because I wrote them down I obtained an understanding of the passage

    Some people also suggest you write down the purpose, main idea and tone of the passage. I never did this. I always assumed there would be a "purpose" question for each passage, so I just read the passage with the thought that I needed to have this understanding by the time I finished reading. In all of my practice I was never given a author's tone question.

That's it. I probably read a grand total of 40-50 passages during my study. The large majority coming from CATs. But using the formula outlined, I became really good at these problems. By knowing I had a great understanding of RC questions, it really opened up study time to practice on the things I wasn't as good at.

Hope this helps.
Re: My GMAT Experience - 550 to 730 in 3 months   [#permalink] 08 Nov 2011, 07:44
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