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My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 AWA 5.5

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Joined: 13 May 2010
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GMAT 1: 600 Q47 V26
GMAT 2: 710 Q49 V38
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My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 AWA 5.5 [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2012, 09:50
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Hello Friends,

I had my G day on March 26th and I managed to score a 710 (Q49 V38) this time. Whether to take another dig at GMAT or not, that time will tell :) but till then let me put a debrief about my journey so far.
EDIT: Received my AWA yesterday. scored a 5.5 this time.

About me:
I am an Indian/male/29Y. I obtained my B.E in EEE from a reputed private institute (no Govt. College due to choice of branch :( even though secured a decent rank in JEE ~95th percentile).
I have overall 7 years of experience. First 1 year with an Automotive major and last 6 years in telecom application development with a major American telecom company. Since it is a product based organization I have nothing to boast about leading many people with this much of experience or spending many years onsite. As with any typical product industry engineer I have more development and design exposure and a decent project lead profile. I had been to US for project integration activities in the past, but for short stint. My purpose of appearing for GMAT and to do an MBA is to jump vertically up in a similar industry (could be a consultant or techno managerial position). In other words I want to accelerate my growth.

My bitter romance with GMAT:

Almost 2 years ago I had this idea of doing an MBA to accelerate my career growth, and then I booked my first GMAT appointment. As any first timer would do, I was wandering here and there without any idea about how and where to start. I put much effort in understanding all basics of English grammar through Wren & Martin and finally gave up :( . As with many Indian students, to me quant first seemed to be cake walk and verbal to be the mount Everest. Hence the final outcome was disheartening when I saw 600 (Q47 V27) on the screen. Believe me the actual test room can shatter your confidence unless you are mentally strong. The same happened to me when I was in the quant section. I was stuck on many questions, couldn't manage time and ended up forfeiting 3 questions. The burden carried over to verbal section and as a result the entire test was a disaster.

Movie after the interval:

I had resigned the idea of doing an MBA as the first step itself seemed so tough. But thanks to all "retake or not posts" in GMAT club and especially to one of my friend who was my study partner,I gathered all my confidence again and decided to appear for the test once again. But this time the preparation was a bit different. I focused more on dealing with exam conditions and identifying purpose of the question rather than hitting at each question like a bull and trying to solve it.
This time my preparation lasted for almost 2 months. First month was for brushing up basics again and solving all OG questions, and next one month was for writing full length tests with thorough analysis of each test.

Materials used:
Unlike my first preparation, in which I went through all the materials suggested in different forums, this time I decided to stick to:
1. Official Guide - The Holy grail for any GMAT taker.
2. Manhattan SC guide - Kindle edition - helped me continue my studies whenever I had some free time at work.
3. All MGMAT tests and Gmat prep tests.
4. very late in my prep cycle, e-gmat course on RC (since RC was my weakest link) and few sample files of SC.

Most of the preparation strategy I followed was from what I derived out of suggestions given in GMAT Club. Hence I won't repeat each and every step here. However I will focus on few points which I feel really helped me to improve in last one month of preparation.

Key Points which really helped me :

1. Brush up basics: Reiterating the suggestion of many members on GMAT club, there is absolutely no need to prepare for the hardest of hard questions to do well in GMAT. Be it the probability question in quant or a bold face in CR (both of which were my weak areas :) ). You are good to go if you are confident about your basics and sound in applying the knowledge correctly and flawlessly. For example Under exam pressure you can get confused when it comes to multiplying reciprocals or understanding a long sentence in a passage or CR. So confidence in solving questions matters a lot.

2. Constant practice: I found that practicing questions from all areas (be it 5 questions per day) and analyzing each question helped me a lot rather than focusing on any particular section for weeks. However the revision of theory or learning of concepts could be done in continuous fashion while setting aside some time to practice few questions from each section.

3. Learn to by pass obstacles: Believe me GMAC is notorious in sneaking in questions which would eat up more time and leave you nervous. So don't panic if you find a hard question and it is eating up your time. Just make an educated guess and move on. All is well that ends well. So always try to finish each section in time.

4. Build up Patience: Though it may sound unusual to some, I would say most of the improvement I saw in my preparation was after I started doing brief meditations before I sit for studying. It used to relieve all work related pressure off me and I felt rejuvenated each time. In fact on the test day, some breathing techniques helped me gain my composure towards the end of the test. Most test takers find the last 30 mins of the test very tough as the mind starts wandering. Some good and FREE sources can be found at http://www.fragrantheart.com/cms/free-audio-meditations
Also write the practice tests (including GMATPrep) in full test day environment. In fact I bought 3M ear plugs to cancel surrounding noise while taking tests, I wrote both AWA questions for the full 30 minutes. And Since I had booked the 9AM slot, I wrote all tests in the morning hours only. Each of these steps played a vital role in my preparation.

And lastly (especially for all Non Native test takers)

5. Focus on Understanding the question: I was always trying to solve a question by applying the rules I studied in different materials. But few sample materials on SC and the RC material of http://www.e-gmat.com were an eye opener to me. Though I am not advertising for e-gmat in any manner :) , but I found the materials of this course of much benefit to me. First of all these are audio visual tutorials which helped me retain many things I learned till the test day. Also the emphasis of the course on meaning based analysis and breaking sentences into small fragments helped me a lot in understanding many tough verbal questions on the test day. I would attribute most of my verbal improvement to the last 3 weeks of preparation I did by applying this logic.


Test scores during my prep:

1. Diagnostics test GmatPrep-1 (taken after 2 weeks of start of prep) - 650 - Q49 V29 (with few repeat questions from OG12 which I practiced same week)
2. MGMAT CAT1 on 02/09/12- 620 - Q44 V32 - Struggled a lot in timing the quant questions, spent as much as 7 mins on some questions.
3. MGMAT CAT2 on 02/19/12- 620 - Q45 V31 - same as above
4. MGMAT CAT3 on 03/04/12- 700 - Q44 V41 - Debacle in quant continued. Practicing verbal with e-gmat strategy started paying off.
5. MGMAT CAT4 on 03/10/12- 670 - Q47 V34 - Started identifying tough and time consuming quant questions in order to guess and continue. Verbal dip was due to continuous 6 wrong answers towards the end.
6. MGMAT CAT5 on 03/18/12- 680 - Q47 V35 - Have lost all hopes of seeing the 700 figure in actual GMAT.
7. Knewton free test on 03/21/12- 640 -Q43 V35 - Where am I heading :(. Fact is accuracy was high, but scoring was strict. so reassured myself with a 30 min stress relief meditation session. This test was without AWA.
7. GMAT Prep2 on 03/23/12- 670 - Q49 V32 - Hmm is this the end? What went wrong? Actually wrote the test with much anxiety and felt the exam day pressure. It taught me that I still need to keep my cool.
8. repeated GMAT Prep2 test after resetting the pool on 03/24/12 - 720 Q49 V39 - surprisingly only 3-4 questions were repeats. So I spent ~2 mins on each of them to simulate test scenario.

In the end I would thank each and every member of this ever growing GC community who believe in winning together. I learned a lot from this forum and still expect to learn more during my application preparation cycle in coming months. I would request members to suggest some top notch B-schools which suit my profile, and where chances of getting some decent amount of scholarship or a partial fee waiver is high.

For the avid story readers, (Others can skip this :) ) :
My Test day experience:
Actual test day always created butterflies in my stomach. March 26th was no different. I had to rush to the test center as the test was scheduled at morning 9 AM, and because I am an owl. I carried some dark chocolates to pump in some caffeine to my nervous system. The test started 30 minutes late due to technical problems. This mounted the pressure on me and I started to think this as a bad omen and an indication of my test result. I was really superstitious at that moment :). As I mentioned earlier, test day pressure started to build up as soon as I finished the AWA section. I took a break and tried to pacify myself saying quant will be ok and I need not worry about it. But the first question itself bowled me over. In order to get the maximum right out of first 10-15 questions, I spent almost 30 mins on first 10 questions. End result I had to rush through some of the questions just to finish the section on time. I was nervous like hell. I went to the rest room, washed my face, jumped around to energize myself once again. Still I could feel the tension and the thought of a poor quant score kept on coming to my mind. Finally I tried to control my breathe and become aware of it. Amidst all this drama when I returned to my seat, a message greeted me saying I ate up 2 mins extra than the allotted 8 minutes and as a result my verbal section started with 73 mins as the timer. I had no other way than to regain my composure and remind me on each question that I need to understand the purpose of the question before trying to find the answer. I managed to finish the verbal section in time. When the test ended I was happy to see V38 despite loosing few critical minutes of the test. Overall 710 gave me some amount of satisfaction for all the efforts I put in last few months.

Last edited by santu71182 on 05 Apr 2012, 20:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 19 Mar 2012
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Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, General Management
GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V42
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Re: My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2012, 10:48
Great to hear man. 600 to 710 is no cakewalk

Would you do anything differently?
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Joined: 13 May 2010
Posts: 33
Location: India
GMAT 1: 600 Q47 V26
GMAT 2: 710 Q49 V38
WE: Programming (Telecommunications)
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Kudos [?]: 13 [0], given: 9

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Re: My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2012, 11:06
Mentioned few points in the debrief (I know it is a long one :) but sometimes you can't express in short :) ).

Mainly, getting trained myself under strict exam conditions, focusing more on meaning of sentences, and trying to keep my cool by meditations seem to have paid off.
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Status: Graduated
Affiliations: HEC
Joined: 28 Sep 2009
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Concentration: Economics, Finance
GMAT 1: 730 Q48 V44
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Re: My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2012, 19:32
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Congratulations on the comeback score and thanks for the debrief!
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Re: My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710 [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2012, 23:12
Congratulations on improving your score and also analyzing how you improved and what led to your improvement. My tutor also said that meditation also helps one improve his or her score. I will now put a space for that before I start my preparations for the day. Thanks
Re: My GMAT experience- From 600 to 710   [#permalink] 04 Apr 2012, 23:12
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