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My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief!

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My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2009, 17:22
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I want to share my experience because I want to encourage those who may not be a math whiz or have been out of school for long or have an unusual background, such as arts (like myself). It’s going to be a long post – so please bear with me.

I started toying with the idea of GMAT towards the end of 2006. Took a diagnostic test by PR and got a mere 400. At that time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to B-school but had some time off between jobs so decided to take PR tutorials – approx 20hrs. In the end, I didn’t pursue the GMAT that year.

Come beginning of this year, after 5.5 years of working, I decided that I want to do post-grad and MBA from a good school is the top choice. I knew it meant hitting the books seriously for the first time in about 10 years while working 60+hr week (actually mostly more – bloody Asian working hours!). I was an arts undergrad student and have not done any math - beyond basic calculations or taken an exam in 10 years. I knew I needed help, so I enrolled in Kaplan 10-week course starting end of March. Verbal was my stronger side though not a piece of cake as I’m not a native speaker. I thought I would aim for 650-700 range although realistically I wasn’t expecting to surpass 680. I decided I would try my best and aim to make a strong application in other areas.

With OG 12 and Kaplan materials in hand….the story goes….
Kaplan Diagnostic (end March): 480, Q28, V30 (no AWA)
….Classes – study – work – almost no social life except 2 week holiday….
Kaplan CAT 1 (mid May): 510, Q31, V29 (no AWA)
….Class ended – hell at work – no social life – got sick (didn’t study for around 3 weeks) – rescheduled test from end June to end July – slightly depressed
Kaplan CAT 2 (end Jun): 520, Q30, V33 (w/AWA)
…..Very depressed – still sick on and off – forgotten what social life is - found GMAT club (HURRAY!!!)– realized Kaplan score may be slightly off – glimmer of hope – press on with self study – took some time off work.
Kaplan CAT 3 (11 Jul): 610, Q39!, V32 (w/AWA)
…at last…some hope…decided that I need to build up the stamina. Made a study plan to do a test every couple of days, all with AWA
Kaplan CAT 4 (14 Jul): 620, Q32, V44!
Kaplan CAT5 (17 Jul): 570 (boo!), Q35, V32
GMAT Prep1 (20 Jul): 650!, Q43, V38
MGMAT SC bible arrived in the mail, finally! Great book, as recommended on this forum!
Kaplan CAT 6 (23 Jul): 640, Q43, V34
MGMAT CAT 1 (25 Jul): 490 (HORROR!), Q29, V34 – silly mistakes plagued Q section– I was really tired that day – decided to dismiss it as a bad day. However MGMAT was great at explaining how to think about the questions – much better than Kaplan CAT. Also know that in the next 6 days, I’d be better off getting really BASIC math right than worrying about advance questions.
GMAT Prep2 (28 Jul): 670, Q46, V36

Test day! 31 Jul: Felt encouraged that I have come so far in about 4 months though I didn’t even complete all questions in the OG. I did very little work overall for RC and CR and just worked away on quant and SC. Just didn’t think too much about how it would to turn out and decided to just give it my best shot. AWA was pretty straightforward. Quant was as usual a rush at the end – a couple of educated guesses in the middle and then guessed about 3-4 straight at the end!! I always run out of time so no surprises there. Verbal was tough. At one point, I was reading a short passage twice because I couldn’t concentrate as a person next to me was typing loudly away! Guessed 2-3 questions as out of time. I seriously almost had tears in my eyes when the score came up. It was a combination of happiness and relief: 710 (92%), Q46 (76%), V41 (92%).
No one could wipe the smile off my face! 710? Really? Am I dreaming?!!!

A BIG THANK YOU to GMAT
club community for continuing to inspire and share. I hope that this too can help encourage those who may be feeling the same things as me. My only tip is that everyone has different approaches. Take tips from this forum but adapt to your style. For example, skimming does not work for me at all. I just had to read. Doing quant in 2 minutes also does not work for me. I just did checks at 60min/30min/10min left as BB had suggested – that’s much better. I knew then which questions I had to rush or make an educated guess.

Good luck to future test takers!

On to applications – top schools seems slightly nearer to reach!!
And yes…I am still smiling... :-D
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2009, 18:13
That is fantastic! I love seeing the progress and improvement over time! Inspiring for everyone!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2009, 18:34
Congratulations Salisaaa! Every time I hear stories like yours, it gives me great joy.

And, keep smiling! :)
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2009, 19:05
Congrats. Your hard work and persistence paid off!

Can you share what books/materials you found most useful. I am asking this as you are from a arts background and it will help others who are from the same field.

thnx
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If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.

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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 02 Aug 2009, 03:23
Thanks to all for the congrats notes. :)
On what I found useful:

Quant:
1) Kaplan pocket guide (given with the course I enrolled) really help with revisiting the basics of high school math I hadn't touched in years.
2) The math class at Kaplan was really good. Great for strategy and shortcut but not for basics.
3) OG12 practice practice practice
4) MGMAT CAT - the explanations for questions are really much better than Kaplan's test. I only did one and that was my bad day but I'm glad I reviewed all questions because the explanations were really clear and even gave me formula for some stuff I didn't know.
5) GMAT club forum - of course. I did not attempt test because seems advanced for me but went through all the links on 'new to GMAT math forum' and found some useful things like how to calculate averages faster, ending digits, powers and roots, number properties, etc. I also participated in a couple of discussions on specific questions - helps to see how others approach things. Sort of learning by example.
***Most important to note is when I take all those practice tests, I went through explanations not only for questions I got wrong but also those I was a bit unsure, took a long time or made educated guess. I think I learned a lot of this process. It's the thinking process and setting up question that's important for me. I made an error log but didn't go back to attempt all questions- just didn't have time but it was useful to know where I was weak so that when it comes to real test, I may choose to guess those areas.

For verbal:
1)MGMAT SC is the best. I didn't study grammar in school even though I'm not native speaker so it was really useful to know what GMAT is looking for.
2) Class didn't work for me that much apart from a bit of CR strategy.
3) OG12 I didn't work on RC or CR. much (just enough to not forget)- I read a lot anyway. I completed all SC to gain speed and confidence

Hope this is helpful:)

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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 02 Aug 2009, 04:30
Congrats - That's a huge score improvement!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 02 Aug 2009, 21:18
congrats. inspiring.

gd luck for ur apps.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2009, 03:26
Awesome. Great improvement, thank you for de-brief!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 06 Aug 2009, 11:02
Great achievement. Good luck on your application.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2009, 15:40
Thats GREAT....congrats to you
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2009, 14:48
Salisaaa Congrats! If you HAD to do it all over again, would you change anything specific about your approach to the GMAT? Obviously not the score, but something that you wished you had done from the start? I am just trying to see if could have done something differently to improve efficiency.

I currently work in investment banking and I am looking to get started on studying for the GMAT. Obviously my studying schedule will be based around my working hours, but I am hoping you can give some advice on how to initiatilly approach the exam.

Once again great job and its a great story to share with everyone!

Thanks!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 23 Sep 2009, 19:41
Congratulations on such a big improvement! :-D

I'm scheduled to take my exam in a month's time, and I hope I can share the same success story.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2009, 20:30
Expert's post
Great improvement and nice debrief!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2009, 21:31
Impressive improvement. I noticed that your scores on the practice exams for Kaplans and MGMAT were all lower than your real GMAT. That's very encouraging. I'm taking the exam in a month and haven't been scoring as well as i want on the practice exams. Hopefully, I'll do as well on the real thing as you did.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2009, 20:20
Hi Salisaaa,

It’s really impressive your achievement. I started to prepare by myself last week and I’ve just found your post, it’s very interesting. I would like to know, How long did you study everyday(on average) during your prep time period?. Thanks a lot.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2010, 00:34
CongratS!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2010, 23:21
This does help a great deal. Thanks for sharing and congratulations!!!
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2011, 23:04
Dear Salisaaa,

Congrtulations on your success ( although I think I am tad to late!! :-) )

You were the kind of inspiration I was seeking..

Just started my gmat studies...my background is similar like yours.
Figured out Downloading materials from the web arent that great need to have actual books.

do you recollect the books you started off with..or is it the complete list what you have mentioned.
cheers
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2011, 02:27
congrats! truly inspirational for me.
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Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief! [#permalink] New post 07 May 2012, 12:21
Congrats, and thanks, you give me hope on my verbals.
Re: My GMAT journey: 400 to 710! What a relief!   [#permalink] 07 May 2012, 12:21
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