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My GMAT journey from 720 to 770

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My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2011, 23:54
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I scored 720 (Q48/V40) in my first GMAT attempt. I thought I could do better since I had been scoring a lot more in the practice tests, so I decided to retake the test. It turned out to be a very difficult decision, since my workload at work kept on increasing. I could barely manage two hours of study every day, after a 10-odd hours spent in the office. Plus my discipline wasn't that good initially. My preparation for the second attempt began in right earnest only when I finally booked a date for my retake. I studied for about 2.5 months for the first try, and around 1.5 months for the second one.

First attempt: 720 (Q48/V40)



Preparation materials for the first attempt:

My Kaplan test scores started at 690 for the diagnostic test, and gradually increased from 720 to 800 (just once). I began to think that a 770-type score was achievable.
GMAT Prep: 750,770. I don't think the Kaplan tests are a good approximation of the GMAT, I found quant too easy and verbal unlike the GMAT's verbal.
I was quite confident about my verbal skills and indifferent about quant, since I'm an engineer.

What went wrong
    1) I realized later that my time management was quite lacking. I would often run out of time on one of the sections since I found it hard to let go of a question and move on.
    2) I paid way to much attention to verbal, and not enough to quant. On the day of the test, I did not do well enough in quant (48), and my verbal let me down (40). In fact, I ran out of time and had to blindly guess for the last 3-4 questions, and apparently all my guesses were wrong.
    3) I did not take any breaks between the sections, due to which my mind did not get any rest. I think that was a mistake.

After I got my score, I was really disappointed, since I had tried quite hard and had a difficult time coping with work and the GMAT prep. I really thought I could do better, and I spoke to quite a few people, some of whom suggested I retake and others who told me that 720 was quite enough. Yet I decided I was going to give this another shot.

Second attempt: 770 (Q50,V46)



I drew up a list of my shortcomings, and decided to tackle them one by one.
    1) Time management was the biggest problem, I thought. I needed a timer to practice, since I would be using paper tests to practice. I didn't find anything to my liking, so over a weekend I taught myself enough JavaScript to write a web-based timer myself, and uploaded it to the web at the site : http://mkaushik.host56.com
      This works on Firefox and Safari only.
      Sample inputs, say you want to practice three question sets, from 1 to 20, 5 to 15 and 1-10, in 50 mintues.
    Code:
    Total time (minutes)  : 50
    Comma-separated list  : 1-20,5-15,1-10

      Hope it helps you as much as it helped me.
    2) Based on a friend's recommendation, I purchased the Manhattan GMAT practice tests. I had heard that the quant was hard, and I wanted to improve my quant score. I found them to be quite good. Again, my scores on these ranged between 720 and 770.
    3) For verbal, I used the old gmat paper tests released by mba dot com. I only looked at the verbal, since the quant had an insufficient number of hard questions. I recommend this. My timer (linked above, shameless self plug here) came in handy.
    4) For quant, I used all of the links to practice problems that you can find in Bunuel's signature (thanks a ton buddy). Some of them are really hard, but they sharpen your mind. I timed myself while doing them, skipped the hard ones
    5) I revised sentence correction and critical reasoning from the books I talked about earlier. For CR, I made short notes of the strategies suggested by the CR Bible and mugged the strategies up for each kind of CR question.
    6) I became really serious about my prep only after I booked a test date. I recommend doing this without delay once you have made up your mind about the exam.

Things I realized during and after the exam
    1) On the day of the exam, I still took longer than usual on many questions; due to the test anxiety, it was harder to let a question go, guess and move on.
    2) However, if I had not moved on, I would have surely fallen short of time on quant; the fact that I guessed the answer of one or two questions that did not make sense to me at all allowed me to catch back up with the time.
    3) My strategy for pacing myself was:
Code:
Time remaining      : 65 55 45 35 25 15 05
Must be at question : 05 10 15 20 25 30 35

    I used this for both quant and verbal, for the latter I tried to be ahead of this at all times, since the # of questions is greater after all.
4) On verbal, I moved along at a comfortable pace all throughout.
5) I took every break available. I paced around a little, drank some water, freshened up and took some deep breaths (the last two things not at the same time, obviously). Really helped me relax and reset my mind.

Summary
Sorry for the rambling debrief, very tired after another long day at work.
Make sure you pay attention to time management, dear friends, and don't make the mistakes I made.
Good luck!

Last edited by grimm on 03 Nov 2011, 20:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2011, 00:37
That's an awesome score grimm 8-) ... well done! :)

Can you elaborate a bit on the Verbal section of your test? I'd specifically want to know the type of RC passages (number of short/long and question difficulty) and CR questions (difficulty level) that you got on your GMAT as compared to other practice tests such as MGMAT or GMAT Prep that you've given. This information would be really helpful as I have my test scheduled in a couple of weeks.

Your time management tips sure seem to have worked well for you. Will try these in the next couple of weeks before my actual test.

All the best for your next phase of the long journey to a B-School.

Ciao!
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2011, 10:14
thats a great score. 46 in verbal is super cool
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2011, 15:39
Awesome stuff!
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2011, 18:37
Great tips on time management dude. Great score !!!
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2011, 20:44
grimm wrote:
Code:
Time remaining      : 65 55 45 35 25 15 05
Must be at question : 05 10 15 20 25 30 35

    I used this for both quant and verbal, for the latter I tried to be ahead of this at all times, since the # of questions is greater after all.


This should prove very handy!
Thanks
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 00:20
sudish wrote:
That's an awesome score grimm 8-) ... well done! :)

Can you elaborate a bit on the Verbal section of your test? I'd specifically want to know the type of RC passages (number of short/long and question difficulty) and CR questions (difficulty level) that you got on your GMAT as compared to other practice tests such as MGMAT or GMAT Prep that you've given. This information would be really helpful as I have my test scheduled in a couple of weeks.

Your time management tips sure seem to have worked well for you. Will try these in the next couple of weeks before my actual test.

All the best for your next phase of the long journey to a B-School.

Ciao!


I think I got two short passages, one medium and one long. I don't recall exactly though. They were evenly spaces throughout the verbal session.
GMAT prep and the paper tests are, in my opinion, the most accurate approximation of the actual exam as far as verbal is concerned.
I liked MGMAT more than Kaplan tests.
For CR and RC, MGMAT tests and paper tests were helpful, as well as the "official guide for verbal" for practice questions.
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 07:56
Congratulations. Great score and awesome advice.

When you mention, paper tests- are these from mba.com
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 08:30
grimm wrote:
For CR and RC, MGMAT tests and paper tests were helpful, as well as the "official guide for verbal" for practice questions.


paper tests ? which ones ? :?:
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 08:43
Yes the paper tests are from mba.com:

Here's the link:
http://www.mba.com/store/product-info.aspx?ProductID=5
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 08:53
grimm,
how would you compare the difficulty of the quant questions on the real GMAT to MGMAT and GMAT prep tests ?
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 08:58
GMAT prep tests are spot on in both verbal and quant, exactly like the real tests, in my opinion.
MGMAT tests have tricky maths questions, I think they're a good approximation.
Another thing I realized was that GMAT prep/actual GMAT quant appeared harder to me, mainly because of the psychological pressure of the questions being actual GMAT questions. I ended up verifying my answers a lot more before moving on to the next question. This tended to screw up my time management.
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 09:58
Amazing score, congrats.
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 18:11
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2011, 18:17
Amazing score and debrief, thank you
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2011, 21:50
Thanks guys!
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2012, 13:34
grimm,

Thanks for the Timer. Its helping me a ton
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2012, 11:28
great tips...congrats
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Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770 [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2013, 18:06
I'm in the same situation, trying to improve a 710 to a 99th%
Re: My GMAT journey from 720 to 770   [#permalink] 15 Jan 2013, 18:06
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