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My GMAT prep diary

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My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 06:16
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I have just started a blog in which I'll try to closely track my day to day experiences in preparing for GMAT. So far, so good.

I am taking the Veritas Prep course, and one of the main reasons is because MGMAT is not offered in my city. Nevertheless, I have a set of MGMAT materials and plan to use them as required. I also have a set of the OG materials.

Please feel free to follow my updates and ups and downs.

It says I have to have 5 posts so I will post the address in a later post.
Manhattan GMAT Discount CodesKaplan GMAT Prep Discount CodesVeritas Prep GMAT Discount Codes
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 06:17
Three posts left to go.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 06:17
Two left posts to go.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 06:18
One post left to go.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 06:19
OK my blog is at http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com

As I said, please feel free to follow my progress, make comments, and hold me accountable!
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 18:11
Hello,
I wish you success in your endeavor to ace the GMAT :)

However, it would be nice if you could update this thread as an when you update your blog. This would help members to communicate with you freely!
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From 650 to 710 to 750 - My Tryst With GMAT [Experience Thread]

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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 18:31
Great idea.

Here's my most recent post for forum members' benefit.

Veritas Prep Class 1

Earlier tonight, I attended the first class of the Veritas Prep course as a trial student.

I have a mixed impression and I am not sure what to do next (whether to upgrade to the full package or whether to stay with the Essentials package).

On the one hand, the lesson pace was quite slow (but apparently it speeds up rapidly over the next couple of classes) and I felt myself drifting off at times. After all, it was 2 hours 40 minutes long (we finished early) with only a 5 minute break. However, I had already sat this class using the On Demand service, so maybe that is why I was not following everything.

On the other hand, I was struggling with some of the questions and I don't remember struggling with any of them using the On Demand service. Maybe it was because I was paying 100% attention using the On Demand service, replaying those parts that I wanted to go over, and letting other parts play along where I was comfortable with the material. Maybe it was because I was tired from not enough sleep last night.

As a general matter, I wasn't tremendously impressed with the lecturer. He was good, clearly very bright, but has not dropped any pearls of wisdom so far. At this stage, I think I prefer whoever does the On Demand lesson. That may change during the course of the next couple of weeks.

I think, at the end of the day, I have to go back to the fact that upgrading to the full package will serve a couple of purposes:

It will create a definite time slot twice a week for me to prepare for GMAT.
I will be that much more determined to succeed having shelled out the additional $. I risk slipping back or falling into bad habits if I don't have a driver.

In the next post, I'll give another update of my preparation.

My plan for next couple of days is to:

Go through the rest of On Demand Lesson 2 ahead of Thursday's class.

Sit another practice CAT exam on Wednesday night.

Running tally to date:

17 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams).
1 CAT exam. (CAT 1: 620/40Q/35V).
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2011, 08:17
New post: http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... tions.html

Full text below.

Arithmetic - concepts are easy, questions are not so easy; How to track mistakes without wasting time on an error log
Arithmetic

My plan for today was to go through the rest of the Veritas Prep On Demand Lesson 2: Arithmetic today. I did so, but it took a LONG time to go through all 100+ problem questions, look through the answers and understand why and how I went wrong. I've got a LOT to learn. I didn't understand a lot of the questions (even when I read the answer), so it will be interesting whether, and to what extent, I improve on this front. I spent about 5 hours on this.

A somewhat useful "trick"that I have used in data sufficiency is to follow the old AD/BCE method. If you do not know what this is, drop a comment and I'll explain.

Error log - approach

Instead of using a tedious error log to record every single question right/wrong, categorise the question etc, I have devised a simple method to track my mistakes so that I can attempt them again at a later stage.

Where I've answered the question incorrectly (or I was correct through dumb luck / a guess), I have tagged a post-it to the top of the page. It doesn't matter whether I got it wrong (or was lucky) because I was careless or miscalculated or did not understand the right approach to take.

I then circle the relevant question in pencil (but don't bother doing so if there's only one question on the page, which is very common in the Veritas Prep course materials - I think they did that so you can, if you wish, do your working on the same page).
If, after reading the answer, I still do not understand the methodology, I move the tag to the corner of the page. For these questions, I will try to bring it to the attention of my tutor in class.

For the OG questions, I'll use an OG error log that I downloaded from Beat The GMAT. Because the questions on this error log have already been categorised and subcategorised, and the official answers already recorded, it will be a very simple task for me of inputting my answers. This seems like an efficient use of my time, rather than laboriously inputting a whole bunch of data and making judgment calls about categorising questions myself. This will also be enough to give me an indication of what areas I should focus on in the later stages of my preparation.

Next

Unfortunately I didn't get to sit another practice CAT, which I planned to do tonight. But it's 3am and there's no way I'm staying up for another 3 hours. I'll do this the next opportunity I get.

I have decided to upgrade to the full course for Veritas Prep, and tomorrow's lesson will cover Lesson 2, which will be a useful refresh of what I have completed over the course of the last few days. My plan is to do the classes through the On Demand service before the actual classes - we'll see how this goes, as maybe it is better to do it the other way around.

Running tally to date:

22 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams).
1 CAT exam. (CAT 1: 620/40Q/35V).
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2011, 14:59
Hey mate enjoying the blog. Your writing is very clear and concise, your verbal ability is surely higher than your initial CAT test indicated.

I'm going to go out on a limb here based on this:

Quote:
tell people, and make it easy for other sticky beaks to follow your progress


Are you based in Australia?
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2011, 21:50
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Good Luck IVN :)
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2011, 03:20
Thanks Pike, I welcome your feedback. Yes, I expected my verbal to be higher as well, but then again, it is at a higher percentile than my quant. Yes, I'm based in Australia - how could you tell? Was it my spelling of certain words / expressions, or was it my timestamps?

BB, thanks for the encouragement. I'll give it a shot.

I'm taking another practice CAT tonight, so we'll see how I go.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2011, 10:21
Pretty darn good prep scores for just starting your journey! Keep us posted.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2011, 14:28
Thanks TwoThrones, I was encouraged by my initial scores to keep going.

I just took my second practice test last night. I posted the outcome here: http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... ctice.html.

Full text below.

Veritas Prep Class 2; Second practice CAT results

Veritas Prep Class 2

Earlier tonight, I attended Class 2: Arithmetic. I noticed that in the 3 hour class, we only got up to the start of the bulk of the problem questions. The On Demand video covered a lot (but not all) of the problem questions.

Again, I wasn't blown away but it was a useful lesson. I think I should get more sleep before the day of the relevant class and/or smash a Red Bull before class, because I am finding it difficult to stay awake.

Reminder to self: Always do the On Demand class as well as the real class in case one covers more than the other.

One of the benefits of Veritas Prep is that you can retake the course (or take another course of equal or lesser value) within 6 months of starting for any reason whatsoever.

Practice CAT results

I took another practice CAT tonight, this time using the 800score test.

I got 610 (after inputting my raw results into the 800score website), so there has been no appreciable change to my previous score from last week (620).

However, interestingly, my Quant went crashing down from 40 to 33 (39th percentile) and my Verbal went all the way up from 35 to 41 (93rd percentile).

Seems like I have one on, one off. If I could only combine them into one day's performance!

In Quant, I only got 5 out of the first 10 questions right - so I got off to a very bad start. I also noticed that I had an input error (right answer written down; wrong answer clicked). I must admit that I felt that the maths was easier on this CAT, but obviously that was because I didn't grasp the concepts being tested. I also nearly ran out of time and spent nearly 7 MINUTES on one question - I didn't even realise I spent that long until I reviewed the results.

In Verbal, I actually read the questions properly this time (last time I skimmed), and I finished with about 20 minutes to go. I am pretty happy with the Verbal since I have not done any more classes or practice or reading of any kind in Verbal since my first attempt.

Unfortunately, I accidentally moved on to the Verbal without printing out or saving my Quant results (and, critically, the explanations of the errors that I made on the Quant questions). Oh well, chalk it up to experience!

Lessons learned / to do:

Go through maths fundamentals again - this time, use MGMAT Foundations. Clearly something is going wrong now. Perhaps 800score's tests are harder in Quant but they can't be that much harder.

After 4 minutes, cut the losses and move on.

Do not start the practice CAT after an exhausting 3 hours of class, which came after an exhausting day at work. If I have to start it after work, do not start at midnight.

Running tally to date:

25 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams) since 3 January 2011.
2 CAT exams:
620/40Q/35V, 05.01.11 [GMATSim1]
610/33Q/41V, 12.01.11 [800Score1].
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2011, 17:22
ivn wrote:
Thanks Pike, I welcome your feedback. Yes, I expected my verbal to be higher as well, but then again, it is at a higher percentile than my quant. Yes, I'm based in Australia - how could you tell? Was it my spelling of certain words / expressions, or was it my timestamps?

BB, thanks for the encouragement. I'll give it a shot.

I'm taking another practice CAT tonight, so we'll see how I go.


As far as I'm aware, 'sticky beak' is very much an Aussie expression! Keep up the posts.
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2011, 11:57
Thanks so much! This is very helpful!
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2011, 09:07
Slight delay but I have updated my site with another post: http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... and-4.html

Full text below for your convenience:

Veritas Prep Classes 3 and 4

Sitting through class vs. On Demand videos

This past week I sat through Classes 3 (Critical Reasoning) and 4 (Algebra) of Veritas Prep without having first gone through the lessons using the On Demand recorded videos. Now that I have gone through the On Demand videos for both classes (after the physical classes), I feel much more comfortable about the content. It took about 6 hours to sit through both classes and 5 hours to go through both On Demand videos.

This is in contrast to my experience with Classes 1 (Arguments) and 2 (Arithmetic) where I went through the On Demand videos BEFORE attending the classes. In those instances, I tended to switch off during various parts of the class, in part because I had already heard the lesson.

Going forward, I will attend the class first and then go through the On Demand video for reinforcement.

By the way, I think the On Demand videos are fantastic in that they allow you to go entirely at your own pace. A 3 hour class after a day at work is very difficult to get through and I am often more focused on when the lesson will end because I am both tired and hungry between 7pm - 10pm.

One disappointing thing that happened this week was that, after I switched from the Essentials package (which comprises 2 full weekend days of instruction) to the full Veritas Prep course (which comprises 14 classes over 7 weeks, each lasting 3 hours), something went wrong with my On Demand account and it said that I had to renew my subscription for $99 (as it had apparently expired). This is now fixed up, and in any case turned out to be a blessing in disguise because, as mentioned above, I am finding it much more helpful to sit the class before turning to the On Demand video.

Problem Questions

I found the problem questions in Class 3 (Critical Reasoning) reasonably challenging but, thankfully, got most of them correct. There are a couple of questions I'd like to run through in class next week (the first half-hour of every class is dedicated to going through homework questions from the week before). It took about 1 hour to go through the problem questions.

I have found that the "SWIMMER" technique, which is a proprietary Veritas Prep technique to attack Critical Reasoning questions, is only mildly useful. Probably the most useful aspect of it is that, in "Inference" questions, it teaches you to select the answer which "MUST BE TRUE" from the inferences drawn in the body of the question.

As for the problem questions in Class 4 (Algebra), I'll do these tomorrow (and will also try to fit in a practice CAT) and update the blog in due course.

Running tally to date:

37 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams) since 3 January 2011.
2 CAT exams.
620/40Q/35V, 05.01.11 [GMATSim1]
610/33Q/41V, 12.01.11 [800Score1].
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2011, 07:14
New post: http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... tence.html

Full text below for your convenience:

Veritas Prep Class 5 (Sentence Correction 1); MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math

Veritas Prep Class 5 (Sentence Correction 1)

Being a native speaker, it is actual quite foreign to "learn" about adverbs, gerunds, idioms and modifiers. I haven't received much formal instruction in English grammar (grammar is not really taught in school, not even in "English"), and so far I've been relying on how things sound in determining how to answer sentence correction questions.

I think that it'll be a challenge to go through the homework and I am really not keen on learning the formal rules of written English, especially as there are subtle differences between English English, American English and Australian English. I'll just have to focus on GMAT English (whatever that is).

I haven't done the class using On Demand, and I haven't done the homework - this will be my weekend homework.

MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math

I scored pretty poorly in my second practice CAT and said here that I'd go through the Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Math book.

I spent about 5 hours going through it today, and so far I'm up to Chapter 6 (Factions Strategy). Only a few chapters left.

So far, the concepts covered have been SUPER basic, but I guess that is the point of the book. It is a good refresher for those, like me, who are particularly rusty. Too bad MGMAT doesn't run courses in my city!!

Plan over coming days, hopefully by Monday 31 January

Veritas Prep Class 6 (Geometry) is tomorrow.
Take third practice CAT already!! I said last Sunday that I'd do it but have procrastinated.
Veritas Prep Class 5 and 6 On Demand and homework.
Finish going through MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math.

Running tally to date:

45 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams) since 3 January 2011.
2 CAT exams.
620/40Q/35V, 05.01.11 [GMATSim1]
610/33Q/41V, 12.01.11 [800Score1].
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2011, 09:15
New post is up: http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... e-cat.html

Full text below for your convenience:

Veritas Prep Class 6; Third practice CAT

Veritas Prep Class 6 (Geometry)

I never realised that Geometry could be challenging (all you need to do is know the formulae, right?), but it is. We'll see how I go with the homework. The class took 3 hours.

MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math

I finally finished going through the MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Math book. As I said, it is SUPER basic, but I still found it a good refresh and, perhaps more importantly, a confidence booster (having only gotten 1 question wrong out of all the questions that I attempted). I didn't go through every drill, only those that I thought would actually be helpful in terms of practice. Finishing off the book took about 4 hours.

Third practice CAT: 660, but need to improve Quant and SC

Finally, I just sat my third practice CAT using the GMATPrep software from www.mba.com. I gave the two essays a proper go, spending about 20 minutes on each. During the Quant and Verbal, I was getting very bogged down and was expecting a very poor score. I actually took a break in the middle of Verbal to wash my face because I was mentally struggling to even process the SC and RC passages. This has been the most challenging test to date.

However, to my surprise, I scored 660 (42Q (61st percentile) / 40V (89th percentile)). In other words, I combined my best results individually on Quant and Verbal to date (as I scored 40Q on my last CAT and 41V in my first CAT).

It is a long road ahead to get from mid 600s to the 700s, and my effort will have to increase significantly. However, I am encouraged by my progress to date. Critically, I need to really push it on Quant (61st percentile is not going to get me anywhere) and sentence correction (8 of my 12 incorrect answers were from sentence correction).

I still have to do Veritas Prep Class 5 (SC1) and 6 (Geometry) using the On Demand videos, and complete the homework.

Running tally to date:
53 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams) since 3 January 2011.
3 CAT exams.
620/40Q/35V, 05.01.11 [GMATSim1]
610/33Q/41V, 12.01.11 [800Score1].
660/42Q/40V, 29.01.11 [GMATPrep]
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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2011, 03:19
Nice to see the score going up dude :D

I hope you breach the 700 mark in the next mock!
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From 650 to 710 to 750 - My Tryst With GMAT [Experience Thread]

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Re: My GMAT prep diary [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2011, 23:20
I've updated the blog a few times, but there was nothing of note (just records of what I did and what was on my "to do" list).

Anyway, here's the most recent post. Good news is that I cracked 700 (although from a dubious 51Q (my highest prior to this was 42Q and I am weak at Quant)).

http://gmatprepdiary.blogspot.com/2011/ ... 1q37v.html

Final Veritas Prep classes; 700(51Q/37V) for 4th practice CAT

Past week

This past week I attended the final two Veritas Prep Classes - Class 13 (AWA) and 14 (Advanced Word Problems and Quant Review).

AWA was surprisingly useful. The AWA is more an opportunity to conserve energy than an opportunity to shine (since the scores don't really matter and since a good structure for both essays can basically be memorised).

Advanced Word Problems was a bit of a waste of time as we just sat around doing a few questions, and no new material was presented. No old concepts were really encapsulated, either.

These two classes took about 6 hours.

On top of this, in the past week, I completed the On Demand video and homework for Class 12 (Combinatorics & Prob). This was delightfully easier than anticipated. Took about 5 hours.

Weird (and wonderful) result for 4th practice CAT

Earlier today, I tried my 4th practice CAT. This time I used "GMATLife", which is apparently a test designed and written by Veritas. I noticed that a couple of the Verbal questions were from the Veritas Prep iPhone app.

Process and thinking
- Took pretty much the full 30 minutes for each of the AWAs. Although these aren't scored, I am trying to simulate the exam day environment / mental strain.
- Before the Quant section, I drank a glass of water, had a cigarette, and ate a piece of chocolate. I didn't face any Geometry questions or Combinatorics/Probability questions, which was worrying. I thought the questions were quite easy, and was getting dismayed that I was getting the "easy" questions because I wasn't doing well. I finished with about 5 minutes to spare. A lot of my methods to solve were quite crude - ie, I didn't solve the "pure" way but instead reasoned my way to the answer. Plenty of rate questions and a lot of DS where I had to conceptualise the "trick".
- Before the Verbal section, I pretty much repeated the same process as above. This section was difficult as I was again pretty tired by the time I got into it. Finished with about 20 minutes to spare - clearly I went too fast!

Results and reaction
- I was expecting high 600s but was blown away when the score returned "700". However, it was a very weird result - I scored 51Q and 37V. Weird because 51Q is well beyond my wildest dreams (it is the highest scaled score possible - 99th percentile) and 37V (81st percentile) is very disappointing.
- I am not a quantitatively minded person. I am much more comfortable doing verbal. However, I have been slightly more complacent with my verbal preparation.
- I only got 3 incorrect in the Quant section - the 2nd question (stupid mistake), the 6th question (calculation error) and the 12th question (which I'll outline below). I have a hard time accepting this 51Q, especially given that I didn't face any Geometry or Combinatorics/Probability.
- I have slipped in critical reasoning. I got 11 incorrect in Verbal (6CR and 5SC). I always knew that I had to work on SC - I haven't even done the On Demand videos or homework. However, in my last CAT, I got every CR question correct.

What do I take from all of this?
- I don't count this one as being representative - in a real GMAT CAT, I would have scored less in Quant and more in Verbal.
- Still, there's now no need to fear quant - it is conquerable.
- Do not be complacent on perceived strengths - they can quickly become a crutch.
- I am ready to book the real CAT.

To do

Still remaining on my to do list are:

Quant:
- Class 6 (Geometry): Homework.
- Class 8 (Data Sufficiency): On Demand video + homework.
- Class 14 (Advanced Word Problems and Quant Review): On Demand video + homework.

Verbal:
- Class 5 (Sentence Correction 1): On Demand video + homework.
- Class 9 (Sentence Correction 2): On Demand video + homework.
- Class 13 (AWA) On Demand video. There's no homework for this.

I figure it will take about 30 hours to do all of the above. My plan is to do about 15 hours per week, so I should be done in 2 weeks.

Running tally to date:
- 95 hours of prep work (including going through materials, doing practice questions, attending class, and checking answers and mistakes; does NOT include taking practice CAT exams) since 3 January 2011.
- 4 CAT exams.
- 620 (40Q/35V), 05.01.11 [GMATSim1]
- 610 (33Q/41V), 12.01.11 [800Score1]
- 660 (42Q/40V), 29.01.11 [GMATPrep1]
- 700 (51Q/37V), 26.02.11 [GMATLife1].
Re: My GMAT prep diary   [#permalink] 26 Feb 2011, 23:20
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