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How I Went From 640 to 760. You Can Do It Too!

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Joined: 02 Apr 2011
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How I Went From 640 to 760. You Can Do It Too! [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2012, 22:06
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Hello all,

I have long lurked in the shadows of GMATClub, and learned much from fellow members. Now I would like to share my experience back with the community. Like many of you, I believe GMAT is one of those necessary evils that must be conquered one way or another. But one thing I've learned over the course of my preparation is that GMAT is the one aspect of your MBA application that you can make the biggest improvement on given sufficient time and sweat. You can and will do well on the exam. Don't give up the fight!

Background


A little bit of background on me. I graduated in 2010 and am currently working at an online marketing firm. I'm Chinese and came to the US during Middle School, and I've just recently gotten my US citizenship!

:) Anyways, enough about myself. Moving on to the more important stuff...

Quick Score Summary


Just a quick summary of my score and time that I took each exam. I had a pretty big gap between my two exams, but I didn't spend the whole time studying as I was suppose to. The actual amount of time I spent studying for each exam was surprisingly similar, but the quality of studying was very different and I'll explain more further down.



Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2011/10 29 48 640 6.0
2012/04 46 49 760 N/A


Study Materials



First, I want to give kudos to GMATClub, I based a lot of my purchase decisions on the book reviews I read in the forums. Among these study materials, the ones that I personally found most useful are:

    The Official Guide to GMAT Review, 12th Edition - the only source of legit GMAT problems, you can't ask for better practice problems than these.
    Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction - IMHO, the go-to book for sentence correction. This + doing additional practice problems (the book unfortunately lacks them) will get you very far.
    PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible - This book is quite dense, and I had a hard time understanding some of the strategies mentioned. But this is a very decent book on the subject matter and I would recommend it to you if you want to improve in this topic.
    Jeff Sackmann's Total GMAT Math - This is a great and concise overview of all math concepts tested on the GMAT + sizable number of practice problems. My only complaint is that it contains quite a bit of typos that led me to pull on my hair on multiple occasions.

Online Course


Knewton GMAT

I took Knewton's online course after receiving my unsatisfying score on my first GMAT exam, and did not regret the decision a single bit. I understand that there are dozens of different online courses out there and there's no way I could make valid comparisons since I never took the other ones. However, just from experience, I really liked the Knewton course. It is well paced and effective organized, the pre-recorded videos are top-notch, and the instructors are funny and smart at the same time. In fact, I would thank those instructors personally, they made GMAT... much more interesting (and that isn't something easy to pull off for test prep). *hats off*. I understand this comes down more to personal preference. There are a lot of different classes (online, on-demand, or on-site) available, I would urge you to do some research to find the one most suitable for you. Oh, and GMATClub members get discounts.

GMATClub Resources



Error Log by Spoilt - this is my favorite error log out of all because it is simple enough to use and provide sufficient statistic on how well you do in each section and for each type of the question type (very useful for identifying weaknesses). I used this to analyze my result on the GMATPrep software.

Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA GMAT Score - Whoever wrote this has my greatest thanks. This is a very well written guide for AWA on the exam. I created my own AWA cheat sheet based on this and it has served me very well. For AWA, I think strcuture and organization > content in most cases. So read this, create your own version in your head, and the rest will be history.

GMAT Club's GMAT Flashcards - this is a pretty well-made compilation considering that it's a community project. I used this for a quick review a few weeks before my second GMAT, and learned a few tricks for some Quant questions.

GMATClub Tests - I got these tests for FREE after signning up for Knewton. Unfortunately I didn't get to use most of them regrettably. There are lots of Quant problems for practice, and more practice is always good!

The First GMAT


Preparation Time ~ 3 months

I started preparing for my GMAT after a lot of procrastination in 2011. I had all the book materials sitting in a pile on my desk untouched for at least a month, up until July, when I finally started going through them one-by-one. What didn't help was the fact that I did not have a very consistent schedule either. I just did everything at my own pace, skip studying altogether if I felt tired, and plodded on slowly for 2 months.

By the end of the 2 months, I chewed through most of the book material I had. However, I could not comment on how much I actually retained. In the last month I divided my attention between reviewing more verbal (my weakness) strategies and taking practice exams.

MGMAT CAT 1 - 600
MGMAT CAT 2 - 710
MGMAT CAT 3 - 600
MGMAT CAT 4 - 670
GMATPrep CAT 1 - 640
GMATPrep CAT 2 - 660

I may have the wrong scores for GMATPrep since the stupid software (before they made the pretty graphic update) only showed you the score page once and never again. A quick comment on the above scores. Yes, they're pretty mediocre and all over the board. I didn't read too much into the scores back then.

And then I took the exam in early October


Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2011/10 29 48 640 6.0


Wow, was I disappointed to see my score in that testing room. That feeling of dejection wasn't something I could shake off for the rest of the week. But upon closer inspection, I told myself that this is the score I deserved because I really haven't put in much effort. The fight isn't over and I need to train well to win the next one.

The Interim


Not soon after my exam, work ramped up for the holiday season (gotta love marketing!) and then came the holidays, presents, and small vacations... Needless to say, I took a long break from GMAT. The break was both good and bad. It was good because I was able to forget about my miserable experience on the first GMAT. It was bad because I pretty much forgot everything I learned.

The Second GMAT


Preparation Time ~ 3 months

In a blink of an eye, 2011 ended and 2012 sneaked up on me - the Year of the Dragon! I did try to get back into GMAT a few times after my first exam, but I never followed through due to the lack of motivation. However, 2012 is different for some reason, I suddenly had a renewed urge to beat the GMAT. Perhaps some stars have aligned for the first time in a century, perhaps the Year of the Dragon, an auspicious year for ambitious undertakings, has spoken to my inner desire. This time, I told myself, I will fight GMAT and win.

Learning from my earlier mistakes, I know that motivation can be a fickle thing. I need something else to push me along, to keep me on a schedule. This is where Knewton comes in. I watched a few videos from Knewton through GMATClub and really liked the presentation style, and after checking their website, I find it a suitable choice for me (e.g. organized course plan, witty instructors, good number of practice problems). Just like that, I signed up for the On-Demand course in January and began my second battle.

Thanks to my score report from the first GMAT, I knew I needed to concentrate on verbal since I have the most to gain on that section. Knewton kept me busy and on schedule. While my focus was on verbal, one other thing occupied me - timing. I cannot stress how important timing is on the GMAT. On my first GMAT, not only did I run out of time toward the end of both sections and had to guess, I actually ran out of time guessing... That's right, folks. I literally SKIPPED problems (I can imagine the horror on everyone's face upon hearing that word). You get heavily penalized for not completing the exam. So please do complete it when you take it, for my sake. :)

One of the best ways to improve your timing is to get in the habit of timing yourself for practice problems. Use any tool you feel comfortable using, time yourself for a set of 5 problems (~10min), 10 problems (~20min), and 20 problems (~40min). The estimated time I used earlier was for the Quantitative section, Verbal questions are a little different and require different amount of times (e.g. SC should be ~1.5min, CR ~2min, RC ~1.5min not counting the passage)

After 2 months of focusing on Verbal and Timing, I significantly improved my verbal score and timing on the verbal section (no surprise at the correlation there).

Below are my practice exam scores:

Knewton CAT 1 - 640
Knewton CAT 2 - 680
Knewton CAT 3 - 570
Knewton CAT 4 - 570
Knewton CAT 5 - 640
MGMAT CAT 1 - 710
MGMAT CAT 2 - 720
MGMAT CAT 3 - 700
MGMAT CAT 4 - 710
MGMAT CAT 5 - 720
GMATPrep CAT 1 - 710
GMATPrep CAT 2 - 680 (new software)
GMATPrep CAT 3 - 710 (new software)

Let me explain a little about the scores above. Knewton CATs, in my opinion, is one of the biggest weakness of the course. First of all, I don't think the scoring algorithm is very accurate. Second, the questions themselves can be awkward and a little confusing at times. I did poorly on the exams as you can see. The scores didn't mean too much for me though, because I only care about the wrong answers.

When I started doing the MGMAT CATs again, I feel a bit more assured about the consistency. But once again, the scores mattered less. What's more important are the lessons that I can learn from the mistakes I made!

Between the practice exams and additional practice problems from Knewton and book materials, I felt more comfortable about doing each type of problems. Before, if I see an unfamiliar question I would panic and not know what to do next. Now, I can identify the approach systematically (most of the time at least). Practice makes perfect, remember that.

I took my 2nd GMAT exam in the afternoon at ~3pm, versus the 1st exam, which I took it in the morning at 8am. I think the new exam time was a positive change for me since I'm never really a morning person. The exam was on a weekday, so I took the entire day off. I selpt in that morning, woke up at 9. Took a long shower and ate a full breakfast. The rest of the morning I spent reading over my notes, watching some Hulu, and played a little video game (helped me destress a bit). I ate lunch at 12 and immeidately took a 30min nap shotly after ( I knew that if I didn't take this nap, I would get very tired in the late afternoon). At ~2 I headed to the test center.

The test center was different on a weekday vs. on a weekend. There were fewer people at the center than there were my first time, and nobody was in the waiting room. I arrived 30min early and they got me started right away. The essays were not difficult, I had fun writing them, and that went on smoothly for an hour.

Next came the Quant section. For me, the biggest stumbling block is accurately translating word problems into equations, I have a tendency of missing details or misintepretating the problem altogether (hence, I sometimes panic when I see long word problems). Quant is also the section that I still had trouble controling my timing (on my CATs, I always run very close on Quant). The first 10 questions felt alright, I didn't have much problem, then out of no where long word problems start appearing and I find myself rereading them more times than I should. For the rest of the section I encountered several problems that I wasn't sure if my apporach was correct. But I moved on anyways, because I knew that spending too long on a problem does not guarantee getting it right, and it takes away precious time from problems that you can get right. At the end, I was cutting it clsoe again, with less than a minute left. I did guess the second to last question. I didn't feel too good about that. But Quant was over, there was no need to think about it longer.

It is the Verbal section that my test prep paid off the most. I say that because I was able to go from guessing the last 6-7 questions on the 1st GMAT to finishing the section with ~15min left on the 2nd GMAT. I just wanted to put that out now because strategy + practices on Verbal definitely made a huge difference here. Despite the score, thinking back, I didn't feel good about the Verbal section while doing it. On multiple occasions, I ended up with two likely anwer choices and couldn't decide between them. It drove me a bit crazy, but there was nothing I could do. I made my 50/50 guess and moved on. Overall, the questions on the Verbal did not feel too difficult compared to the practice problems I've done. By the time I finished the section, those 50/50 guesses I made really made me nervous.

Given what I've been getting on the CATs, I was hoping for a 710, but I surprised even myself when I saw the score screen at the end of my second GMAT:


Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2012/04 46 49 760 N/A


Was it luck? Perhaps. The Year of Dragon? Maybe. But I think what helped me beat GMAT was the collection of mistakes I made along the way and the lessons I learned from them.

Take-Aways


1. You CAN make big improvements on GMAT, and I mean BIG improvements.
2. Keep to a schedule as best as you can.
3. Focus on your weak areas if you've identified them. Because they will help you gain the most.
4. Don't underestimate timing on the exam. Be comfortable with the pace.
5. Focus on the mistakes you made on CATs rather than the scores. Because you will get HIGHER scores if you learn from your mistakes.
6. If you feel that you can benefit from a course (on-demand, online, or on-site), find one that suits your needs and DO it.
7. Get motivated, GMATClub is a great source of motivation. Feel free to lurk around :) or come out and say hi.


Okay, time for me to take a break from typing. :) If you have any question for me, ask away.

Last edited by GGDragon on 24 Apr 2012, 11:48, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2012, 22:22
For practice tests, which one among Manhattan and Veritas do you think most resembles the GMAT level and gets you the most accurate scores to show you where you actually stand ?
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2012, 22:29
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bharatgupta wrote:
For practice tests, which one among Manhattan and Veritas do you think most resembles the GMAT level and gets you the most accurate scores to show you where you actually stand ?


Well, I didn't take Veritas so I can't speak to that. I think MGMAT has done a decent job with their algorithm, their question difficulty is also close to the Official GMAT. I'm sure everyone on GMATClub would agree that the best predictor for your GMAT score will be the official GMATPrep software. After all, it's made by GMAC and they invented GMAT.

Hope that helps. :)
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2012, 22:54
But GMATPrep has limited number of tests. So a GMAT aspirant has to look for other tests available. I found Manhattan's tests to be pretty good as well but I just wanted to know if my opinion is shared by others as well. Anyway Thanks. That really helps. :)
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2012, 23:34
GGDragon wrote:
Hello all,

I have long lurked in the shadows of GMATClub, and learned much from fellow members. Now I would like to share my experience back with the community. Like many of you, I believe GMAT is one of those necessary evils that must be conquered one way or another. But one thing I've learned over the course of my preparation is that GMAT is the one aspect of your MBA application that you can make the biggest improvement on given sufficient time and sweat. You can and will do well on the exam. Don't give up the fight!

Background


Just to give everyone a quick background on me. I graduated in 2010 and am currently working at an online marketing firm (aka we have Big Brother capabilities). I'm Chinese and came to the US during Middle School, and I've just recently gotten my US citizenship! :) Anyways, enough about myself. Moving on to the more important stuff...

Quick Score Summary


Just a quick summary of my score and time that I took each exam. I had a pretty big gap between my two exams, but I didn't spend the whole time studying as I was suppose to. The actual amount of time I spent studying before each exam was surprisingly similar, but the quality of studying was very different and I'll explain more further down.



Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2011/10 29 48 640 6.0
2012/04 46 49 760 N/A


Study Materials



First, I want to give kudos to GMATClub, I based a lot of my purchase decisions on the book reviews I read in the forums. Among these study materials, the ones that I personally found most useful are:

    The Official Guide to GMAT Review, 12th Edition - the only source of legit GMAT problems, you can't ask for better practice problems than these.
    Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction - IMHO, the go-to book for sentence correction. This + doing additional practice problems (the book unfortunately lacks them) will get you very far.
    PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible - This book is quite dense, and I had a hard time understanding some of the strategies mentioned. But this is a very decent book on the subject matter and I would recommend it to you if you want to improve in this topic.
    Jeff Sackmann's Total GMAT Math - This is a great and concise overview of all math concepts tested on the GMAT + sizable number of practice problems. My only complaint is that it contains quite a bit of typos that led me to pull on my hair on multiple occasions.

Online Course


Knewton GMAT

I took Knewton's online course after receiving my unsatisfying score on my first GMAT exam, and did not regret the decision a single bit. I understand that there are dozens of different online courses out there and there's no way I could make valid comparisons since I never took the other ones. However, just from experience, I really liked the Knewton course. It is well paced and effective organized, the pre-recorded videos are top-notch, and the instructors are funny and smart at the same time. In fact, I would thank those instructors personally, they made GMAT... much more interesting (and that isn't something easy to pull off for test prep). *hats off*. I understand this comes down more to personal preference. There are a lot of different classes (online, on-demand, or on-site) available, I would urge you to do some research to find the one most suitable for you. Oh, and GMATClub members get discounts on many of them!

The First GMAT


Preparation Time ~ 3 months

I started preparing for my GMAT after a lot of procrastination in 2011. I had all the book materials sitting in a pile on my desk untouched for at least a month, up until July, when I finally started going through them one-by-one. What didn't help was the fact that I did not have a very consistent schedule either. I just did everything at my own pace, skip studying altogether if I felt tired, and plodded on slowly for 2 months.

By the end of the 2 months, I chewed through most of the book material I had. However, I could not comment on how much I actually retained. In the last month I divided my attention between reviewing more verbal (my weakness) strategies and taking practice exams.

MGMAT CAT 1 - 600
MGMAT CAT 2 - 710
MGMAT CAT 3 - 600
MGMAT CAT 4 - 670
GMATPrep CAT 1 - 640
GMATPrep CAT 2 - 660

I may have the wrong scores for GMATPrep since the stupid software (before they made the pretty graphic update) only showed you the score page once and never again. A quick comment on the above scores. Yes, they're pretty mediocre and all over the board. I didn't read too much into the scores back then.

And then I took the exam in early October


Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2011/10 29 48 640 6.0


Wow, was I disappointed to see my score in that testing room. That feeling of dejection wasn't something I could shake off for the rest of the week. But upon closer inspection, I told myself that this is the score I deserved because I really haven't put in much effort. The fight isn't over and I need to train well to win the next one.

The Interim


Not soon after my exam, work ramped up for the holiday season (gotta love marketing!) and then came the holidays, presents, and small vacations... Needless to say, I took a long break from GMAT. The break was both good and bad. It was good because I was able to forget about my miserable experience on the first GMAT. It was bad because I pretty much forgot everything I learned.

The Second GMAT


Preparation Time ~ 3 months

In a blink of an eye, 2011 ended and 2012 sneaked up on me - the Year of the Dragon! I did try to get back into GMAT a few times after my first exam, but I never followed through due to the lack of motivation. However, 2012 is different for some reason, I suddenly had a renewed urge to beat the GMAT. Perhaps some stars have aligned for the first time in a century, perhaps the Year of the Dragon, an auspicious year for ambitious undertakings, has spoken to my inner desire. This time, I told myself, I will fight GMAT and win.

Learning from my earlier mistakes, I know that motivation can be a fickle thing. I need something else to push me along, to keep me on a schedule. This is where Knewton comes in. I watched a few videos from Knewton through GMATClub and really liked the presentation style, and after checking their website, I find it a suitable choice for me (e.g. organized course plan, witty instructors, good number of practice problems). Just like that, I signed up for the On-Demand course in January and began my second battle.

Thanks to my score report from the first GMAT, I knew I needed to concentrate on verbal since I have the most to gain on that section. Knewton kept me busy and on schedule. While my focus was on verbal, one other thing occupied me - timing. I cannot stress how important timing is on the GMAT. On my first GMAT, not only did I run out of time toward the end of both sections and had to guess, I actually ran out of time guessing... That's right, folks. I literally SKIPPED problems (I can imagine the horror on everyone's face upon hearing that word). You get heavily penalized for not completing the exam. So please do complete it when you take it, for my sake. :)

One of the best ways to improve your timing is to get in the habit of timing yourself for practice problems. Use any tool you feel comfortable using, time yourself for a set of 5 problems (~10min), 10 problems (~20min), and 20 problems (~40min). The estimated time I used earlier was for the Quantitative section, Verbal questions are a little different and require different amount of times (e.g. SC should be ~1.5min, CR ~2min, RC ~1.5min not counting the passage)

After 2 months of focusing on Verbal and Timing, I significantly improved my verbal score and timing on the verbal section (no surprise at the correlation there).

Below are my practice exam scores:

Knewton CAT 1 - 640
Knewton CAT 2 - 680
Knewton CAT 3 - 570
Knewton CAT 4 - 570
Knewton CAT 5 - 640
MGMAT CAT 1 - 710
MGMAT CAT 2 - 720
MGMAT CAT 3 - 700
MGMAT CAT 4 - 710
MGMAT CAT 5 - 720
GMATPrep CAT 1 - 710
GMATPrep CAT 2 - 680 (new software)
GMATPrep CAT 3 - 710 (new software)

Let me explain a little about the scores above. Knewton CATs, in my opinion, is one of the biggest weakness of the course. First of all, I don't think the scoring algorithm is very accurate. Second, the questions themselves can be awkward and a little confusing at times. I did poorly on the exams as you can see. The scores didn't mean too much for me though, because I only care about the wrong answers.

When I started doing the MGMAT CATs again, I feel a bit more assured about the consistency. But once again, the scores mattered less. What's more important are the lessons that I can learn from the mistakes I made!

Between the practice exams and additional practice problems from Knewton and book materials, I felt more comfortable about doing each type of problems. Before, if I see an unfamiliar question I would panic and not know what to do next. Now, I can identify the approach systematically (most of the time at least). Practice makes perfect, remember that.

Given what I've been getting on the CATs, I was hoping for a 710, but I surprised even myself when I saw the score screen at the end of my second GMAT:


Month Verbal Quant Total Analytical Writing
2012/04 46 49 760 N/A


Was it luck? Perhaps. The Year of Dragon? Maybe. But I think what helped me beat GMAT was the collection of mistakes I made along the way and the lessons I learned from them.

Take-Aways


1. You CAN make big improvements on GMAT, and I mean BIG improvements.
2. Keep to a schedule as best as you can.
3. Focus on your weak areas if you've identified them. Because they will help you gain the most.
4. Don't underestimate timing on the exam. Be comfortable with the pace.
5. Focus on the mistakes you made on CATs rather than the scores. Because you will get HIGHER scores if you learn from your mistakes.
6. If you feel that you can benefit from a course (on-demand, online, or on-site), find one that suits your needs and DO it.
7. Get motivated, GMATClub is a great source of motivation. Feel free to lurk around :) or come out and say hi.


Okay, time for me to take a break from typing. :) If you have any question for me, ask away.


Thanks for the nice debrief and congratulations on that the top score you have been able to attain. Did you also use some of the resources provided on GMATClub.com in your preparation?
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 00:48
Very, very cool! Thanks for the thorough debrief. Any plans about which programs yet?
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 06:39
dzodzo85 wrote:
Thanks for the nice debrief and congratulations on that the top score you have been able to attain. Did you also use some of the resources provided on GMATClub in your preparation?


Yes, I did take advantage of many useful resources found on GMATClub.


  • Error Log by Spoilt - this is my favorite error log out of all because it is simple enough to use and provide sufficient statistic on how well you do in each section and for each type of the question type (very useful for identifying weaknesses). I used this to analyze my result on the GMATPrep software.
  • Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA GMAT Score - This is a really well written guide for AWA on the exam. To be honest, I didn't spend a lot of time on preparing for the AWA and pretty much skipped out the AWA in CATs (which I don't recommend doing everytime because it does help train your stamina on the real test). For AWA, I think strcuture and organization > content in most cases. So read this, create your own version in your head, and the rest will be history.
  • GMAT Club's GMAT Flashcards - this is a pretty well-made compilation considering that it's a community project. I used this for a quick review a few weeks before my second GMAT, and learned a few tricks for some Quant questions.
  • GMATClub Tests - I got these tests for FREE after signning up for the Knewton (did I mention the discount you also get as a GMATClub member?). Unfortunately I didn't get the time to use these. There are lots of Quant problems for practice, and more practice is always good!

Last edited by GGDragon on 22 Apr 2012, 10:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2012, 09:14
Congratulation on an excellent score.

Can you please discuss a little bit about the actual GMAT?
How is the actual GMAT compare to the Mock CAT?
Can you discuss each section(PS, DS, SC, RC, CR : similarities and difference with your practice materials) of the actual test?
Was there anything unusual?
Were you on track through out the entire test?

Thanks.
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 05:11
how was the level of CR compared to gmatprep and manhattan.when one starts to score qwll the cr questions get really tough
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 06:21
A veryyyy BIG congratulations on your amazing score.....did u do someting different on your actual GMAT day that u werent doing for ur GMAT Prep Tests? u made a lot of improvement....

On a slightly unrelated note, how did u upload those score tables in ur debrief? I've been trying to do so without success..

Thanks and all the best for ur future endeavours!
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 09:58
Samwong wrote:
Congratulation on an excellent score.

Thanks, Samwong.
Samwong wrote:
Can you please discuss a little bit about the actual GMAT?
How is the actual GMAT compare to the Mock CAT?
Were you on track through out the entire test?

I've added some more details about the 2nd GMAT in my original post, so you can read more on that there. Overall, the actual GMAT did not feel too different from the mock CATs I took. If anything, it felt easier on the actual GMAT. But it's hard to say whether that's due to my familarity/confidence with questions after doing lots of practices, or because they are actually easier questions.

Samwong wrote:
Can you discuss each section(PS, DS, SC, RC, CR : similarities and difference with your practice materials) of the actual test?
Was there anything unusual?

PS is my favorite section on the exam, with the exception of long word problems. I get confused by too many words in a problem, and higher difficulty problems have a tendency of being wordier than they should. The actual test did get wordier, as promised, and I had to take my time on those problems just like I did on the practice ones.

DS is my most hated section on the exam, and remains so today. You have to play detective work everytime you see a DS question. What is it really asking? Okay, what concepts do I need to use to get that answer? Where does this statement fit? In my practice, I do worse in DS than in PS. On the actual test, though I feel the DS problems were a BIT easier. Maybe the concepts that were tested were clear to me during the time, so I got lucky.

SC is another favorite of mine, because it's based on rules, which you can learn and memorize. Of course, English has its fair share of obscure rules and exceptions, those require additional attention during practice and on the actual test. Despite not being a native speaker, idiom hasn't been a killer for me on the Verbal, and I believe it's going to play a lesser role in future GMAT tests (an effort to make it more fair for non-native speakers). SC didn't feel difficult on the actual test.

CR is a bit harder in my opinion, in both practice and on the actual test. It can get wordier and include more traps. But the prep materials I have did a good job disecting the structure of CR arguments and I believe I was able to correctly identify the approach 80% of the time. If I remember correctly, the official test had a lot more "EXCEPT" questions than I expected. These questions can be a pain because you are looking for that ONE answer that doesn't qualify for something.

RC depends more on the passage you get. Some topic can be very dry and hard to understand, while others can be interesting (a little bit always help) and easy to read. I didn't find my passages too difficult on the actual test, so I guess I was lucky there. But the trick is to have a mental note (or paper note) of which paragraph talks about what and refer back to that section when a question mentions it.

Overall, the actual test feels just like a mock test, I was neither uncomfortable nor suprisied by anything on the exam.

Last edited by GGDragon on 22 Apr 2012, 10:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 10:03
mrinal2100 wrote:
how was the level of CR compared to gmatprep and manhattan.when one starts to score qwll the cr questions get really tough


Yes, I understand what you're saying. CR can get difficult as the length of the passage increaese and the answers get convuluted. Many times I would get stuck between two very well sounded answers. I will say that the actual test will pull the same tricks you see on the practice problems. So get aquanitined with them, both correct answer and wrong answers for each sub-category of CR questions. There are some patterns that you'll learn to identity, which can help you narrow down to the right choice.
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 10:12
upasanadatta wrote:
A veryyyy BIG congratulations on your amazing score.....did u do someting different on your actual GMAT day that u werent doing for ur GMAT Prep Tests? u made a lot of improvement....


Thanks. Yes, I was just as surprised as you. I don't think I can pin point the "differences" that led to my 760. Perhaps the practice CATs were just not-so-accurate as they claimed to be. Perhaps I got lucky with all the 50/50 guesses I made on the test. Perhaps I was more energetic in the afternoon, which is when I took the 2nd exam. Or maybe because I drank Gatorade instead of water on that day? Haha, I really had no idea. I'm just glad it's over.

upasanadatta wrote:
On a slightly unrelated note, how did u upload those score tables in ur debrief? I've been trying to do so without success..


Oh, it's a bit pain to do it, but it's a BBCode syntax:
Code:
[table]
[tr]
[td]Row 1 Column 1[/td] [td]Row 1 Column 2[/td] [td]Row 1 Column 3[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]Row 2 Column 1[/td] [td]Row 2 Column 2[/td] [td]Row 2 Column 3[/td]
[/tr]
......
[/table]
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Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight! [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2012, 10:16
jxatrillion wrote:
Very, very cool! Thanks for the thorough debrief. Any plans about which programs yet?


Haven't really thought too much yet. My top choices are Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Wharton.
Re: My Journey From 640 to 760. Don't Give Up The Fight!   [#permalink] 22 Apr 2012, 10:16
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