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My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42

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My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2013, 06:25
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Hey everybody,

during my preparation I read several topics in this forum and I found some quite helpful.
Especially for motivation purposes.
Its good to know that those "500-750 in 4 weeks" stories are exceptions and most of us just need to work their (I mean: his or her, damn GMAT...) butt off to get an acceptable score ;)

But let's start at the beginning.
I'm a non-native speaker with an engineering background and started with an 530, Q40 V22 in the very first practice test (MGMAT). My total preparation time was ~3 month. Whereas I started slowly and added 2,5 intense weeks at the end (full time, sacrificed my vacations).

Books:
- Manhattan GMAT. 10 books filled with very useful tips and short-cuts. Probably the best books on the market. I strongly recommend those books to everyone who targets 700+!

- GMAT official guides. Best practice books! !!!Need to have!!!
I ordered all 3 issues (GMAT Review, Verbal and Quant Review). Intense material that gives you a good feeling for the real test. In combination with the Manhattan OG Archer you can easily analyses your weaknesses. I went through the 13th edition of the gmat review twice and repeated the last 20-30 questions (most difficult ones) of each section in the verbal and quant book.

- Kaplan New GMAT Premier 2013. Forget about it... I found it quite disturbing and not worth the time! The explanations are poor and the questions seem to not really fit into the picture I got from the GMAT as a whole.... Maybe the Kaplan 800 is better, but I wouldn't go for it again.

- Powerscore SC Bible. Since I'm not a native speaker I had huge troubles with SC! From all questions in the official guides I got maybe 50-60% right. RC and CR I hit 80-90%. SC was always a guessing for me. The SC Bible helped a lot!
Many many useful questions, good strategies, and well structured. Maybe for someone with less difficulties as me in SC this book might not be necessary, but if you are struggling with SC... This is the book you should consider to buy!


Online / Software Tools:
- MGMAT. OG Archer is genius! The online practice tests are good. Whereas the Quant part is a little bit tougher than the real deal. But that can also motivate to work harder ;)

- Kaplan. The online tests were better than expected! Especially the CR question! I don't know if you can purchase only the online part of the book, but that would definitely be worth it. They did a really good job on the verbal part and practicing with two different tools, will help you to broaden your skills. It might happen that you get to accustom to one practice test concept and adapt your timing to much to fit this concept. A concept that might not be as similar to the actual test as you might think...
One more thing: IR is also very well done!

- GMAT official test. They are for free and come as closest to the real test as possible. So you can only win ;) Download the software but safe the tests for the last week! I bought the additional 400 questions as well. Unfortunately I did not have the time to complete all of them. But can't harm and if you wanne safe some bucks... Imagine you get accepted... Then those 30-50 dollars will look ridiculous...

Here my history:

03/02/13 MGMAT 530 Q40 V22
07/28/13 MGMAT 700 Q46 V40
08/02/13 MGMAT 690 Q46 V38
08/04/13 Kaplan 700 Q50 V38 IR6
08/06/13 Official GMAT Prep 660 (SHOCKING!!!)
08/08/13 Kaplan 720 Q51 V38
08/09/13 Official GMAT Prep 720

08/11/13 Official GMAT TEST 720 Q47 V42

You can see that my Quant scores on the MGMAT where consistently lower than on Kaplan.
In the end I kind of messed it up with Quant, I run out of time... and probably got the last 3-5 questions wrong.

My biggest problem during test taking was the paper!
Who de fk thought about plastic coated paper and those non-permanent markers??? I was half way through the test, run out of paper and then somehow no one was there to get me a new block, so I tried to erase everything and reused the old block...
BIG MISTAKE! I lost more time than I would by leaving my seat and just getting a new one!
But anyways, I felt not comfortable to write on this kind of paper. I like to write down my thoughts, make quick sketches, etc...
Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to get one of those blocks and work with it from the beginning.

Anyways, now its over!
At first glance I was thinking of retaking the test, because a 70% in Quant and a 96% in Verbal might not be seen as a "balanced score" but I decided to point out my engineering background just a little bit more on my application... Something like: I always try to be strong in areas beyond my study field and focus on my weaknesses... That might work...
But I'm open to other comments ;)

I want to apply at Sloan (dream), Judge Cambridge, and Said Oxford. Do you think its an asset / advantage to take the Toefl?

I studied one year abroad in the UK, graduated from there (Double Degree program), wrote my thesis diploma in English (in Middle America), and worked for about one year abroad in various countries as project engineer.
There is the possibility to waive the toefl thingy, but would help to take it?


Thank you very much for providing this forum. As mentioned earlier, its good to know that one is not alone.
Furthermore I would like to thank Mr. Sandy Kreisberg. He looked over my resume and gave me some tips and encourage me to apply to sloan. Thanks a lot for that.


Hope I could help some lost strangers... 700+ is a lot of work, but not out of reach (for no body)!
Good Luck! The key is consistent preparation!!!
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2013, 08:22
Hi Felix,
Congratulations on the score and good luck with the applications. I see you took a 4 months break between your first mock and the second one. What was the kind of study plan did u put in. A 150 point increase is quite commendable. Am currently at 630 after 5 mocks and started at 600 in my first. I did manage to get the timing strategy right after the first 2 test. In my case it was a challenge to let go of the problems. Anyways i still have work to do on individual strategy for different sections of gmat. What kind learning and revisiting strategies did you use.

Once again good job and good luck with your apps

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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 09:37
Hey,
i wouldn't call it a break... I was sent abroad and the internet connection was remarkable bad, that i couldn't even use MGMAT ;)
so i worked my ways through the guides.

im not too sure if its wise to take so many practice exams. as you see i first finished all og problems (timed of course) and mgmat guides and then in the last 2 weeks i started with the practice tests. The problem with practice tests is that you dont really improve your skills since the test adapts too your answers. so you will never see a difficult problem unless you are already good ;)

for me it worked out fine to first do as many single problems and then later the exhausting 3 hours marathons.
the advantage with single problems is that you can spend some more time on a prob if you need it. sometimes i spend 15mins, just to figure out what the question exactly asks me to do or what the fastest way to solve it might look like. in a real test i would have just passed it, but then the learn effect equals pretty much zero.
dont get me wrong, a good timing es absolutely essential, but sometimes it helps to figure out the solution on your own and not just to look it up in the explanation section...

whats your target btw? and how much more time do you wanne spend studying?
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 19 Aug 2013, 11:36
My current score best are 45 q and 35 v, need to get a combined 12 points increase . Long way to go. Targetting a 730 plus. Have 54 days left for the date, have kept some buffer days if i am not confident enough. Need to improve a lot in verbal. Quant is achievable. But verbal looks difficult right now with the time constraints.

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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2013, 09:24
gotta aim high ;)
its still a long way to 730, but whats your weakest topic?

54 days sounds okay. i took the last 2 weeks off and studied all day.
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2013, 10:53
Sentence correction and everything related to it. I am pretty decent in CR. Also look forward to quants except probability and absolute values. Anyways trying to get through all online lessons for sentence correction wherever i can find them. Mgmat sc is okay have gone thru it twice but i guess am really bad at grammar. Not able to improve in SC whatever i do. I guess will need to figure out something that suita me quick or join some course.

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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2013, 11:13
Get the PowerScore SC Bible...
no kidding... I think its brilliant ;)
Good practice questions in a nice structure
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2013, 01:19
Hi Felix,

Congrats on your score. Did you refer any specific material of RC ?
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2013, 07:08
RC... mhh... not really.
I subscribed the International Herald Tribune and read one or two articles a day, but apart from that...
to be honest, its pretty difficult to advance fast in RC.

just try to really involve with the story. take sides, play good cop - bad cop, what so ever. just try to get into the authors mind and his intentions.
actually, some of the RC articles are quite interesting. especially those about topics you are usually not interested it, such as anthropology, astrophysics, biology, legal stuff, etc.

btw. the RC texts on the real GMAT were pretty easy to understand.
No unknown or complicated vocabulary, just straight forward information. i first thought i messed up the verbal part, because i expected them to be harder ;)
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 23 Aug 2013, 11:43
Congrats Felix :)

As you gave two Kaplan tests, could you give more insights on the comparison of CR & RC section between Kaplan mock tests and real GMAT.

I found RC passages in Kaplan mocks tough and CR passages a bit long, weird and challenging in contrast with Gmat Prep CR passages.
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2013, 01:56
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The Kaplan CR questions were really tough but fair. If you can master the Kaplan CR then the real test will be less of a problem ;) so I really liked that section of the Kaplan online test. Great practicing...

RC passages on the Kaplan are indeed a little bit more confusing than the real once. Whereas the questions on the reals gmat were slightly more difficult.
But looking at the overall difficulty, Kaplan comes pretty close to the real test.
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2013, 22:26
Felix85 wrote:
The Kaplan CR questions were really tough but fair. If you can master the Kaplan CR then the real test will be less of a problem ;) so I really liked that section of the Kaplan online test. Great practicing...

RC passages on the Kaplan are indeed a little bit more confusing than the real once. Whereas the questions on the reals gmat were slightly more difficult.
But looking at the overall difficulty, Kaplan comes pretty close to the real test.


Thanks for the insights.

Also, How do you see the Kaplan Quant in contrast with GMAT Quant section. Is it representative and helped you in the real test or is it a bit easy?

Good luck with your apps!
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2013, 07:20
I actually liked the kaplan quant section better than the mgmat (in my eyes too difficult).
But i would be careful with these words... i Mean in the end i scored 70% in quant... ;)

ah, i just received my final score:
IR: 8
AWA: 4,5

does someone know if i can see my awa?
i know that the schools ad com does... would be interesting to see how i messed it up ;)
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2013, 15:51
Hi!

Congratulations! It's a great score.
I have a question, there are rumors that the Verbal section is being more difficult.
Have you noticed some diference in the difficulty level between the real GMAT and the GMAT Prep?
Any suggestion about that?

Thx!
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Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42 [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2013, 06:45
mhh...
my verbal score on the real test was the highest I ever got. So for me the verbal part was actually easier... But that might have been a coincident.

I thought that the reading passages are pretty easy with no complex vocabulary, thank I got no passage about legal stuff or anything comparable to this awful one:
jon-clark-s-study-of-the-effect-of-the-modernization-of-a-88689.html#p669013

SC was always my weakness, so it's difficult for me to "score" the difficulty of this section.

CR is pretty much straight forward. Maybe a little bit tougher than on the prep tests, but not as confusing as the kaplan questions.

Hope that helped?
Re: My "Non-Native" Story of 720, Q47 V42   [#permalink] 29 Aug 2013, 06:45
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