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My road to 740!

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My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 18:39
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I am completely walking on air right now. After months of studying (mostly quant), I finally took the test today for the first time, and I did better than I ever dreamed. Here's my story.

I'm 31/F, liberal arts degree from fairly well-respected state university, 8 years of journalism experience. I had never considered business school until April, when I took a "finance for non-finance professionals" seminar offered by one of my trade association clients. That was my "aha!" moment: I'd been told all through school that I was no good at math, so I'd avoided anything that had to do with it ever since. Long story short, that seminar showed me otherwise. It made me realize that business school might be a good option for me.

When I first started looking into it, I thought, "Maybe I can get into the part-time program at [low-ranked local university]." My original plan was to go part time, so that was where I looked first. I bought several GMAT books (mainly Kaplan Premier and OGMAT). It quickly became apparent that I needed a LOT of work on quant (reality check: I had not done long division by hand in so long that I actually had to Google "how to do long division"), while my verbal skills, with a little brushing up, were in good shape. My job for the past 8 years has basically entailed reading comprehension, sentence correction and critical reasoning, so I didn't focus much on that until the end.

Quant was a long, hard slog. I spent at least an hour a day reading study materials and doing practice questions; the results of the practice quizzes made me want to cry more than once, but I kept at it, day after day. Finally, in August, I signed up for two related Foundations of Math online seminars through Manhattan GMAT. They came with MGMAT's Foundations of Math book, which was a GODSEND. I cannot recommend it highly enough. While the OG and Kaplan books often assumed I knew things I didn't know, MGMAT's Foundations of Math walked me through the basics in ways I could almost always understand easily. It really made the difference for me. After I mastered that book, I was able to circle back to the Kaplan and OG books and tackle the material that had previously been beyond me. The Web seminars themselves were somewhat helpful, but the book was invaluable.

I took four of the six Manhattan GMAT practice tests that came with the seminars and scored 690, 700, 690 and 730. I spent a lot of time studying the explanations for the problems I got wrong (and the ones I got right!), and I liked the assessment tools that allowed me to compare all the tests at once and see at a glance which areas of math were my greatest weaknesses. This tool also helped me shore up my weaknesses on the verbal section.

The day before the test, I got a mani-pedi and went to see "Secretariat" (fluffy, no strenuous thinking required), then went home to wait for bedtime. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin, I was so nervous. I barely slept. I got to the testing center so early that I had to wait downstairs for half an hour before I could go up. I thought I was going to be sick!

OK, so, the test itself. I'm pretty sure I messed up the Analysis of an Issue essay (my outline wasn't very good), but I feel good about the Analysis of an Argument essay. We'll see in a few weeks. The math was ... oh, man. I thought for sure I was bombing it. I encountered several questions I hadn't seen in all my months of prep and no questions on a few topics at which I'd worked very, very hard, but that's the luck of the draw. (Lesson: Study as many question types as you can! Don't get hung up on any one topic!) By the time I got to the verbal section, my head was spinning. As the final question approached, my apprehension mounted -- I was incredibly nervous about my score. I clicked through all the demographic questions and finally got to the score page.

740. SERIOUSLY? WHAT?? Um... I may have done some silent fist-pumps. Wink

I had hoped to get at least 700. 740 (44Q/47V) was beyond my wildest expectations. I hit the 68th percentile in math -- considering I probably started at the 10th percentile and relied entirely on self-study, I'm thrilled with that number. 99th percentile on verbal; I made some adjustments after a few practice tests that put me in the 93rd percentile, and apparently it worked. Again, Manhattan GMAT's extensive practice test analysis was very helpful in preparing for the verbal section (to be fair, I did not take any other company's practice tests).

Overall: 97th percentile. I will be on Cloud Nine for at least a week.

I have a lot of work to do in the application process, but this score opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Needless to say, I'm now planning to go full time next fall (a conclusion I came to over several months of research -- as a career changer, it seems like the wisest choice). I can't wait to see what the future holds! In the meantime, I'll be bolstering my quant skills with an accounting or statistics course this spring through the USDA grad school. My message to anyone who thinks they can't handle the math is: TRY! I thought I couldn't and I was wrong. It took a LOT of studying, but I got there. You can too!

Best of luck to everyone who has yet to take the test!
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:08
I will TAKE and RUN with the 47V
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:14
seriously ! I will call anyone who takes V44 - 47 a magician !

mainhoon wrote:
I will TAKE and RUN with the 47V

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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:14
mainhoon wrote:
I will TAKE and RUN with the 47V


I REALLY hope high verbal scores are valuable to B-schools! It seems like the majority of posters on this and other GMAT forums have higher quant scores. I keep telling myself that business schools want a good mixture of applicants -- some with better quant scores and some with better verbal scores, right? ;)
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 20:17
Hey erdehoff
Congratulations !
Regarding your Manhattan. Can you please breakdown your Verbal scores for us. specially during the last 10 days.
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 21:18
nusmavrik wrote:
Hey erdehoff
Congratulations !
Regarding your Manhattan. Can you please breakdown your Verbal scores for us. specially during the last 10 days.


I am happy to try! However, I'm not sure how much good it will do. For me, verbal comes naturally; my job for the past 8 years has been to do all the things the GMAT tests for in the verbal section (sentence correction, reading comprehension, critical reasoning).

Sentence correction is something I believe many people can learn if they study the rules of English grammar hard enough; basically, there are rules, and once you learn them, they make sense. Algebra works the same way, in my experience -- the difference is that I know the rules of English grammar far better than I know the rules of algebra, hence the score differential!

I will tell you that the results of my practice test (all through Manhattan GMAT) told me a lot about where I needed to focus my attention when it came to the verbal section. I took four practice tests in the past three weeks with scores of 690, 700, 690 and 730; my verbal scores were (respectively) 99th percentile, 93rd, 93rd and 99th. While I focused my studies over the past few months on the quantitative section, I did spend a fair amount of time in the past 2 weeks analyzing my verbal results and studying the questions I missed and the ones I got right. I liked the way Manhattan GMAT allowed me to analyze all my verbal scores at once and zero in on my weaknesses; because I did not take any other company's practice tests, I cannot say how it compares to Kaplan, Veritas, etc. I liked the detailed explanations of each answer, which I imagine most test prep companies will provide with their practice tests.

I wish I had a magic formula to recommend to students who want to improve their verbal score. I do think that much of the verbal score stems from analytical skill, and that is something that transcends English ability.
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 19 Oct 2010, 21:44
WOW V 47 !!

:P This verbal score is dream score for any gmat taker - especially if he is Non-Native.
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 04:15
gr88 score!! gud luck 4 ur app!!!
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 11:22
Congratulations, it`s a great score. Can you provide some further details about the test itself - tougher word problems you`ve encountered, combinatorics and probabilities etc, the topics of the RC passages (whatever you can remember)... Thank you!
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 11:46
Great Score....Congratulations.
Good luck for your apps.
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 20 Oct 2010, 12:19
Awesome score! Do not worry about your Quants score, give you best effort in application.
Good luck!
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Re: My road to 740! [#permalink] New post 23 Oct 2010, 09:48
reg123456 wrote:
Congratulations, it`s a great score. Can you provide some further details about the test itself - tougher word problems you`ve encountered, combinatorics and probabilities etc, the topics of the RC passages (whatever you can remember)... Thank you!


Thanks! I'm not sure how much I can say about the specifics (they make you sign a nondisclosure agreement) and I barely remember any of the verbal section at all -- by that point I was just trying to buckle down and get through it. I can't remember any of the RC topics. I remember very little of the math; I did get one question that was similar to a question I'd already done, so all I had to do was look at the notes I'd already taken for the answer.

The main thing I remember is that I had a really hard time figuring out work-rate problems during my studies; I must have spent weeks studying those damned things -- and I didn't get a single one on the actual test! Luck of the draw, I suppose.
Re: My road to 740!   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2010, 09:48
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