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My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V)

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My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2010, 22:49
After reading everyone else’s story over the past few months – I wanted to share my own in case people can take anything away from it. Yes, it's long...

Prep Materials:

Kaplan GMAT 2010 – It was the first book I saw so I bought it. Not bad, but it’s lacking good math and language refreshers (later found in the Official Guide). The test taking strategies were helpful and I stuck with them all the way through to the test. When I was done with the book, I knew I wasn’t ready and needed to seek out more sources.

Official Guide 12 – Wish I had started with this one. The lessons (or whatever you call the chapters that give a review of what can be tested) were great. I think the PS examples were a good base, but not difficult enough to really get a workout. I supplemented the tutorials with some basic math textbooks I took out from the library (great for exponents, factoring, geometry, etc.) which gave me plenty of questions to get back to basics.

GMAT Club Tests – After going through the OG, I knew I wasn’t ready for the math and had run out of problems. Came across these on the website and gave them a try. These questions are certainly tougher and being able to use the timer was a good help to get used to pacing. I used them here and there, sometimes doing a full timed section, sometimes just doing a few questions for practice. Got through about 10 of the 25 tests before I’d had enough. Didn’t touch the verbal ones.

The Prep:

When I started my studying, I found the math concepts to be very frustrating – I knew I “should” be able to figure out the answers but couldn’t. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to just breeze through on common sense and got to work learning the basics (number properties, geometry rules, etc) all over again. The turning point in my studying (which came later than it should have) was when I stopped trying to solve problems by brute force and started to try and figure out what the questions were really asking and what they were giving me. This really helped because eventually I started to see the short cuts in questions which saves time and often makes the math you have to crank out much, much easier. My advice - don’t just memorize how to do certain questions even though it’s easier and makes you feel better, try to learn why and how you’re supposed to solve them (if that makes sense??). With so many possible questions, it is highly unlikely you’d see a question you’ve memorized how to answer mechanically– but you will see the same concepts and ideas over and over again.

For the verbal, I was pretty lucky. From the start of my studying, I could usually get an idea of what the answer ‘should look like’ and then find it in the options. I used the verbal practice questions to develop a routine for how to approach the different question types so that when it came to the test, I would be comfortable with how to systematically answer the questions. I spent far less prep time here than I did for the quants.
I did keep an error log which was helpful.

I would usually do problems in sets of 20 or so, review the answers and put any mistakes in the error log. I would read the log over from time to time and read it the morning of the exam as well as a last minute reminder not to make the dumb mistakes I had been making.

The only practice exams I took were the official GMAT practice tests which I took twice (once about 4 weeks in, once about 6). Data sufficiency questions were an absolute disaster and overall I was just being careless and rushing through too many answers. When I reviewed the tests, most of my errors were stupid mistakes, not a lack of understanding – I had to slow down and read the questions better. I didn’t keep track of the splits, but the quants were around the mid-40s and the verbal a bit higher). The results of those were:
Test 1 – 710 and 720
Test 2 – 720 and 740

At this point I’d been studying for about a month and a half. I thought I was ready and any score in the 700s would have been good enough for me but when I tried to book a time, I couldn’t find a convenient open space for another couple of weeks. I was deflated because I didn’t think I could keep motivated until then, in my mind I needed to write it RIGHT THEN, but I had no other option but to put it off. I took a couple of days off from the books and just attacked it again for the final push. I found I was seeing things better (as in the tricks and traps) and think the little break really helped.

The Test Day
Morning of: I did do some light “practice” in the morning, more just to warm up the brain – some long division, multiplication (no GMAT questions though) and read a couple of RC passages from my prep book (didn’t answer the questions). Read my notes and error log one last time while trying to stay relaxed. Ate well, got to the centre early (no surprises, the administrators were very nice and helpful) and started about 15 minutes early. For a 6-seat room with a full time supervisor, the sign in and sign out procedures were a little intense, but I digress…

AWA
Nothing surprising here. A flawed argument and an issue you could address from either side. Stuck to a basic structure, put my thoughts, suggestions and examples down. I was very tight for time on both and had to rush the review for spelling and grammar – looking back, I think I tried to put down 1 too many ideas each time which made the essays read like a mess. Disappointed but I wasn’t too worried (it wasn’t a complete disaster), the real test was to come. Took the optional break even though I was tempted to just plow on – I figured clearing the mind would be of more use than getting my score 5 minutes earlier at the end. Good choice – take the break.

Quants
People talk about the first 10 questions being important (they’re all important), but I just tried to get through the first 5. I knew that once I got through 5, my rhythm would get back to normal and the nerves should be gone. It was harder than I thought to just treat every question as a stand-alone rather than trying to figure out what they were telling me about how I was scoring. Before the test, I didn’t understand what people meant when they said that you shouldn’t assume a question is experimental but during the exam I saw what they meant. A couple of times I felt things were out of place – really hard, really easy or just something I wasn’t expecting. You’ll never know for sure what’s going on in the back of the computer, so just stay focused – question by question. Finished just in time, but I was watching the clock very carefully throughout to stay on pace. Took the break again (protein bar, water and washroom this time).

Verbal
The only thing I can offer up here is that I ended just in time even though in my practice exams I finished with 15 or 20 minutes to spare, very surprising. Thinking about it afterwards - for the practice exams, I would answer the question if I was 95% sure and move on but in the real exam I had to make sure I was 100% certain - this ate up all the extra time and made it a dash to the finish. A couple of times I even submitted an answer and clicked ‘No’ when prompted if I wanted to confirm – neither time did I change my answer after going back to read again, I should have just moved on.

Results: Skipped through the optional questions, I needed the number! As it churned away, I was thinking the number could be anything and was hoping for something similar to my practice scores. At the risk of sounding like the annoying person who says “I think I failed” every time and gets straight ‘A’s, I just didn’t know how I did and felt very uncomfortable. When 780 came up, I just smiled. This test is baffling.

So there it is, my GMAT story. I think I peaked at the right time and the extra push after initially thinking I was ready to go took my score higher than it would have been if I had just gotten it over with. I do not have a math background, nor anything that would make me good at grammar – but I just stuck to learning exactly what they could test and stayed calm. I’m also happy to be an outlier on the "score predictors" based on the practice exams. There surely was some luck involved, but however it happened, my study plan helped me get there. Glad to be over it, but there is still much left to do. All the best to everyone yet to write…
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 01:40
wow killing score, you are real doberman..Lol just kidding.

congrats and good luck with your application.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 03:52
Congrats and thanks for the nice briefing...
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Last edited by sidhu4u on 15 Mar 2010, 07:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 04:24
congrats, man. awesome score!!!!!!!
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 06:35
Congrats. Awesome score
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 07:39
Wow...Congratulations and Good luck.
What is the strategy for your verbal (High score)?
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 07:47
Expert's post
WOOOOW. Congratulations!
May want to add your name to this list: 99-ile-clubbers-add-your-name-to-the-list-77041.html
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 19:56
Congrats.

I never heard of anyone getting 50V!
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2010, 20:15
Congratz, what a great score.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2010, 01:04
wow!! Gr8 score... Good luck with your apps.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2010, 01:45
Congrats! Great Score.
Added to my GMATExp Collection :)
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2010, 02:13
TheDoberman wrote:
After reading everyone else’s story over the past few months – I wanted to share my own in case people can take anything away from it. Yes, it's long...
Thank you TheDoberman.. I want to repeat the same theory as you did.. Let I start from now..
Prep Materials:

Kaplan GMAT 2010 – It was the first book I saw so I bought it. Not bad, but it’s lacking good math and language refreshers (later found in the Official Guide). The test taking strategies were helpful and I stuck with them all the way through to the test. When I was done with the book, I knew I wasn’t ready and needed to seek out more sources.

Official Guide 12 – Wish I had started with this one. The lessons (or whatever you call the chapters that give a review of what can be tested) were great. I think the PS examples were a good base, but not difficult enough to really get a workout. I supplemented the tutorials with some basic math textbooks I took out from the library (great for exponents, factoring, geometry, etc.) which gave me plenty of questions to get back to basics.

GMAT Club Tests – After going through the OG, I knew I wasn’t ready for the math and had run out of problems. Came across these on the website and gave them a try. These questions are certainly tougher and being able to use the timer was a good help to get used to pacing. I used them here and there, sometimes doing a full timed section, sometimes just doing a few questions for practice. Got through about 10 of the 25 tests before I’d had enough. Didn’t touch the verbal ones.

The Prep:

When I started my studying, I found the math concepts to be very frustrating – I knew I “should” be able to figure out the answers but couldn’t. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to just breeze through on common sense and got to work learning the basics (number properties, geometry rules, etc) all over again. The turning point in my studying (which came later than it should have) was when I stopped trying to solve problems by brute force and started to try and figure out what the questions were really asking and what they were giving me. This really helped because eventually I started to see the short cuts in questions which saves time and often makes the math you have to crank out much, much easier. My advice - don’t just memorize how to do certain questions even though it’s easier and makes you feel better, try to learn why and how you’re supposed to solve them (if that makes sense??). With so many possible questions, it is highly unlikely you’d see a question you’ve memorized how to answer mechanically– but you will see the same concepts and ideas over and over again.

For the verbal, I was pretty lucky. From the start of my studying, I could usually get an idea of what the answer ‘should look like’ and then find it in the options. I used the verbal practice questions to develop a routine for how to approach the different question types so that when it came to the test, I would be comfortable with how to systematically answer the questions. I spent far less prep time here than I did for the quants.
I did keep an error log which was helpful.

I would usually do problems in sets of 20 or so, review the answers and put any mistakes in the error log. I would read the log over from time to time and read it the morning of the exam as well as a last minute reminder not to make the dumb mistakes I had been making.

The only practice exams I took were the official GMAT practice tests which I took twice (once about 4 weeks in, once about 6). Data sufficiency questions were an absolute disaster and overall I was just being careless and rushing through too many answers. When I reviewed the tests, most of my errors were stupid mistakes, not a lack of understanding – I had to slow down and read the questions better. I didn’t keep track of the splits, but the quants were around the mid-40s and the verbal a bit higher). The results of those were:
Test 1 – 710 and 720
Test 2 – 720 and 740

At this point I’d been studying for about a month and a half. I thought I was ready and any score in the 700s would have been good enough for me but when I tried to book a time, I couldn’t find a convenient open space for another couple of weeks. I was deflated because I didn’t think I could keep motivated until then, in my mind I needed to write it RIGHT THEN, but I had no other option but to put it off. I took a couple of days off from the books and just attacked it again for the final push. I found I was seeing things better (as in the tricks and traps) and think the little break really helped.

The Test Day
Morning of: I did do some light “practice” in the morning, more just to warm up the brain – some long division, multiplication (no GMAT questions though) and read a couple of RC passages from my prep book (didn’t answer the questions). Read my notes and error log one last time while trying to stay relaxed. Ate well, got to the centre early (no surprises, the administrators were very nice and helpful) and started about 15 minutes early. For a 6-seat room with a full time supervisor, the sign in and sign out procedures were a little intense, but I digress…

AWA
Nothing surprising here. A flawed argument and an issue you could address from either side. Stuck to a basic structure, put my thoughts, suggestions and examples down. I was very tight for time on both and had to rush the review for spelling and grammar – looking back, I think I tried to put down 1 too many ideas each time which made the essays read like a mess. Disappointed but I wasn’t too worried (it wasn’t a complete disaster), the real test was to come. Took the optional break even though I was tempted to just plow on – I figured clearing the mind would be of more use than getting my score 5 minutes earlier at the end. Good choice – take the break.

Quants
People talk about the first 10 questions being important (they’re all important), but I just tried to get through the first 5. I knew that once I got through 5, my rhythm would get back to normal and the nerves should be gone. It was harder than I thought to just treat every question as a stand-alone rather than trying to figure out what they were telling me about how I was scoring. Before the test, I didn’t understand what people meant when they said that you shouldn’t assume a question is experimental but during the exam I saw what they meant. A couple of times I felt things were out of place – really hard, really easy or just something I wasn’t expecting. You’ll never know for sure what’s going on in the back of the computer, so just stay focused – question by question. Finished just in time, but I was watching the clock very carefully throughout to stay on pace. Took the break again (protein bar, water and washroom this time).

Verbal
The only thing I can offer up here is that I ended just in time even though in my practice exams I finished with 15 or 20 minutes to spare, very surprising. Thinking about it afterwards - for the practice exams, I would answer the question if I was 95% sure and move on but in the real exam I had to make sure I was 100% certain - this ate up all the extra time and made it a dash to the finish. A couple of times I even submitted an answer and clicked ‘No’ when prompted if I wanted to confirm – neither time did I change my answer after going back to read again, I should have just moved on.

Results: Skipped through the optional questions, I needed the number! As it churned away, I was thinking the number could be anything and was hoping for something similar to my practice scores. At the risk of sounding like the annoying person who says “I think I failed” every time and gets straight ‘A’s, I just didn’t know how I did and felt very uncomfortable. When 780 came up, I just smiled. This test is baffling.

So there it is, my GMAT story. I think I peaked at the right time and the extra push after initially thinking I was ready to go took my score higher than it would have been if I had just gotten it over with. I do not have a math background, nor anything that would make me good at grammar – but I just stuck to learning exactly what they could test and stayed calm. I’m also happy to be an outlier on the "score predictors" based on the practice exams. There surely was some luck involved, but however it happened, my study plan helped me get there. Glad to be over it, but there is still much left to do. All the best to everyone yet to write…
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2010, 02:20
Dang. that's a great score!!! Good job.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2010, 10:29
congrats!
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2010, 23:34
great score , well done!!!!
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2010, 11:42
Awesome score.... Congrats !!!
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 08 Apr 2010, 22:01
Bravo.. great score !
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 09 Apr 2010, 23:12
Awesome score dude !!

congrats ....
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2010, 11:24
Expert's post
Your score is incredible! Congratulations.
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Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V) [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2010, 15:12
Congrats ...
Re: My Story...(780 - 5.0, 49Q, 50V)   [#permalink] 17 Apr 2010, 15:12
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