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New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together.

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New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 24 Oct 2011, 08:14
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Hello everyone, this is only my second post but I have been familiarizing myself with this site and reading many of the "classic" threads for a few weeks now. I have gained so much in the short time I have been here and wanted to give back and summarize all of the reading I have done in an "Ultimate Study Guide/Plan" type post. First a little background:

I first took the GMAT in November 2004. I had a crappy Barron's GMAT book that I read over the course of Thanksgiving Break (my senior year of undergrad) and took the test the following Monday. I am a very quantitative person and scored very well as I worked my way through that book. It was my verbal that I expected to be my demise on test day. When I took the actual test I had zero familiarity with the sort of math questions I kept getting (I could solve them, but due to my lack of familiarity it often took longer than it should have causing me to rush at the end). After that, I had my weak section and I was highly depressed by my dismal quant performance so by the end I was sure I had completely bombed the exam. To my chagrin I ended up with a 700 (Q44, V41), and AWA of 6. Verbal saved me! I have no idea how to this day!

I never retook the GMAT or gave it much more thought because the score was "good enough" coupled with my GPA (although having read a lot of the posts/threads on here I now know exactly why I bombed the quant section, a section that was supposed to be my strength!). I went to grad school got two MS degrees and have been working in asset management for four years now.

Lately I have thought more and more about pursuing an MBA from a top-5 type school only. I feel like this is one of the things I truly want to accomplish in my life and that in the current environment it could be useful to opening some VC and M&A type work that I am particularly interested in.

With that in mind I figured out that I wanted to matriculate in Fall 2013 (so that I'd have 5+ years of experience) and started working backwards so I can apply early decision to the schools I am interested in (i.e. apps have to be in by Fall 2012). I wanted to the summer to work on my apps, essays, and recs. So I figured take it by late May (as it turns out once I started reading this was perfect since I wouldn't have to study for the new section being added in June). I wanted at least 3 good months of study I figured I'd start studying right after I got back from a big vacation I have planned at the start of February.

So I started doing some planning so I could jump right in when I got home. Good thing, I did because I came across this site and quickly figured out that getting and earlier start, especially in regard to planning and gathering materials may be wise. So for the past few weeks I have been reading, gathering the knowledge of those that came before me and putting together what I consider to be the Ultimate Study Plan for the GMAT which I now present for your perusal:

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this is based on having quite a bit of time to devote to the GMAT and focuses ultimately on the highest level of achievement (my target score is a 760 or above). I am accustomed to studying for tests that cover a substantial amount of information and take months to prepare for (I got a CFA and FRM over the course of 18 months), if you aren't feel free to adapt the plan to your particular needs or pick and choose based on your own particular needs, goals and constraints.

Timeline: Now through late May (I will schedule the GMAT once I feel like I am fully prepared and confident, but before the new section is introduced in June; I don't want to restrict myself to a specific drop-dead date as I feel it would be counterproductive and stressful. Hence, by starting this process now I feel that I have given myself ample time to cover everything I need to before the changes kick in.

Math
General Outline: I plan to cover #1 to refresh myself prior to beginning my studies in earnest in early January.
1. Foundations of GMAT Math: GMAT Strategy Supplement by MGMAT (complete this between now and New Year's)
2. MGMAT Guides 1-4
3. Advanced GMAT Quant: GMAT Strategy Supplement by MGMAT
Supplement with:
4. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 10th and 12th Ed. (skip 11th ed minimize overlap; yes I know OG10 has overlap with questions on the software provided, I feel the benefit of the ones that don't overlap is greater than the cost of seeing a few familiar questions on practice exams); questions in these get more difficult as you move through them
5. The Official Guide for GMAT Quant Review 1st Ed. (I already have the first which greatly overlaps with the 2nd so I am not going to waste my money since this book mostly has easy and average difficulty level questions; if you wish feel free to substitute with the 2nd Ed., if I had it i would use it)
If still scoring poorly after covering all these materials get:
6. Jeff Sackmann's Total GMAT Math
Finish out practice with:
7. GMAT Club Tests and Jeff Sackmann's Challenge Sets (hardest quant questions around)

Verbal
General Outline: I plan to cover #1 to refresh myself prior to beginning my studies in earnest in early January.
1. Foundations of GMAT Verbal: GMAT Strategy Supplement by MGMAT (complete this between now and New Year's)
2. MGMAT Guides 5-8
Supplement with:
4. The Official Guide for GMAT Review 10th and 12th Ed.
5. The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review 2nd Ed. (I have the 2nd Ed. of this book, hence I am using it;)
If still scoring poorly on:
a) SC-get The PowerScore SC Bible or GMAT Ultimate Grammar (or both)
b) CR-get The PowerScore CR Bible

Tests/CATs
1. GMATPrep and PowerPrep Software Test (with software re-install to use everything in the question bank!)
2. MGMAT CATs (6, available with purchase of any of the eight guidebooks, even if you buy on Amazon for what is essentially half price!)
3. GMAT Club tests and exercise sets
4. Jeff Sackmann's Challenge Sets

Additional tips/tools to use as you work through this material:
1. Take notes in a notebook as you read and work through questions. Write down anything you don't know, need to work on or look back over
2. Keep an error log of EVERY SINGLE QUESTION YOU ANSWER! I don't care where you find it write it down and keep track of it for review!
3. Review ALL questions and their explanation, EVEN THOSE YOU ANSWER CORRECTLY!
4. Utilize these forums, they are your best resource (I can't tell you how helpful the forum community was to me when I was taking my CFA and FRM exams!). Get engaged and post often (whether to answer the questions of others or to post your own).

Well I think that about sums up the distillation of the best of the best of what I have learned and read about GMAT Club and Amazon book reviews over the last two weeks. I hope this helps someone, as much as the stuff that has been posted here has already helped me! Nothing really new here, more like my own subjective synthesis of what seems to be THE BEST OF of a lot of the really long and useful threads on this site.

Apologies for the length of this post and congratulations on making it through!

AD
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2011, 12:18
Finally got all my books, and got started last night. Did first chapter (Equations) of Foundations of GMAT Math. Very easy, so if the rest of this book is like this I should have no problem finishing it this month even with the upcoming vacation!

Last edited by adavydov7 on 10 Nov 2011, 06:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2011, 07:39
Completed Chapters 2 (Quadratic Equations) and 3 (Word Problems) last night. Moving right along. Still nothing new and fairly simple. But a good refresher that I feel is helping get me in the swing of things.

STUDY NOTE: Memorize integer multiplication table all the way up to 25x25. Memorize integer squares up to 25^2 and integer square roots up to 625^.5.

Last edited by adavydov7 on 10 Nov 2011, 06:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2011, 10:13
This is what some one would say an ideal study plan.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2011, 13:30
Thanks ksp that was my goal when I was researching and putting together my plan of attack.

Also, in addition to using this thread as a journal of my progress and experiences, I will also be posting reviews of the books as I work through them and updates/details to the study plan as I get into the meat of it after I get through these two Foundations books.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2011, 18:27
I plan on starting now and taking my test in February. I was curious on how much time you are devoting (planning) on studying a week for prep and how you are balancing topics week to week?
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2011, 06:40
@rstaha: Right now I am just getting started and working my way through the Foundations books, so I would say I don't really study for more that 1-2hrs a day, and its not very intense. In fact I wouldn't even call is studying, more like reviewing and refreshing since I already know all this stuff and just want tor remind myself of it to make sure I have a solid base to continue to build on once I get into the main books.

When I get to the 8 guides and the OGs I plan on bumping up study time to 2-3hrs a day, and 4hrs on weekends. Haven't yet thought how I am going to structure the actual progression through the topics, the options are to do Math first and then Verbal (as is suggested in many places on this site and others) OR to do a mix of both Math and Verbal each week so that both stay fresh in my head throughout the study process (at the moment I am leaning towards the latter however, but it could change; I will be sure to update once I decide on one route or the other).
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2011, 06:46
Finished Chapter 4 (Divisibility) last night. Still nothing earth shattering but I feel this was the most useful chapter thus far. If you don't know Prime Factorization, LEARN IT!

STUDY NOTE: Memorize all prime number between 0 and 100.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2011, 12:23
Finished Chapter 5 (Exponents and Roots) just now. Very simple, but again very good review. Again, if there is a lesson to be learned here its Prime Factorization. Know it cold, as it can be applied in numerous situations.

Will try to get through Chapter 6 tonight.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 10 Nov 2011, 18:26
Well, its been a very productive day. I ended up finishing two more chapters tonight. Ch. 6 (Fractions) and Ch.7 (Fractions, Decimals, and Percents).

Hope to finish the last two chapters in the book and get started on Foundations of Verbal this weekend. Pretty pleased that it will have taken only 4 days to read every single page and perform every single problem in the book, regardless of how easy they were. Shoot, at this rate I may be able to finish Verbal before I head on vacation next Friday (and I wasn't aiming on completing that until Dec. 21st). So moving right along:)
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 08:12
Very similar plan to mine, the MGMAT foundation and strat guides have been great so far!

I took the first MGMAT as a filler one month ago and I will be taking the second MGMAT Saturday the 19th.

GL and will be checking on your updates
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 10:39
Unforseen how did you choose to structure your studies after the two Foundations books? Are you just going in order, ie starting with book 1 and moving through to book 8 in the Strat guides, or are you trying a bit of math and verbal each week?

I am still making up my mind on how to proceed on this front and would appreciate the input. Thanks!
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 11:04
You can check how I've done it so far in my review in my signature but I recommend the following:

Go through chapters 1 - 8 in MGMAT foundations before moving to Math strat guides 1 - 4. an MGMAT rep here recommended another strategy I didn't like because honestly the material in ch 1 - 8 overlaps all over the place in guides 1 - 4.

As for the strategy guide orders, I would recommend Number Properties followed by E, I VICs, then FDP, and finally Word Translations. Make sure you leave WT for last.

I'm doing Geometry this weekend, and from what I've seen this section is on its own. What I mean by this is that you can do it before everything else (do chapter 9 Foundations followed by the geometry strat guide) or last.

As for verbal, I'm learning from my math review errors and doing all the foundations book before moving to the strat guides. My order of guides will be SC, CR, and finally RC. I read news articles and reports all the time at work so I complement my verbal all the time.

Finally I subscribed to the daily questions from the forum which I'm doing at work every morning.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 11:15
Ok based on what you've done, finish chapter 8 and move to the strat guides. finish the guides then do chapter 9 followed by geometry strat guide. That is my recommendation.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 11:56
Great, thanks for the input. My approach is a little different in that I am doing both Foundations of Math and Verbal before getting into the Strategy Guides. I am just trying to figure out if I want to segregate Math and Verbal once I actually get to the Strategy Guides or if I want to do a mix of both Math and Verbal guides on a weekly basis. Oh well, I'll figure it out. I still have loads of time and am making much faster progress, than anticipated; so at this point I am pretty happy:)
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2011, 12:39
I just started the foundations of verbal while I finish the math guides. Its impossible to tell what the optimal strategy is and it depends heavily on the time you can put per week.

I'm concentrating more on Quant over verbal on my journey
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2011, 10:15
Yea, I definitely agree with that. It just depends on each individual and how they learn best.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2011, 10:40
Finished Ch. 8 (Inequalities and Absolute Values). Still very easy, but the refresher on absolute values was very much a needed one. One more long chapter to go and I am done with this book and on to Verbal!
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 14 Nov 2011, 20:45
Finished Ch. 9 (Geometry) at last. This was a great review of the geometry rules I had tried to so hard to forget since middle school (I hated geometry!). Moving right along to Foundations of Verbal tomorrow. I will also post a holistic review of Foundations of Math if I have time tomorrow.

Last edited by adavydov7 on 15 Nov 2011, 12:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together. [#permalink] New post 15 Nov 2011, 08:43
I'm not sure how you could score poorly with that study plan. Very comprehensive. Just remember to be disciplined and stick to a schedule and you'll definitely do well.
Re: New Member and the Ultimate Study Plan I have put together.   [#permalink] 15 Nov 2011, 08:43
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