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Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog

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Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2014, 14:42
Hey everyone!

I’m Nadirah and very excited to have won the GMAT challenge by Optimus Prep! I haven’t started preparing much for the GMAT yet, so I am interested in getting started and seeing what the test is like. A little bit about me: I just got my BA from Amherst College last spring and I am currently taking some time to explore my options.

This week I will take a simulation, and I’m really curious to see how I do and what the test is like. What I do know about it already is that the question difficulty is adjusted based on your progress as you go along and that it’s pretty bad for your score if you don’t finish. The last standardized test I took was the SAT, so this strikes me as a little bit odd.

I’m not as worried about the Verbal section, but I think I’ll have to do a lot of studying for the Quantitative section. I haven’t taken a math class in a couple of years, so I’m definitely a bit rusty! :-D

In any case, I’m really excited to crack 700 and to keep you all updated as I go along!

Nadirah
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2014, 07:28
Hi all!

Today I took the next step in my preparation for the GMAT: I took the diagnostic test. I didn’t prepare at all going into it, so I was very curious to see how I would do.

The test was pretty interesting. The writing section didn’t present too many problems for me. I was a philosophy major, so I have a lot of experience evaluating arguments and uncovering hidden assumptions. The Integrated Reasoning section was pretty interesting. I thought it would be one of my better sections but turned out to be one of my worst, I think.

What really surprised me was the quantitative section. I thought that I would do a lot worse, since I haven’t reviewed math in so long, but I actually did alright. One thing I’ll definitely have to work on is the data sufficiency question-type. I mostly relied on my intuition and I think sometimes it worked out, but it would be better to have a more systematic way to solve these problems. I’m sure that’s something that Optimus Prep’s tutoring will help me with.

Last came the Verbal section. By the time I got there I was pretty worn out—it’s definitely a long test! What surprised me here were the sentence correction problems. I thought these would be the easiest question type for me to answer, but there were definitely some that I had trouble with. One thing I noticed about the test is how stressful it is to have to do 75 minutes of Quantitative or Verbal problems at once. It would be so much nicer if they were broken up into 20 or 30 minute sections, like they were on the SAT.

Best wishes,

Nadirah :-D
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2014, 07:53
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Here is a copy of my first practice test! Sorry for the bad quality! :oops:
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 14 Feb 2014, 09:19
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gmatchallengestudent wrote:
Here is a copy of my first practice test! Sorry for the bad quality! :oops:


Thanks! FYI - you can take a screenshot using the PRINT SCREEN button on the computer and then save it using either a Paint or another basic graphics software on your computer. If you are taking a lot of screen grabs, then there are various free programs for that...

Good luck!
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 19 Feb 2014, 02:53
Hey everyone!

Once I completed the GMAT simulation the next step was for an Optimus Prep tutor to analyze my weak areas so that we could focus my preparation. I found this really useful, because it can often be hard to know where to start with test prep, and there are A LOT of On Demand videos to choose from!

Like I said in my last post, one of my weaker areas was integrated reasoning, so I should focus some of my preparation there. The section is only 12 or so questions, but it’s still important for my score. An initial tip the tutor gave me was to understand and learn to be able to identify the different question types within the integrated reasoning section.

Another one of my weaker areas was the quantitative section. The quantitative section is much longer so it would have been a lot harder to focus my studying for it on my own. After speaking with the tutor I plan to start my quantitative prep by reviewing probability and statistics. I will watch the “Probability” On Demand video provided by Optimus Prep first, and look forward to letting you all know how it goes!

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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2014, 06:09
Hi all,

I recently started the on demand video course. I skipped ahead a bit and watched the Probability lesson, because I was particularly curious about that section.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the lesson. What it lacked in fancy graphics and video quality it made up for in good content. The tutor in the video did a good job of stating things in concise rules that you could copy down and easily remember. For example, in introducing the basics of probability at the beginning, he stated that a probability statement has to be between 0 and 1. If it is 1 it means an event will always happen, and if it is 0 it means it will never happen.

I liked how naturally the tutor acted in the video. I also liked that the video moved slowly enough that I didn’t have to re-watch that many parts of it. This can also be a minus if you understand a concept, but you can of course always fast forward to the parts that are more relevant to you.

Next time I will try out one of the Verbal videos. I’m excited for these since these are areas that are much more interesting to me than math. Looking forward to filling you all in on it!

Best wishes,

Nadirah

Last edited by gmatchallengestudent on 31 Mar 2014, 06:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2014, 06:17
Hey everyone,

I recently watched another video lesson. It was a different tutor from the probability video that I talked about last time, which makes sense. She started by explaining the format of the section, which was useful.

Then she started to explain what makes up an argument, beginning from the very basics. She explained that an argument has four parts (premises, a conclusion, assumptions, and inferences). Since I was a philosophy major I already know quite a bit about arguments. So for me the tutor was moving a bit too slowly, but for someone with a different background I could see how her very detailed explanations would be useful. Another useful thing she did was, for example, list some common words that introduce a premise. This is particularly useful for test prep, because it's important to be able to quickly make sense of a question. Knowing these key words will definitely help do that.

Next time I'm studying I think I'll skip ahead to the third video and see if things get more interesting for me. In any case the prediction I made in my last post was right: I definitely find studying for integrated reasoning more fun than studying for the quantitative section!

Looking forward to updating you all on my next steps soon!

Nadirah :-D

Last edited by gmatchallengestudent on 31 Mar 2014, 06:46, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 07 Mar 2014, 05:52
Hi all,

My studying for the GMAT has been going quite well recently. I’ve started studying a little bit for the verbal section. I waited to start my preparation for this section until now because I think I am actually in pretty good shape for it. I watched some of the videos for sentence correction today and I found them quite helpful. As a native speaker I often just rely on my intuition about which sentence is correct, but of course that is not always enough. Sometimes two sentences seem plausible intuitively and of course sometimes my intuition can be off.

Anyway, I found the videos quite useful because they really made a lot of things clear. The videos are organized by the types of errors/grammatical structures that commonly appear on the GMAT. For example, there is a video on parallelism. (An example of a sentence that is incorrectly formed due to parallelism is, “She likes reading, watching movies, and to play tennis.” The sentence should, of course, be “She likes reading, writing, and playing tennis.”) The video for tenses would probably be especially helpful for non-native speakers of English.

As fun as it is to study for the language rather than math, I think I will focus my efforts on the quantitative section again now. Looking forward to telling you all about it!

Best wishes,

Nadirah
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2014, 02:58
Hi everyone,

I recently spent some time focusing on data sufficiency questions. I find these particularly difficult. Maybe you guys can relate. When I’m given information and asked to answer a question based on it, I can do a pretty good job of answering the question. Even if there isn’t sufficient data, I think I can normally make a pretty good guess based on what I have. (Maybe this comes from years of standardized testing throughout my school career.) Anyway, the data sufficiency questions pose a problem because they ask you to more critically evaluate what is going on in the question.

Anyway, I’ve encountered some pretty good advice for this section. One suggestion is not to make any assumptions that would help you solve the problem but that are not necessarily warranted based on the information you have. This is an especially hard habit for me to avoid. It is also good to keep in mind the figures are not drawn to scale. Another challenge is to really keep the two statements separate in your mind. Overall I think that I am well on my way to improving on the data sufficiency questions. I just need to train my mind to think in ways that it’s not used to thinking on standardized tests. Hopefully with a little more practice I’ll be there!

Best wishes,

Nadirah :)
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2014, 10:16
Hello everyone!

I’m hoping to finally take the test pretty soon, so I’ve been trying to intensify my studies a bit. Soon I will take another simulation to see how far I’ve come. I’m really excited to see how much my hard work and the Optimus Prep tutoring has paid off.

Today I’ll tell you guys about the video for writing the essay. Overall the video was pretty helpful, though it did review some information that I’d already seen in other videos. The tutor, Abi, gave us quite a bit of advice on how to approach the analysis of the argument. She said that it is important to know the different types of arguments and the flaws that they could contain. Later in the video she reviewed the argument types, which is useful if you didn’t see the video where she first mentioned them or if it’s just been a while.

She also gave some more general advice on writing the essay. For example, she urges us not to speed to much through the reading of the question. It’s true that we don’t have very long to write, but the essay will always be better when we thoroughly understand the question. She also gave some advice that is true for writing any timed essay: make sure your ideas are organized; edit at the end, rather than overanalyzing the details of each sentence as you’re writing. She also breaks down how we should spend our time when writing the essay.

Once again, the lesson was overall pretty helpful. Hopefully next time I write to you guys I’ll have the results of my next simulation. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Best wishes,

Nadirah
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 31 Mar 2014, 06:49
Hey everyone!

After taking my latest simulation I looked at the video on number properties. Number properties is one of the first videos on the list, but I’ve sort of been jumping around with the order of the videos. I think this is okay. It makes sense to address an issue when you see that it’s a problem. At least for me, this makes watching the videos a lot more useful and ensures that I pay a lot better attention. (Of course there are advantages to watching them in order, too. You might not know or realize you have a problem, especially if you guess on a question and just happen to get it right.)

Anyway, the number properties video was similar to a lot of the other videos. The content was good and helpful and everything was presented to you in rules. This is one of my favorite things about the videos overall.

The studying continues further! I’ll keep you guys filled in on what I focus on next!
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2014, 00:47
Hey guys!

As you know I recently took another simulation. Afterwards I spoke with my tutor about the results. I always find this really useful. After each simulation I take we discuss the results. We go over each question that I got wrong and she explains why the answer I chose isn’t the best one and why the right answer is right. She also identifies what the question type is and which principles are being used in it. For example, if the question is a sentence correction question, she might let me know that it has to do with subject and verb agreement. If it is a quantitative question, she tells me which mathematical rule it would have been important to know, and explains the rule to me.

Another nice thing is that after each simulation we re-orient my study plan to fit the progress that I’ve already made and the weaknesses I still have. This is all very nice because, as you all probably know, it isn’t nearly as helpful to keep taking simulations unless you use your results as a tool for further learning.
I’m hoping to taking the real GMAT soon, but will probably do one or more simulations before I do that.
Looking forward to filling you guys again in soon!
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2014, 03:15
Hi everyone!
As I said last time, I’m gearing up to take the GMAT soon and so have been intensifying my studies lately.
Recently I took another simulation. I am pretty pleased with my results, as I have definitely improved since the first time I took a simulation. What I did notice is that the questions I had trouble with are pretty much the same type of question that I had trouble with before. What I have to keep in mind is that this doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. It just means that I will have to concentrate even harder on studying for these types of questions!
Just like last time, I did much better on the verbal section than the quantitative section. When looking over the types of questions that I got wrong, I noticed that a lot of them were data sufficiency questions. This is something that I’ll talk about with my tutor next time we speak.
I also noticed that when I encountered questions that seemed really difficult to answer (mostly because I was having trouble remembering certain math facts) I would just guess on them because I was worried about running out of time. I’m not sure if this is a good strategy or not, so I will also ask my tutor about that next time.

Overall I’m pretty happy and I think the most important thing is to keep practicing. So that’s my plan for the next couple of weeks!
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2014, 02:46
Hi,

I practiced a lot in the last days (4-6 hours a day)... It was hard but I am sure I learned a lot. I will take a GMAT practice test a bit later. Hopefully this will be my best practice score.

I will keep you up to date.
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Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog [#permalink] New post 08 Apr 2014, 05:31
My GMAT practice test went fine - I scored a 710!

For the very first time 700+ .... I am very happy!!!

The next two weeks my tutor will teach me some more advanced quant. concepts and we will try to optimize my time management skills.

I am feeling a bit tired though because the last days were hard. Anyway, I will continue and hope to stay above 700 points until the test day.

I will keep you guys updated
Re: Optimus Prep GMAT Challenge - Student Blog   [#permalink] 08 Apr 2014, 05:31
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