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Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump!

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Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 08:56
My 2nd go-around with the GMAT today concluded in 720, Q49, V40. I thought I might share my experience for those who:
1) panicked your first attempt as I did during my first
2) are not natural-born standardized test takers

Background:
3.2 engineering at undergrad, 4 yr public university
born in US, 2nd gen minority, working class family
<4 years of F/T work exp
Have not done anything academic since graduation

1st attempt Feb 2009, Study Plan:
3 months of studying, started with Kaplan
used OG12 in the beginning and did one section at a time (big mistake) as many problems as I could. Did this the beginning of my 3 months and wasted problems.
Used MGAMT SC book with only a few weeks to go (big mistake)
Did not focus very much on idioms in MGMAT (big mistake)
Kaplan Advanced wasnt worth the time
took two days off before actual test
Took 4 MGMATs, scoring about 660-690. Official GMATPrep was around 680, 690 before actual exam.
Ended up pulling an all nighter before, because I couldn't sleep (probably the final nail in the coffin).
Scored a 590 on test date, huge disappointment. AWA score in mail was 6.0

HUGE CHANGE for my 2nd attempt Nov 2010, Study Plan:
2 months allocated to study.
Reviewed Kaplan 800 book in 1 week.
Reviewed MGMAT SC in 1 week, this time 'memorizing' and internalizing the rules. Eventually I realized that many SC problems (my weakness) followed a lot of subj/verb agreement, parallelism errors. Idiom memorization is for the extra ammo you need to eliminate 50/50 q's.
Bought the entire MGMAT book set this time around, but ended up only using SC and NumProps.
10 quant probs + 10 verbal probs a day consistently.
AWA I was confident in, so I worked skipped the AWA during my simulation exams. MGMAT 1/2/3: 710,700,710.
Took one AWA for my last GMATPrep. GMATPrep 1/2: 710,710.
Worked on breathing techniques. *I tend to freak out, so I knew personally I would need to control how I react to the test and unfamiliar questions.
Sleep aid the night before (really nervous). Review about the first 1/3rd of each section in the OG12, internalizing the answers and methods. *Note: some people perform better by not doing any studying the day before. I need to feel prepared--know yourself and your own learning style to detrmine if you should study the day before or not.

General advice:
Consistency is key. Problems or some form of studying every day to keep your brain in problem solving/speed mode.
Practice grammar rules from MGMAT SC from day 1. In fact, that should be one of the first materials you study.
Did not take off days from work to "trick" my brain into feeling like it was a usual self-simulated diagnostic, so that I would not place too much pressure on the actual day of.
Flashcards to memorize the idioms from MGMAT SC
Used 'chineseburned' guide for AWA 6.0.

Felt I had to give back to the GMATClub community. Let me know if you have questions! :-D

It's really hard to turn your brain off "GMAT mode" after you've studied consistently so long, but I'll be forgetting all that once I celebrate tonight :)

Good luck everyone!
bond928
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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 09:20
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Status: Upset about the verbal score - SC, CR and RC are going to be my friend
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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 10:01
Excellent improvement. I didn't pay attention to the idioms chapter yet. Thanks for the tips. I will spend some time with that too.
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My gmat story
MGMAT1 - 630 Q44V32
MGMAT2 - 650 Q41V38
MGMAT3 - 680 Q44V37
GMATPrep1 - 660 Q49V31
Knewton1 - 550 Q40V27

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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 12:40
Congratulations! Huge Improvement! Just as your username suggests - you're indeed a Bond.. By the way, approximately how many words do you remember writing for your essays. Heard that the quantum of words written does make a difference.
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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 14:27
Regarding the AWA:
I consider myself a decently fast typist (104wpm max, but in reality probably 80wpm for effective writing). I would say around 500 words. My strategy is to type down as much as I can (followed chineseburned's advice) then whittle away as needed. Think ice sculpture carving--dumb analogy, but stay with me here...--you need the ice to be large enough in the first place to be impressive. Chip away at stuff that's not needed for your masterpiece. Too little or too large and you lose the message.

This go-around I did not focus on AWA at all...and I decided to focus more on the actual GMAT. Prep time for AWA was honestly maybe 20 mins (since I felt pretty confident from my first GMAT). BUT, I will say that during my first GMAT I did do several practice essays...and over the past two months I have been practicing via emails to my clients...so that saved a lot of time "prepping" for the AWA :)

HTH
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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 20:08
Thanks Bond for the honest reply. I get the drift from your analogy, good typing speed though. Hope you've received your AWA score this time round and its a 6.0 again.. :) Best of luck for your apps and which schools are you applying to?
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Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump! [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2010, 21:55
congratulations bond and all the best for ur applicatios!
Re: Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump!   [#permalink] 06 Nov 2010, 21:55
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Retake: 590 to 720 (Q49, V40), 130pt jump!

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