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Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v)

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Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2009, 13:13
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Hi all,

Long time reader/lurker

First try at the GMAT was back in Dec 2007. Finished the online Kaplan program and the Kaplan CD set (GMAT/GRE/LSAT pack). I also used the PowerPrep DOS program from GMAC. Highest practice back then was a 620.

Scored a 610 on the actual.

No dice with the 2008 school year app. Signed up for the Manhattan GMAT online class in the Summer of 2008, finished in the fall. Work kicked my butt for a bit with travel, but I was able to buckle down and finish the MGMAT material from April-June 2009. Practice exams went from start of 620ish to to a finish of 680 (between GMAC prep software and MGMAT practice exams).

Took the exam yesterday, actual unofficial results were a 710 (48 q, 38 v).

I can say with some assurance the MGMAT class knocked the socks off of the Kaplan programs. A friend of mine took the Kaplan classroom form and gave me all his materials, which I found identical to the online program and the self study. I asked him about the instructor and his response was the instructor simply went through the book chapter by chapter. I found the strategies and the material covered in MGMAT supplemented each other nicely. and I believe that helped push me over the 700 mark.

Best of luck to the rest.
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Last edited by mohater on 21 Jun 2009, 17:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2009, 15:59
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Congratulations!

That's a great improvement from 600. Also - thanks for your feedback on Manhattan and Kaplan courses - I added your thread to the reviews here: gmat-prep-courses-classes-reviews-ratings-and-comparison-78451.html#p590321. If there is anything else that you think would be helpful to know for future prep class takers - would appreciate your thoughts.

Good Luck with essays!
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2009, 17:30
mxb908 wrote:
Mohater -

First, Congrats! on an awesome score. I feel I have been in a similar boat with regards to work..study and break of schedule...Can you pass some tips on how to prepare for the verbal and quant. I have been preparing for a while now and have not been able to get consistently high points on Verbal or Math. Was wondering if you could share your study tips.

thanks,


Hi mxb908,

Thanks for the well wishes.

To prep for verbal: When speaking, always try to be aware of what you are saying. You will often catch saying things that are unidiomatic or using plural pronouns for singular nouns (among other things). Also, make a habit of reading a publication that you know is scrutinized from an editing standpoint. My major struggle on verbal was sentence correction (SC). Main points I used as a reference base:

Figure out what the sentence is saying
Make sure singular/plural agree
Make sure pronoun antecedents are clear
Make sure you understand the order of events.

Quant: read read read read read. You need to memorize certain things (area/volume/surface area equations), and for data sufficiency (DS) problems, you need to reduce the question quickly to eliminate the obvious incorrect answers.

SC and DS have similar structure - in one min or less, you can usually eliminate two/three obvious incorrect answers. This will help your guessing on the more difficult (700-800) problems. What I did for SC: I used the official GMAT verbal guide (provided with my MGMAT materials) and went through the problem in blocks of 10, and went through as many blocks as I could in any given day. For the ones I got wrong, I mark them on the paper. I would also mark the ones I guessed on (using a different marking). After finishing all the SC problems, I would go through the ones I got wrong and the ones I guessed on. By waiting until I finished all of the problems, I would not recall the problem nor what I marked the first time around. I feel this helped me the most.

Let me know if I can provide any other details.
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Last edited by mohater on 22 Jun 2009, 18:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2009, 07:06
Congratulations for the 700+ score
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2009, 08:10
Congrats !

Quote:
SC and DS have similar structure - in one min or less, you can usually eliminate two/three obvious incorrect answers. This will help your guessing on the more difficult (700-800) problems. What I did for SC: I used the official GMAT verbal guide (provided with my MGMAT materials) and went through the problem in blocks of 10, and went through as many blocks as I could in any given day. For the ones I got wrong, I mark them on the paper. I would also mark the ones I guessed on (using a different marking). After finishing all the SC problems, I would go through the ones I got wrong and the ones I guessed on. By waiting until I finished all of the problems, I would not recall the problem nor what I marked the first time around. I feel this helped me the most.


I liked this tip.I'll implement it.
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2009, 05:50
I decided to post a full write up based on reading others' posts here.

My main struggle was sentence correction. When you reach the 600-700 and 700-800 sentence correction problems on the GMAT, and can narrow it down to two choices and get stuck, it's almost always an idiom problem. If you're well versed in proper English literature (something I've been out of contact with for some time), it should be fairly easy to pick the right one. I also had a bit of trouble on quant. Mainly because I would solve for the unknowns of the problem and not actually answer the question asked (the the test writers always have an unknown as one of the answer choices).

Key points for those with similar issues: SLOW DOWN when reading the problem. On the exam, it's a good idea to allocate ~2 minutes per problem on both sections. Some problems will take a bit longer, and some a bit shorter, but DO NOT let yourself get stuck for too long. Missing easy questions and not answering questions at all hurts your score a lot more than missing hard questions. Practice setting up quant problems (data sufficiency or otherwise) and always make sure you're answering the question asked.

Honestly, the best advice I can offer is make sure you give prepping for the exam its due time. There is not secret recipe here. Focus on the weaknesses.

My experience on the GMAT:

Try 1 (Dec 2007): Practice exams were maxing at 640, and based on what I read on forums and based on what people told me, you usually score higher than your practice. I slept well that night, woke up, and made my way to the testing center (nearest one was 50 miles away). Finished both sections and I felt "well" overall. Clicked to receive my score, 610. Not terrible, but not good enough for top tier programs. Never mind that, I applied anyway, but as expected no dice.

After speaking to people on list serves I'm a member of on the topic and reading online reviews about the various prep programs, I decided to sign up for the Manhattan GMAT (MGMAT) online course. It's less expensive than the Kaplan or Princeton online programs and one particular person I was speaking to started in the same boat as me (560 on first practice) and broke 700 after the MGMAT program. The class itself is like any other class room (albeit online). The instructors engage students to chime in and answer questions, and also answer questions during and after class. The out of class work (homework if you will) is VERY demanding. You will need to allocate ~10 hours/week outside of the class to finish all the material. Given my work schedule at that time demanded quite a bit of travel, the out of classwork was put on hold for ~5 months. My online account was set to expire, but I emailed the MGMAT group to see if my access could be extended for a bit, as I could not give the program its due time when I was enrolled and there is a lot of information online (problem sets, labs, practice exams, etc.). MGMAT was kind enough to extend my access for six months (MGMAT offers that for a fee, but it was given to me for free).

Finally, after my last trip for work (March 09, but I'll probably start traveling again soon), I buckled down and studied. From March-May I was finish the online content, while taking the last couple practice exams (MGMAT gives you six practice exams, and you can reset them (by request). The problem is problems might repeat after the reset (MGMAT assures no question repeats between the six exams). Then May-June I buckled down where I was still struggling the most. I then took the two GMAC practice exams. Practice exams began in the 550-640 (inconsistent scores)when I finished the MGMAT program I was in the 670-680 range (consistent scores).

Try 2 (June 2009): Felt good the day before the exam. Went over maybe 15-20 problems that day (problems I had already done and wanted to ensure I understood how to approach them/why I got them wrong). Other than that, did no studying and just relaxed. Tried to sleep that night, and did not sleep at all. Ended up rolling out of bed at 4:30. Did the normal routine an hour later (morning prayer, breakfast, etc.) and then made my way to the testing center. Felt terrible as the food in my stomach was not sitting too well. Exam started at 8am. Went through both essay sections without too much trouble. Quant: Got stuck on some easy problems I REFUSED to guess on. Thankfully, I made up time on other problems and finished with more than 30 seconds to spare. Got stuck on a couple sentence correction problems on the verbal section, but still finished with more than 30 seconds to spare. Note: I had a much WORSE feeling the second time about my score.

Thankfully, on try 2, I broke the 700 mark. I think I was more stressed this time as I was answering harder questions overall (due to the adaptive nature of the exam). Not sleeping probably didn't help either. I scored both the highest I've ever score on the individual parts and the highest overall score (between both the real and the practice exam).
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What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2009, 18:51
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I wrote a review between the two prep programs I tried (it's posted in that section). Here I'll post how I got there (excluding the essay sections).

Quant:

I've always been pretty strong in quant. type problems/classes. My biggest issue on standardized tests is the question doesn't always ask you to solve for the unknown. It wants you to take the unknown and extrapolate out some other value. Knowing people will short read the problem, the answer to the unknown is often one of the answers (this is only true for concrete answers, not variables in solutions). To resolve this - SLOW DOWN. Try to budget an average of 2 mins per question (using the time provided here). Some questions you will use more time and some you will use less. The goal is to make sure you don't get *stuck* for too long and MAKE sure you answer what the question is asking.

You can solve all the math problems with Algebra, if you want to spend a lot of time on the problems. Rehashing number properties (probability, exponents, etc.), geometry, simply trig, will help you get through tough problems is a reasonable amount of time. I made sure I memorized the following:

General rules for quadrilaterals
General rule for other polygons
Rules for right triangle (especially the special ones)
Squares through 15
(and maybe a few other things I'm not recalling right now. I'll edit this post if anything changes).

Data Sufficiency:

The problem can usually be reduced to something simpler.

i.e. If the question is asking "if X and Y are both integers, is x-y-5 > x+y+3?"

You might look at the problem and say "ok, I have two variables so I either need to equations or two variables." The problem is you can reduce the inequality as follows:

Subtract X from both sides ------->
(-x)+x-y-5>(-x)+x+y+3 = y-5>y+3
Add Y to both sides ------->
(+y)-y-5 > (+y)+y+3 = -5>2y+3
Add 5 to both sides ------->
(+5)-5 > (+5)+2y+3 = 0 > 2y+8

You know have "if X and Y are both integers, is 0 > 2y+8?"

X is irrelevant now. All you need to know is y and you can solve for the inequality.

Reducing the equation lets you know "what do I really need to solve this"

Also, problems can always be set up in this fashion
AD | or | BD
BCE | |ACE

If the answer is not A, it cannot be D (or if you start with b and if not B, it can not be D). Then, go through the elimination process to eliminate the remaining choices among ACE or BCE. This will improve your chances of guessing on the more difficult questions you get stuck on.


Verbal:

I was pretty strong on reading comprehension and critical reasoning to begin with. One of my captain obvious problems on verbal was I could not be captain obvious. If I found a problem where the solution was essential verbatim of what was in the passage/argument, I would rule it out as being "too obvious". Often, I was wrong on those. Please note: the solution MUST be verbatim for this to be the case. Some solutions change slight wording (sometimes/always/never/etc.) and is NOT a verbatim rehash of what was in the passage or argument.

My main weakness verbal was sentence correct. I am Ralph Wiggum from the Simspons (cartoon here in the US ("Me fail English, that's unpossible")). The following strategy worked for me:

- Ensure pronouns have clear antecedents (must BE very clear, and some pronouns, like "which" have very specific rules).
- Ensure the number agree (i.e. singular subject, singular verb)
- Make sure the sentence makes sense (order of operation, things listed, present perfect, past participle, etc.)

Also, a similar strategy exists between both Data Sufficiency and Sentence Correction: You can usually knock off 2-3 wrong answers very quickly (within one minute). This, again, will help your chances with the high level (700-800) problems when you need to guess.

For critical reasoning:

I would list out the options (A,B,C,D,E) and use some to make's relationship to that statement/argument (i.e. "a +" if it strengthens the argument, or "a -" if it weakens the argument). Again, on the very difficult problems, you could quickly reduce two or three options and increase your chances on the upper level problems).

Hope this helps, please post any questions.

-Muhamad
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Re: What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2009, 11:17
Thanks for sharing your experience Muhamad and it looks like you have some experience with standardized tests. The problem that I have and my guess is that for most of the students is timing and performing under pressure. I can probably figure out the solution if I have a lot of time and no pressure, but again that's not the case.

Anyway, can we know which material you used and if possible can you rate them?
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Re: What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2009, 17:03
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Congratulations! Thank you for the debrief.

Where to next? What programs are you planing to apply to?
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Re: What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2009, 19:00
megafan wrote:
Thanks for sharing your experience Muhamad and it looks like you have some experience with standardized tests. The problem that I have and my guess is that for most of the students is timing and performing under pressure. I can probably figure out the solution if I have a lot of time and no pressure, but again that's not the case.

Anyway, can we know which material you used and if possible can you rate them?


Hi megafan,

On GMAT try #1, I used the Kaplan online program, the Kaplan self study book, the Kaplan CD set (GRE/GMAT/LSAT pack) and the older DOS based GMAC's Powerprep GMAT application (predecessor of GMAT Prep).

My scores were all over the place, ranging from 550 to 640 (no consistency).

After consulting some friends, GMATclub and a couple list servs I'm on, I decided to sign up for the MGMAT program. I also used the GMAC's GMAT Prep application.

The real value in MGMAT is in the books. The classroom (whether in person or online) is useful, but if you can focus, the books are all you really need (along with the Offical Guide, Official Quant/Verbal books).

If you need help with JUST the exam itself and getting through it, Kaplan should be sufficient (not the boat either of us is/was in). For this reason, I give the Kaplan program 6/10. I also found some of the Kaplan stategies counter productive (i.e 3/2 split, go with the 3, spend more up front to get to hard problems sooner, use your ear on sentence correction, etc.). Also, the Kaplan self study, the CD pack, the online course and the in person course are all EXACTLY the same. I confirmed this when a friend who took the in person class gave me all his materials when he finished. His "classroom student edition" book was virtually the same as my $20 book from Barnes and Noble. He also said the instructor simply went through the book chapter by chapter, never diverging from the book/canned material. That being said, another friend took the Kaplan classroom version and scored a 750. He was already a high performer as it was (4.0 in school, all around "smart" guy), so the Kaplan class just solidified his review.

I found the strategies for MGMAT much better (i.e. try to fix ~2 mins per problem on both sections, SC split/re-split, DS AD/BCE listing, CR listing options with how they address the argument, etc.). I also really like how MGMAT focuses on the actual material, as well as the strategies. For this I give the MGMAT books an overall score of 9/10.

When solving 700-800 questions, I could *usually* get it down to two and need to pick one or the other. For these, fully solving the problem was rarely an option (unless I found some shortcut for the math or some obtuse easy way to knock out the other option on verbal). To beat the nerves just make sure to fully read the problem, and keep track of time (but not to a point where you're looking at the clock every 10 seconds). MGMAT focuses on timing throughout the entire program (both in the book and in the classroom). If you can dedicate to the time constraints, you will finish the sections. My nerves were a wreck on the GMAT try #2 (as I posted in that section), but I managed to hold it together, read each problem and focus on solving what the problem asked for.

Let me know if I can provide anything else.
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Last edited by mohater on 24 Jun 2009, 19:08, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2009, 19:02
bb wrote:
Congratulations! Thank you for the debrief.

Where to next? What programs are you planing to apply to?



I'm hopefully sticking to top 10 programs for both MBA and PhD. With this list, MSU is the only exception (not top 10), but I did my undergrad there and really like the department.

Prelim list:

MBA:

U Michigan
Wharton
HBS
Chicago

PhD:

UT Austin
U Michigan
U Chicago
Wharton
U Washington
MSU
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Re: What worked for me (550 on first practice to 710 exam #2) [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2009, 21:01
Thanks for the info Muhamad, I completely agree with you regarding MGMAT and Kaplan. I purchased the entire MGMAT guides which came w/ a timer and other exam related stuff. I just finished the first guide and it turned out to be really helpful . I took GRE classroom coaching ($1,250) with Kaplan before and I must confess that they are really bad at classroom teaching, so I decided not to go with kaplan again. But my prep for GRE does make the quant and RC easy, but SC and CR are new to me and I guess the MGMAT SC guide will help with that. I also purchased Powerscore's CR Bible.

Well that's about my experience with Kaplan and Mgmat. Again, thanks for taking the time to put a debrief and Good Luck on the application!
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2009, 00:12
Awesome debrief! Congratulations on a great score! Your effort is really admired. All the best in your journey to B-School...
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2009, 00:34
Congrats Boss!!!

The feeling to be a part of 700 club will be great, Is it???

What area, in your opinion, need more attention?? Q or V???
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2009, 01:46
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Hussain15 wrote:
Congrats Boss!!!

The feeling to be a part of 700 club will be great, Is it???

What area, in your opinion, need more attention?? Q or V???


Again, this is from a personal standpoint:

Hands down verbal. I scored in the 80th percentile in both individual sections, but had I got a few more points on the verbal section, I might have hit the 750 range.

I am teh sux0rz at sentence correction. One of my bigger vices with Kaplan was the "use your ear to solve the problem" strategy. If you consistently violate the rules of proper written English (speaking, emails, chatting online, etc.), your ear will provide you with more wrong answers than right answers.

My reading comprehension and critical reasoning have always been much better than my sentence correction.
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Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v) [#permalink] New post 13 Nov 2010, 11:45
Not entirely sure how you only got one kudos for this debrief! +1

I just had a dissapointing 610 and also maxed out at 640 in prep tests so this debrief really helped me out!

Congrats and hope all went well with the apps etc.
_________________

Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!

Re: Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v)   [#permalink] 13 Nov 2010, 11:45
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Second try is the charm 710 (48 q, 38 v)

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