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Shit Happens - My Journey to 770

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Senior Manager
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Joined: 28 Apr 2012
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GMAT 1: 610 Q49 V23
GMAT 2: 650 Q48 V31
GMAT 3: 770 Q50 V47
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Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2014, 12:32
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Dear Friends,

Before I say anything about myself and my journey, I would like to specially thank Karishma from Veritas Prep, Mike from Magoosh, and, above all, GMAT Club.


GMAT 1 - 610 (Q49, V23), IR 6 - Sep 1, 2012
http://gmatclub.com/forum/610-re-take-strategy-need-help-140057.html

I Started my GMAT journey in May 2012, with hope of getting a 700+ score. I did almost all materials available, but the result was offensive. I was so dejected that I could not made up my mind to reattempt. The other problem was, I remembered almost all questions, so redoing them was very tedious. But I had no other go, so I started in Dec 2012, with late Jan,2013 as target GMAT date.

Unfortunately, I just could not focus. I left preparing for GMAT in Jan 2013, but I knew I would attempt one more time. I subscribed to GMAT club CR and SC forums, and decided to do only the notified questions so that I don't loose touch.

GMAT 2 - 650 (Q48, V31), IR 7 - May 6, 2014

I resumed my study on Feb 1,2014. Started with a Kaplan Free Test to asses my level and then decided to focus on verbal. Having done almost all the materials during preparation for my 1st attempt, I knew which ones were helpful for me. I used below materials:

1. Aristotle SC Grail - This is short and sweet. My advise, don't mix with Manhatten SC with this one. Follow only one of them.
2. Official Guide 12 - I had the pdf version that came along OG 13. 12 and 13 are almost same, so did not carry the hard copy OG13, as I was travelling.
3. OG Verbal Review - For additional practice on official questions
4. CR Bible Summary - This one I had picked during my 1st attempt from GMAT Club. I am not sure who is the author, but it had what I wanted for a quick refresh.
5. 1000 CR - I did only 1st 15 sets.
6. GMAT Club Math Book

My job is very demanding, so I could not put much effort. I studied for 2 hours on weekdays and 4 hours on weekends (including the tests). After 1 month of preparation, I had refreshed my memory, and started doing CATs. I planned 1 CAT each weak on Saturday till exam, followed by Sunday review session, starting from March 8. Weekdays I used to do GMAT club tests and review.

My CAT Scores(in 2014):
Feb 1: Kaplan Free Test - 700 (Q48, V38)
Mar 8: MGMAT 1 - 680(Q47, V35)
Mar 15: MGMAT 2 - 710(Q45, V41)
Mar 22: MGMAT 3 - 680(Q46, V38)
Mar 29: MGMAT 4 - 680(Q45, V38)
Apr 5: MGMAT 5 - 690(Q47, V37)
Apr 12: MGMAT 6 - 720(Q50, V38)
Apr 19: GMAT Prep 1- 760 (Q50, V41)
Apr 26: GMAT Prep 2- 750 (Q50, V41) - Don't know how the score dipped, even though the split was same
May 3: GMAT Prep 1 (repeat) - 770(Q50, V46)

May 6: Actual GMAT - 650(Q48, V31), IR 7

Retrospection:
In both of my attempts, I had scored well in mock tests, still I could not perform well in real tests. I have no idea why I scored terribly in 1st attempt, but luckily I knew what went wrong in the 2nd time.

At quant question 20, I realised in the DS question I was only evaluating statement 1 alone, Both, or neither sufficient. I absolutely forgot that I had to test statement 2 independently :( . I reassured myself - considering I had attempted around 10 DS questions, maximum for 3 would have B or D as answer, so I could still do well in Verbal and bring the score to level.

My reassurance did not help. During verbal 22 question, I found - in SC questions, I was not evaluating option A at all. That question was damn easy and B,C,D, and E were terribly wrong. I had little hope for my score now. Still I tried to complete rest of the section and clicked 'Yes' to report the score - 650.

I was devastated and shocked. I did not have courage to call my parents to share my results. I had crushed our dreams. But they stood by me and console that there are better things in life, and I must forget higher studies.

GMAT 3 - 770 (Q50, V47), IR 8 - June 9, 2014

I had put so much of effort, and I knew where I went wrong, and I knew I could not live in a life-long regret. I decided to reattempt on the 3rd day after my test. This time I wasn't aiming 700+, but 670 - an average score for not so famous Indian B-School.

I mailed eGMAT support to ask whether it is possible to improve my score with 1 month prep with their verbal online course. I am very thankful to Rajat, who personally mailed saying - though it is possible, you must take the free trial to check whether the format suits to you. He was correct; I tried the free sessions, it was too basic for me.

I turned to GMAT Club, and one helpful mate (dabral) suggested to stick to Official material. I purchased GMAT Prep Exam Pack 1 and Question Pack 1. My scores below:

May 24: GMAT Prep Exam Pack 1 - Test 1 : 670(Q50, V29) - I realized, all my previous mock scores were wrong and my real level as 670. I still could be satisfied with 670, then.
June 1: GMAT Prep Exam Pack 2 - Test 2 : 720(Q50, V37) - I still thought 700 was beyond my reach.
June 8: GMAT Prep Exam Pack 1 - Test 1 (repeat) : 760(Q50, V42) - I took as a jumbled 670, to make me happy that I will reach my target score of 670.

June 9: Actual GMAT 770(Q50, V47) , IR 8

I went to the test with hope of 670. I wasn't in pressure at all and I think that counted.

Few patterns I noticed in my test:
1. 3 Quant problem solving questions were super difficult for me. One particular, the 34th question was 8 line word problem on weighted average + overlapping sets. I could not solve.
Verbal after mid 20s,
2. CR question were all 'following logically complete' , 'Resolve the paradox' and 1 'bold face'.
3. SC questions were all fully underlined
4. 35 to 38 was a marathon RC with 5 paragraphs-80 line about Parallel between American Colonial Era and 17th Century Europe. The questions were all very indirect and CR type.

My Timing Strategy
I had difficulty in keeping track of how-many-question at what-time. So I divided the tests into 5 sections of 15 minutes each. For Quants I targeted 7 (7X5=35+ 2 guesses if needed) and for verbal 8(8x5=40+ 1 guess if needed) during each section. I had decided, if I am lagging at end of any section I would guess the remaining questions of that section. Fortunately I never had to do that. I was ahead of time, and that helped me for tackling that Marathon RC, which was strategically placed towards the end.

Final Words:

My verbal score could be largely dedicated to 'The New York Times'. I have been reading it - in & out - from past 5 years.

I don't look unto top 10 or 15. I will be happy, if I could get in a decent school with good scholarship. I know GMAT is not everything and I had little time to work on my resume. Still, I have hope.... Wish me luck.
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― Voltaire


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shit-happens-my-journey-to-172475.html#p1372807


Last edited by ConnectTheDots on 12 Jun 2014, 10:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2014, 00:50
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Awesome score mate! Good job!
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2014, 05:24
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Heartiest congrats.

Can you please elaborate on following points :

Did you find significant improvement in quant because of Exam Prep and Q Pep.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2014, 10:36
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Responding to few PMs:

First of all "review" is very important. No matter how many mocks you do, if you are not reviewing your responses then you aren't getting all out of the CATs. I dedicated 4-5 hours review for each CAT.

My Quant Preparation:

Materials:
1. GMAT Club Math Book - that covers 90% of the fundamentals you need for exam. Rest 10% you learn when you practice questions.
2. GMAT Club Tests - They helped me to improve and scale my level each week.
3. MGMAT - They are a little tougher than actual GMAT, but they prepare you well for the test.
4. GMAT Prep Exam Pack 1 - This one closely resembles what you can expect on the real test. It has 3 levels, simple, medium and hard. I practiced them on exam mode, 6 from each level of difficulty for both DS and PS + 1 medium from PS.

I did not do OG, cause I had done OG 12/13 in my 1st attempt. They are way easier than actual GMAT.

Strategy

1. I reviewed all the incorrects and guesses, and the ones I took more than 1:30 seconds.
2. During review, I checked different solutions on GMAT Club - read all solutions to find out which methods were efficient for particular type of problem.
3. My error analysis (I read my scratch paper for my solution step) revealed - I was doing mostly calculation mistakes (flipping the equation, forgetting to carry over multiplication etc.). I became extra cautious for these steps. And whenever my answer did not match the answer choices, I looked for these steps.
4. I found my DS questions were incorrect for missing out hidden facts, I listed following items to watch out for them:

    a. positive or negative
    b. Integer or fraction
    c. Prime or composite
    d. Zero or non-zero
    e. Rational or irrational
    f. Can be true or Must be true
    g. If two variables are listed - if they can be equal
    h. If two equations are provided/deducible - if both are same

After, I started looking for above details - I never got any DS question wrong.


Finally, don't get intimidated with super difficult problems in GMAT club. Even if they come, they will be one or two. You must get all the simple and medium questions correct.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2014, 10:46
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One more clarification, I did not take Veritas, Magoos or eGMAT courses. I did self prep, with the materials listed above.

Mike - I PMed him thru GMAT Club for any doubt I had on verbal. His answers were very elaborative and right to the bulls eye. You can follow him: members/member-231584.html

Karishma - I used most of her solution methods on quants. Her solutions are efficient and less time consuming. You can follow her: members/member-116290.html


Also, I don't think one should use so many test prep courses at all.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2014, 18:48
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Congratulations!

Incredible how you improved your verbal score so quickly. Any tips? I can't see WSJ being the only reason for a V31 to a V47 improvement in just two months.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2014, 06:31
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Kudos man!!. You story and mine are so much alike :) . Ofcourse you out did me by a lot :-D .. congrats again. Whats the status on Applications.
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while(1) { "I Love GMAT" . "I Hate GMAT" } .. BREAK .. Thank god this is over, but now I miss it!!
My Debrief - Broken Shackles 600-750 http://gmatclub.com/forum/broken-shackles-600-to-170870.html

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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2014, 12:43
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Thanks all for your wishes.

Responding to few PMs.

My Verbal Prep:

I have already listed down what materials I have used. I picked my strategies from various debriefs. Followed the ones worked for me, discarded the ones that didn't.

Necessary for all sections: You must complete all OG, OG verbal, and GMAT prep question pack problems. I read each and every official explanation, irrespective whether I answered correctly. Often I found, the correct/incorrect answers were correct/incorrect for other additional reasons that I missed.

GMAT Prep Exam Pack and GMAT Prep Question pack match closely with actual exam. OG, OG Verbal, and regular 2 GMAT prep CATs are outdated. I did the former ones during my last month and they were useful.


Sentence Correction:

1. You must understand meaning of the sentence, then go for grammar checks. I encountered questions in which grammar error were tough to detect in final 2 options, but meaning wise only 1 of the two fit.
2. Re-read the complete sentence after choosing your answer to ensure that the sentence makes sense or sounds correct.
3. Pay attention to noun-verb, noun-pronoun, adverb-verb, adjective-noun pairs. These are basics. You cannot afford to loose for these.
4. Understand which tense to use when. (read SC grail)
5. Practice a lot and review why you make mistakes.
6. Do not use elimination as your primary weapon.

Critical Reasoning

1. Nothing beats CR bible. I had completed it thoroughly during 1st attempt, so used the notes and revisited the question-explanations from CR bible. This doesn't mean the note is enough. I am attaching the notes here. (p.s. I downloaded from GMAT club, no credits to me)
2. I do not use pen/paper for any verbal section. I used fingers to track eliminated answers. This saves some time.
3. Read the stimulus first, then the questions. While reading the question, if you aren't able to find the flaw, then you need to work on argument construction.
4. Read eGMAT CR topics consolidated: (they say universal truth, which I am lazy to type :P )
e-gmat-s-all-cr-topics-consolidated-168945.html

Reading Comprehension

1. I don't make notes, cause they are time consuming. Instead I summarise each paragraph in my mind.
2. While reading, please focus on how paragraphs are related to each other and to the entire text. Paragraph Purpose and Main purpose is must to be identified.
3. I read the 1st question, then read the passage. This way, at least you will be focussed to find 1st correct answer.
4. For determining role play of particular word or sentence. Read the preceding and succeeding sentences as well.
5. Do not bring outside information at all. Stay close to what is provided.
6. Look at the transition words (e.g. - yet, still, although, however, but, surprisingly, paradoxically etc)
7. Short passage are complicated, take a breathe and understand the first few lines before moving to next.

In general, do not get stuck in a question for more than 2 and half minutes. If you are not able to find the answer, then guess and move one. During practice sessions, I found that my incorrect answers had higher average time-spent.

Finally, I don't think it is possible to improve verbal from 31 to 47 in one month. Those who say that they have improved, they do not count their back ground. In my case, I did score 23, 31 and 47. However, I do not count them as improvements. I got 770 in my 1st GMAT prep exam 2 year back. It is important what you do on the test day. Be calm and do not overthink (easier said than done).

And I am not a native speaker. I am from rural India and did my schooling from state board. If I could do, anyone can do.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2014, 12:49
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rohanGmat wrote:
Kudos man!!. You story and mine are so much alike :) . Ofcourse you out did me by a lot :-D .. congrats again. Whats the status on Applications.


You know - I had read your debrief, a day before my exam. I sort of envied you, but also could understood your state.
I haven't started applications yet. I have to take TOEFEL first.

I haven't decided the schools yet. Have you ?
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2014, 11:08
Congratulations))) I want to clarify one point. What do you mean by saying that regular gmat prep cats are outdated. Aren't they similar to real one? By the way I noticed that sc in gmatprep is a lot different than in OG. Thanks.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2014, 02:10
ConnectTheDots wrote:
rohanGmat wrote:
Kudos man!!. You story and mine are so much alike :) . Ofcourse you out did me by a lot :-D .. congrats again. Whats the status on Applications.


You know - I had read your debrief, a day before my exam. I sort of envied you, but also could understood your state.
I haven't started applications yet. I have to take TOEFEL first.

I haven't decided the schools yet. Have you ?


Ya and now I can totally relate to yours :-D .. For schools I haven't done much, lots of confusing details and suggestions out there. Maybe if you don't mind we can be in-touch and share inputs. I also have to take the TOEFL -- always finding new ways to procrastinate :oops:
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2014, 09:14
Ergenekon wrote:
Congratulations))) I want to clarify one point. What do you mean by saying that regular gmat prep cats are outdated. Aren't they similar to real one? By the way I noticed that sc in gmatprep is a lot different than in OG. Thanks.


Hi Ergenekon,

By outdated I meant - the tests are there for quite a few years and the exam has evolved in-between. For example, unlike these tests, the real exam did not have SC questions based on idioms, the CR and RC questions were quite different. I got too many 'logical completion' questions in CR, which I did not find in regular GMAT prep, also RC questions were very indirect almost like CR towards end. I did not encounter these in GMAT prep, although I scored equally well in these mocks.

Moreover, my evaluation is subjective. I have read in lot of debriefs(including few recent ones), which mentions GMAT Prep is still equivalent to actual tests. Also, I would say official questions - whether outdated - are always valuable. Just don't expect similar questions on the test day. Your correctly noticed SC in GMAT prep is different than OG, cause the OG is there for longer time than GMAT prep. Same is with GMAT prep and GMAT Prep Exam Pack/Question Pack 1.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2014, 20:53
ConnectTheDots wrote:
Ergenekon wrote:
Congratulations))) I want to clarify one point. What do you mean by saying that regular gmat prep cats are outdated. Aren't they similar to real one? By the way I noticed that sc in gmatprep is a lot different than in OG. Thanks.


Hi Ergenekon,

By outdated I meant - the tests are there for quite a few years and the exam has evolved in-between. For example, unlike these tests, the real exam did not have SC questions based on idioms, the CR and RC questions were quite different. I got too many 'logical completion' questions in CR, which I did not find in regular GMAT prep, also RC questions were very indirect almost like CR towards end. I did not encounter these in GMAT prep, although I scored equally well in these mocks.

Moreover, my evaluation is subjective. I have read in lot of debriefs(including few recent ones), which mentions GMAT Prep is still equivalent to actual tests. Also, I would say official questions - whether outdated - are always valuable. Just don't expect similar questions on the test day. Your correctly noticed SC in GMAT prep is different than OG, cause the OG is there for longer time than GMAT prep. Same is with GMAT prep and GMAT Prep Exam Pack/Question Pack 1.


Thanks for your information. It will be very useful. By the way I took the TOEFL a year ago and scored well. If you or Rohan need any advice, feel free to ask.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2014, 11:11
Hi, congratulation for your great score. I want to know something about GMAT prep question pack 1. I have bought it and I am also practising the questions in exam mode. My success rate in all the sections in Quant and Verbal is 80-85% in question pack. What was yours in your preparation. Actually when I take test from other prep companies such as GMAT club or 800 score, my success rate goes down and I have seen that questions in question pack 1 are different from those of these prep company. Where should I concentrate more? Do the actual GMAT questions resemble the same pattern and logic as in question pack 1. If so, I think I am prepared to take test. I should not waste any more time. Please respond.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 09:40
Raihanuddin wrote:
Hi, congratulation for your great score. I want to know something about GMAT prep question pack 1. I have bought it and I am also practising the questions in exam mode. My success rate in all the sections in Quant and Verbal is 80-85% in question pack. What was yours in your preparation. Actually when I take test from other prep companies such as GMAT club or 800 score, my success rate goes down and I have seen that questions in question pack 1 are different from those of these prep company. Where should I concentrate more? Do the actual GMAT questions resemble the same pattern and logic as in question pack 1. If so, I think I am prepared to take test. I should not waste any more time. Please respond.


Hi Raihanuddin,

Your observation is correct. GMAT Prep Question and Exam Pack are close to what you can expect in real test. Coming to your test scores, I hope you are using questions of varying difficulty. If not, check the following post.

which-cat-other-than-gmatprep-and-mgmat-171234.html#p1364490

Accuracy of 80-85% in Question Pack is a good indication. This lands you in 6-8 mistakes category, which should give you 40+. The variation beyond 40 depends on which kind of question you make wrong. Missing easy question leads to heavier penalty, so check what kind of questions you are missing in your tests. Also, I hope you have taken sufficient full length CATs to familiarise the pressure and timing strategy.

Take GMAT Prep Exam Pack tests - if you are hitting your target score, go for the real deal....
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 11:08
Thank you very much. Yes I do follow it. And I rarely make mistake in easy one.
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Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770 [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 22:12
Hard work and Perseverance helps, and your post proves that. Awesome score. Congrats Mate...
Re: Shit Happens - My Journey to 770   [#permalink] 18 Jun 2014, 22:12
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Shit Happens - My Journey to 770

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