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Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September

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Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2011, 10:27
Hi All,

I have been reading everyone else's experiences during GMAT prep and the actual test, and have learned a lot. So, I thought I would document my journey as well to motivate myself to keep studying and maybe get some pointers as well!

Some Background: I have a BFA in Fine Arts - Painting from MassArt, graduated in 2004. I realized about halfway through that it was not for me, but did not have any other ideas in mind so I finished my degree. I've had a variety of work experience since then, most recently as an Internal Auditor. I've been throwing around the idea of an MBA for a couple years now and decided to just go for it.

I have not had a math class since high school (junior year, to be exact). I never put any effort into learning math, just enough to pass the class and move on. So I have a LOT of catching up to do. Based on what everyone has said about the MGMAT guides, I ordered all of the math guides (except the fractions and decimals one...I'm pretty sure I got that) and the Official Guide 12th Edition.

Saturday, June 4
Before anything, I took a GMAT Prep practice test and got 550 (30Q, 35V). The biggest problem I noticed was that I didn't know how to solve the majority of the quant problems. That is the first thing I need to do.

Second, I finished the quant section 25 minutes early, and the verbal section 30 minutes early. Not because I knew the answers (clearly, look at my score! haha) but I have rushed through the test. I have always had that problem with standardized, timed tests: I think I won't have enough time, so I rush through everything. If I don't know the answer I guess and move on. I have to learn to pace myself and not panic and rush through everything.

Sunday - Tuesday, 6/5 - 6/7
I have been putting in between 1-3 hours after work going through the Number Properties guide. This has been HUGE in helping me understand basic math properties and have already noticed an improvement.

I just took the first group of OG questions (PS) the book recommends and got 22/28. I have yet to go through and review my answers but I have definitely improved in my problem solving skills (even though I think those first set of questions are very easy and not really indicative of my abilities, but I'll take what I can get at this point.

My Plan
-Go through each of the MGMAT math guides I bought, review the principles and practice, practice, practice!
-Take another practice test to see where I'm at.
-Brush up on Verbal. I understand the basics, I'm an avid reader and very good at noticing grammatical mistakes. What I need to focus on is getting used to the GMAT verbal type of questions and just practice.

I'm hoping to schedule the test once I finish relearning math. Tentative date is in September. I want to apply to programs in 2012 if possible.

My goal is to get 650-700. I am not aiming for the top schools. I have one dream program (that is too expensive): Boston University. I am also planning to apply to UMASS Boston and Suffolk. All three are schools I would go to. Location and affordability is the most important thing to me.

Wow that was a long post. Thanks for reading! :)
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2011, 07:16
Last night I reviewed my problem solving mistakes and 5 out of the 6 were questions I wasn't sure how to go about solving. The other mistake was made because I read the question wrong. At least my careless mistakes are going down. I was hoping to do the Data Sufficiency questions as well, but the Bruins sucked me in :P

I am leaving Saturday for a 2 week business trip to the UK, and I am bringing my Number Properties book with and will hopefully finish it.

This may sound silly, but I am actually enjoying learning math! Hopefully this enthusiasm continues...
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2011, 04:57
I did part 1 of the OG 12 data sufficiency questions in the MGMAT Number Properties book yesterday. There are 18 questions, and it took me an hour. :( DS is definitely going to need a LOT of practice on my end. I got 13/18, which was better than I thought I would get. When I looked at the answer explanations, I realized the majority of my mistakes came from making assumptions about certain numbers (not considering every possible value for x).

With that, I have completed the the "Basic" portion of the Number Properties Guide.

Question: As someone who really needs to become familiar with fundamental principles of mathematics, should I continue to the advanced section of the MGMAT guides, or just focus on the basic sections of each one? Then once I become really comfortable, go on to the advanced and practice the OG questions?

I'm bringing the algebra guide with me to London for the next two weeks, so I can hopefully get some studying done. I don't want to put my prep on hold for that long. I am really motivated to make some serious improvement and stick with this. Reading everyone's debriefs has helped keep me focused too.
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2011, 10:19
Well, I worked a ton of long hours in the UK and was not able to even open my book once and study. Hoping to get back into the groove this week.

I'm documenting my progress mostly to keep my motivation up and stay focused, but welcome any input :)
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2011, 09:49
I'm also planning to take the test in September, i like the idea of documenting progress to help keep myself motivated, I'm going to start that too, thanks :)

I've been studying for almost a week now, started with sc (MGMAT SC guide), i'm a non native english speaker, so it's going pretty slow for now. Anyway keep up the good work, lets beat the gmat yo! :)
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2011, 10:33
Thanks! Good luck to you as well! I guess you can say I am a non-native "math" speaker and really need to work a lot on that :P
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2011, 23:28
Good luck for your exam and keep updating the progress.
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2011, 18:37
I'm a little discouraged. I took the MGMAT basic math diagnostic test, which uses only 300-500 level questions, and got 16/20. Then I did the Number Properties bonus question bank...used the book, took my time, and only got 16/25 correct. The only thing that gave me hope was that I got one 700-800 level question right, and it wasn't a guess. That means I do have some hope of learning math, right? :?

I still need to review my answers in more detail to see really where the problem is, but I feel like this is going to take a long time and I may not be able to take the test in September like I had originally hoped. I can't afford a class or tutor or anything, so I really need to use these books and absorb the information somehow. I'm just afraid once I go onto a new subject, like geometry or algebra, I'll forget everything I learned about number properties. Guess all I can do is keep trying. :|
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 12:31
So I am trying to get back into nightly studying but life is getting in the way. I decided to review the MGMAT Geometry book next, because that is definitely my weakest area. It's mostly just re-memorizing the formulas I learned 15 years ago. I was thinking of making my own flash cards. I think that would be more beneficial because as I'm writing them, I'm sutdying/learning them a little better.

Latest test score:

Free MGMAT CAT (took it at work because I literally had nothing do; I know I shouldn't be taking them when I am not comfortable with the material yet but I wanted to see if I could get a good Verbal score) - 540 (30Q, 35V).

Lessons Learned:
1. I was disappointed in my verbal score, because that has always been a strong area to me. I reviewed my answers, and realized CR is my weakest area in Verbal. The majority of questions I got wrong were these types, and I remember feeling confused while reading the questions. So that is going on the list of focus areas.
2. There is at least one section I am comfortable with: SC. I routinely got 700-800 level questions right. That picked up my spirits a bit. At there is one section I won't have to master!
3. Geometry is the weakest area. Also, I've never taken statistics, so I have no idea what a standard deviation is. I hear it's not common, but I got at least 3 of those questions on the test. Combinatorics/Permutation/Probability...no idea! But I figure that's the least of my worries at this point.

Progress So Far:
Made it through Number Properties, but need to set up some kind of refresher schedule so I don't forget the concepts. Am on chapter 3 of Geometry. I've been doing well on the end of chapter questions, barring some careless mistakes. After I finish the book I will do the bonus question bank as well.

I hear a lot of good things about the Powerscore CR Bible, so I might actually pick that up as well. If I can master that, my Verbal score should go up significantly. Enough rambling for now. Back to the books!
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2011, 04:26
So, I've definitely lost my motivation for studying. Anyone have similar issues while going through the studying process? Sometimes the sheer wealth of information I will need to retain seems too daunting to tackle. I did buy some index cards and want to start putting key information on them to keep me fresh on the ideas I have learned thus far, but I haven't picked up the books in over a week. *sigh*
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2011, 06:48
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I guess it happens to a lot of people during preparation for any exam whether it be LSAT, MCAT or GMAT. Happened to me during my preparation a few times and the key is to keep yourself motivated. I randomly read debriefs of people who scored 700+ to keep myself motivated and then just start doing something whether it be DS, PS or Verbal. For example, I do RC every morning and I do it with an intent to beat my previous best and then switch over to other things as planned or change plans if I am too bored of doing the same thing for a few days. Plan to take some tests every week or so to keep yourself motivated. I started with free tests that I wouldn't have done otherwise.

PS: I'm planning to take GMAT in september as well. A thought of having too much of time in the back of your mind de-motivates you.

HTH.
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2011, 07:26
You know, it's interesting that you brought up the "too much time" issue, because I think that might be a big reason why I am slacking. I have a bad tendency to procrastinate and then work feverishly to meet a deadline. I seem to focus better that way, I think. I'm trying to be different this time, because I know I can do really well if I apply myself and I'd be selling myself short if I just settled for a 550-600 score. Truthfully, that will get me into the schools I'm looking at (except BU), but I know I can do better and really want to prove to myself that I can.

I like the idea of taking tests to keep motivated, because I want to see results, so if I see that my verbal or quant went up (or down) a few points, it would encourage me to get back in there. But I heard that I shouldn't waste the tests when I don't really know the concepts, so I haven't been doing them. I need to focus on math concepts and critical reasoning mostly.

Thanks for replying! I appreciate you input, and good luck to you during your studying process as well!
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 31 Jul 2011, 12:17
Oh hallelujah! Just took MGMAT CAT #2 and scored 630 (35Q, 40V). Huge improvement from the first one, which was 540 (30Q, 35V). I really needed that boost in confidence to continue studying. I definitely need to get back to studying math for a couple of hours every night after work, and more time on the weekends. My critical reasoning has improved just after reading a few of the guides written by members of the forum (Thank you!). I think SC and RC are pretty good to begin with, and just practicing those questions will help me improve.

I'm feeling more optimistic now of getting a decent score on the actual exam. Still haven't scheduled the exam, but I still hope to take it in September, if I can afford it. Haven't updated in awhile so I thought I would share my happiness!
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2011, 18:18
My total score is kinda similar to yours. I got 520 (Q42,V19) on first MGMAT CAT and 620(Q45,V31) on MGMAT CAT 2. I could've done better on verbal. I just wanted to get it done with, ended up with a bad result in RC due to carelessness.

Good luck with your prep!!!
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2011, 18:24
Hi,
I'm also taking GMAT in September! Started the prep a week ago. Got 570(Q39 V28) in GMATprep 1.

Planning to take CATs on weekends and study on concepts and strategies on weekdays. This is good way to track the progress. Its comforting to see other people going through same situation as you.

Good luck to you guys!!
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 02 Aug 2011, 07:08
Thanks cvsmech and piyatiwari! :) It's good to know others are in the same boat as me. While reading all the stories of 700+ scores is inspiring, it also makes me think I am the only one who is not scoring that well, so it is good to see other people starting at the same point as me and improving over time. Good luck to both of you in your prep!

cvsmech - Yeah, it definitely looks like we have similar scores, with opposite weaknesses! I know what you mean about just wanting to get it done; I get that feeling and just want to see what my score is, which of course makes me rush and not pay as much attention.
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 04 Aug 2011, 03:58
Since it has been awhile since I really sat down and studied, I took the time last night to make flash cards of all the key concepts I have learned so far. It took about 2 hours, and after I was done I felt a lot better. It definitely helped refresh my memory on what I read so far and made me want to continue.

So tonight after work I plan to read the last couple chapters of the geometry book and do the practice questions (and maybe some official guide questions as well). Then hopefully I will have some more info to share :)
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2011, 04:09
Some new developments: I was just informed yesterday that I will be traveling to the UK again for work, at the end of September - beginning of October. So that means I have to really evaluate where I am right now and see if it's feasible to take the exam before I leave, which is September 24. Last time I went to the UK I had no time to study at all, and it was a two week t rip. I definitely cannot afford to take 2 weeks off from studying, especially near the end of my studying! So I am really going to have to buckle down and work hard the next month and a half in order to be ready.

I finished the MGMAT Geometry Strategy Guide last night (skipped the Official Guide questions, figured I'd better save those for when I know all the concepts well). I tried to log on to the MGMAT Practice Center to do the bonus questions, but it was really slow, and after my 3rd question, I lost internet access. Wonderful. So that will hopefully be resolved later today. To be honest, the first three questions really stumped me. When I read the books, the concepts make sense, but when I go to do the practice questions, it's hard for me to figure out which concepts the GMAT is testing. Because obviously they're not giving you straightfoward questions, that would be too easy. I guess practice will help? Any suggestions?
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2011, 07:16
Congrats on your progress so far! I found that repetition was the biggest thing for me in studying the quant stuff. Like you, I don't have much of a math background so it was a bit like learning a foreign language. A lot of harder GMAT problems test multiple concepts in the same problem (ex. 200 students are registered all college X. 1/8 are science majors and 3/8 are history majors; 5% of the science majors also major in history. What percent of the students major in neither science nor history?) One of the most important things is to be able to look at a problem and know quickly how you're going to attack it. Lots of repetition will help embed the concepts into your mind to the point where you'll see a question and be able to not only jump right in, but also manipulate numbers along the way to get what you need.

That being said, the burnout factor that you acknowledged can certainly be an issue. In my prep I worked hard for 5 days, then took 2 off. I found that on the first day back I was fresh and eager to get going. It also seemed like the material had soaked in a bit more (not sure if that's really possible but maybe it's like going to the gym and giving your muscles a day to recover?).

Anyway, good luck with the rest of your prep. Keep your head up and work hard. It'll be over soon.
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2011, 13:05
Good luck with your prep mistahwaddie!!
...and keep updating the progress
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Re: Starting My GMAT Journey - Target Date September   [#permalink] 05 Aug 2011, 13:05
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