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# TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy!

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TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  09 Mar 2014, 04:28
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Key takeaways

1. Have a plan and stick to it
2. Develop a strategy, test it in the mocks, and apply it on D-day
3. Timing is the key
4. Keep yourself hydrated and energized
5. Focus on the question on screen
6. PS: focus on your strengths, don’t waste time trying to get your weaknesses right
7. DS: Rephrase the question stem to a simple equation / Yes/NO ans
10. SC: Read the question skeptically - looking for errors

Background:

Feb 2012: I register for the GMAT.

Feb to May: Study hard. Mock score range - MGMAT - 680 to 770, Kaplan: 640, GMAT Prep 1 & 2: 730

May 2012: GMAT Score: 660! (Q49, V31) [AWA 5/6]...SHOCK OF MY LIFE!

Next 18 months: Moved on, switched my job - joined an Investment Bank - MBA goes way down the priority list.

*****************************************
Dec 2013: MBA discussions with friends and family start again...decide to take another shot at the test.

Studied hard and more importantly studied SMART this time! Mock score range: 670 to 720. GMAT Prep 1 & 2: 720

March 2014: GMAT Score: 740 (Q49, V42), [IR 7/8, AWA 6/6]...ELATED! but more importantly, RELIEVED...I would not have to take this test again!... on second thoughts, (why didn I get 750?)

After being through it all twice, I think there were some key differences in my approach to the test and my test taking strategy that made the difference. I layout my strategy (for each section and question type) below and hope test takers, re-takers, and non-natives would benefit from this post - just as I did from this fantastic forum! I have classified the debrief into 10 points so that you can refer to the exact strategic point / question type if you like (while maintaining your own strategy for others)

1. Have a plan and stick to it: Know exactly what you are going to do on test day – what you will have for breakfast, what you will be wearing, how you will travel to the test center, what you will do during the breaks – whether you will have a chocolate bar or just have an energy drink?... whether you will have Red Bull or only water? – EVERYTHING!
Once you have a plan, stick to it. Ensure that you have tried and tested everything in your mocks (eg I used to have a red bull during the 2nd break even during my mocks!). As long as everything goes as planned, you will remain confident during the entire duration of the test.

2. Develop a strategy, test it in the mocks, and apply it on D-day: Formulate your strategy and stick to it when you take the practice tests. Identify what went well and what you could have done better. Refine your strategy, finalize it before the test and just go ahead and apply it on test day

3. Timing is the key: Timing is the most important factor. I believe managing time well was one of the keys to my success in my last attempt. I ensured that I always stay "ahead of time" or on time but "never behind time" at all times during the test. To ensure that, I used to tell myself that just as there is a penalty for not finishing the test within given time, there is a penalty for not finishing the question within stipulated time per question i.e. 2.5 min / ques in IR, 2 min / ques in Quant and 1m 49 sec / question in Verbal. For this, I wrote the below numbers on my noteboard.

Quant

Ques Time
(done) (rem)

5 65
10 55
15 45
20 35
25 25
30 15
35 5

Verbal

Ques Time
(done) (rem)

5 66
10 57
15 48
20 39
25 30
30 21
35 12
40 3

I looked at the clock about 6-7 times during each section (say after 5 questions or so) just to ensure that I was never behind time. This kept me aware and I was always ahead of time during the test.

And, that penalty is: getting more questions wrong (even if you get a particular question right by spending more than avg time on it). Lets face it, you spend more time on a question because you do not know the ideal route to the solution. And if you spend even more time, even though u get it right, u hv less time per ques for the rest of the ques, which will hamper your accuracy and may even make you panic under time pressure.

4. Keep yourself energized and hydrated: GMAT is a long test. What makes it worse is that as you progress on the test, the sections carry greater weight. Hence, it is important that you always keep alert, especially towards the latter part of the test. Ensure that you carry an energy drink and some food (if needed). Also, have water during each of the breaks. I had water in both the breaks and gulped in a red bull before the verbal section

5. Focus on the question on screen: In a long test like the GMAT, it is easy to lose your focus. Ensure that you focus on the question on screen and do not have any external thoughts. Most importantly, do not think of the result. Also, ensure that you don’t waste time staring at the screen. It happens that you lose your focus on just keep looking at the screen without any idea of how to proceed. Keep in mind that every second spent staring at the screen is time lost which will stray you away from your overall objective of doing well on the test – as it will make you fall behind time. If clueless, move on and focus on the next question

6. PS: focus on your strengths, don’t waste time trying to get your weaknesses right: Realize that you have strengths and weaknesses and you do not need to get all questions right to get a good score (even 750+). It is OKAY to get a few questions wrong. Focus on your strengths, spend some more time than the avg (2 mins) if you are ahead of time. However, balance that by getting incorrect answers quickly – you are most likely to get a difficult question from your weakness area wrong even if you spend too much time on it.

7. DS: Rephrase the question stem to a simple equation / Yes/NO ans. This is the essence of DS. Unless you simplify the questions and understand very clearly what is being asked, you will likely get confused while solving the question. Obey this fundamental rule, ALWAYS! Another effective strategy is to review your answer if you get an EASY (C) answer. You may have been foxed by the test makers

8. CR: Pre-think the answer. This is the most effective strategy for CR. If you spend 10-15 seconds pre-thinking, you only need to find that answer choice. This helps you achieve high accuracy without spending a lot of time on the question

9. RC: Read actively. RC on the GMAT is a very dreaded section. The passages are boring and long and can drain you of precious mental energy during the last and the most important section of the test. Understanding RC is also important since you have 2-4 questions based on the passage. If you don’t understand the passage and get a string of wrong answers, it will penalize you more than getting a CR / SC answer wrong. Hence, it very important to understand the passage.

Read actively, taking notes for each paragraph. It is also important to understand the main idea of the passage (often asked as a question) and also keep in mind the tone of the passage (sometimes asked directly or indirectly). I followed the below structure to take notes.

What? (is the author trying to say): [your understanding of the main point]
How? (is the author making the point): [have words like descriptive, critical, analytical, etc.]

I have found this strategy to be very effective and helped me improve accuracy from ~50% to 80-90%. Also, active reding will always keep you interested in the passage and help you follow the structure of the passage.

10. SC: Read the question skeptically - looking for errors. The key to solving SC quickly is identifying the errors in the question early and then finding the choice that fixes them. Doing SC at a good speed will help you stay ahead of time which you can uilize in RC, the more time consuming question type

These strategies helped me ace the test. I was confident on test day and felt even better when everything went according to plan.
I would like to thank GMAT Club for my success at the test. Special thanks to bb, Bunuel, Mike McGarry @Magoosh and eGMAT whose posts were very helpful in formulating and executing my strategy and beating the GMAT.

Hope this post helps. Feel free to post your queries, will be happy to respond.

Last edited by abdb on 29 Apr 2014, 12:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  22 Apr 2014, 21:35
Congratz on the awesome score! About the CR part, can you provide more details on your prethinking strategy? How much time did you spend on 1 CR question on average?
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  24 Apr 2014, 14:41
Pre thinking involves looking at the cr question as : premise >> (gap) >> conclusion and then trying to think of filling that gap without looking at the answer choices.this ensures that u are clear with what is missing in the reasoning and then u look for that answer choice. I must mention (and thank) here that Egmat's sessions are pretty helpful on this and recommend you go throught their sessions (they have recordings of their sessions on the website).

Re timing, i took around 90 secs per question on average - significantly less than what i used to take earlier - and with much higher accuracy than in the past.

Let me know in case of any further questions.

Last edited by abdb on 04 May 2014, 12:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 04 May 2012
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Concentration: Finance, Accounting
GMAT 1: 660 Q48 V32
GPA: 3.86
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  25 Apr 2014, 00:21
Congrats on breaking the 700 bar. what books did you follow to improve your verbal from 31 to 42?
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  25 Apr 2014, 09:39
As imentioned in my debrief, the focus was on studying SMART this time. I just went through my notes (prepared when i took the test for the first time). More importantly, i had a strategy in place for each question type and for timing on the test, which was the key. I knew exactly how I will approach the test, what will I do in case of a time crunch and so on.

Specifically, for books, i would say OG is the best source. Do it atleast once - but do it in sets of 10-15 ques each and make sure u hav a time limit in place (preferably the same avg time per ques as the real test).

Hope this helps.
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  25 May 2014, 12:19
Thank you for sharing the details. Very helpful.
_________________

Hardwork wont be unrewarded forever!

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TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  27 Jul 2014, 06:47
After scoring 740 and helping various friends, friends of friends, and other test takers (on forums) develop, refine and execute their strategy for the GMAT - I have now started my GMAT Consulting services.

While all of us study from predominantly the same sources, I think what makes the difference is STRATEGY (as the title of my post suggests). I believe, a sound strategy, if executed properly, can add 20 - 80 points to your score. And...just as each of us is unique, so are our strengths and weaknesses and hence, our strategy!

For a FREE 14 day trial of my strategy consulting services, feel free to:

b) email me at: gmatstrategyconsulting@gmail.com

Will be happy to help!
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  28 Jul 2014, 10:39
This is great - I will contact you on email.
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  16 Aug 2014, 11:38
Thank you for the help. I can already see the difference of applying a good strategy. My mock exam score has jumped from sub-650 level to 700 range! Thank you once again. How can I continue my subscription after the FREE trial period?
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  30 Aug 2014, 11:56
I scored a 720 Thank you GMAT Strategy Consulting. Everything fell in place during my exam as I followed the strategy recommended by you. Your guidance surely boosted my confidence. Thank you once more.
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! GSC!! [#permalink]  07 Sep 2014, 07:10
Hi there, am new to gmatclub but have been prepping for a while now, mostly by self-studying. My early scores usually stayed in the sub-650 bracket and I found it hard to cross over into anything remotely good.
Recently was referred by a friend to some GMAT strategy guys called GSC (GMAT strategy consulting).

Does anyone know more about these guys, I have been trying their 14 - day trial over email (gmatstrategyconsulting AT gmail DOT com) and I can see definite improvement in my Manhattan and other mocks, my score has jumped by an average of 30 pts already and I even scored a 710 (fluke?) once.

Would love to know more about these guys, or you can try them out if you were stuck on your score and strategy like me too
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Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy! [#permalink]  07 Sep 2014, 07:16
Oh wow so GSC is here too )) thanks a lot guys for your tips and tricks. I can see you have helped a lot of guys in here.
Finally can focus on your strategies to improve my score :D

P.S. The world is really a small place haha see you over gmail GSC
Re: TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy!   [#permalink] 07 Sep 2014, 07:16
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# TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GMAT 660 to 740 - Its all about strategy!

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