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YourDreamTheater's GMAT story ... ends with a 760!

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YourDreamTheater's GMAT story ... ends with a 760! [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 11:52
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Hello! This is the thread where I tracked my GMAT studying progress. I'll post my eventual debrief below, but please note that the first post (under all of the dashed lines) and all posts after that are from the beginning of my GMAT journey. Here's the debrief:


My exam was on August 19, and as evidenced in this thread, I was expecting a pretty solid score (>750). I'm definitely happy with my 760, but I wish I had done a few things differently. Here's a breakdown of my exam experience:

Note: I'm the type of person who loves pressure situations and doesn't get nervous about most things, so if you're looking for a thread on how to calm your nerves, then look elsewhere!

TESTING CENTER SELECTION
I have problems with noises, so I wanted to choose a testing center that was as quiet as possible. There three testing centers that are relatively close to me (< 1 hour drive), so I had some choices. One was in a small but hip city, the second was in a major US city, and the third was in a super-rural, poorly educated town. I chose the poorly-educated city because I figured that there would be fewer people there during my test. I was right -- I was literally the only person in the room for the entire exam, so I didn't have to worry about noise. This was also great because the proctor (a rather large fellow who moved EXTREMELY slowly and made multiple errors trying to type in his administrator password during my breaks) was able to focus all of his time and energy on me. I would have been pretty annoyed to see him lumbering around trying to log other people in / out.
One problem that I did encounter was the long drive over there. My exam was at 6:30 PM, so I started my drive around 5:00 PM and ended up there around 6:00PM. On the way there, I stopped at a small shop for a few Gatorades and power bars. When I got back into my car and started to drive up the hill to the testing center, I noticed that a huge bee was trapped in my car. I have a deadly allergy to bees and I didn't think to bring my EpiPen, so I literally pulled over, hopped out of my car, and just started running. It was definitely an interesting experience to have right before my exam.

TIME OF DAY
This was one of my biggest errors. I was a pretty big night owl during the summer, so I figured that the 6:30 PM time slot would be great for me. Sadly, I didn't realize that a 6:30 PM time equivocates to the post-lunch drowsy period when you're waking up around noon. I should have picked a time much closer to when I actually got up at that time (man, I wish I could still wake up at noon! Gotta love the summer as a college student). While I was pumped to be taking the actual GMAT, I was feeling pretty sleepy on the drive home just from the time of day.

AWA
(NOTE -- MY AWA COMMENTS APPLY TO NATIVE SPEAKERS ONLY!)
Nobody cares about the AWA. I'm serious. I don't know if there's much value in doing the AWA during practice exams because nobody cares about your score. Some people may argue that it's important to build stamina for test day, but I think that's worthless for two reasons: first, on a normal practice exam day, you aren't focusing all of your thoughts on your practice exam. I did a few practice exams after work / after going to the gym / after fun nights out, but on test day, I focused all of my energy and thoughts on the actual exam. Second, adrenaline kicks in on test day and you'll have more energy to crank out the essays -- they're more like a mental warm-up. I didn't read any guides or any sections on the AWA because it just doesn't matter. When I was writing the essays, I thought they were absolutely terrible, but I ended up getting a 6. Who knows!

QUANT
Yep, the quant section is getting harder. I ran into a few types of problems that I had never even seen before -- including one in particular that reminded me of a question I had gotten as a brainteaser during my derivatives trading interviews. By the time I realized what the problem was really asking, I had wasted too much time. Manhattan GMAT is a pretty awesome resource for this type of thinking, but it's not a comprehensive guide anymore for the quant section. You're going to have to improvise. It's also hard to prepare for the GMAT's experimental questions. It was nice to see a few ridiculously easy problems randomly thrown in there (i.e. reducing fractions), but it definitely threw me off of my game. The easy questions kind of lulled my mind to sleep. PowerPrep is the best way to prepare for this wildcard factor (PowerPrep has the experimental questions in there) but the general level of difficulty is way too easy.
This brings me to another big mistake that I made on test day: strategy. Before going into your exam, decide on your strategy for handling tough quant questions. Are you going to skip over them and move on? Are you going to try to hammer out a solution? I made the mistake of doing both -- I tried to get an answer for a while (i.e. 2-3 minutes), but at the end, I ended up skipping. I wish I had made a decision beforehand so I could have more time at the end of my exam.

VERBAL
Not too much to say here. Verbal was pretty spot-on from the practice exams. The one thing I did notice is that there were some idioms that I knew as a native English speaker, but didn't remember from any verbal review books / idiom lists in particular. I think that the exam makers have realized the unbelievable amount of preparation materials out there for anyone who wants them and is now slightly changing the exam to compensate for all of this information.

SCHOOL SELECTION
Choose the schools you want to send your scores to before your exam. I know this sounds stupid, but at 27 bucks a pop after the exam, it pays to send the scores early. I sent them to all of the schools I wanted to apply to who didn't allow self-reported scores alone to apply.


I feel like I'm missing some parts of my story, so I'll edit it as need be. Hope this helps someone!

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Hello everyone! I've decided to start a thread to tell the story of my GMAT journey.

I'm a current undergraduate student studying music. I also play in an internationally-known professional symphony orchestra. I'm interested in getting my GMAT out of the way because I want to apply to some sort of business school in the future.

I'm using the following books:
MGMAT complete series
PR Cracking the GMAT 2010
PR 1012
OG 11
OG 12
OG Q 2
OG V 2

I took my first exam cold a few weeks ago:
PR 1 - 710 - Q47 (33/37), V41 (35/41)

I was pretty happy to break the 700 mark without studying, but I knew that I had a lot of work to do. I had never seen DS before, so I had a lot of trouble with those questions (only got 11/15 correct) on my first practice exam.

I've gone through the entire MGMAT series, the OG V2 and OG Q2 guides, and I'm starting OG V11. I'm going to take my first MGMAT CAT in the coming days, so I'll update then.

Best of luck to everyone here on GMATClub!

Last edited by YourDreamTheater on 13 Sep 2011, 16:00, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 12:10
Also --

The PR CATs grade very harshly on Q. I only got 4 questions wrong and I got a 47. Seems a bit extreme when compared to other results I've seen here on the board...
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2010, 17:44
Give gmatprep/mgmat tests for better idea.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2010, 22:01
I've been studying the Q section in great detail, so I decided to take a crack at the second PR CAT.

750 - Q51, V43. I finished the Q section with about 15 minutes to spare, and the V section with about 20 minutes to spare.

I'm pretty happy to see these results on my second CAT. My exam is in a month and I feel like I'm progressing steadily.

My biggest problem in the quant section has always been careless errors. I find the PR exams great for working on careless errors because the questions aren't extremely difficult, but they are graded quite harshly. Through 200 timed questions, I'm averaging about a 98.9% hit rate in OG11 Q section, and I hope that I can maintain this level of performance on the real thing. Overall, I feel extremely confident about quant. I'm going to finish up the OG11 Q section and leave the OG12 Q section for the weeks a bit closer to my exam date.

Now it's time for me to work on verbal. I'm very accurate in the CR section (usually around 95%), but I'm pretty terrible at RC (around 80%). I also need to memorize the idioms list in the MGMAT SC -- I missed a few idioms on this CAT.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2010, 22:54
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Kudos for the thread - good luck and look forward to hearing more!
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 06:20
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 07:01
YourDreamTheater wrote:
I've been studying the Q section in great detail, so I decided to take a crack at the second PR CAT.

750 - Q51, V43. I finished the Q section with about 15 minutes to spare, and the V section with about 20 minutes to spare.

I'm pretty happy to see these results on my second CAT. My exam is in a month and I feel like I'm progressing steadily.

My biggest problem in the quant section has always been careless errors. I find the PR exams great for working on careless errors because the questions aren't extremely difficult, but they are graded quite harshly. Through 200 timed questions, I'm averaging about a 98.9% hit rate in OG11 Q section, and I hope that I can maintain this level of performance on the real thing. Overall, I feel extremely confident about quant. I'm going to finish up the OG11 Q section and leave the OG12 Q section for the weeks a bit closer to my exam date.

Now it's time for me to work on verbal. I'm very accurate in the CR section (usually around 95%), but I'm pretty terrible at RC (around 80%). I also need to memorize the idioms list in the MGMAT SC -- I missed a few idioms on this CAT.


What :roll: Quant 15 minutes before time & verbal 20 minutes earlier. :shock: Howwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww???????????
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2010, 07:32
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Hussain15 wrote:
What :roll: Quant 15 minutes before time & verbal 20 minutes earlier. :shock: Howwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww???????????


I think that my speed in quant comes from DS problems. I average 100% accuracy on OG DS problems, and I usually solve them in less than one minute. I usually have a pretty good idea of what's wrong in the problem after reading the prompt. I then work out a skeleton of the problem on the paper to double check my work, and then I'm done. I've learned when to do math and when to skip the calculations.

I do believe that it's possible for anyone to get that kind of speed on DS once you get to know all of the problems. GMAC only has so many tricks up its sleeve...

And in Verbal? I've always been a very fast reader. The only problem is that I'm losing some accuracy on RC because of it. I'm going to try to slow WAY down on my next practice CAT. My goal is to get a Q51 V47 split on my next CAT, so I'm going to need to shore up my verbal to do so.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2010, 19:15
Haven't updated this thread in a while.

I took a few more CAT exams (Princeton Review 3 and 4, MGMAT 1) -- here are my overall scores thus far:

Princeton Review 1 = 710 - Q47 V41
Princeton Review 2 = 750 - Q51 V43
Princeton Review 3 = 690 - Q43 V43 (taken at 11pm after a glass of wine -- whoops!)
Princeton Review 4 = 730 - Q48 V44
MGMAT 1 = 750 - Q48 V45 (one unanswered quant due to weak internet connection)

After taking all of the Princeton Review exams, I can honestly say that they offer great practice for not making stupid mistakes. The exam grades ridiculously harshly -- two or three wrong answers in quant will drop your Q score from a 50 to a 47. The verbal also grades very harshly.

I just took MGMAT's first exam this evening. I found both sections to be extremely difficult, but the grading was much more lenient than Princeton Review's grading. I also had some trouble with my internet connection, which made me unable to answer the last quant question in time. I believe that I would have gotten a much better quant score if not for this connection error.

I've been taking all of my recent practice exams (MGMAT1 and Princeton Review 3-4) in an unfamiliar location and using the MGMAT Test Simulation booklet (http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-GMAT-Si ... 0979017580). I'd absolutely recommend picking up this gem (and an extra box of the pens http://www.amazon.com/STAEDTLER-Lumocol ... -1-catcorr ) -- I've gotten much more comfortable using the marker and I think it'll pay off on test day.

I am usually extremely strong in CR and SC, and only fairly strong in RC. On the MGMAT exam, however, I was extremely weak in SC, but I was strong in CR and RC. I guess I should re-read the MGMAT SC book -- I didn't read it very carefully the first time through because I thought I knew SC pretty well.

My exam is on August 19th at 6:30pm. I've taken my most recent exams at this time to get used to the timing of everything, and I plan on continuing this trend. If at all possible, I think it helps to condition your body to test taking at a certain time of day.

I'll be taking another MGMAT exam on Thursday, so I'll update with a new score then!
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2010, 21:12
Great job, keep going. :)

What about gmat prep??? when are you giving it a try??
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2010, 14:09
Hussain15 wrote:
Great job, keep going. :)

What about gmat prep??? when are you giving it a try??


I'm going to take the first GMATPrep exam as soon as I run out of MGMAT exams. I'm aiming to take my first one mid next week (Aug 9-12). I just took the Diagnostic (I timed it) in OG12 and I got 47/48 in quant (-1 PS) and 51/52 in verbal (-1 CR). I feel much more comfortable with the OG questions than with any other prep company's questions -- the official questions don't fall prey to the same logical flaws.

I'm going to work on OG12 and re-read the MGMAT math books in the next week. I'm taking my second MGMAT practice exam tonight at my scheduled test time, so we'll see how that goes!
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 07 Aug 2010, 20:12
Finally took the next MGMAT exam that I was supposed to take a few days ago. After helping my girlfriend move, driving to a different city, and moving out myself, I found that I was a bit short on time.
I'll have to take one practice exam each day up until my test day (8/19) if I want to finish in time.

Here's my latest MGMAT score:

MGMAT2 = 780 - Q51 V45

I managed to finish every question in quant with a few seconds to spare, and I'm happy to see my second 51 on quant, but I'm not happy with the verbal score. I feel like I've reached some sort of wall with verbal... I've scored between 43 and 45 on every single exam I've taken. How do I push my score up into the 48-51 range? I can't be certain that I'll get a 51 in quant on the test day, so I'd really like to maximize my verbal score to make up for it.

Believe it or not, but I missed 3 consecutive verbal questions this go-around (numbers 7 through 9). MGMAT graded me down the 73rd percentile, but thankfully I didn't miss any after that until the final question (stupid mistake!).

I'm going to go through my verbal mistakes and see what I can do to fix them...


Also -- if anyone has taken the GMAT within the past few years and remembers what type of noise-cancelling device you used during your exam (earphones, earplugs, etc.), then please go to this topic. I'm trying to nail down this answer, and I'd really like to start practicing with them as soon as possible!

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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 08 Aug 2010, 03:23
Great going..
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 08 Aug 2010, 16:57
So I'm a bit frustrated with myself...

Just took the next MGMAT exam. After finishing the quant section, got some water, ate some almonds, and splashed water on my face. I came back, ready to conquer the verbal section, and I was a bit excited. I accidentally typed in "45" instead of "75" when it asked me how many minutes I wanted to take this section of the exam. I tried to cancel my selection, but it was hopeless. I quit the exam without answering any verbal questions because I knew there would be no way I could finish in time.

As a consolation prize, I got a 51 in quant again. Finished with 1 minute to spare. It seems as though if I manage to keep myself on schedule time-wise, then I can get a 51 pretty accurately in quant.

I did find that the MGMAT quant questions seem to be getting a bit easier as I keep taking more and more exams. I know that the questions come from a giant pool, but I wish there was some way to take them in reverse order so that the harder questions would show up later during my studies, rather than earlier. I understand the need for a prep company to show you that you're "improving," but the brutal nature of the first few exams was really unfair.



.......


Time to go work on OG 12!

Last edited by YourDreamTheater on 13 Sep 2011, 16:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 08 Aug 2010, 18:57
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Interesting post. Keep it up!
Does the synesthesia have anything to do with your avatar/nickname?
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 09 Aug 2010, 19:41
bb wrote:
Interesting post. Keep it up!
Does the synesthesia have anything to do with your avatar/nickname?


Hah - that actually does make some sense!!! Sadly no, the nickname is just a tribute to one of my favorite bands from when i was younger (Dream theater -- great in the early 90's). The avatar is a ridiculously expensive keyboard (~$8,000) that I hope to own one day.

Back to GMAT -- just took another MGMAT exam.

730 = Q51 V39

I have absolutely no idea what happened on this exam. The Q51 was expected, but the V39 was most definitely not. I noticed that a lot of my questions were in the "600-700" range (instead of the "700-800" range) even when the exam said I was performing in the 99th percentile. I have a feeling that I am have gone through most of MGMAT's 700-800 level verbal questions, so it is now adding in a lot of 600-700 level questions to make up for it. After getting the first 21 answers correct, I got an entire RC passage incorrect (missed 3 of 3 questions) and a CR question incorrect all in a row. These questions were all on the 600-700 level, so the exam punished me greatly for missing these. I've also noticed that most of my questions in the quant section were 600-700 rather than 700-800 (despite my quant score of 51). I honestly believe that MGMAT is running out of the tough questions and is being forced to use lower level questions.

I had a few distractions and had to pause for a hour in between sections to greet someone who had just arrived back to my house, so I guess I got out of the flow.

Oh well! You win some, you lose some.

I've been going through OG 12 timed and I'm having a fantastic hit rate (around 99% correct in quant, finished DS and halfway through PS) so I'm really excited to try GMATPrep. I'm going to take one more MGAMT exam, but if it doesn't live up to its tough reputation, then I might have to move on to GMATPrep.

Back to work!
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2010, 20:53
Between my 21st birthday, my girlfriend's visit, and some car troubles, I haven't had much time to spend on the GMAT these past two days.

That being said, I did manage to finish 3 sections of OG 12 (including diagnostic questions):

PS: 252 correct out of 254 = 99%
DS: 194 correct out of 198 = 98%
SC: 151 correct out of 158 = 96%

Admittedly I would have liked to have done a tad bit better on my SC, but I'll take it. I tend to do much better as the questions get more difficult; I miss most of my questions (across all three subjects) about 60% through the problem set (a.k.a. 600-700 level difficulty). Not really sure why that is!

I'm taking my first GMATPrep exam either tomorrow (Friday) or Saturday -- with AWA for building stamina! I'm going to try to finish up OG 12 in the next day or two and then I'll just keep redoing GMATPrep until test day (8/19).
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2010, 12:41
Just finished OG 12 CR (timed, as always)

138 correct out of 141 = 98%

As usual, both problems that I missed in the problem set were of medium difficulty. I consider the third one that I missed to be difficult, and it was in the diagnostic. So two wrong in 600-700, and one wrong in 700-800. Not perfect, but not terrible.


I'm going to take my first GMAT Prep exam tonight at 6:30 (my test time) with the AWA, the erasable booklet, timed breaks, etc etc. The real deal! I'm excited to see how I do! I'll update with my results ASAP.
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2010, 16:03
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I have added your journey to the "Best Stories" - thank you for keeping it current!
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Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2010, 19:04
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Thanks, bb! I hope that people in the future are able to read my story and use my experiences to help them maximize their score.

Back to business: I just took my first GMATPrep exam. I did the full thing simulated as closely as I could: AWA, timed breaks, 6:30pm start time, erasable marker board, unfamiliar setting, and unfamiliar computer. This was the result:

GMATPrep 1 = 780 - Q50 V48

After starting the exam, my first problem came up in quant, and the computer immediately began to shut down due to software updates. I had already begun the exam, so I manually cancelled the updates. Sadly, the computer kept trying to update every 5 minutes or so and I kept having to click "Restart later" throughout the entire exam. Very distracting!

Around question 20 the quant section, the phone rang and I had to talk on the phone for a minute or two in the middle of my exam. While timing wasn't an issue (I ended up finishing with a few minutes to spare), the phone call definitely got me out of my rhythm as I spent 6 minutes on a single problem (it was an easy one, too). I later found out that all 9 of my mistakes in quant came AFTER this phone conversation -- 20/20 at first, and then 8/17 to finish! Jeez!!!

I was also surprised to find that nearly all of my mistakes came on data sufficiency questions. I'm usually pretty good at finding the loopholes in DS questions, but my flustered and distracted mind couldn't work like it normally does.

I only got one question wrong in verbal, but I still got knocked down to a 48. Kind of depressing, but now I know how competitive verbal is on the real deal. I did finish verbal with a lot of time left (around 15-20 minutes), so I'm not worried about speed on this section.

As a native speaker, my problem in verbal has always been speed -- that is, I go through the questions too quickly. I'd advise all native speakers to slow down when a difficult verbal question pops up on the screen.


One interesting note -- my third question in verbal was the Halley's Comet SC question from OG 12 (question number 138 for those of you keeping track). I was pretty surprised to see an OG 12 question in my GMATPrep exam, but I shrugged it off, worked through the problem, and proceeded.
Re: YourDreamTheater's GMAT story   [#permalink] 14 Aug 2010, 19:04
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