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100 days to 720, first Attempt

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Intern
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B
Joined: 23 Apr 2017
Posts: 21
Location: India
GMAT 1: 720 Q50 V36
WE: Marketing (Manufacturing)
100 days to 720, first Attempt  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Dec 2017, 06:18
8
It’s been almost 4 months since I took the GMAT exam. Though I wanted to share my experience right after the exam, I kept postponing it for other priorities. I have learnt a lot from the GMATclub forums, discussions and debriefs and I feel I owe it to this community.

A little brief about my background, I graduated with a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engg in 2011. After that, I worked in a product management (manufacturing industry) profile for almost 4 yrs. I have always been interested in photography. At the age of 25, I felt it was a right time for me to take a step to figure out whether a full time photography career works for me. In 2015, I left my job and started my commercial photography venture. I have been working as a commercial photographer for last 2.5 years. GMAT or MBA wasn't part of my career plan until April 2017.
The good thing about being a freelancer is it's easy to plan your schedule, bad thing is it becomes financially difficult to sustain if you are focusing on something else in parallel. I started my preparation from the 1st week of May and my GMAT exam was on 8th August.

Preparation Material used:
Quant
Concept: OG Review 17’, GMATclub posts
Practice: OG Review 17’, GMATclub
Verbal
Concept: OG Review 17’, E-GMAT verbal online, MGMAT Books RC, CR and SC, GMATclub posts
Practice: OG Review 17’, E-GMAT, GMATclub

Timeline:

I was following GMATclub throughout the journey, so haven’t mentioned as part of schedule separately.

May 2017

I started with solving the OG Review after reading only the brief theoretical segment in OG review. I intentionally didn’t start with the MGMAT or E-GMAT course first. As a result, by the time I started the MGMAT books, I had a fair idea of what type of application is expected from a certain concept. This reverse engineering strategy helped me to cover the Manhattan books and E-GMAT concepts faster and with better understanding as I could relate to the problems easily.

May 1st week : OG Review
May 2nd week : OG Review
May 3rd week : OG Review, Manhattan RC book
May 4th week : OG review, Manhattan CR book, E-GMAT SC

June 2017 :

June 1st week: OG Review, MGMAT CR, E-GMAT SC
June 2nd Week : OG Review, MGMAT SC , E-GMAT SC
June 3rd week : E-GMAT CR, MGMAT SC
June 4th Week : E-GMAT CR , E-GMAT RC
I started taking practice tests from 3rd week of June.

July and August 1st week, 2017:

I didn’t have a fixed schedule at this stage. I used to plan for next 4-5 days based on my mistake patterns and concept gaps from the last practice tests. I focused on revising the OG Review, Writing practice tests, re-visiting concepts and more importantly customizing quizzes in E-GMAT Scholaranium and GMATclub based on my strengths and weaknesses.

My last 6 Practice Test results

VERITAS Prep : 690 (Q51, V34)
MGMAT 1: 630 (Q 45, V 32)
MGMAT 2: 680 (Q 46, V 36)
MGMAT 3: 670 (Q 47, V 34)
GMAT Prep 1 : 710 (Q 50, V 36, IR 7)
GMAT Prep 2: 730 (Q 51, V 37, IR 8)

Actual Exam: 720 (Q 50, V 36. IR 7, AWA 5)

Segment wise Plans:

Quant:

As it is with most of us from engineering background, quant was my strength. I got access to GMATClub practice tests as a part of my E-GMAT course package, and majority of my quant preparation was practicing the GMATclub quant CATs, analyzing the mistakes and scrolling through thousands of quant related posts in GMATclub.

Verbal:

RC: For the RC section, I found the MGMAT RC book to be really helpful. I like the writing style of the MGMAT books in general. The methods are very structured, practical and easy to implement, so it was my base for approaching RC questions. I practiced from OG, E-GMAT course and Scholaranium questions and modified some of the strategies based on what worked for me and what didn’t. For example, I didn’t use different note taking methods for long passage and short passage. I created a hybrid technique of the both methods which I used for any passages.
Also, I used to sketch/scribble (instead of taking shorthand notes) the content of some passages especially those with a logical or chronological sequence. Visual thinking works better for me, so this was more effective.

CR: For the CR sections, both MGMAT and E-GMAT course helped to build the concepts. I followed the problem solving methods mentioned in the E-GMAT course for this. The Pre-thinking technique and negation technique were very useful. I didn’t do anything very differently from whatever methods mentioned in the courses. In my opinion, the most effective way to get better at CR is to practice. The more you practice the more you will get accustomed to the various passage structures and with pre- thinking practice, your accuracy will improve.

SC: For the SC section, I was completely dependent on E-GMAT, though I covered the MGMAT SC book. SC was my weakest link among all the sections. When I started my preparation, I was clueless about 50% of the problems and used to guess most of the time based on what “sounds” right. I realized I had to start from the basics for this one. I chose the E-GMAT course for SC section because I felt the content structure was easier to follow. The logical breakdown method from E-GMAT helped me approach SC much more confidently and improved my accuracy.
Another very crucial strategy for improving SC concept was to go through the OG SC section explanations many times. OG SC section is a brilliant collection of all type of problems and my advice will be to study all the explanations of all the questions very carefully. I learnt many concepts from many wrong choices also, as a lot of times my reasoning of choosing an incorrect option wasn’t justified.

I wish I could be more specific about the section wise strategies which helped me, but to be honest I do not remember the topic specific strategies that well as it’s been almost 4 months. But I can talk about some of the general preparation strategies that worked for me.

1. Keeping it simple in terms of resources: There are thousands of resources for GMAT preparation. Based on our learning style, some will work better for us than others. For me the combination of MGMAT books, E-GMAT content and GMATclub was more than enough. But the point is, following too many resources doesn’t guarantee a better understanding, more often than not it will create confusion. Find some resources which resonate with your style, and build your game plan from those concepts.

2. Timed practice: Not sure how much it helped me to improve my exam timing, but it’s definitely more efficient way to practice. I timed myself for all the practices from day 1.

3. Consistency: From my experience, a gap of 5-6 days really hurts the preparation flow. When I used to struggle to make time for study, I made it a point to check the discussions in GMATclub app while being stuck at traffic, or just waiting for something. It helped me to keep the concepts fresh in my mind.

4. Making the mistakes count: This is the most important aspect of my preparation and I can’t stress enough on this. I spent more time analyzing my mistakes and trying to find a pattern to improve my concept than I spent on anything else. Creating custom quiz in the E-GMAT Scholaranium and GMATclub was the most important tool of my preparation. I bookmarked all the questions I got wrong, rated them wherever possible and took a Screenshot where I had no Idea about the concept. Re-visiting previous mistakes again and again improved my accuracy significantly. I created many custom quizzes with the questions I didn’t answer correctly before and practiced again and again with different combinations of difficulty and concepts to be confident of not making similar mistakes again.

5. Bookmark, highlight and screenshot – whichever works: Keeping a record of what’s important increases efficiency. I created a folder with screenshots from all the important summary pages of E-GMAT verbal course. I also highlighted important sections in the MGMAT books and marked problems based on difficulty level in the Official Guide. This habit reduced the time required for me to revise a concept by 80%. More importantly, there will always be a tv-series, El classico match, friend’s party or important project threatening your schedule. This method offers flexibility and makes it easy to prioritize. I used to take screenshot of interesting problems, concepts, articles and methods from different sources. Even if you never revisit the screenshots, deleting is still free!

6. Importance of Official Guide - THE BIBLE: OG questions are closest to actual GMAT exam when it comes to logical structures and difficulty level. For the last 7 days I solved problems only from OG review. That helped me get in-tuned with the logical reasoning of GMAT question types. In a retrospect, I should have invested more time with the OG materials. No matter how prepared you are practicing other resources, neglecting OG materials is the worst idea.

7. Planning for other parameters: There are a lot of parameters apart from study which can affect your performance on the exam day and it’s important to plan for those. It may be traffic, heath condition, what food you want to have before exam etc. I had a really bad sleeping pattern at that time and my biggest worry was not getting enough sleep before the exam. I practiced a lot to keep a routine for this.

8. Something always goes wrong: Firstly I caught cold and developed fever a day before the exam, and had to take Paracetamols. Secondly even after trying to control my sleeping pattern for last 2 months from the date of the test, got only 4 hours of sleep before the test day (I don’t recommend so). There will always be surprises, and things won’t go according to your plans. But as it is with other cases in life, there are no “Ideal” situations. Having a flexible mindset about these things helped me keep focus on the exam.

There are certain things I should’ve/could’ve done better or mistakes I made

1. Practicing with too many tests: I wanted to practice with all the free tests available in market, which is already a long list. I had access to 800score tests and GMATclub CAT’s from my EGMAT subscription and I purchased 5 MGMAT tests for 10$ (there was a huge discount for this package). So I was spoilt by choice, and to use all the resources I was taking the tests very frequently. After almost 3 weeks I realized I didn’t have any significant improvement, my scores were flat lining between 660 and 690 and I wasted both time and resources. The problem was, I wasn’t taking enough time to understand the mistakes and improve my concept. I stopped targeting to finish them all and concentrated on the type of mistakes I was making, that improved my score. The point is using the resources correctly is more important than how many resources you are using.

2. Maintaining Error log: This is the one strategy I wish I could have implemented. I guess I didn’t have the discipline for it. I analyzed the mistakes in my way but maintaining an error log is probably a much more effective strategy.

3. AWA writing practice: I studied about the format and content structure before the exam but I didn’t practice enough to know the time calculation for this segment. During the exam I finished typing just 30 secs before the time limit, and thus couldn’t proof read the essay.

4. Using OG verbal, GMATprep test 3 & 4: As I mentioned before, official guides are the closest resources to actual exam questions and practicing with them helps to get in-tuned with the reasoning structure. I should have used OG verbal book and purchased the GMATprep test 3&4 package. By the time I realized that, I didn’t have enough time to use them effectively.

There are so many people who helped me in my journey. A big thanks to all of the members of GMATclub . It’s an amazing collaborative platform to share knowledge, keep each other motivated and find useful resources. I also would like to convey my gratitude to all the test prep companies and admission consultants for conducting the webinars and sharing the free contents about GMAT strategies, MBA applications etc. I tried to attend as many webinars as possible read whatever GMAT related article I could find and in one way or another, they shaped my approach towards GMAT and B-School application. Most importantly, thank you aveekmandal for guiding me through the whole process, helping me with the resources and discouraging some of my dumbest ideas.

In many ways, GMAT is like a big tournament cricket match. No matter how well you know the shots and how many times you practice; you must have a solid execution plan and you have to perform well on that particular day to win the match. Strategies for the preparation will be different for everyone. Some methods which worked really well for one may not be that useful to others. So your preparation plan needs to be completely customized based on your learning style.

I also think GMAT is more forgiving in many ways than other exams. If something goes wrong, you don’t have to wait for another year to do better. Also GMAT score isn’t considered as the only or most dominant parameter of your abilities as it is the case with other exams. Is there a counter side to this argument? Yes. Is it oversimplification of a complex situation? Probably. But this mindset helps to take the pressure off before the exam.

That’s all from my side. Feel free to reach me if you have any questions. Good luck to everyone, All the best!
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100 days to 720, first Attempt  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2017, 13:46
1
Saha6812 - thank you for taking the time out to write your debrief. You did some really amazing things that helped you score 720. Considering that you had fever and were able to sleep only for 4 hours before the exam, scoring 720 is an amazing achievement. While its difficult to plan for such situations, one must remember that health and wellness play a huge role especially on the day of the test.

Quote:
3. Consistency: From my experience, a gap of 5-6 days really hurts the preparation flow. When I used to struggle to make time for study, I made it a point to check the discussions in GMATclub app while being stuck at traffic, or just waiting for something. It helped me to keep the concepts fresh in my mind.

4. Making the mistakes count: This is the most important aspect of my preparation and I can’t stress enough on this. I spent more time analyzing my mistakes and trying to find a pattern to improve my concept than I spent on anything else. Creating custom quiz in the E-GMAT Scholaranium and GMATclub was the most important tool of my preparation. I bookmarked all the questions I got wrong, rated them wherever possible and took a Screenshot where I had no Idea about the concept. Re-visiting previous mistakes again and again improved my accuracy significantly. I created many custom quizzes with the questions I didn’t answer correctly before and practiced again and again with different combinations of difficulty and concepts to be confident of not making similar mistakes again.

5. Bookmark, highlight and screenshot – whichever works: Keeping a record of what’s important increases efficiency. I created a folder with screenshots from all the important summary pages of E-GMAT verbal course. I also highlighted important sections in the MGMAT books and marked problems based on difficulty level in the Official Guide. This habit reduced the time required for me to revise a concept by 80%. More importantly, there will always be a tv-series, El classico match, friend’s party or important project threatening your schedule. This method offers flexibility and makes it easy to prioritize. I used to take screenshot of interesting problems, concepts, articles and methods from different sources. Even if you never revisit the screenshots, deleting is still free!



And even though you technically did not maintain an error log, you did a number of things that an error log helps you achieve. Good luck for your applications.
_________________












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100 days to 720, first Attempt &nbs [#permalink] 12 Dec 2017, 13:46
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