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18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!

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GMAT 1: 740 Q51 V38
GMAT 2: 760 Q50 V42
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18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 10 Jun 2018, 21:51
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Hitting the low point


On a cold winter afternoon of early January 2017, when most of my office colleagues were out on vacations, I was filled with dread and despair. I had just given a mock GMAT test and scored in mid 600s – way below my expectations. I knew that this would not get me into the colleges I was aiming for and that I was in deep deep trouble. Next day, I called up a few of my college friends who had scored well in the GMAT. To my utter shock and disbelief, nearly all of them told me that they had studied just one week, and in some cases just one weekend, and had managed to score in the high 700s! My knees started shaking, my hands went numb and, like a true engineering student (my background: I completed my engineering from BITS PILANI and have been working in Investment Banking and Private Equity since then), I immediately started praying and chanting to the holy gods of heaven to shower me with exceptional wisdom to beat the GMAT!

Alas, as per a quote that I came across “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”, I knew I needed to do all of the mentioned above by myself and should get cracking immediately. So, on 15th January 2017, I started reviewing my mock GMAT score to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. I realized my major weakness was Verbal – in Quant, I just needed more practice but my concepts, speed and process of answering the questions were all fine. In Verbal, none of the above was fine. My concepts were weak, speed was too slow and the process of answering the questions was unstructured which led to absolute inconsistency among scores. I realized I needed to follow a more structured learning process and needed some guidance to help me on my journey since doing alone would a) waste a lot of crucial time, and b) probably not result in the best results possible. Same week, I attended mock Verbal /classes of a few coaching institutions in Delhi. Frankly, I did not like them. In addition to below-average teaching faculty and over-filled classes, the process of teaching that they followed was more rote-based rather than building concepts. Immediately, I identified I needed to get out and these classes were not what I was looking for. So, by the end of January 2017, I had identified the problem – Verbal section – but, even after attending a lot of mock classes and brain-storming with my college friends, I was nowhere close to the solution. This gave me many sleepless nights and I had made peace with my destiny that I was not good enough to score in the high 700s. Dream of a top b-school were nearly over and life was just drifting since I immersed myself back in my work.

The Rise

Then came February 2017 and, like the great stories of ancient lore say, them the winds started changing. One day on Facebook, I came across the social media status update of a school friend who had just posted, quite ecstatically, about his insanely high GMAT score. Return of the 3Ds – Disappointment, Dread and Despair  . Just as earlier times when I had called up my school friends, this time too I decided to call him up and understand from him how he cracked the exam. A cheerful and buoyant voice greeted me on the call and my expectations were aligned to previous conversations – cracked the exam over a weekend. However, what was to follow literally changed my life. My friend told me about an online GMAT course called the E-GMAT that had helped him get this insanely high score. Much appreciative and convinced that this was the best course for GMAT out in the market, my friend encouraged me to start with the course asap and was confident that this would result in drastic improvement in my score. Devoid of many options and seeing a sliver of a hope on the horizon, I immediately booked the complete GMAT Live Prep course by E-GMAT. This was mid-February 2017, and it was time now to go through the grind.

Battle Strategies


Focus on the strategy right for 'YOU': no two people are the same and hence, GMAT strategies for two people cannot also be the same. First, and most important learning, is that identify the strategy that suits you best. Now, how to identify the right strategy? When attempting the questions, the strategy that results in highest accuracy is the right strategy for you. Note that down and stick to it throughout the preparation.

I started with the Verbal course first, Sentence Correction (SC) specifically. Each concept section in E-GMAT SC was a breeze – crystal clear clarity in teaching methodology, focus on concepts building and attuned question answer process helped me in assimilating all the key SC building blocks in no time. Daily in the morning, I used to get up at 6 am and go through the SC concepts for 2 hours before going to work. General advice, morning time is best time for studies, period. Though it took me around 2 and a half months to go through the entire SC course once since I did not wish to hurry at this stage, by now I was fairly confident of my SC approach. Key here is: a) understand each topic thoroughly, b) eliminate wrong options to arrive at correct answer, and c) ensure you finish SC within 30 seconds so that you have more time to solve RC/CR questions.

In May 2017, I started with Reading Comprehension (RC) section. According to me, the most important section for anyone appearing for the GMAT and that is so because messing up one RC passage may lead to 3-4 wrong answers, not to mention continuous. Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, getting 3-4 wrong answers on the go will lead to a massive fall in the final score and end of all dreams. So, my advice, treat RC as the most important section and practice daily. The process that I followed for attempting RC questions was to a) spend around 3 minutes reading the RC passage, b) proceed to the questions and, c) spend around 15 seconds on Pre-thinking analysis and d) proceed to the options. I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of Pre-thinking. This step helped me in thought clarity and I was easily able to remove at least 2 wrong answer choices, thus resulting in higher accuracy. By end June 2017, I had finished RC and was again confident of my preparation in this section too.

In July 2017, I started with the Critical Reasoning (CR) section. After RC, doing CR seemed easier to me since a lot of the concepts and processes had been covered under RC. To make things easier, in CR there are a few set of question types that will remain the same – such as Strengthen, Weaken, Inference, etc. My process here was a) read the question first and understand what question type is it, b) read the passage, c) Pre-thinking to arrive at one answer and d) proceed to the options. Like in RC, Pre-thinking here is crucial again since it ensures one is able to eliminate 2-3 wrong options immediately and quickly arrive at the right answer. By end of August 2017, I finished the RC too.

Next was Quant that I started in early September 2017. Fairly confident of my Quant abilities, I finished the Quant curriculum by end of September 2017. Post this, I moved on to the E-GMAT Scholaranium and finished the same by end October 2017.

Lastly, time management and life-cycle management. I had long working hours from 10am to 10pm and hence coming back from office and studying was not an option for me. To compensate for that, I woke up daily at 6am (I am generally a morning person), studied for 2 hours and then went off to work. After coming from office, I immediately hit the bed to maintain a healthy 8-hr sleep cycle. My food habits were also in-line since I ate only home-cooked food. Key here is a) take time out regularly and consistently for studies to maintain momentum and b) maintain healthy lifestyle for studies. I ate well, slept well and studied consistently - in the long run, this made the difference.

Falling short - GMAT Attempt 1


Since a lot of my friends had already applied in Round 1 or were now applying in Round 2, I decided to schedule the test for December 2017 and apply in the Round 2 deadlines too. With a month to go for the GMAT, I went through the following: Official Guide, Verbal and Quant supplements and E-GMAT Scholaranium. In mid-November 2017, I gave the GMATPrep mock test and scored 720. Not bad but still room for improvement remained. I bought the complete set of GMATPrep tests and two weeks before the exam, took leave from office. In the last 15 days, I just revised the E-GMAT notes and gave mock tests. My scores ranged from 720 – 770 and I was confident of my preparation.

On another cold winter afternoon and almost one year after my preparation began, I sat for the GMAT exam on 13th December 2017. Tense and anxious, I arrived early for the exam to ensure no delays and just sat in the car listening to songs. I solved a few questions just to get my brain working and then set off for the exam. I scored a 740 (Q51 V38) and was a little disappointed with the score. I expected more but when I think back, I was too anxious for the exam to get over and didn’t give my 100% towards the end. Key lesson: stay calm and focused throughout the exam.

Annihilation - GMAT Attempt 2


Months passed and, in May 2018, I started focusing on college selection and Round 1 applications. With a decent GMAT score in hand, I was fairly relaxed about my applications. But, while many people told me that 740 was a good score, I believed that I could do better than that and had a zeal or hunger for a better score. I had studied over 12 months after all but that feeling of having conquered the exam was still not there. Key lesson: never settle, just never. So, in mid May 2018, I booked a date for GMAT 2 weeks away, in early June’2018. With virtually no time and tons of work to do, I started putting in 4 hours daily on weekdays and around 7 hours on weekends. I knew it was a sprint for 2-weeks. I revised OG, OG Supplementary material, E-GMAT Scholaranium and two days before the exam, gave GMATPrep and scored a 770. I realized my preparation was absolutely fine and, unlike last time, knew that I needed to remain calm till the exam got over. So, one day before the exam, I went to the gym, went for a swim, watched a movie and went to bed early for a good 10 hours sleep.

On 4th June 2018 or the D-Day, I woke up relaxed at 9am. Since the exam was scheduled for the afternoon slot, I had a lot of time and just to stay calm yet focussed, watched the ‘Rocky’ movie. One line – ‘All I want to do is go the distance’ – pure gold! It got me working and I told myself this was my day. I took a shower, had breakfast, and set out to conquer the exam. Reached 30mins before the exam, I went into the exam with a calm mind and to my absolute delight, scored a 760 (Q50 V42). When the score popped up, that feeling – can’t define that but that is the feeling every GMAT aspirant should aspire for. What was the difference in my two attempts? A positive mind-set and belief. To every GMAT aspirant – if I can do it, you can too, just believe in yourself, stick to the grind and you will crack it.

Originally posted by dhananjaya13 on 07 Jun 2018, 11:13.
Last edited by dhananjaya13 on 10 Jun 2018, 21:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jun 2018, 20:24
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dhananjaya13 wrote:
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”


Perfect words! Congrats on the awesome score.
All the best for the application journey. Hope you get into your first choice school.
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jun 2018, 20:30
Thank you so much for your sharing, it is super detail. Helps me a lots cuz I am wondering myself so much. Love the subtitles of your post. Help me quickly see the point and revise myself
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2018, 08:48
Dhananjaya, thank you so much for sharing. This is one of the best posts up on the GMAT club.

18 months shows your vigour. Wishing you all the best.

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2018, 21:55
If there were one hundred kudos I can give you for this post, I could give you all. Thank you so much for your sharing. Very inspired post and congratulation for your hard working.
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jun 2018, 05:29
" A positive mind-set and belief. To every GMAT aspirant – if I can do it, you can too, just believe in yourself, stick to the grind and you will crack it. " --> So true !! Best wishes for your applications :)
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jul 2018, 11:52
Congratulations!! Superb debrief!

It requires a lot of courage & confidence to retake the GMAT after a 740 score.

All the best for your apps!!

Cheers!
GyM
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2018, 07:27
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@dhanajaya13, great score bro...which colleges are you applying for


dhananjaya13 wrote:

Hitting the low point


On a cold winter afternoon of early January 2017, when most of my office colleagues were out on vacations, I was filled with dread and despair. I had just given a mock GMAT test and scored in mid 600s – way below my expectations. I knew that this would not get me into the colleges I was aiming for and that I was in deep deep trouble. Next day, I called up a few of my college friends who had scored well in the GMAT. To my utter shock and disbelief, nearly all of them told me that they had studied just one week, and in some cases just one weekend, and had managed to score in the high 700s! My knees started shaking, my hands went numb and, like a true engineering student (my background: I completed my engineering from BITS PILANI and have been working in Investment Banking and Private Equity since then), I immediately started praying and chanting to the holy gods of heaven to shower me with exceptional wisdom to beat the GMAT!

Alas, as per a quote that I came across “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”, I knew I needed to do all of the mentioned above by myself and should get cracking immediately. So, on 15th January 2017, I started reviewing my mock GMAT score to better understand my strengths and weaknesses. I realized my major weakness was Verbal – in Quant, I just needed more practice but my concepts, speed and process of answering the questions were all fine. In Verbal, none of the above was fine. My concepts were weak, speed was too slow and the process of answering the questions was unstructured which led to absolute inconsistency among scores. I realized I needed to follow a more structured learning process and needed some guidance to help me on my journey since doing alone would a) waste a lot of crucial time, and b) probably not result in the best results possible. Same week, I attended mock Verbal /classes of a few coaching institutions in Delhi. Frankly, I did not like them. In addition to below-average teaching faculty and over-filled classes, the process of teaching that they followed was more rote-based rather than building concepts. Immediately, I identified I needed to get out and these classes were not what I was looking for. So, by the end of January 2017, I had identified the problem – Verbal section – but, even after attending a lot of mock classes and brain-storming with my college friends, I was nowhere close to the solution. This gave me many sleepless nights and I had made peace with my destiny that I was not good enough to score in the high 700s. Dream of a top b-school were nearly over and life was just drifting since I immersed myself back in my work.

The Rise

Then came February 2017 and, like the great stories of ancient lore say, them the winds started changing. One day on Facebook, I came across the social media status update of a school friend who had just posted, quite ecstatically, about his insanely high GMAT score. Return of the 3Ds – Disappointment, Dread and Despair  . Just as earlier times when I had called up my school friends, this time too I decided to call him up and understand from him how he cracked the exam. A cheerful and buoyant voice greeted me on the call and my expectations were aligned to previous conversations – cracked the exam over a weekend. However, what was to follow literally changed my life. My friend told me about an online GMAT course called the E-GMAT that had helped him get this insanely high score. Much appreciative and convinced that this was the best course for GMAT out in the market, my friend encouraged me to start with the course asap and was confident that this would result in drastic improvement in my score. Devoid of many options and seeing a sliver of a hope on the horizon, I immediately booked the complete GMAT Live Prep course by E-GMAT. This was mid-February 2017, and it was time now to go through the grind.

Battle Strategies


Focus on the strategy right for 'YOU': no two people are the same and hence, GMAT strategies for two people cannot also be the same. First, and most important learning, is that identify the strategy that suits you best. Now, how to identify the right strategy? When attempting the questions, the strategy that results in highest accuracy is the right strategy for you. Note that down and stick to it throughout the preparation.

I started with the Verbal course first, Sentence Correction (SC) specifically. Each concept section in E-GMAT SC was a breeze – crystal clear clarity in teaching methodology, focus on concepts building and attuned question answer process helped me in assimilating all the key SC building blocks in no time. Daily in the morning, I used to get up at 6 am and go through the SC concepts for 2 hours before going to work. General advice, morning time is best time for studies, period. Though it took me around 2 and a half months to go through the entire SC course once since I did not wish to hurry at this stage, by now I was fairly confident of my SC approach. Key here is: a) understand each topic thoroughly, b) eliminate wrong options to arrive at correct answer, and c) ensure you finish SC within 30 seconds so that you have more time to solve RC/CR questions.

In May 2017, I started with Reading Comprehension (RC) section. According to me, the most important section for anyone appearing for the GMAT and that is so because messing up one RC passage may lead to 3-4 wrong answers, not to mention continuous. Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, getting 3-4 wrong answers on the go will lead to a massive fall in the final score and end of all dreams. So, my advice, treat RC as the most important section and practice daily. The process that I followed for attempting RC questions was to a) spend around 3 minutes reading the RC passage, b) proceed to the questions and, c) spend around 15 seconds on Pre-thinking analysis and d) proceed to the options. I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of Pre-thinking. This step helped me in thought clarity and I was easily able to remove at least 2 wrong answer choices, thus resulting in higher accuracy. By end June 2017, I had finished RC and was again confident of my preparation in this section too.

In July 2017, I started with the Critical Reasoning (CR) section. After RC, doing CR seemed easier to me since a lot of the concepts and processes had been covered under RC. To make things easier, in CR there are a few set of question types that will remain the same – such as Strengthen, Weaken, Inference, etc. My process here was a) read the question first and understand what question type is it, b) read the passage, c) Pre-thinking to arrive at one answer and d) proceed to the options. Like in RC, Pre-thinking here is crucial again since it ensures one is able to eliminate 2-3 wrong options immediately and quickly arrive at the right answer. By end of August 2017, I finished the RC too.

Next was Quant that I started in early September 2017. Fairly confident of my Quant abilities, I finished the Quant curriculum by end of September 2017. Post this, I moved on to the E-GMAT Scholaranium and finished the same by end October 2017.

Lastly, time management and life-cycle management. I had long working hours from 10am to 10pm and hence coming back from office and studying was not an option for me. To compensate for that, I woke up daily at 6am (I am generally a morning person), studied for 2 hours and then went off to work. After coming from office, I immediately hit the bed to maintain a healthy 8-hr sleep cycle. My food habits were also in-line since I ate only home-cooked food. Key here is a) take time out regularly and consistently for studies to maintain momentum and b) maintain healthy lifestyle for studies. I ate well, slept well and studied consistently - in the long run, this made the difference.

Falling short - GMAT Attempt 1


Since a lot of my friends had already applied in Round 1 or were now applying in Round 2, I decided to schedule the test for December 2017 and apply in the Round 2 deadlines too. With a month to go for the GMAT, I went through the following: Official Guide, Verbal and Quant supplements and E-GMAT Scholaranium. In mid-November 2017, I gave the GMATPrep mock test and scored 720. Not bad but still room for improvement remained. I bought the complete set of GMATPrep tests and two weeks before the exam, took leave from office. In the last 15 days, I just revised the E-GMAT notes and gave mock tests. My scores ranged from 720 – 770 and I was confident of my preparation.

On another cold winter afternoon and almost one year after my preparation began, I sat for the GMAT exam on 13th December 2017. Tense and anxious, I arrived early for the exam to ensure no delays and just sat in the car listening to songs. I solved a few questions just to get my brain working and then set off for the exam. I scored a 740 (Q51 V38) and was a little disappointed with the score. I expected more but when I think back, I was too anxious for the exam to get over and didn’t give my 100% towards the end. Key lesson: stay calm and focused throughout the exam.

Annihilation - GMAT Attempt 2


Months passed and, in May 2018, I started focusing on college selection and Round 1 applications. With a decent GMAT score in hand, I was fairly relaxed about my applications. But, while many people told me that 740 was a good score, I believed that I could do better than that and had a zeal or hunger for a better score. I had studied over 12 months after all but that feeling of having conquered the exam was still not there. Key lesson: never settle, just never. So, in mid May 2018, I booked a date for GMAT 2 weeks away, in early June’2018. With virtually no time and tons of work to do, I started putting in 4 hours daily on weekdays and around 7 hours on weekends. I knew it was a sprint for 2-weeks. I revised OG, OG Supplementary material, E-GMAT Scholaranium and two days before the exam, gave GMATPrep and scored a 770. I realized my preparation was absolutely fine and, unlike last time, knew that I needed to remain calm till the exam got over. So, one day before the exam, I went to the gym, went for a swim, watched a movie and went to bed early for a good 10 hours sleep.

On 4th June 2018 or the D-Day, I woke up relaxed at 9am. Since the exam was scheduled for the afternoon slot, I had a lot of time and just to stay calm yet focussed, watched the ‘Rocky’ movie. One line – ‘All I want to do is go the distance’ – pure gold! It got me working and I told myself this was my day. I took a shower, had breakfast, and set out to conquer the exam. Reached 30mins before the exam, I went into the exam with a calm mind and to my absolute delight, scored a 760 (Q50 V42). When the score popped up, that feeling – can’t define that but that is the feeling every GMAT aspirant should aspire for. What was the difference in my two attempts? A positive mind-set and belief. To every GMAT aspirant – if I can do it, you can too, just believe in yourself, stick to the grind and you will crack it.
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2018, 08:04
Congratulations on getting a great score! 740 is a very good score and many would have settled for it but 760 is an excellent score.

All the very for your admissions!
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2018, 08:11
Great Score Buddy. May you get the choicest college.Could you suggest me Books for Quant (Beginner and Advanced stage). I have started with OG.

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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Oct 2018, 18:36
I can't say in words but fantastic debrief..despite having a 740 u didn't settle..
That shows us the passion and the confidence in one's prep..
u inspired a lot..thanks for the awesome debrief
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 07:02
Congratulations Dhananjay (means Arjuna, the one with great focus :)). I am glad that you lived up to the name and never lost focus from the GMAT.

Taking my GMAT in 2 days. Such stories are great inspiration!

Good luck with applications!
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Re: 18 months and many hours later – 760 finally! &nbs [#permalink] 04 Nov 2018, 07:02
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