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5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42)

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Location: Thailand
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
GMAT 1: 550 Q37 V28
GMAT 2: 660 Q47 V34
GMAT 3: 650 Q44 V35
GMAT 4: 680 Q49 V32
GMAT 5: 740 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.33
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5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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I took the test YESTERDAY (January 13, 2017) and walked out the room as if I was possessed by a ghost! I also did a fist bump but somehow my shoe flew off my feet and hit the wall. (This was outside of the test center).

Notes: IT IS POSSIBLE TO IMPROVE FROM A MERE 550! And it is very possible to go from 680 -> 740 within 2 weeks!!!!! Do not give up!

To start things of, I did a debrief back in September 2016 here: debrief-550-q37-v28-to-660-q47-v34-in-2-months-aiming-for-226324.html My scores improved from 550 to a whopping 660 within 2 months. So my strategies from those two months can be read there but I'll be talking about it in here as well.

Materials I used along the way in chronological order:
    - OG10 OG13 OG16 // All the verbal reviews
    - Kaplan 800
    - MGMT Full set
    - Powerscore Bible for CR/SC/RC
    - Private Tutor for a combination of 46 hours [36 for quant and 10 for verbal]
    - EMPOWERgmat
    - e-GMAT Verbal CR/SC
    - GMAT Prep software (EVERY THING)
    - Mathrevolution
    - Manhattan Review Question Bank
    - GMAT Club!!!!
    - Carcass's SC and CR question bank - TRUE GEM
    - 5 months of pain, sweat, blood, and tear

Background
I previously worked as a consultant (almost 2 years) and later joined my family business (more than half a year now) as a business development manager so I had WAY more time here. I'll have 36 months of work experience before matriculation.
Post-MBA goals: I will transform and expand my family business so it stops dealing with very controversial products.
Funfact: I'll be just 23 upon matriculation! I don't know whether that's a plus or minus for schools these days.

GMAT background
I am a non-native but international educated kid so my reading comprehension fairs a little bit better. My math sucks ball. I had to relearn basic arithmetic :(.

GMAT Strategies

Overall Strategy:
What truly made the difference for me is the way I approach the questions during practice. For each question I did wrong, I will do it 3 - 4 times until I get it right. I will then perform what I call error analysis (what did I do wrong and how to prevent it) and structure analysis (understand what the question is testing) of the questions. Once I completed the analysis, I redo the questions again in different ways but this time the methods must be under one minute. This allowed me to have a huge arsenal of ways to attack the problems. Versatility is key.

Quant Strategy (Q37 -> Q49)
    - Know what they are asking for and what you should look for
    - Know what concepts they are taking & what possible traps they're trying to throw in your face
    - Know to use shortcuts & number testing
    - Use different strategies to approach the questions
    - Dump the question you have no CLUE
    - Learn to TRIAGE and understand answer choice patterns!
    - Ditch the AD/BCE grid

The combination of private tutoring (MGMT as source material) and EMPOWERgmat allowed me to hit the Q47 within 2 months. In order to get to this score, I suggest to familiarize yourself with the basic concept of maths and be a 100% accurate for questions 1 - 200 for PS in the OG.

I struggled most with basic arithmetic because I completely threw it out once my SATs were done (also they allowed calculators!) MGMT foundation maths was all I need to get myself back to speed. The little tips and tricks on the book helped me realize math shortcuts. EMPOWERgmat helped me see that on certain types of questions, there is no need to go FULL ON CALCULATE you can basically erase choices or test the numbers. TESTING THE NUMBERS MADE THE DIFFERENCE HERE.

From Q47 - Q49 was definitely thanks to Mathrevolution. Most of the concept on the course, if you understand and consumed it all, I bet you'd hit a Q51. However, because I was lazy and only did like 40% of the course on specific topics (number properties and DS type questions), I only bumped up 2 points. What made the difference for this course was its in depth analysis on the type of MISTAKES you could make and THE TRAPS that the test writers created.

On one small note, I want to suggest the elimination of AD/BCE grid. To me this is a waste of time, why? Because you should be focusing on the statements rather than eliminating questions that writing so many strokes down on paper. Strokes = time and time is of the essence in GMAT.

So what did I do for DS questions? Since I worked through SO MANY QUESTIONS, my brain automatically tells me which choices to choose by using the following technique:

st. 1 suff st. 2 insuff => thus A is correct. Usually I would write down statement (1) and put a tick next to it if it's sufficient and a cross next to it if it's wrong. Same goes with statement (2) as well. If statements get 2 ticks I would pick D. When I want to combine statements I would draw a line connecting statement 1 and 2. If both is insufficient I would pick E, and if both is sufficient I would pick C.

Example (in exam room I just write 1 & 2): http://i.imgur.com/Hwk2tMm.png

Verbal Strategy (V28 -> V42)
    - Know the common traps and wrong questions!!
    - Know how to identify what types of questions you are dealing with
    - Read a lot of books/articles
    - Practice practice practice
    - Always ask yourself: is this answer debatable

Verbal was the toughest to improve for me but going from V28 - V42 in 5 months is possible and I encourage everyone to not lose hope. With that being said, I'm still pretty much in the dark between the V32 - V42 10 point jump but I can definitely shed light on breaking the V30 barrier.

V30 can be achieve if you understand the basic concepts of SC/CR and RC. By basic concepts, I mean going through egmat course and knowing the possibilities of what could be tested on the test day. However, I want to stress that the BEST material for tackling GMAT verbal is official GMAT material.

From V30 - V35, I suggest that you start focusing on questions that you GOT WRONG and perform analysis on why the hell did you mess up. At first when you approach verbal questions, all you would feel is "oh my gosh they all look the same and it all looks right WHY" and that is something you should be happy about. This reaction means that you can STILL TRAIN your brain to detect the subtle differences that makes an answer right or wrong. Always go through what you did wrong and find ways to prevent those mistakes. ALWAYS.

V32 - V42 for me took a lot of practices. As someone who has taken IN A LOT OF STUDY MATERIALS, I would say hands down egmat + MGMT were the best. Nothing beats these guys for teaching you the basic concepts. However, in order to take things to a different level, you need to be able to come up with understanding of your own and apply them rigorously. The reason I am saying this is because when I used a private tutor, my score dropped from 35 to 32, which was baffling. You are your own usefulness and destruction. I used Carcass' question bank to practice, and the explanations in those question bank helped me out the most.

For SC
I took carcass 100 SC question bank and did it religiously... I think each question took me a good 15 minutes. I sat down and highlighted ALL THE POSSIBLE entry points I can go in to tackle the questions. Doing such exercises allowed me to apply what I learned from MGMT and egmat in my own terms. I'll probably buy the ESR for my 740 score just to see how well I did there. SC is the easiest section you can improve on!

Also a lot of GMAT Club forum involvement! I try to go through the questions using the timer. For questions I got wrong I would look through explanations of others and note them down on my excel error log.

For CR
QUESTION TYPES. QUESTION TYPES. QUESTION TYPES. Learn religiously to apply how to approach different question types. You need to be able to straight up read the questions stem and go in your head OH THIS IS WEAKEN, OH THIS IS INFERENCE! This radar allowed me to pre-prep in my brain what type of wrong answers I will face. This allowed me to eliminate a lot of unnecessary answers.

However, to select the right answer is a little bit different. When I manage to POE to 2 answer choices, instead of asking myself which one is correct, I asked 'which one can I debate into oblivion'. BOOM. Right answer up top.

Another thing I did for the last 2 weeks before the 5th try was go through GMATprep questions and for each question type, I try to categorize what the test takers were trying to test you. For example, I found that assumption type questions comes in forms of sampling errors (population must be representative), causation-effect errors (cause must lead to effect). Of course, I made those terms up so I can better remember what GMAT was trying to do. Here's a sample of what my log looks like:

Image

For RC
First and foremost, find the reading strategy that is right for you. Mine was reading through everything, jotting down summaries of what I read, and pausing after every paragraph to tell myself what the hell the author is trying to get me to think.

Second, understand the question types that are tested. One of the good things about RC is that there's an overlap with CR's inference type questions. So what I did was pour myself into understanding how to best tackle inference questions. If answers are not written in the passage in anyway or form IT IS WRONG!!! Also a tip for main purpose/passage idea type questions, learn the verbs that the questions use (analyze, summarize, argue, contended) and map those words to passages. I became very familiar with how passages are structure to convey a certain message because of these analysis. I think I knock main purpose/passage idea out into the ocean.

IR Strategy (3 - 6)
I just got lucky with the questions. The last one I got on my fifth exam were majorly quant and all I had to do was plug in numbers! I think if you are quite comfortable with CR and Quant then you should be fine. No sweat. If you want to study, I suggest MGMT's material and GMATprep question bank. I heard from an adcom consultant I know that the IR section will soon be used for applications next year? But who knows really...

AWA (Between 5.0 - 6.0)
ChineseBurn template is key to god. Seriously, memorize that template and use your CR skills to figure out how stupid the argument sounds.

Time Management
1. Redo the QUESTIONS YOU HAVE in under one minute. Redoing means writing everything down on paper to reach the answer not just randomly pointing to the right one because you remember it.
2. Basic concepts first, then time yourself later!
3. Practice. Practice. Practice.
4. Learn from others on GMAT Club. Bunnel is god with his ways of cracking math.
5. I suggest you throw away the AD/BCE grid and go with using lines ( - - - - - ) vertically to eliminate your questions

Stamina
I built stamina through doing questions for 3 - 6 hours a day almost continuously for the first 3 months. After that I studied 2 hours a day because it was a bit too much. You've just gotta train yourself the same way someone trains to build abs.

Things I started doing that contributed to a higher score:
    - every time I take CAT I will analyze EVERY SINGLE QUESTION and ANSWER CHOICES
    - be distract free in the exam room, use an ear plug. Seriously, in every exam I went to someone would SIGH VERY LOUDLY!
    - perform structure and error analysis EVERY DAMN TIME
    - redoing the old questions
    - be 100% correct on ALL easy questions and 75 - 80% on hard questions
    - binge watching TV shows so I become stress free
    - be okay with making stupid mistakes but learn to correct them rigorously
    - review previous errors and how to avoid them every day
    - move on to harder questions ONLY WHEN YOU GET EASY ONES CORRECT!!

Overall I would like to say that other than exam strategies, your own psychological well being is also important. I knew immediately after my gf broke up with me that I could not handle the amount of stress that I would face in the exam room. Always give yourself a break and don't fear failure. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from the mistakes you get and you WILL CRUSH THE GMAT.

Exam Situation Debrief

First Exam 550 (Q37 V28) (Base line - July 27)
I went in with no expectations whatsoever (but probably a score above 500+). I found out that I was very bad with time management and suffered from a lot of fatigue during the exam. Math concepts were very hazy for me and Verbal was just be wild guessing by ear.

Second Exam 660 (Q47 V34) (2 months later - Sep 28)
110+ improvement point is due to a lot of practice EVERY SINGLE DAY (I also had cheat days when I studied only 1 hour). I went through Kaplan 800 - SC/CR parts, Powerscore CR/SC, and manhatten prep for maths. My friend tutored me for roughly 36 hours using the MGMT set. In hindsight, I wasn't really doing the questions in depth, it was more of trying to complete the question rather than knowing how to complete them. BIG DIFFERENCE!

Through practicing everyday I gained the ability to withstand long periods of continuous studying so that was great!

Why 660: Only understood how to apply certain math concepts and verbal concepts.

Third Exam 650 (Q44 V35) (1 month later - Nov 19)
My scores dropped because I got dumped, didn't study, and sulked a hell lot. I was also emotionally distraught. Protip: Have a good mental outlook. Got myself a verbal tutor. It's pretty much a hit or miss.

Fourth Exam 680 (Q49 V32) (1 month later - Dec 26)
I was slightly disappointed with the small increase but it was an increase nonetheless! (I am not sure if the verbal tutor worked at this point) What I did different here was go through A LOT of quantitative problems especially from Manhatten Review Question Bank and GMAT PREP software. I think these two are very similar and gave me a lot of god explanations on how to cope with problems. For any questions I did wrong, I redid it 3 times the right way. On the 3rd try I would slow down and try to find ways I could improve my question approach (how to avoid traps etc.). I would question myself what I did not understand.

I bought the powerscore RC bible and skimmed through it. LOL. What I found very useful was its description about the type of questions you would get.

Why 680: I was mildly suffering from the break up. I was distracted in the test center. I was still working the new verbal system that I learned.

Fifth Exam (Q49 V42) (2 weeks later - Jan 13)
The reason I say two weeks is because for a week I spent my time just raking through applications for Georgetown, UCLA, USC, and Kellogg. I AM SCREAMING STILL!! What I did differently here was doing a lot of verbal questions, redoing the CR questions, and I dropped RC entirely. I felt that RC was a hit or miss for me, if I get passages that lands right into my lawn I'm good. I think that was what saved me.

For Quant, I did the exact same thing as the last Q49 score. I focused on my weak areas (W/R/T, Distance problems, %, and combinations.)

I hope my debrief is valuable to you guys. Continue to fight on! You can do it!!! Seriously, if I can relearn math and jump that high on verbal within 2 weeks, I think anybody could do it.

--

I've also received invitation invite from Georgetown and UCLA this Friday!! The moment I got the scores I immediately sent it to UCLA and several hours later I got an interview. I'm not sure whether it was because of my previous 680 score or it was because of the new one!

I'm really considering to apply to schools in round 3 with this score as well but I don't know to where... :( I'm vigorously trying to meet the deadline for MIT Sloan. Will LBS, Wharton, and Stanford be a good 'to hell with it let's GIVE IT A TRY' application?
_________________

My GMAT Journey From 550 - 740

My application debrief to Kellogg '19

My MBA Blog


Last edited by Mimster on 05 Oct 2017, 19:41, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jan 2017, 02:33
Congratulations. This is really awe-inspiring. 190 points improvement. Wohoooo!

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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2017, 06:14
I'm so impressed by you! I'm also an Asian girl, however I'm good at maths but sucks in verbal... I am right now doing the central training on verbal sections I hope I could score 750 like you. Thank you for the debrief:-) hope you will get your dreaming offer :-D good luck!


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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2017, 16:57
Wow- very detailed debrief. Well done and good luck!
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 01:53
Congratulation on an awesome score.
Glad to see another Thai candidate did so well on the GMAT.
(Bonus point for applying to different schools than I do :P )

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 02:04
iVoRy wrote:
Congratulation on an awesome score.
Glad to see another Thai candidate did so well on the GMAT.
(Bonus point for applying to different schools than I do :P )


Gosh, same schools would be a disaster although I submitted applications for round 2 o_o!
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My GMAT Journey From 550 - 740

My application debrief to Kellogg '19

My MBA Blog

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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 05:59
Mimster wrote:
I took the test YESTERDAY (January 13, 2017) and walked out the room as if I was possessed by a ghost! I also did a fist bump but somehow my shoe flew off my feet and hit the wall. (This was outside of the test center).

Notes: IT IS POSSIBLE TO IMPROVE FROM A MERE 550! And it is very possible to go from 680 -> 740 within 2 weeks!!!!! Do not give up!

To start things of, I did a debrief back in September 2016 here: debrief-550-q37-v28-to-660-q47-v34-in-2-months-aiming-for-226324.html My scores improved from 550 to a whopping 660 within 2 months. So my strategies from those two months can be read there but I'll be talking about it in here as well.

Materials I used along the way in chronological order:
    - OG10 OG13 OG16 // All the verbal reviews
    - Kaplan 800
    - MGMT Full set
    - Powerscore Bible for CR/SC/RC
    - Private Tutor for a combination of 46 hours
    - EMPOWERgmat
    - e-GMAT Verbal CR/SC
    - GMAT Prep software (EVERY THING)
    - Mathrevolution
    - Manhattan Review Question Bank
    - GMAT Club!!!!
    - Carcass's SC and CR question bank - TRUE GEM
    - 5 months of pain, sweat, blood, and tear

Background
I previously worked as a consultant (almost 2 years) and later joined my family business (more than half a year now) as a business development manager so I had WAY more time here. I'll have 36 months of work experience before matriculation.
Post-MBA goals: I will transform and expand my family business so it stops dealing with very controversial products.
Funfact: I'll be just 23 upon matriculation! I don't know whether that's a plus or minus for schools these days.

GMAT background
I am a non-native but international educated kid so my reading comprehension fairs a little bit better. My math sucks ball. I had to relearn basic arithmetic :(.

GMAT Strategies

Overall Strategy:
What truly made the difference for me is the way I approach the questions during practice. For each question I did wrong, I will do it 3 - 4 times until I get it right. I will then perform what I call error analysis (what did I do wrong and how to prevent it) and structure analysis (understand what the question is testing) of the questions. Once I completed the analysis, I redo the questions again in different ways but this time the methods must be under one minute. This allowed me to have a huge arsenal of ways to attack the problems. Versatility is key.

Quant Strategy (Q37 -> Q49)
    - Know what they are asking for and what you should look for
    - Know what concepts they are taking & what possible traps they're trying to throw in your face
    - Know to use shortcuts & number testing
    - Use different strategies to approach the questions
    - Dump the question you have no CLUE
    - Learn to TRIAGE and understand answer choice patterns!
    - Ditch the AD/BCE grid

The combination of private tutoring (MGMT as source material) and EMPOWERgmat allowed me to hit the Q47 within 2 months. In order to get to this score, I suggest to familiarize yourself with the basic concept of maths and be a 100% accurate for questions 1 - 200 for PS in the OG.

I struggled most with basic arithmetic because I completely threw it out once my SATs were done (also they allowed calculators!) MGMT foundation maths was all I need to get myself back to speed. The little tips and tricks on the book helped me realize math shortcuts. EMPOWERgmat helped me see that on certain types of questions, there is no need to go FULL ON CALCULATE you can basically erase choices or test the numbers. TESTING THE NUMBERS MADE THE DIFFERENCE HERE.

From Q47 - Q49 was definitely thanks to Mathrevolution. Most of the concept on the course, if you understand and consumed it all, I bet you'd hit a Q51. However, because I was lazy and only did like 40% of the course on specific topics (number properties and DS type questions), I only bumped up 2 points. What made the difference for this course was its in depth analysis on the type of MISTAKES you could make and THE TRAPS that the test writers created.

On one small note, I want to suggest the elimination of AD/BCE grid. To me this is a waste of time, why? Because you should be focusing on the statements rather than eliminating questions that writing so many strokes down on paper. Strokes = time and time is of the essence in GMAT.

So what did I do for DS questions? Since I worked through SO MANY QUESTIONS, my brain automatically tells me which choices to choose by using the following technique:

st. 1 suff st. 2 insuff => thus A is correct. Usually I would write down statement (1) and put a tick next to it if it's sufficient and a cross next to it if it's wrong. Same goes with statement (2) as well. If statements get 2 ticks I would pick D. When I want to combine statements I would draw a line connecting statement 1 and 2. If both is insufficient I would pick E, and if both is sufficient I would pick C.

Example (in exam room I just write 1 & 2): http://i.imgur.com/Hwk2tMm.png

Verbal Strategy (V28 -> V42)
    - Know the common traps and wrong questions!!
    - Know how to identify what types of questions you are dealing with
    - Read a lot of books/articles
    - Practice practice practice
    - Always ask yourself: is this answer debatable

Verbal was the toughest to improve for me but going from V28 - V42 in 5 months is possible and I encourage everyone to not lose hope. With that being said, I'm still pretty much in the dark between the V32 - V42 10 point jump but I can definitely shed light on breaking the V30 barrier.

V30 can be achieve if you understand the basic concepts of SC/CR and RC. By basic concepts, I mean going through egmat course and knowing the possibilities of what could be tested on the test day. However, I want to stress that the BEST material for tackling GMAT verbal is official GMAT material.

From V30 - V35, I suggest that you start focusing on questions that you GOT WRONG and perform analysis on why the hell did you mess up. At first when you approach verbal questions, all you would feel is "oh my gosh they all look the same and it all looks right WHY" and that is something you should be happy about. This reaction means that you can STILL TRAIN your brain to detect the subtle differences that makes an answer right or wrong. Always go through what you did wrong and find ways to prevent those mistakes. ALWAYS.

V32 - V42 for me took a lot of practices. As someone who has taken IN A LOT OF STUDY MATERIALS, I would say hands down egmat + MGMT were the best. Nothing beats these guys for teaching you the basic concepts. However, in order to take things to a different level, you need to be able to come up with understanding of your own and apply them rigorously. I used to Carcass' question bank to practice and the explanations in those question bank helped me the most.

For SC
I took carcass 100 SC question bank and did it religiously... I think each question took me a good 15 minutes. I sat down and highlighted ALL THE POSSIBLE entry points I can go in to tackle the questions. Doing such exercises allowed me to apply what I learned from MGMT and egmat in my own terms. I'll probably buy the ESR for my 740 score just to see how well I did there. SC is the easiest section you can improve on!

Also a lot of GMAT Club forum involvement! I try to go through the questions using the timer. For questions I got wrong I would look through explanations of others and note them down on my excel error log.

For CR
QUESTION TYPES. QUESTION TYPES. QUESTION TYPES. Learn religiously to apply how to approach different question types. You need to be able to straight up read the questions stem and go in your head OH THIS IS WEAKEN, OH THIS IS INFERENCE! This radar allowed me to pre-prep in my brain what type of wrong answers I will face. This allowed me to eliminate a lot of unnecessary answers.

However, to select the right answer is a little bit different. When I manage to POE to 2 answer choices, instead of asking myself which one is correct, I asked 'which one can I debate into oblivion'. BOOM. Right answer up top.

Another thing I did for the last 2 weeks before the 5th try was go through GMATprep questions and for each question type, I try to categorize what the test takers were trying to test you. For example, I found that assumption type questions comes in forms of sampling errors (population must be representative), causation-effect errors (cause must lead to effect). Of course, I made those terms up so I can better remember what GMAT was trying to do. Here's a sample of what my log looks like:

Image

For RC
First and foremost, find the reading strategy that is right for you. Mine was reading through everything, jotting down summaries of what I read, and pausing after every paragraph to tell myself what the hell the author is trying to get me to think.

Second, understand the question types that are tested. One of the good things about RC is that there's an overlap with CR's inference type questions. So what I did was pour myself into understanding how to best tackle inference questions. If answers are not written in the passage in anyway or form IT IS WRONG!!! Also a tip for main purpose/passage idea type questions, learn the verbs that the questions use (analyze, summarize, argue, contended) and map those words to passages. I became very familiar with how passages are structure to convey a certain message because of these analysis. I think I knock main purpose/passage idea out into the ocean.

IR Strategy (3 - 6)
I just got lucky with the questions. The last one I got on my fifth exam were majorly quant and all I had to do was plug in numbers! I think if you are quite comfortable with CR and Quant then you should be fine. No sweat. If you want to study, I suggest MGMT's material and GMATprep question bank. I heard from an adcom consultant I know that the IR section will soon be used for applications next year? But who knows really...

AWA (Between 5.0 - 6.0)
ChineseBurn template is key to god. Seriously, memorize that template and use your CR skills to figure out how stupid the argument sounds.

Time Management
1. Redo the QUESTIONS YOU HAVE in under one minute. Redoing means writing everything down on paper to reach the answer not just randomly pointing to the right one because you remember it.
2. Basic concepts first, then time yourself later!
3. Practice. Practice. Practice.
4. Learn from others on GMAT Club. Bunnel is god with his ways of cracking math.
5. I suggest you throw away the AD/BCE grid and go with using lines ( - - - - - ) vertically to eliminate your questions

Stamina
I built stamina through doing questions for 3 - 6 hours a day almost continuously for the first 3 months. After that I studied 2 hours a day because it was a bit too much. You've just gotta train yourself the same way someone trains to build abs.

Things I started doing that contributed to a higher score:
    - every time I take CAT I will analyze EVERY SINGLE QUESTION and ANSWER CHOICES
    - be distract free in the exam room, use an ear plug. Seriously, in every exam I went to someone would SIGH VERY LOUDLY!
    - perform structure and error analysis EVERY DAMN TIME
    - redoing the old questions
    - be 100% correct on ALL easy questions and 75 - 80% on hard questions
    - binge watching TV shows so I become stress free
    - be okay with making stupid mistakes but learn to correct them rigorously
    - review previous errors and how to avoid them every day
    - move on to harder questions ONLY WHEN YOU GET EASY ONES CORRECT!!

Overall I would like to say that other than exam strategies, your own psychological well being is also important. I knew immediately after my gf broke up with me that I could not handle the amount of stress that I would face in the exam room. Always give yourself a break and don't fear failure. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from the mistakes you get and you WILL CRUSH THE GMAT.

Exam Situation Debrief

First Exam 550 (Q37 V28) (Base line - July 27)
I went in with no expectations whatsoever (but probably a score above 500+). I found out that I was very bad with time management and suffered from a lot of fatigue during the exam. Math concepts were very hazy for me and Verbal was just be wild guessing by ear.

Second Exam 660 (Q47 V34) (2 months later - Sep 28)
110+ improvement point is due to a lot of practice EVERY SINGLE DAY (I also had cheat days when I studied only 1 hour). I went through Kaplan 800 - SC/CR parts, Powerscore CR/SC, and manhatten prep for maths. My friend tutored me for roughly 36 hours using the MGMT set. In hindsight, I wasn't really doing the questions in depth, it was more of trying to complete the question rather than knowing how to complete them. BIG DIFFERENCE!

Through practicing everyday I gained the ability to withstand long periods of continuous studying so that was great!

Why 660: Only understood how to apply certain math concepts and verbal concepts.

Third Exam 650 (Q44 V35) (1 month later - Nov 19)
My scores dropped because I got dumped, didn't study, and sulked a hell lot. I was also emotionally distraught and could not focus. We're still friends though, to be honest without her I would have never thought of applying to the US or the GMAT. 8-)

Fourth Exam 680 (Q49 V32) (1 month later - Dec 26)
I was slightly disappointed with the small increase but it was an increase nonetheless! What I did different here was go through A LOT of quantitative problems especially from Manhatten Review Question Bank and GMAT PREP software. I think these two are very similar and gave me a lot of god explanations on how to cope with problems. For any questions I did wrong, I redid it 3 times the right way. On the 3rd try I would slow down and try to find ways I could improve my question approach (how to avoid traps etc.). I would question myself what I did not understand.

I bought the powerscore RC bible and skimmed through it. LOL. What I found very useful was its description about the type of questions you would get.

Why 680: I was mildly suffering from the break up. I was distracted in the test center. I was still working the new verbal system that I learned.

Fifth Exam (Q49 V42) (2 weeks later - Jan 13)
The reason I say two weeks is because for a week I spent my time just raking through applications for Georgetown, UCLA, USC, and Kellogg. I AM SCREAMING STILL!! What I did differently here was doing a lot of verbal questions, redoing the CR questions, and I dropped RC entirely. I felt that RC was a hit or miss for me, if I get passages that lands right into my lawn I'm good. I think that was what saved me.

For Quant, I did the exact same thing as the last Q49 score. I focused on my weak areas (W/R/T, Distance problems, %, and combinations.)

I hope my debrief is valuable to you guys. Continue to fight on! You can do it!!! Seriously, if I can relearn math and jump that high on verbal within 2 weeks, I think anybody could do it.

--

I've also received invitation invite from Georgetown and UCLA this Friday!! The moment I got the scores I immediately sent it to UCLA and several hours later I got an interview. I'm not sure whether it was because of my previous 680 score or it was because of the new one!

I'm really considering to apply to schools in round 3 with this score as well but I don't know to where... :( I'm vigorously trying to meet the deadline for MIT Sloan. Will LBS, Wharton, and Stanford be a good 'to hell with it let's GIVE IT A TRY' application?



Inspiring ... buddy I guess focusing on concepts and revising the right way (a.k.a maintaining error logs) did the trick. Kindly guide me through these aspects of preparation :

1) How many non-official questions did you practice over and above official questions ?
2) What was your timing strategy while practicing verbal questions ? Ie what was your per question " target time" for SC,CR, & RC ?
3) Do you suggest that I do LSAT questions to improve my verbal scores ?

Thanks in advance buddy and good luck for future :)
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GMAT 4: 680 Q49 V32
GMAT 5: 740 Q49 V42
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 07:25
spetznaz wrote:
Inspiring ... buddy I guess focusing on concepts and revising the right way (a.k.a maintaining error logs) did the trick. Kindly guide me through these aspects of preparation :

1) How many non-official questions did you practice over and above official questions ?
2) What was your timing strategy while practicing verbal questions ? Ie what was your per question " target time" for SC,CR, & RC ?
3) Do you suggest that I do LSAT questions to improve my verbal scores ?

Thanks in advance buddy and good luck for future :)


Sure thing!

1) A boat load of quantitative questions questions because I suck at quant. I completed the math from Kaplan Math Workbook, Manhattan GMAT (All the math material available), and 20 questions from advanced quant. I also attempted around 150 questions from Manhattan Review Questions bank. As for verbal, I reckon around 200 questions from GMAT Club... and all from powerscore SC/CR, Manhattan Review SC, McGraw Hill 300/500 verbal questions. I also finished up SC scholaranium from e-gmat.

I took mocks from the economist GMAT and manhattan prep. I exhausted all questions from the free veritas prep question bank. To be honest, I don't think doing all these questions helped me as much as logging my errors and reviewing concepts and approaches.

2) While practicing I aim to finish at on average 1 minute 30 seconds for each verbal question. However, during the exam I'll make sure I spend more time staring at questions that I find difficult. To practice timing for verbal, I usually go for 15 questions drill within 25 minutes. I will then attempt the same question set within 20 minutes. For each question I will reason to myself why the answer is right and why other choices are wrong. I'm slightly lucky for RC since I can finish reading a passage within 3 minutes while retaining a lot of information.

Additionally, I aim to finish easy questions within 1 minute or less, medium questions 1 minute - 1 minute 15 sections, and hard questions under 2 minutes. As you start doing questions and doing mocks, you'll notice what types of questions are classified as xx level of difficulty. :)

3) I think LSAT is only good if you want to practice inference and flaw questions. These questions are only a small part of CR. Personally, I only attempted LSAT questions when it comes up on GMAT Club forums. I suggest going through GMAT Prep question collection that you can find on the verbal forum! Those are great!
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 07:53
Mimster wrote:
iVoRy wrote:
Congratulation on an awesome score.
Glad to see another Thai candidate did so well on the GMAT.
(Bonus point for applying to different schools than I do :P )


Gosh, same schools would be a disaster although I submitted applications for round 2 o_o!
I also submit most of my applications in round2. Good luck with your R2 apps!

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New post 23 Feb 2017, 07:14
Hi Mimster
Congratulation...!!

It's really inspiring to see one from the same country achieves something I'm dreaming about.
To be honest,I am quite comfort with quant part but not at all with verbal.
I got 640 for my third-50/26.My problem is that I couldn't finish the exam in time and had to blindly choose around 10 questions.
Well,I did manage to split them apart.Anyway,is there any particular approach to achieve the speed?

BTW,nice article.KUDOS to you :-)

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Location: Thailand
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GMAT 3: 650 Q44 V35
GMAT 4: 680 Q49 V32
GMAT 5: 740 Q49 V42
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sleepynut wrote:
Hi Mimster
Congratulation...!!

It's really inspiring to see one from the same country achieves something I'm dreaming about.
To be honest,I am quite comfort with quant part but not at all with verbal.
I got 640 for my third-50/26.My problem is that I couldn't finish the exam in time and had to blindly choose around 10 questions.
Well,I did manage to split them apart.Anyway,is there any particular approach to achieve the speed?

BTW,nice article.KUDOS to you :-)


Hey there! I'm sure you can get an even higher score than mine as my math is not as high as yours!
For speed... there are two portions, the reading speed of questions and comprehension of questions.

Reading speed:
1) a lot of timed practices. for example, while going through 20 questions... you should only allow yourself a maximum of 25 - 28 minutes per session.
2) a lot of focus on understanding how grammar signals meaning... and work on communicating with proper GMAT grammar. my messages sent to my friends fall under GMAT grammar rules. :)

Comprehension speed:
1) สติ - practice being in the present and engaging with the passages.
2) a lot of reading practices through online articles such as the scientific american, wall street journal, and the new york times.
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New post 23 Feb 2017, 08:32
Truly inspiring!
The hard work and commitment that you have shown is simply amazing. A very well deserved score!

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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jun 2017, 23:59
Congratulations on the improvement !!

But this it seems your expenditure on GMAT and prep is more than 3000 $. This will not be affordable by most of the students.
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GMAT PREP1: 660 ( Q50, V30). (SC 27, RC 22, CR 41).
Manhattan 1: 650 ( Q45, V34).
Manhattan 2: 680 ( Q46, V36).
GMAT PREP2: 740 ( Q50, V40). (SC 40, RC 42, CR 37).
Manhattan 3: 710 ( Q48, V39).

GMAT PREP3: 750 ( Q51, V40). (SC 38, RC 51, CR 36).
Manhattan 4: 700 ( Q47, V38).
GMAT PREP4: 760 (Q50, V42). (SC 41, RC 51, CR 42).

GMAT EXAM ( 4th November 2017).

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GMAT 3: 650 Q44 V35
GMAT 4: 680 Q49 V32
GMAT 5: 740 Q49 V42
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New post 26 Jun 2017, 03:06
DIII wrote:
Congratulations on the improvement !!

But this it seems your expenditure on GMAT and prep is more than 3000 $. This will not be affordable by most of the students.


By that regard I think an MBA is not affordable by most of the students LOL. The cost of the exam and the official materials was about $1500 for me but the books were free. I think if one is strategic enough, one can go through GMAT just using the gmatclub itself... but that involves a lot of dedication. The cost of the courses are pretty much for the lowest subscription value and not more (except for empowergmat). I got hand me downs and found great copies on the internet. I totally think it's better to take the exam once and nail it.
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2017, 03:11
I don't see how you could do all that in 1500 along with the gmat exams (5 times 1250) remaining only 250$.
can you break down the costs by this order.

-OG10 OG13 OG16 // All the verbal reviews
- Kaplan 800
- MGMT Full set
- Powerscore Bible for CR/SC/RC
- Private Tutor for a combination of 46 hours [36 for quant and 10 for verbal]
- EMPOWERgmat
- e-GMAT Verbal CR/SC
- GMAT Prep software (EVERY THING)
- Mathrevolution
- Manhattan Review Question Bank

i think it should cost you definitely more than 1500.
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GMAT PREP1: 660 ( Q50, V30). (SC 27, RC 22, CR 41).
Manhattan 1: 650 ( Q45, V34).
Manhattan 2: 680 ( Q46, V36).
GMAT PREP2: 740 ( Q50, V40). (SC 40, RC 42, CR 37).
Manhattan 3: 710 ( Q48, V39).

GMAT PREP3: 750 ( Q51, V40). (SC 38, RC 51, CR 36).
Manhattan 4: 700 ( Q47, V38).
GMAT PREP4: 760 (Q50, V42). (SC 41, RC 51, CR 42).

GMAT EXAM ( 4th November 2017).

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New post 13 Jul 2017, 21:19
Awesome story. I'm just in the early stages of studying for the GMAT and took the GMATprep test and scored low as expected. This is inspiring and will help shape the study strategy I will be developing.

Good luck at Kellogg. My manager went there for his MBA.

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GMAT 3: 650 Q44 V35
GMAT 4: 680 Q49 V32
GMAT 5: 740 Q49 V42
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2017, 00:01
DIII wrote:
I don't see how you could do all that in 1500 along with the gmat exams (5 times 1250) remaining only 250$.
can you break down the costs by this order.

-OG10 OG13 OG16 // All the verbal reviews (Free - PDF + passed down copies)
- Kaplan 800 (Free - passed down copies)
- MGMT Full set (Free - PDF + passed down copies)
- Powerscore Bible for CR/SC/RC (Free - PDF + passed down copies)
- Private Tutor for a combination of 46 hours [36 for quant and 10 for verbal] (Combined value of $1000 - but this is a preference not a must)
- EMPOWERgmat ($299 - preference not a must // important aspect of the course for me was triage + Rich's podcast)
- e-GMAT Verbal CR/SC ($199)
- GMAT Prep software (EVERY THING) (Free - included with EMPOWER)
- Mathrevolution ($89)
- Manhattan Review Question Bank (Free - PDF + passed down copies)

i think it should cost you definitely more than 1500.


That's true! You are right, I totally forgot about the cost of studying as well. Thanks for letting me know :). I'll put this in my debrief as well so other readers would know what to purchase or not given their budgets. I truly believe someone following my path (hopefully not going all the way for 5 exams) can do it for much cheaper. E-gmat and mathrevolution are the two testpreps I would recommend to buy at would cost only $288.

My True cost is $1587 + $1250 (exams) = $2837
- Cost of everything plus the redundant aspects of studying
My efficient cost is $288 + $1250 (exams) = $1538
- Cost of the things I believe truly helped me achieved the score
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Re: 5 Times 5 Months!: 550 -> 660 -> 650 -> 680 -> 740 (Q49, V42) [#permalink]

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New post 30 Sep 2017, 08:53
Hi.
Congrats on your score !!!
I wish to know how much focus did you put on idioms while working on SC. Did you create a list and mug it all up or how did you go about it?
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