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500-700 in 45 days! Average Student's Guide to Success!!!

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Location: India
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GMAT 1: 720 Q50 V38
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500-700 in 45 days! Average Student's Guide to Success!!! [#permalink]

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I just got back from my GMAT and I got a 700(Q48 V3. Here I am sharing my prep story for all those students who are average and are desperately looking for that magic '7'!

First and foremost, know your strengths and weaknesses. This will save up a lot of your prep time and help you focus on areas where most of your score can increase. The 80-20 rule applies to the GMAT as well. 80% of your improvement in score will come from 20% of the weaknesses. So it helps to identify those 20% of your weaknesses soon and work on them.

Day 1: GMATPrep1 - 510(Q36 V25)
I was quite shocked to see this score. I expected at least a 580 to give myself a chance of getting a 700 in 45 days. So I started analysing the test and jotting down points about areas of improvement, strengths, weaknesses etc.

Day 2: Give the Diagnostic Test from the Official Guide
I used OG12 for my preparation and it helped me immensely. I could immediately understand what do I need to focus on at the beginning of my preparation.
1. I figured that in Quant, I needed to work on Ratios, Probability, Permutations and Combinations.
2. In Verbal, I needed to work most on Sentence Correction, followed by Critical Reasoning.

Day 3: Start with the OG
Start with problem 50 in each section. The ones before are a little too easy for our liking. Remember, we have just 45 days. Make it a point to solve at least 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas daily. Easier said than done. You will need to go and look at the solution well and understand how each problem has been solved. This is because even though you may get the answer correct, you need to know the best way or the quickest way of getting there.

Day 4: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
By now you will start understanding the workings of the GMAT and what it expects. You scores in the further tests will definitely show it. Even so, you need to be dedicated enough to go through all explanations in detail.

Day 5: GMAT800 test: 580(Q40 V30)
There's the improvement. Now that you know something about the GMAT and you combine it with your preparation, your score should definitely see an improvement of at least 40 points in the 500-600 range. However, after you finish the test, take a break and then go through the explanations of each answer. This is a time-consuming job bbut most important in your preparation.

Day 6: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 7: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 8: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 9: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 10: GMAT800 Test: 640(Q44 V35)
Wow that's a huge improvement. Even I didn't expect my score to increase so much so soon. Again, analyze the test. See what mistakes you made. See the explanation for each answer.

Day 12: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 13: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 14: Continue with the OG - 5 questions on each section and 10 questions on each of your problem areas
Day 15: GMAT800 Test: 610(Q38 V35)
We're reached the 1/3rd mark on our prep and I see the first major drop in score. The Verbal stays unchanged from last time and the Quant plummets from Q44 to a Q38. OK maybe we're reached stagnancy in the verbal area. And now we need to work on the Quant as well. When you reach this level, you should realize that this is the level you will reach by just polishing your knowledge and reviewing what you know already.
To increase your score from here, you will have to learn new concepts, read more, use more strategies.

Day 16: Buy the ManhattanGMAT SC Guide and start reading.
This is a book that can be read almost anytime and referred to again and again. You do not need to finish a certain number of pages in one go. Neither do you need to be at your desk when you read this. Just treat it as a welcome change from the usual Question-Answers of the GMAT. This book really is the bible for SC. Read just the first 5 chapters, and most of your doubts will be cleared. The further chapters are for people who are regularly scoring 700+. But it wont hurt to read them nonetheless. However, do not invest time in the further chapters and reduce time in your actual prep. Thats an extra.

Day 17: Time to wind up the OG.
You may have finished 50-75 of the OG questions in each section. Leave it there and start from the last 40 of each section. Finish the last 40 in 2 days. We cannot invest more time in the OG at this stage.
The ManhattanGMAT guide gives you access to their website and 6 CATs. Use these wisely. The scores they give you and the timing system reflect most to the actual scores you will get on the GMAT. By far the best practice tests on the market. They are followed by the GMAT800 tests. Do not try the old 800Score tests. They are full of crap. Further, when you have just 45 days to prepare, do not even think about the Kaplan tests. They are very disorienting. They are probably for students getting a 750+ on other tests.
Day 18: Think about the essays a little
For students who are weak with the language, it would make good sense to start reading English newspapers, novels, articles and paragraphs at this stage of the prep. Get used to the flow of the language. Understand the difference between Spoken English and Written English.
For the others, like me, leave this bit for until a lot later.

You should be finishing the OG today. You won't need to look at it again until the last 3-4 days remain.

Day 19: ManhattanGMAT test 1: 640(Q42, V3
Are we on track again? Well we studied verbal mostly last week and used the ManhattanGMAT SC guide. And this is the best Verbal score i've gotten until date. So I guess we are back on track. Again, analyse the test, see the explanations. Manhattan's s/w gives you a whole load of statistics that you can use to your benefit. Some of these are the %-ile indicator that shows you what percentile you were on, on each question of the test. Show's you where you screwed up or did well. It show's you the difficulty level of the questions. At this stage, you want to be getting most questions in the 600-700 range or higher. For this, all questions below these ranges must be answered correctly.

Day 20: Improve your quant knowledge.
Now is a good time to improve your scores in Quant. You have reached a level where you will need to learn new concepts to improve your score. Identify these concepts and look for tutorials online or on gmatclub. For me, these areas were probabilty, permutations and combinations, inequalities.

Day 21: Continue reading the MGMAT SC guide and the Math tutorials.
Day 22: Halfway there!
Now, getting from a 500 to a 650 is much easier than taking that 650 to a 700. The nest 23 days can be frustrating. It is important that you never give up and continue chipping away at that score one bit at a time. Continue working with those tutorials. Keep increasing hit rate at the weak areas.

Day 23: Take a break
Its been a long 3 weeks. Take the day off. The a day off every week henceforth to keep your sanity.

Day 24: ManhattanGMAT test 2: 680(Q44 V3
Small increase in the Quant section. But huge increase in the score. Analyse the test. Check out your mistakes. See how you did in your weak areas compared to the previous tests.

Day 25: Stick to the Math
Continue with the tutorials. Finish off the tutorials for the weak areas in the nest 3 days.

Day 26: More Math
Another 2 days of intensive math.

Day 27: Still more math
Finish all Math tutorials today.

Day 28: ManhattanGMAT test 3: 670 (Q46, V35)
The score has reduced, albeit marginally. But wait a minute! Q46! That's the best we've done so far. The verbal has reduced from a V38 to V35. But that's because we haven't studied any Verbal over the last 3-4 days. We have touched a V38 before, so if we manage that with this Quant score, our job would be done almost.

Day 29: Take a break
Day 30: Work on your verbal strategies.
Scour the gmatclub site for strategies to be used in each section of the verbal. This is important because now you need to increase your score in verbal and keep the time taken for each question the same. Again, this is easier said than done. You should be finishing both sections 5-6 min before time because on the actual test, time flies faster than now. You need to keep that buffer.

Day 31: CR strategies
Try out 2-3 different strategies in CR and see which one works best for you. Practice only CR today and see if it helps.

Day 32: SC strategies
Do the same for SC today. Finalize on one strategy you will be using to tackle each and every SC question. Practice only SC today.

Day 33: RC strategies
By now, I am sure RC is giving you a lot of trouble. The mistakes in RC are the most difficult to get rid of. You will need to decide how you will tackle passages now. Practice a few from various fields like History, Business, Science etc.

Day 34: Brush up the math
You don't want the quant to go down now. So brush up all the concepts you have learnt and practice.

Day 35: Manhattan GMAT test 4: 680 (Q46 V36)
Thats good. Quant stays the same. Verbal improves slightly. So its all good. Analyze the test. Check out where you went wrong. Many of them will be silly mistakes for sure. See what could be done to avoid them.

Day 36: Take a break
Day 37: Practice makes Perfect - 1
Practice only verbal today. Do loads of it. Use the gmatclub forums for this.

Day 38: Practice makes Perfect - 2
Practice only quant today. Do loads of it. Use the gmatclub forums for this.

Day 39: Timing! Timing!
Now do a lot of quant and verbal from the forums and use the Timer.

Day 40: AWA!
Work on AWA today. Read what is expected of you. What an Argument is. What an issue is. Read the OG samples. The 6 essay, the 4 essay, the 2 essay. Compare them.

Day 41: ManhattanGMAT Test 5 along with AWA: 690(Q46, V3
So close yet so far! Verbal is back to its V38 mark. The AWA drains out a lot of energy so its good to keep the score up. But hey! The Quant is still a Q46. No improvement at all! Lets look a little at that. Analyze the test.

Day 42: Template for AWA
Use the template provided by Chineseburned on the gmatclub forum for AWA. It saves a lot of time. And reduces your mental activity a little. From now on, everything must be timed. Write a couple of essays. I will review them for you for free if you mail them to me in a .doc file.
Work on quant. Practice is all you can do now. So practice. A lot. I was getting screwed by DS. So I worked on that a lot.

Day 43: ManhattanGMAT test 6 with AWA: 700(Q47 V39)
There is is! The magic number!!! Finally!!! However, this is a practice test. Its a lot more different on the actual test. Analyse this attempt as well. See where you went wrong.

Day 44: GMATPrep Test 2: 730(Q50 V39)
Whoa! Wait-a-minute! What's that score??? Ya that's a 730 alright! But don't get too excited. GMATPrep is known to be easier than the actual test. Especially the quant. Our verbal hasn't improved at all. So This score is similar to a 690-700 in MGMAT. Analyze the test.

Day 45: Take it easy
No more tests now. Not a lot of practice. Study a little. Equivalent to stretching before a game. I nice line I had read is, "Would you run a practice Marathon one day before the actual Marathon?". Very true. You are not going to improve your score much by slogging it out today. In fact, chances are, you might do a lot of damage. Pay a visit to the test centre if you can.

Carry a PowerBar and some RedBull to the test. Stay calm and treat it like your practice tests!

And the score appears on your screen at the end of the test: 700!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Give KUDOS if the post helps you... :-D

Kudos [?]: 278 [4], given: 84

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500-700 in 45 days! Average Student's Guide to Success!!!   [#permalink] 19 Feb 2013, 03:15
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