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550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..

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550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Apr 2016, 15:06
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Ok, guys...I guess it is time for me to share my experience with this cruel test.

I first time heard about the test in 2011, when I was in my second year of my master's degree. Since I was interested in the financial markets and especially in commodity trading operations, I found a part-time work/part-time study program, offered by University of Geneva, Switzerland and by GTSA (now STSA - Swiss Trading and Shipping Association). The program was unique, and still is, mostly due to the fact that it is organized by the main players in the commodity trading business and that Geneva is a key location for commodity trading. One of the requirements was to get at least 500 points on GMAT. I started to prepare for the test on 1st of February 2012, and took it on 24th of February 2012. I got 550, which was enough to apply to the desired program. I prepared my application, and sent everything to the University by the due date. Unluckily for me though, my documents got lost in the pile of applications. Since to be finally accepted students had to secure employment in the above mentioned sector and since the deadline to secure employment for non-european students was sometime in June, I got my provisional acceptance so late that I did not have enough time to look for employment (another thing is that for those who got the acceptance on time, a recruiting session with potential employers was organised). Thus, I lost one year, during which I dedicated myself to develop my linguistic skills, and started intensive courses of French language. Next year, I applied again, and got my provisional acceptance on time. I participated at the recruiting session organized by University and GTSA, and had several interviews with the top companies in the oil&gas industry. Needless to say, because of a multiple reasons, including the fact that I was a non-EU citizen and the fact that the process to obtain a work permit in CH is a nightmare for companies especially if the possible employee is a non-EU citizen, I was not accepted. Nonetheless, the main reason that made me consider to re-take the GMAT was the question from one HR manager from a well-known Russian oil&gas company.
- Why do you have only 550 on GMAT?
Right at the time when I was answering the question, I already knew, this damn "thing" was way more important that I had thought before.

Years have passed, and I ended up in US. I found it difficult to find a job here. I got hundreds, if not thousands of refusals, and even more no responses at all. I decided to get myself a proper education, so that I would never have this problem again.
I ended up working for a transportation company, based in Illinois, as a fleet manager. The work schedule was perfect to prepare for GMAT. I started my preparations, if I can say so, back in July 2014. I took a CAT, and got a mediocre score. I don't remember what it was. I enrolled for Magoosh and registered at gmatclub.com. I thought that watching videos and solving hundreds of questions would be enough to get a desired 700 and + score. Never was I so wrong, and later I realized that quality is more important than quantity on the GMAT.

Right before my second attempt, I got a promotion. New position required more time and attention (was working 55+ hours/week). I got a chance to work with major banks and financing companies from US and some other from Fortune 500 (US Bank, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, GE Capital, Ryder Logistics, Penske, PacLease, etc). All good, but, with less time for studies, I saw the negative effects on my results on mock tests.

I finished Magoosh Q and V sections, and solved all the questions from OG. I thought it is time to face the exam, and scheduled my second attempt for 26th of November, 2014.

I took the test at the Pearson's test center located on Adams st., Financial District, Chicago, Illinois. My review of the test center can be found on gmatclub. (link here)

I was devastated...after few months, I managed to improve by 10 points.
While my quant score increased by 3 points, my verbal decreased by 1.
I got 560 total: Q42, V26, IR1, AWA5.

At that time, I realized that my greatest weakness is verbal part. I enrolled for e-gmat course, and I started to watch (not actually learn - fatal mistake) videos on SC (I thought that if I improve on SC, my CR and RC would improve as well - another mistake). After 1 month of reviewing SC course, and some videos on CR, I thought that I should try one more time...I scheduled my exam for January 3rd, 2015 (same test center - Adams st. financial district - Chicago). I thought I was ready this time, but I was not.
My third attempt - 560 total: Q43, V24, IR4, AWA5.5
I was in shock...i prepared more for verbal, yet I got a worse score...I could not believe the results. To be honest, it got me depressed. I was thinking - maybe I am that stupid, and I cannot get any better. I decided that, since it was already late to retake the test so that to apply for the desired program, and it was unlucky to get at least 600 in such a short time, I decided to postpone my application and took a break from GMAT.

August 2015.
I got another promotion, and now I'm the general manager of the company. Of course, you cannot get high without making few enemies, and so was in my case too. Because i became enemy #1 for almost everyone in the company, the tension between me and my colleagues increased. Thus, I decided to find a work with a better work-environment and in the field i want to work. Again, i got lots of refusals..it was again the moment when i realized that i need to get myself better educated. As a result, i got back to GMAT. I decided to change the "style" of learning, and make sure that I get my score improved.

This time I used:
OG 2015 and 2016
OGVR2 2016, OGQR2016
courses used: Magoosh for quant and e-gmat for verbal.
additional sources:
1. MGMAT's SC & Quant books (wanted to make sure my fundamentals are strong).
2. GMATClub forum (especially Bunuel 's topics and explanations by top experts : mikemcgarry , EMPOWERgmatRichC , VeritasPrepKarishma, chetan2u , carcass , souvik101990 and many more)
3. GMATClub CAT tests.

I finished Magoosh and finished all SC and CR courses from e-gmat. Luckily, Magoosh added few hundred more practice questions, and e-gmat opened its scholaranium (I had access to both quant questions and verbal - total over 800 additional practice questions).
Although I got much better on CAT's (GMATPrep 1 - 680, Economist Brightest Minds - 750, GMATPrep 2 - 700, Kaplan - 680, GMATPill - 680), I was hesitant to take the real test. Because I took too long with my preparations, I started to forget the material, thus, I started to review all quant material on Magoosh and SC & CR material on e-gmat. I started to like the preparations, and I was learning because I liked so.
During the past few months, there wasn't a day when I was not active on gmatclub. Every day, I was solving questions from the workbook, and providing the reasoning and steps taken by me while solving the questions (I remembered what one of my school teacher had said: when you write smth, you better remember it).
What was different this time though, I did not just simply solve the questions. I was trying to understand how to solve every quant question not in just one way. I was not skipping any question, making sure that I understand how to solve it.
On verbal - I got much better on SC. Understanding the meaning is crucial in cracking SC questions. By applying e-gmat's 3 step process, I started to see how I improved myself. I did struggle with the most difficult questions though. GMATClub is a great source of high difficulty level (700lvl) questions, and explanations of the above-mentioned experts helped me better understand the mistakes I had made.
CR - still working on improving my skills. I had and I believe still have problems with assumption/inference type of questions. On other types of questions, e.g. flaw, bold faced, paradox - i got much, much better (e-gmat's explanations for these types of questions are brilliant. To be honest, after finishing bold faced and paradox lessons, when I took the practice questions I was getting every single question correct. I even have the paper with my answers - i wrote on it - WOW!!!) :D

RC - I did not prepare at all for this section. I knew that there is no guide to improve for this section. Only way to improve RC is to read; and I read. I read a lot. I read few books by Michael Lewis (brilliant writer and journalist), few by other authors, and a lot of articles on the Economist, National Geographic, and Bloomberg.

Already April, 2016, I thought that I should give another try. Knowing that the actual exam adds more stress, I decided to schedule an "official practice" test. I got my appointment for April 16, 2016. Test center - Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL. One week before, I took a full CAT, and got 700. I believe I got that much because some of the questions were familiar.

Test day
I arrived 1 hour before the scheduled time. I never was at that test center, and I wanted to make sure I get there in time. People there were kind enough to let me take my test earlier.
AWA - chineseburned template is pure gold. I mastered flaw questions (thanks to e-gmat), and finished my AWA section ~10 minutes earlier. IR was just what was needed to get my mind prepared for the real battle.
Q - i finished question 8 with 72 minutes on the timer. I was at question 32 and had 35 minutes left on the screen. I started to panic, considering that I completely bombed the section. I felt little bit relieved during the 35 and 36 questions. 35 was a very complex one - concepts tested: parallel lines, perpendicular lines, similar triangles, right triangles, property of lines, property of triangles. 36 question was a word problem with 5 variables (was a nightmare..I spent on it about 5 minutes). I finished Quant section with 25 minutes left on the screen. For some reason, the person monitoring the test takers did not "allow" me to use the whole time (25+8 minutes) for a break, even though I did not actually need 33 minute break.
V - started with few easy SC and CR, and got really quickly to complex SC questions. More difficult questions than i saw before. Most of the questions had answer choices in which I had to choose logic over grammar (for ex. completely parallel and correct pronoun usage was a run-on sentence or had 2 verbs not properly connected while the other answer had the incorrect usage of the possessive pronoun but with correct verb usage).
CR - I did not face any tough questions. I saw only 1 question that took me over 2 minutes to solve.
RC - I had 3 texts. 1 very familiar (probably from OG or from National Geographic Article). 1 on American History, and 1 on Economics (smth. about employment).
I finished my verbal section with 12 minutes left on the screen.

I could not wait to see the final score on the screen. I clicked few times next next next..then...
Result: Total 650 (improvement +90 points - 76%). IR - 5 (53%), Quant-49 (78%), Verbal - 30 (58%). Later I received my official score report - AWA - 6 (91%).

The score I got is enough to apply to the two programs I am interested in, but nonetheless I plan to continue improving my verbal skills and retake the test.

My message to the guys who are struggling to improve their scores:

Never let anyone tell that you cannot do it!
If it is possible for someone else, then you can do it as well.

Never give up, never let yourself down; keep studying, and the results will come.
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Apr 2016, 22:23
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Hi,

A very fair and genuine run-down of events..
The most important thing for you to scale that 700 level would be to UNDERSTAND your weaknesses.
Weaknesses in terms of time, certain topics, or stress and thereafter overcome those weaknesses to the best extent possible. It could be through practice or by learning through a course or a tutor. Since you have improved upon your score by self study in better half of the time, you may still reach your goal by seeking knowledge, tricks, tips through observation.

I am witness to your determination and dedication towards your goal on this forum. Even in your busy schedule as claimed, you have taken out time to keep your aim in sight.
My advice - Understand your weaknesses, and devote considerable time on overcoming those without neglecting your strong areas. look at the different approaches of a Q and master the one that suits you.

I am sure you will come out stronger and with a 700 score. If I can assist you in any way, please let me know..
just let me know any one odd topic you are facing problem with, I will surely help you in that.

Best of luck! wish you achieve what your dedication and perseverance deserve

Regards,
Chetan
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Apr 2016, 22:42
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Congragulations mvictor

Appreciate your hardwork and determination :)
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New post 23 Apr 2016, 02:30
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Hi mvictor,

Congratulations!!! I wish to attain the timing level that you have achieved. I could only wonder how someone finish the quant with whopping 25 minutes left. If i believe that then again saving minutes on verbal seem nothing but a nightmare to me. Great job mate. You definitely deserve 700+. Go for it. Wishes!!!
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Apr 2016, 08:59
chetan2u, thanks mate for the words of encouragement. I believe I have already identified my weaknesses, and I will work on them to improve myself.
so far:
Quant
1. Complex absolute value questions
2. Coordinate geometry questions that require some outside of the box thinking
3. Combinatorics, especially the ones with restrictions/special requirements - this is a very tough topic for me..though I like to solve such questions.
4. Conditional probability that requires combinatorics
5. Inscribed/Circumscribed figures (unfortunately on Magoosh there isn't such a topic :( )

Verbal
1. SC - comparison, especially the one where ellipsis has an important meaning - I don't know why, but this topic has always created me tough times.
2. SC - pronouns - on some very tricky questions...
3. SC - some rare idioms...I try to improve on this topic and know that idioms are no longer "tested", but since English is my third language, I might be unaware of some idiomatic usages.
4. CR - inference questions - on the higher difficulty level, this type of questions is a nightmare for me. I usually eliminate the answer choices that bring new information first, but this technique is not always working
5. CR - assumption type of questions - I believe this is on par with inference. Tough ones, but still trying to improve. Before GMAT, I never heard about assumptions/premises or even such type of questions/structures. I believe this is the main reason why I have problems with CR.
6. CR - sometimes understanding the meaning. Meaning is essential in solving CR questions. If you do not understand what the argument says, you will have problems on all types of questions.
7. RC - wasn't a fan of reading before...and I believe I see the negative impact now. Nonetheless, I'm trying to catch up :)

so far, these are my main weaknesses. I started e-gmat's SC course (from the beginning - to make sure I did not forget/miss anything) and began to read Powerscore's CR Bible, first chapters nothing new yet..maybe later I will see some tricks & techniques how to crack these bad boys.

smartguy595 thanks mate!!!


HKD1710 I had timing issues on my second and third attempt. Later, during my CAT's I always finished 7-10-15 minutes earlier. As EMPOWERgmatRichC advised me, if the question is too tough to solve it, you have to learn to let it go. Fortunately for me, on GMAT day I saw very few tough questions, and luckily I had enough time to attempt to solve them...yet I was going crazy how I blacked out while solving some easy questions...I believe that those questions were experimental ones, and in the end did not count towards the final score.

On SC, i spent on average 1.14 minutes. on RC - 1.76 minutes, and on CR - 2.07.

just a quick update:
my sub-scores:
V
SC - 30 (before 19 - improved 11 points)
CR - 28 (before 21 - improved 7 points)
RC - 31 (before 32 - :| )

Q
PS-49 (before 48 - improved 1 point)
DS-49 (before 35 - improved 14 points)
Arithmetic-48 (before 39 - improved 9 points)
Algebra&Geometry-49 (before 47 - improved 2 points)
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2016, 23:32
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Congratulations mvictor! Great debrief and thank you for your generosity with feedback. Have faith in you and your effort - you can always show adcom your GMAT Club post history to avoid any questions they may have about your journey and your perseverance ;-)

P.S. Great job on IR and getting the perfect AWA!
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Apr 2016, 06:43
bb wrote:
Congratulations mvictor! Great debrief and thank you for your generosity with feedback. Have faith in you and your effort - you can always show adcom your GMAT Club post history to avoid any questions they may have about your journey and your perseverance ;-)

P.S. Great job on IR and getting the perfect AWA!


thanks mate for always supporting and encouraging me :)
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New post 07 May 2016, 12:58
finished my AWA tie-breaker for the economist brightest minds contest :)
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New post 11 May 2016, 22:43
So.... seems you are thinking of a retake - what is your time frame for it?
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New post 12 May 2016, 04:53
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I believe some time in august-september
I'm travelling for work/vacation for a month and smth in June, and by the end of May I need to finalize one deal on property purchase...so don't have much time left for studies... :(


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New post 24 May 2016, 08:19
all right guys..i'm heading to my euro trip today...will be back in a month with new powers to continue my studies for GMAT :)
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New post 24 May 2016, 08:48
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mvictor wrote:
all right guys..i'm heading to my euro trip today...will be back in a month with new powers to continue my studies for GMAT :)


Sounds really exciting. Have fun :)
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New post 24 May 2016, 09:30
Have fun! I will be heading out that way in3 weeks, right after I give the GMAT another try. :)


mvictor wrote:
all right guys..i'm heading to my euro trip today...will be back in a month with new powers to continue my studies for GMAT :)
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New post 24 Jun 2016, 10:59
Got back from my trip to Europe. Starting my preparations on July 1st. I have already received my acceptance to one program, but since it is a part time program, I need to find employment in the country where the program is taught. Hope for the best! :)
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New post 26 Jun 2016, 19:15
Your upward trajectory is remarkable - keep it going!

Make sure you order the enhanced score reports to understand your weaknesses as well. To go as high as your capabilities allow, you need to optimize your strategy!
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New post 01 Feb 2017, 07:09
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mvictor wrote:
CR - still working on improving my skills. I had and I believe still have problems with assumption/inference type of questions. On other types of questions, e.g. flaw, bold faced, paradox - i got much, much better (e-gmat's explanations for these types of questions are brilliant. To be honest, after finishing bold faced and paradox lessons, when I took the practice questions I was getting every single question correct. I even have the paper with my answers - i wrote on it - WOW!!!) :D



after going through my files...I found it! :D :D :D
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Dec 2017, 01:49
Hi mvictor, I took my first GMAT exam this morning and turned out that it scored only 560. I felt so devastated and decided to google some articles about the other candidates' experiences on this exam. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and success story. It makes me feel that I'm not the only person facing this. I have registered for my next exam in next Feb. Will study hard to achieve 700 score so I can enter the school I want.
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Re: 550 to 560 to 560 and later to 650, and it is still not the end..  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Dec 2017, 23:04
jopu2005 wrote:
Hi mvictor, I took my first GMAT exam this morning and turned out that it scored only 560. I felt so devastated and decided to google some articles about the other candidates' experiences on this exam. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and success story. It makes me feel that I'm not the only person facing this. I have registered for my next exam in next Feb. Will study hard to achieve 700 score so I can enter the school I want.


Sorry to hear, jopu2005. Keep your chin up and keep working at it! There are so many resources on this forum - make sure you take a look at the classic guides. And remember, work smarter, not necessarily harder. Good luck!
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