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580 (Q49, V20) My GMAT experience

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Joined: 17 Dec 2003
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580 (Q49, V20) My GMAT experience [#permalink]

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New post 20 Sep 2004, 07:39
Hi, everyone!

It’s going to be a quite lengthy post concerning my GMAT preparation. For those who are not interested in this skip to the end of the post to my qaunt GMAT experience on the five tests this year.

I attended GMAT prep course first time in 2001. I can remember my feeling when I saw a math content of the test, let alone verbal one. I spent 15-20 min and 20-30 min on cracking one CR or RC question respectively. Anyway having spent several months on the preparation, I decided to take GMAT in May 2002.

My friend advised me to take the test first time and not to seriously rely on the first result. I took one week off and prepared extensively using GMAT +. My first score was 350 (Q25, V15). I felt so stupid thinking that if a monkey had been sat in front of a PC randomly picking answer choices it could have got even a better score. I also thought that it could have been a comp glitch or smth like that and calmed down.

My second attempt was two months later, i.e. in July 2002. This time I prepared with private tutors. My second score was 400 (Q32, V14). I can’t find a word to express my feelings I had then. Dull, fool, stupid that are words I described myself. I realized that it wasn’t a comp glitch at first time that itself only added bitterness to my feelings.

In August 2002 a Michigan alumnus conducted a mock interview with me and said that I had a good chance to be admitted with my career goals and credentials. She also advised to make a serious effort to pass GMAT with at least 650. It was a good boost for me. I bought OG and Kaplan CD. Also I registered for a prep course with a native speaker, who gave us some nice insights into English grammar and advised to read books concerning American history. He said that it would help you not only to understand historical texts on the test, but also to understand an American culture if you were going to spend at least two years there (Only about two years later I read such a book. It was really very interesting to find out about the first Pilgrims, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, what was a Confederacy and of whom it consisted, the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation and so on).

Third time I registered for the test in October 2002. By the test day I had finished GMAT + and done some math and verbal question from OG (some questions in GMAT+ are the same as those in OG). Just before the test day I also took one of the Kaplan tests and got 530. Knowing that Kaplan underestimates score I supposed to get at least 560. All I can remember of the test day was that I was completely ruined after math section. It seemed to be so difficult that I had to blindly pick up choices for several last questions within one minute. Verbal section wasn’t easier. Ended up with 450 (Q 36, V16) I promised not to take the test again and forget about an MBA.

As you know time is a good remedy for even big pitfalls. In summer 2003 I met my former GMAT prep classmate. She had been admitted to Wharton with only 650. She has PhD in Math and, as you can guess, her verbal score wasn’t excellent. She decided not to care too much about the score, but to write outstanding essays. All in all, it worked. My confidence started coming back.

I bought Kaplan 800, “Verbal Workout” and “Cracking the GMAT” by PR and in September 2003 I resumed my long process of the preparation, which I completely altered this time. Started using a stopwatch I tried to do all questions within allotted time (on average SC in 1.25 min, DS in 1.5 min, PS, CR and RC in about 2 min). Also I continued to read,,, and such. Later I repeated the prep course at my previous prep center and found web sites related to GMAT including this one. By the time I decided to register for the GMAT in February 2004 I had done Kaplan 800, “Verbal Workout”, “Cracking the GMAT and again GMAT+. I negotiated with my boss to take 5 weeks off for the preparation.

Guys, I studied like hell. Five weeks were entirely devoted to the GMAT. Because of it I had several arguments with my wife :-D

PP before OG 640

PR 650
PR 630
PR 640
PR 590

Q 43, 44, 42, 46, 45
V 34, 36, 41, 26, 32

Test 1 580
Test 2 550
Test 3 540

Cambridge Review
Six tests the average range 630-650

PP two days before the test 690 (M49, V35)

I felt for sure that I would get at least 600 and spent the day before the test on watching movies and rest. Next day seeing 560 (M42 V25) on the final screen I got confused. Next two months I didn’t touch prep materials, but sometimes visited GMAT club forums.

In April my friend gave me LSAT book. He got 730 on the GMAT and before this he suffered from low verbal score as well. I found LSAT CR’s and RC’s very useful. First of all, I got only half of them right, especially CR’s, but to the end of the book I had between 2/3 and 3/4 of them correct. Passages in LSAT are longer than those in GMAT, but a concept is the same. As to CR questions I stumbled upon questions answers to which seemed to be vague, but such questions were very few.

I registered for the test again for June 2004. Having studied the LSAT book I again selectively did some questions from OG. This time on the test I wasn’t worried about RC questions, but waited impatiently for them. Also I was good at SC questions, but a bit concerned about CR ones. The overall score on the test was 580 (Q44, V26).

I decided not to postpone the next attempt and registered for July. I did only OG this time (completely quant and verbal sections). Here in a forum I found a good advice that it is better to do 100 questions and entirely understand them than dully do 1000. I read an explanation to an every answer whether I picked it up right or wrong. Why this choice is right, why wrong.
Just before the test day I couldn’t fall asleep and last time I remember looking at a clock it was 5.30 a.m. This time total score was 550 (Q43, V23). No comment.

Assumed that the main reason of my failure was insomnia I booked a place for the test in two weeks in August. I did only questions from OG that I got wrong or guessed right and took again PP1 790 (Q50, V 51) and PP2 760(Q50, V41). The result on the test was 610 (Q47, V27). It wasn’t a sufficient score, but a minor progress.

I felt worn-out and took a week vacation to Turkey with my family, then returned to the preparation. I decided not to prepare for the quant section this time at all. My verbal teacher gave me “The Insider Guide” by Peterson. Nice book. In this book CR’s mostly consist of EXCEPT questions, whereas RC’s and SC’s are similar to those in OG. Also I again did all verbal part in Kaplan 800 and choices from verbal part of OG that I got wrong or guessed right. On September 16 at the fifth attempt I made to pass GMAT I got disappointing 580 (Q49, V 20). Doing the test I felt completely comfortable without nerves, but once I saw the result I got shocked. Honestly speaking, I expected to get 44-45 on quant (without prep) and 32-35 on verbal (with significant prep). But man proposes, God disposes. I got the highest quant score of this year and the lowest verbal.

My scores on the tests this year:

560 (Q42, V25) 02/26/04
580 (Q44, V26) 06/15/04
550 (Q43, V23) 07/15/04
610 (Q47, V27) 08/03/04
580 (Q49, V20) 09/16/04

To sum up, I’d like to shed some light on my GMAT experience this year and offer some tips.

As to AWA section, I will not be original if I say that nice templates are about a half of work. I suppose you can find them in different materials related to GMAT. I am not a good writer and that AWA section isn’t counted on the overall score doesn’t help too much to improve my writing ability :-D For non-natives all you need is to get at least 4.0, for natives maybe a bit more. It’s not a sweaty task.

Analysis of an Argument.
You should always cast doubt on the validity of an author’s conclusion. Whatever the author says it is always not enough to convince a reader (test taker), since to support his/her conclusion the author usually provides evidence in two, rarely three sentences. You can easily make several assumptions to negate the conclusion and point out what additional evidence is needed to make the conclusion more persuasive.

Analysis of an Issue.
Whether you agree, don’t agree or partly agree with an author depends on your opinion. Write what you think with examples form your experience, observation, reading and such. Also my advice is to think over your answers to some issue topics in advance, as some of them are really odd.

Started with 25 on quant section two years ago I managed to raise my score to 49. I am not a math guru and the most that I could make to increase my score was a practice and a surfing this web site.

Probability and Combinations.
These are “topics” that frighten most test takers. I’d like to say that all you need to know is basic combo and prob formula. In most cases I had one combo and two prob questions on one test. Combo questions were mostly straightforward, whereas one of the prob ones was easy and the other needed some mental force. In questions like: “what is the prob. of occurring at least one event …" often easier to calculate the prob using “1- P (all not occur)”.

Standard Deviation.
In most cases you doesn’t need to use an intimidating SD formula. Just bear in mind that the more numbers vary from the mean in a particular set the more SD. Also you need to know mean, median and rarely mode and how they are calculated. I was offered tricky DS containing mean and median.

You need to know how to calculate slope, distance between two points and how to quickly scheme line or parabola from a given equation, also that the coefficients in perpendicular lines are a and –1/a respectively and so on. You may face few question on the test, but all of them may test a big range of geometry. Reading posts I noticed people claim about strange DS question with two rectangles that appeared #1 or 2 on the test. I also got this question. It’s not so difficult as it seems to be, if you know principals of geometry.

Absolute value.
There are not many such problems, but if any on the test, some of them may be tricky. I used a geometry method to solve one of them.

Venn diagram.
You must quickly draw Venn diagram and understand it. Often I saw DS than PS containing Venn diagram.

Although most problems are conceptual and don’t need lengthy calculation, you definitely need to be good at calculation. Roots, exponents, different equations and sets are frequent stuff of the quant questions. In percent problems, please, distinguish a selling price from a market (mark-up) one. They are not always the same. Guys, recall your bargaining about the discount at the nearest market and you’ll get the pattern :-D

Sometimes you can get so easy problem on the test that you start thinking that you‘ve done smth wrong and CAT gave you a silly one. On my last test getting one I spent two minutes on finding a trap there. Guys, you’ll be laughing seeing that question. In such situations you should pick up the right choice and move on without hesitations.

What’s all about my qaunt experience. I found quant review in OG very useful, but not sufficient. I suppose that all additional material concerning sections you are not good at can be found on this web site and forums. I knew a lot of interesting things here.

Though I could say some info about verbal section, I don’t think I should. Since with such a low score it is not representative if you aim to reach 40-45. You can find helpful info in other posts. Only can I say that all questions were OG level, three RC’s were 40-45 lines and one 75 (nothing too difficult), CR’s were also OG caliber and SC’s tested common GMAT favorite rules: subject-verb agreement, modifiers, idioms and so on. Also I’d like to mention that if you are thrown BF CR that doesn’t mean that you are doing well on the verbal section. I was thrown BF questions on every five exams this year, but the score wasn’t superior.

I’d like to give my respect to those who maintain this invaluable web site. Taking into account how costly GMAT prep courses are I am impressed by the fact that these guys do this job for free. Also many thanks to the guys, who actively participate in this forum, for nice tips, insights, and explanations.

The main info I received during my preparation was received from this web site,
especially during the last four months. I read explanations to questions even if I got them right with most participants, since sometimes you may get right answer for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately I couldn’t participate in the Challenges, but I saw some questions from them; they are great.

First I decided not to post my experience assuming that if I couldn’t reach a magic 700 level I can’t share any important info. But I received a lot of encouragement and useful info reading some posts here, whether they were written by those who managed to get such a score or those who didn’t. I personally know what people feel after weeks or months of a hard preparation. When they don’t get the score they expected, particularly when this score is significantly lower. Finally, if someone who read this long passage will obtain any useful info I can suppose that I didn’t waste my time writing these lines.

Hope this post wasn't so boring.

My regards,


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580 (Q49, V20) My GMAT experience   [#permalink] 20 Sep 2004, 07:39
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