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580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!

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580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Dec 2019, 15:41
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I have never been one to write in forums, but when I needed advice the most, I turned to gmatclub and read stories of other people who have killed it, so I want to give back. Hopefully, somebody reads this and realizes that they can improve their score significantly too! ;)

In July this year, I started prepping with examPAL and diligently studied my material for the following three months. This is not to drag the program, as it did teach me the basics in an easily understandable way and might have worked perfectly for someone else. You go through everything on a topic-per-topic basis. It is great for the basics, but looking back I believe I studied hard for stuff I didn't need to focus that much attention on (e.g. I spent hours and hours getting crazy over geometry and severely neglecting integers and such topics when it should have been the other way round. I didn't know about the big topics on the GMAT. I just studied for everything with the same amount of input.)

October came around and the date of my GMAT approached rapidly. I might have been over-confident, going into my first GMAT. During my mock exams, which I kept as close to reality as possible (no breaks, distraction or other) I scored in the high 600 and even hit a 700 once. I was aiming for mid 600. That being said, when I sat my first GMAT, I thought this was the easiest the test had ever been. I was prepared for this. I had slept 8h every day for three months. I had eaten well. I had stopped studying the day before to avoid cramming. I had meditated. You name a technique to calm down and ensure a good test performance, well I did it. I was there to kill it! Not even nervous, not shaking, I was the calmest I had ever, EVER been in my life. (Given the test-circumstance of course)

During the exam, the whole time I was telling myself "oh wow, how come the exam is this easy this time?" BIG MISTAKE. Do not let your ego get the best of you. You are never too good for the GMAT. Ever. You get what you deserve and if you go into this exam believing you're invincible, you'll receive what you deserve: a score you don't want LAUGHING right at you from the oh-so-familiar blue-white screen.

Instead of concentrating on what was in front of me, I was pushed by my big ego, I thought I was doing great and shining. I was sure I was doing great. Guys, I mean DEAD sure. Until I clicked "send essay" and stared at the 580 in front of me. I sat there and stared at my screen, not wanting to realize what it says. I sat there until the test instructor came around and asked me to leave the chair since I was done with my exam. I couldn't believe it.
They surely must have made an error, this is impossible.
I went outside and still couldn't believe it. I got handed over my score paper and got asked "So? Are you satisfied?" I could barely squeeze out a "Not really" before I quickly left and started crying. (No need to be ashamed of that, ey).
After investing MY ENTIRE LIFE to the GMAT for three months, studying 7h-9h per day and pushing aside other hobbies, meetings etc. (yes, it was all I did) I was only able to score 580. To me, it wasn't representative of the amount of work I put into this prep. AT ALL. Q36, V34.

I wasn't even close to the minimum I needed to apply to my Master's.
After spending two days being semi-depressed and debating of just letting it slide and accepting a 580, I started reading on GMAT club, specifically looking for people who had managed to see a jump in their score in a short amount of time.
I had three weeks until the last possible GMAT date. The only positive point was my 6 on AWA but otherwise, my daily mood was far from shining.

I contacted my former study platform and looked for advice to understand if I would be even capable of seeing an increase in as little as three weeks. Answers weren't really conclusive, but they're not to blame, I guess they can't tell you something precise in the danger of you taking their word for granted.
After writing a post in this forum, Rich from EmpowerGMAT answered, offered help as well as to analyze my ESR and I decided to try out EmpowerGMATs free trial. Before you say I didn't give anything else a chance, I actually started four different free trials in the attempt of finding one program that would be my life score saver.

The thing that got me hooked immediately with Empower, was their approach. Now, I do not have a math background. In fact, I studied culinary arts, sciences and restaurant management - yes, management, so there was a bit of biz in there, but needless to say, I wasn't forced to calculate and play around with integers, radicals or work problems for a good 5 years. Don't even get me talking about geometry and such. You get the picture. And if any calculation was required of me during those past 5 years, then surely not on paper but with a calculator.

I used Empower's score booster, their shortened program which immediately caught my eye as it is advertised as directed towards people who wrote the GMAT once already. I saw advertisements of people bumping their score to the big 7 and all I could think of was "yeah sure.. But could I?"
The whole program and interface are laid out clearly, with a step-by-step guide to follow so it leaves no room for guesswork. There is even a pdf document which lets you know in advance how much time you need to set aside to complete a certain topic. THIS IS BEYOND HELPFUL. How many days have I planned out study sessions just to find myself adjusting them because something took longer than I expected? I believe, especially when you're planning your GMAT around your workday or daily activities this feature is beyond helpful. I didn't have it previously so I appreciated it immensely.

The whole course is structured in mini-videos and in-between exercises BUT THE BEST PART is that Empower, and Empower only makes use of the OG guides. I purchased them back in June, before even knowing which online study platform to use because I thought that I would surely need those books. During my three months with examPAL I didn't touch the books at all, but in Empower's structure, you have built-in Quizzes of different difficulties for which you always use the OG guides. It means you're practising with the real deal only. It's not only great for your performance but also very calming on your nerves to know that you've been practising with real stuff, rather than knock-off questions that could be either too hard (MGMAT I am looking at you) or too easy.

I studied hard, and I mean HARD, for the following three weeks, focusing mainly on math, and diligently went through all of the prep material. I still did my English courses as well, as there were plenty of little tricks and tips which helped me to bump my score that was good already.

Now, one important thing though: When I asked for advice in forums if an increase in three weeks would be possible, everybody said no. I was nearly discouraged. The only reason why I managed to bump my quant from 36 to 48 was because of Rich's way of teaching math. What I loved is that he cuts back on unnecessary stuff, teaches you the vital things only. I focused most on formulas I didn't know and with each module and video I discovered new shortcuts and clear-cut ways of solving math without making it complicated. MOST OF ALL Rich teaches you how to be thorough. I no longer guessed around in DS or answered based on what I thought was true based on some notes and calculations, but started following a strict way of figuring out what is right and wrong in DS and HAVING PROOF FOR IT written on my paper, so whenever I clicked on an answer I was dead-sure it was the right one. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. I would even claim that my main increase in Quant was because of all tricks, tips, shortcuts and new ways of just, simply, taking clear notes. I didn't discover any theoretical knowledge I didn't know already, but it was the way I got to the knowledge that was all new!


I cannot thank the Empower team enough. Rich made me love math (which has never happened in my life and Max made me discover the little details I was missing in my approach to verbal. Lyndsay was always quick to help and their platform is well built, self-explanatory and full of little surprise bits like motivational podcasts and extra study material as well as built-in reviews and Quizzes to strengthen all you've learnt so far.

One last note: I know I could've gotten higher than that. This result is without even finishing the ENTIRE score booster program. As it was laid out for 4-6 weeks, I had to make a decision between studying nearly 10 hours per day and finishing it all but risking to burn out just before the exam, or just focus on what I thought was the most urgent. That is to say, that I can only imagine how far you could go up if you complete the entire program.


I finally retired from my GMAT quest. It might have taken longer than expected, it brought more tears than I thought, but finally, I can proudly say that my score reflects my work and all that I've put into it. Q48, V37, 690.
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 09:45
Wow congratulations from such a leap from 580 to 690. I think exampal quant is good for those with quant background and it's questions mimick gmat preptest.

How do you think mock test of empower gmat?

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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 12:57
chondro48 wrote:
Wow congratulations from such a leap from 580 to 690. I think exampal quant is good for those with quant background and it's questions mimick gmat preptest.

How do you think mock test of empower gmat?

Posted from my mobile device


thank you a lot!!
i believe the main difference is that examPAL uses their own questions and empowerGMAT uses the official guide (OG) questions.
neither examPAL nor empowerGMAT have their own mocks, both advise you to take mocks through mba.com and purchase additional mock tests if necessary!
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 21:50
Hi kikimondra,

That's OUTSTANDING news! A 690/Q48 is a FANTASTIC Score - and that fact that you improved so much in just 3 weeks shows how strong of a critical thinker you really are (and learning to "see" the GMAT in a certain way was one of the missing components in your performance). With this Score, you now have lots of potential options to consider (as far as your applications are concerned) - which is a great!

Are you still focusing solely on the Master's Program in Finland that you were interested in? With this 690, you will certainly have additional options!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 21:58
Many congratulations...How are you feeling now ??
What are your next plans/goals ?
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Dec 2019, 00:35
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi kikimondra,

That's OUTSTANDING news! A 690/Q48 is a FANTASTIC Score - and that fact that you improved so much in just 3 weeks shows how strong of a critical thinker you really are (and learning to "see" the GMAT in a certain way was one of the missing components in your performance). With this Score, you now have lots of potential options to consider (as far as your applications are concerned) - which is a great!

Are you still focusing solely on the Master's Program in Finland that you were interested in? With this 690, you will certainly have additional options!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Rich


Hey Rich!
It's really awesome you found this and answered, as well as remembered!
You are completely right about "seeing" the GMAT in a certain way, as before I just tackled it without giving strategy too much thought but you guys taught me so, so much!

Special thanks to you, your quant videos were most certainly what made me improve so much!
Funnily enough, with my previous prep company I was using Test The Answers without knowing, so if a tutor would ask me how I would go about solving a question, my answer was very often "well, I'd plug in numbers". The difference, though, is that the tutor's answer to me suggesting plugging in numbers was "no, we don't plug in numbers, we do math."

So when I found out how Empower and specifically you teach quant, I felt like coming home! :-D

Finland is still my priority, but I have my eyes on some overseas universities in the US!
Thank you once again!!
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Dec 2019, 00:36
LoneSurvivor wrote:
Many congratulations...How are you feeling now ??
What are your next plans/goals ?


Thank you!!!
Calmer than ever. I felt like it needed to happen this way.
So even if the first result or even second isn't something people expected, I believe it happened this way for a reason as to teach them a little something :)

I am completely focusing on applications now!
Hopefully starting university again in 2020!
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Dec 2019, 16:46
Hi kikimondra,

Assuming that you bring this same effort and energy to your applications, I think that all of this will turn out well (and you could be receiving a number of different Acceptance Letters to choose from!). I hope you keep us in mind when you start hearing back from the Programs that you apply to; we love hearing where our Alums choose to attend School.

Congratulations again on all of your success so far!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Rich
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580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2019, 16:05
kikimondra wrote:
I have never been one to write in forums, but when I needed advice the most, I turned to gmatclub and read stories of other people who have killed it, so I want to give back. Hopefully, somebody reads this and realizes that they can improve their score significantly too! ;)

In July this year, I started prepping with examPAL and diligently studied my material for the following three months. This is not to drag the program, as it did teach me the basics in an easily understandable way and might have worked perfectly for someone else. You go through everything on a topic-per-topic basis. It is great for the basics, but looking back I believe I studied hard for stuff I didn't need to focus that much attention on (e.g. I spent hours and hours getting crazy over geometry and severely neglecting integers and such topics when it should have been the other way round. I didn't know about the big topics on the GMAT. I just studied for everything with the same amount of input.)

October came around and the date of my GMAT approached rapidly. I might have been over-confident, going into my first GMAT. During my mock exams, which I kept as close to reality as possible (no breaks, distraction or other) I scored in the high 600 and even hit a 700 once. I was aiming for mid 600. That being said, when I sat my first GMAT, I thought this was the easiest the test had ever been. I was prepared for this. I had slept 8h every day for three months. I had eaten well. I had stopped studying the day before to avoid cramming. I had meditated. You name a technique to calm down and ensure a good test performance, well I did it. I was there to kill it! Not even nervous, not shaking, I was the calmest I had ever, EVER been in my life. (Given the test-circumstance of course)

During the exam, the whole time I was telling myself "oh wow, how come the exam is this easy this time?" BIG MISTAKE. Do not let your ego get the best of you. You are never too good for the GMAT. Ever. You get what you deserve and if you go into this exam believing you're invincible, you'll receive what you deserve: a score you don't want LAUGHING right at you from the oh-so-familiar blue-white screen.

Instead of concentrating on what was in front of me, I was pushed by my big ego, I thought I was doing great and shining. I was sure I was doing great. Guys, I mean DEAD sure. Until I clicked "send essay" and stared at the 580 in front of me. I sat there and stared at my screen, not wanting to realize what it says. I sat there until the test instructor came around and asked me to leave the chair since I was done with my exam. I couldn't believe it.
They surely must have made an error, this is impossible.
I went outside and still couldn't believe it. I got handed over my score paper and got asked "So? Are you satisfied?" I could barely squeeze out a "Not really" before I quickly left and started crying. (No need to be ashamed of that, ey).
After investing MY ENTIRE LIFE to the GMAT for three months, studying 7h-9h per day and pushing aside other hobbies, meetings etc. (yes, it was all I did) I was only able to score 580. To me, it wasn't representative of the amount of work I put into this prep. AT ALL. Q36, V34.

I wasn't even close to the minimum I needed to apply to my Master's.
After spending two days being semi-depressed and debating of just letting it slide and accepting a 580, I started reading on GMAT club, specifically looking for people who had managed to see a jump in their score in a short amount of time.
I had three weeks until the last possible GMAT date. The only positive point was my 6 on AWA but otherwise, my daily mood was far from shining.

I contacted my former study platform and looked for advice to understand if I would be even capable of seeing an increase in as little as three weeks. Answers weren't really conclusive, but they're not to blame, I guess they can't tell you something precise in the danger of you taking their word for granted.
After writing a post in this forum, Rich from EmpowerGMAT answered, offered help as well as to analyze my ESR and I decided to try out EmpowerGMATs free trial. Before you say I didn't give anything else a chance, I actually started four different free trials in the attempt of finding one program that would be my life score saver.

The thing that got me hooked immediately with Empower, was their approach. Now, I do not have a math background. In fact, I studied culinary arts, sciences and restaurant management - yes, management, so there was a bit of biz in there, but needless to say, I wasn't forced to calculate and play around with integers, radicals or work problems for a good 5 years. Don't even get me talking about geometry and such. You get the picture. And if any calculation was required of me during those past 5 years, then surely not on paper but with a calculator.

I used Empower's score booster, their shortened program which immediately caught my eye as it is advertised as directed towards people who wrote the GMAT once already. I saw advertisements of people bumping their score to the big 7 and all I could think of was "yeah sure.. But could I?"
The whole program and interface are laid out clearly, with a step-by-step guide to follow so it leaves no room for guesswork. There is even a pdf document which lets you know in advance how much time you need to set aside to complete a certain topic. THIS IS BEYOND HELPFUL. How many days have I planned out study sessions just to find myself adjusting them because something took longer than I expected? I believe, especially when you're planning your GMAT around your workday or daily activities this feature is beyond helpful. I didn't have it previously so I appreciated it immensely.

The whole course is structured in mini-videos and in-between exercises BUT THE BEST PART is that Empower, and Empower only makes use of the OG guides. I purchased them back in June, before even knowing which online study platform to use because I thought that I would surely need those books. During my three months with examPAL I didn't touch the books at all, but in Empower's structure, you have built-in Quizzes of different difficulties for which you always use the OG guides. It means you're practising with the real deal only. It's not only great for your performance but also very calming on your nerves to know that you've been practising with real stuff, rather than knock-off questions that could be either too hard (MGMAT I am looking at you) or too easy.

I studied hard, and I mean HARD, for the following three weeks, focusing mainly on math, and diligently went through all of the prep material. I still did my English courses as well, as there were plenty of little tricks and tips which helped me to bump my score that was good already.

Now, one important thing though: When I asked for advice in forums if an increase in three weeks would be possible, everybody said no. I was nearly discouraged. The only reason why I managed to bump my quant from 36 to 48 was because of Rich's way of teaching math. What I loved is that he cuts back on unnecessary stuff, teaches you the vital things only. I focused most on formulas I didn't know and with each module and video I discovered new shortcuts and clear-cut ways of solving math without making it complicated. MOST OF ALL Rich teaches you how to be thorough. I no longer guessed around in DS or answered based on what I thought was true based on some notes and calculations, but started following a strict way of figuring out what is right and wrong in DS and HAVING PROOF FOR IT written on my paper, so whenever I clicked on an answer I was dead-sure it was the right one. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. I would even claim that my main increase in Quant was because of all tricks, tips, shortcuts and new ways of just, simply, taking clear notes. I didn't discover any theoretical knowledge I didn't know already, but it was the way I got to the knowledge that was all new!


I cannot thank the Empower team enough. Rich made me love math (which has never happened in my life and Max made me discover the little details I was missing in my approach to verbal. Lyndsay was always quick to help and their platform is well built, self-explanatory and full of little surprise bits like motivational podcasts and extra study material as well as built-in reviews and Quizzes to strengthen all you've learnt so far.

One last note: I know I could've gotten higher than that. This result is without even finishing the ENTIRE score booster program. As it was laid out for 4-6 weeks, I had to make a decision between studying nearly 10 hours per day and finishing it all but risking to burn out just before the exam, or just focus on what I thought was the most urgent. That is to say, that I can only imagine how far you could go up if you complete the entire program.


I finally retired from my GMAT quest. It might have taken longer than expected, it brought more tears than I thought, but finally, I can proudly say that my score reflects my work and all that I've put into it. Q48, V37, 690.


Congrats on the fantastic score! I'm in a very similar situation as my official and mock scores are hovering around high 500s and I don't know what to do. I did the full EmpowerGMAT course and it was great and Rich has been super helpful as well. If you don't mind, can you share in detail exactly what you did in that short time frame to increase by 100+ points? I have a Quant background yet I have not been able to score more than Q42 and in Verbal I'm stuck at V30. I have exhausted a lot of resources already (Manhattan Prep, egmat full course , EmpowerGMAT full course), yet I have not seen any improvements in my score.

I would greatly appreciate any advice! And wish you the best of success in your applications! Thanks!

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2019, 16:29
Hi gd93,

If you're currently 'stuck' at a particular Score level - or you're looking for any additional advice for how you might adjust your studies going forward - then you can feel free to contact me directly at any time (through a PM or email at Rich.C@empowergmat.com).

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2019, 11:52
gd93 wrote:
Congrats on the fantastic score! I'm in a very similar situation as my official and mock scores are hovering around high 500s and I don't know what to do. I did the full EmpowerGMAT course and it was great and Rich has been super helpful as well. If you don't mind, can you share in detail exactly what you did in that short time frame to increase by 100+ points? I have a Quant background yet I have not been able to score more than Q42 and in Verbal I'm stuck at V30. I have exhausted a lot of resources already (Manhattan Prep, egmat full course , EmpowerGMAT full course), yet I have not seen any improvements in my score.

I would greatly appreciate any advice! And wish you the best of success in your applications! Thanks!

Posted from my mobile device


hi! thank you very much :)
well, I saw that rich answered, so first I'd suggest reaching out to him, given that he's an expert.
I'll still share my thoughts on that if you don't mind!

a lot of people on here talk about error logs, where you jot down exactly what mistakes you're prone to making.
I didn't keep a strict error log, but something similar. in any case, having a document, paper, notebook where you take notes on your most frequent mistakes is an absolute must.

given that you've already tried some platforms, I'd suggest going through your mock test notes. from there you should be able to identify where your mistakes were. from analyzing my mock GMATs I found out that I was prone to making stupid mistakes when I was short on time and stressed. I also found out that I sometimes read too fast and do not see words such as "distinct" which then throw off my whole calculation.

another thing that helped me is the strategy. EmpowerGMAT and the gmatclub forum helped me figure out that the 10 questions are indeed the most important. I made sure to focus more time on those and really nail them and being focused, instead of rushing through and making silly mistakes.

as for verbal, I'd suggest reading a ton of articles and books as well as watching movies and really anything in English. It will familiarize you with everyday phrases and make RC and SC a lot easier! My weakness was CR, so if all your prep material didn't help you much until now and you still find yourself struggling with CR, I've heard good things about the CR powerscore bible (or just bible? not sure.. )


all in all I think it would be beneficial to go through your prep material and find out why it is that you are still scoring in the mid to high 500s and go back and try to re-exhaust your prep material. I am not sure if I would suggest investing in another prep company, as I believe that there is only so much you can learn after having done 3 prep materials. I believe from now on what will help you most is self-analysis and error logs!

I wish you all the best and hope you get to kill this thing!!
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Re: 580 to 690 in 3 weeks, Q36 to Q48 - non-native, no quant background!   [#permalink] 07 Dec 2019, 11:52
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