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590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips

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Consortium Thread Master
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Joined: 11 Mar 2018
Posts: 59
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 690 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 710 Q47 V41
GPA: 3.6
WE: Analyst (Energy and Utilities)
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590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 11 Jan 2019, 09:12
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Hi all,

I found these to be incredibly helpful during my studies and would like to give back my lessons learned! If I had more time, I might have taken it again but was super rushed and had a month after my last test to submit my first app.... :cry: I will be adding to this thread periodically with all of the information I have on the topic (i.e. resources historical scores, etc.). :)


Summary
Started study in February 2018 with the intent of sitting for the GMAT on July 2018, for my applications for Fall 2018. Studied from February through July.

Took the exam twice, here are my final scores:

July score: 690 (Q 48, V 37, IR 7, AWA 6)
August score: 710 (Q 47, V 41, IR 8, AWA 6) < Final score

All Practice Tests

Scores with breakdown:
Image
Notes:
- mcgraw hill tests are not CATs, bought these before I even looked up what the test was! Waste of money.. :cry:
- I stopped taking quant CATs after a while since I felt pretty strong about it. So you can see I skipped through and just did verbal on MGMAT.

Image

Background
I studied Economics in UG and felt pretty good regarding my quantitative ability going in. I grew up in moving from US and Mexico so I was a bit worried about my verbal score going in. I use a lot of statistics and math at work so that helped, along with a lot of data analytics.

Study process
I had no idea where to start, so I bought a random GMAT prep test pack (paperback..), which was waste of money... I then got more strategic and relied on my local library and checked out the Kaplan and Manhattan books to read during my breaks at work and before sleep. I then started with first official practice CAT and hit 590 and was like "Damn, I need to get my s*** together".

Time:
I work about 50-55 hrs per week, and was studying on average 3 hrs per day and 6-8 hrs on weekend.

Materials:

Error log: Just pick one, the important part is to use one and get started as soon as you start taking practice questions. Most important data to capture are type of question, answer, whether you guessed, and time to answer.
https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-error-log-86232.html

CATs: Official CATs, MGMAT, and Veritas

Quant: I used OG quant and OG full guide and practiced with error log and then looked up all questions where I struggled on GMAT club. 99.9% of questions I did not understand I looked up on google and it sent me here.

Verbal: This helped me get really good at SC: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... sS1MzdxDTV

IR: I deal with a lot of data at work, needless to say I did not spend much time here...

AWA: This guide is gold and definitely helped me to get 6.0 both times https://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6 ... 64327.html

5 Best Tips

1. Hand/finger method for eliminating answers (not sure where I got this from).
Never write down A/D or B/C/E ever again. Instead, use your free hand, which in my case is my left, to guide your mind and remind you which answers you have eliminated. For example, imagine your pinky finger represents choice A, ring finger represents choice B ... and your thumb is choice E. Then, as you start eliminating answer choices, you can tuck in your finger and when you look back at your hand when you are ready to answer the question then you know whether you eliminated a particular answer. This is hands down the best thing I did.

2. Speed it up in the last two weeks of studying
This is very important. In the last two weeks, you should already know major topics and have a good foundation of knowledge. At this time I read on someone else's debrief that this helped. So instead of giving my self ~2 min per question I brought it down to 1 min per question. What this forced my brain to do is to think quicker regarding when I should skip and how to work more efficiently for problems I knew how to solve. This is key for the first 10 questions on GMAT, since they are mostly easy and you will need the time later when questions get harder.

3. Eat healthy and exercise
Exercise is very important for physical and mental health and this should be self explanatory. However, I know with the intensity of working a lot of hours and studying for GMAT a lot of people take these two for granted. I suggest at minimum 15 min of exercise daily. This will help keep energy high and reduce stress.

4. Keep talking to students at the schools you want to attend
This is for your own morale and mental health. "What is the meaning of life" - me.
It is incredibly demoralizing to study for the GMAT and I think talking to students really helped me remember why I was doing this. Also, they went through this as well and it helps to calm the nerves.

5. Start with MGMAT CATs
If I could do it all over again I would start here. Take them all and use the analytics to see where you need to focus. IMO they are not great at estimating score, but are incredibly wonderful at providing the data you need to get better.


Game day
First try - 690

This experience was so stressful. I had been studying for about five months and felt very ready. My test was on the day before the 4th of July and I had the weekend to pull myself together before the big day. I had been studying everyday and read that you should not study the day before (which I now disagree with) so I wanted to take my last CAT 3 days before. I got a 740 on the official CAT and was floored. I felt so good that I barely studied and reviewed my notes the next day (two days before exam). I decided to not study at all the day before the exam.

My test was set to 1 PM, which I also do not suggest because it makes for the longest morning of your life.

I visited the place before so I was familiar with the location and the room--this is a must do, since it will help remove anxiety.

Also, I had my test taking routine down (to a science): Eggs, whole wheat toast, and lots of water for breakfast. I drank coffee about 1 hour before starting exam, to allow for bathroom before starting, and sips of water throughout the test. My go-to snacks were trail mix (walnuts, cranberries, almonds, but definitely no M&M's because who really does that.. hehe) for sustenance and bananas for the sugar. I took all the breaks and would go to the bathroom and wash my face with cold water.

Before going into the test center I always did a power stance.

I was very cognizant of how stressed and anxious I was leading up to test, so I tried to meditate as much as possible in the days leading up to the time.

My order was Q/V/IR/AWA. V was my strongest and wanted to be fresh for Q.

I blasted through Q and felt good, but when I got to V I knew I was missing some questions and guessing too much early on. I was so disappointed with my V score, because I was consistently doing 40+ on practice tests. IR and AWA were easy. 690 popped up and was pretty sad because I had just scored a 740 on practice... but life moves on.

I looked at the data from GMAC about retakes, which implied that a significant number of applicants improve their score the second time and this was very encouraging.

Second try - 710

I studied hard for another month, took the weekend before the test off, and studied the day before the exam. I think studying the day before helped me for muscle memory and to keep my mind sharp. I sped up my practice times to get the first 10 questions done quickly (see Tip 2 above).

Also, I started taking notes of any idioms or sentence correction rules I did not understand and started testing myself everywhere I went.

Main takeaway is that I think calming my nerves helped, but pushing myself more and up until the day before the test kept me sharp.

I don't think there is much else here, but will add if anything comes up!

Takeaway
The GMAT journey is a highly personal experience so take everything with a grain a salt and do what feels best and works for you. My last recommendation is to not take it too seriously. At the end of the day, the GMAT is not everything and does not reflect who you are as a person or your ability to contribute to the world. You are a wonderful person and not a number.
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GMAT Debrief: 590 to 710 - 5 best tips


Originally posted by energy2pe on 07 Jan 2019, 11:11.
Last edited by energy2pe on 11 Jan 2019, 09:12, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2019, 04:53
Thank you for great Tips!

Especially interesting is this one with fingers, I didn't heard about it.
How many CATs have you done in total? Had u used something like water with glucose / protein bar during the break?
Consortium Thread Master
avatar
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Joined: 11 Mar 2018
Posts: 59
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 690 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 710 Q47 V41
GPA: 3.6
WE: Analyst (Energy and Utilities)
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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2019, 09:16
Xemo wrote:
Thank you for great Tips!

Especially interesting is this one with fingers, I didn't heard about it.
How many CATs have you done in total? Had u used something like water with glucose / protein bar during the break?


You're welcome! I'll add my entire history of CATs (i.e. scores over time and source), but definitely did over 20 CATs. Also, I forgot to add the day of suggestions regarding food/timing/drink/etc, I'll edit within post!
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GMAT Debrief: 590 to 710 - 5 best tips

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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2019, 21:41
Thanks for sharing the post and congratulations on your awesome admit results! Fantastic Job!!!
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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jan 2019, 00:25
energy2pe

Congratulations and all the best for your applications.

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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jan 2019, 06:33
energy2pe wrote:
Xemo wrote:
Thank you for great Tips!

Especially interesting is this one with fingers, I didn't heard about it.
How many CATs have you done in total? Had u used something like water with glucose / protein bar during the break?


You're welcome! I'll add my entire history of CATs (i.e. scores over time and source), but definitely did over 20 CATs. Also, I forgot to add the day of suggestions regarding food/timing/drink/etc, I'll edit within post!


How you managed to do so many CATs? You repeated some from 6 available from official GMAT site? Or the majority of them was from other sources like Veritas/Manhattan?
Consortium Thread Master
avatar
S
Joined: 11 Mar 2018
Posts: 59
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 690 Q48 V37
GMAT 2: 710 Q47 V41
GPA: 3.6
WE: Analyst (Energy and Utilities)
Premium Member
Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jan 2019, 11:22
Xemo wrote:
How you managed to do so many CATs? You repeated some from 6 available from official GMAT site? Or the majority of them was from other sources like Veritas/Manhattan?

Xemo Check out the data I updated in the post! Hope it helps : )

gmat1393, bb Thank you both!!!
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GMAT Debrief: 590 to 710 - 5 best tips

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Re: 590 to 710 - 5 Best Tips &nbs [#permalink] 10 Jan 2019, 11:22
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