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590 to 700 (Q47/V40, IR 6, AWA 5.5) in ~11 weeks

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Joined: 12 Oct 2017
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GMAT 1: 700 Q47 V40
590 to 700 (Q47/V40, IR 6, AWA 5.5) in ~11 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 02 Jan 2018, 19:40
Hi all, I've just finished taking my GMAT yesterday and I would like to thank this community for being a great help in preparing for the test. I'd like to give back by sharing my debrief.

EDIT: I finally got my score card, and I got a 5.5 on AWA!


I am of South East Asian descent, working in the tech division of one of the IBs in Asia-Pacific for 4+ years. I'm not really strong on quant, as I'm more of an art person :). I'm not sure how I ended up in tech in uni, I didn't think about what I really wanted to do back then :lol:

I started to think about getting an MBA a year after I graduated from uni. Originally, I planned on taking the GMAT on 2015/early 2016 as I wanted to go back to school this year, but life had many detours and I had many excuses to postpone it. My OG 2016 and MGMAT sets were left to gather dust, waiting for its time to see the light and be used thoroughly.

Due to some circumstances, I had to take a leave from work for months. As I reflected on my life and my plans for the future during the early part of my break, I suddenly remembered my dream of getting an MBA and incidentally found my OG 2016 and MGMAT sets. I decided that this time, I will take the GMAT, and for me to have no excuse to delay it again, I registered immediately.

Books and Materials Used

Journey to GMAT + Test Scores

12-Oct - GMATPrep 1 - 590 (Q38 V33)

This was my diagnostic score. I wasn't really expecting that much, but seeing that this is very far from the averages of my target schools, I knew I needed to work very hard (especially on Quant!). I focused on Quant on the first month - reading, taking down notes, and answering the practice sets as I go through the MGMAT books. I think I was spending 2-3 hours a day studying. Wanting to gauge my progress, I took the Veritas CAT 1 after a month of studying.

13-Nov - Veritas CAT 1 - 590 (Q38 V33)

It felt like I was drenched in very cold water when I saw my score! I was very frustrated because it seemed like I wasted 1 month of studying. After an hour or two, I did my post-mortem analysis on what happened. I realized that I did the following mistakes in my 1st month:
1. I didn't do any OG problems
- Because of this, I was not prepared with the questions in the CAT.
2. I didn't time my practice sets
- I was not able to manage my time well during the CAT. I think I guessed 12-15 questions at the end just so I could finish the CAT.
3. I didn't focus while studying
- Seems like it just went from one ear to another lol

After realizing those things, I changed my strategy for the remaining weeks. I mainly focused on answering the quant questions from OG 2016 while pacing myself. If I didn't know the answer/s, I review my MGMAT books and check the GMAT Club forums for the explanations. I spent 11 days (5-6 hours each day) for this one.

25-Nov - GMATPrep 1 - 700 (Q49 V36, IR 7)

I was very surprised when the score flashed on my screen! I didn't expect it to go this high. While taking the CAT, I had a feeling that my score will be higher than Q38 as I didn't see any repeat questions, but I didn't expect it to be Q49. My pacing was definitely better this time even if I had to guess the last quant question.

Now that my quant score is looking good, I decided to finally move on to verbal. A lot has been said on these two books, but MGMAT SC and CR books are really very useful. Combining these with answering OG questions, I was able to improve my hit rates in SC and CR. I didn't review much on RC as I liked to read and I got at least 90% hit rate on this part. I also spent 4-5 hours/day for verbal.

07-Dec - MGMAT CAT 1 - 590 (Q37 V34)

My confidence was shattered. I was doubting myself if I should really take the exam on the 22nd. I messed up so bad in quant that my frustration spilled over to verbal, and everything just went downhill. I knew that the MGMAT quant part was harder than OG's, but I didn't expect it to be this bad.

08-Dec - GMATPrep 1 - 710 (Q45 V41, IR 7)

I couldn't resist it, I just had to take another CAT for me to boost my confidence again. This one was looking better, although it's inflated as I saw some repeat Qs in both quant and verbal. At this point, I decided to solely rely on OG materials and I bought the GMATPrep EP1.

I went through quant again, answering questions in the OG 2016 quant review. I focused on my weaknesses (Geometry, Probability, Combinatorics) and reviewed my strengths. I also did a short review on verbal. From this point up until the last week, I spent 4-5 hours each day, only resting on Saturdays or Sundays.

12-Dec - GMATPrep 2 - 690 (Q45 V39, IR 8)

This looked alright, but I thought that I could do better in quant. I started to check AWA and created my own framework based from chineseburned's AWA template.

15-Dec - GMATPrep 3 - 670 (Q47 V35, IR 7)

Quant looked better, but my verbal went down. I focused again on verbal, reviewing my mistakes and made sure not to repeat them again. On the back of my mind, I was hoping that I don't see this score on test day!!!!

18-Dec - GMATPrep 4 - 690 (Q49 V35, IR 7)

Still no verbal improvement and I was running out of time. After a thorough post-mortem, I realized that the main cause of my mistakes in verbal was overthinking. I tend to overcomplicate things and this messed up my thinking. For 3 days, I tried to improve my verbal strategy, hoping that it will be enough for me to get a high score on test day.

Test Day

The night before the GMAT, I was really doubting myself, especially in quant. I kept thinking what if I forget everything during the test, what if I get a string of WTH questions (questions which I decided that if I see them, I'll guess right away and move on), etc etc. I just said to myself that if I really get a bad score, I can always retake the GMAT as I still have lots of time before the 2019 intake deadlines. I also placed my GMAT reviewers back into the cabinet, saying to myself that this will be the last time that I see them again (for added confidence)!

On the day itself, I woke up later than usual (9am). I ate light breakfast and ate lunch earlier (11am) as my exam was scheduled at 1pm. Before I went into the test center, I bought water, an electrolyte drink, a banana, and some chocolates. I arrived there 20 minutes before the exam. I was feeling nervous and excited because finally, I will take the GMAT!

Quant was up first. The actual Qs were in line with the level of Qs in the GMATPrep, although there were some Qs that I had to ultimately guess because I messed up the arithmetic (folks, be careful on your maths!). I managed to finish it on time. I took a break, and lost track of time! Good thing the staff in the test center were kind enough to remind me that it was time to go back to the test. My break went overtime for 1 minute and 9 seconds, which meant that I was already 1 question behind on verbal. I managed to catch up, and same with quant, the Qs were in the same level as GMATPrep. By the time I reached question 31, I had 11 minutes left, leaving me with 1 minute per question, and I still had an upcoming RC question! By God's grace, I managed to gather all my attention span in those 11 minutes and answered each question up until Q41. I took a break again, but this time I was back to my desk earlier, took a deep breath, and started IR and then AWA.

After submitting my AWA, I was expecting to see some survey questions or a loading page (just like the one in GMATPrep). I was very confused to see numbers on my screen, like "what is this? What am I supposed to do with this? Where do I answer?". But upon looking at it again, I realized that it displayed my scores. As if on cue, I did this face: :shocked

22-Dec - GMAT - 700 (Q47 V40, IR 6, AWA TBC)

It's lower than the average GMAT scores in Top US universities, but it's higher than most of my target schools in Asia. All I have to do now is to continue to strengthen my work experience, take on more leadership roles in work and in extra-curricular activities, and finalize my list of schools before R1 starts next year.

General Tips

1. Your GMAT study plan should reflect your learning style. If your current plan is not working, assess why it's not alright, and create a new plan. The earlier your strategy fails, the better so that it doesn't bite you near the end of the journey.
2. Doing a post-mortem on your mistakes does wonders. It will help you realize what you did wrong and why you did it wrong. It also helps you not make the same mistake again.
3. Continue to study, regardless of what you feel. If you feel frustrated, let it out and then go back to study again. As Dory in Finding Nemo said, just keep swimming!
4. On test day, expect the worst, do your best, and hope for the best. As much as possible, do NOT think of your target score during the test. This will really mess up your thinking. Just focus on the question in front of you, and answer it well (within the time!).
5. Think of a reward to give yourself after the exam, regardless of the result. This reward should be something that you really like (for me it's food), to help you be positive. You deserve a reward for working hard!!

Bonus: D-Day Strategies

I wrote these down days before my GMAT exam for me to be reminded of the things I usually forget.

Quant - PS and DS
1. Be careful of the following:
- Arithmetic errors
- Negative values ("smaller" is actually greater in the negative world!)
- Forgetting what the question is really asking for
2. Do NOT overthink!!
3. If you deem that a Q is a WTH question (a question that makes you go "WTH is this, I have no idea how to do this???"), guess and move on!

Verbal - SC
1. Make sure to understand what the passage wants to say and match the appropriate phrase/sentence.
2. Be careful of the following:
- Parallel Markers
- Subject-Verb Agreement
3. Remember the MGMAT Verbal mantra, "Eliminate wrong, not weird!"

Verbal - CR
1. Rewrite the question in your own words to have a better grasp of it and to avoid brain freeze
2. Make sure to correctly determine the actual conclusion of the argument!
3. Do NOT overthink!!!!! Do not sabotage yourself
4. Be mindful of keywords in the argument
5. Repeat the MGMAT Verbal mantra, "Eliminate wrong, not weird!"

Originally posted by zee1222 on 22 Dec 2017, 18:39.
Last edited by zee1222 on 02 Jan 2018, 19:40, edited 1 time in total.
Joined: 28 Feb 2011
Posts: 64
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Marketing
Schools: ISB '18, IIMA , IIMC
GPA: 3.77
WE: Information Technology (Computer Software)
Re: 590 to 700 (Q47/V40, IR 6, AWA 5.5) in ~11 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Dec 2017, 03:27
Congratulations on a great score. A very well written Debrief.

Thank you for the important pointers towards the end of your post. Wish you the very best for your applications :).

Best Regards,

GMAT Club Bot
Re: 590 to 700 (Q47/V40, IR 6, AWA 5.5) in ~11 weeks   [#permalink] 23 Dec 2017, 03:27
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