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620 to 750 in 11 months

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620 to 750 in 11 months [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2018, 18:06
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Hi Gmat Club,

I took the GMAT three times. I went from 620 to 750 in about 11 months of studying (over 500 hours of study time, I skipped a few months). My favorite prep materials were my GMAT Club subscription and E-Gmat verbal (I am especially grateful to the staff of both programs, they were so kind :grin: ). I filled up about 20 notebooks with notes and several folders with printed material. My background is in Accounting (not very math intensive), and English is my second language.

The first time I took the GMAT was October 29,2016. I studied about a month for the exam, and my studying wasn't intense. I got a 620 (Q47 V28), which was enough for the masters program I was applying for, but I was still disappointed because I had scored around 660 on several practice tests. I used Veritas tests and the Official GMAT tests. About a week before my exam I bought Optimus Prep. The videos were helpful and the questions provided a solid foundation, but a week was not enough to make any real difference. If you want to score over 700 I do not think Optimus is the right program. I found the questions easier than the actual GMAT questions, and they don't contain the typical GMAT tricks. However, if you are trying to get over 600 the program is excellent, and the video lectures are great. I also printed out all the lecture notes that come with the program, and I used those to review before each of my exams. Those notes were the best review material I have found. Two things messed me up the most on test day. First, I was studying the day off the exam, and I went to the exam exhausted. Second, I took the exam at 4pm in the afternoon. From personal experience it is much better to take the GMAT early in the day, and do not study the day off! When I scored 750 I did not study GMAT for about 2 days before the exam.

The second time I took the GMAT I was preparing with Sandeep Gupta's 'Top One Percent' program. I started studying very seriously, and the program gave me good structure. The Cons of the program are that he uses questions from official and manhattan practice tests, which ruins those tests. He mainly goes over questions, and he does not give a lot of foundation. For foundation I used the Manhattan books, which were absolutely amazing. I read almost each one in its entirety, and I solved almost all of the practice questions at least once. The Top One Percent program tells you which books to read for each class, so that was helpful. Over the summer for about two months all I did was GMAT. I timed myself each day with a stopwatch, stopping it even if I just looked at my phone for a minute. Then I wrote down the hours I studied in a journal. Overall I studied over 400 hours before I took the GMAT for the second time. During my second attempt I felt calm. I had the exam at 12:30, August 19, 2017. I still made the mistake of studying the day before; I think that causes brain fatigue. As I was taking the test I felt really good about it, and I thought it was relatively easy. I was extremely disappointed when I scored 690 (Q46 V38). My verbal score improved 10 points but my quant actually dropped! I have no idea how after 400 hours of studying my quant score dropped. That's when I realized I needed a new material.

For my final attempt I prepared during a busy school semester. I was a full time student, taking difficult classes, and I worked 20 hours a week, but I still managed to get in 5-15 hours of studying each week. In this time I stumbled upon two of my favorite prep materials. First, I signed up for GMAT Club. The verbal exams on GMAT Club are not the best, but the Quant is absolutely amazing. They give over 20 full Quant GMAT exams! I took at least one exam every week for about 3 months. The questions are very realistic and maybe even harder than the actual GMAT questions. GMAT Club Quant was essential to improving my Quant score. After taking an exam I review it and starred questions that I wanted to come back to. I starred a lot of questions, and before my third GMAT attempt I went over all the starred questions in quiz practice mode (not timed). This improved my skills tremendously. The second program I found was E-Gmat. I only purchased their Verbal program about a month before my third attempt and went over almost all the sentence correction material and most of the critical reasoning (my RC was already solid). I cannot tell you how much E-GMAT has helped me with sentence correction. It gave me an incredible foundation, and the program was invaluable to getting my verbal score to 42. The quizzes on E-GMAT are also amazing, and I used their forum discussions frequently as well. The E-GMAT staff is extremely knowledgeable, and they got back to me within a couple of days of posting. One of the best decisions I have ever made was purchasing GMAT CLUB QUANT, and E-GMAT Verbal. My final GMAT exam was at 11am, December 26, 2017. I arrived at the test center an hour early and spent a long time meditating in my car. I briefly reviewed my Optimus notes as well. When I saw the 750 (Q49 V42) score, I was positively surprised, but I suspected that it went well because I found the verbal section more difficult than what I was used to, and I learned that difficult questions are a good sign. By then I have spent over 500 hours studying, and I am happy to say it payed off.

Currently, I am applying to PhD programs in Accounting.

Some Tips:

1) Don't focus on the most difficult questions. Spend much more time on 500 and 600 level questions. I was stupid to waste a lot of time on 700+ questions.
2) Use GMAT Club Quant and star questions you want to go back to. Also, use the note feature from the beginning! This was my best source for quant review.
3) Do not study the day before the exam. If you skip two days even better. This seems counterintuitive but trust me.
4) Bring a sweater, chocolate, and water to the exam. Coffee causes you to crash, don't use it.
5) Meditation does wonders. I noticed that if I mediated before GMAT my score improved on average at least 30 points. This is because a lot of what the GMAT tests is concentration.
6) I put up two white-boards in my room and wrote the most important GMAT notes on there so that I would see it every single day. Prime numbers, formulas etc.
7) Believe in yourself! After I scored a 690 I thought I might never be able to do better because of my IQ (I have no idea what my IQ is but I thought I maxed out because my quant score happened to drop). This was so stupid and self limiting. It took me a lot of time to regain my confidence. See yourself achieving your desired score.

"If you can see it, and you have the courage to speak it, it will happen." Conor McGregor
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Alchemist (Book)
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7


Thanks GMAT CLUB. Love you all!
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Re: 620 to 750 in 11 months [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2018, 22:14
Wow great job ! Congrats on the score!

Can you please share how you scores 42 on verbal. I am taking practice tests and scoring 40 but to do that I pause towards the end because I ran out of time. Managing time with so much content seems highly unrealistic


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Re: 620 to 750 in 11 months [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jan 2018, 22:04
If you are scoring 40 that's pretty good. Don't worry too much about the time at first. You need to build a foundation. Don't use full length tests to do that. Full length tests are to measure where you are. To practice I solved about 20-30 RC passages in one sitting and roughly timed myself so it took about 3 hours. I did not worry too much about the time though. Then on a different day I did 3 hours of SC (roughly 2 min / question), and again on a different day 3 hours of CR (roughly 2 min/question). This helps to build up stamina. Go over your mistakes and make sure you master the questions. Once you can sit down for 3 hours and score around 90% you can start timing yourself more closely. E-Gmat has custom quizzes that I used for taking mini-mocks.
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Re: 620 to 750 in 11 months [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jan 2018, 09:39
mark1k1k wrote:
Hi Gmat Club,

I took the GMAT three times. I went from 620 to 750 in about 11 months of studying (over 500 hours of study time, I skipped a few months). My favorite prep materials were my GMAT Club subscription and E-Gmat verbal (I am especially grateful to the staff of both programs, they were so kind :grin: ). I filled up about 20 notebooks with notes and several folders with printed material. My background is in Accounting (not very math intensive), and English is my second language.

The first time I took the GMAT was October 29,2016. I studied about a month for the exam, and my studying wasn't intense. I got a 620 (Q47 V28), which was enough for the masters program I was applying for, but I was still disappointed because I had scored around 660 on several practice tests. I used Veritas tests and the Official GMAT tests. About a week before my exam I bought Optimus Prep. The videos were helpful and the questions provided a solid foundation, but a week was not enough to make any real difference. If you want to score over 700 I do not think Optimus is the right program. I found the questions easier than the actual GMAT questions, and they don't contain the typical GMAT tricks. However, if you are trying to get over 600 the program is excellent, and the video lectures are great. I also printed out all the lecture notes that come with the program, and I used those to review before each of my exams. Those notes were the best review material I have found. Two things messed me up the most on test day. First, I was studying the day off the exam, and I went to the exam exhausted. Second, I took the exam at 4pm in the afternoon. From personal experience it is much better to take the GMAT early in the day, and do not study the day off! When I scored 750 I did not study GMAT for about 2 days before the exam.

The second time I took the GMAT I was preparing with Sandeep Gupta's 'Top One Percent' program. I started studying very seriously, and the program gave me good structure. The Cons of the program are that he uses questions from official and manhattan practice tests, which ruins those tests. He mainly goes over questions, and he does not give a lot of foundation. For foundation I used the Manhattan books, which were absolutely amazing. I read almost each one in its entirety, and I solved almost all of the practice questions at least once. The Top One Percent program tells you which books to read for each class, so that was helpful. Over the summer for about two months all I did was GMAT. I timed myself each day with a stopwatch, stopping it even if I just looked at my phone for a minute. Then I wrote down the hours I studied in a journal. Overall I studied over 400 hours before I took the GMAT for the second time. During my second attempt I felt calm. I had the exam at 12:30, August 19, 2017. I still made the mistake of studying the day before; I think that causes brain fatigue. As I was taking the test I felt really good about it, and I thought it was relatively easy. I was extremely disappointed when I scored 690 (Q46 V38). My verbal score improved 10 points but my quant actually dropped! I have no idea how after 400 hours of studying my quant score dropped. That's when I realized I needed a new material.

For my final attempt I prepared during a busy school semester. I was a full time student, taking difficult classes, and I worked 20 hours a week, but I still managed to get in 5-15 hours of studying each week. In this time I stumbled upon two of my favorite prep materials. First, I signed up for GMAT Club. The verbal exams on GMAT Club are not the best, but the Quant is absolutely amazing. They give over 20 full Quant GMAT exams! I took at least one exam every week for about 3 months. The questions are very realistic and maybe even harder than the actual GMAT questions. GMAT Club Quant was essential to improving my Quant score. After taking an exam I review it and starred questions that I wanted to come back to. I starred a lot of questions, and before my third GMAT attempt I went over all the starred questions in quiz practice mode (not timed). This improved my skills tremendously. The second program I found was E-Gmat. I only purchased their Verbal program about a month before my third attempt and went over almost all the sentence correction material and most of the critical reasoning (my RC was already solid). I cannot tell you how much E-GMAT has helped me with sentence correction. It gave me an incredible foundation, and the program was invaluable to getting my verbal score to 42. The quizzes on E-GMAT are also amazing, and I used their forum discussions frequently as well. The E-GMAT staff is extremely knowledgeable, and they got back to me within a couple of days of posting. One of the best decisions I have ever made was purchasing GMAT CLUB QUANT, and E-GMAT Verbal. My final GMAT exam was at 11am, December 26, 2017. I arrived at the test center an hour early and spent a long time meditating in my car. I briefly reviewed my Optimus notes as well. When I saw the 750 (Q49 V42) score, I was positively surprised, but I suspected that it went well because I found the verbal section more difficult than what I was used to, and I learned that difficult questions are a good sign. By then I have spent over 500 hours studying, and I am happy to say it payed off.

Currently, I am applying to PhD programs in Accounting.

Some Tips:

1) Don't focus on the most difficult questions. Spend much more time on 500 and 600 level questions. I was stupid to waste a lot of time on 700+ questions.
2) Use GMAT Club Quant and star questions you want to go back to. Also, use the note feature from the beginning! This was my best source for quant review.
3) Do not study the day before the exam. If you skip two days even better. This seems counterintuitive but trust me.
4) Bring a sweater, chocolate, and water to the exam. Coffee causes you to crash, don't use it.
5) Meditation does wonders. I noticed that if I mediated before GMAT my score improved on average at least 30 points. This is because a lot of what the GMAT tests is concentration.
6) I put up two white-boards in my room and wrote the most important GMAT notes on there so that I would see it every single day. Prime numbers, formulas etc.
7) Believe in yourself! After I scored a 690 I thought I might never be able to do better because of my IQ (I have no idea what my IQ is but I thought I maxed out because my quant score happened to drop). This was so stupid and self limiting. It took me a lot of time to regain my confidence. See yourself achieving your desired score.

"If you can see it, and you have the courage to speak it, it will happen." Conor McGregor
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Alchemist (Book)
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7


Thanks GMAT CLUB. Love you all!


Hi
Congratulations on your great score.
Best of luck for your applications.
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Re: 620 to 750 in 11 months [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jan 2018, 15:09
mark1k1k

Thanks for sharing your debrief with useful tips.
If comfortable, can you share your mock scores with split
and dates in this course of journey?

How would you ideally pace working on mocks and your weak areas in between?
Assume 600 (Veritas) is present mock score and one identifies work problems as one of weaker areas.

I have found quite a few fluctuations between non-official mocks and Gmat prep mocks.
Although the former gives better analysis after exams, few Qs often give a bumpy ride,
spoiling overall timing strategy.

All the very best for your apps!
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Re: 620 to 750 in 11 months   [#permalink] 06 Jan 2018, 15:09
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