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640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked!

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Joined: 08 Apr 2014
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GMAT 1: 750 Q51 V40
640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2016, 10:44
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I attempted the GMAT for the third time a few weeks back and was relieved(relieved is an understatement) to get a 750(Q51, V40). My experience has been through its share of highs and lows and my motivation behind sharing this is to hope that you guys don't repeat the same mistakes. I hope this helps.

Background: I'm an engineer, non-native English speaker, preparing, procrastinating and stretching my GMAT Prep over the last 3 years. During the prep I worked full time, giving on an average 2 hours per day on weekdays and 3-4 hours on the weekends(not all weekends).

Attempt - 1
Asked a few friends on the resources they would recommend and a couple of them recommended e-GMAT. Started using the paid version after attending a couple of free webinars. Stretched the prep for 6 months without giving mocks and without booking an exam date(big mistake). Finally, booked a date, was hoping for a 680-700 performance(as per my Mocks) but ended up with a 640. Cancelled my scores in frustration.

Learnings: You might not need a prep course(start by preparing using a couple of guides), don't over stretch your prep(give yourself a maximum of 3 months), Stay determined and focused.

Resources used: e-GMAT, OG 13, Quant and Verbal Review 2nd Edition

Attempt -2
Realized that after spending a bomb I needed to make the most of the online prep course. Paid extra and got the course extended for 2 months. Prepared using a similar plan. This time booked a date 2 months in advance. Week before the exam lost focus due to personal problems and ended up with a 590, shattered!

Learnings: For a retaker, try to do something different - prepare strategies from a dedicated strategy guide, solve a lot of problems and the single biggest advice they say "Don't do the same mistake twice". I'll share details of how you can implement this later.

Resources used: Same as before.

Attempt - 3 - Strategy used, suggested

1. Start: Realized that the same course that worked for my friends might not work for me(I have nothing against them). Knew that I need to get my strategy right. Ordered the two Enhanced Score reports and noticed inconsistency in CR and SC. The reports just reinforced the fact that I didn't have a robust strategy for the question types.

2. Research: Looked for the best strategy guides and came across MH Set of 8 guides(great reviews on blogs). Borrowed these from a friend and started studying. The strategies covered are comprehensive and detailed. Initial plan was to
Read and comprehend every chapter > Practice the OG questions that followed(leave the Verbal and Quant review questions for later) > Maintain and Error Log(right, wrong, important*)

3. 1.5 months later: Gave a MH Mock(another gem from MH) and got a a 680. Knew that 1 month would be enough to get a 700+. Booked an appointment due in a month's time.

4. Last Month: The most crucial phase of the whole prep. I can't emphasize on working on the error log more during this phase. I'd read some of the chapters two, maybe three times during these three months. Reread all the Verbal books. Reread all difficult quant chapters(primes, odd and evens, prob and combinations, rate problems) and reinforced the ones in which I was good at.

5. Last week: Took the week off(highly recommend). It helped me revise all the concepts and stay focused on the GMAT without having to worry about work. I kept reminding myself to focus on strategies learnt. Gave a mock a couple of days before the D Day and got a 750. Didn't let the score get to my head as I'd attempted GMATPrep a couple of times before.

6. D-Day: Tried to stay calm, and breathe deep. Packed 3 snickers and 2 bananas with a bottle of water. Reached 30 mins before. Started with IR and AWA. Finished these two with time to spar. Took the optional break(highly recommend). Had a banana and a bite from the snickers. Kept reminding myself of the strategies learnt from MH and how I would apply them. Did something similar in the second break.

Resources used: MH Set of 8 strategy guides, GMATClub forums, OG 13, Verbal and Quant Review 2nd Edition

Learnings:

1. Mocks - Manhattan(they come free with a book), GMAT Prep - Use GMAT Prep in the last 15 days(they might help you reschedule, if need be). Maintain an error log for MH mocks. MH Mocks are like high altitude training - if you prepare at an incline in low oxygen levels then running on a plain surface at sea level will be a breeze. MH Mocks have really difficult quant sections but they helped me get a Q51. So I highly recommend these.

2. Questions - OG, Verbal and quant reviews, GMAT Club(can't emphasize how much this has helped). Sharing the links below(sorry for the incomplete links, apparently I didn't have 5 posts to share a link). Please copy paste these on google search to get to the exact link.

AWA - Used this as my only resource. Got a 6.0 thanks to Chineseburned
how to get 6 awa my guide

Quant
PS Directory - gmat-ps-question-directory-by-topic-difficulty
DS Directory - ds-question-directory-by-topic-and-difficulty

Verbal
SC - sentence-correction-question-directory-topic-and-difficulty
RC - reading-comprehension-question-directory-topic-difficulty
CR - critical-reasoning-question-directory-topic-and-difficulty

3. Maintain a high level of intensity during the last two weeks - revise concepts and error logs. Practice 2-3 Mock Tests and work on your weaknesses while reinforcing your strengths. Some of the strategies that helped me:-

SC: Focus on the meaning.
CR: Identify the question type > Deconstruct the argument > Find and assumption and prethink an answer > Process of elimination(work from wrong to right).
RC: Focus on the core meaning/gist, twists and turns, and my favorite, pretend that you like this stuff!

4. Make use of the optional breaks to refresh(get the sugar levels up), rehydrate and keep reminding yourself of the strategies learnt(point 3).

Even after all these if you're short of your target score(or way below) > Order an Enhanced score report and try to understand what went wrong > Take a break(a month, maybe) > Bounce back.

With this, I wish all you 700+ aspirants all the very best and I hope this debrief helps you all!
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Re: 640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked!  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2016, 01:46
Congratulation! :-D I keep reading inspiration post like yours to make me feel refresh while studying bored GMAT materials, yes studying GMAT is really bored :-(
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Joined: 08 Apr 2014
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GMAT 1: 750 Q51 V40
Re: 640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked!  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2016, 03:01
nguyendinhtuong: It does get boring if you procrastinate, stretch it for a long time. The key is to start when you have the maximum motivation. Try starting after talking to your friends, colleagues, relatives who might have got a good score and are doing well now. Its likely that the conversation will motivate you to study harder and work towards getting a good score. All the very best!
Intern
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Joined: 12 Nov 2017
Posts: 5
Re: 640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Dec 2017, 00:00
shree1210 -
hey, just wondering, the process from GMAT score onwards.
Which b-school did you land
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Re: 640, 590 and 750 - The study plan and study materials that worked! &nbs [#permalink] 27 Dec 2017, 00:00
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