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640 First Attempt Debrief - Advice Welcome

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Joined: 06 Jul 2012
Posts: 11

Kudos [?]: 6 [0], given: 5

Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Sustainability
GMAT 1: 640 Q44 V35
GPA: 3.54
WE: Other (Other)
640 First Attempt Debrief - Advice Welcome [#permalink]

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New post 13 Aug 2012, 09:37
Hey guys,
First off, thank you for your posts and comments. These forums have been very helpful. Took my first test this Saturday after 7 weeks of study and got a 640. Not very happy, but I understand that I need to focus my study better.

I’ve been working in architecture for 5 years and haven’t had a math class since freshman year in college back in 2002. Initially I intended to apply Round 1 with applications starting October 1st, so I rushed and booked two test dates before the deadlines which put me at Sept 15th & Aug 11th. I was inspired by RuggedIdealist's “My GMAT experience | A Self-Guided Study Approach” given a similar time frame.

Study resources:

Manhattan 9 week self-study course w/ syllabus & OG Guide 13th edition. I didn't think I needed all of the math guides, but I found them to be very useful, and they dig into nuances that I never learned in high school. (I used to be a Mathlete back in the day, so I know I'm capable of better scores.) For AWA Chineseburned “How to get 6.0 AWA…my guide”

I would go through 1-2 weeks’ worth of material each week. I found the work load not too bad, getting to work an hour early to study in the morning (around the same time I would be taking the test), and on lunch breaks. I left evenings open to study if I could, but I have also been busy with informational interviews. Weekends I would take a practice test at my office mimicking test day as much as possible (time, food eaten, MGMAT test simulation booklet, with AWA & IR) followed by reviewing incorrect answers. I quickly learned that I had to cut back my caffeine, having to take too many bathroom breaks on practice tests. In my last week I discovered Vitamin Water's "Attention" it’s a mix of caffeine & glucose, great for that 'decision fatigue', and only drank in moderation before test and at breaks with a granola bar.

Manhattan has a really good session on Integrated Reasoning, the moderator made the dry material interesting enough to pay attention to and very helpful with attitude approaching problems. I watched this session twice for prep.

Practice Sets:

The final 10 days before the test, I worked on timing and really stuck with the Official Guide. I took some 5 X 7 index cards and mapped out 20 Problem Solving and 17 Data Sufficiency problems (37 Questions) for 75 minutes, creating 7 sets from the Official Guide, sequentially so each set was slightly more difficult than the previous. I marked my answers on those cards and I would take notes the cards where I messed up. This helped me get into the grove of timing and keep record of what I got wrong for review before I started the next set (Examples of notes: should have estimated, miss-read the question, root properties, rules for triangles, etc). So before I started set #5, I would review what I did wrong on sets #1-4, reinforcing lessons learned and what to be careful with, etc.

6/10 GMAC Test 500 (no prior study)
6/23 MGMAT #1 530 (30Q, 34V)
7/7 MGMAT #2 620 (39Q, 36V)
7/15 MGMAT #3 580 (38Q, 32V)
8/2 MGMAT #4 590 (29Q, 45V)**taken in the evening after work, such a difference when you're tired!
8/5 MGMAT #5 640 (43Q, 35V)
8/11 GMAT 640 (44Q, 35V)

Test Day

I felt good during the test. The Integrated Reasoning seemed much easier than the Manhattan practice tests. I ended just in time where Manhattan I was never able to get though all the problems. I'm not too concerned about this part given many people will have scores prior to the IR implementation. But if you're applying in Fall of 2013, I would take this part more seriously.
The quant questions seemed much shorter in length than Manhattan as well. This made it easier to get to the bottom of what the question was asking for. Verbal felt easier than my practice tests, but it could have been luck not getting reading comprehension passages with abstract scientific language.

Prep approach for Test #2 in 5 weeks -- Advice Welcome!!

I'm hoping that given only 7 weeks of prep, a 640 is reasonable and a higher score is attainable with more time. I'll be re-reading Manhattan's Number Properties focusing on Divisibility, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction; and I'll be back to more of my practice sets from the OG 2nd Edition books. I didn't like Manhattan’s Critical Reasoning diagraming method, but hope a re-read will help reinforce the question format concepts. I've considered getting the Powerscore CR Bible. Thoughts?

Thank you again for your posts, I couldn't have gotten this far w/o the forum!

Kudos [?]: 6 [0], given: 5

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Status: Tutor - BrushMyQuant
Joined: 05 Apr 2011
Posts: 618

Kudos [?]: 795 [2], given: 59

Location: India
Concentration: Finance, Marketing
Schools: XLRI (A)
GMAT 1: 700 Q51 V31
GPA: 3
WE: Information Technology (Computer Software)
Re: 640 First Attempt Debrief - Advice Welcome [#permalink]

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New post 14 Aug 2012, 00:09
This post received

The first thing which I would suggest you is to create a error log.

I will recommend you to start studying from Powerscore CR book. It will definetly help you a LOT!

Am not a verbal guy so my advice might not be so helpful to you, but still i will try sharing my thoughts!
WQhat will you get after reading Powerscore CR bible?
Once you are done with reading the CR argument, you will be able to predict what kind of question is going to come and what will be the possible answer? (I was able to do those things once i was done with powerscore CR!)
Also, did you try grockit for practice? It helps a lot in improving the speed. And am very sure that once you are with powerscore then you can get almost all CR questions correct.

how to improve:

1. When you solve a question and you have already taken 2mins and you don't see yourself going anywhere in that question in next 1min. Then guess and move on! (its not necessary to get all questions correct to get a 50 or 51!)

2. Identify the weak areas (which i guess you have) and try the following:
Prepare a xls sheet (topic by topic).. and keep a track of your progress on a daily basis. Use color coding (Red,Orange,Green).
Red: You are weak in theory - brush up your concepts.
Orange - Done with theory but weak in application of the concepts
Green - Done with the topic

3. Regarding the individual topics:
For i=1 to end
For i=1 to end
-> Study "chapter i"
-> go to and schedule game for "chapter i" with difficulty level easy, If doing good then increase the difficulty to "medium" else go to next step
-> re-read the "chapter i" if you are doing bad
-> else goto next chapter and repeat the above steps.

4. Why grockit?
Because they have a timer for each and every question so it will help you improve your speed.
They have tricky questions which is what GMAT asks you!

5. General Advice
GMAT Quant is not tough - its tricky
Keep an eye on that then i guess you can help yourself out a bit.
Also, i read it somewhere that when you are doing good in Quant then you get either a probability or a PnC question. So if you get a question like that then its a plus for you!

6. Go to gmatclub and follow the discussions of the topics in which you are weak. Try to do the 700 level questions and try to follow the discussion which they have. It will help you in knowing how to think about the problem.

General Advice

Verbal: Do watch Thursday's with Ron. It will help you a lot, atleast in SC!

Good Luck for your prep!
Hope it helps!


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Kudos [?]: 795 [2], given: 59

Re: 640 First Attempt Debrief - Advice Welcome   [#permalink] 14 Aug 2012, 00:09
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