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660 to 700 after an epic struggle with Quant

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Joined: 18 Jun 2017
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GMAT 1: 660 Q39 V40
GMAT 2: 700 Q45 V41
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660 to 700 after an epic struggle with Quant  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Dec 2017, 22:13
This might be slightly long, but i'm going to be selfish and use it as a form of catharsis.

So I just got back from the test center. Surprisingly, I'm not as happy as I thought I would be. I guess after spending the better half of this year on GMAT club and seeing people score 760 every other day, has sort of made 700 seem underwhelming. But if I filter out all the super smart people on here and take a look at that score from my perspective, I realize that I probably should let that smile pull at the corner of my lips after all.

I first heard of the GMAT back in college. I remember the professor using one of the quant problems to 'scare' the class. In hindsight, it wasn't even that hard, but I remember being scared stiff. Math is not my strong point and i very vividly remember telling myself that there was no chance in hell that I'd ever sit for that exam. It was for the smart people. The nerds with round rims and plastic frames who are always hunched over calculators and drooling over numbers. (no hate to any of you guys that actually this <3)

A couple of years later, I took the GMAT for the hell of it. I hadn't yet considered doing an MBA and only did it because all my friends were doing it. With little knowledge about how the test worked (except that it didn't allow calculators), I signed up and sat for it. Lo and Behold, right after the AWA the option to use a calculator popped on the screen. I was so oblivious, that at that point I thought, Hah! awesome, everyone says no cals allowed, and yet the GMAT is giving me one right on the screen! Of course once the quant section started I learned the truth. Long story short, I ended up with a 590. I think my breakup was 38V and low 30 Quant.

This instilled some hope in me. I mean sure, I still did addition with my fingers (and still do, even on my recent test), yet a 590 on my first attempt cold wasn't bad was it? Over the next 2 months I decided to start seriously studying for the exam, focusing on quant. Naturally, at the end of those two months I'd watched about 20 different movies and completed 2 seasons of breaking bad without actually turning over a page of my stack of GMAT books.

So i postponed by another two months, and this time actually put my head down and worked. I decided to focus solely on quant and sat down with all 5 of the Manhattan quant books. At the end of the first month took my first MGMAT CAT: V45 (99%), Q 32 (24%). 620.

Now I want to take a moment to say that I'm good at English. I live in India, but I love reading fiction, and writing fiction, so english just comes naturally to me. I also want to say, that I have no idea what a clause, or a preposition, or conjunction or pronoun (I have vague ideas of these), or what any other technical grammar terms are.

So V45, Q 32. After A month of solid study, my quant hadn't gone up a single point! Quant terrified me. I could look at a question for 5 minutes and not even be able to tell you what topic it was testing. When I saw anything that involved numbers, it was as if someone had thrown a spanner into that part of my brain where the cogs, in any case, were rusted and jammed up with cobwebs.

Disheartened, I watched some motivational videos on youtube and got back to it. Probably a weak later my next MGMAT test 2: V31 (62%). Q (30) 20%. 520.

I'd actually gotten worse in quant from when I had taken the GMAT cold for the first time ever. And this was after about 5 weeks of ONLY studying quant!!!! To add to it, my verbal had fall off a cliff too. (mainly because I knew my quant score was doomed so i just guessed everything on verbal).

My next 5 CAT scores over a ~1.5 month period are as follows:

MGMAT 3: V32(67%) Q40(43%) 590 (a ten point improvement from when I first took the test cold)
MGMAT 4: V35(76%)Q39(39%) 620
MGMAT 5: V32(83%)Q38(38%) 630
MGMAT 6: V45(99%)Q0(0%) 430 -> I only did this, because in the previous tests I was guessing the verbal section, so wanted to make sure I still 'had it' within me to get a good V score if I wanted to. I skipped the entire Quant which was stupid.
MGMAT 7: V45(99%)Q42(47%) 710

GMAT prep : 580 (Q was below 35)
GMAT prep : 660 (Q was below 40)
GMAT prep: 710 (Q was 48!!!!)


So I had improved in quant. Sure a Q40 is still not good by many people's standards but it was still something right? (Note that the Q 48 was by pure, pure luck). I need to credit this to Empowergmat. Now alot of you might pause and go, "Uh, crediting an average of 40 in quant to a test prep company? That sucks!" But hang on! Up until this moment, NO amount of burying my head in mgmat books had worked. But after going through Empowergmat's quant course, I learned an entirely different way to approach quant. It was no longer about algebra and formulas but instead figuring out better ways to get to the answer. Yes a Q 40 is not good, and yes i eventually ended up with a Q39 on my retake shortly thereafter, but what Empowergmat allowed me to do was OPEN up to the possibilities of finding unconventional ways to get to an answer. Hell, Rich made it seem like Quant wasn't about math at all but logic! Where Empower really shined was in my second attempt (more on that shortly).

So, with 2 scores of 710 in my bag, I was fairly confident for my first re-take. I wrote a debrief on that already so I won't go into detail here, but long story short. I thought I had bombed the exam halfway through quant, panicked, and ended up screwing it up along with my verbal. Final score: V40 (91%) Q39 (40%) 660.

This was a big let down. I'd easily put in 100 hours plus+ and had still not been able to hit the 700 mark. I was discouraged, to say the least, and although I went home and immediately set my next date, I spent at least a month playing World of warcraft and Pubg instead of studying. Upon realizing that the date was drawing closer and closer, I postponed once, and then a second time. I finally got serious, and hit the Manhattan quant books again, this time promising myself that I'd actually take time to understand all the concepts, instead of rushing through them so that I could 'tick' them off the checklist. I understood that I had to get a strong grip on the basics, instead of SOLELY relying on backsolving, testing answers and plugging in numbers. A few weeks later? 620 on a repeat MGMAT test. Great. It wasn't working.

Around this time there was a free workshop hosted by E-gmat so without any more options I signed up. I think these guys are really good. I sat for their quant workshop and they provided me with a detailed analysis of my strengths and weaknesses. Convinced I signed up for their quant course.

Here's a short review:

Its a great course and if you have the time to dedicate to it (at LEAST 2 months), you can get some real mileage from it. They have this thing called the scholaranium which lets you track the progress you're making. So you could take a set of questions, check your score, revise that section, come back to the scholaranium, try it again and see how much you've improved. its a great tool.

I found some of the questions from e-gmat ridiculously hard. For example, the question they categorize as medium are pretty much 700 level questions on the actual GMAT. In fat, once you go through their quizzes, and then do their recommended set of OG questions, the OG ones are laughably easy.

Unfortunately, I only really covered the Number properties section from their course properly. They are strict upon approaching every question methodically and frown upon number plugging/testing answers. For number properties, this actually helped me tremendously, and thanks to these guys, I really got a hold of the entire topic. For algebra however, I couldn't follow through and burned out quickly.

If I had more time and more discipline, I could have learned a lot from E-gmat. Definitely recommend them to someone who likes the methodical approach.

So after 3 weeks of GMAT I was acing number property questions. Yet i still lacked in pretty much everything else. I did another test and got a Q41. I had about 4 days left for the exam and was pretty depressed about quant.

Then I stumbled upon the one thing that saved my backside - an article from GMAT ninjas blog. He had posted a story about a student of his who sucked at quant, and whom he had given the single most important advice in the history of this test to - Do the questions you can do and get them right. Drop the questions that are too hard and do not look back.


Here's a link to the post.

http://www.gmatninja.com/2012/11/05/gma ... for-a-720/

(I should add that Empower gmat also suggested this tactic but for some reason I'd never paid heed to it until GMAT ninja's blog)

Just like the client his story, my Quant went up to 44. And just like her, my quant went up to 47 in the next mock! I hadn't learned anything new! The only change was that I was literally guessing 10-15 questions (after spending 30 seconds deciding if I could take them on or not). The net result - a quant score that stabilized around 45 (more if some of those guesses were correct). Again, sure, its not a big quant score, but to me? After spending 200+ hours on quant alone? Hell yes it was!

TEST DAY

I went in feeling way more confident in quant than I'd ever been. I decided to do the verbal section first since the confidence boost would carry over into quant. However, I pretty much went completely blank during verbal. I owe this to the fact that I took a Modalert pill before the exam (modafinil), it combats sleep and fatigue and also gives you a slight buzz (similar to that of alcohol). I'd used it extensively to study for quant. However, during the test it had an adverse affect and I could barely formulate what I was reading let alone turn it into a coherent idea. Questions got easier and easier and by the end of verbal I thought i was going to end up with a V 30.

I shook it off and dove into quant. Here I applied GMat ninja's strategy just as I had during my last two mocks. I saw a couple of 3d object, combination and 3 set questions which made me happy because I figured it meant I was doing well. I immediately dumped them after spending maybe ~15 seconds trying to see if I could put something together and improve my chance at a guess. I went through half the quant section with my spirits high until i suddenly saw a string of extremely easy questions. Once again my confidence plummeted. I mean I could literally solve some of these questions just by looking at them. I thought I'd bombed quant as well and didn't take the break before the IR and essay section, wanting to end the misery ASAP.

Before I clicked the 'next' button, I seriously thought I'd scored somewhere in the 500s, but Lo and behold the score popped up with a 700 (V41 Q 45). I wasn't ecstatic, because I was aiming for like a 720-740, but damn, it was good to see the number start with a 7.

I was with mad at myself for sabotaging my verbal score with modafinil (dont take this on test day), but I was more than happy with my quant.

E-gmat's Number properties section allowed me to own those questions. GMATninja's simple word of advice kept me stable, and for everything else, there was EmpowerGmat's unconventional way of handling math. (I used tons of testing answers and testing numbers, as well as just sitting back and thinking of questions in a logical manner).

Am I better at math today (after 200+ hours of study) than I was before the test? Not a whole lot. Numbers still scare me stiff. But at least i beat this bloody test, and whether the score is sufficient to get me into a good school or not, it doesn't matter too much because this was definitely one of the few personal victories I've had in my life.

So at the end of it all (if you've reached this far), just know this - If i can get a 700, there's not a single person out there who can't. I committed all the preparation sins one can imagine - procrastination, skimming basics, focusing on advanced questions, taking too many notes, taking too few notes, using too many resources etc.... but at the end, I was able to scrape something together that I can be proud of.

Good luck to all. And thanks GMAT club!

(sorry for the long post)
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Re: 660 to 700 after an epic struggle with Quant  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Dec 2017, 05:52
calappa1234

Very interesting debrief for a couple of reasons!!

Quote:
Naturally, at the end of those two months I'd watched about 20 different movies and completed 2 seasons of breaking bad without actually turning over a page of my stack of GMAT books.


Did you refer to Manhattan books and OG at this stage?

Quote:
Disheartened, I watched some motivational videos on youtube and got back to it. Probably a weak later my next MGMAT test 2: V31 (62%). Q (30) 20%. 520.

I'd actually gotten worse in quant from when I had taken the GMAT cold for the first time ever. And this was after about 5 weeks of ONLY studying quant!!!! To add to it, my verbal had fall off a cliff too. (mainly because I knew my quant score was doomed so i just guessed everything on verbal).

My next 5 CAT scores over a ~1.5 month period are as follows:

MGMAT 3: V32(67%) Q40(43%) 590 (a ten point improvement from when I first took the test cold)
MGMAT 4: V35(76%)Q39(39%) 620
MGMAT 5: V32(83%)Q38(38%) 630
MGMAT 6: V45(99%)Q0(0%) 430 -> I only did this, because in the previous tests I was guessing the verbal section, so wanted to make sure I still 'had it' within me to get a good V score if I wanted to. I skipped the entire Quant which was stupid.
MGMAT 7: V45(99%)Q42(47%) 710

GMAT prep : 580 (Q was below 35)
GMAT prep : 660 (Q was below 40)
GMAT prep: 710 (Q was 48!!!!)


Could you realize why did you score less in MGMAT #2? MGMAT mocks (esp Quant) are a bit notorious (read more difficult) than actual mocks and your experience with them shall validate my point. How close did you find Verbal from MGMAT vs actual GMAT / GMATprep EP?
Can you also share your split for various GMAT prep. I am interested in knowing your improvement path and steps that helped you reach to advanced level.
Knowing from someone's errors is lot smarter than committing them and then improvising ;)

Quote:
Where Empower really shined was in my second attempt (more on that shortly).

Did you enroll for Enpower in first and EgmatQuant online in second attempt? Can you share your reasoning to change the same?

Quote:
I went in feeling way more confident in quant than I'd ever been. I decided to do the verbal section first since the confidence boost would carry over into quant. However, I pretty much went completely blank during verbal. I owe this to the fact that I took a Modalert pill before the exam (modafinil), it combats sleep and fatigue and also gives you a slight buzz (similar to that of alcohol). I'd used it extensively to study for quant. However, during the test it had an adverse affect and I could barely formulate what I was reading let alone turn it into a coherent idea. Questions got easier and easier and by the end of verbal I thought i was going to end up with a V 30.

Your end score in V is in vast difference with what you anticipated at this junction. Do you recall panicking in any particular sub section?

Overall I really feel you should go for a re-attempt. Your V is on track and if you are from India, Q49+ should be reasonably achievable.
You still have GC Quant tests in your armory for Quant. :-) Spending additional few USD on ESR shall not be a bad choice at this junction.

Wishing you all the very best !
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Re: 660 to 700 after an epic struggle with Quant  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Dec 2017, 14:00
Hi calappa1234,

First off, a 700/Q45 is an outstanding score (it's right around the 90th percentile overall), so you should apply to any Business Schools that interest you. Depending on the Programs that you plan to apply to, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile. There's a Forum full of them here:

http://gmatclub.com/forum/ask-admission ... tants-124/

It sounds like you approached this process in 'starts-and-stops', but there are a couple of big take-aways that you can use in the future... first, you have a strong capacity to learn, adapt and improve (and that will serve you well in Business School and beyond). Second, you've allowed yourself to get distracted by entertaining things in the past (movies, video games, etc.), but you have to decide what's MORE important - those diversions or your future. There's no 'wrong' answer, but you've shown that you have the capacity to achieve a lot - so now it's a question of how important your ultimate goals really are.

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Rich
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Re: 660 to 700 after an epic struggle with Quant &nbs [#permalink] 19 Dec 2017, 14:00
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