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680 to 770 in ~6 weeks

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GMAT 1: 680 Q48 V35
GMAT 2: 770 Q49 V46
680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 01:16
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What a day today has been!

I just took the GMAT this afternoon and landed a 770. I literally couldn't believe the computer screen when I saw it, and only realized that it was real when I received my print out.

Wanted to share with the community how I prepared, how I approached test day, etc.

Test 1: 10/16/17
Prep: ~2 months, primarily using MPrep materials as well as the MPrep online accelerated group course. I found the group course to be pretty unhelpful for trying to achieve top-level scores, and it seemed that the instructors were more keen on playing "gotcha" with the students than teaching us the foundational principles of GMAT. Two weeks before the test, my diagnostics were coming in in the mid 600's (and had actually been sliding from 690-660 over my prep period) so I was seriously concerned. I did every single problem in the quant books for MPrep (all the problem sets at the back of each chapter) over those last two weeks and scored a 680 (48Q/35V) on the test.

Test 2: 11/29/17
Prep: ~6 weeks, primarily with Brian McElroy of (@mcelroytutoring). We focused on SC and CR... I was already doing well on RC and my quant was in a good spot, so those two were the main focus. ~6 hours of tutoring with him, just about weekly, with plenty of homework and practice problems in between. We had a good dialogue over the ~5 weeks we worked together and I found his instruction incredibly valuable. I re-did all of the math problems from the MPrep books again over the final two weeks before test day (if it ain't broke, don't fix it!). My score this time around was much higher. 770 (49Q/46V). My verbal went up 11 points due to my work with Brian. I was fortunate to have that extra +1 on Quant, but to be honest I really didn't put a lot of time into that section this time around (beyond re-doing all those problem sets, the only other thing I did was review old practice test problems that I had gotten wrong).

Test day strategy:
V/Q/IR/AWA
I knew Verbal was my strong suit this time around and used that to my advantage to go into quant with confidence.

I'm definitely not an early-bird, so felt very comfortable taking the test around 12:30PM. I kept all carbs out of my food for the day (eggs, "protein waffle", etc.) so that I had no blood sugar swings; that's the easiest way to get tired and crash. I then consumed mushroom coffee (lions mane+chaga+40mg caffeine), a cordycep mushroom supplement, and, of all things, a pre-workout shake that I make consisting of creatine+ginseng+BCAAs+1,000mg of taurine. I drank half that pre-workout before the test and half immediately during my first break. (Ghost Lifestyle Size + Ghost Lifestyle Amino). Between all of those adaptogens and stimulants, there was no way I was losing focus during the test.

I'm still internalizing the fact that I actually got this score. I can't thank Brian enough for his help leading up to test 2. Hopefully this test day experience is helpful for those who are preparing to take the test. Now on to B-school applications!

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GMAT 1: 770 Q47 V48
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680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 19:31
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Congratulations, and I'm happy to have helped, jgordon257! 11 points improvement on Verbal in only 5 weeks is an incredible jump. Of course, it's not my success; it's yours! You did all the work--I just gave 6 hours of focused advice via Skype.

Other GMAT clubbers will surely find your "test-day high-focus diet" to be useful, so thanks for sharing that information with the community in such a specific manner.

I'm glad that a San Diego guy was able to help a New York City dude ace his GMAT, thanks to the magic of the internet. Best of luck with your applications--you will find GMAT Club useful for that purpose as well.

p.s. Welcome to the 99% club! https://gmatclub.com/forum/99-ile-clubbers-add-your-name-to-the-list-77041.html
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Harvard grad and 770 GMAT scorer, offering high-quality private GMAT tutoring, both in-person and online via Skype, since 2002.

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Re: 680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 20:26
Proof of the scores and the improvement.
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Re: 680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2017, 11:23
Congrats jgordon257 and mcelroytutoring

It is so heartening to see such a huge jump in the score(especially in Verbal)
It would be very helpful if you could detail your strategy for CR and SC.

All the best for the application phase jgordon257 and congrats once again!
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New post 01 Dec 2017, 12:51
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I'm sure Brian will want to opine on this, but I viewed this as kind of entrusting him with the process and simply followed his guidance as I prepared.

There were a few books and materials that he wanted me to go through such as Meltzer's Complete Guide to SC and Powerscore Bible, but I probably spent less than 10 total hours on those resources. They were helpful, however, for helping me begin to understand how the GMAT "thinks." I particularly liked the Meltzer "Cheat Sheet" which I tried my best to internalize and mentally referenced during the test.

Besides that I did 40+ problems per week from OG or GMAC Question Packs on the targeted area that I was trying to improve. This started as 100% SC for two weeks, then moved to SC+CR for the next few weeks. By the end of this, I had done every problem in the OG on SC/CR and nearly every problem in the GMAC Question Pack 1 on SC and CR (all of the hard and mediums, most of the easy ones). Nothing about this is revolutionary, but I would have never been able to hold myself accountable for such work doing it alone. Additionally, kind of like how the Meltzer and Powerscore helped get into the GMAT frame of mind, the 1-1 sessions were pretty much exclusively going through problems that I had gotten wrong and then learning how to adjust my thinking/approach to fit what the GMAT was looking for. In going through those problems I also got a sense for how to codify the different types of wrong answers and avoid them.

At the end of the day, doing a ton of practice problems, systematically going through wrong answers to understand flaws in thinking, and having external accountability did the trick.

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Re: 680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2017, 13:20
jgordon257 wrote:
I'm sure Brian will want to opine on this, but I viewed this as kind of entrusting him with the process and simply followed his guidance as I prepared.

There were a few books and materials that he wanted me to go through such as Meltzer's Complete Guide to SC and Powerscore Bible, but I probably spent less than 10 total hours on those resources. They were helpful, however, for helping me begin to understand how the GMAT "thinks." I particularly liked the Meltzer "Cheat Sheet" which I tried my best to internalize and mentally referenced during the test.

Besides that I did 40+ problems per week from OG or GMAC Question Packs on the targeted area that I was trying to improve. This started as 100% SC for two weeks, then moved to SC+CR for the next few weeks. By the end of this, I had done every problem in the OG on SC/CR and nearly every problem in the GMAC Question Pack 1 on SC and CR (all of the hard and mediums, most of the easy ones). Nothing about this is revolutionary, but I would have never been able to hold myself accountable for such work doing it alone. Additionally, kind of like how the Meltzer and Powerscore helped get into the GMAT frame of mind, the 1-1 sessions were pretty much exclusively going through problems that I had gotten wrong and then learning how to adjust my thinking/approach to fit what the GMAT was looking for. In going through those problems I also got a sense for how to codify the different types of wrong answers and avoid them.

At the end of the day, doing a ton of practice problems, systematically going through wrong answers to understand flaws in thinking, and having external accountability did the trick.

Hey! Congratulations on your success, Can you please share the study material you might be having.. I am planning to give my GMAT in February 2018..Also please guide me how to plan my preparation strategy for next 2 months

Sent from my GT-N7100 using GMAT Club Forum mobile app

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Location: United States (CA)
Age: 38
GMAT 1: 770 Q47 V48
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GMAT 3: 750 Q50 V42
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680 to 770 in ~6 weeks [#permalink]

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New post 02 Dec 2017, 15:23
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Outside of very specific strategies pertaining to Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning, jgordon257 has done a good job of summarizing our approach.

Of course, any attempt to summarize a test as complex as the GMAT will inevitably fall short. Despite the relatively small set of knowledge you need to memorize for the test, the GMAT is a highly difficult and competitive, world-class test of math, English, reasoning and writing skills. However, it can still be conquered through perseverance and the right strategy.

There is no "one size fits all" fix for someone with two months to study. You need to practice and discover your own weaknesses, then construct a study plan that fits you. For Jason, he just needed a crash course in SC and CR--he was already very solid in Quant.

Sentence Correction can get complicated, and has many facets. Thus, you will have to wait until my book for that one, but until then, the Meltzer book is an excellent substitute. For Critical Reasoning, we stuck to the core principles: 1) Identify your Conclusion, 2) Identify Your Evidence / Premise, 3) Predict Your Answer, 4) Eliminate Pre-Evidence, Out of Scope and Post-Conclusion Incorrect Answers, 5) Compare your Top 2 answers (if necessary) and 6) Verify correct answer. We also discussed visualization strategies to more fully understand each Critical Reasoning question type, and expanded on the five main categories of Assumptions (from "Ace the GMAT"): Cause and Effect, Comparison and Analogy, Representativeness, Implementation, and Questionable Evidence.

Part of why he succeeded is that he diligently completed (and reviewed!) every single question in the OG and QP1, as I asked him to do.

I am a strong believer that Full Practice Exams are overrated once a student has reached the high 600s/low 700s. At that point, it's more about obsessively working your way though every official question you can find (and reviewing them meticulously, making sure to note the reasons why each incorrect answer is incorrect). Outside strategy guides such as the Meltzer and Powerscore books, and GMAT Club Spreadsheets will also help with this process.

Especially when it comes to Verbal, it makes sense to practice with real GMAT questions only, since imitation Verbal questions inevitably fail to replicate the precise wording, unwritten rules and "feel" of real GMAT Verbal questions.

As far as study plans, strategies, learning resources, etc, you can check out My GMAT Action Plan (linked below in my signature). I have also released a free GMAT e-book / strategy guide of my own, as a publicly accessible Google document, which includes specific tips for Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning.

That being said, there is also great value in discussing questions one-on-one, in real time, with a GMAT expert: being forced to verbalize your struggles often helps you to resolve them. This approach is hard to replicate without a tutor, but you could always join a study group, etc.. In addition, as Jason mentioned, there is value in accountability, and having a teacher, private tutor or "study buddy" who checks on your progress once a week.
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GMAT Action Plan - McElroy Tutoring

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680 to 770 in ~6 weeks   [#permalink] 02 Dec 2017, 15:23
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