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720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!

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720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2015, 11:27
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A note about me: I'm a brand marketing strategist, and I'd like to pursue an MBA from either Kellogg, or Wharton. I had a window of time between projects to "knock the GMAT", but it's just not that simple. I totally underestimated this thing at first.
The naive early days: I bought the 2015 GMAT Official Guides and thought that would be enough. The OG questions are obviously the best quality questions, but the explanations are usually insultingly useless. Here's an example: "(D) is awkward and ungrammatical". Are you kidding me? How about an explanation why? Why is it awkward, specifically? Why is it ungrammatical, specifically? So frustrating.
Result: 480 Diagnostic test with GMAT Prep free software.
Early conclusion: I needed a more comprehensive plan, with more structure, and most importantly, I knew there just had to be a more methodical way. I realized the importance of having a clear tactic to take with each question type, and the importance of really great explanations for every question type on the GMAT.

From there, he's what worked!
Some people might be able to self-prep, and that's fine for them, but getting the right MBA is too important to me to take chances. My thinking is if I'm going to spend $200,000 getting an MBA, I can afford to spend a few hundred dollars to help get in to the right school. I checked out sample videos for every course I could to get a sense for the best style, including e-GMAT, Magoosh, GMAT Pill, on and on. I liked EMPOWERgmat. It seemed to have the best teaching style. Here's where I went to compare all of the samples in one place. GMAT Club has a thread that lists all of the trials.
How I used EMPOWERgmat: I downloaded the 2 Month Study Plan PDF, and signed up. EMPOWERgmat was excellent, and here's specifically why:

• There are video explanations for every question, including the GMAT Official Guide. Even though I already did the official questions, doing them again and watching these videos was night and day. The explanations are super, super thorough and helpful. It's like getting inside of the brain of a GMAT Jedi. It just clicked for me.
• The course doesn't just emphasize content, or tactics, it emphasizes both. Having gone through the process, I don't think it's possible to beat the GMAT with only one. You need both. The course got me up to speed on the content (arguments, proper reading techniques, geometry, math rules, SC rules, etc.), and blew me away with how powerful the tactics are (the RC ladder, triage, test it, the CR box, the 5 second scan, etc.). I'd say that the content probably got me up to a 550 or so, and the tactics helped me secure the 720.
• It's on demand, so I was able to train on my terms
• The price is ridiculous. $99 per month is crazy reasonable. I was even thinking about spending $1000 for a course. In retrospect, that probably would have been throwing money down the drain
• Important: I committed to exactly following the study plan, and I think it's really important to follow the plan exactly as laid out. I'm not sure it would have worked as well had I deviated, especially on verbal.

Realistic practice GMATs: As per Rich and Max's advice, I always took full practice GMATs with the AWA and IR sections, at 8 AM to match the same time of day as my real test. I always took my practice GMATs on a Sunday morning so I could practice Saturday, and then review the test Sunday afternoon with the EMPOWERgmat Mistake Tracker tool. I found the tracker indispensable to help isolate and target patterns in my mistakes. My scores hovered in the mid-500s for a while, then I shot through the 600s. My best practice GMAT was a 730, so I was right in line on the real thing.

All said and done: Even though I didn't end up clobbering quant, I'm OK with the results, especially hitting the 96th percentile on verbal and the 94th percentile overall. It was good to know that I could beat one of these tests. I didn't score at that percentile on the ACT. All said and done, it feels supremely good to have the GMAT behind me now. Once you beat this test, it can change not only your professional outlook, but it also just feels good, you know? To be able to say "I did it", it's worth everything I put into it.

To those still prepping: go get your big GMAT score. I can tell you first hand that you can do it. You just need the right mind set to welcome the tactical training, commitment to a good study plan, and the right resources.

Compare the other video courses. It's not even a fair fight. EMPOWERgmat is amazing, and it was instrumental in helping me beat the GMAT.

Cheers everyone!
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Apr 2015, 00:42
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Congrats for the score. Though the debrief looks more like an ad for EMPOWERGmat.
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2015, 10:17
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sid1989 wrote:
Congrats for the score. Though the debrief looks more like an ad for EMPOWERGmat.

I intended it that way. This is the same message I used in my review about EMPOWERgmat too. The course was extremely valuable and I'm happy to spread the word.
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2015, 10:27
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Inspiring debrief! Thank you so much for sharing.
I've actually been in a rut at just sort of winging it on my own, and ha, you kind of called us out. I don't know why I've been so stubborn about doing it all on my own. I'm going to emulate exactly what you did. It's time for a lift.
Thanks again!
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jun 2015, 15:59
Hi marketingnut!
Great result by the way. I am also using EmpowerGmat course so that is why i wanted to ask you one question. When you took real GMAT exam did it seem to you that verbal part is very different from what you saw in OG or other sources? As for me that fact is very clear and makes me worry that right now we don't have verbal questions (well besides RC of course) that match official GMAT questions. And if you agree with me can you say that EmpowerGmat helped to get over this problem? Thanks!
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jun 2015, 10:30
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Hi Konstantin1983,
I really didn't feel a disconnect between the official test and the OG, Manhattan, or EMPOWERgmat. All of the questions seemed pretty in line to me. Of course the topics on your real test will differ from those in your practice, but if you apply the techniques properly, it's not about the topics at all. It's about how you apply the tactics, such as the CR box, and the RC ladder, etc. They helped me out beyond words.

I'd say that you want to get to a point to where you know the tactics so well, you don't even have to think about them, you just do them.
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jun 2015, 10:50
Hi marketingnut!
Yes i understand very well what you are talking about. It is my dream - to achieve a level where you don't think about the questions, you have all tools to beat the questions! I am working hard to reach that level of confidence but i am not sure that i can go all the way. Hope that EmpowerGmat course will help me as it did you=)). But nevertheless i still think that verbal part became more complicated in recent years and many GMAT instructors admit this fact. But your words make me feel optimistic. I didn't finish Empower course so may be soon i will better understand what you meant. Anyway i am happy that you got the score you wanted and i wish you all the best in your application process. Thanks for an answer!
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Re: 720 GMAT from 470: Verbal Crushed!   [#permalink] 09 Jun 2015, 10:50
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