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730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence

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730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 11 Aug 2017, 10:44
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Hello, GMAT Club community!

Let's get right to it:

A little about me: 29 year old white male engineer living in the southern United States. Undergrad and grad degrees in engineering from two good public universities. I work in defense, but am not military. I had a good GRE score (Q168V158 ~710 GMAT equivalent) I used to get my master's.

Background


My journey began earlier this year when I travelled to Cuba in January (yes, legal now, but probably not for long under he-who-is-not-to-be-named in the White House) and bought some nice cigars. Upon returning, I had a revelation that I wanted an MBA full-time, and for a good school that meant a good GMAT. I'm lucky and had tuition assistance from my employer, so I enrolled in the Manhattan GMAT course with instructor Stacey Koprince (she's one of the best over there) and also The Economist GMAT Tutor for self-study (I prefer using a computer over shuffling through heavy books).

Back in February, my initial scores were in the 580-640 range (44-45ish on Q and 35-38ish on V). For verbal I had no strategies and relied on my natural English language skills- obviously this isn't sufficient. Quant was kicking my ass and was much harder than GRE quant. I believe GMAT quant is tougher because many GRE takers are taking the test to apply to non-quant programs like social work, so if you have basic quant skills you're going to do well on the GRE quant and get a good percentile. GMAT quant includes test takers from mostly quant backgrounds (economics, engineering) and not to mention many more test takers from India and China, who are typically rockstars at taking standardized tests because they've done so from very young ages.

Anyway, the Manhattan GMAT course filled 3 of my hours every Monday evening and was good at keeping me engaged but the curriculum is often watered down to fit AVERAGE test takers. The books are great for self-study, and the instructors gave some great advice and thought processes, but we all know that if you want to go to a top program then you need to be way above AVERAGE.

The Economist GMAT Tutor software was excellent, adaptive, and addressed my weaknesses. This is where I got most of my foundational study and speed on the quant problems. The tool tracks your hours spent studying and % progress with the course, and studying became like a video game. I spent 1-2 hours everyday doing this for two months (Feb-April), and racked up about 120 hours. I got some good scores on the Economist practice tests, including a 750.

I thought I was ready, so I got the GMATPrep Software and had a rude awakening at a practice test score of 680. At this point in my journey, I learned the most important lesson in my entire GMAT journey: Official Guide problems are the BEST prep for the exam, with respect to the quant. Say that to yourself right now. Official Guide problems are the BEST prep for the exam.

Nothing beats the simple elegance and inherent trickiness of the actual retired GMAT questions. The GMAC spends loads of $$$ testing each question (~$3000/question per GMAT Ninja Charles Bibilos) they publish on tests to make sure they are good questions. After studying with OG questions, I could tell whenever I was doing MGMAT or Veritas or Economist questions that they were knock-offs. Hard to explain.

Prep with GMATNinja


I needed better than a 680. With some suggestions from others I hired the GMAT Ninja for private tutoring, and used Michael Maietta (Charles' teammate) who was currently offering a cheaper rate because he was still being trained up. I had four 2-hour sessions with him and did ~15 hours/week of quant drills. This is where that Q45 turned into a Q49-50. The name of the game is to master algebra and DON'T MAKE STUPID MISTAKES. If you get a tough combinatorics problem correct, good for you- you get a small bonus. If you get a mid-level algebra problem wrong, you're ****. Master the medium level problems with the GMATPrep question pack and don't make mistakes.

With the GMAT Ninja, my verbal score went from 37-38 to 41-44. How? LSAT Prep tests. That's right. LSAT prep tests are harder than the critical reasoning and reading comprehension on the GMAT- it's like lifting much heavier weights and getting strong, then when you return to GMAT verbal questions you're like Arnold Schwarzenegger throwing an empty barbell around. Michael explained to me that Critical Reasoning>>Reading Comprehension>>Sentence Correction. CR is the root of all of it and has the greatest impact on your score- and good CR translates into good RC. Paying laser attention to each word in a passage and writing down the conclusion and purpose of the passage before answering the question helped immensely.

So there I was, in late May, getting 760, 740, 720 practice test scores on the GMAT Prep. I thought I was ready.


First Attempt - 690


I went in to the testing center in early June and and blew the quant section. My score was a 690 (Q45V41), and I rushed the quant and made those stupid mistakes on medium-level problems as mentioned above. I also had some bad jitters. To correct for this, I got on GMAT Club and worked every GMAT OG Quant problem I could find, and really started to get a feel for just HOW the GMAT quant is tricky. Build up that database of problems in your head so when you see it on the test you'll think to yourself "I've seen this before."

I drilled those OG quant problems available on GMAT Club for the 16-day period you have to wait between test takes, and got smooth on the quant. Those same two weeks, I would alternate between CR and RC sections (1 a day) on the LSAT Prep tests GMAT Ninja had sent me. I also did a few SC questions a day to stay fresh. I bought the GMATPrep exam pack 2 and hit a 750 and a 760. I was ready.


Second Attempt


Then came my triumph! On July 13th. To get the jitters out, I woke up and ran a couple of miles. Running has always helped me calm down and focus. This was the first week the GMAT was being given with the option to select the sequence you'd like to take the test in, so I selected quant first.

It all went well: 730 (Q49V41 IR 8, AWA 5.5)


I went home and smoked my Cuban cigar that night and was so glad I had gotten a good score when it counts. Yes it was a relief, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my journey. Enjoy the journey. Anytime you get a **** practice test score, or fudge an easy problem, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that you're in this thing for the long haul. It will take however long it's going to take. But keep coming back everyday and chipping away at it like a f***ing madman. Persistence is more powerful than any other force. You are a battering ram, beating against the door until it opens. An MBA from a top program is something that will benefit you for many years of your life and it's worth it to slow down, find a sustainable study rhythm, and stick with it.

Special thanks to Michael Maietta at GMAT Ninja who found out what my mistakes were and made me drill them. He also held me accountable to doing my assignments, and was very generous with his time. And thanks to the GMAT Club for being a great resource for OG problems with a timer. It made a difference.

Good Luck Everyone

-Daniel
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Originally posted by OrbitalDecay on 11 Aug 2017, 07:23.
Last edited by OrbitalDecay on 11 Aug 2017, 10:44, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Aug 2017, 09:24
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Hi
great story of persistence and hard work. Congratulations for the success.

Could you please share break ups of your mocks, specially verbal break up.
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Aug 2017, 09:35
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Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm trying to make the same score leap! This was motivating! :good
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Aug 2017, 07:25
mbaaspirant80 wrote:
Hi
great story of persistence and hard work. Congratulations for the success.

Could you please share break ups of your mocks, specially verbal break up.


Hey!

So I'm not going to include my Veritas and MGMAT mocks because I think those verbal sections aren't real. My practice test history:

GMATPrep 1: 680 Q46V38
GMATPrep 2: 760 Q50V42

Exam Pack 1
GMATPrep3: 740 Q49V41
GMATPrep4: 720 Q45V44

Exam Pack 2
GMATPrep5: 750 Q49V42
GMATPrep6: 760 Q49V44

Your verbal on the 2nd exam of each pack is going to be naturally inflated, because you'll see repeat questions. LSAT Prep tests help me immensely.
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Aug 2017, 17:20
Fantastic.

Thank you for sharing your story, it is very nice to read and see your success. Reading stories such these one gives me strength and courage to overcome my own hurdle too, Verbal part of GMAT and i think so far i am on a good track with it.

I hope you get to the Full time MBA that you like.
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Aug 2017, 07:01
Heseraj wrote:
Fantastic.

Thank you for sharing your story, it is very nice to read and see your success. Reading stories such these one gives me strength and courage to overcome my own hurdle too, Verbal part of GMAT and i think so far i am on a good track with it.

I hope you get to the Full time MBA that you like.



When doing CR, writing down the conclusion of each passage is very important- don't even look at the question before doing that. Look for that "therefore" or "so, ....." and write down the conclusion in your own words.
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Re: 730 and the Cuban Cigar: A Story of Persistence &nbs [#permalink] 16 Aug 2017, 07:01
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