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740 (Q51, V39, IR8) Score Debrief - Never Give Up!

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GMAT 1: 740 Q51 V39
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740 (Q51, V39, IR8) Score Debrief - Never Give Up!  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2019, 13:56
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Hello, GmatClub! Or Reddit! I will be posting this debrief on these two platforms, so if somewhere in the middle of reading this debrief you come to realize that you have already read it once elsewhere, you can close it and do something else with your saved time! :)

I will try to make this debrief as concise as possible, but I have to admit that I am still overwhelmed by the result and, thus, there is a possibility that this text goes much longer than originally intended (spoiler alert, it does). Anyhow, I will do my best to keep this whole thing short, yet thoroughly and very precisely share my GMAT experience with fellow readers :)

First of all, I would like to introduce myself. I am a Canadian citizen, who has lived the majority of his life in Armenia (and some years in Russia, too). For the recent couple years, I have never encountered many issues with speaking English language, as well as with reading or contemplating it in speech. In fact, all of the courses in the scope of my local bachelor's degree program were taught in English, so, essentially, I have had a full English undergraduate education and, to be perfectly honest, I considered (and still consider) myself quite fluent in the language. Naturally, I have always loved and have always been very good at maths, be it high-school algebra/geometry or undergraduate calculus and even statistics. As of now, you probably think of me as some geek who shouldn't have ever encountered any major obstacles with getting a good score on GMAT. The truth, however, is: that wasn't the case at all.

I first got introduced to this test about two years ago, when one of my best university buddies (back then, we were in our junior year of studies) was considering to apply to several prestigious U.S. schools for masters in data science/business analytics. His GPA and overall applicant profile weren't very strong at the moment, so he had to really ace the GMAT to contest his spot under the sunshine. Back then, we spent hours of solving tricky DS questions on GmatClub; I was doing them just because it was fun and some 700 level questions were really challenging for me, hence giving me no other chance but to engage in solving them.

As the time went on, I started questioning myself whether I should be concerned with my subsequent studies once I am done with bachelor. Gradually, I came to acknowledge that I will need to take the GMAT sooner or later if I ever want to get a chance of studying abroad, and, thus, no longer did I see it as a source of my mental exercise in some of my ample time.

My friend has taken his GMAT about year and a half ago, and scored 720; to end his story altogether in the context of this debrief and concentrate more on mine, I will just mention that he got admitted to MQM of Duke, Fuqua, and is doing just fine there for already more than a half of a year. I was very happy to know that he succeeded in his initial ambition, and slowly I started convincing myself: now is my time to tackle GMAT and get it done once and for all.

Just about since September/October of 2017, I started doing Sentence Correction, my second ever encountered section at the time after DS. Things were going fairly smoothly there from the very beginning, and, actually, even to this day I prefer SC to probably any other section of Quant and Verbal in GMAT. Just as I did in case of DS, I grew that little habit of doing Sentence Correction in my free time and trying to learn about certain caveats in 700 level SC questions, which I have been never aware of back then. Note that at that stage of my progress I haven't yet done any preparatory books or other GMAT-associated materials to significantly enhance my performance.

Anyway, the time went on and I was in the middle of my senior year already, nowhere near to applying to top U.S. schools within appropriate deadlines. Till the very end of my undergraduate studies, I could not motivate myself enough to continue prepping for GMAT and exploring other sections, such as CR and RC (Problem Solving was nothing very unusual from the very beginning of my GMAT journey, for it was of a super traditional, commonly observed format for me). At some point, I can clearly tell that I was feeling very burned out by the preparation, and eventually I thought there is no way that I will ever see a 700/710+ score, even during the practice test.

Things started turning around slowly, but surely somewhere from June-July of the preceding year: it was then that I found myself in possession of all MGMAT guides (who would have thought that if I asked my friend to share his study resources, he would delightfully provide me them?). While I would not assert that these books constituted a completely groundbreaking GMAT strategy (at least for me), all of them but the one on Sentence Correction (which is just honestly a must-have even if you consider yourself a SC expert) were, nonetheless, of a great assistance for some quick revision of certain Quantitative and Verbal concepts. By the end of the summer, I have done all MGMAT books but the ones on Reading Comprehension and IR/AWA and have begun to delve deeper in the realm of Critical Reasoning.

It turned out that I probably shouldn’t have ambushed on CR all of a sudden just as I did immediately after finishing MGMAT guides. CR has continuously proven – even up to this point – to be my Achilles’ heel – I just couldn’t perform on CR questions as effectively as on SC questions, for example. Even RC, although I haven’t done much of it by the early autumn, was going better than CR at that time – don’t ask me why, I know it is odd, but I can’t really come up with a good explanation of the phenomenon.

The whole CR fiasco that I had experienced demotivated me enough to, once again, just as one time before, leave GMAT abandoned for a while and focus on other things. In the depth of my soul, however, I still wanted to demonstrate (and, most importantly, prove to myself) that I am capable of getting an objectively good score, with which I could pursue my goal of doing Masters in U.S.

The last turning point in my GMAT journey, after which there was no backing off, came around exactly two months ago. Out of the blue, I have found myself spending more and more time on tackling my favorite Quant and SC questions, as well as getting through and gradually improving in CR and RC. What seems very strange to me is that, now that I look back and try to understand what exactly caused me to restart my GMAT prep about two months ago, I still cannot attribute that decision to anything in particular. I just knew – I am going to reach the finish line now, and, luckily, I have had enough spare time to be allocated to that process.

In about a span of two-three weeks in the end of November, I have reread all the previously read MGMAT books (again, though, while skipping books on RC and IR/AWA). As of then, I realized that I haven’t taken any practice exam yet, and, though hesitantly, I ultimately convinced myself to write one in the beginning of December. I chose GmatClub’s free CAT to do the honor, and after two tantalizing hours of solving Verbal and Quantitative problems I was left upset with an estimated “cold” score of 640 (Q45, V33).

Though I was severely frustrated by such result, I just couldn’t let all of my previously put efforts go one more time. Instead of locking GMAT in a longbox for the third time, I persuaded myself to continue studying for it. As I was solving more and more problems, I came to the conclusion that my Quant was just in need of some extra polishing; on the other hand, Verbal was my apparent weakness, so I decided to allocate more of my time on getting better at the latter.

After failing (and I mean so) considerably on my first mock, I recalled that I have also had OG’16 in my possession! On the very next day of remembering about its existence, I did the diagnostic test, on which I performed significantly better (around 710-720ish) in comparison with the GmatClub’s test. During the next three days I grinded the entire Quantitative section of the book, comprised of about 400 PS and DS questions of various difficulty.

Following the full completion of OG’s Quant, I decided to take my second exam – now via the platform of Official GMAT. Though I barely squeezed in the time on both Verbal and Quant (I altogether skipped IR and AWA), I was frankly shocked to see that I scored 760 (Q51, V42), a result in the 99th percentile. This mini-achievement was all I needed to continue my preparation and boost my confidence. From then on, my goal was to solidify my already strong stance in Quant and at least make sure that V42 wasn’t just a random manifestation of luck.

For the next few days, I was relentlessly doing CR: not only did I browse about 2-3 hours a day on GmatClub’s CR forum, but also I completed all 134 CR questions in OG’s question bank, with an approximate accuracy of about 85-87%. It was then that I decided to go for the second free GMATprep mock exam. I set my objective very clearly: if I am able to get 730+, then I should start thinking of registering for the official exam, for I needed just a bare minimum score of 700/710. In a very similar fashion to how I wrote the first official mock, I attained a score of 750 (Q51, V40), and immediately afterwards I said to myself: time to register for the exam, time to beat the exam, time to forget about the exam’s existence.

On January 9th, 2019, the next day after getting 750, I registered for the exam on January 17th, 2019. During these 8 days before the big day, I tried to balance my prep around all five major sections, as well as to learn about IR and AWA (honestly, had no idea whatsoever on what their purpose in the test was and what to do to score there well). I stopped devoting my time to OG, since I didn’t find any need to focus on SC and RC there, but at the same time I decided to run through both official mocks’ IR sections and MGMAT’s book for some advice on how to approach the two remaining sections.

The last two-three days before the exam were the toughest, because at times I was feeling very insecure about my Verbal – even despite hitting 42 and 40 there recently – and I didn’t know any longer on how to improve it. On the contrary, I was very confident about my Quant, while IR and AWA, to be honest, did not bother me too much – they seemed fairly straightforward.

THE BIG DAY: I woke up a bit earlier than usual, had a shower and a very petite breakfast. My exam was scheduled at 11:00 A.M., but because I lost almost all control over my nervous system and needed to confront the challenge as early as possible, I decided to arrive at the test center 40 minutes in advance. Here, in Yerevan, there is just one, relatively small-sized GMAT test center, and there are just three places for exam-takers. Luckily, in the whole building at the time I arrived there were only I and the exam moderator, who informed me that I was the only to register for the exam during the week (sounds insane, huh?).

More or less relieved, I entered the test room and, as during practice exams, chose to write Verbal first. I noticed that I did the first 10 or so questions in about 10 minutes, quite confident in my accuracy rate, too. My answering pace for the section slowed down eventually, and for the last 10-12 minutes I even felt that I was lagging behind the schedule. My last 4 questions were associated with a very term-specific, unpleasant scientific RC passage; somehow, I dealt with it, although at the very end of the section my mind was erased entirely. Overall, I was preliminarily satisfied with how Verbal went, and was now preparing myself for my favorite section, Quant.

Quant, however, caught me off-guard from the very beginning. Believe it or not, I got stuck on first two questions for sweet EIGHT minutes. That has never happened to me before in mocks, and I wasn’t prepared to that kind of crisis (up to this point I still cannot convince myself that these two questions were of a sub-600 or maybe even 600-700 level difficulty). While my brain was already signaling me: “that’s it, who needs your previous 51-s in Quant and all the good work done on Verbal before”, I was doing my best to resist the temptation of giving up entirely and tried to keep calm and continue solving problems. I will be honest with you, A NUMBER of Quant concepts and even types of problems seemed super unfamiliar to me or very rarely encountered before, on forum or even in OG. I started allocating less and less time on average for each subsequent Quant problem to compensate for the huge chunk lost in the beginning. Eventually, though I couldn’t even figure out how exactly I reached the 31th question, I submitted my answer choice for the last question during the remaining 5 seconds of time. On the duration of my whole second break, I was continuously convincing myself that perhaps Quant wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, but, again, at that moment nothing in the world could justify to me such an awful (as I considered back then) Quant performance. That was especially bitter to acknowledge considering how well I was doing on Quant in general, before the exam.

I continued the exam by solving IR puzzles, which, mostly math-heavy, rather than language-heavy (thank God), were a piece of a tasty cake after Verbal and Quant. I did all the 12 problems in about 23 minutes, and was super confident about getting at least 6/7 there. Right afterwards, the AWA task popped up; I found the flaws associated with the argument and the conclusion, in particular, fairly quickly, so the AWA section itself was a breeze, too.

I clicked “Next”. Are you sure you want to submit blah blah blah?, “Yes”. A moment of truth..


When I saw the score of 740 with the distribution of Q51, V39 and IR8, I blinked twice or thrice to make sure my exhausted mind wasn’t playing a bad trick on me; specifically, I was really disoriented by getting a Q51 – I wasn’t expecting it at all! I made a veeeeery deep exhale, immediately proceeded to accept the score, and exited the test room. I don’t think I have ever been as happy to receive a good exam score as immediately after finding out my GMAT score. Couple of hours passed from that moment, and here I am, formulating for already two hours all of my thoughts, emotions and, I won’t deny, sincere happiness and relief into this huge pile of text, just because, well, my post might be of interest to someone in the forum 


MORAL of my story, as the title suggests, is the following: Never. Give. Up. Period. The GMAT journey of mine has been abundant with both ups and downs, moments of instantaneous excitement and gratification upon getting an ultra-tough question correctly and moments of repetitive anxiety and disappointment with myself and my ability (or, rather, inability) to beat the GMAT. I am very positive about the fact that many readers of this post can very well sympathize with my ideas and concerns, so here it is – my post – to encourage you to keep fighting, and to further believe that you are 100% capable of getting not just your desired score, but even better than that :)

As for my plans for Masters, now that I am done with GMAT, I will start to look through the application processes of the desired schools very shortly. In case you feel you can help me with some must-know information with the applications in general or for certain schools in U.S., hit me up: I will share with you the specifics that you might need to construct your advices!


TL;DR for PREP MATERIALS (jokes on you, no TL;DR for the whole text, I’d love you to read it entirely):

Quant: MGMAT Books 1-4 (I found the book on Number Properties to be especially rewarding for Q51-aimers), OG’ 16 PS and DS sections with their respective question banks, and GmatClub’s Bunuel. Seriously, sometimes I felt that Bunuel and all his (her? their?) efforts and, especially, responses to tricky questions were more beneficial to my understanding of how to approach certain Quant problems than all the math books combined. Big kudos to you, Bunuel!

Verbal: MGMAT CR and SC (highly recommended!) Books, OG’ 16 CR question bank, and, again, DOZENS of questions on GmatClub. In Verbal forum of GmatClub, there is no such phenomenon as Bunuel of Verbal (although he (she? they? Eh, whatever) is quite active there, too!), yet there are a number of REALLY, really well-spoken experts, whose explanations are almost always more comprehensive than OE’s. Keep it up, dear experts! :)

IR & AWA: MGMAT IR & AWA guide was extremely helpful for me in providing the basic understanding of what the two sections were all about. Doing the 24 problems of two free GMAT prep exams, in my opinion, should be enough to be absolutely prepared for the section of IR. For AWA, make sure to glance over chineseburned’s AWA 6.0 guide, google it!

IN ADDITION: I would also highly recommend that mobile users download the “Veritas Prep Official App” (not sure if it’s available on Android, but it’s there on Apple for sure), and do small quizzes there from time-to-time. By regularly using the application for about last month and a half of my prep, I have managed to run out of available SC, CR and DS questions – that’s how much time I was allocating to the software! The questions’ quality is EXTREMELY good, and the answer explanations are very student-catered and thorough. A must-have for an aspiring 700+ test-taker!


Huh, I am finally done! Thank you very much for your time and attention! I hope you have a fantastic day, and good luck to you with your GMAT endeavors! :)
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Re: 740 (Q51, V39, IR8) Score Debrief - Never Give Up!  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 20:30
That’s great. I just started with my preparation. Can you advise how many hours you used to prepare and how long you have prepared ?

Posted from my mobile device
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Joined: 16 Apr 2017
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GMAT 1: 740 Q51 V39
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Re: 740 (Q51, V39, IR8) Score Debrief - Never Give Up!  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2019, 02:20
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Laksh128 wrote:
That’s great. I just started with my preparation. Can you advise how many hours you used to prepare and how long you have prepared ?

Posted from my mobile device


Good luck in your GMAT journey!

As of your question, I believe you are referring to the last stage of my preparation, because, as I mentioned in the debrief, I began solving GMAT exercises/problems about two years ago, but the final leap in my studies has taken place two months ago. On a daily basis my prep averaged about 3-4 hours a day; most of my time I spent either on MGMAT/OG books or in this forum. In free time, I often did Veritas' mini-quizzes too, so you can take that into consideration, as well.

I would suggest, however, that you decide the optimal number of hours of study on your own, because it is different for every person. Try not to dedicate almost no time, yet also try not to exceed your limits. You will find the balance very soon, once you progress in your prep :)

Enjoy!
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Re: 740 (Q51, V39, IR8) Score Debrief - Never Give Up!   [#permalink] 19 Jan 2019, 02:20
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