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750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change

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Joined: 18 Oct 2014
Posts: 8
GMAT 1: 750 Q48 V44
750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Feb 2015, 20:03
Hi Everyone,

Of all the 700+ debriefs I've read on GMAT Club, the best debrief was written by 2x2Matrix (, so I hope he or she won't be too offended as I steal his or her debrief format :-D Also, I couldn't make it TOO easy for everyone, so you'll need to Google/search GMAT Club to find the appropriate links/materials.

Table of Contents

1. Background
2. Materials
3. The Journey: My Ideal Plan
4. Test Day: Game Plan
6. Advice on the Finer Nuances (Exercise, Diet, No Fap, etc)[/b]

1. Background

I am a native English speaker who grew up in the American school system (K-12) and attended a top public University. I'm in my mid-20s and work full-time in Consulting.

I would say I'm much better at Verbal than Quant, as my actual score split goes to show. I believe studying a lot for SAT Writing, as well as doing a lot of reading and writing in high school (both for English classes and on the school newspaper) really helped me to deal with all the problems most people encounter with Verbal (e.g. quickly identifying the specific rule violation for SC, dealing with idioms, being bored by long-winded Reading Comprehension passages, etc). My math is solid; I've always done well when I know what I need to do to solve the problem, but I'm nowhere near the godly levels of someone like Bunuel as far as intuitive reasoning is concerned. For those who have any experience with 700-level Quant questions, you know there is often a trick to solve the seemingly super difficult questions in under two minutes - after all this is a reasoning test - and that is where I had the most difficulty.

I studied on and off for about 3 months beginning in October 2014. However, personal issues came up and I didn't really commit myself to the studying for the GMAT until the end of December. And even then, I'd say I really studied intensely for about 2.5 weeks. By intensely, I mean whenever I wasn't eating, sleeping, or working, I was studying (which meant 5 hours a night on work nights and 12 hours a day on weekend days). During the last two weeks, I logged 100+ hours studying.

2. Materials

Manhattan GMAT Complete Strategy Guide Set (except CR and RC) - These are a good jumping off point for reviewing the basic material that you need to score 700. If you have a good foundation for certain subject areas (e.g. Algebra), just skip through the content of each chapter and do the practice problems. If you can solve all of those without any errors, move on to the next chapter. Otherwise, go back and review what you don't know. The only issue with these books is that it takes a LONGGGG time to get through all if you're reading them properly (going back to what you don't know, taking notes, doing the practice problems, etc). Even if you're someone who can consistently study 2-3 hours every night, it will probably take you at least two weeks to get through all the damn books. But as pretty much everyone else says, these books are the best for building your foundation for a 700+ GMAT score. IMO Powerscore CR is much better than Manhattan CR, so get Powerscore if you can. Also, I didn't read the Manhattan RC book because I ran out of time, and I naturally do well in that area. But I believe most others would also say that RC is the least helpful of all the Manhattan guides.

Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible - I'd recommend the Powerscore CR Bible over the Manhattan CR book because Powerscore does a much better job at explaining the difference between the various types of CR questions and how to best attack them. I though the negation technique for Assumption questions and the chapters dedicated to cause-effect and stats/numbers in CR were especially helpful. Manhattan is too general and not specific enough, and you need specificity to do well on CR.

GMAT Club Math Book - Written by Bunuel, walker, shrouded1, and bb, this PDF is a fantastic resource because it provides TONS of handy shortcuts and formulas to quickly solve otherwise complicated Quant questions. If you don't have time, I'd say skip over Manhattan entirely and just learn all the content from this book. Manhattan provides a solid Quant foundation, but the GMAT Club Math Book is what really helped push my Quant score higher.

Official Guide, 13th Edition / Verbal Review, 2nd Edition / Quantitative Review, 2nd Edition - These are good to use after you've completed a topic area to ensure you know how to apply what you've learned within an actual problem while under the two-minute time constraint. After going through the forums and taking the Manhattan CATs though, I found most of these questions to be too easy. If you feel like you're at an advanced level, just do the second half of each type of question set to save time.

Manhattan GMAT 6 CATs - Great practice for dealing with the strategy portions of the GMAT like guessing and time management.

GMAT Club Prep Pack - Very useful for difficult 700-level questions and collections of notes from individuals like whiplash!

GMATPrep 2 CATs - The closest you can get to the real thing :wink:

3. The Journey: My Ideal Plan

I will not go over how I actually studied, as it was a little haphazard and definitely rushed at the end. 100 hours over two weeks is not sustainable for most individuals, and if I had to do it again, I would not cram it all in at the end as I was forced to do. So here's what my ideal scenario would be if I had to do it all over again and had three months to study.

1. Begin by taking a Practice GMAT CAT to see where you stand and your strengths and weaknesses lie, both in content and strategy. Manhattan GMAT's free CAT ( is great for this. This is good so you can understand just how much you have to improve to get to where you want to be. Even if you're 100 or 200 points off of your target score, I really do believe that if you have enough desire and focus, learn the proper content, and apply the right strategies in a test day setting, anyone can score 700+.

2. Hit the books! Now that you have a basic understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and where you need to improve, make a schedule for yourself of when you're going to read the Manhattan Books, the Powerscore CR Bible, and the GMAT Club Math Book. Block out 2-3 hours per night and be consistent. Ideally, you'd also spend time on both Verbal and Quant each week. Take notes and/or make flash cards so you 1) internalize the content better and 2) have something to refer back in case you forget anything.

3. When you've gone over all of the material. complete the associated OG/VR/QR practice problems. I think only the back half from each set is valuable since the early questions are too easy. Keeping a log for how many you got right/wrong is good, but what's more important is keeping a log of the concepts that you didn't understand and ensuring that you don't get questions covering those concepts wrong again.

4. Search for these threads on GMAT Club - they should be stickied and/or really easy to find - because they all feature fantastic ways of thinking to deal with problems.
Chineseburned guide to 6.0 on AWA - there's a reason this is the thread with the most kudos on GMAT Club.
Mind the Gap CR methodology by Veritas Prep video - this was killer for me as it allowed to stop taking notes for CR, which wastes a lot of time
Rhyme's How to Destroy RC Strategy - Great time saver, as you get all the content from an RC passage that you need to answer questions, without any of the BS fluff.

4. When you're about 1 month out, begin to take Manhattan CATs. These are more difficult than the actual GMAT, so don't be too discouraged if you're not seeing the results you want. I do think it's helpful to review the questions you got wrong, but it's more important to use these CATs to understand the strategy behind the test. What that means is making sure your timing is on pace and that you're not rushing any questions at the end of a section. For Quant especially, it's helpful to keep a guess bank where you say to yourself "OK, I'm going to be able to guess on up to five questions." Nothing hurts you more than wasting 3+ minutes on a question, so if you know you're not going to be able to figure out the answer, just guess and save your time for a winnable battle. Also, take every section, both AWA and IR. Be prepared to block out 4 hours for each time you take a CAT.

5. From all the data you've gathered from steps 3 and 4 of the topic areas where you're weak, now it's time to attack those weaknesses. First, make sure you have the material and content down pat. Next, go do 700-level problems from that content area (e.g. Rate x Time = Distance). Quant 700-800 from the GMAT Club zip file of all resources
is FANTASTIC for this. Also, make sure you limit yourself to two minutes while doing these problems to more closely simulate an actual test environment.

5. During the final week, take the 2 GMATPrep CATs. I recommend saving the second GMATPrep CAT to the last day of your test. These are the most accurate indicators of your actual score. If you followed all the steps listed above, these may actually seem kind of easy. Your actual GMAT score will be +/- 30 points from these scores.

6. Profit :P

4. Test Day: Game Plan

1. The day before the test, go to the test center and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Figure out how long it takes to get there, where to park, and where the bathroom and water fountain are. Basically, you want to leave as few things to chance as possible.

2. On test day, get as much sleep as you can, ideally 8 hours. I know you may be nervous, but realize when you are less than 12 hours out from test time that you've done everything possible to prepare, and now it's game day.

3. Head to the test center 10 minutes or so before your scheduled test time. It takes about 10 minutes for Pearson to process you, take your photo and palm print, etc.

4. When you can begin writing on the test pad, I suggest blocking out your pad in a similar fashion to 2x2matrix. Write out 16 AD-BCE blocks for DS. Write out ABCDE with numbers across the top for verbal. Write out your notes for @chineseburned's AWA template. Basically, you don't want to waste any time doing unnecessary writing on the actual exam. During my exam, I had as much time as I wanted to write this all out before hitting Next on the first screen (which is not timed), so do that if you can get away with it.

5. Use all your breaks. Even if you breeze through a section, they're good for clearing your head and mentally moving past the previous section. Remind yourself that you no longer have any control over any of the answers in the previous section, so you should put all your focus into the upcoming one. This is especially important after Quant when your brain may be a little fried after testing for 2.5 hours.

6. Profit :P

6. Advice on the Finer Nuances (Exercise, Diet, Music, etc)

1. As often as you can, get 8 hours of sleep. You will be much fresher for the next day both mentally and physically.

2. Eat as healthy as you can tolerate. That means getting rid of unnecessary polyunsaturated/saturated fats and sugars. Fruits, vegetables, and lean protein should be the main part of your diet.

3. Do something active at least 2-3 times per week where you break a sweat to clear your head and get your body away from doing something other than studying. It will improve your studying efficiency and ultimately your final score.

4. If you're a dude, stop masturbating/watching porn. Google no fap to see the negative effects both have on your mind. Beyond wasting time that you could have used to study, masturbating will cause your body to 1) flood your brain with dopamine, which IMO makes you feel a sense of brain fog and 2) release Oxytocin, which makes you feel calm, content, and feelings of closeness. Evolution has developed that physiological response to promote bonding between mates in humans, but that's all for naught when you're jacking it to some pixels on a screen. You want your mind to be as clear and focused as possible for this test, and at least for me, doing no fap really helped with my mental focus and clarity.

5. Let people know you're studying and that you've picked a test date. Find friends and family to both support you and keep you accountable to your goal.

If you actually read everything, thanks! I hope my experiences can help those on a similar path, and I'll see many of you in the 700 club! :-D
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Joined: 09 Feb 2015
Posts: 5
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GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V43
GPA: 3.52
Re: 750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Feb 2015, 21:53
Nice job. How does the GMAT fit in with the rest of your journey to an MBA?

Prospective Class of '18 Applicant hoping to get into some good schools

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Joined: 18 Jun 2014
Posts: 74
Location: India
GMAT 1: 720 Q50 V38
GMAT 2: 740 Q50 V40
GPA: 3.8
WE: Management Consulting (Insurance)
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Re: 750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Feb 2015, 23:14
Great debrief !! But I personally beleive that Manhattan CATs are a complete disaster:

3 days before my GMAT I gave my MGMAT CAT and scored a disastrous 650 and I was like out of wits. Completely gone. The very next day , I gave my Veritas Mock 6 and scored an excellent 740 on it. After 2 days, I replicated the same success and scored 750 on my GMAT. This is just to illustrate my detest for MGMAT CATs and really Veritas's mocks are Gold.
Also, one should go through Veritas' free video lessons provided on its website. They also provide great insight into one's method of working.

The Mind is everything . What you think you become. - Lord Buddha

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GMAT 1: 670 Q48 V35
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Re: 750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2015, 22:56
Thanks a lot for such detailed debrief .... !!

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Re: 750 (Q48, V44) First Try - Tips, Strategies, and What I Would Change &nbs [#permalink] 16 Feb 2015, 22:56
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