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# 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight!

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760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 14:00
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When I saw the '760' flash on the screen, I about lost it. I knew I had the ability to break 700, but I never ever considered anything above a 720-730 possible.

Let me give some background first. I've taken the GMAT 5 times since September 2009, never scoring above a 690 until today. I also took a 6 month break from studying between my last attempt (690) and when I began studying for today's attempt (760). Here's my track record:

Here's my long debrief from start to finish. I started with Kaplan, then went to Manhattan GMAT, then finally to Knewton. I'll be brief with Kaplan and Manhattan and describe the final 2 month push to 760 using Knewton in more detail at the bottom.

First 2 Attempts - Kaplan
When I started in September 2009, I enrolled in the Kaplan real-classroom course. I had it stuck in my mind that if I did all of the homework and went to the classes, I would break a 700. I was dead wrong! While the homework and class sessions were a lot of work by themselves, I needed a more rigorous, in-depth, and methodological approach. As far as Kaplan goes, I had a great teacher, but I found the content in general to lack detail and be too brief. I also found that the algorithm on their CATs was seriously flawed. (though I have heard this has been corrected)

3rd & 4th Attempt - Manhattan GMAT
After taking the GMAT twice and scoring a 640 (Q43, V34), I decided that I needed to try something else. So I purchased all of the the MGMT books. As anyone who has used the MGMT books knows, these books are extremely thorough. I studied diligently using these books for the following 3.5 months. I would wake up early every morning (5am) to read and take notes on new content from the books. Then after work each day I would review my notes and do 20-30 OG problems. On the weekend I would spend 6-10hrs each day to study from the books and take MGMT's CATs. All in all, I truly felt that I was making serious progress, especially in regards to the quant section. By the end of my studies, I had learned all of the topics in the books and had mastered a lot of the more complex quant topics (permutation, combinatorics, probability, etc.)

I was feeling very confident in my ability to break 700 given that I was consistently scoring between 720-750 on both the MGMT CATs and the Official GMATPrep CATs (though I had taken both several times).

Once I took the test, I scored a 690 (Q43, V41). My verbal was surprisingly good, and a big improvement at that, but my quant score really frustrated me. Quant was my primary focus during the previous 3.5 months, yet my quant score did not improve at all. If you'll recall, I scored a Q43 the last time I took the GMAT. I attributed my low quant score to test day anxiety and decided to take it again 1 month later. During that month, I did not focus on content. Instead I just did OG problems for an hour each evening and took 1 CAT each weekend.

I went back to take the test and experienced every re-test-taker's biggest fear: I scored lower. This time I got a 680 (Q44, V38). While my quant had improved ever so slightly, my verbal had fallen off a cliff.

Final Attempt- Knewton
After the last attempt I was devastated. However, I temporarily came to terms that a 690, combined with my GPA and work experience, was probably good enough for most schools.

But this thinking changed after visiting Kellogg last October and speaking to students and faculty about GMAT scores. I left with the impression that it would greatly improve my chances for acceptance if I could get my score up above 700 (and especially get my quant score above the 70th percentile). I fell in love with Kellogg during my visit, so I made a commitment after that visit to block out 2 months (January and February) to study and take the test again in March. I also made a promise to myself that this would be my final and last attempt at the GMAT. I would take the test again in March, and no matter what my score was, I would never waste time on the GMAT again!

So...
Prior to starting my study regiment, I spent a lot of time putting together a very detailed study plan for those 2 months. I also decided to give Knewton a shot. Partly because of the 50 point guarantee (I absolutely thought that I'd be getting my money back) and partly because I had tried everything else.

My study agenda, which I typed out, carried with me, and put on my bedroom wall consisted of the following:

Monday: 2 Error Logs with the OG (verbal & quant)
Tuesday: Knewton Quant & Verbal Course (on demand)
Wednesday: 1 Error Log, Knewton Course homework
Thursday: Knewton Quant & Verbal Course
Friday: 1 Error Log, Knewton Course homework
Saturday: Knewton CAT, 2+ error logs (Q & V), brush up on difficulty areas, do extra Knewton assignments
Sunday: MGMT CAT, 2 error logs (Q & V)

I would spend 30-40 hours each week, in addition to working 60+hr weeks at my job, following this schedule religiously.

In regards to the Knewton course, I found it to be very good. While it covers the fundamental topics with great clarity, it does not go into nearly as much detail as Manhattan GMAT nor does it offer as many 700+ level quant problems (but for me, this was a not a bad thing!) Further, the video service and the quality of the teachers cannot be matched by any other program imo. Also, while Knewton really did do a great job teaching both Quant and Verbal, its Verbal material was truly exceptional. I can without a doubt say that it contributed significantly to my 47 verbal score.

However, I do want to point out that the Knewton CAT algorithm is definitely flawed. I fluctuated between 680 and 710 on all 6 of the CATs, and on the final CAT I scored a 45 on the quant but only missed 3 problems. Given my performance on the GMATPrep tests and the actual GMAT, I can assure you that their algorithm is wrong (for instance, I missed 11 on the GMAT Prep quant section and still scored a 48).

In sum, I think that there were a few things in particular that allowed me to make the jump from 690 to 760.

First, I started using error logs. While I had used the OG for practice problems in the past, it was not until this last attempt that I began using error logs extensively. For each error log, I would do 40 quant questions (20DS, 20PS) or 45 verbal questions (20SC, 20CR, 5RC) all within a strict 60 minute time frame. This not only helped me to improve my timing, but it also helped me to learn from my mistakes. I also found it IMPERATIVE to review any mistakes or uncertainties in-depth after completing an error log. At times, I would spend as much time reviewing the error log as I would doing the problems in the error log. Also, every 2-3 weeks I would go back through my old error logs and do an error log that consisted only of problems I had trouble with before.

Second, when I used MGMT during my 3rd & 4th attempt, I spent a ton of time mastering the more complex portions of the GMAT (probability, combinatorics, etc). I always thought that these difficult concepts were keeping me back from a 700. However, I am confident that my attention to these topics actually prevented me from mastering some of the more fundamental and easy-to-medium type questions. To put into perspective, prior to my 3rd & 4th GMAT attempt, I could have probably done any 700+ probability problem out there, but I would likely slip up on a 600 level ratio problem.

Finally, during my last attempt at studying, I stopped trying to "memorize." During my previous attempts I used an ever-increasing stack of flash cards (over 200) that contained everything from the formula of a trapezoid to every idiom that I had difficultly with. I would spend at least an hour every day going through these flash cards to make sure that I could repeat the stuff verbatim. This last go-around, I changed my frame of mind. I realized that it was more important to learn the formulas by practice and application (by doing thousands of practice problems) than by rote memorization.

Test Day
My exam was scheduled for Friday morning at 8am. I took off from work the day before in order to catch up on rest and do a quick review. I spent the day before watching the final Knewton Quant and Verbal review videos, which provide a nice overview of all the main GMAT concepts. I did terrible on the review problems in the video, so I started getting pretty nervous. I went for a run to clear my head. I convinced myself that I had done all I could do and that tomorrow I would need to stop thinking and start acting. There was no point in thinking about past CAT scores or my upcoming GMAT score, instead I only needed to focus on the single question in front of me. I shoved the test to the back of my mind and was finally relieved.

So finally the day came. I woke up at 5:30am, drank a couple cups of coffee, did 10 practice quant problems, ate a big breakfast, and left for the test center. When I arrived I went through the normal routine and began on the AWA portion. I'm usually very strong in the AWA portion, but I found both the argument and issue questions to be particularly challenging. After I finished AWA I took a quick break and started on the quant portion. First quant question was fine, but I got tripped up and spent about 3-4 minutes on the third question; I ended up having to guess. It was frustrating because I knew it was a simple 'group' question, but for some reason I couldn't formulate any solution in the answer choices. After that, I started nailing the questions, but I was also aware that I was averaging slightly more than 2min per question. I made up most of the time until I got to the last two questions. #36 was a weighted average question and #37 was a number property question, both of which I consider to be strong points of mine. I was pressed on time and ended up having to make educated guesses on each of the questions. During the subsequent break I realized that I got both of the last two questions wrong after hitting submit. Given my struggle with managing my time, along with my errors in the last 2 questions, I predicted that my quant score was lower than I would have like. I figured that I needed to destroy the verbal section to break 700.

During the verbal section I felt amazing from question #1. After 10-15 questions I started getting some really difficult CR & RC questions that were taking me longer than normal to answer. However, despite their difficulty, I knew that I was demolishing every question. I was truly in the 'zone!' Around question #30, I knew that my verbal score was going to be massive, I just had no idea how massive it was going to be!

Right before I selected 'Submit My Score,' I was expecting my score to be between 690 and 720 (Q44-45 V42). Therefore, when I saw 760 (Q47 V47), my heart just about skipped a beat. My quant score was higher than I expected and on par with what I was seeking. The 47 in verbal was a HUGE surprise. Out of all the practice CATs I have ever taken, I never received above a 44 on verbal. And even with the Official GMATPrep CATS, the highest I received was a 42. It's difficult to explain with words how overwhelmingly happy I am with my score and it feels amazing to be able to put this part of my life behind me!
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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 15:53
Bravo. Another fine example of how a persistence can overcome anything. 760 is huge step towards TOP 10 schools. Good luck with your apps.

P.S. Thanks for the info regarding Knewton. I find the video explanations most useful.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 15:55
Congratz on scoring very high!
Good luck with your application process!

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 16:27
Congratulation on the score and thanks for the debrief.

Posted from my mobile device

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 16:50
Congrats dude. Thats a Great score . Good luck with your applications.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 18:29
Hey that's a great story ! Congrats!!

I do have a question for you. You said you were scoring around 42 in Verbal section in your GMATPrep CATs. What helped you get the V47 on the actual thing? Was it just that the questions 'seemed' easier or that your were following a different strategy as well?

thanks,
IndigoIntentions
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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2011, 21:47
Congratulations Good luck with applications.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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07 Mar 2011, 06:11
IndigoIntentions wrote:
Hey that's a great story ! Congrats!!

I do have a question for you. You said you were scoring around 42 in Verbal section in your GMATPrep CATs. What helped you get the V47 on the actual thing? Was it just that the questions 'seemed' easier or that your were following a different strategy as well?

thanks,
IndigoIntentions

I took both GMATPrep CATS 2-3 weeks before the actual GMAT. Then during the 2-3 weeks prior to the exam, I made some major improvements in regards to my strategy for attacking SC & CR questions. I did hit a V44 on a Knewton CAT, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm convinced that their algorithm is flawed--so it's possible that my improvements during those final 2-3 weeks were responsible for my V47 score.

As far as how easy the questions were...
The questions didn't seem easier, but I did get the impression that the GMAC recently cleaned up the entire verbal section. For example, there were several verbal questions from both OG12 and the official prep CATs that I never could quite get the gist of and I would always miss these questions. Even after reading the answer explanations, along with interpretations online, the answer just didn't make any sense. Some of these questions tested very obscure or ambiguous rules. So ambiguous that you can find people arguing about the accuracy of these questions on this forum and on others. Anyways, in the GMAC's newest book, OG2nd edition (verbal), and on my most recent GMAT attempt, I don't recall encountering any of these types of 'suspicious questions.'

Also, on the actual GMAT, I noticed a few difficult CR & SC questions with structures that mirrored those of questions I had seen in the OG (this also happened on quant). I did so many OG problems over the past 2 months from both OG12 and OG2nd edition, that I was able to breeze through these difficult questions very quickly.
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Last edited by MDF on 08 Mar 2011, 14:23, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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07 Mar 2011, 08:25

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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07 Mar 2011, 20:07
great score....excellent story

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 12:24
Congrats!! Your story will inspire others to never give up!

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 15:15
Awesome debrief. Congrats on your score.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 16:10
Excellent debrief! Well deserved.

I like the idea of your separate 45 Question error logs. Would you mind posting a link to the one you used if its on this forum? Failing that, just a brief description of the metrics you used would be great.

+ 1 and best of luck applying
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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 17:17
Rux10 wrote:
Excellent debrief! Well deserved.

I like the idea of your separate 45 Question error logs. Would you mind posting a link to the one you used if its on this forum? Failing that, just a brief description of the metrics you used would be great.

+ 1 and best of luck applying

Sure, I actually made my own error log.

See here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key ... y=CJrOruAH Or shoot me your e-mail address and I can send you the actual xls file. You can download directly from the link above, but you might have to do some re-sizing to get it all on one page (switch it out of landscape setting for starters).

As I mentioned earlier, for verbal I would do 20 SC + 20 CR + 5-10 RC questions per log. For quant, I would do 20PS and 20DS per log.

Some other tips:
1.) Half way through my studying, I realized that it was a better use of my time to only write in the 'concept tested' if I got the question wrong or if I was slow/not sure when answering it. If I got the question correct with no problems (and <2 minutes), I would just leave the 'concept tested' part blank.

2.) I would write down the time on the log after each group of 10 problems. I would try and finish each log in under 60 minutes. This made me work quickly and helped tremendously with my timing. However, if you're just starting out, focus less on time and more on content.

3.) Before starting an error log I would be sure to evenly space out the questions I was going to do. For instance, if there are 200 DS questions in your OG, I'd space them something like this: 2, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, 92, 102, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152, 162, 172, 182, 192 <--This ensures that both the problem type and difficultly level are varied for each log.
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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 19:04
That's an amazing score! Congratulations and all the best in your applications!

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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08 Mar 2011, 21:51
Great debreif, and very inspiring story! thanks for sharing.

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2011, 09:53
Great story, I may never score a 760 but I'm glad for you. Wish you all the best with your admit to Kellog

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2011, 10:08
Is it possible to get a copy of your error log?

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2011, 11:22
thesfactor wrote:
Is it possible to get a copy of your error log?

See a few posts up or shoot me your e-mail
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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight! [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2011, 13:47
MDF wrote:
Rux10 wrote:
Excellent debrief! Well deserved.

I like the idea of your separate 45 Question error logs. Would you mind posting a link to the one you used if its on this forum? Failing that, just a brief description of the metrics you used would be great.

+ 1 and best of luck applying

Sure, I actually made my own error log.

See here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key ... y=CJrOruAH Or shoot me your e-mail address and I can send you the actual xls file. You can download directly from the link above, but you might have to do some re-sizing to get it all on one page (switch it out of landscape setting for starters).

As I mentioned earlier, for verbal I would do 20 SC + 20 CR + 5-10 RC questions per log. For quant, I would do 20PS and 20DS per log.

Some other tips:
1.) Half way through my studying, I realized that it was a better use of my time to only write in the 'concept tested' if I got the question wrong or if I was slow/not sure when answering it. If I got the question correct with no problems (and <2 minutes), I would just leave the 'concept tested' part blank.

2.) I would write down the time on the log after each group of 10 problems. I would try and finish each log in under 60 minutes. This made me work quickly and helped tremendously with my timing. However, if you're just starting out, focus less on time and more on content.

3.) Before starting an error log I would be sure to evenly space out the questions I was going to do. For instance, if there are 200 DS questions in your OG, I'd space them something like this: 2, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, 92, 102, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152, 162, 172, 182, 192 <--This ensures that both the problem type and difficultly level are varied for each log.

Really appreciate the log and the extra tips MDF! The system you used sounds great - i'm going to try it.

Again, huge result! Let us know how you get on with applications etc!
_________________

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Re: 760 99% (Q47, V47) - GMAT conquered after a very long fight!   [#permalink] 09 Mar 2011, 13:47

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