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760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule

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760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 30 Nov 2017, 01:53
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Hi all,

Just took my GMAT about a week ago and wanted to share a general outline of how I prepared. I spent approximately 8 weeks prepping. My diagnostic score using GMATPrep at the beginning was a 670 (Q47/V35? don't remember the verbal score too well) and I ended up scoring a 760 (Q49/V45). A lot of my focus was on verbal and I'm going to demonstrate what I did in the hopes that it'll help some of you all with your preparations. No background or story from me I'm afraid, I'll jump straight to the study schedule ;).


Study Material


First and foremost, I recommend purchasing as much CAT as possible. I immediately bought diagnostic packs 1 and 2 on GMATPrep ($100 total) - giving me a total of 5 practice exams including the one I had left in the original GMATPrep program. I also purchased the premium Magoosh self-study subscription for 500 verbal and 500 quant problems to practice ($200 when I bought). Total of $300 spent for study materials.


Weekly Schedule:


  • Week 1 - watch intro videos on Magoosh to understand format. Started watching the Quant videos. I'm an engineer so I mostly blew through them, but I tried to spend ~1.5-2 hours a day on videos. I purchased two notebooks and immediately hand wrote down notes for math on one. Took the diagnostic score that weekend and was...rather disappointed by my verbal score and also a little worried by math
  • Week 2 - Continue watching math videos and start doing quant questions. I set aside 1 hour to watch videos every day (approximately 5-6 videos on Magoosh) and skipped basic ones I already had knowledge of. I also set aside 1 hour to do timed quant questions only on Magoosh. Be sure to keep an error log (soooo important) and log problems by categories, as well as timing yourself! I always did 25 questions initially and ramped up to 30 an hour by the end of the week. By the end of the week, I had gone through a large portion of the math videos. I also noticed specific patterns in the quant questions and focused on number properties and geometry which were my two weak points. I broke things down into things I saw over and over again - more on that in week 3.
  • Week 3 - Finished the Magoosh math videos by the end of the week. During this process I began to notice trending categories in math questions and in my error logs. I started specifying the questions I did with focus on these topics (one topic a day):

    • Prime factorization + Divisibility Rules - you MUST understand how to use prime factorization to solve a variety of problems. How to get GCF, LCM, and solve types of problems that asks for # of factors from number/variable X in number/variable Y. Understanding how to use prime factorization is VERY important.
    • General Algebra - specifically square roots, fractions, quadratics, and absolute values - understanding general algebra concepts. I think the most important ones are: being able to simplify square roots (and converting them to and from exponents), fractions, quadratics, and being able to solve absolute values in equations and inequality forms
    • Combination/Permutation - there will always be a combination/permutation problem, usually more.
    • Probability + sets - understand probability and how problems can combine combinations with probability (hint: a lot of the harder ones do). Also, threw in set problems for this day as well (rare but there always seems to be 1 or 2 in there)
    • Geometry - focused on squares (always a DS regarding quadrilaterals) and triangles
    • Rate problems - super easy, super quick. Understand the formula for D = RT and understand how that can be applied for work rates as well. Easy problems for you not to miss, they're always the same.
    • Spent the last day specifically on DS questions - always were my weak point with geometry.

    I spent about 2 hours each weekday and 3 hours each on Saturday and Sunday to study. Finally, took practice exam #2 on Sunday night - ended up with a 690 (Q50/V?) with a 50 in quant and still scoring a bit weak in verbal. At this point I was comfortable enough with all quant concepts that I didn't think I really needed to keep studying them.
  • Week 4 - Begin watching Magoosh verbal videos. I spent longer on these - approximately 1.5 hours a day. I continued to do timed quant problems for 30 minutes each day (15 questions in 30 minutes) with focus on hard difficulty and mixed categories. Still made sure I kept my 2 hours a day schedule and 3 hours each on the weekends.
  • Week 5 - Continue watching Magoosh verbal videos. I cut down my time spent on videos now - approximately 1 hour a day. I started doing verbal problems in conjunction with quant problems - about 30 minutes for each, and still timed! By the end of this week I was mostly finished with the verbal videos. I took a lot of notes that helped with sentence correction because a lot of the videos focused on common idioms and verb tenses. I took my 3rd practice exam and scored a 710. My quant dropped a point to 49, but verbal improved despite me having practiced verbal questions for only 30 minutes a day for a week. I was very happy with my verbal jump and the continual improvement I made on each practice exam.
  • Week 6 - I was a bit panicking at this point when it hit me that I only had 3 weeks left. I had finished all the video lessons at this point and had two notebooks worth of notes. I spent the majority of my time this week on verbal practice problems. I stuck to my 2 hrs a day routine and did verbal problems for 1.5 hours each day and quant for 30 minutes each day, all timed. I put special focus on sentence correction this week while focusing on the following concepts:

    • Subject-verb agreement (beware collective nouns)
    • Parallelism (you need to understand parallelism period)
    • Common idioms (I never took the time to memorize these. As a native speaker I kind of relied on my instincts more, but I believe Magoosh had the top 10 common ones that were tested that I memorized)
    • Verb tenses (Spent a lot of item nailing down perfect, progressive, perfect progressive, and subjective tenses. Don't forget about sequence of tenses!)
    • Adverbs vs. Adjective phrases and dangling modifiers - it's really surprising to me how many answers you can eliminate just by understanding phrases that do not modifier the noun they touch, or are adjectival phrases trying to modify something other than a noun.


    I made the big jump this week with more verbal practice. I took my 4th practice exam and jumped up to a 750 - Q50/V42. I was very, very happy and also surprised at the progress I made. Looking at my error logs, I noticed my biggest problems were DS questions in math and critical reasoning problems in verbal. I did relatively well in sentence correction and surprisingly well in reading comprehension. I guess being a native speaker helps.
  • Week 7 - More and more practice questions. I also ramped up my study time on the weekends to 4-5 hours a day. I spent the majority of my focus now on critical reasoning and reading comprehension on verbal. For Quant, I spent the week going through Bunuel's problems. By the end of the week I did more than half of Magoosh's problems and was down to ~200 for each quant and verbal. I took my 5th practice exam and scored a 770 - Q49/V46. I was pretty confident at this point and started slacking off slightly.
  • Week 8 - Did some light studying and finally started looking at AWA and IR for the first time. I spent maybe an hour for IR just to familiarize myself with the problems before spending some time trying to memorize Chineseburned's essay template and outline. I took a Kaplan test (courtesy of my friend) on Tuesday night and got a 690 - immediately began panicking. I took my last GMAT practice exam on Wednesday and my score went back to a 750 - Q50/V42 so I felt a little bit better. On Thursday and Friday, I did some last minute memorization of my cheat sheet notebooks. Made sure to get some good sleep on Friday.


Test day


Woke up early, got a good breakfast, and went to go take my exam. I kinda shook myself up in the quant section by accidentally spending almost 10 minutes on a problem when I had built myself a time lead at the beginning. I recovered in verbal - all that late verbal paid off and I was pretty confident in that section. I actually thought I bombed the AWA - I forgot every single word in Chineseburned's template and just had to wing it with his general organization outline (intro, problem 1, problem 2, conclusion). Got my score at the end and was pretty ecstatic - I expected to score slightly below my practice exams and end up with something around 730-740. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I scored around my practice scores.


General tips I will recommend to people are:



    1. There is no replacement for practice problems. Just. Keep. Doing Them. In the 8 week span I believe I did ~900 Magoosh problems + 6 practice CATs + 50 of Bunuel's problems. I highly recommend getting the Magoosh problem set, or my friends have also recommended Kaplan. In my opinion, if you are scoring sub 550, a tutor may be worth it. But for anyone in the 650+ mock score ranges, the best way to improve is to keep doing practice problems and reviewing the solutions. Magoosh and GMATClub were my resources and I found them to be cheap and fantastic.

    2. Study smart - notice there are general trends in each categories for some types of questions. For example, math always has a rate question of some sort, something involving prime factorization, a combination/probability question, etc. Focus on those topics first, and really nail them. Similarly with verbal - understand parallelism, dangling modifiers, verb tenses, and some common idioms and that's basically most of your sentence corrections. Keeping an error log works great for this. As you do more problems and review what you did wrong, your mind will start noticing patterns - a lot of problems are different, but use very similar concepts. Get those concepts down FIRST!

    Some specific thoughts:

    • Math - I already mentioned the important topics above. Do Bunuel's problem sets. They're pure genius.
    • Verbal - For SC: splits, splits, splits. Get a procedure down. Identify common splits - SVA and parallelisms are common and should JUMP out at you. Then see if there are any idiom errors. Then identify more obscure phrasing (such as dangling modifiers). Get a procedure down and practice it through doing problems. For reading comprehension and critical reasoning there are no shortcuts - you just have to keep doing practice problems to get better.

    3. Time management is key. I almost screwed myself - I'm positive I could've gotten a 770 or 780 if I didn't mess up my time management in my exam. Always practice with time so that you get used to understanding that sometimes, if you're spending too much time on a problem, guess and move on. I fell for this trap and I think a lot of people do as well, especially in the math section. A lot of people are used to making sure they get every question right - that mentality will burn you in the GMAT and timing yourself while practicing will help get rid of that habit.

    4. Did I mention doing practice problems? Get the Exam Pack 1 and 2 from GMATPrep - they're the best $100 worth of things you can buy. People always say the GMATPrep exams are the best practice CATs and they're right. I borrowed a friend's Kaplan subscription during week 8 and did a sample practice test. I scored a 690 compared to the 750 from GMAtPrep for that same week. Magoosh was estimating my math score at 40-44 and my verbal at 38-42. Don't bother reading into score predictors, they're all useless. Trust in your GMATPrep and just pretend you'll get that score - 30 pts for your actual.

Good luck and I hope this helps some of you in your preparations!

Originally posted by gunster on 28 Nov 2017, 18:07.
Last edited by Narenn on 30 Nov 2017, 01:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2017, 20:11
gunster

Thanks a lot for handy tips and detailed study plan.

Could you add two cents here:
Quote:
2. Study smart - notice there are general trends in each categories for some types of questions. For example, math always has a rate question of some sort, something involving prime factorization, a combination/probability question, etc. Focus on those topics first, and really nail them.


How did you filter these using Magoosh/ Gmatclub forums? We do have subject wide segregation of Qs from OG,
but am missing the pattern recognition you are talking about.

Being a native you might have added advantage of R3 too. Which schools are you targeting?
Wishing you all the best for your apps!!
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2017, 21:36
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No problem. I think pattern recognition is something that you see once you've done a lot of CATs. I didn't mean actual question categories, but more along the lines of problems that you see repeating in every practice test.

Some examples would be:

Combination/Permutation/Probability question - I've always seen at least 2-3 combination, permutation, or probability questions. One of the most common question pattern is: There are X amount of people - Y males and Z females. You pick 6 people and 2 have to be males, how many combinations are there."
Rates - There will always be 1-2 questions on D = RT and working rates question. Something along the lines of - Machine X does this job in X hrs, Machine Y does this job in Y hrs, how many hrs does it take for them both to do it. Not that exact wording, but SOMETHING similar.
Series - Always 2-3 questions about series. For example, "what is the sum of integers from -100 to 110, inclusive". Or, "There are 5 consecutive even numbers, which are the possible numbers" or something like that.
Interest - Always 1 interest question that involves "estimating" numbers
Number properties - There's at least 5 questions on every exam covering various number properties, usually having to do with prime factorization. How many 3 digit numbers can there be with 7s in the ones and tens digit? is a sample question.

Those are just some examples, but notice how many questions 5 topics covered. Let's say you have a week to study for quant: you spent the first day studying just combination/permutation/probability questions. You spend half of the second day studying rates (it's just one equation. X = RT where R = rate, T = time, and X = distance or work or w/e you need it to be) and half studying interest (estimating compound interest formula. 99% of the time they'll have an answer where you have to approximate and you can just use the simple interest to estimate near the correct answer). 3rd day - study number properties problems. 4th day - study series problems.

In four days you've covered approximately maybe ~15 problems out of 37 on the GMAT by really learning some key common concepts. Most likely it's more since these common concepts are also part of the DS questions.

This is one of the reasons why I find the Magoosh lesson videos to be very helpful. Towards the end of my studying, on week 7 when i was doing Bunuel's problems, I also browsed through GMATClub's "math book". It was a fantastic resource, but also contained a LOT of information. I realized after doing all my practice exams that a few key topics and concepts covered about 50% of the math portions. A few more covered 30 out of the remaining 50%. There's a lot of topics that are repetitively tested - and it's a lot more valuable for example to learn number properties concepts well compared to understanding complicated 3-D shapes for example. To study efficiently, you need to be able to identify which concepts are more common and really nail those down first. Mike from Magoosh does a great job of covering which topics he find are more common in his videos - and I think most people after doing a lot of CATs kind of get an idea too. Studying topics should be ranked before a plan is made because they are not all created equal.

Something to note as well is that this also explains why Bunuel's a freaking genius. If you review his problem sets such as his Baker's Dozen, 12 Easy Pieces, and PS and Data Sufficiency Question sets, it is literally well spread with the most common topics.

Look at his Baker's Dozen problem list:
1. Combination
2. Exponents
3. Arithmetic Mean
4. Integer properties
5. Probability
6. Rates
7. Probability
8. Integer Properties
9. Absolute Value Properties
10. Integer Properties (Prime Factorization)
11. Series
12. Integer Properties
13. Exponents

By studying integer properties and combinations/probability for two days, you can answer half of the baker's dozen questions. After that, spend some time on exponents, series, and rates. Now you can answer all of them - which are also representative of probably 70% of most GMAT exams in terms of similar questions and concepts that are tested. A person can take a week to fully understand the concepts in Bunuel's baker's dozen and 12 easy pieces questions and probably go up to a 40 minimum in quant, if not more likely higher than that.

This is less common in verbal, but the point is the same. There are SO many more parallelism splits than random idioms. Also, GMAT loves to test verb tenses. Focus on those things before trying to memorize a bunch of idioms that may or may not come up.

Hope that helps. The reason I really emphasize that is because when I first started studying quant, I did terrible on DS problems. So what I did was just repetitively do DS problems. After spending days doing DS problems I realized a lot of the DS problems tested similar concepts compared to the word problems and other problems in verbal. Instead of mindless doing problems, I would've gotten a lot more out of it if I just identified those key concepts, reviewed those videos, and really learned them. Looking back, I would not have bothered spending 3-4 weeks looking at all the video lessons on Magoosh because it would've been more efficient to look at specific ones, maybe 60-70% of the videos, and still manage to score well while saving time.


I'll be applying next year, haven't done much research yet and just wanted to get the GMAT out of the way haha.
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 06:43
Congrats on the score gunster! A 760 is massive!

Thanks for the debrief too. I've taken a lot of information from it and since I'm struggling with quant (660 - 39Q 40V first attempt), and have only about 2 weeks left, your post made me realize, as I was reading it, about how right you are about the common patterns.

Any tips to go from V 40 to 45?

I've scored V 45 on 3/6 Manhattan tests, but in the actual exam and on the gmatprep mocks I've been stuck at V40.

I've never touched verbal before and have only really gone on 'gut' feeling. Given my limited time of 15 days (80% of which will be devoted toward quants), do you think its worth learning the 'rules' for SC? I mean, i honestly have no idea about any grammar rules, hell, Im not even sure what half the terms mean and I don't think I can start from scratch right now. But do you think focusing on one or two important rules would be the right way to go? And if so which ones?

For CR and RC I plan on doing 10 of each 700 level questions a day.


Thanks, and congratz again!
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 08:19
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calappa1234

I would recommend taking what time you have allocated for SC and:

1. Quickly familiarize yourself with once outside, twice inside rule for parallelism. This is probably the most important parallelism rule you'll see.

2. Understand SVA, especially with collective nouns and indefinite pronouns. Follow this up by understanding what the touch rule is

After that, google and find some example problems on parallelism, SVA, and touch rule. These concepts should be simple - you probably already know them and hopefully this won't take too much time.

3. Understand all the different verb tenses and what they are used for. When to use progressive vs. perfect vs. perfect progressive tenses. Understand the subjunctive tense and what it is used for. Finally, understand what verb tenses are used for type 1 and 2 hypothetical. Finally, end with understanding what sequence of tenses is.

Find and do problems about sequence of tenses and with verb tense splits.

4. https://magoosh.com/gmat/2011/top-ten-m ... at-idioms/ <-- memorize these idioms. I will also memorize the following:

1. When to use like - remember, not for examples
2. Comparisons - compare people to people, items to items, etc.
3. Quick understanding of differences between similar words - such as lay vs. lie
4. Countable vs. uncountable nouns and words associated
5. There are certain wordings that GMAT doesn't like - wordy, repetition, awkward -ing verbs after prepositions, etc. As you look through solutions a lot of people will point that out, just keep it in mind.
6. Hedge bets. When all else fails, some common tips to remember: a lot of idioms have "that" after the word. If you have no clue what you're doing, guess the answer choice with that afterwards. There are some notable exceptions - for example, consider to be X is the correct idiom, not consider THAT to be X, but it's a general rule that you can use as a last ditch effort.

After that try doing some sentence correction problems. Hopefully the above will take you about 3-4 days to go through before you can get back to SC problems.
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 11:54
Hi,

Where can I find bunnuel problem sets in the forum. Any link to that?

I am stuck in few quant topic and I think the sets would be really helpful to increase my score

Thanks in advance.
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Re: 760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 21:39
Appreciate the detailed response gunther!

I put the first stage of it into practice (one outside, two inside rule) and I realized that it has remedied a huge problem I had after boiling the answer choices down to two and having a hard time picking between them (a good chunk of these I now realize, can be solved by checking for this rule).

I'm eager to get the rest of this stuff under my belt.

Thanks again!
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760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 21:41
torto wrote:
Hi,

Where can I find bunnuel problem sets in the forum. Any link to that?

I am stuck in few quant topic and I think the sets would be really helpful to increase my score

Thanks in advance.


https://gmatclub.com/forum/members/member-73391.html

Go to any of Bunuel's posts - he has his problem sets in his signature.
760 - First Attempt - A summary of my 8 week study schedule   [#permalink] 30 Nov 2017, 21:41
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