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770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day

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GMAT 1: 770 Q50 V45
770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 05:07
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Hi guys,

Just took my GMAT today for the first time and wanted to share my story of what NOT to do on D-Day, but also give encouragement that even when everything goes wrong, not all hope is lost! Will also be sharing some short tips from my prep process below.

My scores (in sequence of taking):
GMATPrep1: 760 (Q50, V42)
VeritasPrep: 690 (Q51, V36) - found the verbal questions very different
MGMAT: 750 (Q48, V45)
GMATPrep2: 780 (Q50, V46)
GMAT: 770 (Q50, V45)

D-Day


I booked my exam at 9.30am today. My plan was to wake up at 7.30am, take my time to wash up and have breakfast, leave house at around 8.15am and cab down to the test center at 9am. This would give me more than enough time to grab a quick coffee and to wind down before the exam. But I didn't expect so many things to go horrendously wrong:

1. Crazy downpour in the morning = terrible traffic jam
Woke up to see the heaviest rain I've had in weeks, which meant that I could expect significant traffic jam (instead of ~45min, it'd probably take me 1.5h if the jam was really bad). I didn't budget enough time for this so I rushed my morning wash up and took public transport, and reached around 9.15am. Not late yet, but could have saved myself a lot of panic if I woke up a bit earlier.

Takeaway: ALWAYS give yourself enough time on the morning before the exam since you never know what could happen.

2. Didn't bring my passport and had to go home to get it
So I got to the test center and realised I didn't read the instructions carefully enough that I HAVE to bring my passport - I thought my ID and driver's license would suffice...the receptionist told me to go home and get it, but I live ~45min away so it'd take me 1.5h to come back. She wasn't fully happy about it, but said if I rushed, she can still let me in. Henceforth began a flurry of panic in getting a cab and trying to get the cab driver to drive faster and running up my house to get my passport and going back again. I was probably in the worst mental state possible in the cab and had to actively tell myself to calm down (the jam didn't help either). Ended up coming back 1.5h later - thankfully I was still let in.

Unfortunately because the room was already full, I had to sit right next to the door, which meant I could hear everyone coming in and going out, and sometimes even noises from outside the room...

Takeaway: JUST TAKE SOME TIME TO GO THROUGH THE MBA GUIDE/WHAT TO DO ON TEST DAY - probably the most important thing you could do 1 day before the exam.

3. Palm scanner didn't work for multiple tries
During the optional 8 minute breaks, I went to the washroom and took my time in drinking water, and came back at around the ~5-6min mark. However, the receptionist wasn't there because she went to lead another candidate into the room, and by the time she got back, I only had ~1min left. Unfortunately the palm scanner chose not to work and I ended up going into the room late and my time got reduced by ~1-2min as well.

Takeaway: COME BACK EARLY FROM YOUR BREAK (~3-4min AT LEAST).

4. Test got delayed so badly that I was starving by the end of it
So I planned to finish the test at around 1pm and go and get lunch after, but because of my passport problem, I ended at ~2.30pm instead. I typically don't need to eat between breakfast and lunch so I didn't even bring food, so I couldn't fill myself up during the breaks.

TAKEAWAY: PLEASE DO NOT BE SO UNPREPARED LIKE ME. BRING LOTS OF SNACKS.

So amidst everything, I was panicking like crazy, and forced myself to calm down by repeating the following thoughts to myself:
1. You can ALWAYS CANCEL your GMAT without leaving a trace - so even if I screw up, I can just take it again without any consequences.
2. I will still make it to the exam, and once I'm in the exam room, I'm in the "same state" as I would have been if none of this happened. The ONLY thing that would possibly be different is my mental/emotional state, and that is something that is completely up to my control.
3. Tried to see it from a positive angle - I'm never a morning person anyway, so maybe taking the test slightly later is better for me?
4. No one/no school will see what happened to you on the morning of your test - they'll only see your final result. So no one is going to show any sympathy to you for your bad luck/poor decisions, so I need to stop wallowing in my "omg why am I so unlucky" mode and snap myself out of it.
5. Receptionist was kind enough to let me take my exam late when they otherwise may have cancelled it - I AM ALREADY LUCKY.

My studying strategies



Primarily used:
1. Official GMAT Guide questions
2. Free CATs (listed above)
3. GMATClub explanations/solutions
4. MGMAT Sentence Correction

What I found most useful was making sure I understood how to do EVERY question that I encountered (and checking that my methods are correct even if I got the answer correct) and why the other answer options are wrong. Also, don't be too disheartened if your CAT scores in other unofficial tests are lower than you expected - the question styles are very different from those of GMAT and only the GMATPrep is a reliable indicator. What is important is that you understand WHY you got those questions wrong and use them as practice materials.

I must also say that this forum is one of the best practice materials I've found - it helped so much in understanding the different strategies to tackle the questions and has amazing explanations of why each choice is correct/wrong :-D

Quant:


My key takeaway here is that the GMAT doesn't necessarily test how good your math skills are, but how good you are at solving math questions under time pressure. There is a difference between the two.

Someone with good math skills may be able to solve all questions algebraically, develop a proof for 'is this true' questions, solve for that ONE single correct answer everytime. But on the GMAT, this is likely to take more than 60 minutes, and we don't have the luxury of time.

To solve math questions under time pressure,
1) ALWAYS read the answer choices first, and recognize when it may be easier to plug in answers and test instead of working out the answer from the question
2) Know when to plug in dummy numbers for DS questions, and what to test for (e.g. always test positive, negative, fractions, zeroes, etc)
3) Recognize the common question types - by far, the GMAT likes to ask questions about integer properties, which may not be something that many of us learn/are familiar with in school. For those of you aiming for a higher quant score, the GMATClub's collection of special questions directory helped me a ton. These exposed me to short cuts and concepts I weren't aware of before that were necessary to get the 700+ level questions correct.
4) READ the question carefully - if the question does not specify integer, don't automatically assume x and y are integers.
5) Know when to make smart guesses - I was extremely uncomfortable with skipping questions, especially when I knew I could solve them given more time. But on the GMAT, taking 6min to solve one question would force you to guess on two additional questions, so know when you have to stop (3min mark) and move on. E.g. if the choices are 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500, and from some calculations you KNOW the answer is likely between 300 and 400 but solving for the exact number would take a really long time, MAKE A SMART GUESS between the two and move on.

Verbal:



RC:
I took notes on each passage but I've never actually referred back to them. Taking notes helps me to focus on the passage and really understand what it's saying. My notes were primarily on the structure of the passage (e.g. agree/disagree, BUT..., example, quote study) and what the core message of each paragraph is, so I sometimes drew diagrams, lines, etc if it helped me to better conceptualize what the passage is talking about. To me, it's important that you understand the passage and spend time reading it properly the first time round instead of breezing over long sentences/difficult words, because that would save you a lot of time on subsequent questions as you'd know exactly where to look at, and sometimes you can even pick out the correct answer before going back to the passage (but of course, always double check the passage again!).

All the answers are IN THE PASSAGE - I think this is my greatest takeaway. If something sounds correct, but it's NOT in the passage anywhere, it's probably not the right answer. If you have eliminated all the answer choices, CHECK THE PASSAGE again, and read the preceding/subsequent paragraph because the answer may lie there.

CR:
This section came quite easily to me once I figured out the most common traps that GMAT likes to set - I recommend reading the Monster CR guide because it conceptualizes clearly what all the traps are. For me, the most common traps to take note are:
- Generalization (e.g. if stimulus talks about one subset of humans e.g. overweight humans, and answer choice says all humans)
- Extreme tone (e.g. stimulus: this "could be"; choice: "must be"/"definitely")
- Out of scope (something that is likely true but irrelevant)
- Repeating the stimulus without giving more information

SC:
I had the most errors on this section when I started my prep because I relied heavily on my ear at first. However, I soon realised that there must be AT LEAST ONE grammatical error with every single wrong choice, even if they "sound" right. Most commonly, this is subject-verb agreement, tenses, modifier error (which), quantities (fewer vs. less) and parallel structures. Once you've gone through a number of questions, it becomes obvious what you have to look for, and don't automatically cross out an answer just because it sounds awkward if you can't find anything wrong with it. For idioms, while it is important to know what the correct form is, most questions actually do not differentiate purely on the idiom alone - there is usually something else wrong with the sentence.

Timing:



- I followed the organization of the scratch paper HERE: https://www.ascore.io/blog/just-in-time ... n-the-gmat. Modified the quant section timing: Divided each page up into 6, except for the first page (7). At the bottom of each page, I wrote down 48, 36, 24, 12, 0. This gives me ~2min per question
- Hid the clock and only checked it once I got to the checkpoints for verbal (every 9 questions) and quant (every 6 questions). This reduced the stress of constantly calculating how much time I have left in my head.

I always have roughly enough time for Verbal on my mock tests, finishing with about ~2min to spare. So I decided to be extra careful on the first few questions during the official exam and spent a bit more time, but this resulted in me slightly rushing towards the last 3 questions. To avoid the semi-panic moment I had, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR TIMING STRATEGIES on the day itself! This may seem self-explanatory, but it's easy to forget once you're in the exam setting.

For quant, I was slightly ahead in timing for the first few questions even after giving myself time to check, which allowed me to comfortably finish the rest of the section and only had to *smart guess* one question towards the end. So if you're aiming for 700+ and able to finish in ~60-90s even after checking for the front section, feel free to move on without hitting the 2min mark (BUT ONLY AFTER YOU MADE SURE YOU HAVE CHECKED), as it gets harder towards the end so you do need more time to solve the questions.

Anyway, hope this is useful! I read a lot of tips before taking the exam as well, but you really have to do the practice questions to understand what the tips are talking about. For now, I'm just really happy to be over and done with this part of my MBA prep, and all the best to everyone taking it! :)
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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 07:01
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Congratulations on a fantastic score!

Staying composed and handling the stress After all of that is probably more impressive than your score :-)

Thank you for the very detailed and well structured debrief. Really appreciate it and really enjoyed reading it. I will include it in my series what to do and not to do on the last day :-)

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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 08:05
Such a detailed debrief, and exceptional outcome despite of so many unusual happenings that too at very last moment!

bb wrote:
Staying composed and handling the stress After all of that is probably more impressive than your score :-)

Could not agree more to above quote.

Many Congratulations strawberrycupcake on 770! Much respect. :-) :thumbup:
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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 08:35
Congratulations!! 770 is such a gorgeous number!!

Great debrief as well!! Quite a lot of learning in there.

Much appreciated!


Thanks,
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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2018, 19:16
Congratulations on your awesome score!! Could you please tell me about monster Cr guide? I cant find it on net. I need improvement in CR big time. thanks in advance.
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GMAT 1: 770 Q50 V45
Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2018, 07:12
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Thank you all! :)

Gagoosh wrote:
Congratulations on your awesome score!! Could you please tell me about monster Cr guide? I cant find it on net. I need improvement in CR big time. thanks in advance.


Here you go: https://gmatclub.com/forum/zomg-the-ban ... 00473.html. Hope this helps!
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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2018, 17:48
strawberrycupcake wrote:
Thank you all! :)

Gagoosh wrote:
Congratulations on your awesome score!! Could you please tell me about monster Cr guide? I cant find it on net. I need improvement in CR big time. thanks in advance.


Here you go: https://gmatclub.com/forum/zomg-the-ban ... 00473.html. Hope this helps!


Thanks mate !!
All the best for your applications :)
With a score like that, any school will be lucky to have you.
Also, can you suggest something for IR?
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Re: 770 (Q50, V45, IR8) after everything went wrong on D-Day &nbs [#permalink] 31 Jul 2018, 17:48
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