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780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two

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780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 12 Aug 2019, 21:56
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Summary:

1. Prepared for almost 6 months for the test in total. Used primarily OG and Manhattan Strategy Guides along with official Tests and MGMATs.
2. Got a 720(40V/49Q) due to slightly inadequate preparation, bad nerves and poor time management.
3. Decided to retake the GMAT and focus on my weaknesses as highlighted by ESR( Time management in Quant, RCs in Verbal).
4. Used GMATClub and Veritas Tests to prepare for my second attempt. Quant Tests on week nights and Full CATs on weekends.
5. Re-took the test after a month and got a 780(46V/51Q) on my second attempt.

Part 1 Here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/720-49q-40v- ... 01139.html

I wasn’t sure on how long I need to prepare before my second attempt. I didn’t want to drag it for too long. I also wanted to have enough time for another try, if needed. I intend to apply to B-schools this year and want to start my application as soon as possible. After some thought, I settled on a month long gap before my second attempt.

Preparation Material


Tests:

Veritas GMAT 2-5
GMAT Club Tests : Quant 1-14 and Verbal 1-5
I went through a few posts on GMAT Club and saw unanimous praise for quant preparation material and decided to give them a try. I believe its the best resource for quant practice for the GMAT. I’m glad I purchased a 3-month subscription.

Quant:

My quant preparation this time was all about practice. I took a GMATClub Quant CAT everyday and throughly reviewed my mistakes and made an error log. The tests on GMAT Club match the difficulty level on the actual GMAT closely. My scores ranged from 48-50 on all the tests I took. I also paid close attention to the tricks mentioned in the solutions and applied them on subsequent tests. Most importantly, I learnt how to manage my time better. The biggest skill I fine-tuned for my next attempt was the ability to let go of questions I couldn’t solve on time. I realized it was possible to get a Q50 if I got fewer than 5 questions wrong on the test. If I could avoid stupid mistakes, I have a 1-2 questions buffer. I also tried to learn how to guess smartly, by picking numbers and eliminating incorrect options. If I could reduce the possible number of correct options from 5 to 2 in less than a minute by being smart during a time crunch, it was worth taking a guess and moving on.

Verbal:

My verbal preparation was focussed solely on RCs and a bit on CRs. I dug deeper into the types of questions I got wrong and tried to understand the mistakes I generally made. Explanations on GMATClub helped a lot. I also started solving RCs daily. I didn’t find most of the preparation material around to be similar in quality to GMAT RCs. None of the CATs have good RCs either. So I searched a bit and found the more than a decade old GRE Big Book. It has some extremely high quality RCs , though different in style from those seen on the GMAT. They are challenging, require clear thinking and are harder than the GMAT RCs. The book also has lots of good CR questions, which are in general easier than GMAT CR questions, but still very good. I stuck to my original SC plan, revising the Manhattan SC Strategy guide and reviewing all SC questions that I had incorrectly answered. I found GMATClub Verbal Tests to be a good resource too.

Full CATs:

My Veritas CAT test scores were :

Test 1: 730 (51Q / 39V)
Test 2: 710 (51Q / 37V)
Test 3: 730 (51Q / 39V)
Test 4: 750 (51Q / 42V)
Test 5: 790 (51Q / 48V)

I only used Veritas mock tests, which came with the GMAT Club subscription, in preparing for my second attempt. I found them close to the real GMAT but with some exceptions. Their RCs are nowhere close to GMAT RCs and their Quant scoring algorithm is definitely very different from the GMAT’s. I always got a Q51 on their tests, despite getting as many as 8 wrong on their tests. As a result, I felt my scores were always a bit inflated. But they are a good resource, definitely at par with MGMATs. And they came free with the GMAT Club Subscription! Another reason to try out the GMAT Club subscription!



Test Day:

On Test Day, I didn’t feel I was significantly better prepared than the last time. I had scheduled my exam in the afternoon this time, so that I could have lunch before the test, reducing snack time during the break. I wanted to avoid being late for the Quant section at all costs, caused in part by my extreme hunger/fatigue after the verbal section last time. So I avoided all solid foods for my break, taking a sugary energy drink instead. As the test started, I felt slightly nervous but felt remarkably at ease after the first RC. Questions on the test weren’t out of the ordinary. SCs were short and succinct. CR Questions were the usual. RC questions were a cakewalk. I slowed down as much as I could while reading the questions and wanted to get all RC questions correct, no matter what. However, that strategy came with a price and I couldn’t finish comfortably. I had to guess on the last 2-3 questions. I felt far worse than I had on the previous test.

During the break, I was so engrossed in analyzing my verbal performance that I lost my way back from my restroom. Luckily, I recalled the Suite address and was able to navigate back in time. I came into the testing room with a minute to spare. I composed myself for a few seconds and got ready for the quant section. The section actually began with a harder set of questions than the last GMAT quant section. But as I moved on, the test felt much easier than last time. I was quite confident that I was getting all questions right on the first 3/4 of the test. I was right on time until the 20th question, after which the test ramped up the difficulty significantly. I dreaded another rushed finish. I stared at the clock in disbelief as I realized I had to finish 5 questions in 7 minutes. Luckily, 2 of them were extremely easy and I probably got done with them in about 15 seconds each. There were a couple that were DS questions on inequalities. Those took time and I wasn’t sure whether my answers were correct. I had less than 10 seconds left when I reached the last question. It was an easy DS question focussed on even-odd numbers, but it needed probably 20 seconds of thinking. I had to guess that one and ended the section with mixed feelings. Went through IR and finished the essay using GMAT Club Tips. I came out of the test puzzled, yet ecstatic. At no point during the test did I feel that I was performing extraordinarily. The test felt like just another mock test and I was expecting about the same score as last time.

ESR:

I got all questions correct on the first three quarters of both the sections. I made errors only when I was running out of time at the end. On the verbal section, I believe I only got those questions wrong on which I had to make a guess, i.e. the last few. Most importantly, I got all my RC questions correct. On the quant section, I only got 1-2 wrong at the end. As I had aimed, I got all my RCs correct and a 99th percentile score on SCs. I can account for all of my mistakes and can confidently say I did not make any really stupid errors.

Learnings:


1. The test rewards nothing but perseverance and introspection. The only strategy to improve your score is to recognize your weaker areas and to continue through the grind, never losing hope. Always review the problems you got wrong and make sure you never make a similar mistake again.
2. Practice, practice, practice ! Practice everyday. Practice every night. Practice taking CATs and working through timed sets. When you think you’re done practicing, practice some more. Practice so much that the test feels like just another CAT. However, like I said, try to learn as much as you can from your performance. Practice without introspection is meaningless.
3. READ the question carefully: Easier said than done. This was the number one source of error on DS problems. I didn’t read the constraints on variables mentioned in the question carefully on a lot of problems and chose the wrong option even after solving them correctly.
4. Don’t get dejected/overconfident by your current practice score: If your score is low, identify weak areas and move on. If they are high, move on.
5. Use your resources wisely: Make sure you are prepared fully before attempting the majority of your CATs. Realistically, you only have one shot at each of them. You can retake them, but that will lead to an inflated score.
6. Use GMAT Club forums: GMAT Club is an excellent resource. I don’t recommend going through all the posts. Instead, identify the questions that you’re unable to solve or posts focussed on your weaker areas and follow relevant discussions, particularly, for SC problems.
7. Stick to official GMAT Material for your Verbal Preparation: Nothing else comes close and most of what’s out there is not even relevant. The GMAT OG and the compilation of verbal questions from the two free GMAT Prep Tests is all you need.
8. Measure your mistakes: Roughly speaking, if you get fewer than 5 wrong on each section and all your errors are spaced out, you’ll get a decent score. This is a gross oversimplification and a lot of other factors affect your score and its not impossible to get a good score with more mistakes and vice versa. Distribute the 5 question margin according to your strengths and weaknesses. For example, I gave myself a 2-3 question margin on RCs. If at any point during the test I felt that I had guessed or was unsure of more than 2-3 RC questions, I slowed down and made sure that I got the rest of RC questions right. If you practice enough, this strategy will make sense. On quant, I tried to get everything right and had the 5 question margin was for silly errors.
9. Don’t try to guess the GMAT algorithm: The GMAT works in mysterious ways. It doesn’t keep ratcheting up the difficulty until you get a question wrong. I got >30 consecutive questions correct on the verbal section. I did not feel that the last quarter of the test was any harder than the first 3. I feel that the GMAT divides the test into subsets and decides the average difficulty level for the next set of questions based on your performance on the last set. But there can be great variation in difficulty within a given set and a lot of randomness. The GRE also works similarly. So don’t worry if you suddenly get a really easy question all of a sudden.
10. Its possible to bomb the test even with great preparation: The test is highly dependent on luck. On top of that, you need steady nerves and a clear mind to ace the test. Don’t get disheartened if you fail to make it on your first try. Make a clear strategy and try again.


Personal Opinion:

Even though users at the forums recommend solving the 100 hardest SC and CR problems, I didn’t find them useful. They are quite different from the ones asked on the test and I would recommend focussing on the exact type of questions on the test instead. I tested at the 99th percentile on my 2nd attempt for SCs and at 90th on my 1st, so I’m pretty sure that I got some “700 level” SC questions on the test. I assure you that none of the questions were remotely close to anything like the 100 hardest SC problems. My advice is to rather focus on revising the Manhattan SC Book multiple times and redoing all the official SCs. Official GMAT Prep Tests have the hardest CRs which are close to the actual test. My recommendation for SCs and CRs is to practice the huge official question database painstakingly compiled and available for free here on the forum. (https://gmatclub.com/forum/all-gmatprep-questions-quant-verbal-187679.html)

Acknowledgments:

I would like to congratulate bb and Bunuel on creating this phenomenal community and on compiling a list of quant questions that are simply brilliant and more importantly, original. I’m indebted to this community and the usual suspects egmat, souvik101990, sayantanc2k , GMATNinja for their excellent, insightful feedback on hundreds of questions. And finally, thanks to those tens of forum members who taught me so much and whose usernames I’m sadly unable to recall. Here are some posts that I referred to for motivation and knowledge:

https://gmatclub.com/forum/12-weeks-to- ... 97343.html : Some really useful tips absolutely worth checking out. This post made me believe that a 30 point improvement was possible in 3 weeks.
https://gmatclub.com/forum/e-gmat-s-all ... 44985.html
https://gmatclub.com/forum/ultimate-sen ... l#p1182930
https://gmatclub.com/forum/four-years-t ... 40262.html
https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-most-com ... l#p1129819


Final Words:

I was able to get a great score by believing in myself. I did not lose hope at any point and kept working methodically towards my goal. Don’t let anyone or yourself fool you into believing that you can’t get your target score. The GMAT is not a test of innate intelligence. Its a test of belief and perseverance. If I can do it, so can you. Good Luck!

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Originally posted by sroy4 on 27 Jul 2019, 17:51.
Last edited by sroy4 on 12 Aug 2019, 21:56, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 17:57
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Wow! Fantastic debrief and a fantastic score! This is a great GMAT experience. I am thrilled you have found GMAT Club helpful and thank you for the kind words.

Has it been six months since your first attempt or was that the total time for the first and second attempt?

I am on my mobile so I can’t see your profile schools - are you applying this year?

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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 20:43
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sroy4
congratulation !
please talk about BIGBOOK a bit more .....how many question and passage did you do ? solve the question or just read the passage ?
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I used a lot of LSAT CR. At the same time it was important to switch back to GMAT CR before exam
because reasoning is different and you need to adjust your CR skills to GMAT .
https://gmatclub.com/forum/killer-rc-the-10-hardest-reading-comprehension-passages-of-all-time-302318.html#p2334505
https://gmatclub.com/forum/bunuel-signature-collection-the-next-generation-170062.html
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 21:24
Congratulations on a great score and thanks for the debrief.

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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 21:34
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Good descriptions of your experience. It's interesting that much of your experience reinforces what's already known: rely on OG, practice repeatedly, analyze, steady yourself, do not second guess algorithm.

This part of your description stood out:

"The test is highly dependent on luck."

This is not good news. A very important test as the GMAT (and the GRE) should never be so dependent on random factors. There will be fluctuations of course, but large score changes degrade trust in the test.

Not everyone can repeatedly afford to spend hundreds/thousands of dollars on just one test. And therefore, the test should not be rewarding only those who can afford to spend. Just my observations to GMAC and ETS.

Thanks for sharing. I am sure the test made you a better learner and much more.

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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 21:49
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WOW, Well Done. Seeing posts like yours give hope.

Regards
Chetan :-)
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2019, 02:22
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"My recommendation for SCs and CRs is to practice the huge official question database painstakingly compiled and available for free here on the forum."



Hi, I was wondering how I could get access to them/ find them here on the forum?
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2019, 07:26
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Hi bb,

I took 6 months total with a month long gap between the two attempts. I'm still researching schools.

Hi 09173140521,

I solved RCs from the BIG Book. I didn't have much time and ended up solving around 30-35 RCs from the book.
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2019, 08:13
Congratulations sroy4 on 780!!

Very nice debrief!

All the best for your applications! :)
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2019, 08:45
Congratulations on the part two you promised. I read the part one and now the part two. I am encouraged by your success. All the best.

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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jul 2019, 10:50
Hovkial,

You bring up a good point. Thanks for bringing this up. Its true that everyone doesn't have the time or resources to re-take the test. I'm not sure what the solution is. But I also believe ETS/ GMAC do their best to avoid randomness as much as they can. There are only ~35 questions in each section and I don't think its possible to test each concept with every possible difficulty level. Due to the nature of the test, some topics will be tested with easy questions and some with much harder questions. The test taker's luck might dictate how well those questions align with his/her strengths and weaknesses regarding specific topics. Also, since all questions are unequal in difficulty, the time taken to solve each also varies a lot. Your luck may influence what sort of questions you get at a point during the test when you need to speed up. Overall, I would say the influence of luck on my second attempt was neutral. I got slightly unlucky in verbal, as I needed some easy questions/questions at the end to finish comfortably, but got a couple of really hard ones. I felt I was slightly lucky on the Quant section where a couple of questions at the end were suitable for smart guessing without solving a ton and I got those guesses right. But luck alone can't get you from a 600 to a 700, or from a 650 to a 750. There is no substitute for focussed hard work here. The point I want to make here is that if you miss your target score by 20-30 points, don't hesitate to try again. It might've been a bad day for you.
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jul 2019, 10:57
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Hi emmess26,

I'm compiling a list of links that'll add to the post soon. Thanks for reading!
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jul 2019, 20:01
sroy4 wrote:
Hi emmess26,

I'm compiling a list of links that'll add to the post soon. Thanks for reading!


great
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2019, 10:09
sroy4 wrote:
Hovkial,

You bring up a good point. Thanks for bringing this up. Its true that everyone doesn't have the time or resources to re-take the test. I'm not sure what the solution is. But I also believe ETS/ GMAC do their best to avoid randomness as much as they can. There are only ~35 questions in each section and I don't think its possible to test each concept with every possible difficulty level. Due to the nature of the test, some topics will be tested with easy questions and some with much harder questions. The test taker's luck might dictate how well those questions align with his/her strengths and weaknesses regarding specific topics. Also, since all questions are unequal in difficulty, the time taken to solve each also varies a lot. Your luck may influence what sort of questions you get at a point during the test when you need to speed up. Overall, I would say the influence of luck on my second attempt was neutral. I got slightly unlucky in verbal, as I needed some easy questions/questions at the end to finish comfortably, but got a couple of really hard ones. I felt I was slightly lucky on the Quant section where a couple of questions at the end were suitable for smart guessing without solving a ton and I got those guesses right. But luck alone can't get you from a 600 to a 700, or from a 650 to a 750. There is no substitute for focussed hard work here. The point I want to make here is that if you miss your target score by 20-30 points, don't hesitate to try again. It might've been a bad day for you.


This is not meant to take away from anyone's performance, but I quickly want to address at least two points you made.

"There are only ~35 questions in each section and I don't think its possible to test each concept with every possible difficulty level. Due to the nature of the test, some topics will be tested with easy questions and some with much harder questions. The test taker's luck might dictate how well those questions align with his/her strengths and weaknesses regarding specific topics. Also, since all questions are unequal in difficulty, the time taken to solve each also varies a lot. Your luck may influence what sort of questions you get at a point during the test when you need to speed up. "


* A well-designed test does NOT need to test all of the concepts through hundreds and thousands of questions. The whole point of standardization is to quickly and accurately estimate a testtaker on some criteria.

* Reliability of a test mandates that regardless of question types and timings of what questions appear when, the scores must be accurate and reproducible next time.

* Large changes in scores over short periods of time or other reasonable time periods indicates that a test is not reliable. This should be serious cause for concern.


"But luck alone can't get you from a 600 to a 700, or from a 650 to a 750."

* No one, including I, said that one can get from 600 to 750 or whatever higher score through an undefined concept called "luck". This wasn't within the scope of the discussion.

* The word "luck" was used by you and I cited your statement exactly (please see above).

* Citing "averages" is not very helpful. Average or mean can be extremely misleading.



My view:

The test has some lingering issues with score reliability and validity. This is not a new problem though. Standardized tests such as the GMAT have faced this criticism for years/decades, but it is in their interests to keep defending without making serious corrections.

I am happy to discuss such issues in a separate thread as I have high-level training and expertise in many of these subjects.

In the meantime, congratulations on your hard work.
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2019, 08:38
sroy4

congrats for your journey,

just one query, how you went about RC.

as few suggest you understand the main point of the RC by reading the first sentence of each para and getting the gist out of it.

or

you read the whole passage ( before the first question) and took summary and hit the each questions

a good review on rc wud be needful

advanced thanks
cheryn
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Re: 780 (51Q / 46V / 6IR / 5AWA) Debrief - GMAT Journey Part Two   [#permalink] 03 Aug 2019, 08:38
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