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780 ( Q50, V47) - Never too old !

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New post 27 Dec 2014, 23:57
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This post is not meant to elaborate my study plan for GMAT or to provide valuable tips and tricks for the test - there are already excellent posts on such matters - but to draw attention to certain aspects not related to studying, yet significantly contributing to my 780.

When I first started preparing for the GMAT about half a year ago, I wondered how difficult it could be for a 41 year old professional, out of academics for more than 15 years, to cram once again through the tenses, the modifiers, the time and distance problems and the set theory, devoting almost half a day each day to work and then the other half to family. Trust me, the journey was not unpleasant. Isn’t the GMAT test and the associated preparation supposed to be demonic in nature? May be, but here are a few points that I consider will help future test-takers tame the demon, making way for a ‘not so unpleasant GMAT journey’:

1. Set fire to your heart and feel the heat in your stomach:
Yes, you need to feel the heat almost continuously. Prepare as though your life depends on GMAT (yes, it actually does). Clench your teeth and determine that 7xx is what you are destined for; do not hope, decide. “I hope to get 7xx”: no, this thought is weak. “I decide to get 7xx”: yes, this though will take you to 7xx.

2. Stick to your plan:
If you have planned your study schedule, stick to the plan. You may have an important meeting to attend at the office or may have to put in extra hours of work to complete a presentation or to meet a tender submission deadline, or you may have to take your wife for weekly shopping or drop your daughter for the dance class – come what may, do not deviate from your study plan. Make broader plans, weekly or even monthly plans, plans those are easier to stick to than to daily plans; but once your plan is frozen, you must not deviate.

3. Eat brain food, live healthy:
Ban junk food, eat a lot of salt-water fish and a variety of nuts and seeds, and drink a couple of cups of coffee everyday. Exercise vigorously at least 4 days a week and sleep at least seven and a half hour daily. Maintain this routine throughout your preparation stage.

4. Breath right:
Conscious breathing helps improve concentration – practice paced breathing whenever you become conscious that you are not practicing and continue practicing till you are no longer conscious that you are practicing. Determine a pace suitable for yourself – I used to practice on ‘Inhale 4 second – Hold 2 second – Exhale 6 second – Hold 2 second’ cycle, about 4.3 breaths per minute. I was using an android app by the name ‘paced breathing’ to help me with the timing: whenever possible I had my earphones on with the paced breathing app running on my phone.

5. Take many, many mock tests:
The scoring system in GMAT prep tests and Veritas prep tests seems to correlate more closely with that in the real GMAT than the scoring system in the Manhattan tests does. The Manhattan tests gave me much lower scores, but those tests were very useful in keeping me on my toes. Whenever I became a bit complacent scoring a 750+ in a GMATprep test , a 700 in a Manhattan test tightened me up . My mock test scores are as below:


GMAT prep 1 750 50 42
GMAT prep 2 770 50 47
Veritas Prep 1 720 50 39
Manhattan 1 680 46 37
Kaplan free 760 97 percentile 97 percentile
Veritas prep 2 760 49 46
Manhattan 2 690 45 39
Veritas prep 3 750 51 42
Manhattan 3 690 46 38
Veritas Prep 4 740 49 43
Manhattan 4 720 46 42
Veritas Prep 5 770 51 45
Manhattan 5 760 51 42
Veritas Prep 6 800 51 51
Veritas Prep 7 760 51 43
GMAT prep 3 760 50 40
Manhattan 6 720 48 40
GMAT prep 4 770 51 45
Manhattan 1A 710 47 40
GMAT prep 1R 790 51 51
Manhattan 2A 700 46 40

(A note on Manhattan tests pricing: I do not consider it wise spending $50 for the Manhattan tests; these tests come free with purchase of any of its test prep books. I purchased an IR book for $26 and got all these tests in addition to an online IR question bank. I still do not understand the reason that Manhattan fixed such pricing.)

6. Eat a lot of energy food on the test day:
I had 8 Granola bars, 2 bananas and a 500 ml bottle of Gatorade for breakfast. During each break, I had 2 granola bars and half a bottle Gatorade, even though I did not feel hungry. I do not know how caffeine works since I did not have caffeine on the test day.

7. Spend money on quality material:
Buy the exam pack 1 (test 3 and 4) and question bank 1 of GMAT prep. Buy the IR prep book from Manhattan, allowing you access to its mock tests. Buy the Veritas prep tests. I also purchased a Magoosh test prep course.

8. Don’t let your nerves take over during the test:
Into the 30th question in the quantitative section, my computer screen went blank!!! There was utter darkness, on the screen, and in my mind!!! I realized that I inadvertently touched the power button of the monitor while carrying out calculations on the scratchpad. I lost about 20 seconds, perhaps costing me one additional error in the quant section. However, now I have a valid consolation that I could not break the 51 threshold in quant section because of that 20-second black-out, even though my success rate in reaching Q51 in the mock tests was only 1 to 3.
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New post 30 Dec 2014, 03:29
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Below is my reply to a PM asking for advice on preparation of verbal..posting here hoping that someone will find it useful:

"Hi,

I am happy to help.

I do not know know at what stage of preparation you are in or how much time you have before you take the test. Yet I am sending you a 4-month plan that you may find useful:

1. Study in details the Manhattan SC guide. Make chapter-wise summary of your own and solve each of the exercise problems.
2. Study the Manhattan CR guide, not in as much details as you did the SC guide. Nonetheless make chapter-wise summary of your own and solve each of the exercise problems.
3. Study the Manhattan RC guide in even less details than you did the SC guide. Nonetheless make chapter-wise summary of your own and solve each of the exercise problems.
4. Solve the complete OG 13 verbal. ( approx 30 -40 problems perday altogether from all the 3 sections, SC, CR and RC). Time yourself. Maintain a time log. Additionally maintain an error log.
5. Take full time tests. Start with GMATprep 1 and 2, move on to Veritas prep 7 tests and Manhattan 6 tests ( take alternately 1 Veritas and 1 Manhattan each week). Finish with GMATprep 3 and 4.
6. The other days of the week in which you are not taking the tests, solve the problems in your error log. (Time yourself as usual). Revise the notes from your error log for each of the problems you just solved.
7. If you finish revising your error log and still continuing to take the mock tests, move on to solve OG11 verbal. Time yourself, but do not maintain time log or error log this time.

Hope you will find the above helpful; if you have any further queries feel free to ask."
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New post 02 Jan 2015, 00:47
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The following is my response to another PM:

"I shall try my best to help.

First, please read my response to another PM similar to that of yours: I quoted that response below my post:
780-q50-v47-old-fogey-who-me-stop-kidding-boy-190828.html#p1463348

Second, You must maintain your own summary of study guides, error logs and a time log. I want to forward to you my own summaries, error guides and the time log, but I am having problems uploading them here. Can you suggest any alternative way in which I can forward those files to you.

Third, specifically for CR, I would suggest the following:

Step 1: Complete a good study guide: Manhattan CR guide is good. Solve all exercise problems. You must generate your own chapter-wise summary from the guide.

Step 2: Practice 10-15 CR problems each day. When you read a CR problem, make notes: categorize each statement in the problem into various 'building blocks' described in chapter 2 of Manhattan CR guide – background, premise, intermediate conclusion, final conclusion, counter-premise, intermediate counter-conclusion, final counter-conclusion. Link them with arrows and other signs. You may take about 3 minutes or even more to solve each problem in this way; time yourself, record the timing, but do not worry about the timing. Maintain an error log and a time log.

Continue this daily practice for about 3 months. You must have about 1000-1200 CR problems in your inventory. Some of the sources are OG13, OG11, Veritas prep free online question bank, GMATprep free 90 questions, and GMATprep question pack 1 (paid). I know of a pirated collection of questions floating in the net, it is called ‘1000 series’ – the collection is huge, but I cannot recommend it because I heard that there are many errors in the solutions and that the owner of ‘1000 series’ has been sued.

After about 2 months of practice you will start realizing that you no longer need to make notes on papers for CR problems – let go of the method at this stage. At a further advanced stage, your mind will be conditioned to make notes automatically at a sub-conscious level. Once you attain this stage, it may seem that you are answering questions just by intuition – but actually you are not: at this level your mind will be doing it’s own work without your conscious knowledge and you will feel that the answers are coming to you from intuition.

Step 3: Take many mock tests: 2 free GMATprep tests are not enough. I recommend Veritasprep 7 tests or Kaplan 6 tests, Manhattan 6 tests, and GMAT prep exam pack 1 ( 2 additional paid tests).
I shall try to explain why one needs to take so many tests: GMAT is a kind of mind-game; the frame of mind you are in determines how you would score in the test. The frame of mind during the mock tests is generally not the same as that during the real test. Therefore, in spite of scoring 740-760 in mock tests, people scope 690-700 in the real one. You must train your mind in such a way that it ignores the difference between the real test and the mock tests. I could not find any better method of training the mind than taking 15-20 mock tests.

The mock tests however must simulate the real tests. You have to take the all sections – AWA, IR, Q and V, all timed. AWA and IR sections are designed to make you tired when you start the Q section.
Step 3a: When you enter step 3, you will not take test everyday: 2 full-length tests a week should suffice. On other days continue practicing problems: GMAT800 by Kaplan is a superb source of problems for the final-stage revision. Revising your own error log is of utmost importance.

Being nervous is a reaction of the body’s nervous system, and the nervous system is a part of the body. Keeping fit helps reduce nervousness – eat fish, exercise regularly and sleep 8 hours a day to keep fit – I cannot put enough stress on these practices.
If I can help you any further, please let me know – I shall be happy to help. "
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New post 03 Jan 2015, 02:50
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Great debrief. Good luck with your applications!

One problem I've while practicing questions is that I keep thinking that I've to crack the question in less than a minutes and develop a lot of stress killing myself. Further the last time I prepared for the test I prepared a lot without taking adequate breaks. Did you encounter any such situation? How did you handle it?
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New post 03 Jan 2015, 10:40
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Hi Joseph,

Yes, I did encounter this problem during initial stages of my preparation. I used to practice about 40-50 problems daily under timed conditions. I recorded my timing section-wise daily in an excel sheet. Practicing in this manner over a few months made me accustomed to the time stress; my ability to concentrate on the problems improved over time. The time stress was still working at the background, but it was no longer hindering me concentrate on the problem. I suggest that you do not try to eliminate the stress; the stress is required to make your mind work fast; just get accustomed to the stress by practicing a lot of problems, accept it.

Subsequently I started taking full-length tests. A timing strategy started developing in me for the tests: While the time stress was still working for each problem subconsciously, I was not consciously tracking the time after completing each of the problems. I just aimed at completing half the problems at the 37th minute, my first milestone; If I found myself lagging at this milestone, I would start guessing every second problem, NOT consecutive ones, till I catch up with 2 minutes per problem time frame. My next milestone used to be 20 minutes-10 problem milestone. I would start guessing every second problem again if I found myself lagging at this point. The 3rd and final milestone was 10minutes -5 problem point; from there onwards (for the final 10 minutes) I used to track time consciously till the end of the section.

As for 'not taking breaks during preparation', I would compare exercising the brain with exercising other muscles of the body. Over-exercising over a brief period is perhaps less beneficial than exercising in moderate amount regularly over a long period of time.
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New post 03 Jan 2015, 11:06
sayantanc2k wrote:
I just aimed at completing half the problems at the 37th minute, my first milestone; If I found myself lagging at this milestone, I would start guessing every second problem, NOT consecutive ones, till I catch up with 2 minutes per problem time frame. My next milestone used to be 20 minutes-10 problem milestone. I would start guessing every second problem again if I found myself lagging at this point. The 3rd and final milestone was 10minutes -5 problem point; from there onwards (for the final 10 minutes) I used to track time consciously till the end of the section.


I like this strategy. It is very important to not panic and miss too many questions when you are behind time and it is important to spread out the questions you are guessing from the middle to the end of the section! I'll try this! :) Thank you

And yes on the stress part I think I'm taking a little more stress than necessary. I'll have to monitor it. I'm trying the app you suggested. Hope it works for me too! :)

Thanks for your insights!
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New post 04 Jan 2015, 02:42
Thanks for sharing your experience in such detail.Hope it helps me with my GMAT :)
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New post 04 Jan 2015, 22:07
Hi,
Could you also tell us ,how did you prepare Quant i see u have really good score in quant too.
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New post 08 Jan 2015, 11:23
rakheegates@gmail.com wrote:
Hi,
Could you also tell us ,how did you prepare Quant i see u have really good score in quant too.


If you let me know your email id, I shall send my error logs, summaries and time logs. I am unable to upload those files here. Hope those files will help.
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New post 22 Jan 2015, 19:41
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This is my response to a PM asking for an overall study plan:

Study plan:

1. Manhattan SC and Manhattan FDP, Alg: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.

2. a. Manhattan CR, and Manhattan Geom, Number properties: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
2. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on SC, PS/DS ( FDP, Alg: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

3. a. Manhattan RC, and Manhattan Word problems: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
3. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on CR, PS/DS ( Geom, Number properties: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

4. a. Manhattan AWA and IR : read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
4. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on RC, PS/DS ( word problems: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

5. a. Take GMATprep test 1 and test 2 ( full-length - do no skip any section)
5. b. Simultaneously solve free 90 questions on GMATprep software

6. a. Solve all the problems in your error log.
6. b. Take Veritas prep 7 tests and Manhattan 6 tests ( 2 tests a week - full-length - do not skip any section)

7. a. Take GMATprep test 3 and test 4 ( full-length - do no skip any section) (exam pack 1)
7. b. Simultaneously solve ~400 questions on GMATprep software (question pack 1).
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New post 05 Feb 2016, 07:09
Thanks for the debrief and congrats for the great score :-)
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New post 15 Apr 2016, 12:34
Incredible story - definitely never too old to crack GMAT. Such a detailed de-brief thats really helpful.

Would it be possible if I PM you and share my study plan and ask your advise regarding verbal?
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New post 14 Jul 2016, 00:55
sayantanc2k wrote:
Hi Joseph,

Yes, I did encounter this problem during initial stages of my preparation. I used to practice about 40-50 problems daily under timed conditions. I recorded my timing section-wise daily in an excel sheet. Practicing in this manner over a few months made me accustomed to the time stress; my ability to concentrate on the problems improved over time. The time stress was still working at the background, but it was no longer hindering me concentrate on the problem. I suggest that you do not try to eliminate the stress; the stress is required to make your mind work fast; just get accustomed to the stress by practicing a lot of problems, accept it.

Subsequently I started taking full-length tests. A timing strategy started developing in me for the tests: While the time stress was still working for each problem subconsciously, I was not consciously tracking the time after completing each of the problems. I just aimed at completing half the problems at the 37th minute, my first milestone; If I found myself lagging at this milestone, I would start guessing every second problem, NOT consecutive ones, till I catch up with 2 minutes per problem time frame. My next milestone used to be 20 minutes-10 problem milestone. I would start guessing every second problem again if I found myself lagging at this point. The 3rd and final milestone was 10minutes -5 problem point; from there onwards (for the final 10 minutes) I used to track time consciously till the end of the section.

As for 'not taking breaks during preparation', I would compare exercising the brain with exercising other muscles of the body. Over-exercising over a brief period is perhaps less beneficial than exercising in moderate amount regularly over a long period of time.


Hey man, saw that you had a very well-tested strategy for approaching the test and for timing yourself. Amazing job! Wanted to know if you had to guess any questions on the actual test in order to catch up with the time according to your strategy?

This is to know if conscious guessing midway to save time still fetches a 780
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New post 14 Jul 2016, 07:41
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sanghar wrote:
sayantanc2k wrote:
Hi Joseph,

Yes, I did encounter this problem during initial stages of my preparation. I used to practice about 40-50 problems daily under timed conditions. I recorded my timing section-wise daily in an excel sheet. Practicing in this manner over a few months made me accustomed to the time stress; my ability to concentrate on the problems improved over time. The time stress was still working at the background, but it was no longer hindering me concentrate on the problem. I suggest that you do not try to eliminate the stress; the stress is required to make your mind work fast; just get accustomed to the stress by practicing a lot of problems, accept it.

Subsequently I started taking full-length tests. A timing strategy started developing in me for the tests: While the time stress was still working for each problem subconsciously, I was not consciously tracking the time after completing each of the problems. I just aimed at completing half the problems at the 37th minute, my first milestone; If I found myself lagging at this milestone, I would start guessing every second problem, NOT consecutive ones, till I catch up with 2 minutes per problem time frame. My next milestone used to be 20 minutes-10 problem milestone. I would start guessing every second problem again if I found myself lagging at this point. The 3rd and final milestone was 10minutes -5 problem point; from there onwards (for the final 10 minutes) I used to track time consciously till the end of the section.

As for 'not taking breaks during preparation', I would compare exercising the brain with exercising other muscles of the body. Over-exercising over a brief period is perhaps less beneficial than exercising in moderate amount regularly over a long period of time.


Hey man, saw that you had a very well-tested strategy for approaching the test and for timing yourself. Amazing job! Wanted to know if you had to guess any questions on the actual test in order to catch up with the time according to your strategy?

This is to know if conscious guessing midway to save time still fetches a 780


Yes, I did... in fact guessing is a useful tool to save time ...... when one is doing good, really good, the adaptive software throws some untouchable questions - recognising such questions fast (within 5-10 seconds) is a very useful strategy - guess blind and go ahead, don't even attempt to read the answer choices. I had the luck of getting such insane questions towards the end of my self-set time blocks - I was pre-determined to guess and hence took less than 5 seconds to click and move ahead.
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New post 14 Jul 2016, 23:04
sayantanc2k wrote:
sanghar wrote:
sayantanc2k wrote:
Hi Joseph,

Yes, I did encounter this problem during initial stages of my preparation. I used to practice about 40-50 problems daily under timed conditions. I recorded my timing section-wise daily in an excel sheet. Practicing in this manner over a few months made me accustomed to the time stress; my ability to concentrate on the problems improved over time. The time stress was still working at the background, but it was no longer hindering me concentrate on the problem. I suggest that you do not try to eliminate the stress; the stress is required to make your mind work fast; just get accustomed to the stress by practicing a lot of problems, accept it.

Subsequently I started taking full-length tests. A timing strategy started developing in me for the tests: While the time stress was still working for each problem subconsciously, I was not consciously tracking the time after completing each of the problems. I just aimed at completing half the problems at the 37th minute, my first milestone; If I found myself lagging at this milestone, I would start guessing every second problem, NOT consecutive ones, till I catch up with 2 minutes per problem time frame. My next milestone used to be 20 minutes-10 problem milestone. I would start guessing every second problem again if I found myself lagging at this point. The 3rd and final milestone was 10minutes -5 problem point; from there onwards (for the final 10 minutes) I used to track time consciously till the end of the section.

As for 'not taking breaks during preparation', I would compare exercising the brain with exercising other muscles of the body. Over-exercising over a brief period is perhaps less beneficial than exercising in moderate amount regularly over a long period of time.


Hey man, saw that you had a very well-tested strategy for approaching the test and for timing yourself. Amazing job! Wanted to know if you had to guess any questions on the actual test in order to catch up with the time according to your strategy?

This is to know if conscious guessing midway to save time still fetches a 780


Yes, I did... in fact guessing is a useful tool to save time ...... when one is doing good, really good, the adaptive software throws some untouchable questions - recognising such questions fast (within 5-10 seconds) is a very useful strategy - guess blind and go ahead, don't even attempt to read the answer choices. I had the luck of getting such insane questions towards the end of my self-set time blocks - I was pre-determined to guess and hence took less than 5 seconds to click and move ahead.


Ah thanks for that insight! Another useful piece of info would be how many deliberate guesses would you try to limit yourself to? Both for Quant and for Verbal.
It seems to me that the test's format makes it imperative to have a good guessing strategy and your's seems quite efficient. Also, if I might anticipate, your strategy on verbal was to deliberately guess only on the SC and CR questions? - since RCs might be quicker once you've done the bulk of your reading.
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New post 29 Aug 2016, 01:07
Hi Sayantan
Thanks for your debrief.
Can we guess any RC passage and still get around 40 in verbal? Can RC passage be experimental too ?
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New post 13 Sep 2016, 12:32
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Well Sayantan
I am 30+ and you cracked it post your 40's.Feeling lot younger and confident now.. 8-) :!:

Regards,
Abhishek Sinha

sayantanc2k wrote:
This is my response to a PM asking for an overall study plan:

Study plan:

1. Manhattan SC and Manhattan FDP, Alg: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.

2. a. Manhattan CR, and Manhattan Geom, Number properties: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
2. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on SC, PS/DS ( FDP, Alg: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

3. a. Manhattan RC, and Manhattan Word problems: read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
3. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on CR, PS/DS ( Geom, Number properties: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

4. a. Manhattan AWA and IR : read all chapters, make your own summary and solve the exercises.
4. b. Simultaneously solve the OG13 problems on RC, PS/DS ( word problems: chapterwise list at the end of Manhattan book) : maintain error log and time log

5. a. Take GMATprep test 1 and test 2 ( full-length - do no skip any section)
5. b. Simultaneously solve free 90 questions on GMATprep software

6. a. Solve all the problems in your error log.
6. b. Take Veritas prep 7 tests and Manhattan 6 tests ( 2 tests a week - full-length - do not skip any section)

7. a. Take GMATprep test 3 and test 4 ( full-length - do no skip any section) (exam pack 1)
7. b. Simultaneously solve ~400 questions on GMATprep software (question pack 1).
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New post 15 Sep 2016, 06:55
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I turned 41 today and take this as a positive sign.

Thank You for inspiring me.
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Re: 780 ( Q50, V47) - Never too old !  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2016, 07:19
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Many happy returns of the day :)

sk2016 wrote:
I turned 41 today and take this as a positive sign.

Thank You for inspiring me.
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Joined: 01 Sep 2016
Posts: 45
Re: 780 ( Q50, V47) - Never too old !  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2016, 07:20
Many Happy returns of the day.....

:-D

sk2016 wrote:
I turned 41 today and take this as a positive sign.

Thank You for inspiring me.
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Re: 780 ( Q50, V47) - Never too old !   [#permalink] 15 Sep 2016, 07:20

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