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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips

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GMAT 1: 790 Q51 V51
790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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I took the GMAT today and scored 790 (Q51, V51). Since I read some stuff on this forum from time to time, I wanted to give tips I found useful. I will focus on answering the questions I was trying to answer when starting to prepare for GMAT three months ago. If there are any other things that you'd like to know, let me know.

OK, on with the de-brief...

Resources I used to prepare
-Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016 (called here OG16 I suppose)
-Official GMAT Verbal Review (mainly because I mismanaged time and had too much time during Christmas and wanted to practice to keep in shape)
-GMATPrep software from MBA.com, including the Exam Pack 1 for $50 (cost me 33 GBP with taxes)
-Manhattan GMAT guides: Sentence Correction, Number Properties and Word Problems. Out of those three only the Sentence Correction guide I'd recommend buying without even thinking about it if you need to improve in SC.
-MGMAT CATs (included with each MGMAT guide)
-Manhattan GMAT test simulation booklet (so as not to get shocked by the laminated things you need to use in the exam)

How I prepared
1. Took GMATPrep practice test 1 to see where I stand and where I need to improve the most. As written elsewhere, in my experience nothing predicts your GMAT score as well as performance on the GMATPrep tests. Some people write it's a waste of a test to do one straight before you have dony any studying, but I don't agree. It's very useful in giving you as accurate prediction as possible about where you should focus your efforts. Not doing GMATPrep at the start to me is the same as trying to restructure a company when you don't know what the current problems are. You can buy 2 extra GMATPrep tests for like $50, so you have 4 tests altogether ($50 is good spend if it can save you week or more of effort).
2. Based on GMATPrep Test 1 + some questions on OG16 + MGMAT CAT 1, I determined I need to study up on Sentence Correction (I am not a native English speaker), and then refresh Quant a bit.
3. I read the whole Manhattan GMAT SC guide, which did help me quite a lot. I am not the best in remembering arbitrary rules, but through reading the guide and then doing the CATs I managed to remember the most important ones.
4. I skipped doing any prep for CR and RC and just did the hardest 1/3 of the questions in OG16 to confirm I was right in that assessment, and I was - I got success rates of 80-90%, so didn't really do anything more there.
5. For quant I quickly flipped through MGMAT Number Properties & World Problems, but after that just did OG questions + CATs to learn all the gotchas (of which there were quite a few).
6. After all that I just did the MGMAT CATs + at the end GMATPrep CATs to confirm.

On the topic of Manahattan GMAT CATs
In my experience MGMAT CATs underestimated my score consistently by ~40 points and the questions, if you are doing relatively well, are harder than on GMATPrep. On top of that, a small percentage of the questions in Verbal (maybe 10%) is plain wrong, in that none of the answers (including the one given as the correct answer) really make sense. I am saying this not to critize the tests (they are in fact really good in terms of preparing you for the real thing), but merely as points to bear in mind when you are analyzing your test performance. For example I was unhappy that I'd always get 4-5 CR + RC questions wrong, but analyzed the questions in depth and concluded I don't need to do any extra prep for CR and RC because the questions had problems. That saved me from wasting time (on GMATPrep 2,3 and 4 I got 0,1 and 0 verbal questions wrong respectively).

The thing MGMAT CATs are really good at, maybe even better than GMATPrep, is in teaching you how to manage time - because even if you are really good you don't stand a chance of answering every single question, you have to learn to let go of a question after you run out of the 2/2:30/3 mins that you can spend on it, and you have to learn to manage your cumulative time well. More on time management below.


Strategy - Time Management
THE topmost important part of strategy in my experience is time management. Honestly you can be as good as you want in both quant and verbal, but if you waste 6 mins on a single question that you in the end fail to answer correctly, and then another 6 mins, and then you have 1 min/question left for the last 12 questions, nothing will save your performance. That's how it felt to me. So I have sort of 2 rules that I came up with:

Rule #1: Never get more than 3 minutes behind the target time (e.g. on quant if I've done 10 questions so far, I should have at least 75-10*2-3 = 62 minutes left). Getting too far behind as described above is basically impossible to recover from (in my view).

Rule #2 (helps to execute so that rule #1 is observed): If you are beyond 2:30 of time spent on a question, and don't have extra time to spare, then guess and let go. I had to do this on MGMAT CATs from time to time, very rarely on GMATPrep or real GMAT (although happened once or twice on real GMAT). One thing I'd say is to apply obvious judgment to this. If you have 10 questions on Verbal and 30 minutes to go because you've been fast on the previous questions, then 3 minutes per question is fine - maybe even 3:30. So long it's not getting you into a time deficit.

Tip: MGMAT CATs allow you to export your timing information question by question to Excel. This allows you to make a detailed timing analysis, such as chart your time deficit (optimal cumulative time taken - actual cumulative time taken) as you go through the test, which I found very useful in debugging my timing problem. An example of the sheet is attached to the post.

Caffeine Corner :)
Maybe less useful, but for me as important as other stuff: On the exam day (and on the mock CAT days) I always get myself caffeine-loaded. By that I mean I have one 350ml (the bigger can for people in the US) Red Bull and a coffee/coke. I did this for GMAT and before this for all the 3-hour continuous exams I took at Cambridge and I think it's always done well for me, because while it doesn't generate extra knowledge in my head, it for sure makes me faster and also makes me notice and not forget many important details. That being said, for these things to have maximum effect I normally drink coffee only twice a week (so I don't get tolerant) - not really sure how much I'd pick up tolerance if I drunk coffee once every day, but for important exams I want to avoid doubt.
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Last edited by jk451 on 15 Jan 2016, 00:17, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jan 2016, 13:49
Thanks for the debrief!

Can a GMAT expert explain how you can get a Q51 and a V51 and not get an 800? I thought those were the highest scores?

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jan 2016, 13:51
Hi jk451,

First off, with a 790/Q51 you have a score that most Test Takers will never achieve in their lifetimes, so you can (and should) apply to any Business Schools that interest you. Any of the Top Programs that you might be interested in are looking for applicants who have a strong OVERALL application, so you'll likely need more than just this GMAT score as "high points" in your profile. That all having been said, since you're ultimately asking Admissions questions, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile. There's a Forum full of them here:

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jan 2016, 00:49
Hi JK,
Very happy to read your debrief. Thanks for sharing.
My GOAL also is the same :)

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jan 2016, 17:07
jk451 wrote:
I took the GMAT today and scored 790 (Q51, V51). Since I read some stuff on this forum from time to time, I wanted to give tips I found useful. I will focus on answering the questions I was trying to answer when starting to prepare for GMAT three months ago. If there are any other things that you'd like to know, let me know.

OK, on with the de-brief...

Resources I used to prepare
-Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016 (called here OG16 I suppose)
-Official GMAT Verbal Review (mainly because I mismanaged time and had too much time during Christmas and wanted to practice to keep in shape)
-GMATPrep software from MBA.com, including the Exam Pack 1 for $50 (cost me 33 GBP with taxes)
-Manhattan GMAT guides: Sentence Correction, Number Properties and Word Problems. Out of those three only the Sentence Correction guide I'd recommend buying without even thinking about it if you need to improve in SC.
-MGMAT CATs (included with each MGMAT guide)
-Manhattan GMAT test simulation booklet (so as not to get shocked by the laminated things you need to use in the exam)

How I prepared

1. Took GMATPrep practice test 1 to see where I stand and where I need to improve the most. As written elsewhere, in my experience nothing predicts your GMAT score as well as performance on the GMATPrep tests. Some people write it's a waste of a test to do one straight before you have dony any studying, but I don't agree. It's very useful in giving you as accurate prediction as possible about where you should focus your efforts. Not doing GMATPrep at the start to me is the same as trying to restructure a company when you don't know what the current problems are. You can buy 2 extra GMATPrep tests for like $50, so you have 4 tests altogether ($50 is good spend if it can save you week or more of effort).
2. Based on GMATPrep Test 1 + some questions on OG16 + MGMAT CAT 1, I determined I need to study up on Sentence Correction (I am not a native English speaker), and then refresh Quant a bit.
3. I read the whole Manhattan GMAT SC guide, which did help me quite a lot. I am not the best in remembering arbitrary rules, but through reading the guide and then doing the CATs I managed to remember the most important ones.
4. I skipped doing any prep for CR and RC and just did the hardest 1/3 of the questions in OG16 to confirm I was right in that assessment, and I was - I got success rates of 80-90%, so didn't really do anything more there.
5. For quant I quickly flipped through MGMAT Number Properties & World Problems, but after that just did OG questions + CATs to learn all the gotchas (of which there were quite a few).
6. After all that I just did the MGMAT CATs + at the end GMATPrep CATs to confirm.

On the topic of Manahattan GMAT CATs
In my experience MGMAT CATs underestimated my score consistently by ~40 points and the questions, if you are doing relatively well, are harder than on GMATPrep. On top of that, a small percentage of the questions in Verbal (maybe 10%) is plain wrong, in that none of the answers (including the one given as the correct answer) really make sense. I am saying this not to critize the tests (they are in fact really good in terms of preparing you for the real thing), but merely as points to bear in mind when you are analyzing your test performance. For example I was unhappy that I'd always get 4-5 CR + RC questions wrong, but analyzed the questions in depth and concluded I don't need to do any extra prep for CR and RC because the questions had problems. That saved me from wasting time (on GMATPrep 2,3 and 4 I got 0,1 and 0 verbal questions wrong respectively).

The thing MGMAT CATs are really good at, maybe even better than GMATPrep, is in teaching you how to manage time - because even if you are really good you don't stand a chance of answering every single question, you have to learn to let go of a question after you run out of the 2/2:30/3 mins that you can spend on it, and you have to learn to manage your cumulative time well. More on time management below.


Strategy - Time Management
THE topmost important part of strategy in my experience is time management. Honestly you can be as good as you want in both quant and verbal, but if you waste 6 mins on a single question that you in the end fail to answer correctly, and then another 6 mins, and then you have 1 min/question left for the last 12 questions, nothing will save your performance. That's how it felt to me. So I have sort of 2 rules that I came up with:

Rule #1: Never get more than 3 minutes behind the target time (e.g. on quant if I've done 10 questions so far, I should have at least 75-10*2-3 = 62 minutes left). Getting too far behind as described above is basically impossible to recover from (in my view).

Rule #2 (helps to execute so that rule #1 is observed): If you are beyond 2:30 of time spent on a question, and don't have extra time to spare, then guess and let go. I had to do this on MGMAT CATs from time to time, very rarely on GMATPrep or real GMAT (although happened once or twice on real GMAT). One thing I'd say is to apply obvious judgment to this. If you have 10 questions on Verbal and 30 minutes to go before you've been fast on the previous questions, then 3 minutes per question is fine - maybe even 3:30. So long it's not getting you into a time deficit.

Tip: MGMAT CATs allow you to export your timing information question by question to Excel. This allows you to make a detailed timing analysis, such as chart your time deficit (optimal cumulative time taken - actual cumulative time taken) as you go through the test, which I found very useful in debugging my timing problem. An example of the sheet is attached to the post.

Caffeine Corner :)
Maybe less useful, but for me as important as other stuff: On the exam day (and on the mock CAT days) I always get myself caffeine-loaded. By that I mean I have one 350ml (the bigger can for people in the US) Red Bull and a coffee/coke. I did this for GMAT and before this for all the 3-hour continuous exams I took at Cambridge and I think it's always done well for me, because while it doesn't generate extra knowledge in my head, it for sure makes me faster and also makes me notice and not forget many important details. That being said, for these things to have maximum effect I normally drink coffee only twice a week (so I don't get tolerant) - not really sure how much I'd pick up tolerance if I drunk coffee once every day, but for important exams I want to avoid doubt.




Congrats on achieving a great fit. Your debrief is very helpful.
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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2016, 22:37
God...then what does one need for a 800? 52 out of 51:(.

Can you let me know how much you scored in each of your four GMATPreps?

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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Sure I added a screenshot of the spreadsheet with all my GMAT CAT scores if that helps
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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2016, 08:42
jk451 wrote:
Sure I added a screenshot of the spreadsheet with all my GMAT CAT scores if that helps


Ha, MGMAT is brutal right? I remember getting my first MGMAT CAT result...very different from the the nice warm fuzzy feeling from my GMAT Prep CAT! Scary that your second MGMAT was worse than your first. I'm taking my second this weekend, I'll have to steel myself for the results.

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2016, 20:13
It's amazing that you did not score 51 in Quant in any of your 4 GMATPrep tests, but scored a 51 in Quant on the final exam.

That's called power packed performance!

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2016, 00:40
Kelzie01 wrote:
jk451 wrote:
Sure I added a screenshot of the spreadsheet with all my GMAT CAT scores if that helps


Ha, MGMAT is brutal right? I remember getting my first MGMAT CAT result...very different from the the nice warm fuzzy feeling from my GMAT Prep CAT! Scary that your second MGMAT was worse than your first. I'm taking my second this weekend, I'll have to steel myself for the results.


Yeah like I wrote above, MGMAT CATs are really useful to prepare both content-wise and strategy wise, but I wouldn't get depressed if your score is ~40 below what you expect. The second MGMAT CAT was way worse because I really messed up on the timing, apart from doing it after a lack of sleep on Saturday night. I had like 1 min/question left for the last 10-14 questions in both Q and V, which basically meant I had to a guess a lot of questions towards the end.

PrijitDebnath wrote:
It's amazing that you did not score 51 in Quant in any of your 4 GMATPrep tests, but scored a 51 in Quant on the final exam.

That's called power packed performance!


I think the 1 point is quite random. In the last GMATPrep I had 3 questions wrong and had Q50. So I am guessing 51 allows maybe 1 question wrong at most, or something like that. Either way, I think whether one gets 1 or 2 questions wrong out of 37 in Q is pretty random... You just need to miss 1 little detail and that's it, it's not like you really performed differently ;)

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2016, 08:37
Am I the only one that is amazed with the fact that you were able to score a 760 cold with no preparation? That's a 99th percentile score before you even open a book. In all seriousness, what is the point of doing prep at that point? Your score may go up or down 10 points, but you're still at 99%ile.

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jan 2016, 00:29
Adz25 wrote:
Am I the only one that is amazed with the fact that you were able to score a 760 cold with no preparation? That's a 99th percentile score before you even open a book. In all seriousness, what is the point of doing prep at that point? Your score may go up or down 10 points, but you're still at 99%ile.


Yes I did think about this - in retrospect I don't think it was a bad decision to do some prep, but I wish I did it in about the half amount of time and amount of practice, i.e. I realized I probably used this a bit as an excuse to procrastinate in a comfy area. However, some prep I think was useful, because when I went through the first test result, for which the Verbal score was the big lift, I realized there were so many places in SC where I just took a guess out of 2 options I saw equally viable and happened to hit the right one, so I was suspecting I got a bit lucky. Hence I figured doing a bit of prep would be good, but yes, I've already torn my hair apart because of the fact I took so long on it...

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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For all the talk about timing strategy, sounds like you didn't need to use any after all. ;)

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2016, 03:14
HiLine wrote:
For all the talk about timing strategy, sounds like you didn't need to use any after all. ;)

Posted from my mobile device


I did... I used it even the first time, but didn't have it as formalized and crystal clear. In fact the time management section is the most useful part of the post since I think it's generally applicable to most people.

And I didn't come up with it magically - the (Computer Science) exams at Cambridge are quite similar in terms of how important time management is (alongside being good with the material).

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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2016, 06:50
jk451 wrote:
HiLine wrote:
For all the talk about timing strategy, sounds like you didn't need to use any after all. ;)

Posted from my mobile device


I did... I used it even the first time, but didn't have it as formalized and crystal clear. In fact the time management section is the most useful part of the post since I think it's generally applicable to most people.

And I didn't come up with it magically - the (Computer Science) exams at Cambridge are quite similar in terms of how important time management is (alongside being good with the material).


I came to that conclusion because your timing strategy revolves around guessing on questions that you see yourself spending too much time on. But from your score, I deduce that you did not have to guess on very many questions. :)

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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2017, 15:39
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Incredible score, jk451! Did you ever order your ESR? I'm curious to see whether you answered all 58 counted questions correctly, or whether you received 1-2 wrong on Quant, which usually still yields a perfect Q51 (but could explain why you received a 790 instead of a perfect 800).

It is certainly odd to receive perfect 51/51 scores on each sub-section, but "only" a 790 composite, and I'm trying to get at the heart of this mystery. Any information you could share would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Re: 790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2017, 17:52
mcelroytutoring wrote:
Incredible score, jk451! Did you ever order your ESR? I'm curious to see whether you answered all 58 counted questions correctly, or whether you received 1-2 wrong on Quant, which usually still yields a perfect Q51 (but could explain why you received a 790 instead of a perfect 800).

It is certainly odd to receive perfect 51/51 scores on each sub-section, but "only" a 790 composite, and I'm trying to get at the heart of this mystery. Any information you could share would be appreciated.

Thanks!


Trolling a July 2016 discussion? I think the OP has a job by now :roll:
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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2017, 18:12
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It's not my intent to "troll" anyone, and I'm offended by that insinuation. What is your justification for drawing this conclusion?

I'm simply trying to collect more information as to how a perfect score on both Quant and Verbal can yield a 790 composite instead of an 800. Yes, this post is almost 2 years old, and the OP is probably on to business school / work experience by now, but I figured why not ask?

ESRs are good for 5 years after the date of the test. OP: if you're reading this, then I will happily pay the $25 to see your ESR.
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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips [#permalink]

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New post 06 Dec 2017, 18:19
mcelroytutoring wrote:
It's not my intent to "troll" anyone, and I'm offended by that insinuation. What is your justification for drawing this conclusion?

I'm simply trying to collect more information as to how a perfect score on both Quant and Verbal can yield a 790 composite instead of an 800. Yes, this post is almost 2 years old, and the OP is probably on to business school / work experience by now, but I figured why not ask?

ESRs are good for 5 years after the date of the test. OP: if you're reading this, then I will happily pay the $25 to see your ESR.



Great! You have a question to the user who is unlikely to reply, please use the PM button and speak directly to the user.
The issue with bumping an 18 month old thread is that you know it is 18 months but the person seeing your replies thinks it is a fresh topic and starts engaging in a conversation with ghosts.

P.S. you can see on the profile that the OP has not visited since July 2016 https://gmatclub.com/forum/members/member-542082.html
They will be unlikely to notice your reply.
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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips   [#permalink] 06 Dec 2017, 18:19
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790 (Q51, V51) Debrief with Various Tips

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