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A humbling journey to 700

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Joined: 27 Mar 2019
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A humbling journey to 700  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 26 Nov 2019, 17:53
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Hi,

This is not a guide for how you can achieve a high score via a quick fix, but rather a journey of all my mistakes. I feel like I owe it to the community, to the endless contributors who have helped me understand where I went wrong. Hopefully, some of you reading this will learn from my mistakes.

Introduction


I grew up in northern Europe with English as my second language. I did an undergrad in Business followed by a master's in International Business. I have never been particularly good at taking exams but have managed to perform with dedication and grit alone. After finishing my masters I foolishly thought I had satiated my curiosity. I should have known better. After working in tech for a while I've come to terms with the fact that I want to pivot into business-related sustainability. Leading me to the pursuit of a great GMAT score.

Preparation and taking the exam


After discussing the possibility of an MBA overseas with a friend currently enrolled, I found GMATClub. Like many before me, I read the guides but thought I was different. Instead of following the paved path to success, I bought the most recent version of OG and took a couple of weekends solving questions. I did a GMAC CAT and scored 680. With the belief that on test day I would perform even better - I booked an exam. On the morning of I felt good and confident, that 700+ was within grasp. Since verbal has always been my strength I started with Quant. I had barely sat down before panic came creeping. I was staring at the question and I couldn't remember how to solve it. I got a bad tunnel-vision that lasted the 10 first questions or so. In the first break, I knew it was over. Sure enough a couple of hours later '620' (Q35 V40) was staring in my face.

The score was a humbling experience for me. I had brutally overestimated my own capacity. It made me go back to square one and seek out this forum to understand where I went wrong. I ordered MGMATs quantitative book package and went through them. And while my CATs and practice had improved my quantitative performance, I mistook progress for expertise. With new confidence in my quant-capabilities, I signed up for another exam. The nerves hit me again and I got tunnel-vision during the first couple of minutes. 10 minutes in I knew it was over. I left the building with another canceled score (630 Q42 V35), another realization of how bad my foundation was.

Humbled by my second failure and pressured by missing out on the first round deadlines I went back to the drawing board once more. It took a lot of energy to acknowledge that my foundation not only in quant but also in verbal was lacking. I spent one and a half months only focusing on verbal finishing MGMAT SC guide, GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible, and three novels. After this, my verbal score on GMATClub CATs went up to 42-45 and my GMAC CATs to 44-47. I understood that keeping these scores on D-day might be hard as 47 only allows around two mistakes. I redid the five MGMAT quantitative books, this time focusing on expertise within each field - together with thorough practice here on GMATClub and looking at ways others solve hard questions. My quantitative CATs went up to 45-47+, a number far below mosts but decent considering it's my weak side.

With a new foundation built and more hectic times coming up at work, I wrote the exam for the third time today. I'm not a morning person so I decided to take it in the afternoon. All morning I felt lightheaded and tired but calm. Around noon my nerves were back and when I started the exam I went into tunnel-vision again. The text on the screen was too big to get a good overview, I have practiced on a 13' inch Macbook. I focused on my breathing and while I know this screwed up my verbal score somewhat the foundation I've built allowed me to still get a decent score in the end. With my new score of 700 (Q44 V41), I've regained my confidence. And I believe that with another month focusing on quant, and without the pressure of my earlier poor performance I will be able to improve my score further without letting my nerves win.

Advice and tips


- Don't mistake movement for progress. And don't mistake progress for expertise. I first applied my experience from school where the ability to synthesize and rely on the bigger picture was enough to succeed. GMAT focuses so much on precision and detail and for me, this was a new way of studying.

- Set a realistic goal and be honest with yourself from the beginning. It's a long and grueling journey, do yourself the favor early. It's emotionally draining and mentally tough to fail over and over again.

- Learn from your mistakes and be honest with yourself if you need to rethink the way you learn. If you are like me and used to working hard by going at things until solved, then I suggest taking a step back and rather focusing on learning from your mistakes. One part of this is by using an error log. Another is to spend more time analyzing why and where you went wrong. I found this especially true on the verbal part where I kept doing the same silly mistakes over and over.

- Believe in yourself and remember that GRIT often is the most important trait for success. Don't let bad CATs, tough study sessions, and others seemingly easy success-stories give you self-doubt. When everything feels the worst, envision yourself on test day with your target score in your hand.

Feedback


In preparation for my last try, I would love to hear how you prepare yourself on test day and how you handle the stress? I've read that some of you use visualization techniques and will definitely test it next time.

While my score is far from amazing, and despite the fact that I have probably done all of the mistakes one can do in terms of preparing for GMAT. I hope this debrief can help some of you with your GMAT journey.

Originally posted by PEZB on 26 Nov 2019, 16:00.
Last edited by PEZB on 26 Nov 2019, 17:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A humbling journey to 700  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Nov 2019, 16:12
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Congratulation for your 700 score. I have had similar issues but worst part is I have put in a lot of effort. My first mock score was 640 and second mock score was 710. This was after 6 months of studying by keeping an error log. I wrote my exam yesterday and score a 620 (V33 Q42). I am back to the drawing board to see what other things I can do to improve the score.
I have studied basics from Manhattan Prep and Kaplan, did questions fro Last 3 OGs, Magoosh and GMATclub. Revised the fundamentals regularly. Watched videos to understand the basics and the strategy for GMAT. Timed all my questions after I thought I had learnt the basics. On the exam day I did not panic, neither did I lose cool. But I just knew I was not working at my best. I would really appreciate any help based on the information I have given you.
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Re: A humbling journey to 700  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2019, 09:47
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Congratulations for 700! Good to learn from you. I find all debriefs motivational and always get positive vibes over my existing negative ones. Thanks for that.
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A humbling journey to 700  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 29 Nov 2019, 02:26
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Thanks for the advice and tips. It'll help so many gmat takers', i think. And congrats for your nice score.

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“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained in sudden flight but, they while their companions slept, they were toiling upwards in the night.”
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Originally posted by Asad on 27 Nov 2019, 10:00.
Last edited by Asad on 29 Nov 2019, 02:26, edited 1 time in total.
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A humbling journey to 700   [#permalink] 27 Nov 2019, 10:00
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