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A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)

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GMAT 1: 610 Q49 V25
GMAT 2: 610 Q46 V28
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A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 17 Sep 2018, 09:03
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Background:

I am 29 Year old, Indian male with degree of B.Tech and MBA. I have been working in Oil and Gas downstream sector for last 6 years. It has been always my dream go to top B school. However I did not do well in CAT in 2010 hence ended up doing MBA from B school of lower rank in India. After MBA, I got placed in lucrative Oil and Gas downstream sector and was in comfortable zone till 2016. Life was good, I got married in 2014 and it was all felt good. However some deep down in mind I still had picture of my dream to get into one of the top B Schools. Things changed in 2016 and I was not in that comfort zone any more. But today I feel that was the one of best things that has happened to me in my life. To achieve big , you must get out of comfort zone. So I discussed with my wife and parents that I think this is the time I should start my race towards my dream and all of them supported me without any question. That is when I decided to take GMAT. I still remember those moments when I was searching about GMAT: Structures, Key area Tested, Timings and all. I was not sure or I chose not to judge my ability whether I can really pull of GMAT. But one thing was sure I wanted to give my all and aim for top B school. So this is how my long long journey full of many ups and downs (I really mean it) started in November 2016.

GMAT ATTEMPT 1

So after couple of days searching on net, I ordered Kaplan 2017 Complete Guide and OG 2017 materials. As soon as they are delivered, I started preparing with full enthusiasm and expectation. I first took diagnostic test that is included in Kaplan 2017 guide and scored somewhere in the range of 580-600. I did not feel disappointed and just realized that it is going to be hell of a journey to get 700+ score. So I started with Verbal as I was sure that I will be able to handle GMAT Quant without much difficulty. So I completed CR theory part and took quiz of practice questions from Kaplan. I followed the methods advised by Kaplan. I thought that I am ready to take on GMAT OG CR questions and I think it was a horrible mistake. OG materials are really gold dust so you have to be very wise utilizing OG resources. So in OG CRs, I was doing good in easy level and OK in medium level but very bad in hard level questions. Though I completed my CR and started with RC. I hated grammar and all those rules so did not want to touch SC. During this period, I was very naive. I was not active on GMAT club and not aware of 500+, 600+, 700+ difficulty level concept and cut off score to achieve 700+. I just wanted to prepare and master all the skills required to ace GMAT.

So with the same strategy I completed RC and SC. First theory, then quiz in Kaplan and OG 2017. Even though I had competed Verbal I was still unsure whether I am not right track.Still I started Quant NP, Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Statistic and Work Problems. I Completed Kaplan and then OG 2017. In Quant I was comfortable. So finally by March 2017, I completed Kaplan 2017 complete guide and OG 2017 materials. With Kaplan 2017 complete guide, there was also online question bank. So I though it is time to prepare for small quizzes of 15-20 questions of Verbal and Quant and then move forward to quizzes of 36 in Quant and 41 in Verbal (earlier actual GMAT format). This way I tried to prepare my mind to seat and work longer and longer. So it took another two months to complete. Some people will say this many months of preparation is more than enough but for me it was meant to be like this only. Though I had covered most of the things to take first GMAT, my gut feeling was that I do not have what it takes to ace GMAT the way I wanted to. So I searched more and found out about e-GMAT course. Read the reviews on GMAT club and felt that it is one of the best materials available for Nonnative speakers. So I decided to purchase the subscription for GMAT Live Prep in July 2017. I once again started with the theory part with same pattern. Verbal first and started with SC.I completed all SC theories. This course is one of the best available in business especially for Verbal. I started to develop my concept and refine my concept. Whatever I had as raw material, this course helped me to convert it to my weapon to go on war with GMAT. So completed SC, RC and CR theory part and started with Quant section the same way I did earlier. I followed their approach for each section. It is not easy to follow the approach each time. You have to practice a lot so that it comes within you without knowing to you that you are actually following approach. But I wanted to build my base strong and I did not concentrate on timing in this particular period. It was all about building and refining the key concept.

Once theory part was complete and I got comfortable with approach, I started using eGMAT Scholaranium. These questions are really of good quality specially SC and CR. In Quant, except very hard level, others give you a smell of real GMAT type of question. Very Hard difficulty level in eGmat Quant is really hard and cannot be solved in 2 mins. But I did them just to add more and more to my arsenal. It did help me to think at different level and gave me other dimensions. So by Dec 2017 I had completed most of the resources of eGMAT.

These all was happening in July – Dec 2017. My eGMAT was expiring in Dec 2017. In mean time I had also purchased Manhattan GMAT SC Guide and PowerScore CR Bible. I wants to utilize each of the best source available for GMAT prep, so in parallel with eGMAT, I did MGMAT SC and PowerScore CR Bible. However things don’t always go as planned and in Oct – Nov 2017, I has very hectic schedule in professional life. I had to travel a lot and I could not keep myself in rhythm of GMAT. So though I initially planned to take GMAT in Dec or Jan 2017, I could not adhere to that and I did ask for extension of my eGMAT course. This time I booked my first GMAT date 22nd March 2018. Hence for next 2 and 2 ½ months my plant is to take Mock CAT first and fill out the holes in my preparation. I had to identify my weak areas and make them strong. I took my first GMAT Prep Test 1 and scored 680 (Q50 and V31). This was not my dream score. I straight away knew, I had to work on my verbal. Since I had already used all the eGMAT and wanted to practice Mock Cats for verbal, I purchased MGMAT 5 GMAT practice tests (best available after GMAT Prep)

I did not want to use GMAT Prep Mocks until I am confident of my verbal part because GMAT Prep Mocks are the closest match to real ones. So I started taking MGMAT Mocks (Verbal only) and improved from V34 to V40. I did not attempt Quant section in any of those mocks but used GMAT Club Test/Question Bank to keep my Quant mind sharp. I was getting more confident in Verbal and hence decided to take GMAT Prep Mock Test 2. I scored 720 in that and maintained that score range 720-740 from 2nd Test and 6th Test. Yes I did buy all of those available.

D-day finally arrived and I was confident of scoring at least 700. I chose Quant, Verbal, IR and AWA. Times felt like flying and everything was happening fast. I could not settle for first three – four questions in Quant and Verbal both. This might be because it was my first experience and high expectation to crack in 1st attempt. But when I submitted the Test, screen flashed 610 (Q 49 and V 25). I could hear my heart pump heavily. It was no way near to my expectation. I was totally blank. I regained myself and cancelled the score. I called my wife and parents and gave them this horrible news. I still remember 250 Kms - 6 Hrs journey back to home. My mind was full of thoughts, doubts and worries. But I also decided not to give up and start again my journey towards my dream.

GMAT ATTEMPT 2

During my 1st attempt preparation I also contacted GMAT takers who scored 700+ after scoring between 600-650. I decided to take their advice and called Amol Kulkarni and Nishant next days. I also messaged two three experts from GMAT Club. These people helped to keep myself calm and not to worry. They analyzed my ESR and informed me that in Verbal I did too many mistakes in first section (Q No 1-10), so by the end of the 10th question, GMAT had already judged my ability and never threw higher difficulty level questions. At this moment I realized the importance of first 10-15 questions in verbal. During my discussion over phone with Nishant, he advised to attempt all GMAT retired questions since I had already used my GMAT Prep sources, eGMAT, OG 2017, Kaplan 2017 and MGMAT Tests. I knew that there is huge gap in my implementation part. So I started taking small quizzes from retired GMAT question - 15 SC Qs. 23 Mins, 15 CR Qs. 30 mins and 4 Passages 28 Mins. I practiced all SC, CR and RC retired questions in similar fashion. I asked eGMAT experts also for help as I had read in one of the debrief that Payal Tondon herself responded to GMAT taker's mail and provided very valuable response to improve score. They also provided me feedback valuable enough to strategize my preparation. I bought Veritas 6 Mock Cats and Expert Global 15 Mock CATS to prepare for Mocks. I confirmed my 2nd GMAT test on 31st May 2018, so from April 2018 last week to May 2018 I took Veritas Mock and Global Expert 15 Mock CATS. In Veritas I was scoring 50-51 in Quant and 34-38 in Verbal. In Expert Global Mock Cats I was scoring between 680 and 740. I also took GMAT Club CATs and my score was ranging from 48 to 51. So I thought this time I could my dream score of 740. This time my preparation was verbal heavy.

D-day arrived again. All formalities repeated at Test Center. Again I chose Quant, Verbal, IR and AWA. This time I was less nervous and fear of unknown was not there. Time flew and completed the Test but what was more shocking screen flashed the score of 610 (Q 46 and V 28). My feelings were tearing me apart. I was broke and thought that after all my hard work, dedication and sacrifice I had not moved a bit. No improvement in score. I again had to suffer my long journey with same feeling of failure and despair to home. Next day morning I was eager to check my ESR and I found out the same pattern which was there in 1st attempt. Too many incorrect too soon in Verbal. I could not believe. I was shattered already. But I never lost hope. I again sought help of Amol , Pushitkc and Pankaj. These people helped me to keep me intact. I decided not to hurry and take time to have proper strategy before selecting next date of GMAT.

GMAT ATTEMPT 3

From GMAT Club experts I learned that I am still making mistakes in 600-700 level questions and hence in real GMAT I am not able to reach 700+ level questions in verbal. So I needed to be 100% confident of my comfort level in 600-700 questions. I had to achieve 90-100% accuracy in 600-700 level. I was out of resources. This situation was even worse. I wanted to prepare but I had no reliable resources. I decided to buy course either of Magoosh or of Veritas and went for Magoosh as it was cheaper ;) . Till now I was not much active on GMAT Club but I did realize that GMAT Club is full of resources for each type of questions. Yes but you have to be careful about source as there are many debatable questions from unspecified sources. I followed step by step methodology and time was not a constraint for me. I really wanted to win GMAT and there was no chance to give up. My preparation from one resource to another is as below:

1. Manhattan and Veritas 600-700 level Question from GMAT club SC and CR directory.
I made question sets of 25 questions from Manhattan and Veritas for SC and RC. I made sure that I get accuracy of more than 90% in each set. I did not touch 700 level questions. I completed these sets.
2. RC Passages from OG Directory 13th edition to OG 2019. All RCs. Even though I had done OG 2017, I reattempted.
3. Manhattan and Veritas 700+ level Question from GMAT club SC and CR directory. (Only after achieving 90% or more accuracy in 600-700 level consistently.)
4. LSAT RCs 1 passage each day along with OG Passages 3 each day.
5. LSAT CR question. Starting with Easy and Medium and then to Hard level.

Once I gained confidence in 600-700 level as well as 700+ level difficulty level questions, I switched to OG Directory 13th edition to OG 2019 for SC and CR. I made sure that I do not falter in 600-700 level questions again. I followed the eGMAT approach more carefully. I was not keeping timing for any question as I wanted to achieve accuracy first and then timing. In June and July 2018 I did preparation for verbal only. I did not attempt quant even though my score in Quant decreased in 2nd attempt. LSAT RC and CRs helped me to open my mind and thinking for higher difficulty level questions. I had bought Kaplan Mocks (8 Tests) this time to practice Mocks. However I decided to take Verbal first this time. I felt and as suggested my others also that you should try Verbal first since your mind is fresh and verbal is your weak section so you can concentrate well. The reasons I was afraid to take verbal first in earlier attempts was I thought if I take quant first and I do well, I can carry that confidence level to verbal section and if I take verbal first and I screw up it, I might end up screwing Quant (my strongest area) as well.

On 1st August I took 1st Mock of Kaplan and scored 740 (Q49 and V43). I wanted to see how I react and score to mock without preparing for Quant in last two months. I also knew I cannot take Quant for granted so from August 2018, my schedule was fixed. I took GMAT Mock (Kaplan) every weekend and in week days I used to prepare SC, RC, CR from Magoosh which I had purchases in June 2016. It was important that you do practice every day even if it is of only 5-10 questions. In Quant I was left with 10 CATs of GMAT Club and so started taking them one by one. I also did Magoosh Quant whenever I had time. On Mocks I was constantly scoring 740 (Q49 and V43), so I decided to take GMAT on 8th Sept 2018. Same time 9 o’clock in morning and same test center.

D-Day 8th Sept 2018

All the formalities repeated, same questioned were asked at Test Centre and I gave the same answer for third time. But this time I was in different mindset. No big expectation nothing, just I wanted to improve. I was mentally prepared to go for fourth, fifth till eighth attempt to achieve my dream score of 740. I was ready to accept 680 score and try for 4th attempt but I wanted to improve my score.

I Started with Verbal, I was ready to give 1-2 mins more if I am stuck in first 10-15 questions but I did not want to attempt questions in time pressure. First 7-8 questions were easy and I was sure of answering them correctly. I was keeping myself calm, understanding the author meaning in SC and RC, pre-thinking and imbibing all the information and answer choice of CR. 1st RC was quite easy or I felt easy but I was very much comfortable till 18th Question. After half way mark I got struck in 2-3 questions between 18th and 28th Question numbers. In this section I got very long passage (5 paragraphs) on Humanity but I did not panic as I have seen from OG pattern that for long passages ,answers to questions are more explicit than for short passages. I attempted all 4 questions of that passage. For last 10 questions I had only 10-12 Mins so I started feeling time pressure. I kept calm and progressed ahead. I came across short RC so I have to choose either I read, spend at least 5-6 mins in answering 3 or 4 questions and attempt next 5-6 questions in just 5 mins or skip RC , attempt last 5-6 question with more time for each questions and end verbal on higher note. I chose to skip RC as I wanted to end section on higher note. It went well finally.

I took break of 5 mins. I did not have any habit of eating anything so I took 3-4 deep breaths and started my Quant. Initial 3-4 questions were from Word problem with long two-three liners problem statement. But I concentrated and did them carefully after understanding. Quant went well compared to last attempt and completed just at right time. I had randomly guessed 2-3 Questions in between. By nature I do not have habit of thinking of how i attepted last question based on difficulty level of current question. Firstly i never tried to judge difficulty level of any question.I just concentrate on one question that is in front of you. I kept it simple.

After Quant, I was sure that this time I have done reasonably well and this time I can expect at least 680 if not 700+. As already I have mentioned, this time I wanted to improve no matter what. I took break of 5 mins and started IR and AWA. While writing AWA, I was little nervous also as I was not ready for any surprise this time. My heart beats started increasing as I was ending my AWA. I submitted the test and score flashed 750 (Q 50 and V40,IR 4). I could not believe my eyes. I really pulled it off. I have won the battle. I soon accepted the score and asked instructor to escort me out of the room. I asked for print of the score and he directed me to another desk. I went to that desk and once again asked person sitting on desk: “Is it 750 right?” He told me “Yes”. I checked my unofficial report print and moved out of the building. I called my wife and my parents and they were all happy. I thanked God also for keeping me motivated throughout the journey. It was indeed my dream score, actually 10 points more than dream score. These 10 Points were like cherry on the cake for me. One chapter of my dream was over and 2nd chapter going to get start.

Further from my ESR, I can see that I have answered only two incorrect in first 2 section in verbal and nil in quant.

Resources used:

Kaplan 2017 complete guide
• Official Guides
• GMAT Prep Question bank and all 6 mocks
eGMAT Live Prep
MGMAT Mock
MGMAT SC Guide
Veritas Mocks
Expert Global Mocks
Kaplan Mocks
• GMAT Club Quant Question bank and CATs
Magoosh Quant and Verbal
• GMAT Club resources for verbal
• LSAT CR and RCs
PowerScore CR Bible
• Retired GMAT Prep Questions

I know it is a long list and I think many have ace GMAT just by using two to three resources. But I can say that each resource was helpful. I took everything what is good in that resource. However I am really thankful to eGMAT for building the strong base for my journey. It is one of the best as far as verbal especially SC considered. So if you are nonnative speaker and aiming to score 700+, please go for it.

Approach to handle each type of questions:

Sentence Correction:

SC is more about meaning than grammar. There will be at least one choice which will be grammatically correct but may not communicate intended meaning in 700+ level SC questions.

Critical Reasoning:

Pre Think Pre Think and Pre Think. Identify your premises and conclusion. Identify the goal of the question whether you are asked to weaken, strengthen or find assumption etc. Once done with identification, read all ans choices carefully. Take 1-2 seconds to analyze ans choice and decide whether it is correct.

Reading Comprehension:

Again meaning and author’s tone. Why author saying all these details to us? What is her purpose? Always prepare paragraphs wise map of the Passages.

Quant:

Practice as much as you can. Be careful while attempting DS as DS is full of traps.

Mistakes I made and you should avoid:

1. Do not underestimate GMAT.
2. Use OG resources very carefully as they are gold dust and once you are sure that you are ready to take them then only use them. Actually Use them at least twice.
3. Start Test with your weak area. It worked for me however it depends more on individual. So you work out yourself.

Learning from my journey:

• I think this entire journey made me better person. There were many ups and down sometimes I felt may be GMAT is not for me and sometimes I felt that I can pull it off. However in my entire journey I never reached a point where I lost my hope. Even if there were many doubts on my ability, I had tiniest 0.1% hope that I can reach my dream score. I started valuing people and environment around me.

• First 10-15 Questions are extremely important and do not screw up them. My ESRs will say all.

• Use all OG resources and GMAT Prep resources at least twice. I grantee you will learn every time you attempt them. Analyses explanation of each question whether you got it right or wrong. Focus more on getting every drop of the question than on just answering it correctly.

• Do not afraid to commit mistakes in your preparation. Earlier I used to but later I realized that it is better that I commit mistake and learn now than that I commit mistake in real GMAT and regret later.

• Take GMAT as part of your life. GMAT is not too hard to crack but it is not too easy to crack as well. I kept myself motivated by reading debriefs from GMAT club and in many of them I have read this sentence: “if I can do it you can also”. I really felt sometimes that it is too good to be true but today I feel the same. I am very weak in verbal. I did not have my schooling in English language. I still consider myself below average in English specially spoken English and here I am writing GMAT debrief of my own story.

• Never ever doubt your ability. Whenever I was feeling low, I used to listen to interviews of great people such as Jack Ma, Elon Musk and Will Smith etc. I used to listen to motivation videos on failure. Sometimes I used to take motivation from my professional life to GMAT prep. I am expert and recognized by many in professional platform so I always tell myself if I can be damn good in one sphere of life why can’t be in another.

• And finally once you achieve your target score, thank all people no matter how small role they have played in your journey. I am very thankful to my wife for supporting me in this entire journey. She had more confidence in me than I had in me. Numbers of time I had very erratic behaviors when preparation was not as per my expectation but she absorbed all. Without her I may not be writing this debrief. I thank my parents as well for full support. They many times did not call me just to make sure that I do not get disturbed in my preparation.

It will not be a complete debrief if I do not thank all people who designed such valuable courses and GMAT mocks. I thank all people behind the screen and in front of screen for your help in long journey. Last but not the least I thank GMAT Club community, its verbal & qunat experts (Bunuel, @bb,@souvik101990, mikemcgarry, GMATNinja, GMATNinjaTwo and @broall) since it was their valuable replies that helped me to refine my approach and askul2389 (Amol), pnishant (Nishant), pushpitkc, gmatexam439 (Pankaj), for all help directly or indirectly. Extremely sorry if i have missed out anyone.

I hope my experience will help others to achieve their target score. I am just giving back my smallest contribution to the community by writing my story. In case any further help required you may drop message anytime.

I am also attaching my ESR for first attempt and last attempt. And I apologize specially to verbal expert if i have used horrible structures, wrong tenses, incorrect parallelism or SV errors. I think I can get away with these this time. :grin: :grin: :grin:
Attachments

File comment: ESR of my Last Attempt.
ESR Gmat 08.09.2018 750.pdf [415.94 KiB]
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File comment: ESR of my First Attempt.
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Originally posted by rohansdalal on 09 Sep 2018, 10:58.
Last edited by rohansdalal on 17 Sep 2018, 09:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 11:38
rohansdalal,

Well well, I was waiting to read your debrief :)

I have just one word for you - inspirational. GMAT is a mental exam first; it will break you before you even realize.

Having seen your prep first-hand, I am very happy for you sire. I know you will achieve your dream of getting into a top school. English is just a language that can be learnt anytime in the life; what make people winner are strong determination and unwavering will to not give up!

Keep me posted about your applications and let me know if you need any further help!

All the very best.
_________________

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Long And A Fruitful Journey - V21 to V41; If I can, So Can You!!
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RC Summary Activity - New Project to imporve RC Skills
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1. Useful Formulae, Concepts and Tricks-Quant | 2. e-GMAT's ALL SC Compilation | 3. LSAT RC compilation | 4. Actual LSAT CR collection by Broal | 5. QOTD RC (Carcass) | 6. Challange OG RC | 7. GMAT Prep Challenge RC

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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 11:50
gmatexam439 wrote:
rohansdalal,

Well well, I was waiting to read your debrief :)

I have just one word for you - inspirational. GMAT is a mental exam first; it will break you before you even realize.

Having seen your prep first-hand, I am very happy for you sire. I know you will achieve your dream of getting into a top school. English is just a language that can be learnt anytime in the life; what make people winner are strong determination and unwavering will to not give up!

Keep me posted about your applications and let me know if you need any further help!

All the very best.


Thank you Pankaj for such kind words but I can write this post becasue you helped me when i needed the most. I was at lowest point when i had first talk with you. But your each word and suggestions helped me and motivated me to keep trying.

And about application, I am totally blank now so rather than keep you posted, I would prefer to call and seek more help from you ;) ;) .

I think real picture has just started.
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 11:51
Inspirational indeed rohansdalal
Hearty congratulations sir :)
gmatexam439 I can correlate things from this debrief bro :)
I hope I will be in a position to right this one day

Posted from my mobile device
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I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed--Michael Jordan
Kudos drives a person to better himself every single time. So Pls give it generously
Wont give up till i hit a 700+

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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 12:05
rohansdalal wrote:
gmatexam439 wrote:
rohansdalal,

Well well, I was waiting to read your debrief :)

I have just one word for you - inspirational. GMAT is a mental exam first; it will break you before you even realize.

Having seen your prep first-hand, I am very happy for you sire. I know you will achieve your dream of getting into a top school. English is just a language that can be learnt anytime in the life; what make people winner are strong determination and unwavering will to not give up!

Keep me posted about your applications and let me know if you need any further help!

All the very best.


Thank you Pankaj for such kind words but I can write this post becasue you helped me when i needed the most. I was at lowest point when i had first talk with you. But your each word and suggestions helped me and motivated me to keep trying.

And about application, I am totally blank now so rather than keep you posted, I would prefer to call and seek more help from you ;) ;) .

I think real picture has just started.


Yes bro ..... if you were sad earlier I am sure this next phase will make you cry ... hahah ....
Call me anytime you feel like :-D

If you plan to apply this year have a great few hours because deadlines for most schools is just around !!
_________________

Kudos if my post helps!

Long And A Fruitful Journey - V21 to V41; If I can, So Can You!!
Preparing for RC my way
RC Summary Activity - New Project to imporve RC Skills
Bloomberg's US Bschool Ranking

My study resources:
1. Useful Formulae, Concepts and Tricks-Quant | 2. e-GMAT's ALL SC Compilation | 3. LSAT RC compilation | 4. Actual LSAT CR collection by Broal | 5. QOTD RC (Carcass) | 6. Challange OG RC | 7. GMAT Prep Challenge RC

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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 12:07
1
1
vasuca10 wrote:
Inspirational indeed rohansdalal
Hearty congratulations sir :)
gmatexam439 I can correlate things from this debrief bro :)
I hope I will be in a position to right this one day

Posted from my mobile device


Don't loose hope bro .... just stay committed to your aim!! :-D
_________________

Kudos if my post helps!

Long And A Fruitful Journey - V21 to V41; If I can, So Can You!!
Preparing for RC my way
RC Summary Activity - New Project to imporve RC Skills
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My study resources:
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 17:17
Hey Rohan,

Absolutely great journey and fantastic score to end it with. Your tale will help the legions of other GMAT takers on the forum. Good luck with your applications. :)

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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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rohansdalal wrote:
Background:

I am 29 Year old, Indian male with degree of B.Tech and MBA. I have been working in Oil and Gas downstream sector for last 6 years. It has been always my dream go to top B school. However I did not do well in CAT in 2010 hence ended up doing MBA from B school of lower rank in India. After MBA, I got placed in lucrative Oil and Gas downstream sector and was in comfortable zone till 2016. Life was good, I got married in 2014 and it was all felt good. However some deep down in mind I still had picture of my dream to get into one of the top B Schools. Things changed in 2016 and I was not in that comfort zone any more. But today I feel that was the one of best things that has happened to me in my life. To achieve big , you must get out of comfort zone. So I discussed with my wife and parents that I think this is the time I should start my race towards my dream and all of them supported me without any question. That is when I decided to take GMAT. I still remember those moments when I was searching about GMAT: Structures, Key area Tested, Timings and all. I was not sure or I chose not to judge my ability whether I can really pull of GMAT. But one thing was sure I wanted to give my all and aim for top B school. So this is how my long long journey full of many ups and downs (I really mean it) started in November 2016.

GMAT ATTEMPT 1

So after couple of days searching on net, I ordered Kaplan 2017 Complete Guide and OG 2017 materials. As soon as they are delivered, I started preparing with full enthusiasm and expectation. I first took diagnostic test that is included in Kaplan 2017 guide and scored somewhere in the range of 580-600. I did not feel disappointed and just realized that it is going to be hell of a journey to get 700+ score. So I started with Verbal as I was sure that I will be able to handle GMAT Quant without much difficulty. So I completed CR theory part and took quiz of practice questions from Kaplan. I followed the methods advised by Kaplan. I thought that I am ready to take on GMAT OG CR questions and I think it was a horrible mistake. OG materials are really gold dust so you have to be very wise utilizing OG resources. So in OG CRs, I was doing good in easy level and OK in medium level but very bad in hard level questions. Though I completed my CR and started with RC. I hated grammar and all those rules so did not want to touch SC. During this period, I was very naive. I was not active on GMAT club and not aware of 500+, 600+, 700+ difficulty level concept and cut off score to achieve 700+. I just wanted to prepare and master all the skills required to ace GMAT.

So with the same strategy I completed RC and SC. First theory, then quiz in Kaplan and OG 2017. Even though I had competed Verbal I was still unsure whether I am not right track.Still I started Quant NP, Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Statistic and Work Problems. I Completed Kaplan and then OG 2017. In Quant I was comfortable. So finally by March 2017, I completed Kaplan 2017 complete guide and OG 2017 materials. With Kaplan 2017 complete guide, there was also online question bank. So I though it is time to prepare for small quizzes of 15-20 questions of Verbal and Quant and then move forward to quizzes of 36 in Quant and 41 in Verbal (earlier actual GMAT format). This way I tried to prepare my mind to seat and work longer and longer. So it took another two months to complete. Some people will say this many months of preparation is more than enough but for me it was meant to be like this only. Though I had covered most of the things to take first GMAT, my gut feeling was that I do not have what it takes to ace GMAT the way I wanted to. So I searched more and found out about e-GMAT course. Read the reviews on GMAT club and felt that it is one of the best materials available for Nonnative speakers. So I decided to purchase the subscription for GMAT Live Prep in July 2017. I once again started with the theory part with same pattern. Verbal first and started with SC.I completed all SC theories. This course is one of the best available in business especially for Verbal. I started to develop my concept and refine my concept. Whatever I had as raw material, this course helped me to convert it to my weapon to go on war with GMAT. So completed SC, RC and CR theory part and started with Quant section the same way I did earlier. I followed their approach for each section. It is not easy to follow the approach each time. You have to practice a lot so that it comes within you without knowing to you that you are actually following approach. But I wanted to build my base strong and I did not concentrate on timing in this particular period. It was all about building and refining the key concept.

Once theory part was complete and I got comfortable with approach, I started using eGMAT Scholaranium. These questions are really of good quality specially SC and CR. In Quant, except very hard level, others give you a smell of real GMAT type of question. Very Hard difficulty level in eGmat Quant is really hard and cannot be solved in 2 mins. But I did them just to add more and more to my arsenal. It did help me to think at different level and gave me other dimensions. So by Dec 2017 I had completed most of the resources of eGMAT.

These all was happening in July – Dec 2017. My eGMAT was expiring in Dec 2017. In mean time I had also purchased Manhattan GMAT SC Guide and PowerScore CR Bible. I wants to utilize each of the best source available for GMAT prep, so in parallel with eGMAT, I did MGMAT SC and PowerScore CR Bible. However things don’t always go as planned and in Oct – Nov 2017, I has very hectic schedule in professional life. I had to travel a lot and I could not keep myself in rhythm of GMAT. So though I initially planned to take GMAT in Dec or Jan 2017, I could not adhere to that and I did ask for extension of my eGMAT course. This time I booked my first GMAT date 22nd March 2018. Hence for next 2 and 2 ½ months my plant is to take Mock CAT first and fill out the holes in my preparation. I had to identify my weak areas and make them strong. I took my first GMAT Prep Test 1 and scored 680 (Q50 and V31). This was not my dream score. I straight away knew, I had to work on my verbal. Since I had already used all the eGMAT and wanted to practice Mock Cats for verbal, I purchased MGMAT 5 GMAT practice tests (best available after GMAT Prep)

I did not want to use GMAT Prep Mocks until I am confident of my verbal part because GMAT Prep Mocks are the closest match to real ones. So I started taking MGMAT Mocks (Verbal only) and improved from V34 to V40. I did not attempt Quant section in any of those mocks but used GMAT Club Test/Question Bank to keep my Quant mind sharp. I was getting more confident in Verbal and hence decided to take GMAT Prep Mock Test 2. I scored 720 in that and maintained that score range 720-740 from 2nd Test and 6th Test. Yes I did buy all of those available.

D-day finally arrived and I was confident of scoring at least 700. I chose Quant, Verbal, IR and AWA. Times felt like flying and everything was happening fast. I could not settle for first three – four questions in Quant and Verbal both. This might be because it was my first experience and high expectation to crack in 1st attempt. But when I submitted the Test, screen flashed 610 (Q 49 and V 25). I could hear my heart pump heavily. It was no way near to my expectation. I was totally blank. I regained myself and cancelled the score. I called my wife and parents and gave them this horrible news. I still remember 250 Kms - 6 Hrs journey back to home. My mind was full of thoughts, doubts and worries. But I also decided not to give up and start again my journey towards my dream.

GMAT ATTEMPT 2

During my 1st attempt preparation I also contacted GMAT takers who scored 700+ after scoring between 600-650. I decided to take their advice and called Amol Kulkarni and Nishant next days. I also messaged two three experts from GMAT Club. These people helped to keep myself calm and not to worry. They analyzed my ESR and informed me that in Verbal I did too many mistakes in first section (Q No 1-10), so by the end of the 10th question, GMAT had already judged my ability and never threw higher difficulty level questions. At this moment I realized the importance of first 10-15 questions in verbal. During my discussion over phone with Nishant, he advised to attempt all GMAT retired questions since I had already used my GMAT Prep sources, eGMAT, OG 2017, Kaplan 2017 and MGMAT Tests. I knew that there is huge gap in my implementation part. So I started taking small quizzes from retired GMAT question - 15 SC Qs. 23 Mins, 15 CR Qs. 30 mins and 4 Passages 28 Mins. I practiced all SC, CR and RC retired questions in similar fashion. I asked eGMAT experts also for help as I had read in one of the debrief that Payal Tondon herself responded to GMAT taker's mail and provided very valuable response to improve score. However after 3-4 follow ups I did got response from eGMAT team but it was not as per my satisfaction or expectation. But since I had already started my preparation from retired GMAT questions, I was feeling that I am on right track. I bought Veritas 6 Mock Cats and Expert Global 15 Mock CATS to prepare for Mocks. I confirmed my 2nd GMAT test on 31st May 2018, so from April 2018 last week to May 2018 I took Veritas Mock and Global Expert 15 Mock CATS. In Veritas I was scoring 50-51 in Quant and 34-38 in Verbal. In Expert Global Mock Cats I was scoring between 680 and 740. I also took GMAT Club CATs and my score was ranging from 48 to 51. So I thought this time I could my dream score of 740. This time my preparation was verbal heavy.

D-day arrived again. All formalities repeated at Test Center. Again I chose Quant, Verbal, IR and AWA. This time I was less nervous and fear of unknown was not there. Time flew and completed the Test but what was more shocking screen flashed the score of 610 (Q 46 and V 28). My feelings were tearing me apart. I was broke and thought that after all my hard work, dedication and sacrifice I had not moved a bit. No improvement in score. I again had to suffer my long journey with same feeling of failure and despair to home. Next day morning I was eager to check my ESR and I found out the same pattern which was there in 1st attempt. Too many incorrect too soon in Verbal. I could not believe. I was shattered already. But I never lost hope. I again sought help of Amol , Pushitkc and Pankaj. These people helped me to keep me intact. I decided not to hurry and take time to have proper strategy before selecting next date of GMAT.

GMAT ATTEMPT 3

From GMAT Club experts I learned that I am still making mistakes in 600-700 level questions and hence in real GMAT I am not able to reach 700+ level questions in verbal. So I needed to be 100% confident of my comfort level in 600-700 questions. I had to achieve 90-100% accuracy in 600-700 level. I was out of resources. This situation was even worse. I wanted to prepare but I had no reliable resources. I decided to buy course either of Magoosh or of Veritas and went for Magoosh as it was cheaper ;) . Till now I was not much active on GMAT Club but I did realize that GMAT Club is full of resources for each type of questions. Yes but you have to be careful about source as there are many debatable questions from unspecified sources. I followed step by step methodology and time was not a constraint for me. I really wanted to win GMAT and there was no chance to give up. My preparation from one resource to another is as below:

1. Manhattan and Veritas 600-700 level Question from GMAT club SC and CR directory.
I made question sets of 25 questions from Manhattan and Veritas for SC and RC. I made sure that I get accuracy of more than 90% in each set. I did not touch 700 level questions. I completed these sets.
2. RC Passages from OG Directory 13th edition to OG 2019. All RCs. Even though I had done OG 2017, I reattempted.
3. Manhattan and Veritas 700+ level Question from GMAT club SC and CR directory. (Only after achieving 90% or more accuracy in 600-700 level consistently.)
4. LSAT RCs 1 passage each day along with OG Passages 3 each day.
5. LSAT CR question. Starting with Easy and Medium and then to Hard level.

Once I gained confidence in 600-700 level as well as 700+ level difficulty level questions, I switched to OG Directory 13th edition to OG 2019 for SC and CR. I made sure that I do not falter in 600-700 level questions again. I followed the eGMAT approach more carefully. I was not keeping timing for any question as I wanted to achieve accuracy first and then timing. In June and July 2018 I did preparation for verbal only. I did not attempt quant even though my score in Quant decreased in 2nd attempt. LSAT RC and CRs helped me to open my mind and thinking for higher difficulty level questions. I had bought Kaplan Mocks (8 Tests) this time to practice Mocks. However I decided to take Verbal first this time. I felt and as suggested my others also that you should try Verbal first since your mind is fresh and verbal is your weak section so you can concentrate well. The reasons I was afraid to take verbal first in earlier attempts was I thought if I take quant first and I do well, I can carry that confidence level to verbal section and if I take verbal first and I screw up it, I might end up screwing Quant (my strongest area) as well.

On 1st August I took 1st Mock of Kaplan and scored 740 (Q49 and V43). I wanted to see how I react and score to mock without preparing for Quant in last two months. I also knew I cannot take Quant for granted so from August 2018, my schedule was fixed. I took GMAT Mock (Kaplan) every weekend and in week days I used to prepare SC, RC, CR from Magoosh which I had purchases in June 2016. It was important that you do practice every day even if it is of only 5-10 questions. In Quant I was left with 10 CATs of GMAT Club and so started taking them one by one. I also did Magoosh Quant whenever I had time. On Mocks I was constantly scoring 740 (Q49 and V43), so I decided to take GMAT on 8th Sept 2018. Same time 9 o’clock in morning and same test center.

D-Day 8th Sept 2018

All the formalities repeated, same questioned were asked at Test Centre and I gave the same answer for third time. But this time I was in different mindset. No big expectation nothing, just I wanted to improve. I was mentally prepared to go for fourth, fifth till eighth attempt to achieve my dream score of 740. I was ready to accept 680 score and try for 4th attempt but I wanted to improve my score.

I Started with Verbal, I was ready to give 1-2 mins more if I am stuck in first 10-15 questions but I did not want to attempt questions in time pressure. First 7-8 questions were easy and I was sure of answering them correctly. I was keeping myself calm, understanding the author meaning in SC and RC, pre-thinking and imbibing all the information and answer choice of CR. 1st RC was quite easy or I felt easy but I was very much comfortable till 18th Question. After half way mark I got struck in 2-3 questions between 18th and 28th Question numbers. In this section I got very long passage (5 paragraphs) on Humanity but I did not panic as I have seen from OG pattern that for long passages ,answers to questions are more explicit than for short passages. I attempted all 4 questions of that passage. For last 10 questions I had only 10-12 Mins so I started feeling time pressure. I kept calm and progressed ahead. I came across short RC so I have to choose either I read, spend at least 5-6 mins in answering 3 or 4 questions and attempt next 5-6 questions in just 5 mins or skip RC , attempt last 5-6 question with more time for each questions and end verbal on higher note. I chose to skip RC as I wanted to end section on higher note. It went well finally.

I took break of 5 mins. I did not have any habit of eating anything so I took 3-4 deep breaths and started my Quant. Initial 3-4 questions were from Word problem with long two-three liners problem statement. But I concentrated and did them carefully after understanding. Quant went well compared to last attempt and completed just at right time. I had randomly guessed 2-3 Questions in between. By nature I do not have habit of thinking of how i attepted last question based on difficulty level of current question. Firstly i never tried to judge difficulty level of any question.I just concentrate on one question that is in front of you. I kept it simple.

After Quant, I was sure that this time I have done reasonably well and this time I can expect at least 680 if not 700+. As already I have mentioned, this time I wanted to improve no matter what. I took break of 5 mins and started IR and AWA. While writing AWA, I was little nervous also as I was not ready for any surprise this time. My heart beats started increasing as I was ending my AWA. I submitted the test and score flashed 750 (Q 50 and V40,IR 4). I could not believe my eyes. I really pulled it off. I have won the battle. I soon accepted the score and asked instructor to escort me out of the room. I asked for print of the score and he directed me to another desk. I went to that desk and once again asked person sitting on desk: “Is it 750 right?” He told me “Yes”. I checked my unofficial report print and moved out of the building. I called my wife and my parents and they were all happy. I thanked God also for keeping me motivated throughout the journey. It was indeed my dream score, actually 10 points more than dream score. These 10 Points were like cherry on the cake for me. One chapter of my dream was over and 2nd chapter going to get start.

Further from my ESR, I can see that I have answered only two incorrect in first 2 section in verbal and nil in quant.

Resources used:

Kaplan 2017 complete guide
• Official Guides
• GMAT Prep Question bank and all 6 mocks
eGMAT Live Prep
MGMAT Mock
MGMAT SC Guide
Veritas Mocks
Expert Global Mocks
Kaplan Mocks
• GMAT Club Quant Question bank and CATs
Magoosh Quant and Verbal
• GMAT Club resources for verbal
• LSAT CR and RCs
PowerScore CR Bible
• Retired GMAT Prep Questions

I know it is a long list and I think many have ace GMAT just by using two to three resources. But I can say that each resource was helpful. I took everything what is good in that resource. However I am really thankful to eGMAT for building the strong base for my journey. It is one of the best as far as verbal especially SC considered. So if you are nonnative speaker and aiming to score 700+, please go for it.

Approach to handle each type of questions:

Sentence Correction:

SC is more about meaning than grammar. There will be at least one choice which will be grammatically correct but may not communicate intended meaning in 700+ level SC questions.

Critical Reasoning:

Pre Think Pre Think and Pre Think. Identify your premises and conclusion. Identify the goal of the question whether you are asked to weaken, strengthen or find assumption etc. Once done with identification, read all ans choices carefully. Take 1-2 seconds to analyze ans choice and decide whether it is correct.

Reading Comprehension:

Again meaning and author’s tone. Why author saying all these details to us? What is her purpose? Always prepare paragraphs wise map of the Passages.

Quant:

Practice as much as you can. Be careful while attempting DS as DS is full of traps.

Mistakes I made and you should avoid:

1. Do not underestimate GMAT.
2. Use OG resources very carefully as they are gold dust and once you are sure that you are ready to take them then only use them. Actually Use them at least twice.
3. Start Test with your weak area. It worked for me however it depends more on individual. So you work out yourself.

Learning from my journey:

• I think this entire journey made me better person. There were many ups and down sometimes I felt may be GMAT is not for me and sometimes I felt that I can pull it off. However in my entire journey I never reached a point where I lost my hope. Even if there were many doubts on my ability, I had tiniest 0.1% hope that I can reach my dream score. I started valuing people and environment around me.

• First 10-15 Questions are extremely important and do not screw up them. My ESRs will say all.

• Use all OG resources and GMAT Prep resources at least twice. I grantee you will learn every time you attempt them. Analyses explanation of each question whether you got it right or wrong. Focus more on getting every drop of the question than on just answering it correctly.

• Do not afraid to commit mistakes in your preparation. Earlier I used to but later I realized that it is better that I commit mistake and learn now than that I commit mistake in real GMAT and regret later.

• Take GMAT as part of your life. GMAT is not too hard to crack but it is not too easy to crack as well. I kept myself motivated by reading debriefs from GMAT club and in many of them I have read this sentence: “if I can do it you can also”. I really felt sometimes that it is too good to be true but today I feel the same. I am very weak in verbal. I did not have my schooling in English language. I still consider myself below average in English specially spoken English and here I am writing GMAT debrief of my own story.

• Never ever doubt your ability. Whenever I was feeling low, I used to listen to interviews of great people such as Jack Ma, Elon Musk and Will Smith etc. I used to listen to motivation videos on failure. Sometimes I used to take motivation from my professional life to GMAT prep. I am expert and recognized by many in professional platform so I always tell myself if I can be damn good in one sphere of life why can’t be in another.

• And finally once you achieve your target score, thank all people no matter how small role they have played in your journey. I am very thankful to my wife for supporting me in this entire journey. She had more confidence in me than I had in me. Numbers of time I had very erratic behaviors when preparation was not as per my expectation but she absorbed all. Without her I may not be writing this debrief. I thank my parents as well for full support. They many times did not call me just to make sure that I do not get disturbed in my preparation.

It will not be a complete debrief if I do not thank all people who designed such valuable courses and GMAT mocks. I thank all people behind the screen and in front of screen for your help in long journey. Last but not the least I thank GMAT Club community, its verbal & qunat experts (Bunuel, @bb,@souvik101990, mikemcgarry, GMATNinja, GMATNinjaTwo and @broall) since it was their valuable replies that helped me to refine my approach and askul2389 (Amol), pnishant (Nishant), pushpitkc, gmatexam439 (Pankaj), for all help directly or indirectly. Extremely sorry if i have missed out anyone.

I hope my experience will help others to achieve their target score. I am just giving back my smallest contribution to the community by writing my story. In case any further help required you may drop message anytime.

I am also attaching my ESR for first attempt and last attempt. And I apologize specially to verbal expert if i have used horrible structures, wrong tenses, incorrect parallelism or SV errors. I think I can get away with these this time. :grin: :grin: :grin:




What an inspiring debrief! Just the motivation I needed! if you could do it, I can too! Goodluck!
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2018, 02:07
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Congratulations rohansdalal on the stellar score.

And thank you for sharing with us your inspirational GMAT journey plus kudos to the self belief and firm determination you had during your GMAT prep. :thumbup:
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2018, 21:16
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Congrats rohansdalal on the awesome score!

I wish you luck on all your future endeavours. Hope you get into your first-choice school :)
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2018, 04:58
Congrats Rohan! Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. I’m sure it would inspire all of us who are trying to accomplish what you managed to achieve working tirelessly.

Wish you luck for your applications. I’m looking forward to your another story of getting into your top dream school :)


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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2018, 11:07
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This has got to be one of the most inspirational debriefs I have read on GMATclub. Congrats to you sir, you have shown us that hard work and determination can do wonders. I'm going through a tough time with my preparation for my second attempt. I don't feel like I'm progressing as well as I should and sometimes I almost lose hope. But this post has just inspired to get off my butt and put in the work. I owe you for this.
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2018, 08:46
Congratulations on the fantastic score, rohansdalal! And yup, this is the reality of the GMAT for so many people: it can take tons of perseverance and pain to get to the promised land. And it always makes me happy to see somebody pull it off after all of that sacrifice.

Good luck with your applications!!
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2018, 20:12
Congrats rohansdalal!!! for 750, Thanks for sharing your valuable experience.

gmatexam439 rohansdalal Also share your App experience as well. All the best.
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it)  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2018, 22:43
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GMATNinja wrote:
Congratulations on the fantastic score, rohansdalal! And yup, this is the reality of the GMAT for so many people: it can take tons of perseverance and pain to get to the promised land. And it always makes me happy to see somebody pull it off after all of that sacrifice.

Good luck with your applications!!


Thank You GMATNinja !!

Your explanation on GMAT Club were valuable for me and learned a lot from those replies.

Thanks once again.
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Re: A Long Journey of 1 year, 9 months, 24 days: 610 to 750 (Yes i did it) &nbs [#permalink] 14 Sep 2018, 22:43
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