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A Path to 710 & Q50 in my First Attempt

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Current Student
Joined: 02 Jun 2017
Posts: 2
Location: Mexico
GMAT 1: 710 Q50 V35
GPA: 3.7
A Path to 710 & Q50 in my First Attempt  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Mar 2018, 10:01
November 27th, 2017, the day I sat for the GMAT. Although I feel like it’s been forever since that date, it really isn’t. It’s just that everything related to my MBA moves at stellar speeds. I’m writing this debrief in the most honest possible manner, hoping that I can dispense some useful advice for those of you navigating this nerve-wrecking process.

I scored a 710 with a Q50/V36 split on my first attempt. I applied on Round 2 and still had to work on the rest of my application, so to add to the drama I knew that if I failed to do it on my first try I would have to kick the can down the road for at least a year. (Update: I was invited to interview at Wharton, Yale SOM and MIT Sloan :grin: :grin: ).

About myself: Latin American male with 5 years of IB + PE experience and part time Real Estate developer and investor.

Before Jumping In

Without a doubt, the GMAT is as much an aptitude test as it is one of mental strength and resiliency, so my first advice is to work on your mental preparation as well. Build a strong mindset; you must be absolutely convinced of your capacity and be able to focus on one question at a time (Important: never, ever look back. LeBron never thinks about one he just missed, he instantly gets over it and keeps laser focus. True badass.).

Moving on to the actual GMAT prep, bear in mind that there is no one way to ace to the GMAT. With so many options out there, it’s easy to fall into temptations that can cost you precious time and cause frustration (chief reason for feeling inadequate). I lost 2 months for taking someone else’s method at face value. So, my second tip is for you to really take the time to investigate about the numerous options available before choosing the one that suits you. (You’ll just want to get right at it, I know, but most prep options have free trial periods and a week or two here is more of an investment rather than a waste).

That being said, the sincerest shout-out to my friends at eGMAT. As I said, after two months of no progress I ran into them and never looked back. While rather capable with numbers, I’m certainly no Ramanujan, so I put a lot of work and sacrifice to earning that Q50. I swear it can be done, and for me they were a crucial part in the process.

The Saga (titles in no specific order whatsoever)

Months 0 – 2: The Empire Strikes Back (Mock 1)

Materials: [John Doe Prep Co.] + OG (as recommended).

After 2 months prepping with another company, I faced my worst fears and took my first mock exam. It didn’t go well: 590 (Q38/V33). It was a real blow: 2 months and didn’t even make it to the 600-mark. This is the point where it can be frustrating, but I didn’t doubt myself and took the time to examine what I was doing wrong. The score was a just a symptom, as it reflected on how I actually felt which led me to look for alternatives.

Months 2 – 5: A New Hope (Mock 2)

Materials: eGMAT Live Quant Prep + OG (as recommended by eGMAT) & GMAT Question of the Day (This guy Bunuel is like the Yoda of GMAT)

I received an email from GMAT Club to participate in a free webinar by eGMAT (Number Properties I). I’ve never felt dumber in my life. Their 600-level questions seemed super hard and by the time we got to 700-level I felt they were calculating reentry trajectories for SpaceX. Well, not quite, but that’s when I understood how unprepared I was.

Most importantly, I had found a method that I knew would work for me. Looking for smart shortcuts? On the contrary, they rely on understanding core concepts. At low-level questions you can hardly note the difference, but as you move up, multiple concepts appear on a single question and that’s when -at least for me- the shortcut method breaks down. The best part? GMAT tests super basic concepts at core, so once you cement that moving up gets much easier. Timing issues? That’s the symptom, not the disease. Get better at understanding the concepts and adequate timing will follow.

Logistics during this stage and throughout.
Studied 2-3 hours a day during workdays (5am – 7am and whenever possible during my lunch hour) for 3 months. During weekends I participated in live webinars in the morning and dedicated 3-4 hours in the afternoons as well (with breaks every 2 hours). Also, I tried to work out 3 – 4 times a week to clear my head and prepare mentally (no Netflix + treadmill power walks; it had to push me and make me feel uncomfortable because that’s when mental toughness kicks in).

3 months into the process I took a second test and scored: 680 (Q44 / V38). Beyond the score, I felt much more confident and prepared, and knew I was getting there.

Month 6: The Force Awakens (Mock 3)

I took an additional 2 weeks to review core concepts of my weak areas and afterwards used an amazing tool called Scholaranium to master 600 to low 700 questions to a point where my hit ratio was above 90%. Took a third and final mock and scored a 720 (Q47/V42) and knew I was ready for test day. Still, I had two weeks before the exam and spent them crushing the hardest questions available in the platform (which can be either really hard or really time consuming). Average difficulty in the actual GMAT is way easier than these questions, so by the time you are used to them (even if you score at 40% at this level) you are bound to cross the 700-mark with ease. Again, no verbal prep at all.

Test Day: The Return of the Jedi

I scheduled for Monday and the entire weekend before it was “pencils down” and spent it confidently relaxing, knowing that I had put in the work and had developed the ability. Tip 3: if you do the work beforehand you won’t feel the anxiety to study until the last minute. Seriously, there was a guy reading some notes at the test center while waiting to be called. I’m no one to judge, but in all honesty, what do you hope to gain from those 5 minutes?

On D-day I arrived in the test center fully focused and listened to a couple of power songs while waiting to be called. I didn’t get a single question wrong for the first 23 questions, which put me in the 700-level realm and remained there. On verbal I actually started off almost as strong but consumed much of my time in the first half and for the last part I devoted an average of 1.15 - 1.16 min/question, which of course took a toll on my final verbal score. IR score of 8 and AWA of 5.5. (All of this info is derived from my Enhanced Report).

3-clicks after finishing and a 710 (Q50/V35) appeared on the screen. Q50? Pure exhilaration! Absolutely elated. Admittedly, I had mixed feelings about my Verbal score because I knew I could score higher. On the flip side, I didn’t devote any time to this section and it still was 76th percentile, which for a non-native English speaker is not a terrible thing. (Side note: from what I’ve read eGMAT rocks at Verbal prep, and from what I understand that is what actually made them renowned in the first place. There are plenty of amazing success stories out there).

All this goes to say that perseverance, hard work and a strong mindset can and will put you there, and I hope that many more of you can fulfill your dreams of having a GMAT score that allows you to compete for your dream MBA program. I know you will.

Takeaways (as addressed in the debrief):

1) GMAT = Aptitude + Mental Resilience
2) Don’t jump right into studying; take the time to find the method, prep company and materials that suit you and your way of learning. This will go a long way to reduce your prep time and build your confidence.
3) Don’t study/stress until the last minute. Put the effort and hours beforehand and you’ll feel confident. Trust the process.
2) + 3) work smart (and efficiently!) + work hard

Additional takeaways

 700+ requires that 600-level questions feel like a walk in the park. You know how the algorithm works, so make sure you OWN the 600-level. (Not entirely clear cut, granted, but in many cases, you know it’s a 700-level because more than one concepts are involved).
 It really isn’t about the number of questions:
o Don’t need to do every question on the OG guide or 300 thousand questions before the GMAT.
o Use every question to learn something. Even if you got it right, take the time to see if it was by chance, if there was a smarter way to solve it or if you could add a couple of things to your arsenal.
 Use the platform’s resources smartly to your own advantage. They really have everything you need to get that Q50+.
e-GMAT Representative
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Re: A Path to 710 & Q50 in my First Attempt  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Mar 2018, 01:05
Guillermo – thank you for taking the time out to write down your experience. Your experience shows that acing GMAT is not about following shortcuts, rather it is about learning the basics well and mastering them with strategic planning and diligent execution.

I congratulate you on scoring a Q50. Most people would have given up after scoring Q38 (41 percentile) and believed GMAT Quant is not their cup of tea, but you set your sight on maximizing your score in Quant and worked towards it. This trait would serve you well in your post MBA life.

Congratulations once again and all the best for Yale, Wharton and MIT Sloan!!
GMAT Club Bot
Re: A Path to 710 & Q50 in my First Attempt   [#permalink] 16 Mar 2018, 01:05
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