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# blow by blow account (super long post)

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Joined: 25 Aug 2004
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blow by blow account (super long post) [#permalink]

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10 Oct 2004, 02:55
hello everyone, i just wanted to finally take a moment to go over my recent GMAT experiences and provide you all with my insights and opinions on this stressful process. i posted earlier about improving from a 610 to a 730, so for anyone out there that didn't score as well as they thought they should, stay determined and keep hope that the 2nd attempt will be much better. that being said, here goes...

Preparation:

during this time, i also took the kaplan classroom course, but only because my company paid for it. i found the classroom instruction to be very basic and more geared towards those who are not looking to score in the upper 90th percentile. however, the course was beneficial for grasping critical reasoning methods and certain number properties rules. but in no way worth the \$1,300 tuition. in that respect, i dont recommend the classroom course, unless of course, its paid for by someone else. that being said, i did find the kaplan course book and online tutorials, quizzes, workshops and tests to be very very useful. as everyone states, kaplan quantitative is very very difficult, so it basically prepares you for anything the actual GMAT will throw. this only works to your advantage if you don't get too discouraged by missing kaplan questions and scoring poorly on their GMAT cats and losing confidence as a result. otherwise, i found the practise of deciphering kaplan questions beneficial to the process of problem solving. its great practice and there's a ton of questions to practise on if you take the online course, which might be a better alternative to the classroom course. my kaplan scores were as follows: diagnostic-690, CAT1- 620, CAT2- 560, CAT3- 580, CAT4- 680. kaplan online also offered full length practise tests that are not CAT, so they tended to be easier.. i scored between 690-730 on those. again, its practising the full length test, including essays, which is what is important... getting used to being under the gun and the cumulative 3 hours of having to focus.

Test day #1:

Test day #2

My reflections:

it is completely true that the GMAT tests your ability to handle stress more than it does anything else. in retrospect, looking back at all the problems i encountered, most of them were very much like OG and only a few were darn near impossible to answer. if given time, each question was solvable. GMAT wants you to be stressed going into the exam so that a few difficult questions here and there will completely throw you off your pace and rattle you. when that happens, GMAT has got you and you are most likely not going to recover. thats what happened to me in the first test... pre exam jitters... a couple of hard problems, and then a spiral downwards as i lost hope and trust in my abilities. theres no one easy way to relieve the stress... each person is different, but do what you can do, to limit any stress before and during the exam. you are guaranteed to peform so much better. i also realized that there's a huge component of luck in the GMAT... despite it being computer adaptive, the computer does not know what areas we favor... in the 2nd exam, i got all my favorite types of problems... i.e. DS number properties, testing positive and negative properties, work and rate problems, absolute values, ratios, plug and play problems, gross profit problems, and to top it all off, they were all in a form that i was familiar with... in verbal, i got 3 RC passages that suited me perfectly. without those specific passages, i would not have done as well as i did. so luck is a definite factor as well.

My top tips:

1. work on as many OG problems as you possibly can. keep that error log and review it religiously. when solving the problems, try and figure out what OG is asking for and what approach is the best. review correct and incorrect answers.
2. replicate test conditions at all times. that means timing all your problems, using only pencils and limited scratch paper, re-drawing all figures, and working at least in 60 minutes blocks to ensure that your endurance is built up.
3. do at least a few full length practice tests before taking the real one. you must also do the AWA portion as it will contribute to mental fatigue to a certain degree.
4. the day before the test, do a final powerprep exam to build your confidence and then try to relax and get a good nights rest.
5. on test day, trust in yourself and your preparation. stay calm at all times, and never, under any circumstance panic.
6. be aware of your pace, but don't obsess over time to the point that you can't focus on the problem at hand. this will only rush your answers and cloud your natural reasoning. give each question a good honest effort and don't completely give up on any question if you think you can solve it with a little more time. this is a difficult balancing act, as you dont want to spend too much time on any given question, but those few questions that you are close to solving may make the difference between a high and low score. this is especially true in the first 15 questions i think. therefore, adjust your pace to allow less time for questions 16-37. what i found was that once the CAT levels out, you start getting pretty easy questions from 25 onward that you can knock out in a less time. for example, i answered the last 10 questions in less than 15 minutes. plus the experimental ones are likely to be clumped in the middle of test.
7. stay focused only on the question in front of you. dont worry about previous questions or trying to judge how you're doing by the difficulty of the questions.
8. take all your 5 minute breaks and use that time to clear your head and to psyche yourself up for the next section. this test is really mind over matter. if you're confident and prepared well, you should score well.
9. if you feel yourself straying towards the end of the test, take a short mental break, or otherwise dig deep for the those last reserves to pull you through. its no time to be throwing in the towel when you're so close to the finish.
10. realize that your final score is NOT a reflection of your intelligence. a low score does not make you a loser or anything less than you actually are. the GMAT is not life or death. its one test of many "tests" that you'll encounter in life. but do be honest with yourself. if you feel that you can really do better as reflected in your practise exams, then definitely give the test another honest shot. nerves play a critical role, but are less of a factor the second time around.

thats about it... best of luck to everyone. i hope this super long post helps at least somebody out. i know it was posts like this that i enjoyed reading and got the most inspiration from, so i wanted to give back something. ill be checking this site periodically, more for asking about apps and programs that i might want to apply to, so if anyone has any questions, ill be happy to respond.

tvc15

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21 Oct 2004, 06:37
Hi tvconefive,

That was a wonderful post - I feel beaten to a pulp by the GMAT I took today - only got a 650 and I'm feeling just like how you were feeling - 'bummed, disheartened and at a complete loss'. After a decent AWA, I got hit around the sixth question or so in quant - as you rightly pointed out - it was enough to rattle me (though at the time I didn't feel rattled, in retrospect I feel my thinking shut down). Found myself guessing on a number of quants - to maintain my time schedule. Verbal was too cool for comfort - was walking through it - it was really easy - somehow didn't reflect in the scores.

I think I also lost out a bit because I was overconfident when I walked in - thought I could take the GMAT by the horns.

I don't know whether I should take it again. It's expensive (in rupees) and besides I might just land up with a lower score. Still thinking.....

Conal

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21 Oct 2004, 20:33
hey conal... if this was your first go around, i would definitely advise you to take it again. if you were feeling confident the first time, the second time around youll be way more comfortable. you know exactly what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid. im pretty sure you can get your score up to your target. i know the test is expensive but youve got to think about it in terms of a long term investment in yourself. of course it all depends on what schools youre targeting.. a 650 will probably not be as competitive for your profile at most of the top 20 schools. take a break, regroup and hit the books hard again, and give it another shot. \$225 is alot of money but hey, im budgeting around \$2-3K for apps and plane fares for interviews if im invited. its all an investment man... just believe in yourself, thats the most important thing!!

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21 Oct 2004, 20:33
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# blow by blow account (super long post)

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