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Breaking the verbal jinx to finally reach 760!

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Breaking the verbal jinx to finally reach 760! [#permalink]

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I am among silent yet avid users of Gmatclub. Now that GMAT is finally off my charts satisfactorily, I thought I should probably post my story as well. Who knows who might stumble upon it at one of those dark moments during the GMAT journey when you just can't seem to take even a step further. I definitely had many such moments and I read any success story or statistical analysis I could get my hands.

For anyone who's read even a few such stories, the first thing you'd notice is the fact that though there are a few general rules like consistency, smart work and practice, each person seems to have a different study plan and strategies to ace the GMAT. So one of the first things I told myself is to never take a study plan off the internet and replicate it exactly as described. We are all different and only we can devise a plan that works best for us. So First point I would strongly stress upon is DO NOT look for a ready made plan that you can just rip off the net. Chances are, you'll end up wasting a lot of time before you realize things aren't working as expected. Surely, you've written a lot of exams all your life and though GMAT might be quite different, your mind and study habits will definitely have a pattern. Some of us are early risers who are most fresh and attentive during the morning, while others like me can stay up late to burn the night oil during practice. While some people like me need a undisturbed time block of at least an hour to get over the inertia and actually gain from a practice session, others utilize their time during travel and lunch breaks to efficiently use their time. Before you kick start your prep, I'd advice you to sit back and see what works for you best and how much time and energy you can consistently allot to the GMAT prep.

Once you have understood your own working style, it is now important to understand clearly how GMAT works. There are quite a lot of articles to break down the GMAT exam in terms of exam pattern, what is tested and why, difficulty level, test takers demographics, score validity and the most infamous - adaptive GMAT question algorithm. Though all the above mentioned things are quite important to understand, I'd suggest not to give unnecessary importance to the computer adaptive process. I totally understand the the uncontrollable desire to completely figure it out and outwit the system on the test day. But bottom line, there is not much we know about the algorithm, and most tests and analyses online are only speculative with varying amount of truth. You'd rather use that time to improve your accuracy and speed. Another important aspect of your prep is the study material. Again there is a lot of material available online, both paid and free and not all of it is specifically designed for GMAT. Safely assuming you have fixed and limited amount of time for taking the GMAT, I cannot stress enough on the official material, i.e. the OG (verbal, quant and combined - all 3 ) and the GMAT prep mock tests. Each of the questions in these resources are retired GMAT questions, and thus have officially been asked during the test in the past. One of the biggest mistake you can make is solve non-GMAT questions designed to test skills not tested on GMAT. Solve the official questions as many times and possible and understand the explanation for the questions you got both right and wrong. A few key points that you might already know -

1. It is important to simulate test conditions and to include AWA and IR sections while taking mocks.
2. GMAT prep mocks are quite close to the real GMAT, so use the tests wisely and use online forums to understand each question.
3. Manhattan quant, Gmatclub quant tests are tougher than the actual GMAT. Similarly, Kaplan verbal is tougher than the actual GMAT. So don't let these tests demotivate you. Use them instead to build confidence with higher level questions and improve time management.
4. It is very much true that GMAT punishes you for leaving questions unanswered. So learn the art of logical guessing and letting go of a difficult question at the right time.
5. There is no ideal number of mock tests that you should take. Though it is necessary to get familiar with the pattern, if you think the tests are demotivating you or aren't helping you much, then feel free to drop them out of your study plans. Do take at least the 2 free GMAT prep tests at any cost though.
6. Though AWA and IR sections aren't too important, they are the first 2 sections during the test and doing well there really does boost your confidence during the test.

I saved my story for the end because like I already mentioned, most of the personal advice or experience might not be relevant to many people. I first wrote GMAT in 2012 during my third year of undergrad for applying to the ISB YLP. I hadn't even heard of the GMAT until then and was hardly aware of the immense help available online. My friends told me it is enough to cross 700, so with some basic revision and prep for a week I managed to score a decent 710( Q50, v35 ). I was quite happy to cross that 700 mark but was very disappointed when I got rejected. YLP is extremely competitive and draws a lot of exceptional profiles. I decided to give ISB another attempt after completing the minimum 2 year work ex. And so, I applied to ISB again in 2016. Though I knew my experience was on the wrong side of the school average, I was sure my previous reject was not because of my GMAT score. But I halfheartedly booked another GMAT date in order to make up for my low work ex. I consistently scored around 750 in the mocks and probably got over confidently towards the end. On the final day, I went in with zero tension, knowing I had a 710 for backup. I am not sure which of these thoughts backfired, but by the end of the test, I was staring at a mere 690 for 2 minutes before I hurried to cancel the score. I felt terrible for misjudging the exam and wasting one attempt. In retrospect, I should have let go of ISB last year, but I applied anyway only to get rejected.

Come 2016, a lot of things had changed with respect to my job and career goals. Working in a dynamic and challenging startups like Ola strengthened my conviction to go to a b-school and brought in the much needed clarity in my goals. I decided to give my final shot at GMAT (Oct 8 2016). This time I started fresh, with no prejudice and no fixed mindsets. I used the online forums to find solutions, cimprove my grammar and read a few good books to improve my reading skills, strengthened my mental math and accuracy and took regular mock test to monitor my progress. Coming from quant background, I have never had much trouble with the quant section but verbal was a nightmare like other non-native speakers.
I brushed up my quant skills and quickly moved to verbal. My extensive online blog reading had taught me one thing. It is the easiest to see your improvement in Sentence correction. Also, it is the closest to quant if you learn how to apply logic and eliminate options based on the few basic grammar rules that GMAT often tests. I wouldn't go into those details because I believe there are plenty of resources online. If you need a head start, try the free pdf downloads on gmatclub. There are a few helpful ones that summarize the famous MGM SC guide -8 beautifully. Similarly for, Critical reasoning, a few basic reasoning hacks mentioned in the various PDFs available online like the PowerScore CR bible, can be of much help with the CR section. Reading comprehension needs you to the patient, attentive and smart. But each student tends to have a different strategy for this section. It is best to go with your personal style and practice to improve your accuracy. Consistency and regular practice go a long way in aligning your thought process and problem solving ability to the GMAT test style.

Finally it is important to stay fresh and active a couple of hours before the GMAT. Give yourself plenty of rest the night before and avoid any other office and personal tensions. It really did help me to take a ORS tetra pack to the test center. I believe it kept me from getting tired during the long test. You could choose a drink of your choice that can help you stay alert and energized. I went in with a positive attitude and constantly assured myself I was going to do well. AWA section went on like a breeze but the IR did give me a little trouble with the time. I decided not to let this affect the main sections and immediately took my mind off the IR during the first break. Quant section started with a slightly challenging couple of questions, post which I did not have much trouble. By the end I was almost worried I faced too many easy questions. But the second break again helped me calm down and bring back my focus to verbal. I was glad I did good amount of prep with the SC because it seems to have saved my day. Though I got stuck at a couple of CR questions, the SC and a few RC questions made up for them.
I came out excited after seeing a 760 ( q50, v42, AWA 6, IR 7 ) on the final screen! I am finally done with the GMAT monster! :-D

Good Luck with your GMAT and I hope I was of a little help :)p

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Re: Breaking the verbal jinx to finally reach 760! [#permalink]

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New post 18 Oct 2016, 22:01
Moving to a better forum and more appropriate location.
Congratulations on your score and hard work! Very well done!
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Re: Breaking the verbal jinx to finally reach 760!   [#permalink] 18 Oct 2016, 22:01
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Breaking the verbal jinx to finally reach 760!

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