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Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)

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Intern
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Joined: 09 Apr 2017
Posts: 31
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 690 Q47 V38
GMAT 2: 720 Q48 V41
GPA: 3.5
Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 11 Oct 2018, 10:43
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Hello Everyone,

First up. This is going to be a fairly lengthy post. You've been warned. I offer no apologies if you get bored or if you find this post a complete waste of your time.

I got done taking the GMAT the 2nd time around today, and I wanted to share my experience with you.

A little about me:
Demographic: Indian, Male, 30+
Work Ex: 8+ years
Location: USA
Education: MS in Infomation Science and Tech.

Length of Study: 3 months+ (I had planned to study quant for the first month, verbal for the second month, and practice both quant and verbal for the third month)

Mock Test Scores:
Date Test Score
04/09 Kaplan Diagnostic 520
05/07 GMATPrep CAT 1 640
05/14 MGMAT CAT 1 610
05/26 MGMAT CAT 2 640
06/10 MGMAT CAT 3 660
06/17 MGMAT CAT 4 680
06/25 MGMAT CAT 5 610 (fml)
07/01 GMATPrep CAT 2 700
07/03 GMATPrep CAT 3 720

07/16 MGMAT CAT 6 680
07/23 GMATPrep CAT 4 730

GMAT Scores:
GMAT 1 07/11: 690 (Q47, V38)
GMAT 2 07/27: 720 (Q48, V41)

Resources Used:
Books:
1. Manhattan Prep Strategy Guides: (Used books 1 through 8, never used book 0 but I recommend getting the entire set because of the online content that it gives you access to: 6 CATs and lots of question banks). I also had the Manhattan Foundations of Math which was useful in brushing up the my rusty quant basics. Overall, the quality of the content of the books is great. I found all the Quant books very helpful and I couldn't have gotten a 41 in verbal without the Manhattan SC and CR books. These two books are terrific and worth every penny/paisa.

2. OG 17, Quant Review 17 and Verbal Review 17: OG is mandatory; Quant review and Verbal review, not so much but they're good for additional practice if you need it. The online tool is pretty useful for practice but it can definitely be better.

Software/Apps/Websites:
1. GMATClub Quant and Verbal Forums - Invaluable. The amount and quality of information available on this website is incredible. The community is so helpful in so many different ways. Right from finding study plans for your specific case (3 months prep or moving from Q44 to Q50 or V30 to V40), to the experts who provide solutions to the problem that you have difficulty with and the members who ask questions (and question the solutions provided), this website was instrumental in helping me prepare for the GMAT.
2. GMATPrep Free Exams - Closest to the actual GMAT in difficultt, and look and feel. Scoring appears to be pretty accurate too.
3. GMATPrep Exam Pack 2 (I didn't intend to buy exam pack 2, but after a shocking result in a mock I panicked and bought the Exam Pack 2 not realizing that there was an Exam Pack 1. If you want, you can get either, doesn't really matter which one you get.)
4. Magoosh GMAT Math Flashcards for Android - I used this to revise/practice whenever I was commuting. It's pretty useful to just keep yourself in the GMAT frame of mind and for very basic revision.
5. Manhattan CATs - Bloody hard for me, but overall very, useful.

My Experience:
1. Pre-Prep:
I spent quite some time researching what the best resources for studying for the GMAT are. I reached out to my friends who had already taken the GMAT a few years ago to understand what resources they used. I googled and found my way to GMATClub and found a lot of information on what resources to use and how to study for the GMAT. I found the same set of books being recommended by quite a few people: Manhattan, Veritas Prep and Kaplan. I went to a local bookstore (Barnes and Noble, for you curious types), and glanced through the books. They had the Manhattan strategy guides and the Kaplan Primier. Being the cheapskate that I am, I picked up the Kaplan. Kidding...not about the cheapskate part. The Kaplan certainly was cheaper, but I also liked how the book was organized more than how the books from Manhattan were. But I changed my mind in about a week. Though I don't regret buying the Kaplan Primier, I didn't find it very useful. I used it for a week and then decided to buy the Manhattan Prep books after reading several posts on here. Also, the Kaplan online application was blocked on my office network, another reason why it wasn't working out for me. This is something you might want to check.

Along with researching books, I also researched the score I would need to get in order to get into the schools I was targeting. I looked up the class profiles, and made a list of the avg GMAT score and the 80% GMAT score range for the programs I was targeting. This research was sporadic and was spread out over a period of a couple of weeks and can definitely be done in a much shorter time. All of this gave me a ball park figure of 700+ and I determined that a 720+ score would be an acceptable score for me. Obviously, the higher the better, but the number 720 helped me commit myself fully to the cause.

2. Prep:
Once I bought the Kaplan book, I took the diagnostic test and got a depressing 520. Like seriously, that was a wake up call. I always knew I wasn't the shapest tool in the shed, and that I've always had to work hard to score well, but 520 was, to put it mildly, f'ing depressing. But it told me that I had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of work to do, and I heard that message loud and clear. I started working through the Kaplan Premier book, though I didn't really have a study plan. I did this for about a week and found that I didn't really like the book or the way I was studying. At this point, I decided to get the Manhattan Prep books. I looked up the forums here for study plans and found my way to the Study Plans post: https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-study-p ... ml?fl=menu. Lots of useful information on there. I used this post as a guide to help me develop on own detailed plan. I used the attached format to develop the schedule and tried to stick as closely to it as possible. There was divergence from the schedule when I felt I needed to spend more time on a specific area (ugh...Word Problems! :shock: ). I suggest developing a plan that works for you and one that you can commit to for the duration of your prep. Having said that, be flexible in terms of adapting the plan as you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses.

For the first month, I focused only on quant. I've always been relatively weak in quant, and it was my biggest area of conern. I knew I had to score above 45 in quant to stand any chance of scoring a 720+. I worked through the Manhattan books in sequence, and I made notes on paper. I usually make very detailed notes (and get carried away often - Have you played Clue or Cluedo? Yeah, I make notes in Clue/Cluedo, so you can imagine), but it helps me remember things better. I've tried taking notes on the computer, but it doesn't have a same effect unfortunately. I looked for GMAT flashcard apps in the Google Play Store and I found the GMATClub toolkit and Magoosh GMAT Quant Flashcard apps. Though the GMATClub toolkit is great, I used the Magoosh app more since it threw random questions at me. As I worked through the Manhattan Prep books, I did every question in each of the books. I spent time on the questions I got wrong to try to understand the solutions and approach taken. While I was at work, I tried to solve problems on the GMATClub quant forums. I also tried to spend at least an hour at work to do practice problems from whatever source was available - Manhattan's Online question bank or the GMATClub forum or if I brought my book to work). It wasn't always easy to find time, but I was committed to my prep and I MADE time for it. Once I was done with the Manhattan's quant books, I started taking the Manhattan CATs I had. I took one test a week, and tried to keep up that pace for the remaining duration of my test. Important: Spend time reviewing the tests - review both correct answers too, not just the wrong answers. You might have taken the wrong approach but might have ended up with the correct answer and it's important to understand why the said approach is wrong even if the answer is correct.

The second month was primarily for verbal prep. Again, I worked through the Manhattan books in sequence. And again, notes time! Honestly, I don't know how useful the RC book was. It helped me know the type of RC questions and how best to approach them, but I don't think the book helped me much. I did work through it fully but I saw no real improvement in my RC accuracy or speed. However, as I've said before, the Manhattan Prep SC and CR books are a gold mine. It took me a good two weeks to get through both books, I do think it's possible to finish them in lesser time, but it was two weeks of good verbal prep. As with the quant books, I solved every question in each of the Manhattan books. I also worked through the problems on the verbal forums on a regular basis.

As I worked through the verbal books, I had also started working on the Quant problems in OG. I tried to solve at least 20 OG problems a day, and review the ones I got wrong. As has been suggested by so many already, keep an error log! But, don't make the mistake I made and track the questions you got wrong and the ones you got correct. I found that I was wasting too much time updating my error log, and that was eating into the precious 3 hours of study time I had per day. Track your guesses, errors and the questions that you were slow with. I found that tracking my correct responses wasn't of much use. If you feel you have a good reason to track your correct responses, by all mean, do so; it just didn't make sense for me to do so.

The third and final month of my prep was all practice. I did every Quant OG problem. I did every SC and CR, OG problem, and I did almost no problems for RC from OG. I found RC to be one of my strengths and thought that practice with the mock tests would be enough - and I feel that I was correct. I continued to take tests every week, and continued to solve problems from the OG and whatever other source I could get my hands on. I saw steady improvement in my test scores, with the shocker coming on 5th Manhattan CAT. I scored a 610 well into my prep and just 3 weeks from my GMAT. It shattered my confidence. I still don't fully understand why I scored so low, but it made me slow down substantially while answering questions as I started being super careful with my calculations. I was in panic mode now, and impulsively decided to buy a GMATPrep exam pack and to not do the last Manhattan CAT. I think it was a good decision to get the exam pack as it doing the GMATprep exams helped me get much of my confidence back. Around this time, GMAC also announced the section selection option. And I decided that tackling Quant first made the most sense for me as I would be too worried about throughout verbal (taking IR and AWA last was an easy call to make).

The last two weeks before the prep were reserved for solving all the questions in the error log and reviewing the errors that I made in the redos. I made a note of the questions that I got wrong from re-doing the error log, and tried to solve them over and over again. I did this for both Quant and Verbal. And to be honest, at this point of time in my prep, I was tired and mentally fatigued. It is hard to keep up a high level of motivation for too long, and this, I feel, played a part in my poor performance in my first GMAT attempt.

During the final few days before the test day, I took things a little slow. I put in a couple of hours per day, mostly just re-doing the questions I struggled with and reviewing my notes.

3. GMAT Round 1:
July 11 was exam day, and though I thought I did well, I ended up with a disappointing 690. I had expected to do better. I had done fairly well in quant to get a 47 (I consistently scored 47 or 48 on the GMATprep CATs), but I had under performed in verbal. All through my prep, I was worried about quant, but it was verbal that was my downfall.

I was confident that I could do better in verbal. After thinking about it for about a day, I decided to re-take the exam at the next earliest date that I was allowed to (availability permitting). Given the short time period I had to make an improvement, I had to determine where my time was best spent and how I could make the biggest improvement possible in such a short time. I figured that verbal is where I could make the most improvement, and focused my preparation accordingly. I made a detailed 14 day study plan, and committed myself to achieving my target score again. I worked my way through the Manhattanprep SC and CR books from start to finish again, but this time I didn't do all the problems from the books, instead I did practice questions from the OG Verbal Review 2017. This gave me fresh questions to work with. I also started doing problems from the OG Quant Review 2017. I took the final Manhattan CAT I had left and the final GMATPrep CAT I had left.

4. GMAT Round 2:
July 27 was exam day, and I ended up with a 720 which was the minimum improved score that I was hoping for.

Overall, it's been a long 3+ months of prep with several ups and downs. It was hard at times to keep myself motivated and focused, but having a goal really helped me to keep working hard.

Free advice:
1. Keep your focus, find ways to motivate yourself and don't loose hope: This is important. You will see good scores and bad scores as you progress through your prep. Use the good scores as confidence boosters, use the bad scores as reality checks and as motivation to work harder still.
2. Study during the time of day that works best for you: I studied from 5.30 am to 7.30 am. I'm not a morning person, but the early morning worked best for me because I used to be too tired at the end of the day to study well. I did put in an hour after work though. I almost exclusively solved quant questions during the pm study time.
3. Get enough sleep: I didn't sleep enough during my prep and I feel that hampered ability to retain what I had studied somewhat. Your brain needs a break. As do you.
4. You are tougher than anything the GMAT can throw at you. Remember this.

A note about the Manhattan CATs: I found the Manhattan GMAT CATs to be extremely useful, but be careful to not read too much into the scores. They're harder than the real GMAT. Use them to gauge your overall progress and to check if you're seeing consistent improvement in your performance.

And finally, a massive thank you to the GMATClub community. This forum is a tremendous resource, and it has been an integral part of my GMAT journey. From the experts to the members who ask questions, from the members who answer the questions to the members to who question the solutions, and the members who shared their GMAT experience and advice, you are all helping people like me succeed in achieving our respective goals! Thank you so very much for that.
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Originally posted by skysailor on 27 Jul 2017, 20:19.
Last edited by bb on 11 Oct 2018, 10:43, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: 18 May 2016
Posts: 182
Location: India
GMAT 1: 710 Q48 V40
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Re: Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2017, 20:56
Congrats Skysailor!! That's a superb score! My second attempt is pretty soon, and am freaking out a bit! This post is very helpful and motivating!

Thanks..good luck with apps!

Sent from my A0001 using GMAT Club Forum mobile app
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Joined: 31 Dec 2015
Posts: 49
Location: India
GMAT 1: 670 Q44 V38
GMAT 2: 680 Q44 V39
Re: Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2017, 22:43
Congratulations for an amazing score !

I'm freaking out as I have my exam scheduled tomorrow ! I think the key is to keep a cool head and not worry about the final score, instead to focus on each question as it comes.

Any last minute tips?
Intern
Intern
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B
Joined: 09 Apr 2017
Posts: 31
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 690 Q47 V38
GMAT 2: 720 Q48 V41
GPA: 3.5
Re: Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2017, 07:14
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T700ISB wrote:
Congratulations for an amazing score !

I'm freaking out as I have my exam scheduled tomorrow ! I think the key is to keep a cool head and not worry about the final score, instead to focus on each question as it comes.

Any last minute tips?



Try not to freak out. I know that's easier said than done, but try to keep your mind off the test if at all possible. I listened to music and watched a little football (soccer) to help myself relax a little before the test.

Remember, you've prepared well for the test. You've worked hard, and you know your stuff. Keep a cool head and focus on the question you are solving. The rest will automatically fall into place.
GMAT Club Bot
Re: Debrief - 2 Attempts in 15 Days (690, Q47, V38 and 720, Q48, V41)   [#permalink] 28 Jul 2017, 07:14
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