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Exam yesterday  540 aim for 700  Change of strategy, need advices
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13 Sep 2018, 01:14
Ok so I did my first Gmat exam yesterday and ended up getting 540. Let's face it: it was a huge meltdown since I aim for a 700. After spending 10 minutes thinking about what I was going to do with my life, I realized this was not going to help me in any way and that I needed to focus on what went wrong, and to learn on this basis.
I cannot remember exactly my score in each section since I cancelled the grade but I remember the following:  Verbal 76%  Quantitative 15%.
Usually, in practice tests I used to get aroung:  Verbal 85%  Quantitative: 45%.
So this is my analysis of the situation: while my verbal skills have remained stable (although there is still room for improvement), my quant skills (which were clearly not at their best already before the exam) have completely disappeared under pressure. I think this is mainly due to the fact that for the quant part, I have committed the following mistakes during my preparation:
1) Favoring practice over knowledge. Indeed, I have put a lot of hours into the quant, but wanting to rush too quickly into questions, rather than taking the time to adquire the basic concept, understand them and apply them. 2) Mixing all concepts together and not analysing my mistakes. I used to do "a little bit of this" and a "little bit of that", instead of sticking to a precise, topic area and most importantly take the time to analyse my mistakes before switching to another concept. 3) Not planning well enough. I did not take the time to set a "proper plan", which is clearly illustrated by 2): "a little bit of this" is no strategy. 4) Rushing into the exam. I prepared for only 2 months thinking that I was going to kill it and only ended up craming. I have until April to apply to my masters. I know what you're going to say: "dude, chill down", and you're right.
Now before I proceed to my new strategy, here is a little bit more about my personal situation, which is definitely going to impact my strategy: 1) I have graduated with honors in business administration, with highest grades in finance related topics. Although my university used to really focus on excel skills and therefore I haven't practiced "basic maths" since high school, I think this demonstrates that I have the abilities pass this exam with 700. 2) I have a day job. This essentially means that I have to make some room for studying during during the evenings and during weekends, and that my schedule is quite tight.
Now having said that, this is how I am going to proceed:
STUDY SCHEDULE
I know it takes 120 hours on the low side to be prepared and get 680  700. However, I know it will probably take me more time (looking at where I am right now). So let's divide this by 30 days. I think that working 4 hours on evenings is manageable. Fridays will be my day off, which I'll compensate by +2 hours on Saturday and +2 hours on Sundays. When I mean 4 hours it s 4 hours. No less, no longer. I think I will benefit from having a strict study time.
FREE TIME
This is also something I realised: I need a day of break from the exam. I can't think of this all the time and relaxed moments are essential since it is going to be a long journey. Another this I realised: when I am at work, I am at work, not on the gmat. taking my lunch break to practice the exam is not going to help me in any way. I will be better served by eating well and laughing with my colleagues. Last but not least: practice sports. I have always been a sporty person, hitting the gym up to 5 times a week. Going from 5 to 0 probably did not help my mental health. I will now try to wake up one hour earlier twice a week, and do a little of exercising.
STUDY STRATEGY
Since quant is the big problem I'll dedicate a:  2/3 of my time on quant  1/3 of my time on verbal
Having said that, I ll apply the following for quant: 1) review the theoretical concepts of ONE AND ONLY ONE area. 2) once I have acquired the concept, go to someone I know and explain it to them. If i'm not able to explain it so they completely understand it, go back to the concept. 3) this being completed, start with the 500 level questions. Master them (100%), then go to 600 level questions. Master them (90%). 700 questions (80 %). 4) THEN AND ONLY THEN, switch to a new topic. 5) On mornings and on my way to work, practice mental maths in the car. Review multiplication tables, squares, roots... this kind of stuff which should be automatic. I cannot spend 1 minute of my time during the exam calculating what is 35% of 1500.
Also, I am going to mark each failed question and identify them between the following criterias: 1) the ones that are due to the misunderstanding of a theoretical concept 2) the ones that are attributable to "silly mistakes" 3) the ones that I took to much time to answer (+ 2:30 minutes).
At the end of each week, I will do a recap of what I have learned, where I am in terms of mistakes (what % are attributable to each category) and do a "30 questions mix" on the concepts I have acquired so far.
PRACTICE TESTS
I will forget about them for this month. I really want to focus on acquiring the knowledge. I will start again once I have finished to acquire what I need, and after being confident enough to make it over 620. For the practice tests, I will apply the following rules: 1) Do them entirely. Not only the quant and verbal, but also the IR and AWA so I get a realistic picture of what an exam really looks like. 2) Take them at 1 pm. This is going to be the time of my exam on test day. So I better practice at a similar time of the day. 3) Once I have finished the exam, get the assestment report and practice the areas which I have most failed in. I'll start with 1 practice test each week. Then, once I have completely finished acquiring the esseential knowledge, I'll switch to 2.
So here it is guys. What do you think about all this? Good/Crap/ Ok but room for even more improvement in the study plan? Any tip, any advice is welcome. Believe me, I have dreamed about the master I want to get into for a long time now. And I will not let this test drive me away from my dream. So really, any of your comments is more than welcome.
Also, this is not only a post for myself. It's a post for any person who is in a similar situation: keep on, do not let this test break you down. In the end, it's just one test out of thousands you have already taken.
Thanks again to all of you for reading and taking the time to answer.
