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715 Q84 V88 DI85
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From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
That's a great improvement! Well done and congrats on the score.­

Did you take any other mocks apart from the official ones?
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
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Congratulations on the absolutely amazing score, fadi_aka_fadi! I love it when test-takers do better than their practice tests -- it's a beautiful thing. And so is your verbal score in particular. :)

Congratulations again, and let us know where you land for b-school!
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
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­Hi fadi_aka_fadi,

Great score!! I'm thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed TTP

Good luck with things moving forward!
 
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
nikaro wrote:
That's a great improvement! Well done and congrats on the score.­

Did you take any other mocks apart from the official ones?

­Thanks Nikaro! No, i took only offical mocks since i wanted my practice exams to be as close as possible to the real thing.
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
fadi_aka_fadi wrote:
On April 16th i took the GMAT Focus Edition for the first time and got a score of 715 (84Q, 88V, 85DI). In this post i would like to share my GMAT journey, which started in February 2024. 

First Month
Actually, the first mock i have taken was in late December 2023, where i scored 535 (74Q, 80V, 76DI) without ever looking at GMAT prep material. I'm a big believer that "failing to plan is planning to fail", so this practice exam served the purpose of gauging how long i would need to prep and on which section i would need to spend more time on.  I knew i could dedicate aroud 8 hours a day from febraury to the first half of april, since the summer semester begins around the third week of april and i wanted to take the exam before the start of the semester. Knowing that my goal was at least 150 points away, i figured two months could be enough since i tend to do pretty good on standardised tests. 
During the first half of my prep i used free resources only, with the exception of the Official GMAT Focus Edition Guide. I went over the concepts and started solving questions on the gmat club question bank. I divided my week between verbal and quant, studying only one section on a given day (i started later with DI as many experts suggest). During the first month i took 3 Mocks, one of which i scored 645 (77Q, 84V, 84DI), which might look like an exception when compared with my other mocks from that period. 

Second Month
After the 4th mock, i recognized the fact that the way i was studying wasn't working optimally, at least for quant, which was the only section that wasn't improving.
I recognized the fact that i needed a more structured approach for quant, even though i found some gmat club videos extremely useful. I came across Target Test Prep while listening to a gmat club debrief, so i signed up for the 5 day free trial. After that i was convinced, so i bought a 1 month subscription and for the rest of the month i flew through the TTP quant study plan. At the same time i was practicing DI with official questions only; i almost ignored verbal, only solving some official question here and there or by taking the official mocks. The reason was that i was already scoring in the 98th percentile, so my focus was on maintaing my score for the rest of the prep period.
After a couple of weeks my quant score made a relatively big jump, which definetly boosted my confidence, since seeing the same quant score in 4 mocks is really frustrating.
At the end of the second month i booked the official exam at the test center. I did so because i was scoring 655 consistently, and since the exam date was two weeks out i had a little more time to improve my weaknesses. 

Last Week
By this time i had taken 7 mocks and completed all the TTP quant topics (except one or two), so i focused only on taking more mocks, three to be exact.
I took two of them in the university library in an attempt to simulate test center conditions. One of them resulted in a 595, one of the lowest scores i ever got (definetly not what you want to see one week before your official attempt) and to be honest i was shocked, my quant score had plummeted even though it was my best performance to date. Two days later i scored 675, my best score on all practice exams.
After the third mock the plan was for me to take the last two days off, but i just couldn't... i limited my self two a couple of hours each day.

Exam Day
I didn't really get a good nights sleep, i got woken up three times, but still i felt really good about the exam; I got to the test center on time and the check in was flawless. 
I chose the same section order as all my mocks (Q, V, DI); i didn't experiment with section orders, it just felt natural to go with the one i chose, since verbal was my strongest area and i wanted to be fresh for quant. I took the break after verbal, in order to be fresh for data insights.
During quant i got the first question wrong, so definetly not the best start... still i focused only on the question in front of me, not letting this fact get to my head; sadly, i didn't have enough time to review. Verbal and data insights both went really well.
And man, i was FOCUSED. For the whole duration of the exam i couldn't hear the other people in the room, it was just me and the questions in front of me.

When the score appeared on the screen, for a moment, i could not believe what i was seeing... the highest score i ever got was 675, so 715 was just incredible. It was nice to see that almost 450 hours of study time had paid off.


Prep Material
-Gmat Club question bank
-Gmat Club youtube channel (selected quant topics)
-GMAT Ninja youtube channel: thank you GMATNinja, your verbal videos are amazing, i feel like just watching those videos gives you all you need to work with RC and CR, except the needed practice of course :).
-Target Test Prep: the only prep course i ever bought, 100% worth it. 
-Official GMAT Focus Edition Guide/Online Question Bank: i also bought 100 extra questions for Q and DI
-Official Mock Tests 1 to 6

Mock Tests
1) 535 (74Q, 80V, 76DI)
2) 645 (77Q, 84V, 84DI)
3) 595 (77Q, 84V, 77DI)
4) 615 (77Q, 86V, 78DI)
5) 615 (77Q, 86V, 79DI)
6) 655 (82Q, 87V, 79DI)
7) 655 (83Q, 84V, 81DI)
8) 595 (79Q, 84V, 76DI) <-- took in university library, noisy environment
9) 675 (82Q, 87V, 81DI)
10) 655 (80Q, 88V, 80DI) <-- took in university library­, noisy environment

Key Takeaways
-Don't just solve questions over and over: it's tempting to just start practicing questions, but you should focus on understanding the topic first, then practice until you are comfortable with it. Start with the easy questions, then move to the medium and then hard questions. I'm not saying to keep practicing one topic until you are perfect at it before moving on to another, but a solid understanding is needed before moving forward. This was essential in improving my quant score, not so much for verbal and data insights. 
Verbal tip: always try to eliminate the wrong answers first when praciticing, not just by guessing but explain why the option is wrong. Also, when solving CR questions always ask why the phrase you chose to be the conclusion is the conclusion, in doing so i found it easier to identify the premises of the argument (if the period you chose is supporting another statement, than most probably it is not the main conclusion of the argument).
When solving RC questions i found it incredibly useful to summarize the paragraphs when you first read the passage. This allows you to solve the following questions really quickly, even though you might feel that spending five minutes on a passage is a waste of time, you will make up for it by solving the other questions in 30-40 seconds, even less.
-Revisit past topics: even though my prep period was pretty short, i made sure to practice past topics often, in order to keep concepts fresh.
-Do a lot of mocks: i think this is essential to overcome test anxiety. I was really comfortable going into my exam, it felt like taking another mock and i credit this to the practice tests i took.
-Sustainability: study at a rythm that you can maintain for the whole duration of your prep. In the last two weeks i felt some fatigue, which made it difficult to study for the same amount of time as i did at the beginning. Of course if you have a deadline "just do it", or at least give it your best. 
-Don't second-guess yoursel: it is normal to score lower sometimes, just accept it as part of the process, try to understand why and move on. It not a matter of if you will encounter a setback, but rather when.
-Set goals beyond what you think you can achieve: it might backfire since it can lead to not being content with your score at the end, but i believe that striving beyond your "real goal" increases your chances of reaching it, and who knows, maybe even do better. If you don't try, there is a 100% probability of it not happening.

I hope my experience will be of help in your GMAT journey.

Best of luck to all of you!­

­
715 is an amazing score, congratulations for that!! I wanted to know if you found much difference in official mocks & actual exam for all 3 sections? 

I've given official mocks 1-4 so far & found DI little tough in terms of managing time & que complexity but Quant is fairly easy.
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
All the best going forward. Consider writing a profile-review. You could mention your score and the types of schools you're targeting.
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
­Thank you richaaggarwal !
It's been a while now so i don't remember exactly, but i would say that Quant and DI felt a little bit easier, whereas Verbal felt the same if not a little more difficult. Generally speaking i'd say that both official and mock exams have pretty much the same level of difficulty.­
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Re: From 535 to 715 - GMAT FE Debrief [#permalink]
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