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From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks

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From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2019, 17:33
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Big Picture
Started studying in March. Initial diagnosis on Magoosh was very rough (600). After familiarizing myself with the high-level format of the test, I spent my first ten weeks of preparation focused exclusively on re-learning foundation quant materials. From there, I shifted applying this knowledge in a test setting. From mid-May until July 27 when I sat for the official exam. During this second phase I focused on three things: (1) continuing my pursuit of foundational knowledge for quant; (2) testing strategies; (3) stamina and testing "fitness."

Practice test progression
-Initial with Magoosh in early March: 600. Didn't pay too much attention to this.
-May 24: Manhattan CAT 1: 670 (45/39)
-June 4: Official practice CAT #1: 730 (47/44)
-June 19: Manhattan CAT 2: 660 (41/39)
-July 7: Manhattan CAT 3: 730 (45/45) *Did not time the math section.
-July 15: Official CAT #2: 760 (48/47) *Took 1 section Sunday night; 1 section Monday Night
-July 21: Manhattan CAT #3: 700 (44/40)
-July 27: Actual test: 730 (47/44)

Preparation Tips
- Volume is key to building familiarity with the question types and the various ways topics can be interwoven together. When I sat for the exam, I saw a question that was the exact same numerically as a question I had encountered in my prep. While the setup was slightly different, this was effectively a free question for me. Equally as important, there might be topics or question types that you know you’re unlikely to solve correctly in a time-efficient manner.
- Create an error log that works for you. Log every practice test question you miss, and every other question that really trips you up. Color code it like in the example attached.
- Think about different iterations of the same question to really ensure that you get it
- Not all SC prep is helpful. I found third party SC questions to be all over the map and didn’t find the 100 hardest SC questions that helpful.

Test Day Tips
- Don’t fret if it seems to be going poorly. During the test, I thought that I had really screwed up the math section and was pleasantly surprised with a 47Q/44V when I finally saw the score. The CAT really does keep you on the edge of your abilities for the most part.
- Dress in layers. Our test center kept the exam room extremely warm, so the ability to shed my button up was key to comfort.
- Know that you’ve put the work in and be realistic going in. I knew that I was going to be between a 700 and a 760. Anything above/below represented underperformance or outperformance.
- Don’t study the night before or tire yourself out cramming in the last few days. It might be tempting but you don’t want to be drained for the day of the test.

Resources
- Magoosh. I used this question bank exclusively for the first 3 months. The videos were very helpful.
- Google Sheets. For the error log. I color coded. Red = try again next day. Orange = correct but unsure, try again in 1-3 days; Yellow = correct but slow, try again in 3-5 days, green: correct, try again in 1-2 weeks. Blue = good to go, no need to revisit.
- Manhattan Study Guides. I got this half way through my prep from a friend. The sentence correction, the geometry, and the number properties guide were all very helpful.
- Manhattan CATs ($50 for 6 tests)
- One of the official guides but just used the online question bank
- Spent a total of $300 for 3 1 hr sessions with a tutor. He got me onto the error log regime, suggested I think about subtle variations in prompts and how they'd impact the answers

Routine
Studied 2-3 hours a night for 4 out of 5 weeknights and then devoted a total of 10-12 hours on the weekend (either 5 and 5, or 8 and 2). I did take a vacation during which time I maybe studied an hour or two total in about four days. I usually started with error review from day before, then videos or chapters on topics I needed to brush up on (maybe 20-60 minutes), then 10-40 questions. I took all of my notes in one notebook so that I could review it when I had idle time. I also did all of my CAT error review in a notebook.

If I could do it again, here's what I would have done differently
- Left myself more time before R1 deadline and avoided studying during the summer. It harder when it's beautiful outside all of the time.
- Kept better notes after every CAT, In a centralized place, note: how was I feeling, what kind of questions did I miss, section order, etc.
- Considered taking the GRE. I guess it's supposed to be easier on the math side which is my weakness. Probably doesn't make sense for everyone.


If anyone has questions or comments, I'll do my best to get back to them. I'm a long time lurker, so hoping to give back a bit and more actively contribute leading up to my retake in ~1 month
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2019, 20:26
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Congratulations on getting a 730 on the GMAT and thank you for sharing your debrief. All the best for the application process!
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 08:11
Congratulations on the great score and thanks for the debrief.

Would like to know if you were referring to the official online question bank that is available for purchase when you mentioned 'One of the official guides but just used the online question bank'.
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 09:10
A big congratulation for your 730 score. It is such a steep increase.

If you are non native, even more so!!

Good luck for your application to top business school. Where are you going to apply?

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 11:03
prashanths wrote:
Congratulations on the great score and thanks for the debrief.

Would like to know if you were referring to the official online question bank that is available for purchase when you mentioned 'One of the official guides but just used the online question bank'.


I'm referring to the online question banks that you can access with a code that comes with the Official Guide, and the 90 questions that come with the first two official practice CATs.

http://customer.wiley.com/CGI-BIN/lansaweb?procfun+shopcart4+SH4FN19+funcparms+PARMKEYG%28A0060%29:WIGMAT

and

https://www.mba.com/exam-prep/gmat-official-starter-kit-practice-exams-1-and-2-free


Hope this helps clarify.
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 11:06
1
chondro48 wrote:
A big congratulation for your 730 score. It is such a steep increase.

If you are non native, even more so!!

Good luck for your application to top business school. Where are you going to apply?

Posted from my mobile device


Still finalizing the list, but likely Booth, Wharton, Stanford, HBS, MIT, and one additional school.
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 11:21
How did you prepare for verbal? Any specific courses or videos to building up concepts and practicing? I have joined three courses and nothing helped me. Nice to look into your suggestions..

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 16:45
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anbknaga wrote:
How did you prepare for verbal? Any specific courses or videos to building up concepts and practicing? I have joined three courses and nothing helped me. Nice to look into your suggestions..

Posted from my mobile device


I spent maybe 25% of my time on verbal, 70% on math, with the balance towards IR and AWA. The only really useful resource for verbal were the official guide questions and the Manhattan SC guide. Here is how I approach various problem types:

Sentence Correction
Read for meaning first. If the prompt is subject to multiple interpretations, that's usually a sign of a good starting point. Otherwise, the grammar topics i focused on: subject-verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism, modifiers and comparisons. I made flash cards for idioms only when I missed a question because of an idiom. Third party sentence correction resources were way off base in my experience. For instance, I miss the majority of the "Top 100 Hardest SC" posted here, but was able to do well on the actual exam.

Main traps I notice fall into a few categories:
- What is being compared/modified/referred to?
- Clarity: redundancy, wordiness, altered meaning
- Nit picky items: idioms!

Reading Comp
In practice, I took notes on each paragraph developing a consistent shorthand notation of my own. I always noted what the point of the paragraph was in 5-6 words, and then 1-2 bullets of main ideas or points. I think there are mixed reviews on taking notes during the test, but I found it helped me pay attention thereby reducing the amount of re-reading I had to do. Personally, RC was far more challenging when my energy was lower because my attention span was worse.

Critical Reasoning
Solution behavior is key for this question type. For most questions, there are both irrelevant answer options and outright wrong answer questions. For easier questions, eliminate those quickly and spend no more time looking at them. I kept a grid on my notepad with A, B, C, D, E on the column headings and the question number in each row. I would eliminate the ones I know quickly with an X and then underline possible options, before circling my final answer. It allows me to then compare the possible answers directly which helps you appreciate the nuance between potentially correct answers that can otherwise be easy to overlook when comparing with blatantly wrong answers.

Hope this helps. Please share Kudos if it does.
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 19:34
BRRC wrote:

Still finalizing the list, but likely Booth, Wharton, Stanford, HBS, MIT, and one additional school.


Wow those are top schools. 730 would be the median score of all these schools. However, I believe you need to (and can) make a strong application.

I wish your dream to come true

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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 19:56
Thanks for sharing your debrief. It will motivate the rest of us still studying for the test.

Best wishes!
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 20:31
BRRC wrote:
anbknaga wrote:
How did you prepare for verbal? Any specific courses or videos to building up concepts and practicing? I have joined three courses and nothing helped me. Nice to look into your suggestions..

Posted from my mobile device


I spent maybe 25% of my time on verbal, 70% on math, with the balance towards IR and AWA. The only really useful resource for verbal were the official guide questions and the Manhattan SC guide. Here is how I approach various problem types:

Sentence Correction
Read for meaning first. If the prompt is subject to multiple interpretations, that's usually a sign of a good starting point. Otherwise, the grammar topics i focused on: subject-verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism, modifiers and comparisons. I made flash cards for idioms only when I missed a question because of an idiom. Third party sentence correction resources were way off base in my experience. For instance, I miss the majority of the "Top 100 Hardest SC" posted here, but was able to do well on the actual exam.

Main traps I notice fall into a few categories:
- What is being compared/modified/referred to?
- Clarity: redundancy, wordiness, altered meaning
- Nit picky items: idioms!

Reading Comp
In practice, I took notes on each paragraph developing a consistent shorthand notation of my own. I always noted what the point of the paragraph was in 5-6 words, and then 1-2 bullets of main ideas or points. I think there are mixed reviews on taking notes during the test, but I found it helped me pay attention thereby reducing the amount of re-reading I had to do. Personally, RC was far more challenging when my energy was lower because my attention span was worse.

Critical Reasoning
Solution behavior is key for this question type. For most questions, there are both irrelevant answer options and outright wrong answer questions. For easier questions, eliminate those quickly and spend no more time looking at them. I kept a grid on my notepad with A, B, C, D, E on the column headings and the question number in each row. I would eliminate the ones I know quickly with an X and then underline possible options, before circling my final answer. It allows me to then compare the possible answers directly which helps you appreciate the nuance between potentially correct answers that can otherwise be easy to overlook when comparing with blatantly wrong answers.

Hope this helps. Please share Kudos if it does.


Hi @BBRC

Thanks for your debrief..!!!

It's crisp and clear as it can be. I have been preparing for last 4 months and yet to figure out what to do when 700+ level Q comes. If i know i can solve the question do it(but with too much time) but most of the time get blank.

As far as verbal is concerned for SC the story is similar like Quant. My CR and RC are worst in a timed scenario for levels 600+ and above.
My first GMAT is not what i expected at all. I have taken GMAT prep test only as of now. So do you suggest i should take other test, would only Manhattan (3-4 tests) suffice..??
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jul 2019, 21:05
BRRC wrote:
anbknaga wrote:
How did you prepare for verbal? Any specific courses or videos to building up concepts and practicing? I have joined three courses and nothing helped me. Nice to look into your suggestions..

Posted from my mobile device


I spent maybe 25% of my time on verbal, 70% on math, with the balance towards IR and AWA. The only really useful resource for verbal were the official guide questions and the Manhattan SC guide. Here is how I approach various problem types:

Sentence Correction
Read for meaning first. If the prompt is subject to multiple interpretations, that's usually a sign of a good starting point. Otherwise, the grammar topics i focused on: subject-verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism, modifiers and comparisons. I made flash cards for idioms only when I missed a question because of an idiom. Third party sentence correction resources were way off base in my experience. For instance, I miss the majority of the "Top 100 Hardest SC" posted here, but was able to do well on the actual exam.

Main traps I notice fall into a few categories:
- What is being compared/modified/referred to?
- Clarity: redundancy, wordiness, altered meaning
- Nit picky items: idioms!

Reading Comp
In practice, I took notes on each paragraph developing a consistent shorthand notation of my own. I always noted what the point of the paragraph was in 5-6 words, and then 1-2 bullets of main ideas or points. I think there are mixed reviews on taking notes during the test, but I found it helped me pay attention thereby reducing the amount of re-reading I had to do. Personally, RC was far more challenging when my energy was lower because my attention span was worse.

Critical Reasoning
Solution behavior is key for this question type. For most questions, there are both irrelevant answer options and outright wrong answer questions. For easier questions, eliminate those quickly and spend no more time looking at them. I kept a grid on my notepad with A, B, C, D, E on the column headings and the question number in each row. I would eliminate the ones I know quickly with an X and then underline possible options, before circling my final answer. It allows me to then compare the possible answers directly which helps you appreciate the nuance between potentially correct answers that can otherwise be easy to overlook when comparing with blatantly wrong answers.

Hope this helps. Please share Kudos if it does.


Thanks for the detailed write-up, definitely helps. BUT since you are using OG for learning, wouldn't you eventually run out of questions to practice? Say you have only 20 Assumption q's, you need atleast 5-8 to learn the concept and more based on difficulty - where do you go for practicing it?
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Aug 2019, 01:22
Hi BRRC,

Congratulations on the 730!

All the best for your applications!
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Aug 2019, 01:31
BRRC wrote:
prashanths wrote:
Congratulations on the great score and thanks for the debrief.

Would like to know if you were referring to the official online question bank that is available for purchase when you mentioned 'One of the official guides but just used the online question bank'.


I'm referring to the online question banks that you can access with a code that comes with the Official Guide, and the 90 questions that come with the first two official practice CATs.

http://customer.wiley.com/CGI-BIN/lansaweb?procfun+shopcart4+SH4FN19+funcparms+PARMKEYG%28A0060%29:WIGMAT

and

https://www.mba.com/exam-prep/gmat-official-starter-kit-practice-exams-1-and-2-free


Hope this helps clarify.


Thanks, that does clarify. All the best for your applications.
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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2019, 08:26
Congratulations to you. Thank you for sharing your debrief, it's nice to read your success story. Cheers

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Re: From 600 to 730 in ~20 weeks   [#permalink] 02 Aug 2019, 08:26
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