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From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs)

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Joined: 25 Mar 2017
Posts: 17

Kudos [?]: 17 [2], given: 5

GMAT 1: 750 Q48 V45
GMAT 2: 770 Q50 V45
GRE 1: 338 Q168 V170
GPA: 3.59
From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

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New post 06 Oct 2017, 15:30
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**EDIT: After seeing that another clubber had included their Enhanced Score Reports, and that they had been downloaded thousands of times, I decided to add mine because it seems that the community finds them to be very valuable. You may find them attached at the bottom of this post**

I wanted to share my experience of how I got to a 770 on the GMAT in hopes that others could use it to help build their own study plans as well as gain some motivation from my story.

Background

I originally took the GRE in early March 2017 after 4 months of dedicated study using Manhattan Prep's GRE study materials. I studied 1-2 hours Mon/Wed/Fri evenings, and 4 hours on Saturdays while taking a break on Sundays. The original purpose for taking the GRE was to apply for a special program through my job that required GRE scores as part of the application, although I no longer plan on pursuing that opportunity. My score was 168Q and 170V which may make some people question why I bothered to take the GMAT at all. There are three reasons: 1.) As a military applicant I have heard many times across different websites and forums that Admissions Committees can have trouble distinguishing between what is and is not a good military career so they often have to rely on GPA and standardized test scores, and I felt it would be easier to compare across other applicants with a GMAT score instead of just a GRE. 2.) I understand that many firms, like McKinsey and Goldman, ask for GMAT scores as part of their application process and I did not want to get stuck trying to take the GMAT while in the middle of B school. 3.) With competition over national rankings becoming more intense, I felt like a high GMAT would better set off my slightly below average GPA.

I want to mention here that I majored in Mathematics and Economics at a T25 University where I tutored Writing and English as well, which gave me a really solid foundation for test taking skills.

Testing the Waters and Developing a Plan

In late March I took a practice test with no preparation outside of reading about the types of questions that were on the GMAT compared to the GRE. I reset my original score in the PowerPrep software, so I don't have a screen capture of it, but I scored a 620 on that first practice test. Honestly this was a bit disappointing after the success I had with the GRE, but also somewhat to be expected considering the how much different Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency problems are from anything on that test. Probably no surprise considering that those two categories of questions are probably the two that people struggle with the most generally speaking.

I originally purchased the Manhattan Prep series of books (10 in total) due to how much that company's materials had helped me on the GRE. I also purchased the 2017 Official Guide in addition to Manhattan Prep's "Advanced Quant" book. Of course, I also downloaded the official PowerPrep Software from GMAC, which is what I used to take the first practice test. Finally, I scheduled to take my first test on July 17th, 2017.

Studying and Testing

I worked my way from book #0 through book #9 of Manhattan Prep's study materials taking notes on everything I studied, even material that was already familiar to me. I did this because I knew that it would be extremely important to have rapid recall of all basic information if I wanted to get a high score. I even copied down, in short hand, every single idiom in Manhattan Prep's sentence correction book. As I worked through the accompanying problem sets created from questions in the Official Guide, I made flash cards for every single question I missed and set aside at least 2 hours per week just for reviewing mistakes. Fortunately for me, I had 3 weeks of vacation in April and was able to devote 4 hours per day during this period to build a solid base. Besides that, I studied in much the same fashion as I had prepared for the GRE working 1-2 hours Mon/Wed/Fri evenings, and 4 hours on Saturdays while taking a break on Sundays. Towards the end of April I took a pair of Manhattan Prep CATs in order to practice timing with the expectation that the resulting score would not necessarily reflect my true ability on the GMAT. Honestly I was still a little disappointed with the results though, scoring a 650 and 680 respectively.

After finishing the Manhattan Prep series, I went on to work on the Advanced Quant book while still sporadically working on problems in the Official Guide. It was at this time that I decided to reset my PowerPrep test and start taking "official" practice tests to see how far I had progressed. I took two such tests in May, scoring a 740 and 760. As I neared the end of the Advanced Quant book, I ordered all three PowerScore Bibles for Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension, and Critical Reasoning which I felt were overall superior to the Manhattan Prep books (the main exception is that Manhattan Prep's idiom list is superior to PowerScore's). I would work through the PowerScore books throughout June into July, while taking another pair of practice tests in which I scored a 750 and 770.

On test day, I scored a 750 (48Q, 45V, 8 IR, 6 AWA) which I was mildly disappointed with for two reasons: 1.) it was the lowest score of my three most recent practice tests and 2.) the experience at the test center. I used a test center at a military installation, and the marker they gave me to do math problems was dry erase and nearly the size of a marker that you would use to write on a white board. Also, towards the middle of the test, a fire alarm went off and the administrator had to lock our computers and take everyone outside. This made it rather difficult to get back into testing mode once we returned inside. All in all I STRONGLY recommend against using a military test center as since that time I have heard two other horror stories from fellow service members.

So I scheduled to take the test again on September 30th. By this time I had finished with all of the books and halved the amount of time I spent studying, focusing on solely reviewing my notes and working official problems both in the OG as well as on GMAT Club. Finally, I managed to achieve a 770 (50Q, 45V, 8 IR, 6 AWA) when I took it for the final time last week.

You can see my results for all of my tests over time (my confirmed, real test scores below my username EDIT: or take a look at the attached Enhanced Score Reports), beginning with a pair of Manhattan Prep CATs followed by Official GMAC Practice Tests in the attached images below.

Advice

1. If you stick to a solid study schedule (1-2 hours every other day on weekdays, and one weekend super session of 4+ hours) over 3+ months then I believe it is possible for most people to achieve a 700+, which is sufficient to pass the academic hurdle at most schools.
2. Use Manhattan Prep's GMAT study books (#0-#9) to cover the basics, Advanced Quant to reach the 49Q-51Q level, and then push through PowerScore's Verbal "Bibles" to strengthen your Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension skills. Rely on the Official Guide and GMAT Club's forums for official questions, and use the PowerPrep software primarily for practice tests UNLESS you are just trying to adjust to timing and the testing environment.
3. Take copious notes when studying to reinforce and memorize concepts, EVEN IF you think that you are already very familiar with a topic. Keep a meticulous error log or make flash cards for every single problem you get wrong.
4. Stay optimistic even if you get disappointing results early on. You will clear the barrier eventually.
5. Bring a small bottle of water along with some candy or an energy bar with you to snack on during breaks while taking the GMAT.

Conclusion

If anyone has any questions about GRE vs. GMAT (or about anything else), just post them below and I will be happy to answer. Special thanks to chineseburned for his AWA guide which allowed me to score a 6 both times I officially took the GMAT. Also, I'd like to thank GMAT Club's Administrators and Moderators for making an excellent website which can only be described as a treasure trove of resources and advice for taking the GMAT.
Attachments

File comment: Enhanced Score Report for XTOL on 770 GMAT
XTOL 770 ESR.pdf [1.11 MiB]
Downloaded 25 times

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File comment: Enhanced Score Report for XTOL on 750 GMAT
XTOL 750 ESR.pdf [1.12 MiB]
Downloaded 21 times

To download please login or register as a user

Power Prep GMAT Scores.jpg
Power Prep GMAT Scores.jpg [ 126.2 KiB | Viewed 545 times ]

Manhattan CAT Results.jpg
Manhattan CAT Results.jpg [ 93.97 KiB | Viewed 544 times ]


Last edited by XTOL on 07 Oct 2017, 11:55, edited 1 time in total.

Kudos [?]: 17 [2], given: 5

Manager
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Joined: 04 Jan 2016
Posts: 158

Kudos [?]: 71 [0], given: 419

Location: Afganistan
GMAT 1: 620 Q44 V32
GMAT 2: 600 Q48 V25
GMAT 3: 660 Q42 V39
GPA: 3.48
GMAT ToolKit User Premium Member
Re: From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

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New post 07 Oct 2017, 08:03
Wow,
Really impressive. It seems you have no limit and can apply to any school as you wish.
In the meantime, it seems that you also had some rough time with Manhattan Test. I gave all six of them and my score fluctuated between 600 to 680. But in the final exam, taken Sept 9, i couldn't managed my Quant section well and ended up with a score of 660.
It is so nice and easy when one has the foundation and only needs to fine tune his/her skills for the exam.
I unfortunately had to start from ground "Zero" while my country has the lowest GMAT average and work up my way toward higher 600 and hopefully 700 and higher. I am very optimistic about that day.
And by the way, i served in Afghan Border Protection Force from Jan/Feb 2004 to July 2008.

Kudos [?]: 71 [0], given: 419

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Joined: 25 Mar 2017
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Kudos [?]: 17 [1], given: 5

GMAT 1: 750 Q48 V45
GMAT 2: 770 Q50 V45
GRE 1: 338 Q168 V170
GPA: 3.59
Re: From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

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New post 07 Oct 2017, 11:28
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Heseraj wrote:
Wow,
Really impressive. It seems you have no limit and can apply to any school as you wish.
In the meantime, it seems that you also had some rough time with Manhattan Test. I gave all six of them and my score fluctuated between 600 to 680. But in the final exam, taken Sept 9, i couldn't managed my Quant section well and ended up with a score of 660.
It is so nice and easy when one has the foundation and only needs to fine tune his/her skills for the exam.
I unfortunately had to start from ground "Zero" while my country has the lowest GMAT average and work up my way toward higher 600 and hopefully 700 and higher. I am very optimistic about that day.
And by the way, i served in Afghan Border Protection Force from Jan/Feb 2004 to July 2008.


Thanks for the kind words! Really seems like your most recent test was an aberration on your quant score, and I'm sure your goal of 700 is just within reach.

Also, on my tour in Afghanistan we used to partner with the Afghan Border Patrol in Jalalabad for training. Really hoping that this administration and GIROA can come up with a plan for long term US commitment to Afghanistan that works for both countries and brings long term peace and prosperity. I know a lot of US citizens have grown cynical and weary of the conflict in Afghanistan, but I know from first hand experience that Afghanistan has a lot of great people who are committed to bringing stability and a better way of life to their country. I would hate for the sacrifices of both Americans and Afghans to be all for naught.

Kudos [?]: 17 [1], given: 5

Manager
Manager
avatar
G
Joined: 04 Jan 2016
Posts: 158

Kudos [?]: 71 [0], given: 419

Location: Afganistan
GMAT 1: 620 Q44 V32
GMAT 2: 600 Q48 V25
GMAT 3: 660 Q42 V39
GPA: 3.48
GMAT ToolKit User Premium Member
From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 07 Oct 2017, 12:14
XTOL wrote:
Heseraj wrote:
Wow,
Really impressive. It seems you have no limit and can apply to any school as you wish.
In the meantime, it seems that you also had some rough time with Manhattan Test. I gave all six of them and my score fluctuated between 600 to 680. But in the final exam, taken Sept 9, i couldn't managed my Quant section well and ended up with a score of 660.
It is so nice and easy when one has the foundation and only needs to fine tune his/her skills for the exam.
I unfortunately had to start from ground "Zero" while my country has the lowest GMAT average and work up my way toward higher 600 and hopefully 700 and higher. I am very optimistic about that day.
And by the way, i served in Afghan Border Protection Force from Jan/Feb 2004 to July 2008.


Thanks for the kind words! Really seems like your most recent test was an aberration on your quant score, and I'm sure your goal of 700 is just within reach.

Also, on my tour in Afghanistan we used to partner with the Afghan Border Patrol in Jalalabad for training. Really hoping that this administration and GIROA can come up with a plan for long term US commitment to Afghanistan that works for both countries and brings long term peace and prosperity. I know a lot of US citizens have grown cynical and weary of the conflict in Afghanistan, but I know from first hand experience that Afghanistan has a lot of great people who are committed to bringing stability and a better way of life to their country. I would hate for the sacrifices of both Americans and Afghans to be all for naught.

Well,
Thank you very much. Wonder when were you stationed in Afghanistan? I'd been there more than ten times and had gone to Torkham BCP, Achin and Gushta a couple of times.
Anyway, I am doing my best to reach the 700 mark and apply basically to my top schools three of which are in your list of schools, the other three being MIT, Wharton and Columbia.
I attended two diversity events, one in HBS and one in Stanford during Sept, trying to network and perhaps explain the hardship i endured to get to this stage and market where i want to end up. So far, i found GSB more receptive of nontraditional applicants such as me.

At the end, I don't know if i ask for your contact it would be too much? Who knows we might end up in the same school.

All the best for the application season.

Kudos [?]: 71 [0], given: 419

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CAT Tests
Re: From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2017, 11:54
Congrats on the great score. It looks like your verbal was strong from the get-go. Do you have any advice on how to move from a 39-40 V to mid-40s?

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Joined: 25 Mar 2017
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Kudos [?]: 17 [2], given: 5

GMAT 1: 750 Q48 V45
GMAT 2: 770 Q50 V45
GRE 1: 338 Q168 V170
GPA: 3.59
Re: From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs) [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2017, 15:27
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Raffio wrote:
Congrats on the great score. It looks like your verbal was strong from the get-go. Do you have any advice on how to move from a 39-40 V to mid-40s?


My go to study aides for the Verbal Section were Power Score's trilogy of GMAT Bibles (one each for Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehnsion), Manhattan Prep's Sentence Correction guide (especially the idiom list), and the Official Guide + Official Guide questions posted on GMAT Club. For each of the books I studied, I took detailed notes and actively applied the methods contained in them on un-timed questions until it became second nature. For example, in Power Score's Reading Comprehension Bible, the VIEWSTAMP methodology is introduced which asks readers to consider the VIEWs, Structure, Tone, Attitudes, and Main Point of each passage while working on the GMAT. I began applying this technique not only to official questions, but also while reading articles from websites like Scientific American, The Atlantic, and Business Week. Eventually it became more or less habitual.

I also copied down, by hand, every single idiom in Manhattan Prep's SC book in order to make a stronger impression in my memory. If I started to get bored or tired while doing this I would set it aside for later or for another day instead of rushing through it to get it done.

Finally, do a large volume of Official Guide questions and review your mistakes each time until you understand exactly why you were wrong (i.e. what made all of the other answers wrong AND what made the correct answer right). Maintain an error log and make it a part of your study routine to return to problems that you got wrong and try them again once enough time has passed.

Best of luck to you in your own studies!

Kudos [?]: 17 [2], given: 5

Re: From 620 on a practice test to 750 to 770 (EDIT: Now with ESRs)   [#permalink] 09 Oct 2017, 15:27
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