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# From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success.

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Intern
Joined: 24 Nov 2015
Posts: 15
Location: India
GMAT 1: 630 Q46 V33
GMAT 2: 690 Q46 V38
GMAT 3: 690 Q48 V37
GMAT 4: 730 Q50 V39
From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success.  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 01 Nov 2018, 01:47
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Hello Everyone,

Like every candidate, I was always mesmerized, inspired and motivated after reading GMAT Experiences. Also, I'd always tell myself that one day I should be able write mine. Thankfully, after 3 years of failures and learning, I got my desired score of 730 (Q50, V39). I would like to share every bit of learning which I have had along those 3 years so that others with a similar dream of cracking GMAT can benefit from it, and save both on time and money.

The First Attempt: August 2015
Score : 630 (Q46,V33) . Time taken to study : 4-5 Months
GMATPREP Average Score : 670
Resources Used : OG Official Guide Only

The First Mistake : Considering GMAT Official Guide as the Ultimate Bible and the only requirement to crack GMAT. Although yes, GMAT Official IS the ultimate GMAT guide, but it does not mean that the difficulty level of questions that you will see in the real GMAT test will be at par with the Official Guide. I remember reading a few online blogs before my first attempt which said OG is the only book you should refer to, and thus had put in all my faith in OG. For quant, I was able to solve almost 90 percent of the OG questions easily, and from the remaining 10 percent I was learnt a few new concepts. For Verbal I only referred to the solutions given at the end of each section of the OG for building strategies and concepts. So you can imagine that I practiced and learned all my SC, CR and RC strategies by the OG solutions. I made my own notes and derived my own methods both for SC and CR. I understood most of the CR and SC questions, and as I mentioned earlier I was doing good on OG quant questions. Thus, I felt I was ready after I had solved and resolved the entire OG. I was under the impression that the real GMAT would be at par with the OG, and because I had squeezed out every inch of concept that I could on my own by solving the OG questions and reading the OG solutions, I felt fully ready for the GMAT. But it was only once I was done with the real GMAT exam that I understood that I was wrong; that I should have not relied on OG alone; that I should have explored more options such as other books, online courses, etc; that I should have communicated with other GMAT takers to learn from their experiences; and that I should have analyzed GMATPREP mocks scores in a better way.

Again, another mistake I made was that I never communicated with any other GMAT taker outside or online. Such a communication could have given me a reality check on where I stand, what it takes for most students to get a 700+ score or what will a 670 on PREP will fetch me in the real test.

The Outcome :
1. I completely relied on the OG book. As a result, I did not know what level of concept building is actually required for the GMAT.

2. Relying only on the OG, I completely overlooked the amazing online courses that could have helped me build concepts both for Verbal and Quant.

3. I was not fully aware about the most amazing GMAT blog (YES, GMATCLUB), how to make the best use of it, and what it has to offer for students preparing for GMAT.

4. I wrote GMATPREP 1-2 and scored an average of 670 making me believe that I can do 700 on the real test, whereas I was completely wrong which I realized later (GMATPREP analysis is vital to help you understand where you stand).

The learning from GMAT 1 (This will help first time GMAT takers - Make sure you are not committing the same mistakes) :
1. OG alone was not at all sufficient enough for the kind of questions I had to face on the real GMAT.

2. The difficulty level of OG quant questions was not at par with the difficulty of Quant questions I had to face on the real test.

3. Even though I had read all the OG solutions for verbal, and derived concepts and strategies out of each questions, I was not at all ready fully with the concepts and strategies of SC and CR.

4. GMATPREP mocks will not give you the exact score, I somehow always ended up getting 30-40 points more on my GMATPREP (even during my future attempts).

5. It is very important to understand the mock result scores, for instance I learnt that GMATPREP were not very accurate at scoring (I always scored 30-40 points more on GMATPREP than my real test) only after I had written my real GMAT test. I could have saved myself from writing the real test if I actually could see where I stand after I got a 670 on GMATPREP, which is not a great score if your target is 700+. If I had correctly analysed the GMATPREP mocks by reading blogs or talking to a few GMAT takers, then I could have understood where I stand with a GMATPREP mock score of 670. Sadly, I decided to make my own assumptions instead and thought of a 670 on GMATPREP as a good sign and good enough score to go ahead with the test. Thus, Make sure you have a very realistic understanding of any mock test(be it from any company) that you write , for instance, consistently scoring a 49-51 on GMATCLUB Test really means that you should be scoring 49-51 in the real test too, so for GMATCLUB quant tests the accuracy is very precise. (Please note I do not intend to say here that GMATPREP is not a good mock test for GMAT preparation, instead it is the only official mock test and should be taken by every GMAT aspirant, all I intend to say is that analysis for every mock needs to be done a bit differently, a 670 on GMATPREP may get you 630-650 on the real GMAT but a 670 on Manhattan/VeritasPrep mocks may actually be a sign that you can score around 680-700 on real test as Manhattan/VeritasPrep scoring algorithms and difficulty level of mock is different.)

6. I realized that I lacked heavily on concepts in Verbal, and that there were beautiful courses and resources (both free and paid) online which could have helped me improve my concepts and strategies.

7. I learnt that GMATCLUB is the ultimate tool for GMAT test takers, it has every single thing a student would need to crack the exam. It is very important to get used to the website and make the best use of it during preparation. Below is an amazing post by abhimahna, this post will tell you how to make the best use of GMATCLUB for preparation. Do go through the post, and also follow abhimahna, his insights on how to attempt and prepare for the GMAT test will take you places.

https://gmatclub.com/forum/abhimahna-s-secret-no-1-gmatclub-follow-functionality-257054.html

8. It is always good to keep in touch with a few GMAT Test takers and share your methods, approach, ideas and plans. Having someone in the same boat can be useful as you can thus use everyone's experience to take the best decision during the preparation and avoid unnecessary mistakes. This will save you time and sometimes a lot of money too. You can always find students preparing for GMAT on blogs such as GMATCLUB, on dedicated GMAT preparation Whatsapp Groups, or maybe somewhere in your locality. You just need to make some effort to find them

The Second Attempt: April 2016
Score : 690 (Q46,V38) . Time taken to study : 4-5 Months
GMATPREP Mock Scores : 710 - 730 (Range) in Prep 1-6
Resources Used : OG Official Guide, EGMAT SC Course (Recommended), PowereScore Bible - CR (Recommended).
Schools Applied for 2017 Batch with Result : Kenan Flagler (D), Vanderbilt (D), McDonough (D), Rice Jones (WD), ISB (D), Schulich (A).

Two things happened because of my lack of understanding about my score, and wrong profile evaluation ->
First, other than Kenan Flagler and ISB, all other schools I applied to were not of my choice, but I had no other option but to apply in those schools as their class profile suited my GMAT score and my overall profile. So you can see I was sort of compromising with the school selection. (Kenan Flagler with my profile at 690 was really a stretch).

(Please note, I do not want to say that 690 is always a bad score, a friend of mine got an admit to Insead with a 690 score with a stellar profile. So a 690 can very well be a good score for some, but also can be a bad one for others. It all depends on your profile and the schools which you plan to apply to. Always evaluate your profile with respect to the schools you really are interested in and then accordingly set a realistic GMAT target score, so you study accordingly and also score accordingly. )

The Outcome :
1. Either starting my GMAT prep all over again or join Schulich school with its MBA of 1 year Hyderabad Campus and 1 in Canada (which I declined as it was not my dream school).

2. It almost felt like 2 year of struggle going down in the drain. I was very demotivated, but some where inside of me I never lost hope. But I knew that if I go for an MBA, it should be a school of my choice, and not a school I will have to invariably choose because of my low GMAT score.

3. I could have saved a lot of time and my two GMAT attempts if I was more aware about my target schools, target score, resources I would need to reach those target scores, and the right mocks to analyse where I stand.

4. So after 1 year of failed application process, I decided to prepare and write the test again. Now I knew my target score was 730-740 (40-50 point leap from 690). The good part was , I was not giving up, I had already made a 60 point leap going from 630 in my first GMAT to 690 in my second attempt. I knew I could do it again. I was not giving up.

The Learning from GMAT 2 : So after almost 1 year of writing the GMAT and after the entire 8 months of an unsuccessful application process, I come back to GMAT. First step was to obviously see and understand What worked in my last attempt, and what did not.

1. If you see above in my Verbal score from first and second attempt, I have a good improvement from a verbal score of 33 to 38. I would here like to mention egmat for their amazing SC course which helped me build my basic and advanced concepts. I would heavily recommend the E-GMAT course for every candidate who is struggling with SC concepts. If you go through the EGMAT SC course thoroughly, you surely will not have to worry about SC much. My accuracy in SC increased from 50-60% to 80-90% after going through the course. It is very easy to understand, and course progression is beautiful.

2. Another resource that helped me improve in Verbal in my second attempt was the Powerscore Bible. Again, I do not have enough words to appreciate this book on CR strategies. Read this thoroughly, and then all you will have left to do is Practice, Practice, and Practice Questions.

3. I would also like to highly stress the importance of making self-notes for SC tips/strategies/Rules/Hints. I would write on every SC based concept in a well maintained notebook, and would go back to revise the notes atleast once a week to keep all the concepts fresh in my head always. I know this is a good practice to make notes because every 700+ scorer I had talked to had their own notes they would keep referring back to. So, whatever new thing you learn for SC, just note it down if you fell it is important. For CR, it totally depends on you if you want to write down the notes, I did not because it is more about understanding the CR concepts than memorizing them. So you can even skip writing down the CR concepts, but a thorough read of PowerScore Bible is highly recommended.

5. I only practiced OG questions for RC, 1-2 questions every day 2 months before the exam. I personally believe, it is better to improve on the comprehension skill rather than solving hundreds of RC questions. So for me I was in a way preparing for RC when I was reading The Economist. There are no real strategies or concepts in RCs, its about pure comprehension skills.So instead of concentrating on solving a lot of RC questions, concentrate on improving your passage comprehension skill by reading more online content. Also, improving CR would help you in RC, as there are a few CR type questions asked from passages.

7. For quant, as you can see my Quant score remained the same from my first GMAT attempt. And its understandable as I actually had not done anything new during my preparation for the second attempt for quant apart from the OG (which I also did in first GMAT attempt). So I realized that to get a 730-740 score, I would need to score a minimum of 50 in quant, and for that I would need more resources than only the OG.

8. Make sure you have your target schools, and with that a target score in your mind well before you start your GMAT preparation, and also evaluate your profile in order to understand what probable score would you need to be considered in those schools. Someone may need 740 to get an admit in a school and someone might only need a 700, it depends from profiles to profiles and from school to school. But only with a target score in your head can you make study plans for GMAT. Study plan for a 740 target score can be completely differently from a study for a 700 target score.

9. Do a realistic profile evaluation. Do not be in a hurry to move on to the application process once you have the GMAT score with you, do a realistic check of your score with the schools of your interest. It might be the case that your score is not enough for the school of your choice. If that is the case, you can always decide to re-write the test or select a different set of schools to apply.

10. Do not in any case solely rely on one consultant, there are amazing websites such as GMATCLUB where you can get your profile evaluated from many well known consultants for free. Get it evaluated, and then decide. Also, you can talk to alums from the schools of your choice, or even admission committee to understand what is the school requirement.

11. I was scoring around 720 in my GMATPREP exams before the second attempt. Again I'd like to tell that GMATPREP will not be highly accurate if you want to know about where you will stand in you real GMAT exam. As per my experience, GMATPREP will give you 20-40 points higher than what you will get in your actual exam.

12. Do solve the entire OG both for Quant and Verbal. The questions for quant are a bit easier but they are official, and you will get many easy questions on the real GMAT. The verbal difficulty is exactly the same. There is no reason ever to not solve the OG. Solve the entire OG book. Also, try to solve as many official questions as you can.

The Third Attempt: 9th September 2018
Score : 690 (Q48,V37) . Time taken to study : 6-7 Months
Mock Scores : 750 or 750+ for all Prep 1,2,3,4. GMATCLUB Quant Test Score : Started with Q45 and eventually ended up scoring Q49-51 consistently after a couple of exams. sPrep Mocks : Started with a 640 (Exam 1) and reached 720 by Exam 4.
Resources Used : OG Official Guide, EGMAT SC Course (Recommended), PowereScore Bible - CR (Recommended), GMATCLUB Quant Tests (Recommended), VeritasPrep/Manhattan Mock Tests (Recommended - I used VeritasPrep), Aristotle RC-99. Manhattan/Magoosh/Veritasprep blogs for verbal/GMATCLUB forums for both Verbal and Quant.

The Third Mistake : After more than one year of writing my second GMAT (which also included almost 6-7 months of applications), I was back at GMAT preparation all over again. And it was almost like starting from scratch as there was a big gap between my 2nd and 3rd attempt. But this time I was not ready to take any chances at all, so I did everything a GMAT taker should do to get a 740 score. So where did I go wrong? Only One Thing : I had set in so much expectations from myself to score a 740 overtime that on the day of the exam I was under a lot of pressure. I would only tell myself, it is now or never. Although such a thought process helped me prepare with more rigor, but at the same time it put me under a lot of pressure on the day of my exam.

The Outcome :
1. I could not sleep properly the night before the exam.
2. I was under pressure to score well despite of fatigue due to lack of sleep.
3. I was expecting the worst. Not the best outlook to have on the day of your exam.
4. A 690 yet again.

The Learning from GMAT 3 (What was changed/added during my preparation for 3rd attempt):
1. I was lacking in quant, and this I was sure from my second attempt where I only studied from the OG for quant. So, more than the OG was required. My quant game had to go up. How? Simple, I required more concepts, more mocks, and more questions to practice. Where can I have all of this for free? One Place - GMATCLUB. There are no words I can use to thank bb. The biggest and the only resource I used to improve my Quant post my second attempt was GMATCLUB. It has everything a person should need to score a 51 on GMAT. Sometimes it feels like the whole intention to build something like GC is to make sure that every GMAT aspirant gets his dream GMAT score. Anyways, So I used the link shared below to filter out 600-700 and 700-800 level questions from sources : Manhattan/VeritasPrep/GMAT Official. I evaluated my weak areas, and practiced them heavily during my preparation of third attempt.
I followed the Legend Bunuel, and looked out for his posts/questions/solutions everywhere. I would also look out for solutions by VeritasKarishma, her solutions are the simplest and easiest way to reach the answer. I would highly recommend following both of them.

https://gmatclub.com/forum/search.php?view=search_tags

2. I joined a Whatsapp Group for both Verbal and Quant with more than 200 students on them. The best part about joining these groups was that everyday they would post some amazing questions both for quant and verbal which I would be solving while in Office, in the bus, metro, or whenever I got some free time. Such groups are such a good way to make the best use of your time. Also, such groups have some amazing discussion about various topics and methods to find solutions to the questions posted, and I would always learn something new everyday from these groups. I am sure there are hundreds of such groups running online, if possible, find one such active group and join them. They will keep you busy during your free time and keep you working for your goal.

3. GMATCLUB Tests for Quant : A lot of people suggested me to take up the GC quant test for practice. This was the best decision for me, as I really feel that I made a lot of improvement in terms of both concepts and stamina building for Quant section of GMAT. I would suggest each and every candidate to take up the GC quant test for practice. The questions are beautiful, and you will come out as a winner once you are done with the tests.

4. DO NOT solve GMATPREP questions before actually writing the preps. You will easily get access to the GMATPREP questions online, but make sure that you are not (consciously or in-consciously) solving GMATPREP questions as then they would be repeated in your mocks and you will not get the right score to analyse where you stand.

5. VeritasPrep/Manhattan Mocks : If you want to be completely and 100% sure about where you stand when it comes to the real test, I would suggest that you take either the VeritasPrep or Manhattan Test. I have seen that although both the exams are a bit tougher when it comes to quant, but you can be sure that if you scoring a 700 in these mocks. then you will surely score a 700-720+ in the real test as well. I scored 720 in my last VeritasPrep mock, and got a 730 on my final GMAT attempt.

6. Follow some amazing People on GMATCLUB: I started following some amazing people from GMATCLUB during this time. I would be naming a few whose post have literally enlightened me during my preparation for the exam. Also, I would take this opportunity to thank them all for building such a beautiful community for all the GMAT takers. It has made things so easy for each and every one of us. Your posts and solutions have pushed us forward, motivated us and shown us the right path in our struggle to get our desired score. Thank you
Bunuel bb chetan2u daagh GMATNinja mikemcgarry sayantanc2k VeritasKarishma abhimahna carcass souvik101990

The Final Attempt: 25th September 2018
Score : 730 (Q50,V39) . Time taken to study : 15 Days

Guess what? Although I got a 690 on my third attempt, but because I was fully prepared, and because I knew that there was nothing more I could do to improve myself to score a 740, I decided to write my last attempt after 15 days of my third attempt.

What Changed in 15 days? -> No Pressure. The only thing that changed was that this time I was not going with any aim of scoring a 740. I did not pressurize myself. I was convinced that whatever be the score, I'd just go with it. So, there was no pressure at all. I just went with the flow. In these 15 days, I did not study much. Wrote only 1-2 GC Quant mocks. And night before the exam I was relaxed, watching TV, and slept peacefully.

Learning : Your life depends on the score, do not ever let this feeling creep inside of you before the exam day. Yes, take the GMAT sincerely during preparation, and put in all your efforts, but remember that its only an exam. Do not set any super high expectation and pressurize yourself inside out. The more relaxed you are, the better you will do in GMAT. so, BE RELAXED.

Result : GMAT 730. A long journey ended successfully. The biggest Learning of them ALL? Never Ever Give Up.

Below I have mentioned a few important links which I would seldom use during the preparation. GMATCLUB is full of such amazing posts. Its like a treasure hunt, just use your search skills and you might end up finding the best resource ever.

Quant:
All You need for Quant by Bunuel :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/all-you-need-for-quant-140445.html

Math Book GMATCLUB by bb ,walker, Bunuel ,shrouded1 :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-math-book-87417.html

GMAT DIAGNOSTIC TEST by bb :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-diagnostic-test-quest-for-best-gmat-diagnostic-test-79502.html

GMAT PS Question Directory by Topic & Difficulty by bb :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-ps-question-directory-by-topic-difficulty-127957.html

GMAT DS Question Directory by Topic & Difficulty by bb :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/ds-question-directory-by-topic-and-difficulty-128728.html

100 Hardest Data Sufficiency Questions by Bunuel :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/100-hardest-data-sufficiency-questions-162413.html

100 Hardest Problem Solving Questions by Bunuel :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/100-hardest-problem-solving-questions-162616.html

Tips and Hints for specific Quant Problems by Bunuel :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/tips-and-hints-for-specific-quant-topics-with-examples-172096.html#p1379270

All GMATPREP Questions by carcass :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/all-gmatprep-questions-verbal-quant-194907.html#p1503956

Verbal:
Amazing Verbal Questions and Concept related Posts by carcass :
https://gmatclub.com/forum/sc-verbal-question-bank-and-directories-by-carcass-195439.html#p1509485
https://gmatclub.com/forum/is-it-good-to-practice-with-sc1000-176225.html#p1392431

At last, I would also like to say that this was my journey, and that your journey will be different. You might not have to spend the same amount of time preparing for the exam. You might have separate issues to deal with during your preparation. Or You might need a completely different set of resources for your GMAT preparation. My whole intent was to share my experience, so that everyone who aspires to beat the GMAT exam can make some use from my learning.

Thank you.
Norgay

Originally posted by Norgay on 29 Oct 2018, 22:54.
Last edited by Norgay on 01 Nov 2018, 01:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success.  [#permalink]

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30 Oct 2018, 03:20
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This has been a beautiful journey and the success after so much struggle has it’s own beautiful flavor.

Congratulations.

Good luck with the applications now
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Re: From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success.  [#permalink]

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30 Oct 2018, 05:06
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Congratulations Norgay .......... for the amazing score , tremendous effort & the great great debrief. It will really help a lot of GMAT aspirants down the line.
_________________

Please let me know if I am going in wrong direction.
Thanks in appreciation.

Re: From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success. &nbs [#permalink] 30 Oct 2018, 05:06
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# From 630 to 730. A journey of Failures, Learning and Success.

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