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From 740 to 750 after 5 years

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Intern
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B
Joined: 18 Oct 2016
Posts: 8
Location: Singapore
Concentration: General Management, Sustainability
GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
GMAT 2: 750 Q50 V41
GPA: 2.75
WE: Project Management (Energy and Utilities)
From 740 to 750 after 5 years  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 20 Feb 2017, 01:19
OK, so I just got done with my GMAT 3 weeks back (750, Q50, V41, IR 8, AWA 6) and I sat down to do this debrief because I got a reminder from the GC mailer, I'd pretty much put the GMAT aside because the prep was so intense and time consuming.

I took my first GMAT back in 2011 and scored a 740 (Q49, V41) . Unfortunately that score expired this June and I had to retake it because my application for an MBA intake starting 2018 didn't go through, and I'll be reapplying in a couple of months for intakes in 2019. Being an experienced test taker, I had a vague (and fuzzy) outline of my test strategy from the previous attempt. I remember reading Ursula's post (which was pretty famous back then too) and following the test strategy very religiously. I also remember struggling with verbal for a VERY long time (especially CR and SC) during my practice, which surprised me because I thought my English was fairly good.

So for my second attempt I knew I'd retain the essential guiding principles: focus heavily on verbal, practice every question on the OG, take lots of practice tests, maintain an error log and a test score log. I know that there are several formats available on this site and others, but honestly I think I wasted too much time trying to follow these templates because essentially all I needed was a quick summary of my progress, and I'm pretty used to maintaining spreadsheets on my job for quick reference on data. I ended up using my own template for maintaining score logs. The OG improvement chart was a big plus though as it had the answers marked on them that was easy to use on the go using my smartphone, without having to hassle about scrolling through multiple pdf documents.

There were a few major differences this time around though.

    1
First, I was working now (my previous exam had been during the college break after my final semester), which made it hard to follow a regular routine everyday. I immediately realised I would need some sort of "external" push, so I signed up for the BTG 60 day mailers to give me one topic to find everyday. Initially I started getting really bogged down by the volume that I needed to cover on a daily basis and quickly fell behind schedule, and essentially ended up doing just mock CAT's and reviews once a week on weekends. My prep started around early October and I got a bit complacent because I only had to get started on my applications in February, and also because I was trying to polish up my profile a bit for the MBA application. It also didn't help that I was travelling during the December holidays, so my original exam target of mid December got pushed back to early January, and subsequently end January. The fact that I had not booked an exam date also made my prep progress very iffy and I will advise test takers against adopting that kind of approach unless it can be helped.

The issue with the BTG emails was that I ended up reading a lot of material that I was already quite comfortable with. The manhattan guides were good for the weak topics, but I was spending way too much time reading that stuff and not actually practicing OG questions. Had I switched this sequence, my reviews would have been more productive and relevant.

    2
Second, what I noticed almost immediately was that my verbal was better than I remembered, and my quant a lot worse. My verbal CAT scores remained consistently in the low 40's (hitting 45 on one test though it didn't feel very different!). I remember that doing CAT's was the most effective improvement strategy I had followed on my first GMAT (I think I took 12 or 13), so this time I went the extra mile and bought a 6 series package from Manhattan (I chose MGMAT because my scores were lower on those tests last time around). I decided not to go with Kaplan because I found them too easy the previous time and didn't quite like the interface, I am not very sure what it looks like now. I also ended up getting a free trial of 7 tests from Veritas, and coupled with 3 GC tests, GMAT Prep software tests (2 attempts each) and one Princeton test, I took a total of 22 tests. In hindsight, I hadn't really planned on doing so many and I think the benefit was limited for most of the time because I was only reviewing questions that I got wrong, along with the Manhattan guides that I was reading (see above). My test scores really started soaring only towards the last 3 or 4, where I scored a couple of 750's and 760's (although a couple of them were "seen" tests as they were retakes of GMAT Prep CAT's), and I think that was largely due to the fact that my reviews of OG were helping me get a "feel" for the questions without worrying about actual techniques to solve a given question. Particularly, knowing the obvious traps helps figure out the answer quicker and rule out doubts when stuck with the last 2 choices.

    3
Since I wasn't familiar with IR (my last test was before IR was introduced), I decided to take full-length tests right from the start. This was a bit of a dampener on my test pace because I had to make sure I took out 4 hours + review time every weekend for the test. In hindsight, investing in the IR prep tool would have bolstered my confidence and sped up my progress. I was definitely very jittery about IR because my scores were bouncing about a LOT and I was struggling with pacing myself. Fortunately I spent enough time in the week before the test to sort this out, and on test day I didn't get one of those extra-lengthy 2 page analysis questions right at the start which helped me stay calm through the section.

G-day was pretty tiring, I realized that no matter how many mock exams you do, it's never the same on the actual test because you are 100% tuned in and very nervous about mistakes through the 4 hour period. One bad habit I had during my mock tests was to pause them between sessions and check my quant score (Veritas let you do this!), especially when I felt I wasn't doing so well, and usually a good score would boost my morale and focus during the verbal section (I knew I wouldn't be able to do this on test day but I still couldn't help myself!). I also picked up an unhealthy tendency to worry too much when I found the questions too easy on the quant section, thinking I was messing up really easy questions to end up with such easy quetsions. I found myself in this mindset on most of the quant section on test day, I still don't know how I got that 50 if the questions were really that easy. I also bought the enhanced score report because I was curious to know but to be very frank this report is not worth investing in, the Manhattan and Veritas post-question analysis are more informative in terms of level of questions that you encounter at each step. The ESR only summarizes your progress along the exam in terms of percentage of questions answered right and some graphs with difficulty levels scaled on "low" "medium" and "high", and not on actual percentile or scaled score axes.

Overall, I am satisfied and relieved with my score because I spent a lot of time and effort in it but I feel I should have been able to score the same score with just 2 months of prep had I spent time making a more structured strategy in place at the start of my prep. That's all for now folks! I hope I participate more on the MBA admission posts in the coming weeks!!

Originally posted by aproop on 19 Feb 2017, 23:48.
Last edited by aproop on 20 Feb 2017, 01:19, edited 4 times in total.
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Intern
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Joined: 22 Nov 2014
Posts: 29
Re: From 740 to 750 after 5 years  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Feb 2017, 01:09
aproop wrote:
OK, so I just got done with my GMAT 3 weeks back (750, Q50, V41, IR 8, AWA 6) and I sat down to do this debrief because I got a reminder from the GC mailer, I'd pretty much put the GMAT aside because the prep was so intense and time consuming.

I took my first GMAT back in 2011 and scored a 740 (Q49, V41) . Unfortunately that score expired this June and I had to retake it because my application for an MBA intake starting 2018 didn't go through, and I'll be reapplying in a couple of months for intakes in 2019. Being an experienced test taker, I had a vague (and fuzzy) outline of my test strategy from the previous attempt. I remember reading Ursula's post (which was pretty famous back then too) and following the test strategy very religiously. I also remember struggling with verbal for a VERY long time (especially CR and SC) during my practice, which surprised me because I thought my English was fairly good.

So for my second attempt I knew I'd retain the essential guiding principles: focus heavily on verbal, practice every question on the OG, take lots of practice tests, maintain an error log and a test score log. I know that there are several formats available on this site and others, but honestly I think I wasted too much time trying to follow these templates because essentially all I needed was a quick summary of my progress, and I'm pretty used to maintaining spreadsheets on my job for quick reference on data. I ended up using my own template for maintaining score logs. The OG improvement chart was a big plus though as it had the answers marked on them that was easy to use on the go using my smartphone, without having to hassle about scrolling through multiple pdf documents.

There were a few major differences this time around though.

    1
First, I was working now (my previous exam had been during the college break after my final semester), which made it hard to follow a regular routine everyday. I immediately realised I would need some sort of "external" push, so I signed up for the BTG 60 day mailers to give me one topic to find everyday. Initially I started getting really bogged down by the volume that I needed to cover on a daily basis and quickly fell behind schedule, and essentially ended up doing just mock CAT's and reviews once a week on weekends. My prep started around early October and I got a bit complacent because I only had to get started on my applications in February, and also because I was trying to polish up my profile a bit for the MBA application. It also didn't help that I was travelling during the December holidays, so my original exam target of mid December got pushed back to early January, and subsequently end January. The fact that I had not booked an exam date also made my prep progress very iffy and I will advise test takers against adopting that kind of approach unless it can be helped.

The issue with the BTG emails was that I ended up reading a lot of material that I was already quite comfortable with. The manhattan guides were good for the weak topics, but I was spending way too much time reading that stuff and not actually practicing OG questions. Had I switched this sequence, my reviews would have been more productive and

    2
Second, what I noticed almost immediately was that my verbal was better than I remembered, and my quant a lot worse. My verbal CAT scores remained consistently in the low 40's (hitting 45 on one test though it didn't feel very different!). I remember that doing CAT's was the most effective improvement strategy I had followed on my first GMAT (I think I took 12 or 13), so this time I went the extra mile and bought a 6 series package from Manhattan (I chose MGMAT because my scores were lower). I decided not to go with Kaplan because I found them too easy the previous time and didn't quite like the interface, I am not very sure what it looks like now. I also ended up getting a free trial of 7 tests from Veritas, and coupled with 3 GC tests, GMAT Prep software tests (2 attempts each) and one Princeton test, I took a total of 22 tests. In hindsight, I hadn't really planned on doing so many and I think the benefit was limited for most of the time because I was only reviewing questions that I got wrong, along with the Manhattan guides that I was reading (see above). My test scores really started soaring only towards the last 3 or 4, where I scored a couple of 750's and 760's (although a couple of them were "seen" tests as they were retakes of GMAT Prep CAT's)

    3
Since I wasn't familiar with IR, I decided to take full-length tests right from the start. This was a bit of a dampener on my test pace because I had to make sure I took out 4 hours + review time every weekend for the test. In hindsight, investing in the IR prep tool would have bolstered my confidence and sped up my progress. I was definitely very jittery about IR because my scores were bouncing about a LOT and I was struggling with pacing myself. Fortunately I spent enough time in the week before the test to sort this out, and I didn't get one of those extra-lengthy 2 page analysis questions right at the start which helped me stay calm through the section.

Test day was pretty tiring, I realized that no matter how many mock exams you do, it's never the same on the actual day because you are definitely tuned in and very nervous about mistakes through the 4 hour period. One bad habit I had during my mock tests was to pause them between sessions and check my quant score (Veritas let you do this!), especially when I felt I wasn't doing so well, and usually a good score would boost my morale during the verbal section (I knew I wouldn't be able to do this on test day but I still couldn't help myself!). I also picked up an unhealthy tendency to worry too much when I found the questions too easy on the quant section, thinking I was messing up really easy questions to end up with such easy quetsions. I found myself in this mindset on most of the quant section on test day, I still don't know how I got that 50 if the questions were really that easy. I also bought the enhanced score report because I was curious to know but to be very frank this report is not worth investing in, the Manhattan and Veritas post-question analysis are more informative in terms of level of questions that you encounter at each step.

Overall, I am satisfied and relieved with my score because I spent a lot of time and effort in it but I feel I should have been able to score the same score with just 2 months of prep had I spent time making a more structured strategy in place at the start of my prep. That's all for now folks! I hope I participate more on the MBA admission posts in the coming weeks!!




good luck for application
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Joined: 17 May 2016
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Re: From 740 to 750 after 5 years  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Feb 2017, 05:41
Do keep us updated about your application and college admissions.
Best of Luck

Sent from my iPhone
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Joined: 19 Jan 2017
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Re: From 740 to 750 after 5 years  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Feb 2017, 00:36
Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm going to pass the exam soon.
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Re: From 740 to 750 after 5 years &nbs [#permalink] 21 Feb 2017, 00:36
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