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From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected

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Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 710 Q50 V36
GMAT 2: 770 Q51 V44
GPA: 3.88
WE: Operations (Energy and Utilities)
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From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2015, 00:49
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I was happily engrossed in my job at a Oil Company in India, when one of my colleagues and flat mate decided to take on the GMAT in 2014. Slowly, through discussions with him, I got to know more about GMAT. Even I decided to give it a shot. I started researching on GMAT and gmatclub turned out to be an angel for me. All my initial doubts regarding the length of the test, the pattern and various other queries were solved in moments at the gmatclub forums.

Preparation for GMAT 1 :

After doing plenty of research, I ended up buying MGMAT series and all the 3 OGs. To just get a feel of the questions that I would be facing, I did some initial questions from all the sections of the OG and immediately I could make out that being a non native, SC was the one section which needed the bulk of my attention. I went ahead with my SC preparations and completed the MGMAT SC in about 2 weeks. Then I again went back to do some question from the OG and felt a lot better at SC. Consequently, I studied the other MGMAT guides and went in for my first GMAT prep test. On my first GMAT perp test, I ended up scoring a 690(Q48, V 36) . I was happy with my score as initially I had a notion that anything above 700 is good enough for a top notch B school. I spent the next 2 weeks solving questions from the OG for Verbal and OG for Quant. I always felt comfortable with Quant and just noted down the concepts and formulas that I encountered while solving Quant Questions. I then took the MGMAT mock test and managed a 630 only. There was a reduction in my Quant score. However, I could just make out that the MGMAT mocks have a tougher Quant section as compared to the GMAT prep. To ascertain where I really stood, I decided to take the second GMAT prep test and scored a 710 . I was convinced that I was done with my preps and booked my test on 6th Feb 2015.

The Worst Mistake one can ever Make :

I had to travel around 250 Kms to reach my GMAT center as my city was not having one. I had a sound sleep and was all ready to take on the beast. As I already mentioned, I was very happy with my job at that moment of time, so there wasn't any sort of a pressure to perform for me in the GMAT. I had nothing to lose. With this mindset I entered the test center. But to my horror, I was informed that I could not give the GMAT without a passport. I could not believe it and cursed myself for committing such a blunder. But in my defense, I would say that it is not at all easy to spot the information on the GMAT site about students of some countries requiring ONLY passport as their primary identity proof. I kept arguing that Driving License is also a Govt. issued ID , but in vain.

GMAT Take 2 but with a passport :P

So, after the disappointing first experience of GMAT, I couldnt get a leave from work for a month. I kept revising the concepts and solving questions to keep up the tempo. Finally I booked a date on 4th March 2015. Again I wasnt under much pressure and just wanted to test myself out and see where I stood. I breezed through the AWA and IR section and proceeded to Quant without taking a break. The Quant section was a confidence booster and I started feeling comfortable. The adrenalin rush took me to the Verbal Section without taking a break again. The initial questions felt ok and everything was going fine until I encountered RC passages from US history and Socialism. I totally messed up the RC and ended up on a 710 (Q 50, V 36) . I was sort of happy to see my score as I could achieve a 700+ score without putting much of a effort. However, I realized that the 700+ level questions are the ones that make the difference and these are the ones that are found only in the last few pages of the OG and are relatively very less in number for sufficient practice. I felt that those are the questions that take you from a 700 to 750+. I took the enhanced score report just to confirm my assessment of the failure in RC and I was totally right. My individual scores for SC and CR were 40 whereas for RC it was 31.

The Dilemma of Retaking the GMAT:

After my 710, I started researching over whether I should retake the GMAT or not. Almost 90% of the forums and threads indicated that I should not. I was convinced at that point of time that a 710 would be enough for top B schools. So I started focusing on other parts of the applications and happened to work with a Banglore based consultant firm - The college Source. On the first day of our skype meeting, I was told that the GMAT score was my weak link among other factors. I was a bit shocked there, as I had already concluded that my GMAT score was sufficient. She explained that for an Indian male Engineer 710 was just an average score. Her words got stuck in my mind and I took the decision of retaking the GMAT.

From a 710 to 770 :

So for 2 months I had totally shifted my attention to researching for schools , essay writing etc. So I had to again start from scratch. I had already finished the Manhattan Guides and the individual OGs. I was left only with one OG to solve, which I wanted to solve after refreshing my concepts. I took an aim of 45 days to complete my GMAT prep and here is what I ended up doing :

RC : I have always believed that solving strategies for RC depend largely on individuals. For example some people like to read the question before reading the passage in RC , some people take notes from the passage and some like to skim through the passage first and then take a look at the questions. I always felt that for me the best strategy was to read the passage thoroughly, understand the whole passage and then attack the questions. I realized that it worked fine for me except on the day of my GMAT as coincidentally all my passages were outside my area of interest. I read somewhere that the GMAC has now decided to give 3 short passages and 1 long passage in the GMAT and I was relieved to hear the news. I just solved the RC section of the OG for GMAT review and prayed that the passages in the exams come from my area of interests.

CR: All the reviews suggested CR bible was the best book for CR. I decided to buy the book and read through the book. It may sound harsh but the books for CR do not do much except for making you aware of the different types of questions involved in CR. And while giving the GMAT I never tried to classify the CR Questions. Who has the time to see whether it is a evaluation type or assumption type question. For me the most important part of CR is identifying the conclusion. 90 % of the CR question revolve around the conclusion. Identifying the conclusion and understanding it is the single most important strategy for CR. CR bible was helpful to make me aware of the various question types, but I would say don't expect that the CR books and RC books will help your scores too much beyond the 700+ level.

SC: Even though I had a good SC score in my GMAT , I wasnt quite confident while solving the SC questions. Again It took a week for me to research on the available SC options. I had already done the MGMAT SC thoroughly. Based on the reviews, I shortlisted three online courses for SC - e gmat, gmatpill and Crackverbal. All had excellent reviews. One of the reviews that I came across said that gmatpill can give you a accuracy of 70% in a short span of time, but egmat will give a 100% accuracy but will take time. And the reviews suggested that egmat SC is the best. So I finally went in for the egmat SC and I must say that egmat never disappointed me :) . Just by knowing the concepts, the confidence that I gained was priceless. Previously also I used to have a good accuracy, but now I knew why every option was right and why every option was wrong. The articles such as the verb-ed modifier vs -ing modifier, like vs as , due to vs because of were really really important and helped me to save a lot of time on the GMAT. I found an improvement in my SC accuracy while solving the OG.

So my 5 weeks of prep involved doing the e gmat SC course, CR bible, 10 questions a day from quant OG and giving the GMAT prep multiple times till I achieved a 750 + on it. I felt confident and ordered the GMAT Exam pack and scored a 760 in my first attempt. I booked my test 5 days later. The next five days were spent in revising concepts and preparing for AWA through GMAT Write.


The D Day ( 30/07/15):

I went to the test center feeling relaxed and had a sound sleep. The AWA was related to sports, so no problems there. The IR section was also not much of a concern. So after a break I then moved on to the real thing. Surprisingly I found Quant easier than my last GMAT and some questions were so easy to solve that I paused and checked for some trick in the question. Doing well on the quant did help as I stepped up to tackle my nemesis of the past - The Verbal Section.
The first few question were comfortable, although I had my doubts in SC still. Luckily 3 out of 4 RCs were related to Science and I knew that I had nailed them. I kept on checking the time and I was comfortable mid way through my Verbal. However, I am not sure whether it was a psychological effect or actually it was happening, the last 15 odd question just started getting tougher. In SC, I just could not eliminate the options. I had to read the options twice or thrice , sometimes more times to eliminate choices. This is where the egmat concepts helped me the most in saving time. My last two question were just logical guesses as I didnt have enough time. My confidence got a blow dealing with the last 15 questions and I thought I had ruined my test. Honestly I expected a 720-730 score, but to my delight the screen showed a 770 ( Q51, V44, IR 8 ) . For 2 seconds, I just couldnt believe it, and just let out a scream, small enough not to disturb the other test takers. I reported the score , came out and asked my administrator to give me a print out as I still couldnt believe it : P . The lesson that I learnt was that we should not panic during those difficult questions in the GMAT. Getting those level of questions already means that you are heading towards a good score. Had I panicked and thought too much during those last 15 questions, I could have ended up on a lower score. Frankly , I never targeted a 770 and never really achieved a 770 in any of my prep tests. I had a target of 740, so 770 was like out of the world for me. It needs a bit of a luck of course. I thought that some of the question that I would have done incorrectly might have been those experimental ones that never count towards the score.

General Strategies :

- Solved all the questions in a timmed manner. I used to solve a bunch of 10 questions with a stop watch so that I knew if I wanted to speed up or I can relax and take my time. The time pressure plays a huge role in the GMAT, so I would advice that solve each and every practice question under a time constraint.
- In my quest for finding more and more actual 700+ GMAT questions, I got a very valuable advice from watching one the introductory video of Arun from the CrackVerbal. According to him , the 2 free GMAT prep tests should be taken multiple times until you reach a score nearing 770-780 on it. Because as your score improves each time, along with the repeated questions, you will get really difficult questions too as it a CAT. I tried this and it helped. Other than the fact that I got to solve really difficult questions, I also felt a psychological advantage. Just the feeling of seeing a score of 750+ on your screen makes you believe in yourself.
- EAT GMAT , DRINK GMAT , SLEEP GMAT. I feel that GMAT needs a small but intense prep. A two month prep is enough but it should be fully focused. Whatever you do you should always have GMAT at the back of your mind. Keep visualizing the feeling that you will have if you score a 750+ on the GMAT and what it could mean to you. This kept me motivated.
- Just do your best and leave the rest. Dont overthink about the pattern of GMAT, the scoring system etc. Dont think much on these things that you can do nothing about. Focus on what you have in hand and what you can change.


Hope this may be of some help. All the best folks !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2015, 19:48
Congratulations!!

Can you please provide details how you prepared for Quant. It would be nice to share some tips.

Thank you :)

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GMAT 1: 710 Q50 V36
GMAT 2: 770 Q51 V44
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WE: Operations (Energy and Utilities)
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New post 09 Aug 2015, 21:37
khanaaa wrote:
Congratulations!!

Can you please provide details how you prepared for Quant. It would be nice to share some tips.

Thank you :)



Hi,

Being from an Engineering background, Quant never really bothered me too much. I just made it a point to solve 10 questions a day and write down the concepts and formulas that were used to solve those problems in one place. So on the day before the exam, I could just brush up those concepts and be ready for the test.

For my retake I used the Advance MGMAT Quant. I never really read the strategies as explained in the book, but solved the practice questions available. It really helped in improving my DS accuracy. Once you start solving question of higher level than required for the test, the actual questions seem simpler and that is what exactly happened. Advanced MGMAT Quant has really tough questions and If you are thorough in your concepts and are looking for additional practice, its one of the best guides available.

Hope it Helps :)

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New post 19 Aug 2015, 03:19
You seem to have devoted quite a lot of time on the GMAT. I must've been easy because of the PSU job.

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Parth13 wrote:
You seem to have devoted quite a lot of time on the GMAT. I must've been easy because of the PSU job.


Hi Parth13,

Fortunately or Unfortunately the PSUs are not the same as they used to be 10 years ago. All this while I was posted at a location which had 7 days a week operation. I used to give all my mock tests in the night as I could not take a holiday for giving the tests. Infact one of my motives for doing an MBA stemmed from the fact that while we are overworked in a PSU just like any other private firm, we are not having a similar increment or performance based incentive. To be honest , before joining a PSU even I had the same notion :P .

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New post 19 Aug 2015, 11:59
congo for a great score!!!

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New post 20 Aug 2015, 02:31
Best of luck ! Applying for McCombs (which is great for Oil and gas) + M7 ? xD

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Re: From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 20 Aug 2015, 03:45
Thanks :) . Yes I am applying to Mccombs. RICE is also located in the same region and has a far better percent of Oil and Gas sector placements. Can you tell me why ppl still prefer McCombs for Oil & Gas ?? RICE looks better in many areas.

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New post 29 Nov 2015, 07:48
Hey.. What was your score in 10th,12th and Engineering?

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Re: From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2015, 12:33
rohitsaxena00 wrote:
Hey.. What was your score in 10th,12th and Engineering?


I had a score of 88% in both X and XII . Ad my UG GPA was 8.78 . Just out of curiosity - what made you ask so ??

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New post 29 Nov 2015, 21:53
I was trying to establish a correlation between board scores and gmat, if any. Also which schools did u apply to, if you don't mind me asking.

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New post 29 Nov 2015, 22:08
rohitsaxena00 wrote:
I was trying to establish a correlation between board scores and gmat, if any. Also which schools did u apply to, if you don't mind me asking.



I am applying in Round 2. Targeting the top 5-15 schools mainly. Will apply to MIT, Darden , Berkeley, UCLA, Rice most probably.

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New post 29 Nov 2015, 22:28
Great. Best of luck with the applications.

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Congratulations! You definitely have some great points in your debrief. Best of luck on your future endeavors!

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Hi guys,

Anuj is currently studying at ISB. You can know more about his background in the debriefing interview below:


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Re: From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 23 Feb 2017, 01:12
egmat wrote:
Hi guys,

Anuj is currently studying at ISB. You can know more about his background in the debriefing interview below:




Hey,

Just saw this post here. I am not studying at ISB. I will be joining Fuqua this year :)

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New post 23 Feb 2017, 02:10
Great Conquest. All the best for future endeavours.
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Thanks & Regards,
Anaira Mitch

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New post 28 Mar 2017, 09:57
Anuj5589 wrote:
egmat wrote:
Hi guys,

Anuj is currently studying at ISB. You can know more about his background in the debriefing interview below:




Hey,

Just saw this post here. I am not studying at ISB. I will be joining Fuqua this year :)


Congratulations on the admit to Faqua.. I dont know why I thought that you would be joining ISB.. :) How are you financing your education.. Did you get a scholarship
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Re: From a zero to 710 to 770 - My journey in achieving the unexpected [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2017, 21:31
egmat wrote:
Anuj5589 wrote:
egmat wrote:
Hi guys,

Anuj is currently studying at ISB. You can know more about his background in the debriefing interview below:




Hey,

Just saw this post here. I am not studying at ISB. I will be joining Fuqua this year :)


Congratulations on the admit to Faqua.. I dont know why I thought that you would be joining ISB.. :) How are you financing your education.. Did you get a scholarship



Hi,

Thank you very much. Actually I did get an admit from ISB last year, but somehow ended up applying again and got in at Fuqua. I have a partial scholarship ($33K) and Fuqua has a tie up for a no cosignor loan from Discover Bank. So unless I find a cosignor, I will be financing through Discover Bank only. I would be happy to have your advice if you know of some other financing options :)

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New post 31 Mar 2017, 15:57
Anuj5589 - $33K scholarship is amazing. Definitely helps a lot. I was not aware that Discover Bank gave loans without a collateral. A number of our students have also explored Prodigy finance. Their interest rates are between 7% and 9% (from what I can recall)
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