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From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40)

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From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 04:44
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Pre-Script: This post has become too long and it will take away a good chunk of your preparation time. So read this (only if you want) in leisure. :shifty:
Hello, the enlightened ones.
I took my second shot at GMAT and got 740 and some mixed feelings which I would like to share here.
This is also a post for some of my friends who I am mentoring currently, on how to go about with using the materials for preparing for this eventful journey.
A brief background first:
I did my engineering from Delhi, India with a major in Civil Engineering in 2010. Upon completion, I joined the biggest infrastructure company in the country. I went to work in the US for a year in 2013 and from there started the inner yearning to study in the US. I gave the exam last year in April and was thoroughly disheartened by my performance and the 'plan MBA' took a back seat. However, due to a very good company of supremely motivating friends :angel: ;-), I decided to give it another shot this year and gave the exam yesterday with roughly two months of preparation.
The first attempt:
As many of you must have felt at some point in time, there are simply too many sources of preparation for GMAT. When I decided to give it a shot, suggestions started flowing from every corner. Some people suggested to join Manhattan, some suggested to go for Kaplan, some asked to get a GMATClub paid membership while others recommended to simply follow the OG. There is a different book for every section checked in the GMAT. Powerscore CR bible for CR, Manhattan SC for SC { I could do neither }, Magoosh for Quant… and the list went on and on. I was bowled out by all these options and imagined that cracking the test will need a humongous effort as I wanted to check all these boxes before appearing for the test. I purchased the Magoosh premium membership and signed up for GMATClub (the best decision). Along with the access to their own tests, GMATClub also offers a range of other products. Among these, the one I cherished the most was the free Veritas tests and an access to eGMAT’s mail list.
Anyway, sent to the Middle East for a project, I dedicated two months in isolation towards preparing and covering all the material. I would work the entire day in office and would solve problems till midnight after getting back to my hotel room. Since I was alone and had minimal interaction with friends and family, I thought that I will be able to fully prepare myself for the test. The GMATClub tests were of immense help for the Quant. After the first few tests, I started to score Q51 consistently. I also used to practice 35-40 Magoosh problems daily and ponder over their video explanations. It is important to review even the questions you get correct as the instructors may suggest a better method to do the same problem in lesser time. I purchased the Aristotle DS and PS pdf and those 100 questions were really helpful to build the confidence. After a week’s brushing up of concepts and getting a feel of the questions, especially the Data Sufficiency ones, I reduced my Quant practice to the customary 35-40 questions a day routine. The real challenge was VERBAL. I was impressed by the eGMAT techniques discussed in their videos. These guys are really helping many with their product. Thanks to my membership with GMATClub, I used to get mail invites from eGMAT and I used to religiously attend their info and training sessions. Although tempted numerous times to purchase their course, I could not. It was because I already had enough material to cover and another course would have just overwhelmed me. But in hindsight, I think I should’ve purchased the Verbal Live course.
I started off solving the Magoosh problems (the same way I did for Quant) and could soon find out that Magoosh was not going to be enough. The major challenge with Verbal was negating the uncertainty involved while marking an answer. I was never sure about the responses. I would mark a question correctly one day and mark another wrong the very next day while both of them checked the same concept.
Unsure about my progress I purchased the kindle edition of Manhattan SC (again, as suggested by friends and GMATClub members). I got 6 mock tests (supposedly the best) free with my purchase. I started cramming up the SC principles and solving more questions. Although I thought myself to be good in Verbal (or rather English), but concepts like Parallelism, Comparison, and errors with Rhetorical construction and others were never really tested. GMATClub questions did not help much in Verbal either. One day I would score a V37 in one of their tests and the very next day I would come down to a suicidal V26. The variation was perplexing. Since I had already booked the test day, I had little time to go back and start afresh.
3 weeks to the exam, I started giving one mock a day. Veritas gave me 7, Manhattan 6 and as I had purchased the exam pack, GMAT Prep gave me 4. And very much as expected, while my Quant scores hovered around 49-51, the verbal scores were very erratic. I scored a highest of 720 in one of the GMATPrep tests just two days before the exam and was still hoping for a miracle on the D-day. I thought SC was by then my strongest and CR the weakest.
I wrote the AWA well, managed to mark answers in IR, sailed through the Quant with 5-6 minutes still left and by the time the Verbal monster appeared on screen, I was done! I took too much time to mark answers in the first 10 questions. I still remember attempting the 11th questions and seeing that only 50 minutes were left. I tried to increase my pace but still had 4-5 questions unsolved with 2 minutes left. Since the penalty of unanswered questions was a big fear, I hurriedly guessed the end questions and finished my test with a score of 680. (Q50; V32; IR 5; AWA 6). In hindsight, the only key takeaway was: Too many materials spoilt the Cake; should have instead followed just one and completed it thoroughly.
Coming back to India and to the company of familiar lovely faces, I shared by utter unhappiness and silently planned never to give the exam again. This was because the hard work I had put in was not reflected in my score and I did not know what to do differently to achieve a better result. I got engulfed in the project deadlines and deliverables. I purchased the enhanced score report and was shocked to see that SC was the worst section. While CR was V41, RC was V40, my SC struggled at V19. That was the only reason that the score could only climb till V32. The most feared section had fetched me the highest percentile. This added another blow and I believed that I can never gauge my preparation.
The second chance:
Persuaded by friends, I decided to give the exam once again. But by this time I knew what not to do. I did not touch any of the books or material. I revised the quant concepts in less than a week and purchased the kindle edition of the Kaplan Premier to get their 6 free tests. I also reset my Veritas, Manhattan and GMAT Prep tests. Since I had enough practice of Quant from last year, I soon picked up the pace and felt confident.
For Verbal I purchased the additional question pack from GMAT Prep. I also made sure not to cram the concepts of Verbal (SC). I practiced SC from Magoosh only through their questions (they were very kind to renew my subscription) and did the same questions twice or thrice. Even the ones I got correct, I would go back and check what made me choose the right answer. In my opinion, this is the toughest test in GMAT Verbal for non-natives. You sometimes mark the correct answer sitting in a cozy chair with your laptop on, chewing on munchies and attempting the question without caring enough to know why and move ahead without looking back and when the same concept comes to haunt you on the test day, you are left dumbfounded in front of a large computer screen with the huge noise-cancellation headphones sweating your brains out. At times the logic behind a CR question just clicks you and you answer the question correctly while at other instances you might find the same problem harder and challenging.
I also struggled to maintain an error log which most of the GMATClub champions suggest. I tried with different formats but could not maintain one. I felt it consumed too much time and could never get out of the zone.
I solved as many questions in Verbal as I could. I completed the OG and the Question packs and started recognizing the patterns in questions. I practiced from the Kaplan book as well. Through practice, you can reach a point in SC and CR where you can identify the concept being tested. I will suggest not to get too involved to learn or cram up all the rules about the concept but just get used to looking at correct sentences. This really happens after a good practice.
There are numerous techniques to solve an SC problem. You can learn about the techniques from many different sources but in my opinion, the best technique is to just know what sounds right and what doesn’t. If you can develop an ear, then SC becomes a breeze. eGMAT’s meaning approach is very effective. I would try to make out logical meanings from erroneous sentences and choose an option that just ‘sounded right’ and mark it. If correct I would go back and check the concept that it tested and if incorrect, I would read the reason for that too. The accuracy was very poor, to begin with, but after regularly practicing 15-20 questions every day for a month, it improved. My guesses became more educated and controlled. I would read the sentence prompt in my head and check all the options and mark the one that sounded the best. In this process, I could master all the concepts asked in SC without actually reading about them. I did not practice RC and CR and left them at the mercy of my self-termed ‘Mock Test Improvement Plan’.
With one month left for the exam, I started giving the mocks. On an average, I used to give 3 mocks on weekdays and 4 mocks in the weekends. Quant was predictably okay but my verbal scores improved. I spent the maximum time to review and redo the SC questions and just brush-review through the CR logic. My RC wasn’t that good, but I never spent time to revise an RC question. After mock-testing myself for a month, I could see a marked improvement in Verbal. My scores would consistently be upward V35 and I started believing that a Q50 and V35 for a 710+ score was achievable. I scored 730 in one of the mocks and that was the highest I achieved.
I never took a full-length test. I never did the IR and AWA of any of the tests (practiced them separately the day before the test). During all my mock tests, very non-ideally, I took more than 30 minutes break time between Verbal and Quant. I sometimes had to pause tests in between individual sections to munch on some snacks. Although it is preferred to take full-length tests and get accustomed to the 3.5-hour marathon you will eventually run on the test day, but I found it too difficult to sit at home and not chew anything while testing. I also enjoyed the luxury of living at home. I entertained guests whenever they came. I went out for movies and drinks whenever I had a chance with friends (Dunkirk was amazing!). In complete contrast to my previous preparation in isolation, this time I totally enjoyed solving questions for GMAT and relished the experience. The day before the test, I had already made up my excuses for a poorer result to explain it to my well-wishers, had that been the case. But thanks to the almighty that didn’t happen.
On the test, I found the verbal section more difficult than my previous attempt but I took the questions head on and solved as if it was another practice session. CR and RC were dealt with cautiously and I could finish the section on time without guessing on any of the questions. Since the difficulty increased as I moved through questions, I could guess that I had marked the previous ones correctly. The quant section was easier than that of last years. I completed the section on time. I took 2-3 minute breaks and ate almonds in between. IR and AWA followed and I finished them with little time to spare. The score popped up and I was thrilled to see a 740 with Q49, V40, and IR7.
Although the quant was disappointing, the verbal happiness more than made up for it.

PS 1: This has become too long (2300 words almost), so I better put up a warning atop.
Ps 2: This was written too hurriedly to check grammar and punctuation. So if broken into sentences, this can be a lovely set of SC questions. Plz, excuse!
Wish everyone the best!!
_________________

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Kudos [?]: 11 [2], given: 14

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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 08:05
Hi
Congrats for the big score and good luck for app part.
what was your verbal accuracy in 2nd attempt . Also please share your mock tests scores.
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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 09:04
Congrats on an amazing score.

You have mentioned in your post that you purchased Veritas tests. How did you find them in terms of accuracy ? How close was the score to the real test?

Thanks
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V40
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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 19:10
mbaaspirant80 wrote:
Hi
Congrats for the big score and good luck for app part.
what was your verbal accuracy in 2nd attempt . Also please share your mock tests scores.


I am not sure about the accuracy in the second attempt as I have not yet purchased the enhanced report this time. But as I mentioned in the post, the accuracy in the mocks increased with every passing test.
The mock test scores ranged from 680 to 730 across tests from all the providers.
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Kudos [?]: 11 [0], given: 14

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Posts: 32

Kudos [?]: 11 [0], given: 14

Location: India
GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V40
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GMAT ToolKit User Premium Member
Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 19:21
Shiv2016 wrote:
Congrats on an amazing score.

You have mentioned in your post that you purchased Veritas tests. How did you find them in terms of accuracy ? How close was the score to the real test?

Thanks


Hi Shiv, I got the Veritas tests free with GMATClub subscription and could also reset the tests after I had exhausted all 7 of their tests. Contrary to the popular belief within my circle, I found the tests very challenging at the beginning and struggled to even complete the Quant on my first two tests. The Quant section is harder in both Veritas and Manhattan tests than the real test. Verbal is pretty much of the same difficulty. My point in the post was that one can learn a great deal through only tests. In my second attempt, I did not go through any of the theory mentioned in the textbooks but religiously reviewed the test answers. The verbal section in Veritas has some good questions but the algorithm is not as per the real test. I found that in Veritas even if you get 3-4 600-700 questions right at a stretch, there are still chances that you will get a question of same difficulty in the next. But in the real test, I found every question more difficult than the previous. Maybe it was because of the testing and the thing it does to your head but the Veritas scoring algorithm is not similar to the real test.
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Kudos [?]: 11 [0], given: 14

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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 20:44
Abhigyanashakuntalam wrote:
Shiv2016 wrote:
Congrats on an amazing score.

You have mentioned in your post that you purchased Veritas tests. How did you find them in terms of accuracy ? How close was the score to the real test?

Thanks


Hi Shiv, I got the Veritas tests free with GMATClub subscription and could also reset the tests after I had exhausted all 7 of their tests. Contrary to the popular belief within my circle, I found the tests very challenging at the beginning and struggled to even complete the Quant on my first two tests. The Quant section is harder in both Veritas and Manhattan tests than the real test. Verbal is pretty much of the same difficulty. My point in the post was that one can learn a great deal through only tests. In my second attempt, I did not go through any of the theory mentioned in the textbooks but religiously reviewed the test answers. The verbal section in Veritas has some good questions but the algorithm is not as per the real test. I found that in Veritas even if you get 3-4 600-700 questions right at a stretch, there are still chances that you will get a question of same difficulty in the next. But in the real test, I found every question more difficult than the previous. Maybe it was because of the testing and the thing it does to your head but the Veritas scoring algorithm is not similar to the real test.




Thank you for your reply.

You are right about the algorithm. I reviewed my test that I gave yesterday (scored 610: Q45, V29), I found that I did not get any 600 + question even after answering all questions correctly in a row. All questions in Quant were of 500-550 level. This is making me think that may be Q45 is not correct. I say that because if the test was adaptive, I would have faced more challenging questions and the score thus would have varied.


What do you think about this?

Kudos [?]: 43 [0], given: 274

Intern
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Status: trust in truth!
Joined: 04 Nov 2014
Posts: 32

Kudos [?]: 11 [0], given: 14

Location: India
GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V40
GPA: 3.51
GMAT ToolKit User Premium Member
Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2017, 22:20
Shiv2016 wrote:
Abhigyanashakuntalam wrote:
Shiv2016 wrote:
Congrats on an amazing score.

You have mentioned in your post that you purchased Veritas tests. How did you find them in terms of accuracy ? How close was the score to the real test?

Thanks


Hi Shiv, I got the Veritas tests free with GMATClub subscription and could also reset the tests after I had exhausted all 7 of their tests. Contrary to the popular belief within my circle, I found the tests very challenging at the beginning and struggled to even complete the Quant on my first two tests. The Quant section is harder in both Veritas and Manhattan tests than the real test. Verbal is pretty much of the same difficulty. My point in the post was that one can learn a great deal through only tests. In my second attempt, I did not go through any of the theory mentioned in the textbooks but religiously reviewed the test answers. The verbal section in Veritas has some good questions but the algorithm is not as per the real test. I found that in Veritas even if you get 3-4 600-700 questions right at a stretch, there are still chances that you will get a question of same difficulty in the next. But in the real test, I found every question more difficult than the previous. Maybe it was because of the testing and the thing it does to your head but the Veritas scoring algorithm is not similar to the real test.




Thank you for your reply.

You are right about the algorithm. I reviewed my test that I gave yesterday (scored 610: Q45, V29), I found that I did not get any 600 + question even after answering all questions correctly in a row. All questions in Quant were of 500-550 level. This is making me think that may be Q45 is not correct. I say that because if the test was adaptive, I would have faced more challenging questions and the score thus would have varied.


What do you think about this?


Since GMAC does not openly declare how it makes the test adaptive, testing sites like Veritas, Manhattan, Kaplan etc, try to mimic the pattern using the GMATPrep tests. So even if their tests are also adaptive, but they are not the real deal.
Do not think too much about low scores in mock tests.
Just learn through the questions.
The score you get in the GMATPrep just a few days before the exam, will be reflective of the real situation.
_________________

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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40) [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2017, 16:56
i got a 720 with the same split i feel like shooting myself. I know you get different scores with same sectional scores but 20 points more seems too much

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Re: From nowhere to 740 (Q49V40)   [#permalink] 29 Aug 2017, 16:56
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