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GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed

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GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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Hi All,

I recently took GMAT and scored a decent 710 after about 6 weeks of rigorous studies. Since I myself was a bit skeptical about achieving 700+ in such a short time, I thought I'd share my insights here and hopefully prove to be helpful for someone targeting to take GMAT in near future.

Note - This is going to be a long post by the way. I really like to talk (in this case, type) :|

Firstly, a bit of background about myself. I come from a very usual pool of applicants (Female, engineering background, India). I am definitely not a math wiz nor am I really fond of the subject. I always liked English during my school years, scored well too. But Verbal was no less than a nightmare for me in the initial GMAT mocks.

So the first mock I gave was on 2nd Dec, after going through all the OG guides for Quant (except Geometry, because I hated it :? ). That is, only going through the concepts and not actually practicing the questions.For Verbal, I just did a minor review of what kind of questions came in the exam.

My first mock score was 580 - Q40 V28.

Now since it was the month of December, and I work with a UK client, I knew December won't be as hectic with Christmas and New Year. So I decided to take 4 weeks off from my office. And below mentioned strategy is based on devoting around 6-8 hours of studying a day (Yes, I am that lazy. I can't study for more than that even on off days :P )

I decided to join EmpowerGMAT in around 2nd week of December, since I was targeting to sit for exam in a month, and initially I wasn't keen on spending too much on a course. This was the only course which seemed affordable at that time with the ability to join just for a month. Having gone through the complete course now, it was worth every penny.

The best part about EmpowerGMAT was that I could customize the course as I pleased. Just Quant, Just Verbal, or jump around the lessons.

Week 1 -

I first started with Quant. I went through the Number systems' explanations by Rich in the course. Did questions from OG and GMAT Club. By this time I had already started feeling really good about Quant. Because
a) I was now very familiar with the dreaded DS questions on number properties, which I just couldn't get the hang of earlier
b) Number systems is a topic which is not really "Math intensive" so I wasn't actually doing a lot of Math, and still improving. So that was a bonus for me.

In verbal, I concentrated on RC and tried to just understand the passage at first. I had a really bad habit of skimming earlier, so I started reading really carefully, trying to comprehend the passage and not getting stuck on questions without reading the passage first.
Side note- No matter how long the passage is, even if it takes you 6-7 minutes reading the complete passage and fully understanding it, it's fine. Because from what I have observed that if I have understood the passage completely, I am mostly able to answer all the questions in a passage under a minute.

I gave the second (Veritas mock) on 20th Dec, after studying just the above 2 things. Number properties in Quant and RC in Verbal. I scored a 610 (Q45 V29).
Clearly Verbal was still a problem but at least now I felt confident answering the RC questions. I was not skimming and then making a frantic guess in the end.

Week 2 -

For the next 5 days, I devoted half the time to Quant (Algebra and Arithmetic), and another half to verbal- reading practice for RC and CR. Really really trying to comprehend what the author was saying.
At one point, I had started making insane notes for RC. A single RC passage was taking me over 10-12 minutes to read, but the whole purpose of the exercise was getting into the habit of reading and understanding.

After following the above strategy for RC and CR for a couple of days, I finally started reducing the notes I was taking. Instead of summarizing every 1-2 lines I started summarizing paragraphs, and eventually I could comprehend the complete RC in 5-6 minutes which I found to be perfect pacing for the actual timed exam.

After 5 days following the above strategies I gave my third (GMAT Club) mock on 25th Dec (Merry Christmas to me ! :roll: ) and scored a 610 again (Q46 V28) .
However, the good thing was, when I reviewed my last mock I could see that my RC had improved drastically. I think I had only 2-3 questions wrong in RC. So the whole V28 was only because of RC (everything else I was probably getting wrong :P )

This time, the review of the Mock, instead of the score, was the real motivation. I knew I was headed in the right direction.

Week 3 -


I started doing a lot of OG questions for Verbal, and anything I could find on GMAT club. I also shifted my focus from 50-50 on Quant and Verbal to 30 on Quant and 70 on Verbal.
By this point I was pretty confident in Quant. And I cannot stress enough how big a part EmpowerGMAT was in giving me that confidence boost. At one point I hated Maths. So this coming from me, is a huge thing.

I gave my fourth (Economist) mock on 30-Dec and scored a 670 (Q48 V35) and 5th mock on 2nd Jan, which was my first GMATPrep mock and scored a 650 (Q48 V31). I did the review of the mock, and the good thing was I was scoring well on the areas which I had practiced.

I decided to book GMAT for 24th Jan, in 3 weeks from then. Since I had improved from 580 to 650, I could see improvement in the areas I was concentrating on, I was sure I should be able to achieve a decent score.

Week 4-

In the next 5 days, I completed my Quant syllabus. I went through all the SC concepts, revised all the idioms again and again, read about all the error types, how they are tested. I gave my 6th mock (Gmat Prep) on 7th Jan and again scored a 650 (Q49 V30)
By this time I started panicking. I had only about 15 days left for my actual GMAT, my verbal score was not improving, and I was stuck on about the same score for last 3 mocks now.
I devoted one complete day to reviewing all my mocks. Started making excel spreadsheets with details of which section I was strong in, where were my weaknesses (Office skills coming in handy :P) I also attempted all the questions I got wrong and revised my error log (which I should have done much much earlier)

I devoted a couple of days to just SC (that being my weakest area), doing all the practice questions from OG. I had started making notes for everything where I was going wrong, even if it was a silly mistake and something as simple as difference between whether and if. I revised these self made notes once or twice a day. It took not more than 10-15 minutes, just going through all the points I had written and I was doing a couple of RC and CR questions everyday.

I gave my 7th mock (Gmat Prep) on 13th Jan and finally scored a 690 (Q49 V35).

Week 5-

I started devoting 90% of my time on Verbal and the remaining time on Quant doing random questions.

I continued making mini notes for RC and CR. By this time, when I was reading a CR passage I could form an opinion in my mind as I was reading the passage. Things like "ok, so author does not agree with so and so" "that's stupid, he has not even considered so and so factors". Stuff like this and I would quickly write down what I thought was the assumption. This really really helps. Because more often than not, if you are thinking straight, you have your answer in that notes which you have written about the assumption.

I gave my final mock (GMAT prep) on 18th Jan and scored a 690 again (Q48 V36). Q48 should have been a wake up call for me to pay more attention in Quant, since I was getting the same score for over 5 mocks. I could have pushed it to Q50-51. But I still concentrated on Verbal more.

Week 6-

Final week, I asked EMPOWERgmatRichC for tips and he has been an angel guiding through the whole process. I had still not achieved my target score of 700+ in any of the mocks. He asked me to remain calm and focus on the mock reviews, where I was going wrong, and not really start cramming stuff which I hadn't studied till now. I did exactly that. In the last 6 days before the exam, I reviewed all my 8 mocks. And trust me, by this time when I was reviewing the wrong questions from my first two mocks, I could hear laughter in my head going " how dumb you can be to select that answer". I went through all the mistakes I had done in those mocks (which were a lot) and the remaining OG questions which I had not done yet. Reviewed my notes on SC and all the basic maths formulas regularly. And definitely did atleast 1-2 long passage RCs daily to be in the habit of reading and comprehending.

I gave my final GMAT exam on 24th Jan and scored a 710 (Q48 V40)

I was ecstatic seeing my Verbal score. And the next immediate thought was only if I had paid more attention on Quant and improved that too, I could have gotten an even better score. I remember in the actual GMAT exam, I could understand nothing about the first passage that I read. (probably the nerves) The first 5 minutes of the exam were dreadful because I was sure I was going to get everything wrong in that RC. I nevertheless made notes from what I could understand. Spent a good 10 minutes on that passage and by the time I reached 4th-5th question I had gained the momentum and was feeling really good about the whole exam.

What I learned from the whole experience -

1. Play your strengths. Do not give up on Quant or Verbal just because you know you are good at it. Aim for the highest score you can achieve in whichever section is your favorite. That could be the deciding factor.

2. Practice. For Verbal there is no specific formula which you can cram and push your score suddenly. Read a lot. The more you are in the habit of reading, the easier RC will be. My jump for V30 to V40 was only because of making notes of every mistake I was doing and lots and lots of practice.

3. Review of mocks / wrong questions. It is okay to spend hours reviewing your mocks. I would do 10 Verbal questions in 10-15 minutes and spend 1 hour reviewing those. Really try to understand why you could not get the purpose of the passage. Or why you could not think of that assumption in the CR. For SC, error log really really helped.
Whatever my mock score was, reviewing the mock seemed very motivational for me. Because even if the score was not improving immediately, I could see I was going in the right direction.

4. Do reach out to the community. I was a silent observer of GMAT Club before I started posting. And without taking names, there are so so many posts here from experts all over the world. Even if you have an OG question, or a question from GMATPrep Mock, if you search it here you will find a similar question and multiple answer explanations from various experts. Any one of the explanation is bound to stick to you. Make use of this forum, it's a bliss for anyone at any stage of the whole grueling process of MBA applications.

5. Focus on a topic first. Master it and then move on to next topic

6. Thank people. There are so many people here who would jump to help you on whatever query you might have. And they get nothing from those replies. Gratitude reciprocates.

Lastly, if you have reached till here while reading, thank you for your time and I hope my experience helps you in some way :)

[Reveal] Spoiler:
edited by adkikani with mock details as mentioned by user here

Originally posted by devanshi11 on 26 Jan 2018, 01:51.
Last edited by devanshi11 on 26 Jan 2018, 07:27, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 02:46
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Hi devanshi11

This is an amazing debrief and your detailed story of conquering GMAT resonates with
your talkative nature ;) . Thanks for sharing your improvement on the forum.

Could you shed more light on:
a. Did you at all face any timing / fatigue issues in your mocks?
b. How did you efficiently check for your errors (the WHATs and the WHYs)
in each of these mocks?
c. Any time you came across few selected Qs and thinking I CAN DO THIS,consuming
4+ mins in efforts and worst case getting them incorrect.
d. Any change in strategy (making short notes and understanding passage tone) in case
three successive RC pops up in first 20 Qs (one's worst nightmare :shocked )

Wishing you all the best in your apps and do let us know where you finally land up. :-)
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 07:51
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adkikani wrote:
Hi devanshi11

This is an amazing debrief and your detailed story of conquering GMAT resonates with
your talkative nature ;) . Thanks for sharing your improvement on the forum.

Could you shed more light on:
a. Did you at all face any timing / fatigue issues in your mocks?
b. How did you efficiently check for your errors (the WHATs and the WHYs)
in each of these mocks?
c. Any time you came across few selected Qs and thinking I CAN DO THIS,consuming
4+ mins in efforts and worst case getting them incorrect.
d. Any change in strategy (making short notes and understanding passage tone) in case
three successive RC pops up in first 20 Qs (one's worst nightmare :shocked )

Wishing you all the best in your apps and do let us know where you finally land up. :-)



Thank you adkikani

For your questions above -
a. I did face major pacing problems initially, specially in Verbal. I just got tired of reading so much. In Quant, I was always running out of time. EmpowerGMAT's tips on how to triage difficult questions helped a lot. I started dropping 1-2 questions in Quant, those which I just knew I won't be able to solve and that was a game changer for me.
b. That is actually a very good question. I did post the same thing recently. That I was at a loss of identifying where I was going wrong in Verbal. After a point instead of classifying all the errors in sub categories, I just started making a note of whatever I was doing wrong with a comment of whether I did not understand the question or a certain line in a paragraph. And I just stopped worrying about those. Instead I focused on how to move on from those questions and get the easy ones right first. In SC it was usually an idiom I didn't know or a grammar rule. All those notes went in my error log. In quant it was mostly silly mistakes
c. This happened so so many times in Quant. Especially when I knew I was doing well, and then there would come a question where I just knew I'm right there very close to the answer. I had to learn to dump those questions. With me it was always geometry which I would get stuck on. So if I was not able to identify exactly how to proceed with Geometry questions in 1 minute, I dumped them. In one of the mocks I dumped almost all the geometry questions and still got a Q48
d. Remaining calm I think is the key. And follow the exact same strategy as one would for RCs. Even if you get 3 RCs in a row, good thing is once you're done with all of them, whatever remaining time is there would be only for CR and SC. There won't be a new RC passage coming up to eat your time.
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 08:10
Thank you devanshi11 for your inputs.

Quote:
That I was at a loss of identifying where I was going wrong in Verbal. After a point instead of classifying all the errors in sub categories, I just started making a note of whatever I was doing wrong with a comment of whether I did not understand the question or a certain line in a paragraph. And I just stopped worrying about those. Instead I focused on how to move on from those questions and get the easy ones right first.

This is so true and also embarrassing since few of us who are obsessed with not repeating the same mistake
end up the committing the same by noting timing, sub-sectional types, difficulty level instead of simply moving along
after knowing the WHY aspect as you mentioned.

Quote:
d. Even if you get 3 RCs in a row, good thing is once you're done with all of them, whatever remaining time is there would be only for CR and SC. There won't be a new RC passage coming up to eat your time.


What an attitude! Very impressive. :-) The way we trick ourselves is indeed an ingredient to success.
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 08:38
Congratulations Devanshi! Great Improvement in Verbal, specially in the last 15 days.
Were you still on your 4 weeks break when you took the exam?
Also, How did you manage time in verbal?
Struggling with pacing.


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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 14:39
Hi Devanshi,

That's OUTSTANDING news! With a 710/Q48, you have a score that's right around the 90th percentile overall - so you can comfortably apply to any Business Schools that interest you! I'm not sure if we've ever discussed your application plans or not, but what Schools are you planning to apply to (with this score, you have plenty of options!)?

Congrats again on all of your success so far!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2018, 19:10
devanshi11 Congrats for 710!!! All the best for the Application process. :-)
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2018, 10:56
TSofat wrote:
Congratulations Devanshi! Great Improvement in Verbal, specially in the last 15 days.
Were you still on your 4 weeks break when you took the exam?
Also, How did you manage time in verbal?
Struggling with pacing.


Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using GMAT Club Forum mobile app



Thank you TSofat
Yes I gave GMAT while I was on a break.
For Verbal I used to have pacing problems with both CR and RC. I just started taking my own sweet time understanding the passage. I realised that really concentrating on the passage and comprehending in full what the author was trying to convey was the easiest way to deal with RC. Because once I understood the passage I could answer all the questions in under a minute. (or make a smart guess and move on)
For CR, pre-thinking has worked wonders. Making a small note of what the assumption is in the paragraph. And also just not getting stuck on a question. English is not my native language, so there were definitely a couple of questions which I just could not understand. If I could not understand a certain line or paragraph in 2 reads, I just dropped that question, made a guess and moved on.

Dropping the questions has been a life saver for me. Whenever I thought I was doing well but taking a lot of time I intentionally dropped a question which I thought was too time consuming, and concentrated on getting all the easier ones right.

All the best :)
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2018, 11:05
That's a great strategy. Will try out the dropping strategy [THUMBS UP SIGN]
Thanks, All the best for your applications.

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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2018, 11:06
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Devanshi,

That's OUTSTANDING news! With a 710/Q48, you have a score that's right around the 90th percentile overall - so you can comfortably apply to any Business Schools that interest you! I'm not sure if we've ever discussed your application plans or not, but what Schools are you planning to apply to (with this score, you have plenty of options!)?

Congrats again on all of your success so far!

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Rich



Thank you Rich.
I am planning to apply to UK B schools. I have sent you a PM with the details and one specific query I'm struggling with a bit.
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 01 Mar 2018, 23:33
devanshi11

This is such an well organized debrief. I have been preparing for GMAT and looking for tried and tested methods to hit the 700 barrier and i should definitely say that your debrief was exactly what i am looking for . Thanks for including detailed prep strategy. Your debrief gives me hope and inspiration to climb the final few steps.

All the best for your applications.

Raghu
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Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2018, 22:55
akadiyan wrote:
devanshi11

This is such an well organized debrief. I have been preparing for GMAT and looking for tried and tested methods to hit the 700 barrier and i should definitely say that your debrief was exactly what i am looking for . Thanks for including detailed prep strategy. Your debrief gives me hope and inspiration to climb the final few steps.

All the best for your applications.

Raghu


Thank You :)
I am glad you find it helpful. All the best for your GMAT
Re: GMAT 580 to 710 in 6 weeks | Strategies I followed   [#permalink] 19 Mar 2018, 22:55
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