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GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700

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GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2015, 16:18
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In short, you need:
• The right resources
• The right amount of time
• The right attitude
• To know what fight you're fighting

I was never that great at standardized tests. I just did okay at the SAT. When I first started thinking about going for my MBA about a year ago, I went to a wine tasting event at Del Posto and happened to meet an ACT instructor who said something that set the stage for my 750. He said: "The reason why most people don't get the score they want on the ACT or the GMAT is because they don't really realize what they're being tested on." For a second, I nodded and pretended I knew exactly what he was talking about, then when it was obvious to both of us I didn't have a clue what he was saying, I asked him what he meant. He said: "Most people treat any standardized test like a mid-term or final in school, but these tests measure something completely different. Yes there is some core content you need to know, but these tests really aren't about the content. They measure a set of skills, and if you can train to master those skills, you can ace any standardized test."

I'd be a fool not to ask him what skills, so I did, and what I remember from his response:
-You have to pay attention to the details. You'll get massacred if you miss the details in the question and answers.
-You have to get to know the strategies to attack the patterns.
-You need to check the question and your answer before you move on

My resources
• The 2015 GMAT Official Guide Bundle (the main book, the Quant Review, and the Verbal Review) - Over 1000 real GMAT questions. Not fakes produced by some intern at Kaplan
• The mba.com practice tests (the two free ones, and the CAT pack 1) 4 in total - Real tests with the real scoring system
• The EmpowerGMAT Course - Genius course, gifted instructors. 10/10. It completely meshed with my learning style, and I'd tell anyone that if you're serious about beating the GMAT, then you have to take Empower.
• The Manhattan GMAT tests - The only reason I got these is because there aren't enough official tests, but I needed the practice. My 2 gripes about them: the interface isn't realistic at all, and the hype is true, some of the quant questions are unrealistically technical
• The right training locations - I prepped at the main branch NY library on 42nd street, in an environment that had similar ambient noise as the test center (coughing, the guy next to you with nervous foot tapping, etc.)

The right amount of time
I gave it 3 months, and a little buffer in case I needed it, which I didn't. I had a nice block of time since I'm not applying until August for the round 1 slots. I also stuck to a military grade training plan. 2 hours on weekdays, and 4 hours on Saturdays and Sundays no matter what. I told my friends and family what I was doing and how much this meant to me, and that we can hang out properly when I'm done with the GMAT. I think having everyone's understand helped facilitate the right conditions for success.

The right attitude

Be humble! When you're making mistake after mistake, the last thing you can afford to be is stubborn or cocky. You have to be eager to do things differently as opposed to trying to make your way work (and that's why I think I didn't do as well on the SAT, looking back). If you don't spend at least 1/3 of your prep time hovering over your error log, analyzing and inventorying what sucks about what you're doing, then you're a stubborn fool. There's just no way I could have improved as much as I did over these three months without it. Moreover, you have to find a way to make the GMAT a passion. I managed to get to the point that banging out some GMAT questions felt like a hobby.

Know what fight you're fighting
This gets back to what the ACT instructor told me, and as the EmpowerGMAT course stresses intensely. You have to cultivate the skills that the GMAT actually requires. Not rote memorization or flash cards like a normal test would require. You have to train yourself:
• To be thorough, no skimming
• Pay attention to details
• Take interest in what you're reading, even a tedious passage like that one in the official guide about the plant hormones
• Lead by looking for a tactical approach rather than the obvious approach
• Check that you are answering the exact question that was asked
• Learn to channel your adrenaline rather than trying to make it go away

If you don't do these things, forget about getting a 700.

My Progression
First practice test - GMAT Prep CAT 1: 540
Final practice test - GMAT Prep CAT 4: 730

Final Score: 750 98th Percentile (Quant 50 88th Percentile, Verbal 41 94th Percentile)

Final thoughts
The GMAT seems mysterious and evil, but if you really train to succeed at what it's actually measuring, then you will succeed.

Thankfully now that I'm done, I have resumed my social life, and I insisted on having a celebratory dinner at Del Posto, and definitely with the wine pairing.


My GMAT score report is attached.
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2015, 17:49
Absolutely fantastic - I couldn't agree more with your strict plan.

I'm hoping to follow in your footsteps in the next few months - congrats!
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2015, 14:34
This is such an inspiring story I think mainly because you had such a healthy and realistic attitude about what it takes for the GMAT.

I seem to have trouble concentrating on the verbal section. Since you just hit my dream score, I was hoping you could shed a little light on how you were able to concentrate all the way through verbal? Thank you!

It must feel good to know you're done right?
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2015, 06:56
gmatarbitrage wrote:
This is such an inspiring story I think mainly because you had such a healthy and realistic attitude about what it takes for the GMAT.

I seem to have trouble concentrating on the verbal section. Since you just hit my dream score, I was hoping you could shed a little light on how you were able to concentrate all the way through verbal? Thank you!

It must feel good to know you're done right?


Hi gmatarbitrage,

Yes, you have no idea how good it feels. I really did get into the prep process though so it wasn't too bad all in, but I am relieved that it paid off.

To answer your question I think two things played into the stamina for Verbal. First, I always took full practice tests at or near the time I knew I would be taking my real test instead of after work. When are you taking yours?

Second, as I was fully expecting those nerves kicked in on test day, and you have to let them in intentionally. Don't fight them. That's something I always did before public speaking requirements, and it's also something the EmpowerGMAT course reinforced in one of the podcasts. If you give your nerves the space to be there, they can give you a surge of concentration and longevity. I think that's probably why I was able to land my best score on the real thing.
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2015, 21:18
Thanks for sharing your experiences. It actually insprires me a lot.
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2015, 21:19
Thanks for sharing your experiences. It actually insprires me a lot.
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Aug 2015, 21:46
Hello,
Congratulations! I too am finding quant in MGMAT prep tests really hard. It is demotivating. I am stuck at 540 because of quant (22 percentile) and at 75 percentile in verbal. What were your MGMAT test scores and is it ok if you still cant get a 75 percentile on MGMAT quant close to the real exam?
My GMAT is next month.

Thanks
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2015, 08:49
Congratulations on your score and thank you for the de-brief. Some great "philosophical" tips here.
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Re: GMAT 750 - What It Takes to Break 700   [#permalink] 07 Aug 2015, 08:49
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