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GMAT 770 and canceled it

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New post Updated on: 22 May 2018, 06:32
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I got a score of 770 (Q51 V45) on my GMAT on the 18th of May, and I canceled it. My previous (and first) attempt on the GMAT was only three weeks ago, resulting in a score of 750 (Q50 V41) which also I had canceled.

Structure of this post:
1. Why did I cancel?
2. Preparation:
2a) General
2b) First attempt
2c) Second attempt
3. Detailed tips by topic

Several have called me mental for cancelling good scores repeatedly, and I look forward to your opinion, whether or not you concur!

1) Why did I cancel?
a) I faced significant stress on exam day. The temperature in the city was 46 degrees Celsius. I drank a lot of water, and my entire focus during most part of the verbal section was on bladder control, with a minimal fraction of my brain battling on finding decision points and arguments.
b) My final split was Q51 V45. I thought a better quality of 45 and 51 could easily result in a 780 on a better day.
c) I am from a premier engineering college in India (some say the best there is), but have a GPA which is as horrible as my college is good. I want to eke out the maximum brownies I can out of my GMAT.

2) Preparation:
2a) General: The intense part of my prep (~3 hrs a day) was for perhaps 5 weeks including both attempts. 2 weeks for the first, and 3 for the second. I have been familiar with the gmat format for over a year now, and had kept warm by taking one mock test every two months or so. I had also skimmed through the Manhattan SC book, but never got around to any serious prep apart from the mock tests.

2) First attempt:
a) I read through the entire Manhattan SC book several times. I am an impatient reader, and need several iterations. Each time I read, I cement a few more pages than the previous time. After perhaps 6 readings of the book, I cemented the first half, and was least bothered about the second half, particularly the chapter on idioms and the content after that chapter. I thought SC was my weakest part of the GMAT, and most of my focus was here. I solved all 140 or so questions in the OG. My accuracy was about 90%, and I was happy. I also viewed some 4 hours of youtube content from Veritas on SC.

b) On critical reasoning, I thought I was a natural at it, until the time I realised it was my weakest link in the entire GMAT. Thereon, I read through Powerscore CR. I found that book to be much better than Manhattan CR. Manhattan CR has detailed strategies and a diagrammatic way of solving which works if you have all the time in the world, but is super impractical for the GMAT. CR is not a pen-and-paper topic, and if you treat it so, you will run out of time. And you deserve to.

c) RC: I did absolutely no prep, apart from what I encountered in the mocks.

d) Quant: No prep either apart from the mocks, but revised my formulae for half an hour before the exam from this super useful (though slightly out of scope for the GMAT) PDF. I am not being allowed to post links here, so just google "techtud handa ka funda math formulas"
Mocks: I averaged about 720 on Manhattan. Never went above 750. Veritas was a large range, from 710 to 790. GMAT Prep: Gave only one mock, got 760.

Result: 750. I was super surprised at the result. I had decided to cancel any score less than 760, but as the test progressed I did not expect to even get a 720. SC and CR were super difficult, and there were a couple of answers which I had randomly clicked, not having come even close to the answer after 4 minutes each. Quant was easy, and I was super (unpleasantly) surprised at the Q50! Canceled it immediately, and braced for another three weeks of GMAT.

3) Second attempt:
I was very focused this time. I was slow, I was relying on my ear for SC, tanking CR, and getting through quant in time was a challenge. I wanted to specifically address these. Also, I had spent little time on official GMAT questions, apart from one GMATPrep mock and the OG Sentence Correction Questions. I wanted to get my hands on more official material.

I read through the Manhattan SC book more thoroughly. I re-solved all OG13 questions. I also attempted several 700-level questions on GMATClub. I fine tuned my techniques, some of which I have listed below.

For Data Sufficiency, my girlfriend took charge by forcing me to solve for speed, not accuracy. I solved all the 120 or so DS questions on the OG within 75 minutes. My accuracy wasn't much worse: 75% - 80%. This radically changed my way of approaching quant. I used to intentionally blast through quant on mock tests, and typically solved the entire section with about 25 minutes to spare of the allotted 62 minutes. I made a point of solving any and every question for speed. You think you got the answer? Mark it and move on. DS question: do you really need to solve it? Is there a way in which you could mentally answer whether or not it was sufficient, without actually finding the solution? These speed-up techniques really helped me. Why treat a DS question as a PS question? Why actually find X when all you need to do is only to check whether X can be found? I have taken many standardized tests in my life and have done very well, but have never been the most rocking superstar on them only because of speed. But this technique of being blind to accuracy and focusing purely on speed really helped me overcome this challenge. My accuracy also improved over the 3 weeks. I learnt more about the oversights I make.

This ultimately helped me on my GMAT day, where I adopted a starkly opposite technique: I forced myself to spend at least 1 min 45 seconds on each question, even if I got the answer in 10 seconds. This made sure my accuracy was stratospheric. I ordered an enhanced score report, and found that I only got exactly 2 questions wrong. Those two questions (I have a very good guess on which they were) were qs# 21 and qs#31 (the last).

The other very useful thing I did for my second attempt was to order all 4 additional GMATPrep official mock tests for about $30 per test (the new online ones). They were expensive, compared to Manhattan (6 for $10) and Veritas (6 or so free). But my goodness, these resources were a goldmine. They did much more for my GMAT than any other piece of material.
My scores were: Test 1: 760 (before my first attempt) Test 2: 790 (I screwed up by not hitting the reset button, leading to several known qs and an inflated score. Waste of time and precious questions)
I took the four additional paid tests under test conditions, hadn't seen any qs before, and scored 770, 780, 760 and 750 respectively. The last score, taken two days before my exam, were demoralizing; was I taking the GMAt again only to get the exact same score or less?

Tips:
1. Consume the official guides and all 6 of the official mocks, they are invaluable. No test provider even comes close in quality, whatsoever they may claim. Particularly so on the harder questions; Manhattan, Veritas, Kaplan et al have NO IDEA how to make a really really difficult GMAT question. They go overboard and in a completely inaccurate direction. Also, official resources are limited and precious. Have a clear idea when you will use them. Hint: don't use them up very early in your journey.

2. Sentence Correction:

a) First thing, go through the Veritas prep youtube content. They are only a few hours, and will give you the basics. Techniques like slash and burn and parallelism checking should become second nature to you before you start your real prep. These are important tools, without which you won't be able to apply any rules effectively.

b) Second, go through the Manhattan Prep SC really well, several times. Two things are very important here. First, do not skip terms and definitions (such as modifiers or dangling modifiers or participial verbs) just because your english is good or because even without knowing these terms and you can correctly solve the example in the book on modifiers so why bother knowing the term. These were mistakes I made early on in my prep. Secondly, after you have understood these terms, forget them. There is no reason for you to know what a modifier is, given that your english has been good without ever knowing what a modifier is. There is no contradiction in these two statements. The point I am trying to make is that these terms and definitions are only sharpeners for your english, not some new foundation you should lay. These books should only be telling you new and quicker ways of looking at SC questions, and not setting the basics of grammar for you. These tips will not apply for people whose english is average to poor; if so, please ignore me. I'll be blunt; you cannot start mastering english now and get a V42+. If you can prove me wrong, that's excellent for you.

c) Read the non-underlined part carefully. They often have more clues for your subject-verb agreement and parallelism and what have you, than all the 5 option splits put together.

d) Meaning is king. Let me repeat that in bold. MEANING IS KING. Oh wait that wasn't bold, that was caps. Let me correct it. Meaning is king. And this is where the test providers cannot match GMAT questions. GMAT is absolutely brilliant at creating meaning errors. Were you confused between "ability of" or "ability to" on the Manhattan test? On the GMAT, a meaning error will easily settle it for you. Read the sentence properly before you even look at the options. Understand clearly what the author wishes to say. Reread the question again. Cement your understanding of the essence of the sentence. Only then should you look at the options

3. Critical Reasoning: I only went through the Powerscore CR book apart from mocks and lurking around on GMATclub. This is my weakest area in all of the GMAT, and the area where I think I can do better on my next attempt. When you solve GMAT Club posts on this topic, be sure to only solve ones from reputable sources. Poor GMAT Club questions had seriously demoralized me in my self assessment. But there are some real gems too. The one thing which worked for me, as it has for many others, is to answer the question (or at least frame a few answers) even before you look at the options. Second, I always mentally rephrased the question to develop one binary metric. I used to run all the options through this one metric. There should be only one option which will give an answer "Yes" to the metric, and that's your answer. As a simplistic example, let's say the argument is "Studies have shown that elderly people who practice a religion are much more likely to die immediately after an important religious holiday period than immediately before one. Researchers have concluded that the will to live can prolong life, at least for short periods of time." and you have to find an option to strengthen it. Immediately mentally form a few answers: elderly people are religious; they want to live to celebrate festivals. Then develop your metric tightly and quickly: Does the answer choice tell me that: elderly people religious or otherwise enthusiastic of festivals and this enthusiasm is evidenced/correlated to prolonged life at least upto the festival? Any option which says "Yes" is your winner. This trick is particularly helpful in inference, weaken, cause and effect, or any question where the stem/stimulus is very wrong. This technique really helped me avoid reverse answers or shell games.

4. Reading Comprehension: I was good at this, I did almost no prep, and I doubt I got any better at this. So, I don't want to pontificate on this topic since I am no authority whatsoever on how to get better at it. The one thing I struggled with was in questions on the purpose of the passage; and the trick I found was to purely focus on the first 1 or 2 lines of the passage to get to the answer, no matter how tempting the other answer choices focusing on the conclusion or on the meat of the argument might get.

5. Quant: I did absolutely no prep other than, as described above, improve my speed. I come from a strong quant background, and have given exams like the CAT and done well on them. I was aghast at getting an Q50 on my first attempt, and I credit my improvement to Q51 solely to the improvement I made on speed at the cost of accuracy, which ultimately boosted both my speed and accuracy, as well as reducing my stress level and improving my quant confidence to very high levels. I don't think the GMAT can throw any quant question at me which I cannot solve in 3 minutes. I know of multiple standardized tests which can crush me on quant, just that none of them is the GMAT. If you are an indian engineer and pride yourself at your quant, and are still struggling, go aim higher. Brush up on your NCERT class 8-9-10. Prepare for quant on CAT, and I'm sure you'll get there. Unless every formula listed in the link I gave above (and repasted below) is child's play to you and you already knew and remembered it, you need revision and brushing up. Also, important to aim higher. Several GMAT questions could be just killed in seconds using good graph skills or basic calculus or basic trigonometry. I though trigonometry was not in the GMAT curriculum, and was surprised to get a question which was super easy if you knew what sin 60 was and how to use it, and almost impossible to solve without that knowledge. Several good questions on inequalities, and quadratics were just killed using graphs and or calculus, and I'm sure without that knowledge or skill the questions would take longer. Use your higher order knowledge and skills to your advantage in gaining speed. I am not being allowed to post links, so just google "techtud handa ka funda math formulas"

Hope this helped. I am going to focus on getting my application package together before attempting the GMAT again for a third time. Wish me luck for a 780! :)

Originally posted by gmatlover12 on 22 May 2018, 04:42.
Last edited by gmatlover12 on 22 May 2018, 06:32, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 22 May 2018, 04:59
Thanks for your sharing.

Man, you have to be proud of yourself because your reading skill is really good so that you don't have to improve it. LOL, you know what? Being good at reading is the big advantage to take GMAT. Why? Because GMAT is the matter of meaning. You know it well, you could beat it. Thus, I think that in the next test, you could earn 780+ without problem.
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New post 22 May 2018, 05:03
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bro you make no sense. Even for harvard stanford or wharton mba the 750 would have made a cut let alone 770. even if you have a bad gpa in your engineering 750 is more than enough to make the adcoms know that you have the horse power to process things. My guess is you are from some old iit . stop making gmat your life 770 or anything above 730-740 for an indian is enough to get the acad box ticked. focus on the extra curriculars work exp and other factors. i suggest you reinstate your 770 score
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New post 22 May 2018, 05:09
prem301296 wrote:
bro you make no sense. Even for harvard stanford or wharton mba the 750 would have made a cut let alone 770. even if you have a bad gpa in your engineering 750 is more than enough to make the adcoms know that you have the horse power to process things. My guess is you are from some old iit . stop making gmat your life 770 or anything above 730-740 for an indian is enough to get the acad box ticked. focus on the extra curriculars work exp and other factors. i suggest you reinstate your 770 score


No, I think he did make sense. Since he is really good at reading, getting 770+ isn't big problem to him. I think that GMAT is now not just a score to him, but a challenge that he have to take LOL
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New post 22 May 2018, 05:16
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770 or 780 it hardly makes a difference .Management is all about seeing the big picture. The gmat is just a test to know how well a student will perform at a bschool . it is not a guinnness book of world record competition. if he gets a 780 then he will want a 790 then 800 . Then 800 with a 51 51 and ir 8 with awa 6. There is no end to it. Rather he focus on his application because ultimately even people with 800 get rejected for having a weak profile. This would only make sense if he was a gmat tutor where in a 800 or 780 would boost his reputation. Also he has mentioned that the second attempt was because he wanted to make up for his undergrad grades. A 750 is more than enough for that and a 770 is a beautiful score so i don't see any point
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New post 22 May 2018, 05:27
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Thanks for your replies. Yes, I am from an old IIT. Many have indeed echoed some of the feedback here, saying it is foolish of me to attempt it again. When I got my first score of 750, I was explicitly told my knowledgeable folks that it could be a dealbreaker for my profile (Male, IIT, consulting, buy side finance - super competitive, boring, undifferentiated profile for say M7 schools). Not many say the same for 770. Yet, I see that most B-schools show a range capping out at 780, H/S go upto 790. Given the high median GMAT for Indians, I feel pretty sure schools use Indian GMATs as away to boost up their average class GMAT, allowing them to admit a 550 US guy who is pretty solid and interesting. If so, is there even the slightest chance that that a 780 (more than a 770) will up my chances of being pushed forward from a waitlist at at say a Wharton or a Booth? My gut feel is that yes, there is such a chance, even if small. Hence my decision to first focus on getting the application package together, then retake. Of course, I would not have done this if there were no option from GMAC to re-instate a cancelled score :)
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New post 22 May 2018, 05:35
bro if your profile is boring how can you compensate for that by a score. The adcoms from hsw or even m7 know you are smart since you are from an iit and since you have a 770. The reason the might reject you is your profile is boring. Yes for m7 the avg gmat is around 710-730 approx. Being an indian they will expect you to score above this. A 750 does the job and a 770 definitely does it.Show the adcoms your other side be it excelling in sports or being a stand up comedian or being someone who does things a typical iit guy doesn't do. Now if you say i solve puzzles i won't be shocked but if you say i have won many dancing competitions along with such strong acads and an amazing career that will surprise me. 750 is pretty good and 770 definitely is. mba.com itself says that + or -30 points than your true ability is what you get. A mere 10-20 points won't help you . A 740 with a decent profile is better than 780 who is boring
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New post 22 May 2018, 08:02
Hi
Congratulations on getting such a good score. Also thanks for sharing a detailed strategy.
Although I would not suggest a retest, but if you are confident of a higher score you can go for it.
All the best for your third attempt. Do share your experience after your test.
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New post 22 May 2018, 10:35
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I think you are obsessed with GMAT now (as you call yourself "gmatlover12 ")....

Anyways, if I could sum up of what have you done with your obsession: Human wants are unlimited, but the means to satisfy human wants are limited.

If the want is to get into the best B-School in the world, i.e. any of the top 5, a score of 770 is a highly respected score and should help you get over the line. A perfect score of 800 does not guarantee admission in a top 5 B-School but an overall strong application packet with a score of 770 should help in getting the job done.

Rest I feel a person, who cancels a score of 750 and also a score of 770 on GMAT, should not ask such a question in this forum and "seek public opinion" whether what he has done is right or wrong? I think a person with such capabilities generally knows what he/she is doing with his/her life? As I said earlier you have limited means. What you want to do with "your time" is totally your decision.

Anyways, I wish you all the very best for your life and posting a long debrief. I have picked up some useful tips from your post!
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New post 23 May 2018, 16:23
I say give the GMAT again for personal satisfaction and piece of mind even though achieving 770 or 780+ doesn't make any difference. All of those scores tell Adcoms that you have the capability to succeed in any MBA program. You still have some time before you really need to start working on your applications for coming up application season. But do remember that adcoms look at your application holistically. Also I highly doubt that your GPA is uncompetitive even though you think that its uncompetitive. BTW adcoms don't just look at your overall GPA but look at context as well. You could have done terribly in first year but improved throughout your 4 year degree. You could have worked a side job and got the GPA that you got. MBA applications will give you ample opportunity to explain your circumstances.
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New post 24 May 2018, 02:49
I don't think it makes any sense to cancel a score of 770. Even if you are sure of a 780, there is no difference as such. Please post your ESR or report.
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New post 24 May 2018, 03:12
ESR report has my identity details, hence not comfortable sharing that. If there are any specific metrics you need, would be happy to post
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ESR Report (Text version, without identity details) attched
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New post 24 May 2018, 04:01
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Congratulations on your great 770 score!!!! So it is possible to miss 5 questions out of 58 questions that count (53/58) and still score 770 on the GMAT. That is amazing!!!


Verbal
In the first set of questions you answered 88% correctly and 12% incorrectly.
In the second set of questions you answered 86% correctly and 14% incorrectly.
In the third set of questions you answered 100% correctly and 0% either incorrectly or did not answer.
In the final set of questions you answered 88% correctly and 12% either incorrectly or did not answer.

Quantitative
You responded correctly to 100% of the first set of questions, 100% of the second set of questions, 86% of the third set of questions and 86% of the final set of questions..
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New post 24 May 2018, 04:22
Congrats on your score. You're already at the 99th percentile with a 770, spending the time and money improving to 780 will not even change that. Aside from that, I'm fairly certain no AdCom is going to accept you at 780 but reject you at a 770.

If you're doing it for your own satisfaction, then you do you I guess. If you're trying to get people's opinion on whether what you're doing makes sense from an admissions perspective, then I'm fairly certain not a lot of people are going to agree with you.

Ultimately its your application and life, if you want to keep giving the GMAT despite already having an amazing score then the opinion of random people on the internet shouldn't really matter to you.
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New post 24 May 2018, 04:42
houston1980 , I believe you meant 62/67 questions right - (36 verbal of which 3 wrong, 31 quant of which 2 wrong). If it helps, I think the quant wrong ones are Q21 and Q31

AvalonQQ , I guess you're right; it's a fairly whimsical decision and not much to gain on an online forum, or even talking to an expert or consultant; it's more of a internal itch which I can't scratch away
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New post Updated on: 24 May 2018, 08:59
Congratulations on your score - I think there is validity to many of the responses of whether to retake the GMAT and interesting to hear "strategies", a person, in your position would
take etc. If you have the ability to improve your score from 770 to 780 in three weeks I say why not. I think it is important evaluate your "opportunity cost" and if little can be gained from your total application package stand point in 3 or 4 weeks say (extra curricular, summer full time internship etc) sounds like retaking could only prove beneficial at worst. Good luck with applications.

Originally posted by pmsinteriorsllc on 24 May 2018, 08:14.
Last edited by pmsinteriorsllc on 24 May 2018, 08:59, edited 2 times in total.
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New post 24 May 2018, 08:16
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Personally I'd take a 99th percentile score with zero cancellations over a higher 99th percentile score with multiple cancellations. Anyone reading the score report will assume the 2 cancellations are MUCH lower than a 750. If you pull off a 790, I would expect the average reader to assume it was a significant outlier. I don't see ANY upside to your decision to cancel.
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New post 24 May 2018, 08:26
JAM789 I'm under the impression that schools will never know that I cancelled. My decision is entirely based on this. I would not have cancelled even my first 750 other wise.
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Joined: 23 Jul 2012
Posts: 25
Location: United States
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Strategy
GMAT 1: 640 Q49 V27
GMAT 2: 690 Q50 V33
GMAT 3: 700 Q50 V34
GMAT 4: 740 Q50 V39
GRE 1: Q800 V630
GPA: 3.08
WE: Research (Pharmaceuticals and Biotech)
Re: GMAT 770 and canceled it  [#permalink]

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New post 24 May 2018, 08:39
11
Such a foolish post showing the stupidity of some IIT dude who is obsessed with grades. I am an IITian too and I can bet that 770 is just amazing. I have 740 and I am going to an M7. So, only gmat doesn't matter. Your entire profile matters. Instead of focusing on that extra 10 points, maybe you should focus on your other areas. Strengthen them so that a well-rounded profile takes care of your low GPA. Don't just depend on the GMAT.

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Re: GMAT 770 and canceled it &nbs [#permalink] 24 May 2018, 08:39

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