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GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)

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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 01 Aug 2018, 21:20
4
Hi everyone,

Background - Indian male, living in the UK with an economics/finance background. 5 years work experience.

I had been meaning to give the GMAT for a fairly long time (since 2016) and had most of my study materials since then. I dipped in and out of them, but never with much momentum. I grew frustrated with my lack of progress and decided to book the exam for November 2017. I had about 2 months for my prep and while for the first time, I studied with a real sense of purpose and urgency, I felt I wasn't ready. Especially in quant, I couldn't solve the difficult GMATClub questions in time. So I postponed my exam. A few times. Finally I set the date of 25th June 2018, giving myself about 50 days of solid, consistent preparation.

Books & materials used:
MGMAT Guides
Powerscore CR
OG 12, 13, 18
e-GMAT Verbal Online
Gmatclub tests - (extremely useful for quant)
Gmatclub quant book
Chineseburned guide

I also sampled through most of the packs/user guides on GMATClub (e.g. notes by whiplash) though personally I found the content to overlap significantly with the other materials. Also some of the things that were emphasised (e.g. Idioms) were not very useful from an effort/reward ratio point of view (in my opinion).

My practice scores

GMAT diagnostic - (mid 600s) May 30, 2016 - quite an eye opener
GP1: 730 (Q49, V40) Nov 4, 2017
GP1 (retake): 700 (Q 47, V39) May 5, 2018
GP2: 760 (Q50, V44) Jun 2, 2018
GP3: 730 (Q50, V40) Jun 9, 2018
GP4: No score (exam crashed due to buggy website)
GP5: 770 (Q51, V44) Jun 18, 2018
GP6: 720 (Q49, V39) Jun 23, 2018
Final: 740 (Q49, V 41, IR 7, AWA 6) Jun 25, 2018

My last score (just 2 days before my exam) did put some doubts in my head.

My quick thoughts (strategy + materials)
SC
MGMAT - Especially for SC, I studied the MGMAT guide religiously. Although after a point I realised that my strategy was more memorisation based (trying to remember all the rules) and I was struggling in the more difficult questions (which usually tested exceptions to the rule). Then I came across a few of GMAT Ninja's posts on the verbal forum and his advice about treating the section as "verbal reasoning" especially stuck with me. Since then, my focus was more on meaning and comprehension.
I would note that I decided to take e - GMAT at a slightly later stage in my preparation. I was impressed by their clarity of concepts and the emphasis on meaning on their free grammar posts on the Verbal Forum. Their approach towards more difficult topics (usually covered in the advanced sections of the MGMAT guide) was much more approachable. I also read a lot of good things about their "Pre-thinking" so I decided to sign up for the verbal online course. By that time I had largely grown confident with the SC section so my focus was more on CR.

CR
For a reasonable part of my preparation, I was doing fairly well on the OG CR questions. I had also internalised Powerscore's way of thinking reasonably. However I then discovered the hardest CR questions on GMAT Club and I was hardly getting any right in the allotted time! I also struggled in the 700+ GMATPrep questions. I was (so I thought at that time) also struggling with timing, consistently taking upwards of 2 mins (usually around 2.30 mark) in CR. I lost my confidence in CR a bit and decided to thoroughly do the @e-GMAT course. Once again, I found their exploration of the fundamentals to be quite thorough. However I must say I didn't quite get much as much value from their pre-thinking framework as I expected. I realised that I had already been able to pre-think (where the situation demanded) on questions upto 700 level, but the method never really clicked for me on the tough questions. I found that I was spending too much time trying to pre-think the answer (without a high hit rate) and less on evaluating the answer choices, and this was hurting my timing as well. In the end, I found myself settling more on GMATNinja 's approach of spending enough time understanding the prompt but then focusing on finding 4 wrong answers.

Quant
Having gone through the typical eng. entrance exam preparations (quite some while ago though I must say), I wasn't overly worried about quant. I found the MGMAT to be quite straightforward, almost too easy. Then I stumbled onto @Bunuel's problems and explanations on the Quant forum. And that scared me. This guy was GOOD. And I was nowhere close to him. This was the main reason for postponing my original exam. I set about to do the hardest questions I could find by Bunuel and karishma (I think from VeritasPrep). I completed most of the GMATPrep tests and became reasonably comfortable with the difficult topics (number properties, probabilities and combinatorics, etc). But. I ignored one topic - geometry. It used to be a particularly strong area for me a while ago - in the sense I had a good intuition on what to focus on and visualise while solving questions, so I assumed I would be good at it. And I was wrong. I kept getting an unsatisfactory hit rate in the practice tests - which I attributed to not practicing enough, but at the back of my head, I thought I should be able to pick it up relatively quickly. Therefore plans for revising this kept getting pushed back (CR was already freaking me out) and in the end, my revision on this was uncomfortably close to the exam.

D-day
Closer to my exam, I was beginning to feel quite exhausted by the preparation and so took the last few days lightly (this involved watching a fair bit of the football world cup). I thought this was a good sign - that I reached a stage where I felt I couldn't really make a massive difference to my score by studying more. Upon reflection, I have mixed feelings about this. Anyway, that's for later.

So the d-day arrives. Before starting the exam, I made sure to locate the toilets (they were slightly far away from the room) and compare the clocks in the test room and waiting area (off by a couple of minutes) so that I wouldn't jeopardise the timing in breaks. I decided to opt for verbal first.

The exam started...and it was different. I read a few times that there's nothing quite like the exam questions and this point hit me then. I was suddenly taking a lot more time in SC because the questions were quite difficult in my view (I could solve easy-medium SC questions in 45 seconds and difficult ones by 1m - 1.20) but here I was comfortably taking more. And here I was comfortably exceeding those times on the d-day! I knew I shouldn't get stuck on a question but I also knew that I couldn't mess SC (as I wasn't completely confident on CR). So I fell into a pretty chunky time deficit midway through the exam (I think I now had about 1.20 to 1.30 per question with nearly half the exam to go). I had experienced some time pressure in the mocks so I was somewhat prepared for this (though obviously not excited with this development). I started to absolutely blitz through RC questions and passages. I had now reached the last few questions in the exam - and lo and behold, I got a string of difficult CR questions. I couldn't pre-think and I couldn't eliminate 4 incorrect options. This happened two of three times, and I felt deflated. The section ended on a fairly dud note.

I had 8 minutes to regroup myself. I remember telling myself that I hadn't done terribly though it clearly hadn't gone as well as I had hoped. But I still had time. A Q51 could still save me.

So I began. The exam started well. I was good balance of pace and accuracy. And then an innocuous looking geometry question appeared. At first pass, I couldn't solve it. I redoubled my effort but no luck. Thinking that I had built a cushion from my start, I spent a bit more time trying to figure it out, but I just couldn't "see" the answer in the diagram.I guessed and moved on. Suddenly the test started to seem a bit more daunting. The person sitting next to me (who was giving a completely different exam) also started to read under his breath, which was distracting/annoying me. And then I got another tricky geometry question. And after a few, another. I was a little shaken. I wasn't getting these questions right, despite spending a fair amount of time. I had to rush through some questions towards the end. I may have gone a bit too quickly because I suddenly had 2-3 questions to go and about 2 min/q on the clock (these questions also seemed easier and I actually had time to spare). Once again, I felt disappointed.

By the time IR arrived, I wasn't terribly excited about the section. I think that may have contributed towards my 7 score on the section.

AWA - it was actually the first time I was writing a response, though I had read about 30-40 of sample responses (I think by Chineseburned?) so knew how to approach it. Timing was a bit tight.

The time came to decide on whether to cancel or accept the score. I almost let the 2 minutes pass debating what to do. 740 flashed up on the screen. I was grateful for the score (I felt the overall experience/difficulty was definitely on the higher side compared to the mocks) but I couldn't help feel a twinge of regret. I knew going into the exam that CR and Geometry were somewhat weak areas for me. And I was ruthlessly exposed in the exam. I don't think I got a single question on probability! Nevertheless, I had a feeling of begrudging respectful towards the GMAT - in the end, I got 740 because on the day I deserved no more, but no less.

A few tips from my perspective:
1. Please do not start preparing for the exam until you are certain you can give it the time it deserves in one huge, continuous block. Dipping in and out of preparation is a horrible waste of time.
2. At the same time, remember to exercise/refresh yourself. There are a lot of debriefs that stress the importance of these factors but for some reason, I couldn't balance my preparation in this manner. I think the feeling of fatigue I got closer to the exam was due to a lack of physical/mental stimulation which comes from exercise.
3. I maintained an error log. But I did not review it regularly. While in the final review, I still got a gist of the errors I was making, frequently reviewing the log would have meant not repeating the mistakes (and therefore increasing confidence/freeing up time to focus on weaker areas).

In the end, I'd like to thank the GMATClub community - this place almost has everything you need to get a strong score. As for me, I feel I still have some unfinished business with the GMAT. I tried attaching my ESR (recently refreshed to provide more granular insights) but I have less than 5 posts and therefore I can't. I am ashamed to say I don't quite recognise GMAT's breakdown of CR into analysis/critique and construction/plan. I would heartily welcome suggestions to tackle CR in particular.

Originally posted by bitses on 28 Jul 2018, 13:22.
Last edited by bitses on 01 Aug 2018, 21:20, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2018, 21:24
bitses - congratulations on scoring 740. Impressive score and in line with your mock test scores. Maintaining an error log is a best-practice that we recommend everyone. The very act of maintaining one does half the job for most people. Can you share your error log (a screenshot would do) as well as list a few lines outlining how you went about the same?

-Rajat
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2018, 23:16
Congrats bitses on the 740(especially the V41). I think it would be easier pushing
this score to the elite 99th percentile if you can improve your Quant score by a bit.

All the best with your preparation and hope to see your explanations from now on!
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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31 Jul 2018, 05:16
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Congratulations bitses. This is a great score and quite motivating for folks still preparing for the exam. Did you use the Advanced MGMAT Quant book? Thanks.
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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31 Jul 2018, 23:01
Congratulations!!

Thanks for the detailed debrief!!

Anything in particular you noticed about the SC questions on the real test that was different from GMAT Prep or OG? were they longer sentences, fewer splits, based on obscure idioms, usage of certain modifiers or had convoluted timelines, etc.

I know you may not recall the details, but if any advice you want to give for all the future test takers, to be prepared for such surprise, what would that be?

Again, its an amazing score & you can bask in the glory of your hardwork!!

Cheers
GyM
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2018, 12:25
funsogu - thanks! glad it is of help to someone.

I did not use the advanced MGMAT book. I went through the ultimate quantitative megathread a couple of times, skimmed the GMAT Club quant book and tried to exhaust the question bank. I would ascribe my Q49 to weakness in a particular section (geometry) rather than any issue with my source for studying quant. In the end, I feel it boils down to doing a ton of high level practice and almost developing a sense of pattern recognition.
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2018, 12:44
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Thanks GyMrAT

SC seemed harder to me than OG level. I remember reading in the MGMAT guide that you would almost never be forced to decide on a split using punctuation, but that's what happened to me in one question (as in that moment I could not find another split). There was another question where I thought I was choosing between options that all seemed ungrammatical (my memory fails me).

I'm struggling to remember the precise details but in general, I felt it was not that easy to just eyeball the split and eliminate a few options straight away.

Sorry I can't be of much more help (should have written this much sooner!).

In terms of advice, you mean relating to SC or generally?
- In terms of SC, I would just mix and match @GMATNinja's and @e-GMAT's advice. I.e. to get a really great score in SC, you can't just rely on memorising the rules but you need to be able to know when the rules can be bent. And this is where meaning comes in. You need to understand what the author is trying to convey from the stem and choose the option that best matches it. As simple as that.

- A general advice which I haven't explicitly mentioned above - be prepared for things to go wrong. The pressure on the day is enormous and after all the toil you've put in, signs of things not going to plan can cause your brain to head in all kinds of direction (all usually involving some level of panic). However if you've practiced being prepared for a few errors of commission, you can just mark such instances as a strike (down but not out).

Hope this helps!
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2018, 12:48
pushpitkc Thanks!

Yes I agree. I expected Verbal to be challenging (especially on the CR front for me) and even my prediction came true, midway through the exam I remember thinking that a strong quant score would really help.

Time to get cracking on some of Bunuel 's problem sets.
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2018, 12:51
Thanks Rajat and @e-GMAT! Kudos to you again for your beautiful explanations (especially in SC)!

With regards to error log: once I knew which questions I got wrong (e.g. after a timed test), I would try to have a quick go at the question again (in case i had made any silly errors or just felt pressured to skip/guess due to time) and then look up the explanation. I would document the date, source (e.g. GMAT Prep, OG), question #, topic, and then either a description of the error or key point to remember. If i learned something new, I would try to note it separately in another document for revision purpose.

I timed some of my mocks/tests on a question by question basis (using a lap timer on my phone) and would sometimes also note down which questions I took a lot of time on / if there were a novel way of solving them.

I will link the screenshot in my next post (hopefully I will now be allowed to link/upload things)!
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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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01 Aug 2018, 12:53
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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02 Aug 2018, 01:49
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Hi bitses,

Congratulations on your score! 740 in the first attempt is an amazing feat to achieve. I see that you are looking to improve your score further. So below are my recommendations for you –

Scoring 760+ in GMAT

To score a 760 on GMAT you can target Q50 and V43. You can check the other paths that can lead you to the score of 760 through GMAT Planner.

Improving in Quant

Your ESR clearly shows that Geometry is the problem area in Quant. A score of 33% indicates conceptual gaps along with application gaps. To improve, you must go through the concepts and practice until you reach your target score. I am sharing some of the articles written by our experts for your reference. You can also go through the concept files and make use of Quant Scholaranium in your Free Trial dashboard to practice Geometry questions of different difficulty levels.

Improving in CR

You must work on improving your analysis of predictive arguments. Also, you must look at Scholaranium Skill Data section to identify specific topics that you need to improve upon. I am sharing a link of one of the articles on predictive argument. You can find more of those on our blog,

Improving in SC

Again, you must look at the skill data section of Scholaranium after taking a few quizzes to identify the exact topics that need to be worked upon. You may also want to go through the Master Comprehension course if you have not already to learn to understand the intended meaning of the question better.

Feel free to write to us at support@e-gmat.com for any further queries or inputs required.

Regards,
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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02 Aug 2018, 09:42
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Thanks bitses

Did you always choose Verbal first in your practice tests? if yes, then anything specific you did to keep the focus, later while doing Quant.

I plan to do the same. However i have realized on my first practice test of MGMAT that i was a little disoriented & fatigued by the time i reached mid Quant & struggled to focus. I want to stick to this strategy of Verbal first, as i feel i can perform better at verbal with a fresh brain.

Thanks,
GyM
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Re: GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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02 Aug 2018, 10:13
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Congratulations on getting a very good score. Thanks for the detailed debrief!

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GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1)  [#permalink]

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03 Aug 2018, 08:02
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Hey GyMrAT,

In a majority of the tests, I did stick with verbal first. But i did experiment a couple of times with quant first (I don't think it really mattered massively in the end).

I'm not sure there is a one size fits all approach. Some people like to put their best foot forward and use that momentum in the next section. Others (like me), tackle the more challenging/weaker section first to get that out of the way with a fresh mind. In the end, I decided to do quant second because I felt less challenged timing wise on the section (so could ease a bit if I wanted to but pick up pace if needed).

Just stick with what works best for you and don't overthink it. The marginal score improvement by getting an extra question is probably higher in verbal I suppose, so your reasoning is fine.

Practice switching out completely during the break. Do some deep breathing exercises, get some sugar and hydration and relax!
GMAT Debrief - 740 (Q 49, V 41) (Attempt #1) &nbs [#permalink] 03 Aug 2018, 08:02
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