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GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon

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Joined: 21 Dec 2016
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Location: United States
GMAT 1: 650 Q42 V39
GMAT 2: 700 Q47 V39
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GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jun 2017, 09:21
I relied on the debriefs a ton during my studying to stay motivated so I figured I’d write one myself.


I started studying in January, I’ve flirted with the idea of getting an MBA on and off for the last 2-3 years. I’m currently a 29 year old white male CPA at a top Private Equity firm. I decided around new years to give the GMAT a shot to see what kind of business school I could get into. I started studying by taking a practice test. I scored a 540, Q29 V35. I really had no idea how to answer any of the math questions, and absolutely bombed the Sentence correction, getting a 16(14th percentile). I really didn’t know any of the important information for quant, I had forgotten what prime numbers were, completely forgot all exponent/square root rules could barely perform basic arithmetic, which is probably why I scored in the 22nd percentile.

What I used -

Veritas Live Online Prep Course w/Chris Kane
Veritas Books
2015 OG Bundle - Online Access is key, I barely cracked the books, it’s all about using the online tool to generate random question sets.
GMAT Focus Quant Diagnostic (3 Pack)
Enhanced Score Reports for both tests
GMAT Test Pack 1&2 GMAT Question Pack 1

I barely used the Veritas questions after my first test, I had over 1,000 questions from the OG and GMAT Question pack and I did all of them. I liked the way veritas questions made me think, but they’re not the same as the actual GMAC created questions.

Prep Course to First test - Starting January 23rd I took the Veritas Live Online prep course with Chris Kane as the Instructor. The course started on January 23rd and was Monday and Wednesday night from 7-10pm and lasted 6 weeks. I work full time, so I generally would have enough time to take a quick 10-15 minute nap and make dinner which I would eat while class was getting started. A majority of the classes and books are broken into 3 parts. The Skillbuilder, which were 2-3 hours of problems teaching the fundamentals of the lessons, the skillbuilder’s were an incredible resource, for example, the arithmetic skill builder practices addition/subtraction/division/multiplication and number properties, the sentence correction one covered most of the grammar needed, etc. Anytime during I encountered a glaring weakness in basic skills during the 4 months I studied, I would go back and review/re-do that section of the skill builder. The lesson’s were always very productive, I wish I was prepared a little more for some of them, I didn’t always have the skillbuilder’s done before class started which was a mistake on my part.
The lessons were great, I learned a ton, and I really feel like Chris and Brandon(the TA) were honest with us and gave great tips along the way. The 6 weeks of the course I really only spent time doing the Veritas Problems and homework trying to keep up with the course. I took a Veritas Prep practice test about halfway through and scored a 590. I wasn’t exactly thrilled but my Quant score had significantly improved so I kept plugging away. I dedicated 3-4 hours to studying on nights there were classes(Mondays and Wednesdays) and put in about an hour a night on the other 3 weeknights, the majority of my homework/studying was done on the weekends where I’d dedicate between 4 and 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday. So all in all, anywhere from 15-20 hours a week studying.

Prep Course Review

I can’t say enough good things about Chris and Brandon, they’re both extremely knowledgeable and taught me how to think about gmat problems and how to solve the difficult ones, I relied on GMAT Club reviews to pick the veritas live online course and plan on leaving one myself, I would not have scored a 700 without taking the veritas prep course. Mostly all of the methods I detail below which pushed me over the edge(37 question sets, using the OG, Quantitative Diagnostic) were at the recommendation of my instructors. Feel free to reach out with any more questions regarding the prep course, it was invaluable.

First Actual GMAT

I had planned on taking the exam twice, so I wasn’t stressed about my lack of preparedness, i just wanted to see what an actual test was like and get a decent score on the board. I prepped way too hard for the AWA and sentence correction the last few days before the test and as I took the Quant Section it showed, I felt like I missed easy questions and spent too much time on questions I should have just punted on. Not too mention, i took too long of a break after AWA and IR, and ended up losing 3 minutes on the quant section which threw me off. Verbal went much smoother, i was concerned about Sentence correction, but ended up doing well. My first gmat score was:

3/21/2017 - 650 - Q42 - V39 - IR 4 - AWA 4.5

I was disappointed in the Quant score and happy with the verbal, so I planned on spending ¾ of the next 2 months studying quant. I ended up taking about a week off studying after my first exam, then quickly scheduled my 2nd exam for May 18th, right before I had about two months worth of plans that would get in the way of my studying.

Prep for 2nd GMAT - April

I started be reviewing all the quant Veritas books which took about two weeks, then I started doing 37 question problem sets(from 2015 OG online) each night after work, reviewing them then redoing the more difficult problems for an hour or so in the morning before work. I would do this about ¾ nights a week and 2-3 times on the weekend. I started pretty rough, but after 4 weeks, I was getting 80-90% of the medium/hard questions right in under 60 minutes. I definitely think this was a huge help and significantly boosted my Quant Score. I took two of the Quant Diagnostic exams during this time, first one I scored 41-47 about 6 weeks out from my exam, and the 2nd I score 44-49. For Verbal, 2-3 times a week I would do 30 question sets with a mix of RC/SC/CR and generally would do pretty well(70+% correct)

On weekends, I would take practice exams, but they were not going well, after my initial GMAT of 650, i failed to break 630 on any practice exam, I kept bombing the Verbal section scoring. I know this isn’t recommended much on these forums, but I stopped taking them all together, they were stressing me out more than the actual looming test date was. I had been seeing significant progress in my quant skills doing 37 question sets.

Week Leading up to my Test
I took off the whole week leading up to my test, I had a ton of unused PTO and figured it would be a nice lead-up to my test. The first 4 days I put in a solid 8 hours of studying each day with a few long walks to get my mind off things. I did 2 37 question quant test sets, review each one after it was complete, then finish the day with a 40 question set of verbal plus review. The last 2 before my test was focused exclusively on my weak areas, specifically doing several 37 question sets of hard difficulty problem solving questions in the online OG question bank. In my last 2-3 weeks of Studying i was consistently getting 80+% on these 37 question sets.

The day before the test I didn’t do a thing related to the gmat, I just relaxed and watched a few movies then got to bed around midnight with surprisingly little difficulty, I wasn’t anywhere near as nervous as I had expected to be.

Test Day
My test was scheduled at noon about a half hour uber ride from home, I woke up around 9:30am, had two cups of bulletproof coffee and a big 5 egg omelet w/ Avacado. Then I meditated for 20 minutes using the headspace app, and headed over to the testing center. I arrived right at 11:30, and went right up to take my test.

AWA - Honestly, I still haven’t received my score, but I don’t think this section went that well, my paragraphs weren’t flowing and I struggled to have my essay edited by the end of 30 mins, I’m hoping for a 5.

IR - I practiced 20-30 of these the week leading up to the test with varying results, I had been generally getting 7’s on Practice tests. I finished the 12 questions with about 5 mins left and took that whole time to just relax before I submitted the final answer.

Rest 1 - Half of a five hour energy, a handful of cashews, a little bit of water and 20 squats in the waiting area, then got back into the quant section with about 3 minutes left. I had lost 2 minutes the first time taking the exam and it totally threw me off, I didn’t want that to happen again.

Quant - Quant was my biggest concern going into my 2nd exam, so I had spent a majority of time, probably 80% of the 2 months between exams studying for quant, my timing was great and new I could spend 3-4 minutes on a few hard problems and easily make it back up during data sufficiency questions. I felt very confident about the first 10 questions, and started seeing some incredibly difficult questions. Looking back on my enhanced score report, I got the first 10 questions right then batted around 60% on the remaining questions.

Rest 2 - Identical to rest 1.

Verbal - For some reason, test day brought out the best in my verbal, I felt like the questions were going very well until a difficult RC passage really kicked my ass. It was about the mating habits of tadpoles in groups and all of the answers looked the same. I’m certain why i didn’t break into the 40’s in verbal. I finished the last question with 3 or 4 minutes remaining.

Score - l honestly had no idea what to expect and was floored when I got a 700 here’s the actual break down: 5/18/2017 - 700 - Q47 - V39 - IR 7 - AWA 4.5

I’m very happy with the score, it’s much better than I’ve done on any CAT and within range of all the schools i’m applying to. I keep seeing online that I’ll probably need a 720/730 to get into my target schools, but we’ll find out if that’s true in the fall. I’m done with the GMAT, hopefully forever.

Other Tidbits
I’m a big fan of the Tim Ferriss podcast and listened to an episode with Dr. Rhonda Patrick and she mentioned certain nootropics that she used to enhance her mental clarity. I was 3 weeks out of my final planned test and pulled the trigger and bought the following nootropics:
(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet, I’m just telling you what I did)
Alpha GPC
Lions Mane Capsules
Four Sigmatic Mushroom coffee with Lions Mane extract and chaga, Drank a glass with MCT oil and Butter on the ride over to take the gmat.
Fish Oil
Vitamin D-3

I took double the daily dosage(I’m a big guy, pushing 240lbs) for the 3 weeks leading up to my exam. This is completely anecdotal, but on test day my mind was the clearest I could remember it being, I attribute a majority of it to getting 8+ hours of sleep the entire week leading up to the test, and potentially the placebo effect from all those Nootropics I was taking.

1. The one section I could not wrap my head around at all was Probability and Combinatorics. I’m not sure why, but I probably did close to 200 practice problem just in this section and probably scored less than 30% on them throughout studying. The CAT’s for Veritas and GMAC both had several of these question types on each CAT, and I would get almost all of them incorrect. On test day, on both of my actual GMAT tests I didn’t see a single problem. Maybe I just got lucky, but I wouldn’t stress if you’re in the same situation as me.

2. Using the OG and GMAC question banks for 37 question problem sets really made the difference. I wish I had started doing this sooner, because I’m convinced this is the reason my Quant score shot up from 42-47.

3. CAT’s - I don’t think this is typical, but I never came close to my actual gmat score on a CAT, I’ve never been an overly good test taker but I had faith in all the hard work I put in would pay off.

4. I put a ton of time into this, if I didn’t have such a supportive girlfriend, it wouldn’t have been possible. I spent 15-20 hours a week studying for 4 months, probably 200+ hours and I needed every minute of it.

5. Always plan for taking two tests with at least a month between the first and 2nd. All of my other friends or coworkers taking the GMAT that took it twice always dramatically increased their score, one went from 660 to 710 another from 720 to 780, myself 650 to 700.

GMAT Free Test Pack 1 - 1/15/2017 - 540 - Q29 V35
Veritas - 2/26/2017 - 590 - Q40 V32
GMAT Free Test Pack 2 - 3/12/2017 - 650 - Q44 V36
GMAT Exam Pack 1(1)- 3/19/2017 - 640 - Q45 - V33(Bombed Sentence Correction)
GMAT Exam Pack 1(2) - 4/22/2017 - 610 - Q39 - V35
GMAT Exam Pack 2 - 5/7/2017 - 630 - Q45 - V31

Actual GMAT Scores
3/21/2017 - 650 - Q42 - V39 - IR 4 - AWA 4.5
5/18/2017 - 700 - Q47 - V39 - IR 7 - AWA 4.5
Veritas Prep GMAT Discount CodesJamboree Discount CodesMath Revolution Discount Codes
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Joined: 18 Jun 2015
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Re: GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jun 2017, 10:04

Firstly, Congragulations on the great improvement! It gives me a good motivational boost when i read debriefs like yours. I don't really think I will be able to take the GMAT twice at all so I'm trying to ensure that I seal the deal in a single go, and a good motivating post like this surely raises my hopes.

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Re: GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon [#permalink]

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New post 15 Jul 2017, 08:17
It is Great debrief and very inspiring.
Congratulation for your score and all the best for application process.
I am using Manhattan SC and RC book, Powerscore CR bible for Verbal study material, and Manhattan for Quant as well.
I see you have used veritas materials for study material. Would manhattan material be enough. Are the contents similar in both?

Thank you.
Joined: 06 Jun 2017
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GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 29 Aug 2017, 08:40
This is an excellent debrief -- thank you. I am in a very similar situation as you were in earlier, and I was hoping to ask whether you thought the question packs from GMAC were more representative than OG and OG supplements for quant. I went through the OG (took a ton of a time), so I am looking at either jumping straight into QPs/EPs or going through the OG quant supplement for those 37 question drills.

Originally posted by greenexpo on 25 Aug 2017, 17:37.
Last edited by greenexpo on 29 Aug 2017, 08:40, edited 1 time in total.
Joined: 28 Feb 2011
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Concentration: Strategy, Marketing
Schools: ISB '18, IIMA , IIMC
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WE: Information Technology (Computer Software)
Re: GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2017, 01:55
sashiim20 wrote:
It is Great debrief and very inspiring.
Congratulation for your score and all the best for application process.
I am using Manhattan SC and RC book, Powerscore CR bible for Verbal study material, and Manhattan for Quant as well.
I see you have used veritas materials for study material. Would manhattan material be enough. Are the contents similar in both?

Thank you.

My 0.02$ on your question. I believe one can prefer to study the concepts and fundamentals from either the Manhattan Prep's set of strategy guides or from Veritas Prep's. There is NOT that much different between the two set of books. The only thing is that these books are comprehensive and thus, one needs to take out sufficient time in order to complete the in contents in them. Veritas Prep's books tend to be more expensive than that of Manhattan Prep.

You are using good sources for Verbal and I believe you will be in good shape with what you have. Moreover, if needed, you can plan to invest in more official material instead of buying Veritas Prep material at a later stage(in case you are planning to buy). Hope the information helps. All the best to you !

Best Regards,

Re: GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon   [#permalink] 29 Aug 2017, 01:55
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GMAT Debrief - My path from 540 - Q29 V35 to 700 Q47, V39 in 4 mon

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