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GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740)

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GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740) [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2016, 10:35
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Hello,
Introduction:
I am what you can call, an average joe. Indian male, graduated from one of the Engineering Colleges in computer science and now work in a Semiconductor company. I have been a lurker here. I wanted to say thanks to a wonderful community called gmatclub. You guys are awesome!! And Sorry for a long post, but I hope it’s worth it...
I was at peace with myself and life in general which primarily included, family, music and gym, until one of my old friends from college days arrived at home one fine day. We had a couple of drinks and nostalgia combined with stupor overcame my otherwise calmer senses. We started talking about our past aspirations and generally ventured into the MBA dreams. We both had MBA aspirations during college. While he happened to pursue his dream and did his MBA from one of the premier colleges in India, I became busy with my career, hobbies and family,.... actually lethargy was the primary reason :o . You see I believe "On Doing nothing", which btw is a brilliant essay by J.B. Priestley. Anyway not to digress, he planted this thought of GMAT in my mind.
Beginning:
We had planned our summer vacations. I decided to look into the course material (at least) once we were back from vacations. After vacations I decided to join Princeton Review classroom program for GMAT, as suggested by my friend. I committed the sacrilege of not doing any research/homework on my part. Remember, before this, I had no idea about GMAT and what is tested. After going to Princeton Review classes for a month, I realized that my GMAT study was not going anywhere. Since I was quite comfortable with Quants and since verbal was my Achilles heel, I was looking for a verbal course primarily. I started researching online and came to this wonderful place called gmatclub. Here I found some positive reviews about e-gmat program and how it is helpful for non-natives. I attended one of their free Sentence correction webinars, I liked it. I immediately enrolled for the verbal live-prep program. That was one of the best decisions that I took in this journey.
Journey:
The course content is very detailed and comprehensive. Trust me you don't need anything else to ace verbal, provided you follow up the processes and the course structure religiously. I just used the course material, OG and Gmat prep tests for my preparations, nothing else. The meaning analysis in SC, Prethinking in CR and "how to do active reading" in RC will help tremendously. Their explanation of OG questions is very thorough and detailed. Apart from that, the scholaranium tool is extremely helpful for practice. It provides detailed analysis of all solutions and gives an insight into one's weaknesses in various areas. Their support staff and the tutors are extremely responsive and knowledgeable. The live sessions, which happen during weekends are awesome. The class videos and webinar sessions are very good in audio and video quality. I signed up for the course somewhere around 18th of July. Later, I joined their Quants online course too. The course is also very good and questions in Quants scholaranium are way tougher than asked in real GMAT. But doing those kind pf questions really make your concepts crystal clear and are good for practice. Honestly I was not as methodical in following the quants course as I was in verbal course.
Since I work full time and have hectic office hours, it took me sometime to finish both courses. But I was very regular and never skipped a day during my preparations even if I got half an hour. I finished both the courses by around mid-end of September and planned to give my GMAT by October end. But after finishing the course and while doing scholaranium practice I realized that I needed to revisit verbal concepts. Actually I did a mistake, I should have started with quants first and then should have proceeded to the verbal. But, I did the opposite.
I purchased GMAT Prep EP1 and EP2 packages during this time and devoted one full month for giving mocks and repeats. Due to work schedules and project deadlines, I was not getting enough time during weekdays, so I was putting extra hours during weekends, but I was never overstretching myself. Believed in the adage “slow and steady wins the race".
Mocks and self-analysis:
I started my mocks (including the 2 free ones) and was consistently scoring around 700-710. Then during the week most of my time was spent on analyzing my mistakes, time management strategies etc. The stamina started improving too. I was consistently scoring a 49 in Quants, but scores from verbals was a bit far from satisfactory(36-38). I was doing fine in CR, but was making mistakes in SC and RC. After analyzing my mistakes (I used to make error logs in a notebook), I realized that I was being overconfident in SC, and to finish SC questions in a hurry (say less than a minute), I was making some stupid mistakes. More often than not, these mistakes were caused by oversight. In RC I was scoring in the range of 27-32 and once I scored as low as 19. After analyzing my errors, I realized I was making too many notes while reading the passage. Making notes is a good thing since it gives you a better overall structure and understanding of the passage and questions like 'main point' become easy. But I was overdoing it, I was basically paraphrasing the whole passage, this had 2 negatives. One, that it was time consuming and hence while answering the questions I was always in a hurry and was not doing proper evaluation of each answer choice in isolation, second making too many notes, after almost 2-3 sentences, was disrupting my continuity of reading and understanding the passage. For my next mock, I decided to do 2 things, spend more time on SC questions and make fewer notes in RC. And this showed positive results in my subsequent mocks! In fact in my later few mocks I was scoring higher in SC and RC than in CR. I went ahead and booked my test for 28th November (yes yesterday). I took a week off before tests from office. I had left the last 2 mocks for my last week, although i gave only one of them during the week.
Apart from the conceptual side, there is strategy side. E-gmat's strategy sessions and their verbal workshop helped me immensely. Another tip from one of the crack verbal webinars helped me immensely, to do repeats of GMAT Prep mocks. Don't gauge your scores in these repeat mocks as the real indicator of your final score, but use these to practice. My mocks were divided into 2 phases; first one was to practice, to familiarize myself with GMAT patterns and to analyze mistakes. Second one (a much shorter one) to really gauge your score.
Your mental state, how much have you rested etc., these factors matter a lot. I gave my final mock on last Thursday in a very relaxed state of mind and I scored 730(q48, v42). I knew my final score will be in that vicinity. I didn't do anything new during the last week, I just revised. Well, actually that's not completely true, I spent 2 days to do IR, which I had completely ignored during my preparations. That was a mistake. You need to prepare for IR and spend some time for that section, unless and until you are brilliant with graph interpretations etc.
D-Day:
I had my test scheduled in the afternoon. I took the slot and avoided a morning slot thinking that if I had tough time in sleeping, I'd make up for it by sleeping late. But destiny had other plans; anxiety got the better of me. I could only sleep for 2 hours, self-doubt started creeping in. Anyway, i just watched sports on TV, played some music and tried to distract myself from 'test' anxiety. I told myself, believe in the process, don't think about the score and you have a very decent career and hence nothing to lose. With this mindset, I went to the test center, which was 5-6 kms away from my residence. I carried a snickers bar, my protein shake and two bananas. I had a very light breakfast. The experience at test center was smooth, except for the fact that I lost 34 seconds in Quants since the administrator took some time to unlock the screen during the 8 minutes break. But I quickly made up for the lost time. Quants went smoothly. I optimized the breaks as much as I could. Deep breathing and stretching helps you to relax. Verbal section started ok, but gradually the questions started getting tougher, some CR questions (involving two people argument) seemed very tough. By this time, probably my lack of sleep also started playing some mind games. I did not get a single Boldfaced question, but that did not cause any concern, since in mocks I had already seen some good scores without facing a single Boldfaced question. I found RC passages to be interesting and engaging, and hence I had no issues there. I finished my verbal section with 1 minute to spare, this had never happened during my mocks. I started thinking that I had messed up my verbal section and was a bit nervous. Anyway, I clicked next for next couple of windows in a daze. I don't even remember what was mentioned there. I saw my score 740 (q 50, v41) and took a sigh of relief. I immediately called the Pearson person, and she asked me whether i wanted to accept the score or not. I accepted the score, took a printout, and came out smiling. I gave a pat on my back for a journey well-traveled. Could i have scored more if i had a good night's sleep? Probably yes. But life is a journey filled with could haves, could have nots. So no regrets!! :lol: :lol:
Regards,
Abhijit
Materials used:
OG -16.
e-gmat verbal live prep course.
e-gmat quants online course.
GMAT Prep software(free tests, Ep1, and Ep2)
PowerScore CR bible( i did not finish it)
Gmatclub
Final Score : 740(Q50, v41)
P.S. : I must mention my wife and my 2 kids here, without their support this journey couldn't have been possible.

Last edited by abhibad on 08 Dec 2016, 22:27, edited 3 times in total.

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New post 30 Nov 2016, 22:08
Forgot to mention, I got 6 in IR section, which was not bad considering the little effort I had put.
Regards,
Abhijit

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New post 08 Dec 2016, 01:50
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Although I have no intention of taking GMAT again, still for self analysis, I got my ESR, and as expected I have done poorly towards the end probably because of lack of sleep and fatigue. In verbals, for example, i have scored around 86-88% in the first three segments of questions, but in the last 10 questions my accuracy has dipped to 50%. My individual scores in SC, CR and RC are 40, 40 and 44 respectively. In quants, I have scored 100% in first 2 segments, but i have scored 76% and 84% in the last 2 segments of questions.
Regards,
Abhijit

Last edited by abhibad on 15 Mar 2017, 23:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740) [#permalink]

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New post 11 Mar 2017, 20:00
abhibad

Thank you for posting your debrief and congratulations on the great score! :D

I see that you used Powerscore and e-gmat for CR. Which one would you recommend? Are the methods in Powerscore very different from e-gmat?

Thanks much!

YT
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yt770 wrote:
abhibad

Thank you for posting your debrief and congratulations on the great score! :D

I see that you used Powerscore and e-gmat for CR. Which one would you recommend? Are the methods in Powerscore very different from e-gmat?

Thanks much!

YT


YT,
It all depends on what medium do you prefer. Both are good, but as I said earlier, I used Powerscore sparingly. My main source of CR was e-gmat course, live videos and scholaranium.
I found the reinforcement of CR skills by various e-gmat sources very helpful, for example, I watched their Prethinking video multiple times to get the methodology ingrained in my system. The same thing has been taught by PS CR book too. So it all depends which medium do you find convenient.
abhibad

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New post 15 Mar 2017, 10:25
abhibad

Thank you for that input! I think you answered my question. I tried e-gmat CR before but didn't do the entire course earlier. I've read so many good reviews of powerscore so I thought probably that book has different methods. If both powerscore and e-gmat have similar methods, I'd prefer e-gmat audio visual course instead of reading an entire book.

Thanks for your help!

YT
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Re: GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740) [#permalink]

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New post 15 Mar 2017, 10:49
Congrats on a great score. :)

Could you please share something more about RC preparations and how you took notes? As you mentioned you went for shorter notes during tests, so what information you considered important for those notes? It would be great if you could give an example using a small paragraph.

No intention to get you back in the GMAT mood:) Its just that RC is my weak area and I spend a lot of time taking down notes. Though I tried to change strategies but nothing worked.


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Re: GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740) [#permalink]

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New post 15 Mar 2017, 23:49
Shiv2016 wrote:
Congrats on a great score. :)

Could you please share something more about RC preparations and how you took notes? As you mentioned you went for shorter notes during tests, so what information you considered important for those notes? It would be great if you could give an example using a small paragraph.

No intention to get you back in the GMAT mood:) Its just that RC is my weak area and I spend a lot of time taking down notes. Though I tried to change strategies but nothing worked.


Thanks

Don't take notes because you must take notes. Take them when you think the information you read is getting a bit overwhelming and difficult to remember and its time to write a line or 2 summarizing the information.

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abhibad wrote:

Don't take notes because you must take notes. Take them when you think the information you read is getting a bit overwhelming and difficult to remember and its time to write a line or 2 summarizing the information.


Golden advise.. How are the applications coming along abhibad.

-Rajat Sadana
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GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740) [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2017, 04:36
Hi abhibad

Need your advise for the preparation. Actually enrolled at princeton review after my friend's advise. But i could not see my verbal improving. Should i go for e-gmat? if you don't mind can i ask you how much you scored while you were at princeton.

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GMAT journey of a first time test taker (740)   [#permalink] 15 Aug 2017, 04:36
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