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How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!

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Joined: 18 Dec 2018
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GMAT 1: 600 Q39 V33
How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Dec 2018, 09:55
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Hi Everyone,

I thought I should share my story of GMAT score improvement to inspire current and future test-takers. I have started my journey from a very tough spot: not a native English speaker AND not too strong in math. I have two MA degrees, but both are in humanities, so I have to shamefully admit that I even forgot some parts of a multiplication table. Therefore, it was not too surprising that on the very first mock exam, which I took in January to evaluate my base level, I got 420!

I have started self-studying and took a course that different GMAT-prep schools offer. It is up to you if you decide to invest time and money in one of those courses; they do equip you with some basics, but there is nothing that you couldn’t learn by yourself with good GMAT prep materials. Plus those courses, or at least the one I had taken, are designed for an average student and not tailored to your particular needs. After I have finished the course and practiced for two mouths – I have taken another mock exam on in April and got 450! Only 30 points improvement, definitely still a long way to go.

I have purchased all three GMAT official guides and started working intensively on solving problems, analyzing and recording my errors. I have also bought 6 GMAT official CAT mock exams to track my progress. After 3 months of preparation I was getting between 530 and 580 on mock exams, so still a bit too low since one generally does worse on the official exam than on mock exams. At this point I have decided to hire a private tutor to get some help with math since I have identified that it was my weakness. After 10 private classes I felt like I am fully equipped with knowledge and I took an official GMAT test and scored 550!

It was already September, almost 9 months and probably at least 150-200 hours dedicated to GMAT preparation. I did more practice on advanced quant questions, since my strategy was to tackle my weaknesses and went for the second official GMAT exam…only to get 520 that time. It was the time when I thought to myself that I was never going to get the score I needed and that I should accept that I would never be accepted to a good business school.

Few days later, I have thought to myself that this is how non-motivated MBA applicants are filtered: if you don’t have enough perseverance and grit – it is better that you give up early.
It became clear to me that I had to change the strategy and here what I have decided:

1. My focus needs to be on my strengths, which sounds odd since everyone advises to focus on your weaknesses, but that advice really didn’t work for me. My verbal part was pretty good given my background in humanities; however, I really struggled with harder math questions. So I decided that I just need to get all easy and medium math questions right, and focus on medium and especially hard verbal questions to make up for the score I needed. (By the way, that strategy has paid off: I have always maintained 35-40 percentile on quant and 55-60 on verbal, so by improving my verbal percentile to 68 – I was able to get 600 score).

2. Start studying every single topic all over again to fill in the gaps. This time I used Manhattan prep guides and definitely they worked the best for me. I have studied all topics on verbal and quant all over again, which took me probably another 50 hours, then did all 6 mock tests all over again and consistently got a score of 600+.

To conclude, after roughly 11 months, at least 250 hours of studying, I have finally got 600 on my official GMAT test. Therefore, if you doubt yourself, remember that GMAT is all about strategy, time management and dedication. Hope my story will help you.
Director
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Joined: 05 Feb 2018
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Re: How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Dec 2018, 11:45
irynasushko wrote:
Hi Everyone,

I thought I should share my story of GMAT score improvement to inspire current and future test-takers. I have started my journey from a very tough spot: not a native English speaker AND not too strong in math. I have two MA degrees, but both are in humanities, so I have to shamefully admit that I even forgot some parts of a multiplication table. Therefore, it was not too surprising that on the very first mock exam, which I took in January to evaluate my base level, I got 420!

I have started self-studying and took a course that different GMAT-prep schools offer. It is up to you if you decide to invest time and money in one of those courses; they do equip you with some basics, but there is nothing that you couldn’t learn by yourself with good GMAT prep materials. Plus those courses, or at least the one I had taken, are designed for an average student and not tailored to your particular needs. After I have finished the course and practiced for two mouths – I have taken another mock exam on in April and got 450! Only 30 points improvement, definitely still a long way to go.

I have purchased all three GMAT official guides and started working intensively on solving problems, analyzing and recording my errors. I have also bought 6 GMAT official CAT mock exams to track my progress. After 3 months of preparation I was getting between 530 and 580 on mock exams, so still a bit too low since one generally does worse on the official exam than on mock exams. At this point I have decided to hire a private tutor to get some help with math since I have identified that it was my weakness. After 10 private classes I felt like I am fully equipped with knowledge and I took an official GMAT test and scored 550!

It was already September, almost 9 months and probably at least 150-200 hours dedicated to GMAT preparation. I did more practice on advanced quant questions, since my strategy was to tackle my weaknesses and went for the second official GMAT exam…only to get 520 that time. It was the time when I thought to myself that I was never going to get the score I needed and that I should accept that I would never be accepted to a good business school.

Few days later, I have thought to myself that this is how non-motivated MBA applicants are filtered: if you don’t have enough perseverance and grit – it is better that you give up early.
It became clear to me that I had to change the strategy and here what I have decided:

1. My focus needs to be on my strengths, which sounds odd since everyone advises to focus on your weaknesses, but that advice really didn’t work for me. My verbal part was pretty good given my background in humanities; however, I really struggled with harder math questions. So I decided that I just need to get all easy and medium math questions right, and focus on medium and especially hard verbal questions to make up for the score I needed. (By the way, that strategy has paid off: I have always maintained 35-40 percentile on quant and 55-60 on verbal, so by improving my verbal percentile to 68 – I was able to get 600 score).

2. Start studying every single topic all over again to fill in the gaps. This time I used Manhattan prep guides and definitely they worked the best for me. I have studied all topics on verbal and quant all over again, which took me probably another 50 hours, then did all 6 mock tests all over again and consistently got a score of 600+.

To conclude, after roughly 11 months, at least 250 hours of studying, I have finally got 600 on my official GMAT test. Therefore, if you doubt yourself, remember that GMAT is all about strategy, time management and dedication. Hope my story will help you.


Hey congratulations on your achievement, and yes the you have proved that the GMAT can be beaten with hard work and determination.
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Director
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Joined: 14 Dec 2017
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Re: How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Dec 2018, 23:22
Congratulations!! That is an awesome improvement. It shows a lot of determination and methodical planning to achieve that.

Enjoy your victory!!

Thanks for the debrief and inspiration!

Cheers,
GyM
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Joined: 21 Dec 2018
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Re: How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Dec 2018, 06:11
congrats, you highlighted important point, we have concentrate on strong area as well
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Re: How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Dec 2018, 13:27
Thank you for sharing your story! Good luck with things moving forward.
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Re: How I have improved my GMAT score by 180 – hard but not impossible!   [#permalink] 25 Dec 2018, 13:27
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