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Journey from 560 to 720

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Intern
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Joined: 21 Sep 2015
Posts: 1
GMAT 1: 720 Q49 V40
GPA: 3.6
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Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Feb 2017, 21:41
3
7
It’s been a couple of months since I took the GMAT and I’ve been meaning to write about my journey. While studying, I read many journey posts to pick up study tips and strategies. I’ve never been a great standardized test taker but I 100% believe that anyone can reach the 700 mark. I also believe that it’s not a test based purely on critical thinking but pattern recognition. The latter is what helped push me to my 720.

I first took the test in November 2014 and scored a 560, 45 quant and 28 verbal. This was after taking a Kaplan class, which I started in May 2014. My biggest weakness was SC and CR questions and I knew I had to bring my quant up more. Moving the verbal score up helped bring my total score up quickly. I’m not a fan of the class because I believe it focused on questions that are the minority and the study materials were nothing compared to Manhattan GMAT books, which I swear by. I only used MGMAT materials and this forum. I also purchased the two additional official GMAT tests and question pack. I focused too much on the 700+ problems and problems that rarely occur (1-3 times, 3 being unlucky) such as probability and combinatorics. A friend told me about the Manhattan GMAT class and I signed up for this class in April 2015 through June 2015. While the class was very helpful, what I liked about it was the structure and syllabus. I get stressed out when I have too many things to study and I found this helpful. In class, we reviewed problems and methodologies and I walked away knowing all of the basics and material which helped push me to a 650 in August 2015 and 660, 45 quant and 36 verbal in October 2015. On the MGMAT practice tests I was scoring between 660 and 680 on the Official GMAT tests I scored a 690 and 700. I applied to a few schools with the 660 and after the denials rolled in I focused on the GMAT once more. I decided to take the class again in early May 2015 (they offer a 75% discount) for study structure. Both instructors were absolutely amazing and I’d recommend them to anyone. A few months of self-studying after the second class and 2 hours of tutoring, I scored a 720, 49 quant and 40 verbal in October 2016. I applied with this score. For me the takeaways below, which you will also find on the forum, were the most helpful. Be sure to use this forum… there is more than a wealth of information available and I learned many new methodologies and tricks to solving problems.

General things
1. When I read the chapters in the MGMAT books, I took notes on every chapter the second time around taking the class because this helped me memorize and pick up small things I forgot or didn’t know. However the small things were only gained because I was comfortable with the material.
2. Review every question for at least two minutes. The MGMAT answers are very helpful but you should also CHECK THIS FORUM for other methods. One of the most important things is to have multiple methods in your arsenal. Reviewing also helps with pattern recognition. Developing pattern recognition will help you.
3. Make an error log. This one has some controversy about whether it’s helpful. Here’s my take on it. While I made one and used it regularly, I actually reviewed it once and that was two days before the actual test. The error log, in my opinion, helped me memorize tricks and methods while reviewing problems. Most importantly, it forced me to really review the problems which helped with pattern recognition.
4. I am not the best writer and after reading the SC book, I realized how little I knew about sentence structure. As a native speaker, I found this very sad haha but the SC book is a bible to SC. My writing has improved drastically after studying this book. (don’t judge my writing too much now though as it’s late at night for me and just had surgery)

DS takeaways
1. Set up a T table. Write down important info from the problem at the top and draw a line under it. This line split into two parts so the left is statement 1 and right is statement 2. This was key for me because if I put statement 2 below 1, then I would combine the info sometimes and choose statement 2 sufficient. Below the left and right sections, draw a line and this is where you will combine the statement if neither is sufficient.
2. When you get to the harder questions, you will have to rework the info. A few examples: if the stem has ax^2+bx+c, factor to (x+y)(x+y) and vice versa; make all bases the same when dealing with exponents 4^2=2^x ---> 2^4=2^x ---> x=2.
3. When testing numbers choose number you’re comfortable with and always use these as a go to, when testing numbers try to avoid testing -1,0, and 1 unless the problem requires to,
4. Try using 3 instead of 2 when testing numbers
5. If the stem or statement doesn’t specify an integer, TEST a fraction
6. If there are two equations given in the statement and the stem asks what is x, don’t assume both statements because the equations could be multiples of each other and not sufficient
PS takeaways
1. Don’t be afraid to back solve!
2. Look for evil twins. These are essentially reciprocals of answers and one of the will be correct for example 3/4,4/3, 2/5, 5/2, and 6/7. You can cross off 6/7 because the test will look to trick you to choose the opposite choice. The test rewards laziness sometimes but you’ll need to know what to look for. This comes through practice.
3. Before you even write the problem down, read the problem and skim the answers for 20 seconds. While this seems weird, it can help save time because you will know whether you should guess, think about the most efficient way to solve using the methods you have, and may even solve it without work. For example, if the problem ask how many different factors there are in 16 and the answers are 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, you can immediately pick 5 because you will remember 16 is a perfect square so it only have an odd number of different factors and 5 is the only odd number.
4. When multiplying and diving numbers
SC takeaways
1. When reading the sentence, always read for the core. This will immediately point out subject verb errors and pronoun errors
2. Scan the answer choices always because they can hint at what the problem is testing

CR takeaways
1. For inference questions, always choose an answer that is not extreme and specific. Look for the more vague choice. Ie avoid all if there is no comparable strong word in the paragraph
2. Pay attention to causation vs correlations
3. If you are stuck thinking of assumptions, read the answers and use the negation test. Also I used to rule out many answers on assumption questions because I thought they were out of scope, but on the harder questions, always review these and negate them because, for me at least, they tended to be the right answer
4. Make sure you understand the argument and don’t get frustrated if you can follow it. Guess and move on.

RC takeaways
1. Read for understanding and skim the detail parts. Just know where these detailed parts are if the question refers to one.
2. On main idea answers, a majority of the time the answer will be neutral and avoid long qualifiers
3. I didn’t take notes on the passage unless I had trouble following it. However, RC questions were my strength.

Anyone can get score a 700 or higher. It just takes dedication and commitment. Don’t be afraid to give up a weekend or a Friday or a Saturday night/afternoon. The payoff will be huge. However make sure you leave some time for friends and a casual drink to ease the stress… it can do wonders clearing the mind. Remember, this is a short term investment in the scheme of things for you future (maybe long term for me for my two year journey due to large gaps in studying). Best of luck to everyone. I’m sure you’ll kill it and you don’t your first time persevere and when you do, victory will be even sweeter.
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Intern
Intern
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Joined: 16 Mar 2014
Posts: 32
Location: Bangladesh
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Finance
GMAT 1: 550 Q47 V20
GPA: 3.2
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Re: Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Feb 2017, 03:07
Congratulation and thanks for those Great tips
Manager
Manager
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Joined: 26 Dec 2011
Posts: 189
Location: United States (NY)
Concentration: Finance, Entrepreneurship
GPA: 3.4
WE: Investment Banking (Investment Banking)
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Re: Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Feb 2017, 11:18
holapeople45 wrote:
It’s been a couple of months since I took the GMAT and I’ve been meaning to write about my journey. While studying, I read many journey posts to pick up study tips and strategies. I’ve never been a great standardized test taker but I 100% believe that anyone can reach the 700 mark. I also believe that it’s not a test based purely on critical thinking but pattern recognition. The latter is what helped push me to my 720.

I first took the test in November 2014 and scored a 560, 45 quant and 28 verbal. This was after taking a Kaplan class, which I started in May 2014. My biggest weakness was SC and CR questions and I knew I had to bring my quant up more. Moving the verbal score up helped bring my total score up quickly. I’m not a fan of the class because I believe it focused on questions that are the minority and the study materials were nothing compared to Manhattan GMAT books, which I swear by. I only used MGMAT materials and this forum. I also purchased the two additional official GMAT tests and question pack. I focused too much on the 700+ problems and problems that rarely occur (1-3 times, 3 being unlucky) such as probability and combinatorics. A friend told me about the Manhattan GMAT class and I signed up for this class in April 2015 through June 2015. While the class was very helpful, what I liked about it was the structure and syllabus. I get stressed out when I have too many things to study and I found this helpful. In class, we reviewed problems and methodologies and I walked away knowing all of the basics and material which helped push me to a 650 in August 2015 and 660, 45 quant and 36 verbal in October 2015. On the MGMAT practice tests I was scoring between 660 and 680 on the Official GMAT tests I scored a 690 and 700. I applied to a few schools with the 660 and after the denials rolled in I focused on the GMAT once more. I decided to take the class again in early May 2015 (they offer a 75% discount) for study structure. Both instructors were absolutely amazing and I’d recommend them to anyone. A few months of self-studying after the second class and 2 hours of tutoring, I scored a 720, 49 quant and 40 verbal in October 2016. I applied with this score. For me the takeaways below, which you will also find on the forum, were the most helpful. Be sure to use this forum… there is more than a wealth of information available and I learned many new methodologies and tricks to solving problems.

General things
1. When I read the chapters in the MGMAT books, I took notes on every chapter the second time around taking the class because this helped me memorize and pick up small things I forgot or didn’t know. However the small things were only gained because I was comfortable with the material.
2. Review every question for at least two minutes. The MGMAT answers are very helpful but you should also CHECK THIS FORUM for other methods. One of the most important things is to have multiple methods in your arsenal. Reviewing also helps with pattern recognition. Developing pattern recognition will help you.
3. Make an error log. This one has some controversy about whether it’s helpful. Here’s my take on it. While I made one and used it regularly, I actually reviewed it once and that was two days before the actual test. The error log, in my opinion, helped me memorize tricks and methods while reviewing problems. Most importantly, it forced me to really review the problems which helped with pattern recognition.
4. I am not the best writer and after reading the SC book, I realized how little I knew about sentence structure. As a native speaker, I found this very sad haha but the SC book is a bible to SC. My writing has improved drastically after studying this book. (don’t judge my writing too much now though as it’s late at night for me and just had surgery)

DS takeaways
1. Set up a T table. Write down important info from the problem at the top and draw a line under it. This line split into two parts so the left is statement 1 and right is statement 2. This was key for me because if I put statement 2 below 1, then I would combine the info sometimes and choose statement 2 sufficient. Below the left and right sections, draw a line and this is where you will combine the statement if neither is sufficient.
2. When you get to the harder questions, you will have to rework the info. A few examples: if the stem has ax^2+bx+c, factor to (x+y)(x+y) and vice versa; make all bases the same when dealing with exponents 4^2=2^x ---> 2^4=2^x ---> x=2.
3. When testing numbers choose number you’re comfortable with and always use these as a go to, when testing numbers try to avoid testing -1,0, and 1 unless the problem requires to,
4. Try using 3 instead of 2 when testing numbers
5. If the stem or statement doesn’t specify an integer, TEST a fraction
6. If there are two equations given in the statement and the stem asks what is x, don’t assume both statements because the equations could be multiples of each other and not sufficient
PS takeaways
1. Don’t be afraid to back solve!
2. Look for evil twins. These are essentially reciprocals of answers and one of the will be correct for example 3/4,4/3, 2/5, 5/2, and 6/7. You can cross off 6/7 because the test will look to trick you to choose the opposite choice. The test rewards laziness sometimes but you’ll need to know what to look for. This comes through practice.
3. Before you even write the problem down, read the problem and skim the answers for 20 seconds. While this seems weird, it can help save time because you will know whether you should guess, think about the most efficient way to solve using the methods you have, and may even solve it without work. For example, if the problem ask how many different factors there are in 16 and the answers are 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, you can immediately pick 5 because you will remember 16 is a perfect square so it only have an odd number of different factors and 5 is the only odd number.
4. When multiplying and diving numbers
SC takeaways
1. When reading the sentence, always read for the core. This will immediately point out subject verb errors and pronoun errors
2. Scan the answer choices always because they can hint at what the problem is testing

CR takeaways
1. For inference questions, always choose an answer that is not extreme and specific. Look for the more vague choice. Ie avoid all if there is no comparable strong word in the paragraph
2. Pay attention to causation vs correlations
3. If you are stuck thinking of assumptions, read the answers and use the negation test. Also I used to rule out many answers on assumption questions because I thought they were out of scope, but on the harder questions, always review these and negate them because, for me at least, they tended to be the right answer
4. Make sure you understand the argument and don’t get frustrated if you can follow it. Guess and move on.

RC takeaways
1. Read for understanding and skim the detail parts. Just know where these detailed parts are if the question refers to one.
2. On main idea answers, a majority of the time the answer will be neutral and avoid long qualifiers
3. I didn’t take notes on the passage unless I had trouble following it. However, RC questions were my strength.

Anyone can get score a 700 or higher. It just takes dedication and commitment. Don’t be afraid to give up a weekend or a Friday or a Saturday night/afternoon. The payoff will be huge. However make sure you leave some time for friends and a casual drink to ease the stress… it can do wonders clearing the mind. Remember, this is a short term investment in the scheme of things for you future (maybe long term for me for my two year journey due to large gaps in studying). Best of luck to everyone. I’m sure you’ll kill it and you don’t your first time persevere and when you do, victory will be even sweeter.


Well done and congrats on the high score!
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Re: Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2017, 10:43
Hey congrats on an amazing improvement. :-D :clap:
Can you suggest any good private tutors for GMAT who can give personalised coaching ?
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Re: Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2017, 01:02
Congratulations! You have done a huge job!
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Re: Journey from 560 to 720  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Feb 2017, 11:34
holapeople45 wrote:
It’s been a couple of months since I took the GMAT and I’ve been meaning to write about my journey. While studying, I read many journey posts to pick up study tips and strategies. I’ve never been a great standardized test taker but I 100% believe that anyone can reach the 700 mark. I also believe that it’s not a test based purely on critical thinking but pattern recognition. The latter is what helped push me to my 720.

I first took the test in November 2014 and scored a 560, 45 quant and 28 verbal. This was after taking a Kaplan class, which I started in May 2014. My biggest weakness was SC and CR questions and I knew I had to bring my quant up more. Moving the verbal score up helped bring my total score up quickly. I’m not a fan of the class because I believe it focused on questions that are the minority and the study materials were nothing compared to Manhattan GMAT books, which I swear by. I only used MGMAT materials and this forum. I also purchased the two additional official GMAT tests and question pack. I focused too much on the 700+ problems and problems that rarely occur (1-3 times, 3 being unlucky) such as probability and combinatorics. A friend told me about the Manhattan GMAT class and I signed up for this class in April 2015 through June 2015. While the class was very helpful, what I liked about it was the structure and syllabus. I get stressed out when I have too many things to study and I found this helpful. In class, we reviewed problems and methodologies and I walked away knowing all of the basics and material which helped push me to a 650 in August 2015 and 660, 45 quant and 36 verbal in October 2015. On the MGMAT practice tests I was scoring between 660 and 680 on the Official GMAT tests I scored a 690 and 700. I applied to a few schools with the 660 and after the denials rolled in I focused on the GMAT once more. I decided to take the class again in early May 2015 (they offer a 75% discount) for study structure. Both instructors were absolutely amazing and I’d recommend them to anyone. A few months of self-studying after the second class and 2 hours of tutoring, I scored a 720, 49 quant and 40 verbal in October 2016. I applied with this score. For me the takeaways below, which you will also find on the forum, were the most helpful. Be sure to use this forum… there is more than a wealth of information available and I learned many new methodologies and tricks to solving problems.

General things
1. When I read the chapters in the MGMAT books, I took notes on every chapter the second time around taking the class because this helped me memorize and pick up small things I forgot or didn’t know. However the small things were only gained because I was comfortable with the material.
2. Review every question for at least two minutes. The MGMAT answers are very helpful but you should also CHECK THIS FORUM for other methods. One of the most important things is to have multiple methods in your arsenal. Reviewing also helps with pattern recognition. Developing pattern recognition will help you.
3. Make an error log. This one has some controversy about whether it’s helpful. Here’s my take on it. While I made one and used it regularly, I actually reviewed it once and that was two days before the actual test. The error log, in my opinion, helped me memorize tricks and methods while reviewing problems. Most importantly, it forced me to really review the problems which helped with pattern recognition.
4. I am not the best writer and after reading the SC book, I realized how little I knew about sentence structure. As a native speaker, I found this very sad haha but the SC book is a bible to SC. My writing has improved drastically after studying this book. (don’t judge my writing too much now though as it’s late at night for me and just had surgery)

DS takeaways
1. Set up a T table. Write down important info from the problem at the top and draw a line under it. This line split into two parts so the left is statement 1 and right is statement 2. This was key for me because if I put statement 2 below 1, then I would combine the info sometimes and choose statement 2 sufficient. Below the left and right sections, draw a line and this is where you will combine the statement if neither is sufficient.
2. When you get to the harder questions, you will have to rework the info. A few examples: if the stem has ax^2+bx+c, factor to (x+y)(x+y) and vice versa; make all bases the same when dealing with exponents 4^2=2^x ---> 2^4=2^x ---> x=2.
3. When testing numbers choose number you’re comfortable with and always use these as a go to, when testing numbers try to avoid testing -1,0, and 1 unless the problem requires to,
4. Try using 3 instead of 2 when testing numbers
5. If the stem or statement doesn’t specify an integer, TEST a fraction
6. If there are two equations given in the statement and the stem asks what is x, don’t assume both statements because the equations could be multiples of each other and not sufficient
PS takeaways
1. Don’t be afraid to back solve!
2. Look for evil twins. These are essentially reciprocals of answers and one of the will be correct for example 3/4,4/3, 2/5, 5/2, and 6/7. You can cross off 6/7 because the test will look to trick you to choose the opposite choice. The test rewards laziness sometimes but you’ll need to know what to look for. This comes through practice.
3. Before you even write the problem down, read the problem and skim the answers for 20 seconds. While this seems weird, it can help save time because you will know whether you should guess, think about the most efficient way to solve using the methods you have, and may even solve it without work. For example, if the problem ask how many different factors there are in 16 and the answers are 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, you can immediately pick 5 because you will remember 16 is a perfect square so it only have an odd number of different factors and 5 is the only odd number.
4. When multiplying and diving numbers
SC takeaways
1. When reading the sentence, always read for the core. This will immediately point out subject verb errors and pronoun errors
2. Scan the answer choices always because they can hint at what the problem is testing

CR takeaways
1. For inference questions, always choose an answer that is not extreme and specific. Look for the more vague choice. Ie avoid all if there is no comparable strong word in the paragraph
2. Pay attention to causation vs correlations
3. If you are stuck thinking of assumptions, read the answers and use the negation test. Also I used to rule out many answers on assumption questions because I thought they were out of scope, but on the harder questions, always review these and negate them because, for me at least, they tended to be the right answer
4. Make sure you understand the argument and don’t get frustrated if you can follow it. Guess and move on.

RC takeaways
1. Read for understanding and skim the detail parts. Just know where these detailed parts are if the question refers to one.
2. On main idea answers, a majority of the time the answer will be neutral and avoid long qualifiers
3. I didn’t take notes on the passage unless I had trouble following it. However, RC questions were my strength.

Anyone can get score a 700 or higher. It just takes dedication and commitment. Don’t be afraid to give up a weekend or a Friday or a Saturday night/afternoon. The payoff will be huge. However make sure you leave some time for friends and a casual drink to ease the stress… it can do wonders clearing the mind. Remember, this is a short term investment in the scheme of things for you future (maybe long term for me for my two year journey due to large gaps in studying). Best of luck to everyone. I’m sure you’ll kill it and you don’t your first time persevere and when you do, victory will be even sweeter.




good luck for applications
GMAT Club Bot
Re: Journey from 560 to 720 &nbs [#permalink] 27 Feb 2017, 11:34
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