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# Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!

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Intern
Joined: 19 Aug 2015
Posts: 5
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 610 Q41 V34
GMAT 2: 630 Q44 V32
GMAT 3: 710 Q48 V38
Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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06 Oct 2018, 03:16
1
610 to 710: Non-Native Speaker's Journey. IT CAN BE DONE!

Hi Everyone,

I took the exam again on 27th September 2018 and scored a 710 with a split of Q 48, V 38, IR 6 and AWA 5.5. While I do understand that a score of 710 is barely at the cusp of “GMAT greatness”, I am just glad that I was able to ramp up my score from 610 to 710.

The reason I am writing this debrief is not to promote or to demote any resource. This was my 3rd attempt at the exam in the last 3 years and I just want to give as much information as possible to people who are prepping (and struggling) to break into the “big league”.

I have written not only about my GMAT prep strategy and but also about my background to allow the people reading this to connect better with the challenges I faced and the predicament I was in.

Also, THANK YOU to everyone in the community to be of such help! Couldn't have done it without all of you!

Here goes:

GMAT 1: 610 - Q 42, V 34, IR 4, AWA 4.5

June 2013 to January 2015:

I had just graduated from engineering college (yes, Indian Male Engineer, fortunately not IT!) and decided to take the path less taken. I opted out of most college placements and applied to a fledgling startup out of MIT, Boston (did my 6-month mandatory college internship with them and they offered me a position right after I graduated) that had just set up shop in India.

The work was crazy, I was traveling and living all over the country right from the biggest cities to the most destitute villages trying to implement our patented cleantech solutions and ensure benefits for all stakeholders with a primary focus on dairy farmers. I spent the better part of 1.5 months in Boston too where the founders of the firm I worked for were setting up an incubator for startups in the cleantech space (now one of the biggest names in cleantech in the world) and expanding operations to breweries.
This is where I realized that if I had to do something at this scale that can truly foster change I needed either a Master’s in Engineering or an MBA, and soon enough I began by journey towards the GMAT and an MBA (now MBA + MPP in 2018 – Ah, how fickle we humans are).

However, by the end of 2014, the firm was shifting base from Mumbai to Pune and was about to enter its stage of pure manufacturing with less impetus on having multidisciplinary outlooks and new solutions. The founders were very supportive of my decision to leave around this time to find something more attuned with a restless mind like mine. Besides, they moved back to the states and to newer ventures a few months later while the scaled up company continued its operations in India.

January 2015:

Started my GMAT journey with a lot of online research and absolutely no clue about how I should go about doing it. So I figured that if I can’t solve my own problems, why not outsource them? (No wonder I found my way into consulting eventually ).

Anyway, as I had taken the SAT back in the day, I was only aware of one consulting agency that I felt had a pretty decent reputation – Chopra’s. So I took an appointment and showed up to hear a grand plan of how they were going to profile me and ensure that I get into the best colleges. They then asked me to take a diagnostic test, obviously one I was completely unprepared for! Nonetheless, I did take the whole thing and ended up getting a pitiful score of 470.

Well, I didn’t really stick around to hear more when all they kept saying is that the best anyone ever improves from their first diagnostic is about 100-140 points.

February 2015 to September 2015:

I had just joined another startup operating out of Mumbai and Pune as a strategy and operations advisor. It was a young firm working in the hyperlocal delivery space for ready to eat seafood. One in fact, which had a successful exit buyout by the largest ready to eat seafood firm in the country last year!

As the operations were still being set up in Pune and I was operating out of Mumbai to help them raise funding and to do Marketing, I was able to focus on my GMAT prep. I decided to find the nearest coaching institute and zeroed in on Jamboree.

The course began with quite a bang with about 25 kids showing up on day one but by day 2, it was just down to just 2 people. Their verbal and quant instructors were not bad with respect to their knowledge of the subject but were focused on tricks and shortcuts and methods that I eventually realized are a better fit for Indian competitive exams rather than for the GMAT and the GRE.

I still stuck around for a 1.5 months and attended their lectures while balancing my work commitments but soon realized that I wasn’t gaining much from Jamboree.

I left by mid-March and decided to do the prep all by myself. Essentially utilized the GMAT club quizzes and the resources I had from Jamboree in a haphazard manner without a firm plan of action. Disaster was imminent.

I took the mocks in August 2015 and my results were:

1. GMAT prep 1: 670
2. GMAT prep 2: 690
3. Kaplan 1: 670
4. Kaplan 2: 700

I knew deep down that I wasn’t ready for the exam but I still decided to go ahead and take the exam as soon as possible as it was taking up too much of my time and hampering my work. So I signed up for it on September 14th 2015.

Took the 9am slot for the exam without realizing that there was no way I would be functional at 9am (I’m usually a night owl). Besides, the center was an hour away from my house and I had to be up at 6am to get there in time.

Needless to say, I bombed the exam. Got a 610.

I did nonetheless, not feel too bad because I knew I had done the whole thing halfheartedly. Anyway, the firm I was advising had just received its first round of funding and was on its way to hiring more people and increasing its operating radius. I felt my work here was done and eventually found my way into the largest Indian Infrastructure Consulting firm based in New Delhi.

GMAT 2: 630, Q 44, V32, AWA 6, IR 4 and GMAT 3: 710, Q 48, V 38, IR 6, AWA 5.5

January 2016 to January 2018:

I essentially put the GMAT crusade on hold when I joined this company. Also, I grossly underestimated the volume of work I was about to undertake.

Seeing my potential, the firm threw me in the deep end right from day 1 for core strategy, business development and operations work in India, South East Asia and East Africa. The kind of exposure and experiences I had during my travels across these countries while dealing with the highest and lowest rungs of the governments to win multi-million dollar projects by the AfDB, ADB, World Bank, etc. opened up a whole new world for me.

Over these 2 years, and owing to the work I did, my interest in public policy peaked and after attending a number of public policy boot camps and working on policy related projects, I was convinced that JUST an MBA would not suffice. My goalpost had changed and I now wanted to do a MBA and an MPP.

At the start of 2017, I was tasked with getting the firm into the Smart City Sector (the Prime Minister’s largest Urban Development Program across 99 cities where a single consulting project usually has a cost between 4 to 5 million dollars) and I felt like Alice going down the rabbit hole. I became obsessed with it and though it took time, I was able to get the firm 2 of these contracts by September of that year. Received the Chairman’s citation and another internal award for it too. However, the biggest upside was that the award of these two projects served as the ideal bargaining chip for me to dial back my hours and cherry pick the projects I wanted to take on thereby allowing me time to prep for the GMAT (again!).

January 2018 to May 2018:

I restarted my GMAT prep and was strongly opposed to the whole classroom training rigmarole this time. I did my research online and found that e-GMAT would be an ideal fit for me (non-native speaker with some level of comfort with English).

I started my prep and worked through verbal first and then quant. I did about 2 hours of their video lectures every day after work.

I felt that the e-GMAT SC and CR were just phenomenal in breaking the topics down to the most basic level and their methods taught you the “grunt” as well the “smart” method of solving the questions. However, I was a little disappointed with the RC section as it did not cover as much ground as I had hoped it would and didn’t seem to teach anything I did not already know.

I started out with feeling like an idiot when I started quant as the basic topics were severely watered down for ease of explanation. However, as I advanced through the course, I realized that their scholaranium was worth every penny as it really took you from 0 to 100.

Cometh D-Day, I was nervous, unsure (effects of over thinking too many eventualities) and was surprised with the center as it was a college (in session) and was very loud during the exam (the Hinduja college center in Mumbai). Decided to stick to the original order of the sections, i.e. IR, AWA, Quant and Verbal.

Saw a lot of Geometry and Sets questions on the exam and began to panic and make mistakes. Blew my timing royally on the geometry questions.

Didn’t realize that I would be mentally fatigued by the time I reached the verbal section and ended up taking longer for each question than I should have thereby ending with only 4 minutes for the last 5 questions.

Yet again, I ended with a terrible score of 630. This was definitely extremely upsetting as my mock test scores were:

1. Veritas 1: 700
2. Veritas 2: 710
3. Veritas 3: 710
4. Veritas 4: 750
5. Veritas 5: 750
6. Veritas 6: 750
7. GMAT prep 1: 730
8. GMAT prep 2: 730

July 2018 to September 2018:

I was extremely disheartened from my previous attempt as the mock test scores, which seemed indicative of me being in the 720-740 range, were WAY off their mark.
Nonetheless, I was convinced that it was just that I had a bad day and it was not a representation of my real performance. I ordered the ESR, studied the heck out of it and understood where exactly I was faltering. I also wrote to a few experts on gmatclub but only a few actually replied and helped.

Decided to begin my prep in the end of July (spent May to June working on a bunch of public policy boot camps and an active work project in Vietnam). This time around, I decided to run through my course material (e-GMAT) in a span of 3 weeks. I blazed through verbal first and then began quant. I cherry picked the 100 most complex questions of quant and verbal and did them each day for the last 7 days prior to the exam. Did not take any mock tests this time around as I did not want to walk in with any pre-conceived notions.

Booked the date 4 days prior to the exam. Chose the same center (Hinduja) as no other center was available. Flew down to Bombay a day before. Was feeling much more confident than the last time. I was walking in with a huge mindset change this time. For the first time, I walked in with a mindset that I was going to beat the exam and not that the exam was going to beat me.

Chose the Verbal, Quant, IR and AWA order this time. Got 2 bold face questions in verbal and had a general feeling that it was going well. Got 1 dense passage on social sciences, 1 sciences passage and 1 economics passage. Finished with 30 seconds to spare.

Quant started well but by the 15th question, I [b]had seen 3-4 probability and P&C questions[/b] and as they were not my strength, I started faltering and could feel that it was slipping away from me. Nonetheless, I finished with a minute to spare in quant.

Hurriedly finished IR and AWA (feel bad about dropping 0.5 points this time) and before I hit submit, I had a feeling I had bombed quant. Hit the magic button and saw that I had a 710 and was just relieved that I had crossed the dreaded barrier.

Ordered the ESR yesterday and saw that the small things I did to fix my RC (weakest link) went a long way as my RC percentile was now 94 (from 37 in the last exam). To fix RC I read 4 articles everyday (one each from HBR, Economist, McKinsey Insights and NYT) and created questions for myself on these passages.

The other thing I did to ensure I remembered math formula was to write all formula, tricks, etc. over 2-3 pages for an hour every morning before heading to work.

In my last push for the exam, I had uninstalled all forms of social media for 3 weeks and stopped watching any and all TV shows. I had become a hermit and well, it helped.

Material Used - e-GMAT and GMAT club tests

On a non-academic note, I realized that the best way for me to stay in my zone and still uphold my commitments at work was to find something, ANYTHING that would help my mind stay calm. Well, smoking or redbull were the easy choices but then I decided to not go down that spiral and worked out and meditated for 45 mins everyday before I hit my books. It really helped me disconnect from the madness at work and focus on the prep material.

Next Steps for me:

Now that 10 days have passed since the exam, I have begun to question if 710 is a good enough score and whether I should take it again as I feel I can get a 740 if I give it another month but I am pushed against the wall by the current admission timelines and the fact that I want to apply to dual programs, i.e. MBA+MPP.

Also, from what I have researched, a majority of programs accept the GMAT or the GRE for the MPP but would it still be prudent to the take the GRE?

Besides, the other aspects of my profile such as sports (basketball state champ back in the day and still play competitive ball), extra-curricular (policy bootcamps, startup advisory, event planning), volunteering (civic solutions at the municipality level, healthcare volunteering for the last 4 years, pro-bono consulting for disability institutes and founding of a trust for education) and college participation (basketball, society leadership, automotive BAJA racing, community engagement leader, etc.) are quite in order.

Further, my LoRs too are fairly taken care of from people from various parts of the globe and different verticals with whom I’ve directly worked with (and for) including retired army generals, current professors and alumni from B-schools & policy schools and Indian Government Representatives.

I am however still unsure about the schools that would be the best fit for me and where I would be able to gain and contribute equally. I do have a few in mind but need to get cracking on this aspect soon as I have to close out my applications by the end of this month (and by Round 2).

Can someone kindly advise which admission consultants would be the best one's to reach out to. I have heard and read a lot about Admissionado, Stacy Blackman, Aringo, Experts Golbal, Sia, AmeraAsia and MBA Crystal Ball among the known ones. I do have my preferred ones in mind and intend to send out the mails this week but would like to get inputs from other folks too!

Lastly, I would like to thank Bunuel for his ingenious yet elegant solutions, e-GMAT for their structured process & scholaranium and Mike McGarry for his quirky and fun explanations that always kept me engaged.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions and I would also really appreciate some guidance from Experts and Community Members on what my next steps should be.

Cheers!
A
Manager
Joined: 15 Feb 2018
Posts: 110
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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07 Oct 2018, 13:17
A thorough write up. Well done on a 240 point increase and improvement across all four sections. I understand that it was 3 years ago, but, on reflection, was the diagnostic offered by Chopra reflective of the GMAT itself?
The first 'diagnostic' I did was an online 20 question(?) test and it had broken questions and such. I got somewhere around 400-550, but then did an official GMAT CAT and got 650 in the following days.

I hadn't heard of McKinsey insights before. I will give it a read.
Intern
Joined: 19 Aug 2015
Posts: 5
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 610 Q41 V34
GMAT 2: 630 Q44 V32
GMAT 3: 710 Q48 V38
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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07 Oct 2018, 20:40
Hi philipssonicare,

Thank you for sharing how there was a difference in the diagnostics you took! Guess it makes a huge difference in assessing your ability and helping you customize the right plan for yourself.

I recollect that the CAT that I had taken at Chopra's was the free GMAT prep exam. But then I had taken a free test on 800 GMAT too a month later to assess where I stand and got a 560. Guess, it was just that I had a bad day when I took the first CAT.

In addition to McKinsey Insights, I would like to recommend a video series on YouTube from a channel called CrashCourse. It's on US history and it's particularly helpful if you aren't a native of the United States. It covers the background of a lot of topics that one sees in CR and RC questions (specially ones relevant to social sciences). It helps provide a ton of context when you are solving these questions. It really helped me prep and I think I have another gmatclub user to thank for this discovery, haha. Pass on the good karma!

Hope this helps

Cheer,
A
Senior Manager
Joined: 29 Mar 2011
Posts: 273
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Finance
GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V40
WE: Management Consulting (Consulting)
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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08 Oct 2018, 05:05
Hey there, congrats on the big jump.

My 2 cents on your question about a re-take. It seems you have quite a bit of extra-curriculars and volunteering experiences. So I believe there should be some good material to build a compelling story. Would help to talk to a few alums and current students of your target programs. Also check out the average GMAT of the batches. If you are 10-20 points above the average then it should be safe enough.

With respect to consultants, it seems you are looking primariliy at the ones based in India. I can share a few names: Aringo, Admissionado, Pythagurus, MBA Crystal Ball, MBA Decoder, Vibranture, Admissions Gateway, Crackverbal.

Cheers and good luck!
_________________

+1 kudos if you find this useful
GMAT 1: 750 (Q50; V40; IR 8; AWA 5.5)
Debrief: https://gmatclub.com/forum/first-attempt-750-q50-v40-ir-8-awa-245721.html

Intern
Joined: 19 Aug 2015
Posts: 5
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 610 Q41 V34
GMAT 2: 630 Q44 V32
GMAT 3: 710 Q48 V38
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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08 Oct 2018, 05:41
Hi nishantd88,

Thank you for the advice! I do appreciate it indeed.

Your observation is right on the money. The quality of my work experience, the extra-curricular and volunteering experience are things I will have fall back on to weave a good story as my GMAT score, while in the average range of most good schools, takes a massive dip in its competitiveness when it is compared to those of other applicants of a similar profile (Indian Male Engineer curse).

I did in fact get in touch with Aringo, Admisisonado and MBA Crystal Ball and got some well timed reality checks from them. I should be closing the final Consultant this week and jumping into the application process.

Regarding the dreaded question of the GMAT, I don't think I will be able to churn out another attempt. As much as I feel I can do better, taking the GMAT again would set me back in my timelines and that is something I won't be too keen to do. I do realize the implications that this would have. I will have to rethink the schools that I target and look for colleges outside the top 10 (though I will apply to 1 or 2). Further, I have had to come to terms that chasing pedigree is a very foolish way for me to think about doing the MBA. The way I perceive it, 3 years post B-school, my work has to speak for me and not only the brand of my college. And hey, if I really want pedigree, I can always go back to school for a specialization.

Lastly, I did read your debrief. It is most impressive! I really wish I had seen it before I had started prepping. Nonetheless, I feel the sentiment you shared in your debrief. I have a gut feeling that I can do better in the GMAT, especially in verbal but then again, I see it as a process of diminishing returns and just can't take the time out for it.

I have however decided to take the GRE once I am done and dusted with the B-school applications. It's a good weapon to have in my arsenal if I have to specialize later.

Thank you once again! May our paths cross someday

Cheers!
A
Senior Manager
Joined: 29 Mar 2011
Posts: 273
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Finance
GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V40
WE: Management Consulting (Consulting)
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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09 Oct 2018, 01:12
Yup, makes sense to focus on the applications now instead of another GMAT attempt. I do know about the competition Indian male engineers face (I am one too), which is why I said you should be fine if you are 10-20 points above the average of your target programs. Also, considering the experiences you have, there should be good stories to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Good luck with the apps.
_________________

+1 kudos if you find this useful
GMAT 1: 750 (Q50; V40; IR 8; AWA 5.5)
Debrief: https://gmatclub.com/forum/first-attempt-750-q50-v40-ir-8-awa-245721.html

Intern
Joined: 29 Oct 2018
Posts: 2
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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04 Nov 2018, 17:36
I want to mention my great experience during the MBA admissions journey with GyanOne MBA Admissions consultants. I have made it to Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge and have interview invites from INSEAD and LBS.

Yes, for all applications I had worked with them extensively, done by them. One of my colleagues referred them to me and I think has been the best decision I took for my MBA journey. They are no doubt the top consultants to work for in India. The things I liked best while working with them is how thorough they are with their research and work. Rishabh (who I worked with) was always available to jump into Skype calls to discuss any question and would be able to answer any doubts throughout the process. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and the GyanOne team!

Would suggest and recommend them whole heartedly.
Manager
Joined: 02 Feb 2016
Posts: 101
Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Technology
Schools: LBS '18, IE April '17
GMAT 1: 620 Q48 V27
Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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04 Nov 2018, 20:23
Hi,

Heartiest congratulations on your score.I am planning to start preparing for gmat again for my 3rd attempt had given my last attempt in April this year and since then have been out of touched. I mostly used manhattan and powwrscore books to prepare. Scores 620 and 600 in previous attempts. Verbal is my weak area but surprisingly scored a little low in quant as well in previous attempt. Heard a lot about egmat online course and I am quite sure of buying verbal online. If i am fairly descent at quant still is the quant course worth buying? I think their scholaranium is the main attraction for improving weak areas..Kindly advise?? Planning to appear for gmat in couple of months.

Posted from my mobile device
_________________

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Intern
Joined: 19 Aug 2015
Posts: 5
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 610 Q41 V34
GMAT 2: 630 Q44 V32
GMAT 3: 710 Q48 V38
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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08 Nov 2018, 20:51
ropochelsea

Hi ropochelsea,

Thank you for the suggestions! I did speak to them but finally decided to work with MBA Crystal Ball and MBA Decoder. Seem pretty satisfied with them as of now. Will share my reviews of them once my whole process in over.

Also, all the best for your interviews! Hope you ace them!

Cheers,
A
Intern
Joined: 19 Aug 2015
Posts: 5
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Operations
GMAT 1: 610 Q41 V34
GMAT 2: 630 Q44 V32
GMAT 3: 710 Q48 V38
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps!  [#permalink]

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08 Nov 2018, 21:02
kreel11

Hi kreel11,

I'm sorry about your GMAT troubles mate! I've been where you are and would be happy to help! The e-GMAT course worked quite well for me, especially verbal.

While their scholaranium is definitely a great resource, it was the step by step approach in their basic coursework which I benefited from the most. Besides, the scholaranium is something that you eventually get to for fine tuning what you already know rather than just learning new concepts.

Regarding Quant and being entirely honest, their course is good but if you're already good at it, you may feel underwhelmed by their course and lose interest quickly. But then again, you can always write to them to see if they would be keen to give you a trial and you can gauge if you really need the Quant course too.

I'd be happy to answer any more queries. Just drop me a message!

Hope I was able to help

Cheers,
A
Re: Journey from 610 to 710 and Next Steps! &nbs [#permalink] 08 Nov 2018, 21:02
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