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Looking Back on a 740 GMAT

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Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2018, 15:40
1
This site has been super helpful in prepping for the GMAT. So to pay it forward, here's my thoughts on the GMAT after spending the last 5 months studying for it:

Summary:
  • Total Study Time -- Roughly 5 months
  • Attempts -- 700 (49Q 37V) => 640 => 720 (48Q 41V) => 740 (48Q 44V)
  • Prep Resources -- Veritas, Manhattan, GMAC, GMAT Club

Resources:
    Veritas Self-Paced Course
    • Very thorough/helpful instructions
    • Instructor was super clear and articulate
    • Had the most practice tests/questions out of any other courses that I looked at
    • Practice Tests 1-7 (non-CAT) were very overly hard and scores were very depressed. I had a few scores in the 500s and none above 630
    • Practice Tests 7-12 (CATs) were extremely variable. I had some as high as 780 and others around 640
    • Takeaway is Veritas is very good for learning the material but don't put too much weight into their practice tests
    GMAC
    • I don't think the guides are worth much
    • BUT the practice tests and questions are THE BEST. I went through them like a fiend and just wish there were more
    • Practice test scores were about in line with my actual scores as well, though the questions on the test seemed easier than the actual
    • Takeaway is once you're up to speed on the material, bang out as many practice questions and tests from GMAC as possible
    Manhattan
    • Only got the practice test set from them
    • Overall it was really good, scores were slightly below my actual scores by about 20-40 points pretty consistently
    • I believe MGMAT has notoriously had math problems which I found to be true
    Math Revolution
    • I was trying to up my quant before my last attempt and got this but I cancelled within two days
    • Interface sucked and the instructor ripped through stuff so quick that it did not seem helpful at all
    • Would NOT recommend
    GMAT Practice Tests Scores (most inflated scores on top, most depressed scores on bottom)
    • GMAC -- 700-760
    • Veritas CATs (tests 7-12) -- 640-780
    • Manhattan -- 680-710 (low Q)
    • Veritas non-CATs (tests 1-7) -- 580-630

Studying:
  • As I worked through the video lessons from Veritas, I didn't do a ton of practice problems (relative to how many I did at the end of my prep). Instead I would just do problems here and there that were questions of the same topic that I just watched videos on
  • Did a LOT of practice tests -- usually 2/weekend and sometimes 1 during the week
  • Areas with Room for Most Improvement
    • Data Sufficiency -- this is such a foreign type of question that with enough practice you will definitely make huge strides on
    • Sentence Correction -- I was horrible at spotting grammar errors before the GMAT and always hated English, but I found SC to be extremely systematic once you learned what to look for. Once you get used to what to look for given certain clues in the sentence, you will be in great shape (ie the sentence lists several things, so I'm going to look for parallelism errors)
  • I really had the benefit of not working for part of my prep and having a pretty nice work schedule for the other part of my prep. That being the case, I was able to spend more time studying each day than most could

Time Management:
  • ANSWER EVERY QUESTIONS! Just please answer every question
    • The consensus is your get punished really bad for not doing so
    • I've read that it can be an automatic 3 point drop (seems extreme but why chance it)
    • It makes sense that you would be punished severely though: for instance, say you don't answer four questions....the GMAT sees that you miss one, so it gives you an easier one, you miss that one, so it gives you an easier one.....by the end you're missing a very easy level question
  • On that same token, a great tip is not to guess on two questions in a row. That means don't let yourself end up with 10 min left and 10 questions to answer.
    Instead, check every 10 min to see that you're on track. If you're falling behind, adjust (guess on a question) right then and there; DON'T let the time deficit build up!
  • Set hard stops
    • Giving up on a problem is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you're used to doing well on exams in college
    • But guess what: the goal of the GMAT is to get a high score NOT to get every question right
  • Being stubborn and getting stuck on a problem is not going to do you any favors
  • I struggled a lot with this, especially when I came across really technical reading comp questions
  • Manhattan's score reports illustrate the importance of this really well
    • What I saw was that on incorrect questions, I spent far more time than on any other question
    • So, not only was I spending way too much time on a question but I was also still getting the question wrong!
    • For some questions, you're not going to be any more likely to get it right no matter how much time you spend on it
  • Takeaway
    • Keep an eye on the time throughout and when you fall behind, make up that time immediately, don't let it pile up
    • If you can instantly recognize that you're going to struggle hard with a question, it might be a good idea to not even attempt it
    • Again, answer EVERY question

Final Thoughts:
  • To Focus Studying Quant or Verbal?
    • Clearly, my quant score was way lower than my verbal (67 percentile vs 98 percentile) but I found it incredibly hard to boost my quant (I focused exclusively on quant before my last test and my score didn't budge)
    • I think that because quant is so rigid (ie improving your quant by 1 point means jumping around 10 percentiles), the real fluctuations in your score will come from how you do in verbal. In other words, your quant score is much more stable than your verbal score and your quant score will be much more consistent
  • You have to get (kinda) lucky
    • I was no better prepared for my first test (700) than I was for my last test (740)
    • They say that your score will be + or - 40 points from your true ability....in other words, your score could fluctuate by 80 points (mine fluctuated even more)
    • There will be fluctuations in your score simply based on whether you get question types that your good at and whether you get some good guesses -- I absolutely hate scientific reading comp questions and guess what I finally didn't get on my last exam....
    • How to deal with this issue? Sadly, the only way is probably to get some reps in, unless you get your lucky exam on your first go (if that's you, congrats on not having to spend another month grinding)

^And that's what I learned. Hope that helps!
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2018, 17:53
Congratulations conshy for the great score. 740 is not a score that we see everyday ......... wish you all the very best for the next phase.
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2018, 11:05
Congratulations conshy! I have been trying to improve my Verbal Score (Currently I'm stuck between 35 and 40). Can you please tell me which resources did you use for practicing 700+ level questions?
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2018, 14:38
Hi aomundada,

For Sentence Correction:

I can't point to any specific guide that I used between my first and last test to boost my verbal. Generally, for someone with a lower score, I wouldn't worry too much about nitty-gritty rules, idioms, etc. However, as you already have a solid verbal score, I'd look at shifting your focus towards more specific and technical rules.

Prep Scholar has some really great youtube videos on the most common idiom errors. I usually reviewed them the night before each test.

You can also pick up some really helpful tips/tricks from other forums on this site. Anytime you come across a really tricky problem, do some digging on this site to come up with a rule that can be applied. Some examples that come to mind: is "everybody" singular or plural, when do I use "could" vs "would," etc.

Again, this is splitting hairs, but when you're already scoring high, getting one additional question correct because of one of these rules can be a huge difference.

For Critical Reasoning:

I rarely practiced this as I didn't think more and more repetition would add much value (most of my verbal practice was all sentence correction). However, the best tips that I can give are the following:

Don't fall for answers that are out of "the scope." There's usually one or two basic criteria/assumptions that arguments are going to depend on, so don't let yourself get carried away when an answer choice brings up a third factor.

Try to generate potential flaws in the argument as you're reading it (i.e. if you're doing a "weaken" question, get yourself used to thinking of different caveats that would hurt the argument as you're reading the argument). Then, when you read the answer choices and one happens to match with a flaw that you thought of, you can select an answer much quicker and more confidently.

Again, some of the other forums on here give much more detail and specific questions than I can. Wish I had something more concrete to point you to but hope this helps.
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2018, 08:28
Congratulations!!

Thanks for the debrief, good stuff to learn from.

what are these non CAT tests from Veritas?


Cheers,
GyM
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2018, 06:17
So, I got a pack of 12 exams from Veritas. The first 7 are non-CAT (the questions are set and don't adapt when you take them). Then, there's a link that will take you to Veritas GMAT Simulator which gives you access to 5 CATs (A-E).

The explanations on A-E are pretty bad, generally. The explanation on most sentence correction questions is "this answer is not wordy and is the most concise choice."

I'd say Veritas is great for their video lectures, but for practice exams, I thought MGMAT and, of course, GMAC were the best.
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Re: Looking Back on a 740 GMAT &nbs [#permalink] 27 Oct 2018, 06:17
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