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My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690

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Joined: 22 Oct 2018
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Location: Canada
GMAT 1: 690 Q47 V38
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My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Mar 2019, 13:19
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Hi Guys !

It gives me so much pleasure to write this piece about the initial pain, disappointment and the belief that I'll never score decently on the GMAT to finally the getting a decent score. So many inspirational stories on this platform got me through.

Please forgive me but this is quite lengthy.

Background - I am originally from Africa but migrated to North America for undergraduate studies. I graduated with a BSc. in Chemistry and Mathematical Sciences in 2013. I worked briefly in the lab before realizing this field is not very lucrative without a Masters or PhD. I moved into the corporate world after that, however, I still felt something was missing given my desire to get to top in the business world so I decided to pursue an MBA.

I started studying for the GMAT in January 2018 (on and off) and seriously studying in March 2018. I bought the Official Guide Quant and Verbal books, which I breezed through in the first month, then I bought Princeton Review, and went through that as well. I took a few mocks and scored 630, 650, 680, 630 so I registered for the exam on November 16, 2018. I took an official mock and scored 560, I brushed it off and credited it to nerves. I then purchased another GMAT service provider, utilized their mocks and scored 600, 610, 620, 640, 600. At this point I simply want a score over 600 (I know I aimed really low !) because of how hard people said it was (Piece of advice - trust yourself ! you can do it !! follow your gut !!). I finally took another official mock and scored 580, now I started to panic. I stuck with the GMAT prep software as I felt it was too late to change my study plan. At this point I just realized how the GMAT works and what they are testing for. GMAT is not a test of formulas or what you know; GMAT is a test of how to simplify complex looking questions (key word is looking, they actually aren't that complex if you can identify the tricks). I took official exam on November 16th and scored a disappointing 540 (Q35 V25). It felt the end of the world. I had no idea where to go from here so I took a month off

I was very apprehensive at first, I didn't want to start studying again but I had to as I was determined to reattempt the GMAT in March so I can meet the 3rd round deadlines. At this point, I had attended a few of e-GMAT free webinars. I learned new methods of solving complex problems so I got the free 30 day access to their prep tools. I struggled so much with Absolute Values so I learned that first. The audio lessons were a perfect fit for me. I started understanding the concept better than I ever did. Eventually, I bought the full online course.

I started with a fresh mind. I forgot the about my past struggles and decided to approach the course with a fresh perspective. I also work full time so I had to figure out a schedule that works. One of the tutors at e-GMAT broke down how to reach my target score of 700. He said I would have to put in no less than 160 hours to accomplish this. initially, I broke it down to hours per week but eventually, I decided to go through the entire course. So I woke up everyday at 4AM and studied for 2 hours on the weekdays, while I studied 8 hours per day on weekend. Between work and life stuff, I still found time to commit to my prep (no excuses). e-GMAT tracks how many hours you spend per day studying and it shows you when you log in so I was determined to keep my hours at least 10-15 hours per week.

Quant - e-GMAT / Gmatclub tests / OG

Egmat breaks down the quant section into different categories. Those categories have sub-categories which have sub-categories. I diligently went through each one. I practiced all of the application questions, concept questions, practice questions and OG questions (I never skipped questions). Egmat models their questions after the OG questions as well so it looks similar. One thing I did was to get used to the format of the questions. Once you are used to the way questions are asked, it becomes a lot easier. For instance, knowing that non-negative integers include 0 (which is not a positive integer). It's the little things that make the GMAT conquerable. Egmat also teaches you how to extract all the information from a question. Prior to using this prep, I used to jot down notes once I read question without linking the information - this method makes it harder to solve questions, especially complex ones. I learned to take the time to understand what the question is asking (simplify questions as much as you can), once you do this, it takes significantly less time to solve it. Overtime, I started spending about 60-90 seconds understanding / simplifying the info and 20 seconds solving it. During practice, I really recommend you do not skip a section or set of questions. If you continuously get questions wrong, don't give up, review the solutions (which are extremely detailed) and try to understand the link between why you selected the wrong answer and the correct answer. I also recommend that you review your correct answer choices to make sure that you solved them in an efficient manner (after all the test is time sensitive). Finally utilize gmatclub tests, you get 26 of them for free when you sign up for a prep course. These tests are significantly more difficult; they build stamina and help you solve more complex questions in less time. 2 weeks to my exam, I started practicing OG questions over and over again.

Verbal - e-GMAT/ e-GMAT Scholaranium /OG

The best decision I ever made - period ! I have always sucked at English courses. Never in a million years did I think I'd score a V38. In my opinion Egmat has the best verbal prep out there. I started from the very beginning with the Mastering Comprehension Course. GMAT Verbal section is all about understanding information (no tricks no short cuts). Mastering Comprehension course teaches you how to read and understand information efficiently. DO NOT SKIP THIS SECTION. As with the quant section, go through every verbal section and subsection diligently. Do not skip on any of the questions (application, practice, concept and OG). Finally, utilize scholaranium, it is your best friend. It gauges your skill level and shows you where you need to improve. 2 weeks to the exam, I was scoring a V26 / V27, I reached out to the tutors, they said to review concepts I am struggling with and practice on scolaranium. I reviewed the the concept files of the areas I struggled in and kept on pushing. During test week, I then moved to practicing OG quizzes.

Mocks

I didn't have a lot of time so I restricted my mock taking to the last 3 days before my exam. I only took OG mocks because they are a true representation of your anticipated score. My strategy was to get into a the groove of test taking so by test day, I won't feel nervous (honestly, that day it felt like I was taking my routine mock at 8 AM in the morning). prior to test day my mocks were:

660 - Q49 V32
670 - Q47 V35
660 - Q46 V35

I was pretty scared for my quant. So I practiced a few questions using gmatclub quant test and practiced some verbal ones using scholaranium. I stopped studying at 3pm in the afternoon as my exam was at 8AM on March 15, 2018. I tried to eat healthy, exercise regularly and get 7 hours of sleep during this ordeal. On test day, I ate a healthy breakfast, packed a few healthy snack options and drank a good amount of water. BE CONFIDENT ! YOU ARE ENOUGH AND YOU DESERVE A GREAT SCORE !. This was my mantra during test week. I finished the quant just in time but had 3 minutes left to spare on my verbal. I was relieved to see a final score of:

690 - Q47 V38

V38 ???? I was confused but grateful !!! I was banking on quant but pleasantly surprised with the verbal :)!!!

To those who are struggling with the GMAT - I was there, right there in your shoes. I have cried, been frustrated and nearly gave up. Whatever you do, don't give up. Success is waiting for you if don't give up. If you're struggling the process is working "The process has a way of deceiving you into thinking it is not working". Please reach out if you need any advice, it's a journey no one should go through alone.

I am so sorry this is long - I just want to inspire as many as I can :)!!.
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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2019, 20:50
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Congratulation :cool: Hal90... struggles make journey difficult later after achieved what we want ...it will be so worth of the struggles... :) all the best
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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Mar 2019, 20:22
Congratulations your score and your hard work! 150 points in 90 days is impressive!
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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 10:23
Congratulations Hal90

150 points is really great!
All the best for your applications!
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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 10:37
Congratulations! Thanks for a detailed debrief. Wishing you all the very best for your applications.
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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 12:26
henryford bb @ @gmat1393 CAMANISHPARMAR - thank you guys ! I appreciate the kind words ?

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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 12:27
gmat1393 thank you ! I appreciate the kind words ?!

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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 13:09
Thanks for this inspiration. I have actually given up on GMAT, but reading this, I’ll definitely give it another try.

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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 13:15
Bkeem please don’t ... the GMAT builds u up for your leadership career. It’s tough but if you are persistent ... it will positively impact you ?!

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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 13:24
Hal90, you’re very correct. It’s a stretch that pays off eventually. Thanks

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Re: My 90 Day Journey from 540 to 690   [#permalink] 28 Mar 2019, 13:24
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