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My GMAT path from 600 to 690

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Joined: 07 Apr 2012
Posts: 11
Location: United States
Concentration: Finance, Economics
Schools: Owen '15, Olin '15
GMAT 1: 690 Q50 V31
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My GMAT path from 600 to 690 [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2012, 09:46
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Hello guys,

I have just finished my GMAT last Saturday with 690 (Q50, V31), and I would like to post a debrief which I hopefully help you in your GMAT preparation in some way.

A bit background information of me if you are curious: Originally came from China, I am currently in my fourth year commerce program in a Canadian university.
In my understanding, GMAT tests not only your technical abilities but also the critical analyzing skills that corroborate just enough data necessary, and the ability to reach an effective decision accordingly. Therefore, it is very important to find some good materials to transform our regular thinking into GMAT way thinking.
The first step is to make a SMART goal, namely, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound. eg. I would like to raise my verbal score form 31 to 38 in two months. In order to achieve that, I will need to focus on my greatest weakness-CR by doing 50 CR questions everyday and increase the correct ratio from 50% to 75%.

My GMAT scores;
1. Kaplan diagnosis: 600 Q44, V28 May 28th
2. Kaplan 2 620 Q46, V29 June 10th
3. Kaplan 3 630 Q47, V29 June 20th
4. Kaplan Mock test 670 Q47, V35 August 6th
5. GMAT prep 1 640 Q50, V28 August 19th
6. MGMAT CAT 1 680 Q50, V33 August 27th ( after calibration)
7. Kaplan GMAT 690 Q50, V34 August 29th
8. GMAT prep 2 690 Q50, V33 September 5th
First GMAT 690 Q50, V31 September 6th
( I am kinda confused.... According the score table chart, Q50, V31 correspond to 670.. But it gave me 690 instead.)

Books and Materials used; Pros; Cons; Evaluation score (0-10); Verdict

1.Kaplan on demand prep: The Kaplan has a online lecture and assignment that may help someone with limited time to study GMAT at a constant pace;
The quantitative questions were too easy that I found of little value and the Verbal questions is kinda different from real GMAT questions especially CR ( Some arguments are not so logic sound as OG question) and RC ( It is much harder than real GMAT questions in that it deliberately makes the problem stem confusing, really GMAT questions may have a very obscure structure but never an unclear question stem.) Overall score: 5; If you want to get a score around 600 with minimum effort invested this could be your choice, but if you want to shoot high you may find this material of little usefulness.

2. MGMAT: 1-9: They are probably the best prep materials you can find, and I strongly recommend the whole collection to anyone who is serious about GMAT. If you are strong on quantitative and relative weak on verbal you will probably be fine with only: NP, SC. Those twos are the paramount of GMAT books, I reckon it as I have heard from people time and time again; The only complain I could come up with is that the CAT quantitative questions are much much harder than real GMAT questions. I got Q50, V33 on my first CAT. Do not get frustrated if you find MGMAT tough; I believe most people did. Overall score: 10; I could not have increase my scores in such a limited time without those books.

3.OG13 and GMAT-tookit: It is a must-have as its title suggests the only study guide published from the test-maker and the GMAT toolkit is a great complement. This guide provides the most GMAT-like questions as you can reasonably assume. The overall difficulty is slightly lower than real ones. Overall score: 10.

I have been studying for around 200 hours, 2 hours per hour in June, and then I was pretty occupied by my summer job. Minimum preparation was done during July and mid August. After that, I went thought an intensive studying time frame-- from mid August to September, studying 8 hours everyday. My hindsight is that if you do not have abundant time, then you should spend more time to work on your weakness rather than to enhance your strengths. I will further break my thoughts based on sections.

General strategies

1. Read questions thoroughly as most question will ask something that is not the value you got directly from equations.
2. Know the properties, especially number properties, perfect square values, Pythagorean theorem, prime numbers, etc.
3. Know the 12*12 value table, it is extremely useful if you can compute those values intuitively. I normally finish first 30 quantitative questions in 50 minutes to guarantee that I have sufficient time for last few questions.
4. Use plug-in numbers sparingly, there are situations which they work ineffectively and consequently consume your precious time.
5. For DS questions, make the full use of every single bit of available information. Simplify the question stem and list the possibilities of mutual exhaustive situations (whatever makes it easier to solve, and converge the similarity. e.g., If the question asks for the value of y, and one stimulus expresses the value as : x= y^2, converge it to y= radical x, and with the hidden premise that x>or=0.

Verbal: It is always important to be effective first and then become efficient. I used to rush on a number of last questions as I do not have much time left, but I am able to speed up after intensive practicing. Additionally, examine extreme statements carefully because they are rarely right.

RC: Read more article in your spare time and this is the only way to be effective and efficient. Try to jog down something while you are reading the articles. I found MGMAT headline system very useful. Read the first question stem first so that you know what to look for, and then write down the purpose of each paragraph, Leave out detailed facts as you will need to look up in the passage again to make sure.

CR: There is no shortcut to improve besides practicing. However, it is useful to know the types of CR questions. It is strongly recommended that you use work from the wrong to right approach; pick the one you found most reasonable.

SC: ... :oops: :oops: :oops: Unfortunately I suck on SC, but i think it is very important to know the idioms and the sentence structures.
Out of 11 verbal incorrect question on my GMAT prep 2, 7 of them are SC... 2 on RC and CR each.
I am going to retake the GMAT in late October most likely, since I think I could raise my verbal score primarily on SC.

Test day experience

1. Please arrive the test center at least 30 mins before the test to check in and to familiarize the environment. Remember that if you are not the citizen or PR of the country where you are having test, only passport will be accepted.
2. Gatorade or any energy drink is essential as they replenish the glucose level and thus make you productive.
3. Take optional breaks, 8 mins are shorter than you think and the invigilators won't call upon you when you don't come back in time, breath deeply and tell yourself that you can do it.
4. You should write something down before the test if you can.( On the test center I participated, the invigilator do not log you in automatically so I have some time to write down something). In order to manage my time wisely, I broke group up questions in tens and wrote down the expected time I should have finished them on top of the booklet, such as: 1-10 , (60 mins remaining), 11-20 ( 40 mins remaining) and A B C D E columns.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find it useful. As I stated above I plan to retake my GMAT in order to get 720 (Q50, V38), the logical step would be utilizing the GMAT club website in the future especially the verbal section. I have the GMAT member question banks but never had the time to do it... Guys, thanks in advance if you have any recommendations that you think will be beneficial for my SC preparation. :) :lol:

Wish you all best luck on GMAT preparation and test. :-D
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My GMAT path from 600 to 690   [#permalink] 10 Sep 2012, 09:46
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My GMAT path from 600 to 690

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