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My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!!

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My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!! [#permalink]

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New post 17 Dec 2011, 17:00
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I have been waiting a long time to be able to write this post. Over the past 9 months, I would often start daydreaming in the midst of studying on what I would write in a post like this. I would daydream for few minutes shake it off and then try to focus again. Reading others GMAT success stories, many of them on this website, served as inspiration for me to keep going. I set out to prove that anyone can get a great score with enough drive and determination and I succeeded. It is funny because now that the time has finally come to write all of this down, I am somewhat at a loss for words. So I am just going to start at the beginning:

Background: Let me start of by saying that I am not a naturally gifted test taker. So if I can get a 700 on the GMAT then, with enough hard work, anyone can. I graduated from my undergrad in august of 2010. I was not sure what I wanted to do for a living but I got a job as a financial analyst at a major defense corporation. I quickly found out that it was not what I wanted to do for a career. By March 2011, I had performed enough research to come to the conclusion that I wanted to transition to investment banking. In order to get into investment banking I would need to get a good MBA and to get into a good MBA program I would need a good GMAT score. This was why I was so motivated to do well on this test, it would be the key to everything else.

Test Scores: (All under timed conditions except otherwise noted with a *)
3/1/2011 – GMATPrep 1 – 520 (32Q, 29V)
4/20/2011 – MGMAT 1 – 620 (39Q, 36V)
6/5/2011 – MGMAT 2 – 550 (34Q, 32V)
6/19/2011 – MGMAT 3 – 580 (40Q, 31V)
7/18/2011 – MGMAT 4 – 680* (47Q*,35V) (*I took the quant section untimed to see if I understood the content)
8/1/2011 – MGMAT 5 – 580 (32Q, 38V)
8/5/2011 – GMATPrep 1 – 590 (38Q, 32V)
8/6/2011 – MGMAT 6 – 690 (39Q, 45V*) (*I think they ran out of 700-800 level questions in the verbal bank and that is why my score was so high)
8/8/2011 – GMATPrep 2 – 670 (44Q, 38V)
8/11/2011 – Real GMAT Attempt 1 – 660 (43Q, 38V)
11/19/2011 – MGMAT 1 – 680 (47Q*, 35V) (*I did this one untimed to build some confidence)
11/26/2011 – GMATPrep 1 – 700 (45Q, 40V) (This one was very exciting, the first time that I ever saw 700!!)
12/3/2011 – Kaplan Diagnostic – 650 (43Q, 34V)
12/5/201 – MGMAT 2 – 700 (45Q, 40V)
12/11/2011 – MGMAT 3 – 640* (43Q, 34V) (*I had just got off of a 4 hour flight before I took this one)
12/14/2011 – MGMAT 4 – (45Q) (Skipped the verbal section)
12/15/2011 – GMATPrep 2 – 670 (44Q, 38V)
12/17/2011 – Real GMAT Attempt 2 – 700 (48Q, 38V) ( I was seriously ecstatic when I saw this score come up)

First attempt – At first, I was just trying to study out of the OG 12th edition only. I did a few practice tests and realized that I was going to need some additional support. So I enrolled in a manhattangmat live online course, which was very helpful. They sent me all of the manhattangmat study guides, the OG 12 and the OG Quant and Verbal 2nd additions. I did every single part of that course to a T, even the additional challenge problems. By the end of the course I was disapointed because I had seen only marginally improvements in my score and I was still a long ways away from my target score of 700. So from then on I seriously studied every day, 2 hours per day during the week and 4 hrs per day on the weekends. A lot of my friends/relationships were put to the side so I could continue to improve. I was living with roommates and I am not going to lie it was very challenging to study with them always partying/raging/djing/dancing/video gaming/drinking/smoking/making messes, you get the picture. For my first attempt, I didn’t keep an error log but instead made flash cards of key things that I needed to know. I was also having a hard time with my timing on the quant section. I fixed this by dividing each page of the paper they give you into 4s and puting target times in the corner of every eighth box that descended by 15 (60,45,30,15). My first attempt was on 8/11/2011 and I got a 660. I had mixed feelings when I saw this score because it was better than my honest expectations but it still wasn’t what I really wanted. My best advice is if deep down you know that you want a better score then you should go for it or you’ll always regret it.

Second attempt – After receiving a 660, I realized that with my limited work experience and a non-pedigree background there was a slim chance that I could get into a school good enough to get me into investment banking. So it was clear that I needed to take the GMAT again but I wasn’t going to be able to study in the city that I lived in because I had to much of a social life there and it was too distracting. As a result, I took a transfer at work to a new position in Syracuse New York, 2,000 miles away from everyone that I knew. I made this move for several reasons, to be able to focus on the GMAT for a second attempt, and to do some real soul searching. Once I got to Syracuse I got back at it again. Without any friends or a social life to speak of the GMATClub and studying became my best friends. I studied everyday from 6-10pm during the week and from noon-6pm on the weekends. I tried to do a practice test every weekend under test simulated conditions and worked through challenging OG problems during the week. I kept an error log, did OG problems in sets of 37 and redid every one that I got wrong until I got it right. Luckily I don’t have a photographic memory so the MGMAT and GMATPrep test practice tests were like new every time I retook them. The test day, this morning, I went in feeling like crap. My stomach was in knots and I hadn’t been able to eat in almost 24 hours. I took a few tums, an advil, slammed two energy vitamin waters and bit the bullet. Luckily the test center was small and there was only a few other test takers in the lab with me. I did the entire test without earplugs. I also forgot to bring my sweater in to the room and was freezing the entire time. Luckily, I kept up the pace and the questions seemed to be coming to me really easy. I finished each section with a few minutes to spare. On the breaks, I did a quick lap around the building, stretched and even threw in a few jumping jacks to get the blood going. People probably thought I was crazy lol. When it was all said and done, I confirmed my results and saw a 700 (48Q, 38V) on the screen. I can honestly say that this was one of the happiest moments of my life. 9 months of rigorous studying and moving 2,000 miles away from everyone that I knew really paid off.

I wish you all the best of luck in your studies and I hope that you get your target scores like I did. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions at all and I would be glad to help in any way that I can.

Last edited by gatoradedrink on 14 Feb 2012, 11:01, edited 1 time in total.
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GMAT 1: 720 Q51 V36
Re: My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!! [#permalink]

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New post 17 Dec 2011, 18:28
Congratulations. That's a great score. Best of luck with your applications.

cheers :beer :beer
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GMAT 1: 740 Q48 V44
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Re: My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!! [#permalink]

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New post 18 Dec 2011, 17:49
Congratulations! :-D :-D :-D
There are many of us who have seen significant score improvements due to plain 'ole HARD WORK. I'm always glad to see people post about these experiences because it sure helped me when I was recovering from my first GMAT.

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Re: My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!! [#permalink]

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New post 18 Dec 2011, 21:47
congratulations and good luck for your application part

Could you please let me know how many mistakes in verbal ,you did to score 700 (11/26/2011 – GMATPrep 1 – 700 (45Q, 40V))?
Joined: 17 Nov 2012
Posts: 22
Re: My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!! [#permalink]

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New post 20 Dec 2012, 17:35
a very touching post. Reward for those who believe in dreams and bravely make dreams come true.
Re: My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!!   [#permalink] 20 Dec 2012, 17:35
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My GMAT story: From 520 (39Q, 29V) to 700 (48Q, 38V)!!

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