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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
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Congratulations on the score!! Your progress is really impressive. You deserve it for the hardwork. All the best for the admissions.

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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
sireeshs wrote:
I started preparing for GMAT in 2013. Yes! 2013. During the first two months of my preparation, I studied through the eBooks of M Review and some other e-books. Diligently completed each and every question in the official guide, tracked time as well as errors. Quant was my strength area. So I didn’t devote much time to learn/revise concepts in quant. I directly jumped into solving official guide (OG) questions by setting a timer for myself and then reviewing the incorrect questions carefully to see where I went wrong.

Two months into preparation, I was happy with my accuracy in quant, but my verbal score wasn’t improving. Not knowing how to improve verbal score, I decided to enroll for GMAT prep classes in Mumbai. After researching classes, I shortlisted two (I) Vipul Bala & Associates and (ii) Kumboree (names changed). I enrolled for classes with Vipul Bala & Assoc.

A couple of factors influenced my decision more than the reputation of the classes: (i) Proximity of the classes to the place i stay (ii) suitability of class timings to my work schedule. After completing the course, I appeared for GMAT in 2013 and scored 690 (Q49, V32). I wasn’t quite happy with my score. I knew my verbal score was very less.

The GMAT classes I enrolled for didn't help improve my verbal score. A few things that I noticed in the classes. Having prepared for 2 months on my own before joining these classes, (i) I felt that some of the concepts that were discussed on the class were very repetitive for me and (ii) the cohort has several students for whom the concepts (both verbal and quant) were new. Thus, when there were class room quizzes, I almost always completed my quizzes earlier than everyone else and usually scored more than my peers. The competitiveness blindsided the real improvement. I compared my progress against the class rather than measuring my improvement day by day.

With single minded focus to improve my verbal score, I started looking at various coaching options. e-GMAT was a new startup back then offering verbal focused GMAT classes online. A couple of things impressed me about e-GMAT. (i) Its verbal classes had less focus on understanding the grammar or using the jargon and more focused on understanding the meaning. (ii) Online classes meant that I don’t have to waste 2 hours traveling and exhausting myself. I could simply take it from my home at my convenience. (It’s a different thing that I actually took the classes from office most of the time :))
I enrolled for e-GMAT verbal classes, while practicing quant on my own. E-gmat verbal classes were unparalleled. My accuracy in sentence correction improved tremendously. I don’t quite remember the critical reasoning / reading comprehension classes much. I re-appeared for GMAT in 3 months and scored a 720 (Q48, V38). Yes, my verbal score improved by 6 points and my quant score dipped by 1 point.

With this score, I started applying for some of the elite B-schools in the US.
• ISB - Admit received
• Wharton - Rejected after interview
• MIT - Didn’t get a call for interview
• Duke - Applied in 2nd round. Didn’t get a call for interview.

My aim was to get some international exposure. During this time, I also got an international mobility at work so I decided not to join ISB and take up international opportunity. I paused my MBA dream. Several travel opportunities and promotions and new roles came up during the last few years and now I am in a leadership role leading a team of close to 50 members and heading the department. 5years passed and my GMAT score expired.

I wanted to pursue my MBA dream now and decided to re-appear for GMAT with an aim to score 750. I knew e-gmat is the right course the moment I saw a debrief from one of the students who had similar journey as mine and scored 760 after enrolling in e-GMAT classes. His story resonated with me. I quickly researched eGMAT and learned that from the time I took up their verbal course in 2013, eGMAT has evolved into a more comprehensive course provider. They started quant classes, launched Scholaranium and even built an interface that allows you to track your accuracy on OG questions.
Impressed with the eGMAT arsenal, I enrolled for their classes in last October. Due to my work demands, I couldn’t spend much time on preparing for the exam in the initial months. I started focused preparation from January and appeared for the test on 30th March. I scored 750 (Q50, V42).

Below are a few things that helped me:

1) It is very difficult to stay focused on your goal amid several distractions in the form of additional work assignments, family functions / commitments to tend to etc. In the first 2 months of starting the course, my work demanded me to travel to two different cities over weekends for recruiting, I had to attend an inescapable family function and several other things. While these have slowed down my preparation, they didn’t distract me from my goal of scoring 750. Remember why you started.

2) Dissect your goal into action steps. There are several tools that provide you the verbal and quant scores needed to achieve 750 (or your desired score). Use them early in your preparation to know what percentiles are you aiming for. eGMAT even goes a step further and gives you section wise percentiles. i.e., percentile score need in sentence correction, critical reasoning, algebra etc. These goals are important and very useful to track where your performance is dropping from your desired level. In my case, a 750 score means I need to have an ability score of 88% or above across all quant sections.

3) Follow the recommended learning path. Each of the course providers spends good amount of time researching the best learning path for their students and then comes up with their recommendations. Trust those recommendations and follow those diligently. Even the traditional books (like Manhattan prep etc.) have a section at the beginning describing how to use the book. Following those instructions will help you extract the most from the course. I can’t speak much for other courses, but in case of eGMAT, the suggestion is to start with refining your strengths before you start improving on your weaknesses. My strength has always been quant. Initially when I started preparing for quant, I felt it was a waste of time since most of things that are taught are already known to me. But I was mistaken. GMAT doesn’t test your knowledge of concepts, it tests how well you apply the concepts under pressure. So it is absolutely necessary make sure you do not falter in applying the concepts you already know.

4) Improvement is a slow/time taking process. If you are initially at a 600 score level, you may see very quick improvement in scores, but improving your score beyond 700 level needs some serious focused effort in tackling your weak areas.

5) While you are learning, (i) DO NOT aim to solve every question under 3 minutes. During my preparation, there were several difficult quant questions that I couldn’t solve in less than 6 minutes. I knew I don’t have that luxury in actual GMAT exam, but I also knew I was learning. So, guessing a question under time pressure while you are still learning, is very detrimental to your improvement.

6) Practice. Review ....Practice...review..: Scholaranium is an amazing tool. Start practicing on scholaranium as soon as you complete a sub section (i.e., Sentence correction / Geometry etc.). Applying the concepts early in your preparation helps in better retention of the concept. Scholaranium cannot be reset. So, I started using it pretty late in my preparation. The result is obvious - I had to revise several concepts again to make sure I am applying those correctly while solving questions in scholaranium. Do not make the mistake of preserving Scholaranium till the end. Use it as you complete a sub section.

7) Be thorough in reviewing your answers. You learn as much from review as from solving a question. Reviewing even the questions that you got correct is very important. This exercise helps you learn new ways of solving a question, besides allowing you to check whether you got the question correct because of right reasons.

8) Acing Critical reasoning helps improve your accuracy in Reading comprehension. Simply put, reading comprehension is nothing but a few critical reasoning passages each making a point. All these paragraphs are coherent and support a central idea. Thus, by acing critical reasoning, you will improve your accuracy on reading comprehension too. The only additional skill needed for reading comprehension is - reading skills. You need to fool your brain into thinking that you love the content of the reading comprehension passage. You should be able to dissect complex sentences into smaller ones to understand the meaning, a skill that is very much necessary for sentence correction section of GMAT.
Reading comprehension = Critical Reasoning + Sentence Correction.

9) Critical reasoning is the easiest to prepare for. Reason: we see an argument in every conversation / every article / every passage we come across daily. Just use those to identify assumptions behind each argument. This way you will train your brain to quickly analyze an argument and spot the assumptions underlying. This skill is invaluable for critical reasoning. (Note: Make sure to not bother others with your analysis. Else, no one will speak to you :))

10) Mocks at the end. Mock tests, at the best are a waste of time until you achieved anywhere close to your desired percentile scores (from point 2). Say you are training for a weight lifting competition. Appearing for a mock test every day will only exhaust your energy and waste your time. Focus on strength training and once you are fit, you could attempt a mock test to build your confidence. Mock tests are only to build confidence not to improve skills.

11) Most important - Set aside some time in your day during which you will prepare for GMAT and make sure you prepare during that time. While enrolling for GMAT, pick a time slot that is similar / same as your preparation hours. Example: Do not pick up a 2PM time slot for the exam, if every day during your prep, you studied from 9AM to 12 noon. You need to find out a time in the day during which your mind is most active. This time varies from person to person. I prepared every day from 6AM to 11AM and when I enrolled, I chose a 9AM timeslot for the test. This may not be possible for everyone, but if one has a choice, it always helps to keep schedule consistent.

I think this post has already turned out to be lengthy. Some of the points below are my generic suggestions:

Online classes are better than traditional classes. Online classes:
(i) Save time - no travel needed.
(ii) Provide you invaluable feedback - all your work is recorded and analyzed to give you personal feedback.
(iii) Convenient time as per your own schedule - You can make them fit into your schedule rather than tweaking you schedule to yours.
(iv) get you acclimatized to screen based test environment easily - you won’t struggle to juggle with key board + note pad in actual exam if you prepared it that way all along.

Things that make eGMAT an un-paralleled course:

(i) Analytics - Spotting weak areas and giving you a plan to improve in those. This is done throughout the course. For each topic / sub-topic your accuracy is analyzed. Scholaranium takes it to the next level by adding takt time. I heard they are even coming up with a new mock test platform that uses neural networks to analyze the candidates skill set and provide feedback in 7 minutes. That should be a breakthrough tool in education.

(ii) Quality of questions. I will put it very simply - for critical reasoning, no other course comes even closer to eGMAT. The quality of questions is just awesome. For the most part, in Verbal section the quality of the questions is determined by how close the answer choices are. In the critical reasoning section, the answer choices will truly test whether you are able to understand and dissect the argument. Bold face questions are dealt with awesomely. After the course in fact I started liking bold face questions more!!

(iii) Organizing the content of the course. This is easy in case of quant and every course provider can do it, but e-GMAt does it for every section. The best again is critical reasoning. It teaches you how to draw inferences, then tells you what is a premise, conclusion or intermediate conclusion then tell you what is an assumption with a very simple examples that test your thinking. The foundations is laid out before jumping into GMAT type questions.

(iv) Methodologies / steps that are consistent to be applied for all types of questions. Some of the steps listed in quant at times appear lengthy, but eGMAT insists "no shortcuts" approach. It helps improve your accuracy immensely. The 3 step process for critical reasoning can be applied for all types of CR questions etc.

Hope this post will be useful for at least some MBA aspirants / GMAT test takers.

Thank you for inspiring the rest of us

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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Great debrief. Thanks a lot !! This inspires people like me who are still driving the GMAT road hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

All the best for your applications.

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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Congratulations on achieving a phenomenal score! Your story is truly inspiring as you did not give up on your dream and continued to work towards it even with all the other factors going on in your life. Best of luck in the future!
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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
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Great debrief.
Congratulations sireeshs on the 750!!
All the best for your apps.
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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Congratulation on a 750. You debrief is impressive and was worth reading. I wish you luck with you applications and I am sure those dedicated 6 years will be fruitful.

Kind Regards!
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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Congratulations Sireesh! Your determination to take the test again with a superb result is testament to your focus and never give up attitude. All the best for the admissions process!

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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Congratulations!!! Its a great achievement and motivation for rest of us.
All the best!!

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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
Great suggestions man! Best of luck with your next steps. What is your actual next plan?
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Re: My Journey from 690 to 720 to 750 (Q50, V42) & Importance of Analytics [#permalink]
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