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My journey to a 710 on the GMAT and admissions

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Joined: 21 Apr 2017
Posts: 7
Location: India
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V38
My journey to a 710 on the GMAT and admissions  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2019, 03:15
Hi everyone,

My journey to GMAT and MBA admissions started in April 2017, ending successfully in an admit from the mecca of MBA education in India in November 2018. The entire journey has been a learning experience for me: to taste success, face failure, come stronger from it, and achieve. As I relied entirely on self-study, GMAT club was a companion throughout this safari of mine. GMATClub is once again my companion as I decided to pen down my thoughts and confessions for the entire experience.

I am an electrical engineer by education and one of the lucky ones to have reaped the benefits of engineering education in my almost decade long career in power sector of India. The drive to MBA came from an innate urge to go beyond the boundaries of my comfy cushy job and do something more. I was lucky to have one of my good friends share the insights of his journey to GMAT and MBA admissions. This helped me get over the inertia at starting something new and kept me inspired.

The plan:
I started gathering the basic materials for GMAT preparation in April 2017. I would say this phase was the familiarisation phase. This phase is the one of the most important ones : to organise, to acquaint with the exam format, devise an initial plan, re-organise, and begin to prepare. This took me a couple of months, as I pondered over the pros and cons of investing an MBA.
I put a realistic time frame to the admissions, and was slated to take the GMAT in October 2017. The habit of self-studying from the engineering days have stayed with me, and I found GMAT doable with the resources and the plan I had devised. I put in around 2 hours every weekday, and a little extra effort on the weekends. GMAT is a different ballgame – it serves to improve your aptitude at problem solving rather than mugging the concepts.
The GMAT diagnostic test set the tone of my preparation – I could identify the specific areas that needed my attention. I intended to spend a good time on verbal, gathering the concepts and putting in the desired practice. To improve on reading capabilities, I picked up a few good novels of my interest and skimmed the newspaper everyday with focus on at least one editorial article. After I prepared a solid base for my verbal skills, I would pick up quantitative aptitude.

I purchased the Manhattan texts on CR, SC and DS (Quant) as a starting point. I also had access to additional materials on all GMAT sections, both texts and question banks.
SC: Its methodical. If you are good a grammar and familiar with the basic rules of English language (reading novels, articles help!), SC should be a cakewalk. The GMATClub book on grammer was godsend, all grammar topics put in an excellent constructive fashion. After completing this grammar book, I focused on Manhattan SC and Aristotle SC. With this, I had a strong footing in SC, and had my accuracy close in the 70% range.
RC and CR: These are related in my opinion. They are based on similar roots, and practicing one enhances the other. Manhattan CR is quite good to form the base to build on. Practice helps apply the basic rules of CR and to be able to identify question types to solve with reasonable accuracy. I had developed speed reading by now, which helped me go through a variety of RC questions. I had the highest accuracy in RC among all sections of GMAT verbal.
DS: This was my focus area in Quant. After brushing up basic concepts from Manhattan texts and GMATClub materials, I focussed on solving a plethora of questions, often from different sources. GMATClub always helped here when I was not sure about the best method of solving a problem. Practicing questions by difficulty level and by topic improved my level of accuracy.
PS: I was innately good at this. With a strong base in quant from DS practice, I found PS a cakewalk. But, this is entirely my perspective, and may have stemmed from a number of reasons unique to my experience.

I purchased Veritasprep mocks for practice. It was a good resource and gave me access to the Veritas question bank besides 7 full length mocks. GMATprep mocks are the most realistic (IMO) and I went on to purchase all six of them (additional four besides the 2 free mocks). Till my test day, I could utilise only four out of the six. In the run upto the test day, I had a goal of solving 50 question per day from the OG, with a balanced approach to all topics. This served me well, and complemented the score improvement on full length mocks.
I preferred to give the full length mocks only on weekend mornings, when I knew I was fresh and had the energy to sit through 4 hours of testing.

AWA and IR:
Yes, these are also important. A good score in AWA is achievable, given you put in the right amount of time and effort to it. Read a few good essays, look up the structure (GMATClub helps!), write a couple, and you would be good to go. There a couple of tools available online for grading your essays. Make use of them judiciously.
A moderate score in IR is necessary. I practiced IR only during the full length mocks, and it was sufficient for me.

Test Day:
I chose to take it light from 2 days prior to test day. This was a conscious decision to ensure I am in the best of my abilities to perform, not burned out by studies. On test day I was fairly relaxed and drove to my test center after light breakfast in good faith. The world had other plans for me: the guy manning the test center was unsure about being able to conduct the test that day, as there were serious network issues. The test started almost 2 and ½ hours late. I stuck through, and gave my best. Voila, a 710 on my screen!

Admissions and re-test:
I will keep this short, largely limited to the GMAT experience. I had applied to only my dream institution and faced interviews in Nov 2017. Not a first success there. But the failure made me learn the gaps in my abilities, and helped me shape up for the next round. I had second thoughts about retaking the GMAT to improve my score further. GMAC had again changed their format, and after putting in about 2 weeks I realised it made more sense to focus on profile building rather on score improvement. In Nov 2018 I tasted success, with admits from the top two institutions for MBA in India, after almost 1 and ½ years since introduction to GMAT. I did not take help from any admissions consultant for essays / interviews, as I felt there is enough material available on the web to get your prepared for these.

- Spend time and devise a good realistic plan. This will help you stay focussed, improve efficiency and you will end up spending less time in long-term.
- Don’t burn yourself out by studies. Have fun learning!
- Be calm, whatever comes your way. It serves well to be captain cool.
- Test your capabilities, align and calibrate the initial plan depending on your assessment. Be sure not to make drastic alternations to the plan though.
- Failures are good. They keep you grounded. Each failure presents an opportunity for success.
- In hindsight, I would say a timeline of 3 months is realistic, given you are at a good base. If not, and you have job commitments, maybe add a month to it.
Its really important to be consistent. A lot of concepts in GMAT tend to fade away soon. So its necessary to keep in touch, even if for half an hour on your
most difficult day.
Lastly, there is no magic formula for success. Having a clear goal and perseverance to pursue that goal pays. Each person is unique, so are their thought processes, goals, likes and dislikes. Carve out a unique plan for yourself and stick to it.
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Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 18190
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5
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Re: My journey to a 710 on the GMAT and admissions  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2019, 21:12
Thank you so much for taking the time to share and post about your prep and experience and of course - Congratulations on your score and Admits!

It is great to see a good ending to a long journey!
Thank you!
Founder of GMAT Club

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Re: My journey to a 710 on the GMAT and admissions   [#permalink] 30 Jan 2019, 21:12
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