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My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!

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GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
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My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Aug 2018, 11:52
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Background: Indian, Undergrad - Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science, Professional work experience - 8 years in Information technology sector

It has been several years since I started contemplating on going to b-school, but it was late May 2017 when I decided to take the first step. After a bit of research, booking a GMAT test date before starting preparation seemed to be a good choice. I booked a slot for 27th Oct, 2017.

June'17 to Oct'17: Having booked the test date, I took the GMATPrep Practice Test 1, and scored 640 Q41 V38 IR4. I felt it would not be very difficult to cross 700. Little did I know that after almost 5 months of preparation, I would improve my score by only 20 points (to 660 Q44 V37 IR5 AWA5) on the real GMAT. I realized I didn't prepare well for the test.
Materials used: e-GMAT Verbal online, OG 2016, OG Verbal review 2016, OG Quantitative review 2016, Powerscore CR Bible, GMATClub Quant CAT's.
Mocks: Veritas CAT 1 670 Q47 V35
Veritas CAT 2 660 Q46 V35
GMATPrep Practice Test 1: 720 Q49 V39
GMATPrep Practice Test 2: 710 Q49 V38
Although I scored a dismal Q41 in my first diagnostic CAT before starting preparation, I didn't prepare for Quant as thoroughly as I should have. Throughout the study period, I focused on Verbal, thinking I have a good Quant background to do well on the test day. This was a big mistake. Scores in the two GMATPrep practice CAT's did not represent my actual ability because I didn't take those under timed condition. In summary, I went to the exam under-prepared.
Takeaway: Prepare thoroughly. To not take full length practice tests under timed condition is to cheat yourself.

I knew I had to retake the test.

Mid-Nov'17 to mid-Jan'18: I took a break for a couple of weeks, in an attempt to gather energy for the next leg of my preparation. I lacked a single source for Quant preparation. I decided to invest in a Quant course, and subscribed to e-GMAT Quant Online. It took about 6 weeks to go over the entire prep. material and solve the practice questions accompanying each lesson. The course material is fairly good, covering from basics to advanced concepts. I benefited most from the Inequalities section. Soon, I moved over to the Scholaranium platform for more practice. I had a planned holiday of close to 3 weeks that put a break to the preparation.

Mar'18-mid June'18: Although I returned to work by mid Feb, I could not resume preparation as I was caught up with excessive home-sickness. I resumed preparation in March. To keep a balance between Verbal and Quant, I would take a Quant practice test (each test consisting of 25 to 35 questions) and a Verbal practice test (each test consisting of 25 to 35 questions again) every alternate day. I found the e-GMAT Quant practice questions very useful. In the beginning, I struggled with timing, but I continued to improve day by day. I found that I started to enjoy the Quant practice sessions with questions from e-GMAT Quant scholaranium.

It was near end of April. I didn't book a test date yet. On introspection, I didn't feel ready for the test. Thinking that there are hundreds of practice questions available in GMATClub to be done , I felt overwhelmed. I nearly finished solving Scholaranium questions and decided to test my ability using the Official Question Bank 1 (400+ questions in total, including Quant, Verbal, IR). I would take a Quant test with 31 questions, and Verbal test with 36 questions - to align with the revised official test format. After a few tests, I felt reasonably confident of my improved ability. I continued solving questions until I exhausted the question bank in a few days. I moved on to take the GMATPrep official practice test 1, and scored 760 (Q51, V42, IR8). Despite the good score, I was a bit stressed thinking the score was inflated. Although I repeated the test after a gap of 6 months, I felt I remembered answers to a few Verbal questions. In an attempt to validate my ability level, I moved on to the Practice Test 2 and scored 740 (Q50, V40, IR5). I did not stop and continued to take the remaining practice tests (Test 3 to 6), in which my scores were 740 (Q50 V39 IR8), 750 (Q51, V41, IR5), 760 (Q50, V41, IR8), 740 (Q50, V40, IR8), in order. In between taking these tests, I used to analyze the questions - both which I got correct and which I got incorrect. The fairly consistent performance in these tests (official practice tests are supposed to the best indicator of a test taker's ability!) made me believe I was ready for the real test.

I booked a test slot for 18th May, two days prior. Although I was fairly confident about my preparation, I was a bit nervous going into the Pearson Vue center. I tried to hold my nerves, and got started with the test. I chose the order Q,V,IR, AWA. I felt a bit lost in the very first question in Quant. It was a word based PS question around ratio and proportion. I realized I was unable to concentrate (for reasons unknown) and ended up guessing after 5 minutes. The second question was from Geometry - calculation involved finding area of some zig-zag structure. I spent another 4 minutes only to end up guessing the answer. I felt devastated. I wonder how I refocused myself into the test. The remaining of the section went well, with a few seemingly-hard questions that appeared after the 19th question. I did really well to finish the section with just above 2 minutes remaining. Opted for the 8-minute break, tried to forget how I started Quant, and took a few deep breaths. I finished the test to see a 710 (Q49 V38 IR3) flashing on the screen. I knew 710 was not a bad score (I felt proud of my Quant score after that devastating start!), but the poor IR score made me think that another retake was in store for me.

I ordered for the ESR, which showed that I got another 2 questions incorrect in Quant (apart from the first 2 questions). CR at 57 percentile was my weakest sub-section in Verbal. I ran through a number of videos from Thursdays with Ron series in a bid to improve CR-solving ability. I decided to retake the test within the next 3 weeks. However, I felt so stressed out that I decided to take a break for a week, and went to visit the family. I booked a test slot for 17th June - exactly a month after the previous attempt. During this period, I didn't take any full-length practice test. I primarily focused on my weak areas in Quant and Verbal, practised IR using questions from GMATPrep Question Bank and Official IR prep (48 questions).

Going into my 3rd attempt at the test, I tried to stay as calm as possible. Started with Quant, after solving the initial 5-6 questions, I saw that I was a bit behind and increased my pace. Then I felt trapped in a geometry question and spent about 5 minutes. I didn't recover this time around, and finished the section without attempting the last 2 questions. I knew I couldn't expect a score higher than that in the previous attempt. I decided to continue with the remaining sections as mere practice. Score 650 (Q44 V35 IR8). I had a faint smile on my face - I cancelled the score. IR was the only positive from the test.

Last 2 weeks of June'17: I decided to move on with a GMAT 710, and continue with application phase. Spoke to an experienced Admissions consultant who explained the impact of my sub-par IR score. He also encouraged me to go for another attempt. Self-reflection told me that the biggest mistake I was making on the actual test day was that I was unable to focus and apply my ability. It took me some time to convince myself to take the test once more.

July'18-Aug'18: I started focusing more on the nuances of CR's, RC's. For Quant, I started taking one GMATClub CAT every day. A renewed focus helped me do well in these tests; scores in as many as 22 tests ranged from 49 to 51. I was able to finish the tests well within time. I did not learn any new advanced concept that helped me score well in these tests, but rather increased focus made the difference. I felt motivated. I turned to solving Verbal questions from Manhattan's mobile app for GMAT, tried a few LSAT questions in GMATClub (Actual LSAT CR collections by Broall). I felt that the way answer choices are crafted in LSAT varied from that in GMAT CR. CR being my weakest area in Verbal, I would closely read answer explanations by multiple experts. Gradually, I was able to understand the nuance of GMAT CR framework. I moved on to the 6 Manhattan CAT's - while Verbal questions are reasonably good, the Quant questions seemed to be above the GMAT level, the more so because it seemed that the 2-min per question didn't fit Manhattan Quant. I used to set the timer in Quant section at 75 minutes (instead of 62) and followed 65 minutes for Verbal. Scores ranged from 680 (bombed the Quant section that I did in 62 minutes) to 760. Instead of reading into the CAT scores, I focused on analysing the incorrect questions as closely as I could. I felt an increased level of confidence. Following Manhattan CAT's, I retook the 6 official CAT's, not to measure score (I knew I would get repeat questions since I completed all of them before) but to see whether my test-taking improved, whether I felt fluent taking the tests. I was happy to see 7-8 new questions in each test. Scores ranged from 760 to 790.

I booked the test slot for 17th Aug. I didn't set an expectation of a particular score this time. I only wanted to take the test as best as I could (I felt I was unable to perform to the best of my ability in the previous attempts) and see the outcome. Prior experience taught me that unless I remained calm, I would not be able to get the best out of the test. Went with the usual Q,V, IR, AWA order. I was able to maintain a steady pace throughout Quant, didn't hesitate to guess a couple of questions, and could finish the section in the 62nd minute. During the first break, I told myself to remain calm and focus on the next section. In verbal section, I found myself slightly behind after 17th question. Then came a 6 paragraph long passage (3rd in the section). For a moment, I felt a bit lost. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and started reading the passage. To my delight, the topic was familiar, and I read with renewed energy to finish reading it in a breeze, answered the accompanying questions, and moved on. The longest passage took me the least amount of time! I finished the verbal section in the last minute. Then came the last break; I knew I needed to remain composed in the final hour of the test. In the IR section, I guessed the second and the last question. I found myself a bit slow during the AWA section. I had to pay a price for that - the section timed out before I could submit my response, with one sentence that I tried to add in the last minute remaining incomplete. Then clicked on Next. Another click on Next and the score flashed on the screen. 760 (Q50, V42) - I was elated; my eyes went to the top of screen to see the IR score - it was 8. I thought my GMAT journey came to an end. Until the score report was sent to me, I spent a couple of days in agony, thinking about the AWA timeout. I scored a 5 in AWA.
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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Aug 2018, 14:12
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angshumangayan

Let me be the first one to congratulate you for your stellar score.

Q50/V42 is a truly amazing score.

Thanks for writing a detailed debrief.

All the best for your applications.

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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2018, 14:06
Such a well articulated debrief it is and kudos to your perseverance. :-)

Congratulations angshumangayan on the very well earned 760.
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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 01:07
Awesome debrief and Hearty congratulations for such an awesome score angshumangayan This debrief is motivating indeed mate :)

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Wont give up till i hit a 700+

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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 01:46
Awesome Score!!!!!
any tips for IR? I am really struggling.
All the best for your applications..any college would be proud to have you.
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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 05:55
Gagoosh wrote:
Awesome Score!!!!!
any tips for IR? I am really struggling.
All the best for your applications..any college would be proud to have you.


Free practice questions from GMATPrep along with the questions in the GMATPrep Q Bank should be sufficient for IR practice. If you need extra practice, you may try official IR prep (48 questions) questions.
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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 06:12
Wow...!! That's an amazing and inspiring story..!
Congratulations...!!

Kudos to your patience and passion.

How did you manage to find time with your IT work schedule?
Apart from GMAC Question Pack-1 and GMATPrep tests, have used any official questions?And what has helped you most to improve your IR score from 3 to 8?

Thanks
The Graceful
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Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later!  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 07:07
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TheGraceful wrote:
Wow...!! That's an amazing and inspiring story..!
Congratulations...!!

Kudos to your patience and passion.

How did you manage to find time with your IT work schedule?
Apart from GMAC Question Pack-1 and GMATPrep tests, have used any official questions?And what has helped you most to improve your IR score from 3 to 8?

Thanks
The Graceful


I was lucky to have a few weeks lighter schedule at work. Nevertheless if you prepare diligently, you shall see results.
My IR score dropped to 3 from 5, after more IR preparation! The way I see my IR is, I didn't learn more IR techniques to see the score jump to 8. I just had to manage my focus during the actual test. Having said that, you need to prepare well for all the sections. My story is about how not taking the test well on a day can affect your score. If I were unable to understand this, I would not have been able to convince myself to go for a retake. After scoring between 740 and 760 in the official practice tests, I had to see a 710 and a 650 in the real test. I tended to think that the official practice tests are not good indicators of a test-taker's ability. But I decided to trust these tests (and the actual test itself) and was convinced that the real issue was my inability to apply myself on the real test day.

In summary, prepare well, then take the test well! Result will follow.
Re: My journey to GMAT 760 - 4 attempts and countless hours later! &nbs [#permalink] 27 Aug 2018, 07:07
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