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# My Rough Start (A Tad Long)

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Director
Joined: 13 Aug 2009
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06 Aug 2010, 02:06
Well done, Vince. Keep up the good work, coming from a fellow CPA.
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Manager
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06 Aug 2010, 09:59
Hey Dawgie. I'm curious, what do you think of the GMAT, being from an accounting background? I have people telling me I shouldn't have a problem as it's just math and verbal...right.... I usually explain to others that my job doesn't usually involve me doing complicated mathematical calculations. To me, being a CPA is knowing the rules, laws, statutes and strategies of accounting. Then, taking this knowledge, knowing when, how and where to apply said knowledge. In other words, it isn't about adding but about rules and structure (don't we have calculators and programs to do the adding?). What do you think? I'm curious to find out how other CPA's see things.
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06 Aug 2010, 10:44
This may help you. I am a CPA. I got my license in 1980. I'm also a CFE. I passed that exam two years ago. I have BBA and MS degrees in accounting, and right now I'm finishing a MS in digital forensics. I'm also 59 years old, so I'm really far removed from my high school math. This summer I've been taking Knewton. It kicked my butt in an extreme manner. It is a great review course, and I would recommend it to anyone. My problem is that I'm very far removed from the subject matter. I took the GMAT earlier this summer before Knewton and got a very rude surprise. I've since taken Knewton, started a new study plan, and also started seeing a sports psychology coach for visualization training. I finished a full load in summer school last night, and now it is all work and GMAT. I want to enter a PhD program in accounting and use my 30+ years of public accounting experience to teach the next generation of CPA's.

My advice is this: Knewton is a good online review, but you will need additional study aids. I'm using a math review guide from Cliff's Notes (Math Review for Standardized Tests) and working my way through the text. An MBA is great, but, in my humble opinion, overvalued unless you get it from one of the top programs in the country. Consider a specialized degree (computer science, for instance) that might allow you to hop fields if you are interested. Otherwise you are correct with going for a MBA.
Manager
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Schools: Duke - Fuqua
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07 Aug 2010, 21:44
I'm now working my way through the Manhattan Verbal books. My impression so far is that SC is the BOOK! The other two...well, not much there for me. I think, being a native speaker and a serious reader, my reading comprehension is strong. I just skimmed the other two books.

After the first third of SC, I can already recognize some of my earlier errors. I can also see areas where I'm very strong and others where I'm weak (stupid modifiers!!!). I know I'll be making a second pass through this book.

Also, I'd like to say thanks again to this website and its users. There are some awesome resources for Verbal on here!

Posted from my mobile device
Manager
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09 Aug 2010, 19:33
I thought I'd give a quick update again. I think it might be helpful for others to see my progress and perhaps some of the pain involved in this process. As of this afternoon I have finished the Manhattan Series. I already know that I'll be hitting a couple of the books again for a refresher such as SC and Number Properties. Those two books seem to have quite a bit of meat in them.

So what's next? Well, I still have the GMAT Verbal and Quant Review books as well as the OG 12th. In addition, I've picked up the 11th Edition. I found a great set of videos on YouTube where the instructor goes through and explains hundreds of Quant questions straight from the 11th Edition. It is incredibly straightforward and easy to follow. So, that's what I plan on hitting next. That should take quite some time as there are 41 videos on just the 155 DS questions. In addition, he also has 54 videos covering an additional 249 Quant questions. Not too shabby, and for free!

As for how I'm feeling about things in general, I feel pretty positive. At this point, I can see where I went wrong on a lot of my Verbal questions in the GMATprep. Also, to be honest, I took that test at just about the worst time for me (mid-afternoon). I know that my attempt was not the best I could have done, what with the time I took it and the fact that I rushed. In Quant, I guess I'll know better after watching all these videos and then taking another couple practice tests. Back to studying!
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10 Aug 2010, 09:23
VinceCPA wrote:
Hey Dawgie. I'm curious, what do you think of the GMAT, being from an accounting background? I have people telling me I shouldn't have a problem as it's just math and verbal...right.... I usually explain to others that my job doesn't usually involve me doing complicated mathematical calculations. To me, being a CPA is knowing the rules, laws, statutes and strategies of accounting. Then, taking this knowledge, knowing when, how and where to apply said knowledge. In other words, it isn't about adding but about rules and structure (don't we have calculators and programs to do the adding?). What do you think? I'm curious to find out how other CPA's see things.

If you come from an accounting background, chances are your CR and RC are pretty good from interpreting accounting/tax laws/rules etc. It won't help you at all in the quant or SC area though.
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Manager
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10 Aug 2010, 12:00
I decided to skip studying this morning and instead take a practice test. I just closed my office door, asked not to be disturbed, and got to work.

I knew from last week how I was doing, but that was before I even touched Verbal in MGMAT. So, after finishing SC, I took a crack at the first MGMAT test this morning. I am incredibly excited to report that I got a 710 (Q45, V41). I was absolutely shocked when that score popped up. I can't even convey how excited and happy this makes me. What a motivational shot in the arm! I felt like an idiot while taking the test. I felt like I was missing a bunch of stuff, especially in Quant, and was just hoping to break into the 600+ range.

I hope this is the start of an awesome and exciting pattern. We shall see.
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10 Aug 2010, 13:03
Holy crap, WELL DONE Vince, keep up the good work to solidify that 700! Give more tips!
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Manager
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10 Aug 2010, 13:27
Dawgie wrote:
Holy crap, WELL DONE Vince, keep up the good work to solidify that 700! Give more tips!

OK, I guess my tips and strategies have been a bit sparse so far. Really, I am of the belief that each individual finds the course that works best for them so what I'm doing is likely not what would work for someone else. So here is my work to date:

1. The first thing I did was research the heck out of what books and materials I wanted. I based my final decision on not only the opinions of people on here but also on my goals. As I read on this forum, if I were content with an average score, I could have gone with a simpler and straightforward set of guides. As my goal is to hit 700+, I went with the toughest, hardest, roughest set out there. Better to get burned now while studying then burned on the test day!

2. A nice example of getting burned now would be my first practice test where I absolutely bombed it with a 420. It is good to know where you are starting from. In this case, I am able to see my growth over time, which helps keep me engaged in the process.

3. As for my purchases, I bought all 8 MGMAT books. I also have the GMAT Verbal, GMAT Quant, and OG 12th for their questions. In addition, I have bought the 11th Edition (super cheap and more on why I bought it later).

4. After reading on here, as well as other forums, I jumped right into the MGMAT books, starting with volume 1 and working through them. I'll admit I was working fast but I find that it works for me. I absorb a lot and am also able to connect ideas and concepts from different volumes more easily when there isn't a huge gap in the studies.

5. I have taken 3 tests so far. The results are:

GMATprep 7/22/10: 420 (Didn't record breakdown and erased that sucker!)
GMATprep 8/5/10: 590 (Q36, V35)
MGMAT #1 8/10/10: 710 (Q45, V41)

6. I'd say the quick progression in score is from a number of factors. First, some of the material is really just relearning old things I have forgotten. I know there are definitely some math concepts I have NEVER touched, but the verbal concepts aren't new to me. Still, it has been well over a decade since I studied them. Also, I am a voracious reader and that helps a lot (as well as being a native speaker of course). In addition to the relearning process, I have tackled this like a madman and have been studying a lot.

7. As for the tests so far, I am already seeing a pattern in the questions. This has helped a lot in DS as well as Verbal. One of my few inherent strengths is pattern recognition, which helps a ton in some situations (this luckily being one of those situations). I know this isn't news to anyone, but practice is the key. Concepts are fundamental of course, but so is learning the patterns of the questions. Some answers hinge on such stupid little minutia that any edge, even from recognizing the patterns of the GMAT tricks, helps a lot.

OK, I think that's all for now. I am still very new to the whole process. I have only been studying a few weeks so I'm definitely not an expert like some of the posters on here. What I am is very motivated and stubborn. Also, I love to help others (I used to be a teacher after all) so any help I can give, just send me a question.

Last edited by VinceCPA on 21 Sep 2010, 13:38, edited 1 time in total.
Manager
Status: Prepping for a Re-take?
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10 Aug 2010, 14:13
Vince,

It's great to hear that you're progressing so well! Do you find that the material you are reading is helping to simplify the questions that you see on the tests? I'm kind of in limbo right now because I'm waiting on my MGMAT series to come in. I ordered the MGMAT Math Fundamentals to really brush up on my math. I'm not that worried about my verbal at the moment. I do some practice questions on my phone and get most of them right. I'm just hoping that the MGMAT quant books will help to paint the picture more clearly. Congrats again on your progress. I'm also reading my Kaplan Premier 2011 while I wait.
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10 Aug 2010, 14:28
Womiwom wrote:
Vince,

It's great to hear that you're progressing so well! Do you find that the material you are reading is helping to simplify the questions that you see on the tests? I'm kind of in limbo right now because I'm waiting on my MGMAT series to come in. I ordered the MGMAT Math Fundamentals to really brush up on my math. I'm not that worried about my verbal at the moment. I do some practice questions on my phone and get most of them right. I'm just hoping that the MGMAT quant books will help to paint the picture more clearly. Congrats again on your progress. I'm also reading my Kaplan Premier 2011 while I wait.

Hey Womiwom,
I think the study material is training me to understand just what the GMAT is asking on the tests. It's funny, but when we take tests, we often jump to conclusions. I think one of the big tricks (or strategies) I've learned is to look for what the question is really asking. In a DS, simplify that question down to a simpler question instead of the confused mess they often give you. The same applies to just about any other type of question on the tests. In reading comprehension, look for the hook (or trick). I think just about every single one I've come across has at least one question that is blatantly trying to trick you with junk answers. With practice, you can get pretty good at spotting these, then taking a breath and looking over the answer choices for the one that solves their little riddle.

As for the MGMAT Fundamentals book, I actually bought that too. The problem is, I scanned through it and it was too basic even for me. I think the MGMAT books actually do a nice job of starting with easier material and progressing along an almost linear growth in difficulty. I will say that the Quant books get incredibly tough for me in the advanced sections. This isn't the case in Verbal. So in answer to your question, I'm guessing that the books will work well in painting that 'math' picture for you.
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10 Aug 2010, 18:28
Vince,

Thanks for the reply. When are you planning to take your test? I'm giving myself plenty of time (early to mid December). I appreciate the thoughtful comments, and I hope that you get the score that you're shooting for. I'm aiming for 700+, but not because the schools that I'm applying to require it. It's more of a personal accomplishment kind of thing for me. I'll let you know how it goes after I get my books.
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11 Aug 2010, 06:58
Vince,

Congrats on your progress!! Its all about diligence, discipline, and perseverance!...so I've been told.

I am on MGMAT Quant review book #3. This is my second attempt on this exam. Last week, I was losing motivation in prepping for the GMAT; however, I am now inspired by your post to get focused and rethink overall approach to the exam. Thanks for sharing!
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12 Aug 2010, 09:10
Hi Womiwom,
I'm trying to be fluid in my timing for the test date. I have read that you want to take the test when you are at your peak in studying. I'm in a situation where there are three test centers nearby. If I'm willing to drive over an hour, add a bunch more. So, there should be ample test times available for when I feel like I'm just about ready (I just checked the center 3 miles away and September is almost completely open!). At this point, I think when I start consistently hitting 700+ scores, it should be time to schedule it. This worked really well for my two professional licenses and I'm hoping that trend continues. As for why I'm pushing so hard, I actually am aiming for a top school. With my current career, if I don't get into a top 15, there really isn't a good enough reason to spend the time and money on an MBA. So with that, I'm motivated to hit the high scores.
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13 Aug 2010, 14:20
I'm just about done with all of the DS questions from OG 11th. I've been solving them in conjunction with videos on YouTube. These videos have been helpful most of the time, though I've found a couple of errors in the instructor's work, but then sometimes the errors are actually due to stupid typos in the OG.

In order to keep my Verbal fresh, I just finished a question bank from MGMAT for RC. I have to say, the more I study that stuff the better I feel. I ended up getting 4 wrong, but I hit every single 700 - 800 question (the last 7 in a row were of this variety). I think the ones I missed were just careless errors. I really don't feel like some of the 700 - 800 are really that difficult. I hope I'm not just getting excessively lucky.

Here is a piece of my strategy for RC: Before I read the question I read the stem. Just like with DS and simplifying what they're asking for, I do the same with the RC questions. After recognizing what they want me to solve, I read the question and answer it before I ever look at the choices. I almost always find that my answer is in the choices. When I don't find it, there is usually one pretty close. This has worked really well across the Verbal questions.

Now, I realize that a big advantage for me is that I read quickly. Also, with my job, I read quite a bit of legal/tax documents where I need to accurately and logically break down the statements I'm reading (I suggest reading Accounting Today for some good practice as it's free online). Still, I don't see why this can't translate across for others, at least to some extent.
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16 Aug 2010, 13:38
I feel like I'm having one of those more difficult days, almost as if I've hit a wall. I can't seem to concentrate today and I missed some incredibly easy questions. I'll just chalk this up to a very bad day and I hope I can get back on track later. I am still working away at some Quant in OG, but it's a slow slog through the questions. Dang, very discouraging.
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16 Aug 2010, 17:14
Vince,
Don't worry about it. You've been progressing so well that a little speed bump shouldn't set you back. I'm sure you'll bounce back.

Posted from my mobile device
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18 Aug 2010, 12:13
I just took my second MGMAT and got my butt handed to me. I scored a 630 (Q44, V32). The interesting thing is how my Verbal score moved over the course of the test. I have a serious problem with low-blood sugar. It literally feels like my brain shuts off and I can't add 2 + 2. I'm NOT exaggerating. It's weird. So I felt like I hit a wall, head first, during the Verbal section of the test. Looking over the results, I see that I was in the 90%+ through question 21, then I just missed question after question. Now I'm kicking myself for not taking a break between Quant and Verbal, grabbing a snack, etc. Oh well. Live and learn. I did find it interesting that my Quant was pretty consistent with my earlier score. I feel like I was well on my way to duplicating my 710 score on the previous test before my brain fizzled.

My plan at this point is to finish practicing out of OG, going back to Manhattan for a second pass, take the MGMAT tests at set intervals to gauge progress, one more GMATprep just before the test, then take the actual test. Any thoughts?
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18 Aug 2010, 12:45
I think MGMAT is great to get a sense of how the real exam may look but I wouldn't live and die by MGMAT. The MGMAT has excellent sentence correction problems but my opinion is that its RC and CR problems are much lower in quality.

Use your score as a motivator to do even better --- rather than as a de-motivator.

Best of Luck.
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24 Aug 2010, 13:43

I think the biggest difference recently is my use of flash cards. Now, I have NEVER used flash cards before. I made it through all of my schooling, through my CPA and CFE tests without them, but now I finally broke down and started using them. It has made a difference for me. It isn’t just studying them all of the time, but the process of actually writing down the ideas, concepts and examples. I have worked at distilling the best tips, tricks, time-savers, strategies and such from MGMAT. Also, I can see some spots I missed on my first run-through so I’m still adding to the collection.

At this point, I feel pretty comfortable with the concepts, ideas, and rules. My biggest area to improve is in the application, and so I need to just practice. I’ve read everything, and with my second trip through the books I expect I’ll understand quite a lot, so I think it’s just down to learning when and how to use the information.
Re: My Rough Start (A Tad Long)   [#permalink] 24 Aug 2010, 13:43

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