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Roundabout path to 760

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Roundabout path to 760 [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2017, 12:29
Hi guys, thought I'd give back to the community that helped me out so much, despite my never actually posting anything (I'm a lurker). I have a bit of a roundabout story to my second GMAT attempt and most recent score of 760 (49Q 44V) taken just this past Friday. I actually took it for the first time two weeks prior to this take (710, 44Q 44V), but through a combination of nerves, not being able to properly read the analog clock in the testing center, and general stupidity, went over my allotted break time before my quant section and bombed it (including not finishing the last question).

So definitely don't go over your break time.

Anyways, thought I'd share how I went about the GMAT prepping to add another voice. As always, take with a grain of salt--your mileage may vary.

Background: current senior at a top 5 private university applying to deferred MBA programs

Length of GMAT Prep: ~6 weeks (including the 2 weeks in between the retake), around 1-2 hours a day on average

Prep tools used: Manhattan Prep (Quant and Verbal), Official GMAT Guide (2016), Free GMATClub tests (Manhattan Prep ones especially), Free 2 GMAC GMAT Practice Tests, GMATClub AWA Guide

Prep Details:

My first full-length GMAC Diagnostic Test was a 640 or 630 (don't remember breakdowns). My verbal was decent, but my quant must've been around 36 or something, not great. I took it under testing conditions--including timed breaks. I took a second diagnostic after about 2 weeks of prep, again under testing conditions, when I still had 2 weeks to go before my first GMAT attempt (the 710). I scored 660 (don't remember breakdowns again), with quant again being the weak link. I did not take any more full-length tests after that.

In the beginning 2 weeks, I focused mostly on verbal, especially sentence correction. Those are pretty easy points, in my opinion, since grammatical rules are not hard to learn. I went through Manhattan Prep's sentence correction guide and used the Official GMAT Guide's online question bank, with a focus on hard level questions. Since a large part of the GMAT is about pattern recognition, I figured that doing retired test questions through the Official GMAT Guide was the surest way to familiarize myself with the types of sentences (especially idioms) and grammatical errors GMAT will throw. Other prep materials may not emulate GMAT questions as successfully, so I didn't want to distract myself with other "styles" of sentences. Once you learn the actual grammar rules and types of errors through a prep guide such as Manhattan, I personally think only doing official GMAT sentence correction questions is the way to go. Overall, I probably did around 200 sentence correction questions, including the full-length tests.

Critical reasoning was the same logic and strategy--learn the types of questions GMAT has through a prep guide (Manhattan is what I used), and then practice almost solely on official retired GMAT questions. I did less critical reasoning questions than sentence correction, around 150, including full-length tests.

I did not do any reading comprehension prep, aside from the 2 full-length diagnostic tests. Since I was on limited prep time and am pretty strong at it to begin with, I didn't find it worth my time to prep specifically for it. Also, I think reading comprehension is hard to improve, since it's related to intangibles such as general reading level and familiarity with complex texts, things that my academic coursework (inadvertently) prepared me for acceptably well.

Quant was a different story--despite doing fairly rigorous quantitative coursework, the quant section was the most challenging for me for a few reasons: a lot of the basic geometry things I'd forgotten, time crunch, shortcut "tricks" I needed to learn, and generally tricky questions and unfamiliar question format (data sufficiency). I used Manhattan Prep for testing strategies and practicing hard questions. Again, I found GMAC Official questions to be slightly different but also easier than Manhattan's, so I practiced with both. I did a lot of quant questions, probably around 300 in total, including the full-length tests.

AWA I did not work on much either, since I write essays pretty frequently in my academic coursework. I wrote ~3 essays (including the two full-length tests) to get a sense of time and used the structure from the GMATClub AWA Guide thread. I made sure to vary my sentence structure and to use occasional high-level vocab and the transition words from the AWA guide.

Strategy Takeaways:

Since I'm in finishing up my academic coursework, I could afford to skimp on some parts such as AWA or reading comprehension (and I also had only 6 weeks until deferred admissions applications are due), but this strategy may not be as applicable to those who are further out from college who haven't done such work in a while. However, there are several strategies I think are applicable to all.

(1) Understand the rules behind the types of questions before actually doing practice questions. In other words, read the guides about the types of grammatical errors, math concepts, logic, etc that GMAT tests you on. It gives context to what you're looking at and can help you focus on other, less obvious question patterns.

(2) When reviewing incorrect (or even correct) questions, always attempt the question again before looking at the answer. This forces you to rethink how you did the question in the first place and spot mistakes. Self-correction is the most effective form of learning!

(3) Repetition of quality, focused question practicing is better than quantity in one go. I rarely studied more than 2 hours a day, instead focusing on doing bursts of ~20 appropriately hard questions of one type before doing in-depth reviewing as described. Then I would rest, forget, and relearn, sometimes later in that same day or the next day. The process of forgetting and relearning is important--once you've forgotten and relearned enough times, it'll stick.

I hope this helps some of you out there!

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Re: Roundabout path to 760 [#permalink]

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New post 05 Apr 2017, 02:20
thelittlechef7 wrote:

Strategy Takeaways:

Since I'm in finishing up my academic coursework, I could afford to skimp on some parts such as AWA or reading comprehension (and I also had only 6 weeks until deferred admissions applications are due), but this strategy may not be as applicable to those who are further out from college who haven't done such work in a while. However, there are several strategies I think are applicable to all.

(1) Understand the rules behind the types of questions before actually doing practice questions. In other words, read the guides about the types of grammatical errors, math concepts, logic, etc that GMAT tests you on. It gives context to what you're looking at and can help you focus on other, less obvious question patterns.

(2) When reviewing incorrect (or even correct) questions, always attempt the question again before looking at the answer. This forces you to rethink how you did the question in the first place and spot mistakes. Self-correction is the most effective form of learning!

(3) Repetition of quality, focused question practicing is better than quantity in one go. I rarely studied more than 2 hours a day, instead focusing on doing bursts of ~20 appropriately hard questions of one type before doing in-depth reviewing as described. Then I would rest, forget, and relearn, sometimes later in that same day or the next day. The process of forgetting and relearning is important--once you've forgotten and relearned enough times, it'll stick.

I hope this helps some of you out there!


Point 2 is very important. thanks for pointing that out!

I will use this in my preparation.
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Re: Roundabout path to 760 [#permalink]

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New post 05 Apr 2017, 03:03
thelittlechef7 wrote:
Hi guys, thought I'd give back to the community that helped me out so much, despite my never actually posting anything (I'm a lurker). I have a bit of a roundabout story to my second GMAT attempt and most recent score of 760 (49Q 44V) taken just this past Friday. I actually took it for the first time two weeks prior to this take (710, 44Q 44V), but through a combination of nerves, not being able to properly read the analog clock in the testing center, and general stupidity, went over my allotted break time before my quant section and bombed it (including not finishing the last question).

So definitely don't go over your break time.

Anyways, thought I'd share how I went about the GMAT prepping to add another voice. As always, take with a grain of salt--your mileage may vary.

Background: current senior at a top 5 private university applying to deferred MBA programs

Length of GMAT Prep: ~6 weeks (including the 2 weeks in between the retake), around 1-2 hours a day on average

Prep tools used: Manhattan Prep (Quant and Verbal), Official GMAT Guide (2016), Free GMATClub tests (Manhattan Prep ones especially), Free 2 GMAC GMAT Practice Tests, GMATClub AWA Guide

Prep Details:

My first full-length GMAC Diagnostic Test was a 640 or 630 (don't remember breakdowns). My verbal was decent, but my quant must've been around 36 or something, not great. I took it under testing conditions--including timed breaks. I took a second diagnostic after about 2 weeks of prep, again under testing conditions, when I still had 2 weeks to go before my first GMAT attempt (the 710). I scored 660 (don't remember breakdowns again), with quant again being the weak link. I did not take any more full-length tests after that.

In the beginning 2 weeks, I focused mostly on verbal, especially sentence correction. Those are pretty easy points, in my opinion, since grammatical rules are not hard to learn. I went through Manhattan Prep's sentence correction guide and used the Official GMAT Guide's online question bank, with a focus on hard level questions. Since a large part of the GMAT is about pattern recognition, I figured that doing retired test questions through the Official GMAT Guide was the surest way to familiarize myself with the types of sentences (especially idioms) and grammatical errors GMAT will throw. Other prep materials may not emulate GMAT questions as successfully, so I didn't want to distract myself with other "styles" of sentences. Once you learn the actual grammar rules and types of errors through a prep guide such as Manhattan, I personally think only doing official GMAT sentence correction questions is the way to go. Overall, I probably did around 200 sentence correction questions, including the full-length tests.

Critical reasoning was the same logic and strategy--learn the types of questions GMAT has through a prep guide (Manhattan is what I used), and then practice almost solely on official retired GMAT questions. I did less critical reasoning questions than sentence correction, around 150, including full-length tests.

I did not do any reading comprehension prep, aside from the 2 full-length diagnostic tests. Since I was on limited prep time and am pretty strong at it to begin with, I didn't find it worth my time to prep specifically for it. Also, I think reading comprehension is hard to improve, since it's related to intangibles such as general reading level and familiarity with complex texts, things that my academic coursework (inadvertently) prepared me for acceptably well.

Quant was a different story--despite doing fairly rigorous quantitative coursework, the quant section was the most challenging for me for a few reasons: a lot of the basic geometry things I'd forgotten, time crunch, shortcut "tricks" I needed to learn, and generally tricky questions and unfamiliar question format (data sufficiency). I used Manhattan Prep for testing strategies and practicing hard questions. Again, I found GMAC Official questions to be slightly different but also easier than Manhattan's, so I practiced with both. I did a lot of quant questions, probably around 300 in total, including the full-length tests.

AWA I did not work on much either, since I write essays pretty frequently in my academic coursework. I wrote ~3 essays (including the two full-length tests) to get a sense of time and used the structure from the GMATClub AWA Guide thread. I made sure to vary my sentence structure and to use occasional high-level vocab and the transition words from the AWA guide.

Strategy Takeaways:

Since I'm in finishing up my academic coursework, I could afford to skimp on some parts such as AWA or reading comprehension (and I also had only 6 weeks until deferred admissions applications are due), but this strategy may not be as applicable to those who are further out from college who haven't done such work in a while. However, there are several strategies I think are applicable to all.

(1) Understand the rules behind the types of questions before actually doing practice questions. In other words, read the guides about the types of grammatical errors, math concepts, logic, etc that GMAT tests you on. It gives context to what you're looking at and can help you focus on other, less obvious question patterns.

(2) When reviewing incorrect (or even correct) questions, always attempt the question again before looking at the answer. This forces you to rethink how you did the question in the first place and spot mistakes. Self-correction is the most effective form of learning!

(3) Repetition of quality, focused question practicing is better than quantity in one go. I rarely studied more than 2 hours a day, instead focusing on doing bursts of ~20 appropriately hard questions of one type before doing in-depth reviewing as described. Then I would rest, forget, and relearn, sometimes later in that same day or the next day. The process of forgetting and relearning is important--once you've forgotten and relearned enough times, it'll stick.

I hope this helps some of you out there!


Congrats on the great score! And thanks a lot for the pointers :)
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Re: Roundabout path to 760 [#permalink]

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New post 08 Apr 2017, 15:30
Congratulations! Seems like you used your prep time wisely.

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Re: Roundabout path to 760   [#permalink] 08 Apr 2017, 15:30
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