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Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery

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Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2019, 02:35
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How many months will it take me to score 700+?

It’s probably one of the most frequently asked question by the candidates who have just started their GMAT journey. And GMAT forums are full of stories, in which candidates have scored 700 or above in a couple of months.
However ----- and it’s a big ‘HOWEVER’ ---- there are ‘many’ unwritten stories, which have never turned into debriefs. And one of those unwritten stories was mine, a story of almost no improvement despite hard work spanning over 2 years!!
Indeed, there are stories that convey how hard work led people to success. Textbooks are full of stories extolling hard work – the stories of the hardworking ant, of the tireless spider, and so on. Even the movies, from Rocky to Shawshank Redemption, hail hard work in some way or the other. Even though these stories kept me going, I always wondered why, in my case, hard work was leading me to…. nowhere. And the biggest learning of my journey has been that hard work ‘alone’ does not bring improvement.

My story is a journey from GMAT 560 (that I got after two years of preparation) to GMAT 690(V34 Q49) that I scored recently. I have failed miserably several times during this journey. Even though V34 may not be an eye-catching score for a few folks, this post is for the candidates like me, who struggled to improve in verbal and stayed at a very low score (V19-21) even after giving a lot of time and putting in a lot of hard work.
I share my journey in the hope that it helps a few people not go through the unproductive struggle that I went through and save precious few months (or years) of their time.

I have around 12 years of experience in Information Technology. I have worked across multiple geographies around the globe. I thought of GMAT when I thought of advancing my career from technology to management i.e. around 6 years back. However, I kept busy with my daily routine, each day a copy of the previous one.
It was only about two years later that I started seriously preparing for GMAT. Having no understanding from where to start the preparation, I surfed the internet and came across GMAT success stories on different forums. On reading those stories, I came to conclude that 3-4 months should be a good enough time to prepare for the exam. How wrong was I!! (And believe me - one of the purposes to share my story is to dispel the misconception that anybody can ace the test with 3-4 months of preparation)
I started my preparation from Kaplan’s GMAT book. The book provided a decent idea regarding overall structure of the test. However, I realized that I would not be able to prepare for this exam on my own. Thus, I joined an institute to get some help.

After going through the classes at the institute and the corresponding material, I took GMAT and scored a disheartening V19! I realized then that the test was nowhere as easy to ace as I thought it to be from my reading of the success stories.

I kept on searching for ways to improve. I came to know about an online test prep course, e-GMAT. Desperate for improvement, I subscribed to the eGMAT course and started preparing. Even though I really liked its approach on SC, my GMAT score didn’t improve.
After going through the course that had helped hundreds of students ace GMAT and still seeing no improvement in my score, I saw this thought originating in me:
‘I will never be able to improve.’

However, the hardworking ants, the tireless spiders, the Rockies, and the Shawshank Redemptions of the world did not allow me to quit. I picked myself again and sought help from a few friends who had scored well on GMAT. I redid all official guides. I also took help from some tutors. By now, I remembered all official questions (whether from OG, VR, or GMAT Prep software; whether from CR, SC, or RC) by heart.

However, when I took GMAT as I was about to travel to US for a work assignment, I scored an-all-the-same-score-V21.
Seeing failure after failure despite tremendous struggle and hard-work, I reasoned that the Rockies were only in the movies and people, who scored well on GMAT, were from some different world. During the travel, I consoled myself that the life was not all about GMAT or MBA.
However, a part of me still believed that improvement was possible.

In transit, as I was sitting at Heathrow airport and surfing the internet, I read about Chiranjeev Singh, an IIM-A graduate (that’s what I noticed about him). I read that he provided private GMAT coaching. On further research, I read good reviews about him.
Seeing a glimmer of hope, I thought, ‘why not try?’.

I looked at my phone and saw that I could still make phone calls. I called Chiranjeev right there and then, from the airport.
By now, I was not looking anything close to 700. I just wanted to go beyond V21.
I related my story to him and asked him whether I can improve. His answer came, matter-of-factly, “Yes, anyone can improve”. Looking back at that event, I sincerely thank Alexander Graham Bell for inventing telephone :)

I took my first session from a hotel room. In the session, Chiranjeev asked me to attempt a CR question and explain my thought process. After hearing me out, he said that I had read the argument incorrectly.

I was astonished.

I expected a serious complicated flaw in my approach that was preventing me to score higher. How can it be such a simple thing that I just didn’t read the argument correctly? How can that be a problem?
However, during the course of the sessions, I came to know about several such simple yet difficult-to-spot flaws in the way I looked at questions or rather at any reading material. Here are a few examples:

1. I used to ignore tenses while reading.

For example:

‘Traces of cultivated emmer wheat have been found among the earliest agricultural remains of many archeological sites in Europe and Asia.’

In the above sentence, I used to read ‘have been found’ as if it were talking about a past event.
Please note that I was perfectly aware that ‘have been found’ is present perfect tense. If somebody had asked me what tense it was, I would have correctly pointed out the tense. However, while reading, I used to misunderstand tenses.

2. I used to just read. I never used to understand i.e. make connections between sentences. I would read sentences and remember what they say, but not try to understand why one comes after the other. What could the author be trying to imply by saying one sentence after the other? I never used to have such questions.

3. I used to pay almost no attention to the words such as - All, most, some, many etc. These words did not have any importance for me. I had no idea that how the meaning changes with the presence of these words.

4. Knowing the right answer was the only goal for me. I never used to be bothered about understanding why the other options were incorrect.

5. I came to know that I had fundamental flaws in my reading habits.

The success stories of folks who have scored 700+ in a few weeks or months are indeed true. These folks, however, started at a level different from that of mine. As I mentioned, I started with fundamental flaws in my reading habit. CJ said, “it will take time as you are starting at a different level, but you will surely improve.” And I have indeed improved!

CJ also introduced me to a few of his students so that we could learn from each other. Lipsi and Gursher, the two champs, were my group mates. I can’t thank them enough. (By the way, one of these champs has managed to improve from V13 to V38 with the help of CJ). The discussions within the group have helped me a lot. Each of us used to explain every option to each other. Explaining to others forces us to think more.

CJ’s articles are full of wisdom. He asks us to look at GMAT not as an enemy to ‘kill’ or ‘beat’ but as a ‘test’ to understand and ace. He has a very unique take on how to approach not just GMAT but also learning.

I think I could have saved a couple years had I known about CJ earlier.
In the end, I would just say that hard work alone does not bring improvement; it has to be channeled in the right direction.

This is my story of failure, persistence, and eventual discovery of the right direction!
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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2019, 23:01
Congratulations on your score and thanks for posting your debrief!

Kudos for posting.
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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2019, 21:04
Thanks a lot bb. Thanks a lot for creating and maintaining this wonderful platform.
GMATClub has changed lives in a positive way for so many aspirants.
Thanks again.
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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 08:05
Congratulations on a very solid improvemement!! You have a very nice score now!!

All the best for your admissions.
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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 10:33
Success is all about not giving up. Your story prove the same. Thanks for sharing it with us, it really motivating. All the best for further process.

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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2019, 20:42
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Hey Tarun,

I realized that I missed congratulating you here! Many Congrats on your success! :) It has been great teaching a person of great patience, diligence, and overall fantastic nature.

- CJ
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Website: http://www.GMATwithCJ.com

My articles:
Detailed Solutions to all SC questions in OG 2019, OG 2018,and OG 2017
My experience with GMAT (Score 780) and My analysis of my ESR
Three pillars of a successful GMAT strategy
Critical Reasoning and The Life of a GMAT Student
The 'Although' Misconception
Dear GMAT Aspirant, You need not swim against the tide

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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jan 2019, 04:39
Thanks a lot Chiranjeev.
Would not have been possible to reach to this score without your guidance and support.
Appreciation from you means a lot to me. Thanks again! :)
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Re: Story not of hard work alone but of failure,persistence, and discovery   [#permalink] 31 Jan 2019, 04:39
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