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Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44)

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Joined: 24 Dec 2017
Posts: 3
GMAT 1: 700 Q49 V37
GMAT 2: 750 Q49 V44
Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44)  [#permalink]

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25 Jun 2018, 14:32
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I took my second shot at the GMAT this past Saturday (6/23) and got a 750 (Q49 V44)! So thankful for all the help I have received at GmatClub, and I wanted to give back to the community with my debrief. Sorry in advance for a very long post, and if you want to skip to the takeaways, click here.

Just a little background on myself: I am a recent college graduate (literally this past May) who had some time my second semester and before my real job started. I had decided that I wanted to go to business school around the end of my Junior year at university. I took the GMAT twice: once in April and once in June.

GMAT Prep 1: 1/1/2018 - 4/25/2018
I started out with looking into several tutoring options in and around my university campus, and the cheapest option was around \$1500/month for a plan where I would meet up with a tutor one-on-one every weekend, and they would give me problem sets that I quickly found out were just sections of the OG prep books. Clearly not worth the money. I ultimately decided to do a self-prep course in the beginning and then assess what I needed to do.

I also became acquainted with GmatClub around this time as well and thoroughly went through the forum on self studying as well as an error log and timing techniques. Since I was simply starting out on my GMAT journey, I figured that I should only concentrate on the error log, and focus on finding areas in need of improvement rather than focus on timing pressures and advanced techniques. I created an error log by myself (I love excel).

Resources:
1) 2018 OG/Quant Review/Verbal Review - If you're new to GmatClub, this is an absolute must. I am all for accurate and representative questions that show up on the GMAT, and there is no better resource than the OGs. I believe that these also come with an online access code to Wiley's question bank, which I think are the exact same questions as in the book if you prefer orienting yourself with a computer-based format. The Quantitative Review and Verbal Review OGs came with additional questions (also on Wiley) that I found very useful.

2) GMATprep Tests 1&2, GMATprep Question Bank - Much like the OGs, these are very representative of not only what questions the GMAT will have, but also the algorithm that the GMAT uses to determine your score. Throughout my preparation, GMATprep tests have always given the closest approximation to the scores I achieved on the actual CAT.

3) Veritas Prep Online Self-study - Detailed below, but I was looking for a more self-paced study guide since I was still at university for this period. I looked around, especially on GmatClub's recommended study materials, and thought that this was a good choice of a company. Right now I believe its around \$700, but I purchased it for around \$850.

4) gmatawa - This is a fantastic website to grade your AWA essays from the OG prompts. They give you 10 (I believe) grades at first, and then you can refer friends for an additional 5 if you need more tries. Had my doubts at first, but it is fairly consistent and a great tool to aid in you AWA.

Prep
For my first GMAT exam, I started out by doing 20 problems per section in the OG (PS, DS, CR, RC, SC), and simply getting use to the GMAT format and questions. After each session, I would record how many wrong/right I got, and also reviewed the answer key for each of the problems. I was spending ~30 minutes each section, so that amounted to about 2.5 hours every day. With some breaks in between (for school assignments, etc.) I finished all the questions in the OG/Quant Review/Verbal Review in about 10 weeks.

At this point, I still did not feel that ready to take the exam, and felt like I had reached the limits of teaching myself strategies to tackle the GMAT. Looking into several tutoring companies (MGMAT, Magoosh, Veritas Prep, Kaplan), I was looking for a curriculum that I could determine the pace, and would give me a ton of extra problems. Based on reviews on GmatClub, I decided to take up Veritas Prep. The company does a tremendous job with the basic underpinnings and beautifully explains not only why they prefer their teaching method, but also why they believe it fits very well with the psychological and decision-oriented nature of the GMAT. I will argue later that, although Veritas Prep certainly does the job providing the basis for GMAT strategy and knowledge, it simply wasn't enough to hit the top scores I was aiming for.

For the sections that did not factor into my score (IR and AWA), I did not really practice these much. This had a tremendous effect on me (read below)

During the approximately six weeks of going through Veritas Prep's videos, quizzes, and problem bank, I decided to also start taking GMAT tests every Saturday, and tried my best to simulate test conditions. Keep in mind that when I was taking these practice exams, the GMAT was still in its 3.5-4 hour duration, and had to adjust accordingly when GMAC released the new 3 hour GMAT three weeks before my exam. (And for anyone who is curious, I had mixed feelings about the shortened format and acknowledge that it probably didn't change much of the strategy - yes it was shorter and thus you weren't facing as severe a fatigue factor at the end of the test, but you also had less questions overall, making each mistake in the CAT format more detrimental to your score.) Here are some of my scores:

GMATPrep 1 (3.5 hr format): 720 (Q49, V39)
GMATPrep 2 (3.5 hr format): 720 (Q48, V40)
Veritas Prep 1 (3 hr format): 680 (Q46, V38)
Veritas Prep 2 (3 hr format): 700 (Q 49, V37)
Veritas Prep 3 (3 hr format): 680 (Q49, V 35)

I honestly thought that Veritas Prep, while hard, did not necessarily reflect GMAT type questions, especially on critical reasoning. No fault of their own, but sometimes felt that there were multiple logic gaps where there were multiple answers. However, their CATs gave me a good scare leading up to my first GMAT.

The Exam (Round 1)
The two days leading up to the exam, I tried to do as little as possible, but still keeping my mind thinking with 10-20 problems total. Also looked up the GMAT Horror Stories thread on GmatClub, to try and prepare myself if the worst had happened. I set a goal for myself: I would take anything above a 700, and would consider maybe even not trying for a second try if I scored high enough. Everything went normal leading up to the test and I elected to the traditional AWA/IR - Quant - Verbal ordering, and went on my way.

AWA was fine, I had been scoring solid 6s on gmatawa, and breezed through that section. Then came the IR. Remember when I said I didn't practice this section all that much? Well I paid for it here. Spent a solid 5-6 minutes on the third question and was in full panic mode/rush throughout the rest of the section. I don't think I really ever recovered from this throughout the rest of the test. Felt a bit constrained with time on both sections, but I believe thats what is supposed to happen.

Ended up with a 700 (Q49, V37), a 6/6 on AWA, and a dismal 4 on the IR. I immediately knew that I could do better, and resolved to my next phase of preparation.

GMAT Prep 2: 4/25/18 - 6/23/18
First and foremost, I took a week and a half off from preparing the GMAT, to not only clear my head/deal with the score I got, but also to do some more research in GMAT prep. Looking at my ESR, I had done what I expected in Quant, and there was no area that was clearly far behind other knowledge areas. For the Verbal, however, I found that I had answered in the 25th %tile in CR, while scoring in the 85th %tile and 95th %tile in the SC and RC, respectively. While I had an inkling that CR was the weak link, I had no idea that it was that bad. My IR report clearly showed that I also had no real experience in these type of problems.

Looking into various different tutoring companies and study materials again, I felt that - according to my ESR above - rather than re-learning the basics again from another company, that I instead should be focusing on my weaknesses while maintaining my performance in AWA, DS, PS, RC, and SC. I also believed that there was a fundamental disconnect in my mind when it came to CR and IR, and that I should go back to the basics for those sections. I ultimately decided on these resources:

Resources:
1) GMAT Prep IR pack - Once again, nothing beats GMATPrep when it comes to relevancy to the actual GMAT exam. Just purchased this package to give myself more exposure to IR.

2) Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible - An absolute gem when it comes to CR. I loved the way that this book approached CR, and it made me realize how little I had previously known when it came to not only analyzing the stimulus, but the entire question overall (especially the answer choices). I would HIGHLY recommend Powerscore to anyone who is struggling or might need a quality introduction to the CR question type.

3) MGMAT Advanced Quant - I purchased this to try and squeeze out any marginal improvement in Quant that I could muster. Much of the strategies that I already deploy were in this book, but it also gave me fantastic other strategies to tackle quant problems. This book also had plenty of 700-level questions Would recommend if you feel like you have hit a ceiling and are looking for problems to challenge you.

4) MGMAT IR/AWA - Much like how I tackled CR, I found that this book was incredibly helpful in teaching the basics of IR and AWA. MGMAT is an incredible company, and would recommend their products to anyone looking for prep material/guidance.

5) GMAT Roadmap - More of a side note for me, I noted that I had some trouble with the timing of the GMAT, and wanted to learn MGMAT's approach to timing. This book also came with 6 MGMAT CATs, which I felt that I needed.

6) GmatClub - The most important database of questions and forum for topics that one can have. The thoughtfulness and innovation on this site is incredible, and I utilized every aspect of this forum. Not only did GmatClub offer a host of problems (thank you Bunuel and @souvik101990), but the forum also taught me how to think, and really helped me get into a more time-constrained mindset when I was solving problems.

Prep
After a little delay because of graduation, I set out to finish both the PowerScore CR Bible and MGMAT's Advanced Quant, and did approximately 150-200 questions a day on GmatClub. I also took several tests, all of which were updated to reflect the new 3hr format. Here are some of my scores:

GMATPrep 1: 760 (Q50, V42)
GMATPrep 2: 720 (Q50, V37)
MGMAT CAT 1: 780 (Q51, V45)
MGMAT CAT 2: 690 (Q47, V37)

Learned a lot this time around, and the lessons that I feel important will be listed below in the takaways section.

The Exam (Round 2)
This time around, I planned everything. I timed how long it would take to get there, approximately how many laps around the hallway I could do (yes I pace when I test to get blood circulating), all down to the minute so that I did not have to occupy myself with any other variability. I brought snacks and drinks this time to keep my glucose levels up throughout the exam. And this time, I selected the Verbal-Quant-AWA/IR ordering, so that I could use a fresh mind to solve the Verbal and Quant questions that determined my score.

Test went fine, had a moment of panic the first few questions in the Verbal section, but that quickly faded as I was too distracted by other problems to dwell on it. Quant and AWA felt about the same as last time, and I knew I had done better in IR this time. I was so happy at the end to learn I had gotten a 750! (Q 49 V 44).

Takeaways

1) Learn the basics, and then address your needs. I actually recommend taking the GMAT more than once; as much as you try to replicate testing conditions during practice CATs, there is nothing like the self-generated pressure when you actually take the exam. Personally, I was much calmer the second time around, precisely because I knew what was coming and I had planned ahead to get rid of any distractions or complications - whether they were during the test or during the 8-minute breaks.

2) Always keep learning and improving. This isn't just some sagely advice that you should pursue blindly, I firmly believe that this is the key to scoring well on the GMAT. Don't do problems for the sake of doing problems, take each and every question and look at the answers to see if your thinking matched the OA (especially for the questions you answered incorrectly). For me, this kept me sane and interested: knowing that you learned something new and then applying it to more problems gives you a sense of improvement towards your ultimate GMAT score. If you're having fun, then the studying is easy!

3) Set goals, plan ahead, and anticipate setbacks. Don't just work hard, you have to work hard in a smart way. Set a GMAT score for yourself (or a business school you want to go to and the corresponding GMAT score to get in), and physically write down the steps and criteria you need to achieve to get there. Pin this on your wall or put it on your phone background, constantly remind yourself of your goals as well as your progress. This helped me stay motivated and allowed me to assess my progress as my GMAT test dates approached.

4) Take a break and limit yourself. Seriously. Just enjoy yourself and the process, there is no need to shut yourself in a library and study for 8-10 hours a day. Remember the 680 I got in my GMAT Prep 2? I was so burnt out at the end of the week I wanted nothing to do with the GMAT, and it reflected in my score. Taking your mind off GMAT allows you to refocus and utilize a better mindset and attitude to your GMAT journey.

5) Use your resources. Whichever resources you choose is up to you! Look for companies and books that address your greatest weaknesses, and use them as much as possible (they aren't cheap, by the way!). I would strongly recommend GmatClub - there is no better resource out there, and interacting and debating with your fellow GmatClub peers while traveling this arduous preparation together.

Once again, apologies for the long post, and thank you so much GmatClub!! Y'all have changed my life for the better, and its been an honor to trek this GMAT journey with you.
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Re: Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44)  [#permalink]

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25 Jun 2018, 22:01
Congratulations shawnxnee on your stellar score, and many thanks for jotting down your take on GMAT along with the tips and tricks you applied that might be a boon for GMAT aspirant like me. :-)
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Re: Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44)  [#permalink]

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27 Jun 2018, 10:50
Congratulations!! Awesome score bud!

Thanks for the detailed debrief!!

That MGMAT 1 score of 780 is fantastic, how do the MGMAT & Veritas tests compare in terms of similarity to the actual GMAT?

Thanks,
GyM
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Re: Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44)  [#permalink]

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28 Jun 2018, 16:54
Congratulations shawnxnee!! Awesome score.

Quote:
After a little delay because of graduation, I set out to finish both the PowerScore CR Bible and MGMAT's Advanced Quant, and did approximately 150-200 questions a day on GmatClub.

150-200 a day!! Your efforts paid off! Thanks for the great takeaways.
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Re: Thank you GMAT Club! GMAT Debrief - 700 (Q49, V 37) to 750 (Q49, V44) &nbs [#permalink] 28 Jun 2018, 16:54
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