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The first attempt - 680

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The first attempt - 680  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2018, 13:10
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Hi Folks,

I have lurked on this portion of the forums daily for the past few months. Reading everyone's testimonials is a form of therapy and source of inspiration for me, so I wanted to contribute with my experience this past Monday. This is a very long post, but it's tough to summarize 6 months of incredible effort. Apologies for the length, and truly appreciate anyone taking the time to read it.

The Tinder Details:
32 American native speaker. I have a Bioinformatics and Finance BS/BBA, spent some years doing algorithmic commodity trading, and have spent the past ~5 years writing thousands of client-facing e-mails discussing large data sets. Numbers, in general, don't scare me. I write and read critically so much my job that I assumed the verbal would be easy. I am working full time, and have time after work and weekends to study.

Starting the Journey
I assumed I would study for a few weeks, take it and get my 720+, and be done with it. I asked around a bit and the consensus seemed to be get MGMAT books, a Magoosh subscription, the OG, and I would "be fine." I started Magoosh in about August 2018, and after a month, I took my first MGMAT CAT:

10/1/2018 - MGMAT CAT #1: 580 (Q40/V31)

I was disappointed. I thought after 1 month of studying, I would be in the mid 600s. I certainly thought my verbal (which I didn't really look at) would be higher than my quant. I was studying 4-5 days per week; 1-2 hours after work on weekdays and 3-4 hours on weekends. My "study" consisted of following the Magoosh study guide, which resulted in me passively watching videos, putzing around in the OG, and expecting an increase in scores.

Looking back at this now, Q40 on MGMAT for my first try was certainly an outlier. I got lucky.

I kept up this pattern of watching Magoosh videos, doing some problems on their platform and the OG randomly, and hoping for the best throughout November. I tried a few more CATs along the way:

10/22/2018 - MGMAT CAT #2: 590 (Q37/V34)
11/12/2018 - GMAC CAT #2: 530 (Q32/V34)


After that first GMAC CAT, I knew something was wrong. I wasn't learning anything. Watching videos and hoping for the best just wasn't doing it for me. I don't mean to bash Magoosh - I think it is a great source of information and Mike is a fantastic teacher. I just needed a more structured approach and a step-by-step how-to of sorts. After discovering these forms, I kept seeing Rich and Empower pop up. The reviews looked good, and the price was at a good enough spot that I gave it a go. Empower gave me some great structure and taught me how to approach things more. It built a really solid foundation and explained what is most important and what I should be focusing on mastering first.

After learning how to attack the GMAT, I saw an uptick in scores:

12/3/2018 - MGMAT CAT #3: 630 (Q38/V37)
12/30/2018 - GMAC CAT #2: 630 (Q39/V37)


This was encouraging, but my Q was still lower than my outlier initial score and 10 points lower than what I needed. My Verbal was going up, but I didn't focus on this really at all in terms of practice. Empower gave me some good advice on tactics, but I did very little preparation on my own. Getting 3-4 more points in verbal wasn't super important to me when I was still 10 short on quant.

By this point, I had completed Empower and was mostly satisfied with my very basic foundations. At this point, I became convinced I just need repetition and start focusing on
problem areas. I entered all of my CATs into a Google Sheets mistake tracker, and started logging my CAT work in the same sheet. I expected this to be some sort of answer to all my problems. It showed me my biggest fear: I am average at everything. There was nothing that was a glaring weakness - everything was weak.

After floundering around for a few weeks, I started doing GMATClub tests. The first one I did was timed, and I got smoked (no surprise there):

1/20/2018 - GMATClub #1 - Q31

I did see value in doing these though, so I started doing them untimed and then just really reviewing answers and then falling down rabbit holes of similar questions. I saw some good progress after doing this:

1/30/2018 - GMATClub #2 - Q41
2/04/2018 - GMATClub #3 - Q39
2/10/2018 - GMATClub #4 - Q44
2/17/2018 - GMATClub #5 - Q46
2/24/2018 - GMATClub #6 - Q42 - this was timed and within 75 minutes

At this point I was feeling better, but I was concerned that it was over a month without a timed test. I took a MGMAT timed test just to see where I actually was:

03/03/2018 - MGMAT CAT #4 - 640 (Q38/V38)

****.

This is basically the same score 3 months prior and less Q than my initial one 6 months prior. WHAT HAVE I BEEN WASTING MY TIME ON.

I scoured these forms to figure out what the deal was with MGMAT. Was it me? Was it them? I needed to use these because I didn't want to waste precious GMAC tests. After a while I decided to take a GMAC one the next week.

03/10/2018 - GMAC CAT #3: 690 (Q46/V39)

Ok...this is my best one yet and it was timed and it was GMAC and I can do this. It wasn't the 700something I am looking for, but it showed progress and it talked me off a ledge. I knew I was doing well when I started seeing some combinatorics and probability questions. I never saw those before in a GMAC test. I kept getting tripped up on Geometry and statistic questions...but that was nothing new. Overall, I felt better about it.

I had my actual exam scheduled for some time now. I knew I wouldn't get the score I needed, but I took it anyway just to get the first time done.

03/20/2018 - Real GMAT #1: 680 (Q44/V39)

Went to bed at about 12am the night before, woke up at about 8am. I'm great at sleeping. Had some breakfast - just egg, bacon, tomato, basil on a croissant. Rowed about 3km on an erg machine.

I really wanted to see a 7, but most of all I just didn't want to bomb. I was surprisingly calm, but was a little nervous. I'm bummed that it's lower than my most recent CAT. I got thrown a bunch of geometry and overlapping sets (probably 3-4) questions, 2 things I know that I'm weak in. It kills me that I can't look at the questions and work through them now.

So, here I am today. I attached my ESR, but it's not giving me too much to work with (how is this thing worth $25?) I don't know what to do from here. I'm done with my Empower course. I read through the MGMATs, but at this point, I have a good foundation. I opened up the MGMAT Sentence Correction book and almost puked.

My plan is to do 1-2 untimed GMATClub tests per week, learn from those mistakes, go down rabbit holes of similar questions, and then repeat over and over until my next exam.

Any advice? Should I do something different? I have 2 MGMAT and 3 GMAC CATs left. I want to save the GMAC ones, and am not opposed to resetting some of the earlier ones. I also don't mind throwing more money at this problem, so I could be convinced to buy other tests / buy other courses. I finished my OG, but still have quant review to do. I bought the MGMAT Advanced Quant book, but have yet to open it.

Appreciate any feedback!
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Re: The first attempt - 680  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Mar 2018, 20:56
Hi jsheppa,

First off, a 680 is a strong score (it's right around the 85th percentile overall), so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. As such, a retest might not be necessary - although there's certainly no harm in continuing to study and retesting. Depending on the Schools that you plan to apply to, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile. There's a Forum full of those Experts here:

http://gmatclub.com/forum/ask-admission ... tants-124/

I've sent you a PM with some notes/suggestions based on your ESR.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Manager
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Re: The first attempt - 680  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2018, 09:14
Hi Rich,

As always, thank you for your support. Your DM notes were helpful and absolutely reinforced what I had suspected. I think along with doing GMATClub tests to practice Quant, I will redo the Sentence Correction sections in Empower to reinforce those lessons.

Unfortunately, because of my mediocre GPA and desire to go to the EU/UK 1-Year programs, a 700+ is pretty much required. After this attempt though, I feel like that score is only 1-2 months away. Luckily I have about 6 to get it.

I REALLY wish an ESR would provide more granular breakdowns on question topics I got wrong...but I guess no sense in fretting over that.

Just took a week off for a work conference / break. Finishing up a coffee, then back to it.
Expert Post
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
V
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 12004
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: The first attempt - 680  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2018, 16:39
Hi jsheppa,

I've PM'd you some additional notes about how you can pick up those missing points.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Re: The first attempt - 680 &nbs [#permalink] 24 Mar 2018, 16:39
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