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Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached

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GMAT 1: 700 Q51 V34
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New post 12 Oct 2019, 13:16
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Introduction
I scored 700 (Q51 V34) in my first attempt. Three weeks later, the score improved to 770 (Q51 V42). I want to share what I did differently in my second attempt. I wish my experience could help you improve verbal to 40+ as well.
I have also attached the ESR reports for both attempts, so you can have an idea what level of correct % you need to get a 700+ score.

Summary
1. Overall: Quantity doesn’t matter without quality. Solving lots of practice questions is not the best way to prepare GMAT. Achieving V40+ is very difficult just by memorization and repetition.
2. SC: Solid grammar can only help you solve easy to medium level questions, but “grammar + meaning” will carry you all the way up to V40+
3. CR: Answer CR questions as if there is no answer choices. “Pre-thinking” is a game changer
4. RC: Look at every answer choice with the mindset of “you gotta prove it to me”
5. Resources: e-GMAT verbal, this is hands down the best resource for verbal, especially if you are aiming V40+.
6. Finger trick: to save time that adds up for 2 questions: https://gmatclub.com/forum/from-740-q50-v40-to-770-q51-v44-237066.html

SC:
Stage 1: Solid Grammar
First of all, in order to get to 700+ level questions in the exam, you need to be solid at easy to medium level questions. It means you should get majority of the first 10 questions right. With solid grammar, there should be no problem for you to get there.
When solving questions, quality is always more important than quantity. “Quality” here I mean, how much time you spend on reviewing each answer choice and how you can apply what you learn from solving this one question to other questions in the future.
Imagine if you have the same amount of time, you can either:
(A) solve 1 question, in regardless you got it right or wrong, analyze all the answer choices, read the solutions and identify all the errors in each wrong answer choice; or
(B) solve 5 questions, only look at the choices that you get it wrong.
Which one do you choose? Guess what, the right way to study is always A.
Stage 2: Pattern Recognition
At the beginning of the exam, I wrote down the followings on the right corner of my yellow pad:
“Pronoun”
“AND”
“SVA/Verb”
What it does is I do not allow myself to miss a question because of those reasons above. Whenever there is pronoun in the sentence, I immediately get very suspicious. Whenever there is “AND”, I start to think of parallelism. Whenever I see Verb, I double check SVA and the Verb tense.
I always spend the first 3 seconds to compare the beginning and the end of all answer choices. It will help you get a sense of what this question is testing. That is important, because you will develop a sense of purpose when reading the original question.
The good news is you can practice this skill set and this is what you can do. Open OG, find a question, only look at the answer choices (not even the original sentence), and see if you can tell/guess what this question is testing. Do that from question 1, all the way to the last question, write down your guesses and compare with the solutions. This is a really effective way to improve your SC pattern recognition and speed.
Stage 3: Meaning, meaning and meaning
In order to get V40+ and solve hard 700+ level questions, grammar is not enough. You will soon realize, there will always be 2 answer choices left that are both grammatically correct. They could be
1) Same modifier, but move around; or
2) Different sentence structures, but change the meaning from parallelism to cause effect
In both cases, you have to compare with the original sentence and figure out what exactly the meaning is and make an intelligent choice base on the intended meaning.

In my experience, I started to get those questions in the second half in both attempt. In my first attempt, I completely ignored meaning aspect of the SC question. I got stuck between the 2 grammatically correct choices, it took me a long time to decide and ended up guessing between the two choices.

CR:
For easy to medium question, all you need is common sense. But when it gets to 700+ level questions, you have to do “Pre-thinking” - pause after you read the question and come up with a solution as if the answer choices are not available. It doesn’t matter whether the answer that you come up with is in the answer choices or not. That is not the point. The reason to do the “pre-thinking” is to help you focus on the logic and not deviate from the key argument when “trap” or “out of scope” answer choices show up. Have you ever been persuaded by a sales person and ended up buying something that you did’t plan to buy at the first place? Same idea here, all the trap choices are there to trick you to change your mind, you have to stick to your ground by pre-thinking.

In my first attempt, the biggest mistake I made is I read the question and then jump right into the answer choices, I pick the one that sounds right to me. As you can tell from my ESR score, my sub-section rank for CR is only 39%. I was just shocked when I see the percentage. The worst part is, I didn’t even feel those questions were hard at all during the exam. I thought I did pretty well. Apparently, those trap answer choices tricked me very hard.

RC:
My only advice for RC is for every single choice, either right or wrong, you have to find proof in the message. If you eliminate a certain answer choice, find where in the message that includes information that proves it wrong. No matter how certain you are, find it and prove it to yourself. Don’t just use your memory and pick the choice using your gut. That is a strategy for disaster and is not gonna work on the hard questions. You might only do that when you are running of time.

My experience with e-GMAT:
The best part of e-GMAT course, is the easy-to-follow structure. All you need to do is to follow the step by step plan and stick to the process. You will be constantly practicing the meaning based approach in SC and pre-thinking in CR. That’s is pretty much the “secrete sauce” you need to get V40+.
The other great thing about e-GMAT is the support they provide in addition to the online course. After I scored 34 on my first attempt, I reached out to e-GMAT and asked for help. e-GMAT’s Strategy team has been very helpful. They immediately arranged a session with me analysing my ESR report and came up with suggestions for improvement. They also followed up with a detailed study plan for the next 3 weeks. That made my life very easy and all I did is to execute diligently and trust the process.
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Re: Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2019, 09:35
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fanfan1247 – thank you for taking the time to post your journey. In addition to acting as a motivation, I am sure this will help others value the importance of attitude and the importance of process. I also want you to thank you for posting the ESRs. They provide insights into how much you have improved as well as how the GMAT works.

Image

What a difference focusing on and trusting the process can make?

In CR, you improved from 39th percentile to 94th percentile. Similarly, In SC, you improved from 63rd to 94th percentile. What a vast difference focusing on the process can make? Both these improvements took a mere 20 days while you were working full time. The most important part, you did not learn a lot of new content or solved thousands of questions. You just forced your brain to follow the process. This kind of mental toughness is a critical factor that separates those who make it from those who don’t.

Image
Focusing on the process does not increase your time to answer questions. In fact, it has the potential to reduce the same.
While looking at your ESRs, I realized that your time to answer questions in SC, and CR, did not change much between attempts 1 and 2. In fact, in CR, it went down by 5 seconds on average. This shows that as you follow the process (after internalizing the same), the time to answer questions decreases. This is a theme that we have observed. Again – mental toughness.. why because you need to trust the process to achieve this kind of proficiency.

Image

Rather than just the first 10 questions, what matters is the kind of questions on which you make mistakes?
We always talk about the importance of the first 10 questions. What matters is the difficulty level of questions we make mistakes on. Your performance in the verbal section on the first 10 questions was much better on your 700-attempt than on your 770-attempt. In both attempts, you made several mistakes in the second block of questions. The difference was that in the second block, you made mistakes on more difficult questions.

The key here being that to ace the GMAT, you need to make sure that you build ability such that you make minimal mistakes on Easy and Medium difficulty questions. As you 770-attempt shows, you can make mistakes as long as you make them on hard questions.

Once again, great job on the GMAT, and good luck for your applications.
-Rajat
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New post 19 Oct 2019, 20:24
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Plandrive wrote:
Quote:
RC:
My only advice for RC is for every single choice, either right or wrong, you have to find proof in the message. If you eliminate a certain answer choice, find where in the message that includes information that proves it wrong. No matter how certain you are, find it and prove it to yourself. Don’t just use your memory and pick the choice using your gut. That is a strategy for disaster and is not gonna work on the hard questions. You might only do that when you are running of time.


egmat fanfan1247

Is this true? I don't have time to go and fact check all the answers in hard RC, especially when the passage took a long time to read (on hard passages). What other strategies do you recommend on RC? I rely on my gut to rule out extreme answer choices and choose the best of the 2 close answers because of time pressure a lot of times..

For reference I've gone through E-GMAT verbal course.

Also I've gone through SC modules in-depth, but still stumble on easy SC like this one (can't post link). I was stuck between B & D

The financial crash of October 1987 demonstrated that the world’s capital markets are integrated more closely than never before and events in one part of the global village may be transmitted to the rest of the village—almost instantaneously.

(A) integrated more closely than never before and
(B) closely integrated more than ever before so
(C) more closely integrated as never before while
(D) more closely integrated than ever before and that
(E) more than ever before closely integrated as

same with this two:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/architects-a ... 28611.html
https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-golden-c ... 30324.html
Crab question, I hesitated if A was right or wrong..

It's a bit strange / frustrating that I have high accuracy on tougher SC 650/700+, but on easy questions like above 2, I stumble. I have done all OG questions in the OG and Verbal Review books, and like you've said I've made detailed solutions of ALL answer choices - my review process is thorough and I've repeated error logs 3x+ times. I'm just stumped how to fix stumbling on brand new, fresh easy / medium questions.


For main idea questions, sure, as long as you read the passage effectively, then you can answer it without going back. But for detail questions and some inference questions, using your gut is not recommended. The key here is if you can locate relevant passage efficiently and effectively. Follow the e-Gmat module and practice taking effective notes while reading the passage is the way to go.

In terms of the SC questions:
1. financial crash: I was down to B and D as well, the difference is "cause effect vs. parallelism", in this case, I went with parallelism (D), since that is what the original sentence intends to say
2. Architects: that is a "Beginning Noun modifier" question, so you should be looking for a Noun after the first ",", C is the only option
3. Crab: in the first read, I was not sure about A either, but when I got to C, I was 100% sure ,it is correct both in terms of meaning and grammar. so I went with C (even though I can't quite tell why A is wrong at the moment)
When stumbling on brand new, fresh easy / medium questions, ask your self: 1) is it because I don't know the concepts? or 2) I know the concept, but still got it wrong
If 1), then definitely add the new concept in your flashcard
if 2), then ask why: maybe not stick to the process? or got distract by trick options?

Hope it helps!
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New post 21 Oct 2019, 18:45
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fanfan1247

Dude you were so helpful... I scored a 740 today (Q50, V40) and I completely missed a question on end of verbal (like I thought I was on #36, but I was on #35... yea kicking myself for that, I know)

Your CR strategy helped a lot. I was skimping out on pre-thinking, but started doing it religiously after you mentioned you have to do it on 700+ q's. So I did it on all (you're right that answer choices would influence the mind, so needed to have airtight argument before reading answers)

Your SC strategy on recognizing patterns was HUGE. I started doing that on the test and it made such a difference. I had the E-gmat meaning approach down, but was still missing easy questions here and there.

Think I'm going to re-take once and see if I can get better, otherwise leave it at that. I'm waiting for the ESR, wondering where I was weak. Still disappointed with the V40.. really want the V42 and Q51, we'll see :)
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New post 12 Oct 2019, 20:35
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Hi,

Congrats to break the barrier of 720 and thanks for sharing these ESRs.

Good Luck :)
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Re: Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Oct 2019, 02:28
1
fanfan1247 wrote:
Introduction
I scored 700 (Q51 V34) in my first attempt. Three weeks later, the score improved to 770 (Q51 V42). I want to share what I did differently in my second attempt. I wish my experience could help you improve verbal to 40+ as well.
I have also attached the ESR reports for both attempts, so you can have an idea what level of correct % you need to get a 700+ score.

Summary
1. Overall: Quantity doesn’t matter without quality. Solving lots of practice questions is not the best way to prepare GMAT. Achieving V40+ is very difficult just by memorization and repetition.
2. SC: Solid grammar can only help you solve easy to medium level questions, but “grammar + meaning” will carry you all the way up to V40+
3. CR: Answer CR questions as if there is no answer choices. “Pre-thinking” is a game changer
4. RC: Look at every answer choice with the mindset of “you gotta prove it to me”
5. Resources: e-GMAT verbal, this is hands down the best resource for verbal, especially if you are aiming V40+.
6. Finger trick: to save time that adds up for 2 questions: https://gmatclub.com/forum/from-740-q50-v40-to-770-q51-v44-237066.html

SC:
Stage 1: Solid Grammar
First of all, in order to get to 700+ level questions in the exam, you need to be solid at easy to medium level questions. It means you should get majority of the first 10 questions right. With solid grammar, there should be no problem for you to get there.
When solving questions, quality is always more important than quantity. “Quality” here I mean, how much time you spend on reviewing each answer choice and how you can apply what you learn from solving this one question to other questions in the future.
Imagine if you have the same amount of time, you can either:
(A) solve 1 question, in regardless you got it right or wrong, analyze all the answer choices, read the solutions and identify all the errors in each wrong answer choice; or
(B) solve 5 questions, only look at the choices that you get it wrong.
Which one do you choose? Guess what, the right way to study is always A.
Stage 2: Pattern Recognition
At the beginning of the exam, I wrote down the followings on the right corner of my yellow pad:
“Pronoun”
“AND”
“SVA/Verb”
What it does is I do not allow myself to miss a question because of those reasons above. Whenever there is pronoun in the sentence, I immediately get very suspicious. Whenever there is “AND”, I start to think of parallelism. Whenever I see Verb, I double check SVA and the Verb tense.
I always spend the first 3 seconds to compare the beginning and the end of all answer choices. It will help you get a sense of what this question is testing. That is important, because you will develop a sense of purpose when reading the original question.
The good news is you can practice this skill set and this is what you can do. Open OG, find a question, only look at the answer choices (not even the original sentence), and see if you can tell/guess what this question is testing. Do that from question 1, all the way to the last question, write down your guesses and compare with the solutions. This is a really effective way to improve your SC pattern recognition and speed.
Stage 3: Meaning, meaning and meaning
In order to get V40+ and solve hard 700+ level questions, grammar is not enough. You will soon realize, there will always be 2 answer choices left that are both grammatically correct. They could be
1) Same modifier, but move around; or
2) Different sentence structures, but change the meaning from parallelism to cause effect
In both cases, you have to compare with the original sentence and figure out what exactly the meaning is and make an intelligent choice base on the intended meaning.

In my experience, I started to get those questions in the second half in both attempt. In my first attempt, I completely ignored meaning aspect of the SC question. I got stuck between the 2 grammatically correct choices, it took me a long time to decide and ended up guessing between the two choices.

CR:
For easy to medium question, all you need is common sense. But when it gets to 700+ level questions, you have to do “Pre-thinking” - pause after you read the question and come up with a solution as if the answer choices are not available. It doesn’t matter whether the answer that you come up with is in the answer choices or not. That is not the point. The reason to do the “pre-thinking” is to help you focus on the logic and not deviate from the key argument when “trap” or “out of scope” answer choices show up. Have you ever been persuaded by a sales person and ended up buying something that you did’t plan to buy at the first place? Same idea here, all the trap choices are there to trick you to change your mind, you have to stick to your ground by pre-thinking.

In my first attempt, the biggest mistake I made is I read the question and then jump right into the answer choices, I pick the one that sounds right to me. As you can tell from my ESR score, my sub-section rank for CR is only 39%. I was just shocked when I see the percentage. The worst part is, I didn’t even feel those questions were hard at all during the exam. I thought I did pretty well. Apparently, those trap answer choices tricked me very hard.

RC:
My only advice for RC is for every single choice, either right or wrong, you have to find proof in the message. If you eliminate a certain answer choice, find where in the message that includes information that proves it wrong. No matter how certain you are, find it and prove it to yourself. Don’t just use your memory and pick the choice using your gut. That is a strategy for disaster and is not gonna work on the hard questions. You might only do that when you are running of time.

My experience with e-GMAT:
The best part of e-GMAT course, is the easy-to-follow structure. All you need to do is to follow the step by step plan and stick to the process. You will be constantly practicing the meaning based approach in SC and pre-thinking in CR. That’s is pretty much the “secrete sauce” you need to get V40+.
The other great thing about e-GMAT is the support they provide in addition to the online course. After I scored 34 on my first attempt, I reached out to e-GMAT and asked for help. e-GMAT’s Strategy team has been very helpful. They immediately arranged a session with me analysing my ESR report and came up with suggestions for improvement. They also followed up with a detailed study plan for the next 3 weeks. That made my life very easy and all I did is to execute diligently and trust the process.


fanfan,
How did you manage to get all your questions right on Quant ?? Did you get all the questions right on your prep test as well??
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New post 14 Oct 2019, 15:38
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egmat wrote:
fanfan1247 – thank you for taking the time to post your journey. In addition to acting as a motivation, I am sure this will help others value the importance of attitude and the importance of process. I also want you to thank you for posting the ESRs. They provide insights into how much you have improved as well as how the GMAT works.


Thanks so much Rajat for the detailed analysis! I'm sure this is very helpful to many people who are looking for improving their Verbal score.
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New post 21 Oct 2019, 19:13
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Plandrive - congratulations on scoring a 740. This goes a long way to show the kind of impact that a shift in mindset can have. You had the same tools a few days back, as you did yesterday, the only difference was that you pushed yourself to apply them. Kudos to you daring to change the process a few days before your test. You took a huge risk and you reaped the rewards.

A special thanks to Jim (@fanfan1247) for articulating his thoughts so cohesively. I also want to share an article I co-authored - https://e-gmat.com/blogs/a-gmat-score-o ... 0k-in-roi/

It will help you decide/motivate you to push harder towards that 770. If you do decide to pursue a higher score.. make sure you

1. Get your ESR.
2. Define metrics to ensure that you have improved. Do a strategic review of your mistakes (@e-GMAT support can share specific videos on the same)
3. Take the test in the next 20 days.

-Rajat
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New post 12 Oct 2019, 21:45
Thats good.Thanks for sharing the ESR & Congrats :)
I am really struggling with Verbal, mainly CR & RC, hope the process you mentioned just work for me as well.

Thanks again & good luck
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New post 12 Oct 2019, 21:46
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your path can inspire many more people to try to achieve high scores.

Posted from my mobile device
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New post 12 Oct 2019, 22:13
thank you for sharing the ESRs and congratulations for the stellar score.

The Esr's would help me in understanding my ESR :)
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New post 14 Oct 2019, 09:28
Congratulations fanfan1247 on 770!

Very nice debrief!
All the best for your applications.
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New post 14 Oct 2019, 15:32
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aniriddha wrote:
fanfan,
How did you manage to get all your questions right on Quant ?? Did you get all the questions right on your prep test as well??


Hi aniriddha,

In terms of Quant, unfortunately I don't have too much to share. :lol: I got Q50 on my mock exam even before taking any lesson. And Yes, I usually only missed at most 2 questions in my prep test.

But I can share with you what I think is helpful for me to maintain a Q51 score:
1. Manhattan Prep advanced Quant book: if you are already high 40 on Quant, then this book is designed to help you improve to 50+. I did all the questions in that book. But I heard GMAT Club test is a great recourse for Quant as well. Make sure only practicing hard questions with timer on if your goal is to break 50.
2. Data sufficient: always remind yourself to completely forget about statement 1 when looking at statement 2. I missed easy questions sometimes due to that.
3. Every Quant question is designed to be solved within 2 mins. if the approach that you are using includes lots of complex steps, then there will definitely be a short cut.

Hope that helps!
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New post 15 Oct 2019, 08:20
Congrats for your handsome 770 score. I wish I got that in my next shot.

Which schools are you planning to apply mba to? Good luck

Posted from my mobile device
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New post 15 Oct 2019, 17:53
chondro48 wrote:
Congrats for your handsome 770 score. I wish I got that in my next shot.

Which schools are you planning to apply mba to? Good luck

Posted from my mobile device


Thanks chondro48. I will apply next year, so still at early planning stage. For now, I'm considering Stern, Wharton and Booth.

Best luck to your GMAT prep!
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New post 19 Oct 2019, 17:18
Quote:
RC:
My only advice for RC is for every single choice, either right or wrong, you have to find proof in the message. If you eliminate a certain answer choice, find where in the message that includes information that proves it wrong. No matter how certain you are, find it and prove it to yourself. Don’t just use your memory and pick the choice using your gut. That is a strategy for disaster and is not gonna work on the hard questions. You might only do that when you are running of time.


egmat fanfan1247

Is this true? I don't have time to go and fact check all the answers in hard RC, especially when the passage took a long time to read (on hard passages). What other strategies do you recommend on RC? I rely on my gut to rule out extreme answer choices and choose the best of the 2 close answers because of time pressure a lot of times..

For reference I've gone through E-GMAT verbal course.

Also I've gone through SC modules in-depth, but still stumble on easy SC like this one (can't post link). I was stuck between B & D

The financial crash of October 1987 demonstrated that the world’s capital markets are integrated more closely than never before and events in one part of the global village may be transmitted to the rest of the village—almost instantaneously.

(A) integrated more closely than never before and
(B) closely integrated more than ever before so
(C) more closely integrated as never before while
(D) more closely integrated than ever before and that
(E) more than ever before closely integrated as

same with this two:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/architects-a ... 28611.html
https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-golden-c ... 30324.html
Crab question, I hesitated if A was right or wrong..

It's a bit strange / frustrating that I have high accuracy on tougher SC 650/700+, but on easy questions like above 2, I stumble. I have done all OG questions in the OG and Verbal Review books, and like you've said I've made detailed solutions of ALL answer choices - my review process is thorough and I've repeated error logs 3x+ times. I'm just stumped how to fix stumbling on brand new, fresh easy / medium questions.
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Joined: 08 Jun 2019
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GMAT 1: 700 Q51 V34
GMAT 2: 770 Q51 V42
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Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2019, 21:24
Plandrive, WOW, congratulations on the 740 score, I'm so psyched to know that my experience is helpful! Definitely take Rajat's advice, and good luck on your next attempt.
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GMAT 1: 770 Q47 V48
GMAT 2: 730 Q44 V47
GMAT 3: 750 Q50 V42
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Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2019, 22:10
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Great score and thanks for verifying. Your Verbal improvement is impressive, but I'm even more impressed by the two consecutive perfect Q51s!
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Re: Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2019, 06:53
A great score, congrats

How did prethinking help in CR given some of the answers do not match the prethinking ones

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Re: Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2019, 12:07
pk123 - one of the first things we mention when we discuss prethinking is that

"Prethinking is not the same as predicting the answer." Essentially, the prethinking process ensures that you understand the logic of the argument. Once you understand the author's logic, you avoid the trap answer choices and select the correct one. In fact, we define prethinking as:

Pre-thinking: Thinking “one potential” assumption in your mind in “15 seconds” “before” going to the answer choices.


Notice the focus on "one potential".. and not all the possible assumptions. The first step to mastering prethinking is trusting the process. Once you trust the process and apply it wholeheartedly for a couple of days, you develop that razor-sharp focus and never use any other method.

Take a look at the video below to learn how fanfan1247 developed that belief:



-Rajat
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Re: Trust the process - From 700 (Q51 V34) to 770 (Q51 V42) - ESR attached   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2019, 12:07

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