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Always learn from your mistakes – Nikkb’s story

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Always learn from your mistakes – Nikkb’s story  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 01 Dec 2017, 03:33
Hello GMAT aspirants,

Whenever I used to read GMAT success stories I think about the day when I will write one. And today here I am with one long story hoping that it might be useful for some.

First of all, I want to thank all the people whom I bugged with my questions (don’t know everyone’s gmatclub name so not tagging them in the post). Sometimes just getting a rough idea about how people prepare motivate you to study.

Important Note: I am not good in writing long essays so you might see weird phrased sentences. Also please bear with the grammar mistakes I made (there might be a lot of parallelism issues, fragmented sentences, subject verb errors and verb tense errors :P)

So why am I going to bore you with my story? Because, I made lot of mistakes during my prep, learnt a lot from them and thought its good idea to share them with others.

Now you would like to know about my score: I gave GMAT on November 19th 2017 and scored 730 (Q50 V38 IR7, waiting for AWA score)

Story begins !!!!

(If you don’t want to read everything just keep on moving to mistakes and advices and then move to tips at the end)

During first week of July 2017 I decided that I want to do MBA and for that i have to give GMAT. I bought GMAT OG 2018 and enrolled for a GMAT online course with a coaching institute about which i read good reviews online (online good reviews are available online. Not a single bad review so i thought it’s one of the best institutes out there)

Mistake 1: Joining “Edushastra, delhi” coaching institute was my biggest mistake. I wasted my money and time with those guys. Negative review about the institute is coming soon via another post, as I don’t want anyone else to suffer because of this unprofessional and unreliable institute. I stopped attending their lectures around end of July.

I searched online about gmat material, joined GMATclub, read a few gmat stories and bugged a few people with random prep related questions. I gave my 1st Gmatprep mock on July 25th (without any verbal prep and after reading basics of quant from secondary school books) and scored 590 Q46 V25. I was always good in maths (like any other Indian Engg) so quant score didn’t amazed me. I understood that I have to focus purely on Verbal section. Few people told me 590 is a good score to start with so that was a relief.

Mistake 2: I spent lot of my time in searching for advices and reading about different gmat preparation material.

Advice: Read Gmat course reviews and start your preparation using just 1 and only 1 resource. (You can use 1 course for all the sections or you might choose different course/books for different sections. But stick with 1 course/resource/book per section). Put all your faith in it and start preparing. Once you get done with the course and feel need of extra information then move to another course or book. Juggling between different resources will not help you and you will eventually waste your time.

After this I joined e-gmat verbal online course. Started with its Master Comprehension section and it was good to understand the sentence structure and then moved to SC section. From starting i always felt that SC is my weakest area and I have to put all my effort in it. RC was boring for me.

Mistake 3: I didn’t practice RC from first day of my preparation (and think that’s the reason i got lowest accuracy in RC).

Advice: Start solving RC daily if you are not an avid reader. Solve 1-2 passages daily from OG (start with easy level and move onward) and increase it to 4 passages daily. Will suggest go sequence wise in OG so that you just don’t get stuck on single RC topic or take help of Wiley GMAT online portal as it will give you passages in random order.

I felt SC topic to be over whelming and moved to CR theory in between. I think it’s ok to switch between sections if you are not feeling comfortable in one. At least you will utilize your time in improving other section. In my opinion E-gmat CR theory is good and I never felt the need to read Power score CR bible. Also mgmat CR, CR bible and E-gmat all have same theory. Practice is what you need to master a particular section.

Mistake 4: I solved the SC OG questions but didn’t study the answers properly.
Advice: Solving questions and solving question properly are two different things. Always practice questions with correct method.

After CR i moved back to SC and moved again to RC section. It’s just i was able to understand the SC rules but was facing issue with the application and that frustrated me. E-gmat course was good but i was not able to understand the grammar rule applications through it.

In between i spent little time on quant and solved some questions on gmatclub.

On October 7th I gave the VERITAS mock and scored 630 Q49 V28. My CR accuracy was good and even RC accuracy came out to be pretty decent but i didn’t improve in SC. I was really disappointed and decided to prepare for SC properly from the time on wards. I understood that I am having issue with SC grammar rule applications and I have not practiced SC in a correct manner. Also as i was at Quant 49, i thought not to give a lot of time in improving quant as one can't go beyond Q51 :P. With only little practice i knew i can move to Q50 or to Q51 and in my opinion improving in verbal was more important at that time.

After 2-3 days I took GMAT exam date as I perform better under exam pressure.

I started reading "MGMAT Foundations of GMAT Verbal book" and it helped me to understand the basics of grammar. After finishing foundation concepts, I read the first 10 basic chapters from "MGMAT Sentence Correction" book.

After finishing the book I reviewed all my notes from mgmat and e-gmat (both have almost same details). I solved all easy level SC questions from E-gmat scholaranium and then started working on Verbal review OG 2018 (As i got review that verbal review is little easy as compared to main OG, i thought better to start with verbal review)

Advice: Always make handwritten notes. You might have different preference but I think I can comprehend hand written notes better as compared to computerised notes or the screen shots of summary i took while studying. Handwritten notes are more personalised in my opinion.

After completing Verbal Review i moved to OG 2018. Before the exam i was able to finish all the easy and medium level of SC and CR questions. I think I finished only easy level of RC section (RC was always boring for me)

After i gave Veritas mock and finished mgmat SC theory, i tried to maintain a routine : I tried to solve 20 quant questions from OG18 and 10 questions from each section in verbal(10 SC, 10CR, and 2 RC passage) from Verbal review 2018. After finishing verbal review OG i moved to official OG'18 for verbal questions. I had up and down days, but i tried to maintain an average of 10 questions per section daily.
As i kind of enjoyed solving CR questions, i used to solved 20 CR questions daily and at the end left the hard level questions to solve during end phase (but i didn't got time to solve those questions :P ) and utilized that time in SC section.

While solving OG, I gave 2 free GMAT prep mocks and reviewed all the SC questions which I got in mocks on gmatclub. I also went over CR and quant questions in which i made mistake. I also gave 1 GMATclub math test (scored Q50)

My mock score was not up to the mark at all :( . As I have already solved a few of SC gmatprep questions on gmatclub and with GMATNinja during live sessions, my gmatprep mock scores were not accurate.

My GMAT prep scores:
Mock 1: November 10th 690 Q49 V34 <-Saw little improvement in my verbal score
Mock2: November 14th: 670 Q50 V30 <-Disappointment overload.But i thought i still have time and i can imporve

Advice: : Try to give mocks in between your preparation if time permits (1 after going over theory, next after finishing easy level, then next after finishing medium level questions, and then 1 after finishing hard level questions) . If you don't want to waste your gmatprep mocks and want to save them for last, use some other well known mock test. Even if these mocks doesn't mimic GMAT level and GMAT test scoring system, it will give you practice of all sections, help you get accustomed to exam pressure and 4 hour long sitting and if required give you a shock and motivate you to study more seriously :P

Advice: Do watch GMATNinja youtube sessions on SC once you are done with basic SC grammar and practiced easy level OG questions.

Last 2 Days before the exam:

I was nervous as I haven’t prepared for AWA and rarely solved IR questions. Also I was travelling to another city (sadly there is only 1 gmat test centre in my state and no review available about it, so to be on safe side I travelled to Mumbai to give my GMAT exam). I pinged few people for last minute advice and everyone suggested me to stay calm and not to study anything at the last moment. Warriorguy told me to relax as I have nothing to lose, and i will get another chance to give the exam. But i was worried as R2 is my one and only chance for getting into a MBA school, and giving exam again would mean that i have to lose valuable time from the application process.
Well I packed my bags and boarded the train.

Mistake: I didn’t work on my sleep time cycle. I am a night owl, used to study during night, wake up late in morning and again sleep during afternoon. My exam time slot was from 1pm to 5pm. And till 1 day before exam i feel really sleepy in afternoon. But from engineering days I am used to give exam with such routine and so it didn’t affected my exam.

Advice: Try to work on your sleep cycle as per your exam schedule. Always give your mocks in same time slot as your actual exam and try to study during that time slot 

Night before the exam:
I revised all my SC notes (theory), went over AWA template once and revised quant 2-3 concepts/formulas which I was unable to recollect.

On the exam day:
I was nervous. But then I thought, I am going to give the exam now so “Jo hoga dekha jayega” (“will see whatever happens”), can’t change anything now. My exam was from 1pm. I reached the exam centre at around 12:30 and didn’t carry any study material with me.
Test centre review: Mumbai (Andheri east) test centre is pretty good.

During exam:
Before starting the exam I again thought “jo hoga dekha jayega”.
I selected order: Verbal, Quant, IR and AWA.
During my mocks i never faced timing issue, but during actual exam I messed up with timing badly.

Mistake In verbal section: I didn’t pay much attention to time and took as much time as I needed for solving the questions. I ran out of time for last 5-6 questions. In hurry I was unable to focus on questions and might have made mistake in last 5th and 6th question. And also I had to randomly mark last 3 questions.

Mistake in Quant section: When i checked the time in middle of the exam i was running like 10-12 min ahead. So i got relaxed and spent way too much time in a few questions. As a result, i was short on time for last 5-6 questions and had to randomly mark last 3-4 questions.

Advice: Always stay focussed and don’t waste your time during exam. Even if you are running ahead of time, solve the questions in timely manner and save the extra time for last.

In IR section: I was able to finish the test in time (might have saved 2-3 mins)

In AWA section: As I have not practised essays earlier, I spent whole 30min in writing the essay. I even have to cut short the conclusion as i was running out of time. I was not able to save the time to check my grammar and spelling mistakes (When i write in hurry i make lot of spelling mistakes and use shortcuts)

Advice: Always practise essays in advance and save time to check your mistakes.

Submitted the exam and saw 730 on the screen. :P :P

Happy Ending!!!!

Materials Used:
E-Gmat verbal online course: SC, CR and RC theory.
Mgmat book: Fundamental grammar and SC book
Magoosh : Bought subscription but solved very few quant questions from it.
GMAT 2018 OG and Verbal review: Best book for verbal practise. Used Wiley GMAT online portal for timed practice. Online portal is good as it allows you to choose difficulty level and number of questions to solve.
Gmatclub math book: Reviewed basic formulas related to remainders and sets.
Mocks : 2 Gmatprep free mocks and 1 Gmatclub math test


Quant was always my strong section so I haven’t put much effort to it. But here are a few comments:
1. Whatever you quant level may be go over basics first. Read all the basic formulas.
2. Solve all the OG questions first as it give you rough idea about different type of questions.
3. If you are not comfortable in quant, after doing basics of each topic solve the questions on that topic moving from easy to hard level. After that move to next topic.
4. Gmatclub book contains theory and questions for each topic. But i will suggest referring gmatclub book after clearing out your quant basics.
5. Some people always ask for word problem question advice. While reading question assign variables to unknowns and keep updating the value/relation as you proceed with question.

For verbal I practiced from e-gmats scholaranium, OG 2018 and gmatprep . Always finish OG first then move to gmatprep questions and then if you have time then move to any other resource.
I used Wiley GMAT online portal for solving OG questions and practiced questions in difficulty level bunch. So like create test of 20 easy SC questions, solve them and then go over each and every question and read the solution in detail from OG.
For non-native speakers practicing verbal in correct way is the only method to improve verbal score.

-Correct method: Solve a SC question, and check the solution. Make sure you understand why wrong option is wrong and correct option is correct. It might be boring during initial phase but get used to it. This is the only way to learn the application of grammar rules.
-Also in Verbal “Process of elimination” always helped me. Sometimes in SC i am not able to figure out what is wrong in the question, so I try to find mistakes in given options. Even if you know the issues instead of finding the correct answer, always try to find why the given option can be right or wrong.

-Same as with SC, POE is the best way to solve CR questions. I never used pre-thinking the answer method much. It’s always better to cancel out the wrong options to come up with correct option.
-While reading the passage i make sure i understand it completely and then move to question stem and options. In my opinion never read the question before the passage, because once u read the question you will just focus on question details and might miss minute details.
- Before moving to question, always make sure you understand the main conclusion. Except in paradox questions where passages does not contain conclusion, make sure which two opposite effects/results are discussed in passage.

Practise 2-4 passages daily from OG no matter what. This is the only way to improve on RC if you are not reader type of person.
For RC there is 1 and only 1 approach to solve the questions (go over any course it will tell you same thing): Read the passage carefully and fully understand it before moving to questions. I never made notes for RC passages but while reading passages you can make notes: summary of each paragraph
-Read the passage slowly and understand each and every line/paragraph. Make note of summary of each paragraph on paper if you want.
- If some paragraph lines are confusing and you are not able to comprehend it fully, get a rough idea and move to next paragraph.
-If there are lot of extra information you can skim through it. Don’t try to remember all the information. You can refer back to passage as per question requirement.

IR: Try to practice at least some IR questions from OG so that you don’t get tensed about it at the end.

-Practice 3-4 essays (on any topic from OG) before the exam as per the AWA template. AWA score is not included in GMAT score and reported separately but to avoid last min tension it’s better to spend 2 hours on it.
-Also if you are a person who use lot of shortcuts while typing either try to avoid using shortcuts till exam or keep extra time buffer in exam to correct the spelling/shortcut mistakes.

Error Log:
I was never able to understand the concept of error log. I never got chance to go back to questions that i marked wrong. But here is explanation of a different version of error log that I made:

For Quant: Whenever I made mistake in a quant question i thoroughly understand the solution at the same moment and write down any new formulas/shortcuts that i learnt from the question. For questions whose solution i am unable to understand/comprehend, i make a note of question and full solution (i noted like 4-5 questions only as i have not practised quant much. Also i never got chance to go back to the questions. But while writing down the solution it helped me to understand the solution little bit more)

For Verbal: I made error log only for SC section. After finishing whole theory and while going over the SC question and solutions, I have-not copied just question numbers that i made wrong, instead i made notes of the concepts i learnt from each question: notes of the new concepts that I learned in a solution, concepts that I missed during theory session and concepts in which I repeatedly made mistakes.

Well I hope i have not bored you guys with the story and some of you will learn from my mistakes and will try not to repeat them.

All the best everyone for the exam !!!!

Also feel free to ask questions if you guys have any :) :)

Note: Will make corrections with time. Right now I just poured everything that came in my mind.

Originally posted by Nikkb on 25 Nov 2017, 13:32.
Last edited by Nikkb on 01 Dec 2017, 03:33, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Always learn from your mistakes – Nikkb’s story  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Nov 2017, 21:46

Amazing detailed debrief!

Wishing you all the best for your apps!!

It's the journey that brings us happiness not the destination.

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New post 25 Nov 2017, 23:13
Congrats Nikkb
All the best for the application phase. Hope you make it to the school of your choice.

I am certain that your story inspires a lot more people planning to take
the exam. I think it is necessary to think beyond the mock scores and take the plunge!

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New post 25 Nov 2017, 23:21
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This is an amazing debrief. Congrats on the great score. You got another 40 odd days to focus on apps. Btw what schools you are targetting?

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New post 27 Nov 2017, 06:30
This is a great story Nikkb - Congratulations on the score and all the best for the applications.

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

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New post 30 Nov 2017, 12:21
Nikkb Great debrief buddy. Even I scored 690 on my last mock.
Your post is a source of inspiration to me.

All the best with your applications. :)
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New post 01 Dec 2017, 22:28
adkikani Thanks a lot :)

pushpitkc Thanks a lot :) Totally... i feel during exam u r more focussed as compared to mocks :P

Gnpth Thanks :) .. interested in Haas, Tepper, UCLA,MIT (might be).... also searching on Canada and UK school

ydmuley thanks :) :)

ImAnkitKaushik Thank u :)
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Re: Always learn from your mistakes – Nikkb’s story &nbs [#permalink] 01 Dec 2017, 22:28
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