December 03, 2018

Joined: Oct 08, 2018

Posts: 1

Kudos: 5

Verified score:
730 Q48 V41

Dear GMATClub community!

I am so excited to share my GMAT experience with you all. I've read countless testimonials (looking for insights or tips) over the past 4 months, anything to help break the 700 point barrier.

If you are searching for a quick fix, or a silver bullet, stop reading right now - I am not that guy. My 730 score came from a lot of smart studying (see below), the Manhattan Prep course, guidance from my instructor Keith Blume (he rocks!) and support from my friends and family. I can give you all some tips that I wish I had taken advantage of much sooner.

First and foremost, if you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend taking advantage of the 9 week Manhattan Prep course with Keith Blume.

I took my first practice exam and then realized that I needed professional help. I didn't not know the answers to most quant problems, but even more concerning was that I had no clue what was being asked (divisibility, prime factors, evenly-spaced sets - get out here!). To make matters worse, I not only bombed the questions I gave my best efforts, but also ran out of time. I had to hit the pause button many times just to see the remaining questions (btw - hitting the pause button during practice exams is a horrible practice - DON'T DO IT - you'll only cheat yourself from improving your test day strategy).

Manhattan Prep - Hands down, the best thing I can say about the program is that you will not be surprised in any way during your exam. Like most people (even those with 700+ scores), I got close to 50% of the questions wrong, but Manhattan Prep helped with 2 key components.

1. Identify the concepts being tested (the study guides are really well-organized for this)
2. QUICKLY determine a strategy (Work Backwards, Smart Numbers, Algebra approach - Keith was very instrumental in this aspect). Percent change or rate/distance problems, for example, would sometimes take me 4 minutes to solve, until I learned that there were multiple different ways to solve the problems or to eliminate 2 or 3 options.

Ok so a little bit amount the progress during my 4.5 months of prep

M-CAT 1 - 580 40q 30v - Aug 31
M-CAT 2 - 630 45q 32v - Sep 21
M-CAT 3 - 640 44q 34v - Oct 5
M-CAT 4 - 600 43q 31v - Nov 1
M-CAT 5 - 640 40q 37v - Nov 21
GMAT - 730 48q 41v - Nov 27

Biggest takeaways I wish I had started using earlier

I know it's been said before, but it's worth repeating - simply plowing through countless problems won't help improve your understanding of the concepts. Doing a 1000 problems a month is a waste of time. It is much more efficient if you fully understand the problems you face. Understand not only how to get the correct answer, but also understand why the other options were incorrect (especially useful for verbal).

Time yourself - You should become a master at the difference between 90 seconds, 120 seconds and lastly 180 seconds (bail!!!) Keith showed me through assessment reports where my score was negatively impacted by poor time management. The more I learned, the more questions I could correctly answer. The paradox was that my scores were dropping, Keith made it very clear that I should treat every question as if it were an investment. Good investment - ok, put some more time into it. Bad investment - Get out as soon as possible!!!

Error Log (spreadsheet) - During the first week of the course you come across a file to download to keep track of work. I completely dismissed this file (big mistake). I would say it's a waste of valuable time to keep track of every problem you face. Once I start to keep track of the problems that I got wrong or those I took longer than 2.5 minutes (you should time every single problem initially and then maybe blocks of problems later), I felt my confidence go up. The tricky part of the preparation is that you go through each subject individually, but unlike the study guide, the exam changes subjects from question to question. I would catalog the questions I got wrong or took too long to solve and then use the Manhattan Navigator solutions guide to learn how to solve the problem. Then after 2-3 weeks I would have roughly 30 quant and 30 verbal questions. I would try to solve these 60 questions for a second time. Many times, I would still get half of these questions wrong (or over 2.5 minutes). Typically, after 3 or 4 attempts I was able to correctly solve all the questions. Using the error log and writing out, in my own words, the mistakes I was making and also writing down, in my own words, which steps I should take to solve the problem was very helpful. I didn't do the most problems, but every single problem I did, I eventually mastered.

The Manhattan course also has many interactive videos (which are awesome and as entertaining as instructional videos can be). Several videos test your ability to identify concepts / question stems / strategies to be used - I highly recommend getting this down pat

It terms of work-load - I covered all the Manhattan study guides (sentence correction I had to re-read) and the OG (just the problem sets). I did all the problems; the Manhattan navigator tool was great to track which problems were still "new" after I had completed the 9-week course.

My CR scores were lagging and eventually I purchased the CR Bible by Power score. I think it is worth while ($25). The CR Bible strategy is different than the Manhattan strategy and for me it made a big difference. Manhattan teaches to read the question stem, before reading the stimulus - I found that reading the question first biased my approached to the problem. I also think the CR bible helped me learn to more quickly identify the subject being tested. An additional resource to improve sentence correction is a free 4 part Youtube series by Veritas Prep - But I recommend watching the videos only after you've completed the sentence correction study guide. The videos are great complimentary resources, but they are not to be used as your foundation in your preparation. I watched these videos twice, once after my 9 week course and then once again 3 days before my exam.

I didn't spend much time on IR (much easier on real exam than Manhattan Prep) or AWA (google chineseburned and do 3 practice essays)

I'm so happy!!! I threw away all my flash cards; now its time to start working on the rest of my applications.

Good luck to you all - If I could get a 700+, so can you

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