How I scored 760 in GMAT (Still am angry with myself!)

Hardwork never gets unrewarded forever – 760(49/44) , AWA – 6, IR – 3 

It all started with CAT !!

It all started way back in 2009, when I decided to have MBA degree. In India, CAT is more preferred and I joined the CAT coaching institutes. While studying for CAT, I developed habit of solving CAT Quant fast and I loved solving RC. CAT a peculiar SC and I never liked those questions so I never developed SC solving techniques. I used to solve a lot of LR and that tuned the CR. Over the years, with scores ranging from 64.94%tile to 89%tile, I lost hope in CAT even though in mocks, I was scoring round about 97-99. In one CAT exam (I don’t remember the year), I scored 17.XX %tile in VA. That was the lowest point. Next year, I got 47.XX%tile in VA. CAT moved to computer based testing in the year 2009 onward and I didn’t know was it because of normalization of CAT scores across slots. CAT is conducted in a specific window in the month of November of every year and the scores are compared within slots using an algorithm which was vaguely known as normalization. 

Though my Quant was ok, Verbal was just slaughtering me. Over the years converted some B schools which didn’t make sense for me to join. Lastly I converted IIM Shillong with 92%tile but didn’t want to join.

I am yet to get 99%tile in CAT, so I will not get into too much CAT experience.

GMAT exam:

With increasing experience, my candidature for IIMs and CAT was not viable anymore so I started preparing for GMAT from year 2013. Quant looked really easy so I want to go for maximum and Indians score around 49-51 in QA. In fact while preparing for GMAT through veritasPrep, I came across VeritasPrepQuestion Bank. I started interacting with Brain Galvin and requested if I can contribute Quant questions to VeritasPrep. I contributed around 25-30 questions for evaluation purpose along with solution. He liked those questions and told me he would like to offer me a contract. I jumped and accepted the offer. I later contributed around 100 Quant questions in PS and DS to veritasPrep and I am honored that those questions find their place inVeritasPrep Practice tests today.

Over the years, the VA score reached VA 35, dropped to VA 28 (just got a shock when I got that) and again improved to VA 32 (last to last GMAT). Quant was stagnant at QA 50 and QA 49. 

Last to last GMAT – 680 (49/32)

Last to last GMAT was the turning point. When I got 680(49/32), I was devastated. I enrolled for e-gmat course before this attempt and completed all the course and revised it. e-gmat removed my fear of SC. The explanation provided by Payal, Shraddha and Meghana from e-gmat were simply out of this world for OG questions and some of the GMATPrep questions. I didn’t do many GMATPrep questions and I think lack of practice of GMATPrep was my downfall in last to last GMAT.

I started visiting gmatclub.com a lot of times and I used to solve as many questions as possible. The back bone of my preparation was “GMATPrep” questions. I used to maintain the error logs of any GMATPrep question which I got wrong either in Mock or from question pack 1. I never used to take solve one by one question in Question Pack 1 but used to take Drills consisting of at least 15 SC or 15 CR or RC sets. Similarly for Quant questions. For Quant, I used to solve 40 questions in 75 mins (around 5 Easy, 8 medium and 7 hard in both PS and DS). Normally Quant was descent, I used to get max 3-4 incorrect and I thought I am safe to get at least 50.

I used to pester VeritasPrepKarishma and mikemcgarry with questions in their PM. Any question which doesn’t make sense I used to PM them. I guess I pestered mikemcgarry so much that he disabled his PM on GMATclub.com.

In the mean time, I won premium account from Magoosh when I participated in SC content by Magoosh. Look at the irony, I used to fail in GMAT because of SC and now I am wining account because of SC questions. This gave me immense confidence. I started solving the GMAT SC questions on Forum.

Above all I owe Ron from MGMT an universe the way his explanation saved my life during this time preparation. After coming from office, I used to start preparation for at least 2-3 hours and after dinner I used to just solve question till close to 1-2 am. I think if you start explaining the solution, that is the ultimate preparation and it shows that you are ready. You start to question every part of SC question, modifiers, structure, pronoun, clause, just everything. 

The key is to postmortem the question if you don’t GMAT is going to postmortem you. Whenever I talk to any aspirant, I say don’t book your date with GMAT if you haven’t yet completed OG 13 and Verbal review 2nd Edition because there will be nothing romantic about the date, just pure frustration of failure. (and costly too $250 is close to 16.5 k in INR).

I also got veritasPrep course with help of VeritasPrepBrian. He is such a great human being and very down to earth person. He always used to encourage me whenever I will be down and always motivated me. If given the chance, I will love to work under him in US post MBA. I don’t think you can get better friend in a manager.

Ok coming to mocks, I used to take mock every two weeks initially and then every week,

My last few mocks were:
VeritasPrep Mock 2 – 720 (50/39)
VeritasPrep Mock 3 – 710 (50/37)
VeritasPrep Mock 4 – 710 (50/37)
Magoosh Mock 1 – 710 (49/38)
Economist GMAT – Scholarship – 750 – No break ups.
Economist Free Mock – 700 (50/37)

I didn’t understand what is the meaning of such variation. But I thought, I can at least get around 710 which is better than 680. 

I took 3 mocks in last 4 days:
GMATPrep Mock 1 (retake) – 770 (51/45)
GMATPrep Mock 3 (retake) – 780 (51/47)
GMATPrep Mock 4 (Fresh) – 770 (50/46) – I got 4-5 questions which I knew how to solve and I thought I got this inflated score because of this.I also got same CR question Twice. GMAC should take care of the quality of the materials.

One of the closed google group we have that group helped me and supported me through this ordeal:
1) https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gmatwarriors

GMAT Test Day 
As usual couldn’t sleep. I am suffering from this disorder since the CAT days, I need to do something about it. I studied till 3:30 am and revising SC the error logs and woke up at 7:30 revising the SC error logs.You all can understand how I was petrified with GMAT SC. Again revised the AWA template. Last time, I got AWA as 4. So I wanted this time to a little better. 
In my mocks, I used to eat Good Day biscuits and I didn’t want to change anything. So I took Good Day Biscuits, water and Sneakers (Cliche!).

I reached the center – Think Advisory in Koramangala, Bangalore, India. Did the formalities and I was checked in. I wrote the AWA with the template. In the center, they gave me 3 pens and scratch pad. When I was doing IR after AWA, I discovered the issue.
So lesson#1 : Do check your pens whether they work.

A very strange incident happened. I decided to skip the “Multi Source Reasoning” questions and solve the other questions. Earlier I got 6 and 7 so I was expecting on the same range this time. After I completed 12th Question, I wanted to use the time to relax. I had around 2-3 mins left. I was arranging me seat and my scratch pad for the meaty part of the test. Just then I dropped my passport and I bent down to pick it up. By the time, I got up, the IR section was auto submitted and I knew I screwed up my IR.

Anyway, I came to Quant section. In some of other debriefs, I noticed that some people did quant very fast and that is reason they lost out on 51, so I decided that I will not be hurried and I will check and cross check each answer to avoid any care less mistake. So I continued taking my sweet time. I didn’t know this sweet time is going to back fire big time towards the end. at around 14-15 questions, I was getting difficult questions and I was taking close to 2 – 2.5 mins. Some of the questions were from number theory and I love number theory and those even though perceived difficult by many, I solved them in less than 1 min. The geometry question took some time. Towards the end I didn’t have much time towards end and had to guess 3 question towards the end. I was so furious with myself that I just blew up the possibility of getting QA 51 with a nuke. 

I took the break so I angry I wanted to break something. But had to calm down, washed my face, ate those biscuits and had water. The most important section was about to begin. The center guys gave me the complete time. He waited patiently beside me at my desk for 7:30 mins to lapse and he keyed his credentials. They were very cooperative.

This time, I was onto the 1st question and didn’t want to repeat the mistake I did in Quant. 2 SC and 2 CR and then I got 1 RC. Interesting RC. 11th Question was a bold faced question. I was relieved that I am doing descent. The CR bold faced question took my close to 3 mins to solve. The next RC was out of this world. The passage was ok, but the question was very difficult. I was ok in RC since my CAT days and if anybody has prepared for CAT, they will know how difficult used to IMS Prep RC for SIMTEST. So those experience helped me. By the time I reached 21 question, I looked at time time, I have around 21 questions to do and I have around 30 mins. I kind of panicked but tried to calm down. I started doing CR and SC faster, not pondering too much on the wrong options. After the last RC, I was left with 5 question in 8 mins. I told myself, I will do question properly and start guessing in 1 min. I solved the last CR (the 40th question) with 00:50 secs remaining. When I clicked on 41st Question, I couldn’t make sense of the SC and I just had to click some option and just submit. 

After that demographic survey came and my heart was pounding with the excitement of the score. finally, it appeared 760 – 99%tile. I was relieved man!! Then I saw my Quant score and I was seething with anger. Again QA 49   .

I am still tensed for AWA score. I hope that is more than I got last time (4). 

Materials used
If given the chance, I will write hundred times – GMATPrep questions. They are just gold mine and without practicing those question, crossing VA 40 would have been a pipe dream.

But apart from OG 13, Verbal 2nd edition , Exam pack 1 and Question pack 1, I used:
1) e-gmat course -> Verbal Live
2) VeritasPrep Course -> mocks and practice questions.
3) MGMT Mocks -> 
4) Magoosh premium account -> Questions are very good for practice. Videos and mikemcgarry explanations are too good.
5) Grockit – For brief period of time.
6) GmatClub tests.

About e-gmat course – I took verbal live prep. I took the demo and I liked the course. I took after I score 660(50/28). Just before the GMAT appointment, I took a GMATPrep Mock and I score 680. The main problem was I got 16 questions wrong in VA and out of those 16, 13-14 were SC questions. So I realized SC is my issue and I need to tackle it by horns.
I joined e-gmat verbal Live course and I must say after practicing those rules, I could apply the rules and did get a lot of confidence. My ear is not as good in SC so I have to apply rules. So majority of the rules I learnt from e-gmat verbal live course. 
I used to solve a lot of official questions from OG/Verbal 2nd Edition and GMATPrep. I used to post those question in the e-gmat forums (version 1) and I used to get superb replies from Payal, Shraddha and Meghna. I still I had a very length discussion about “it” and “that” in one of the OG question and I never forgot that rule after that.

My advise will be if you “Totally” clueless, do attend the e-gmat demo class and join only if you are satisfied. 

Any specific doubts, please post or PM me. All the best for your prep and Never Give up !!

“Pain of hardwork is temporary but glory of achievement is permanent. Believe me the pain is worth it !!!”

[Note: This is a post on the user’s GMAT journey that has been captured in his own words. We have not edited it in any way when publishing it as an article. Cover image is from http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up]


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