610 V22 to 760 V41 A Big Thanks to CV
First of all, my sincere apologies for the delay in writing this debrief. Last couple of months were spent in completing few applications and a change in job also made me lil busy.
Without wasting more time, let me straightaway jump to the debrief.
In my first GMAT attempt in 2013 Jan, I scored a dismal 22 in Verbal and 610 overall, in spite of good scores in other sections (Q50, IR7 & AWA 5.5).
I had done self-study for more than 2 months prior to the test solving questions from the Official guides and Manhattan SC/IR guides. Being an engineer, I was good in Quants and required lesser preparation effort in this section compared to Verbal (my weak area).
For Verbal section, I never followed any strategy and focussed on doing all questions in the guides and mock tests one by one.
Few mistakes I committed during the preparations, which I couldnt realize and correct then were:
1) For Sentence correction, mostly went with the answer that either sounded better than others or is the most concise
2) Did not categorize and study the CR topics. Since I had a decent accuracy level in mock tests, kind of overlooked the tougher question types such as boldface, mimic the reasoning, EXCEPT etc. which occured rarely in the mocks. But in the actual GMAT exam, I would have got atleast 4 questions wrong from these types.
3) Concentrated on reading and understanding the full RC passage, irrespective of their complexity, rather than focusing on what is really asked in the questions. I remember 2 of the RC passages I had in the GMAT were really tough to understand and I ended up re-reading those multiple times. The time lost in these RCs proved detrimental as I couldnt attempt last 5 questions in Verbal.
4) Did mock tests from GMATPrep and Manhattan leading to the exam and scores ranged from 600-730 (with Verbal score hovering around 30). I took these exams from home at varied times during a day. I couldnt effectively replicate the exam conditions and always got distracted by something or the other happenings at home. Sad thing was I never realized its importance until the exam day, when I struggled to maintain my concentration during the verbal section.
Even though more than 70% of my prep hours were spent on Verbal section, I ended up with this disappointing result.
I did try to restart my preparations in 2013 at several points of time, but never had the motivation to take it forward. Lean period at work in early 2014 and continued motivation by my wife made me seriously consider writing GMAT again.
I wanted to have my Verbal preparation more structured this time and started searching for institutes that can provide more personalized coaching and better strategies to propel my Verbal scores to 35+.
Within a few hours of search in forums such as pagalguy and gmat club, I was able to take my decision to join Crackverbal Verbal course.
Devashish advised me to join the free demo class on that Saturday (Apr 6, 2014) taken by Arun. This was a CR session and spending few mins in the class, I was convinced that CV will positively augment my verbal preparations.
I was only mistaken in the measure by which it will boost my verbal score, as I never thought I could get a 40+ then.
I joined the 6 week long CV Verbal course starting Apr 26 and these 6 weeks took me back to the classroom, 11 long years later.
Listing down few specifics from the class and my initial preparations:
1) Comprehensive study plan given by CV showed me the way on how to break down my preparations for the next 3 months (Verbal+Quants). A simple plan that I could follow with ease.
2) First 2 weeks classes were of RC. With deep insights into the RC section and the types of questions one can encounter, Arun was able to break my myth on this section that every RC passage needs to be read and understood completely. I could understand clearly the different question types in RC and how to approach each type better.
3) Next 2 weeks covered CR. CR was a section I was most comfortable with among the 3 and my accuracy was also decent (~70%) already. But when it comes to tougher question types in CR, I was not doing good. CR classes enabled me with the right inputs to tackle any question type with ease. I changed my opinion that question types such as Boldface, Mimic reasoning, Except etc. I used to run away from these questions earlier and now these were my preferred qs.
4) Last weeks covered SC, in which I am the weakest. With the extent of theory to be covered in SC, I thought 2 weeks of class time will not be enough. But after few days of class completion and self-study, I realized the SC classes could not have been taken better. These sessions proved as a grammar refresher course to me and provided me a good platform to capitalize on. SC accuracy improves only by constant practice and I could improve mine only after weeks of doing questions.
The entire 6 weeks went like a breeze and I could tick most of the boxes that I lacked during my first attempt. Arun’s teaching style was engaging and every example he came up with made me understand the topic better.
I re-did all Official guide questions by following the study plan, and this time I could easily understand my improvement areas by tracking the questions I got wrong. The CV forum also helped me to find better explanations to many of the OG questions for which OG explanations were vague and confusing.
The CV Advanced question set also provided me with lots of 700+ questions. I always did these questions in sets of 41 (most of the times equally split across sections) and with a timer. This way I could measure my ability to complete questions on time. I did these questions during the last month of preparation after completing the OG questions.
I posted very less questions in the forum during my study days, because the forum already had exhaustive set of questions answered and the search was also easy. My travel time to/from office mostly included browsing the new questions through the “Info” mails in my mailbox.
I took 2 weeks to refresh my Quants and IR basics and started taking mock tests from June end. Following mock tests were done by me during 7 weeks starting end of June to early August:
1) Paid GMAT Prep tests 3 & 4. Did test#3 first and #4 last (from CV center)
2) Manhattan series of 6 mock tests (from CV center)
3) GMAT prep free tests 1 & 2 (from home)
4) GMAT prep old free tests 3 & 4 (from CV center)
5) 5 Kaplan tests (from home)
Took these mock tests from the CV center 1 per week (with the exception of last 2 weeks in which I took 2 each) and in the morning slot 10AM-2PM. Except for the old GMAT Prep tests which didnt have the IR section, I ensured to complete all sections (including AWA and IR) for other tests.
Test taking conditions in the CV center was very close to what I experienced in my 2 GMAT attempts and the 10 mock tests taken helped me to maintain my concentration level throughout the 4 test hours.
I also spent atleast half hour after each test at the center to quickly go through the explanations of the wrong questions and noted down few, which were not clear, to re-check at home later.
My scores ranged from 650-730 in the first few mocks and from 720-780 in the last few. 780 in one of the GMAT prep tests ofcourse was an aberration as I encountered many questions that I had done before.
1.5 months after completing the classes, I wanted a final refresh to my Verbal prep and enrolled for the CV Verbal ScoreBooster workshop, which I attended on Jul 26/Aug 2. More than focussing on the theory part, these sessions helped me to practice various question types across the 3 sections.
Apart from practicing questions, Arun taught us how to manage time better by breaking down the section to 5 15 min intervals and target to complete 8 questions each by the end of each interval. I practiced this routinely for the few mocks taken for the next 3 weeks and in the GMAT test, and to my surprise, I could complete Verbal sections in all these tests well before the last minute.
The innovative approach adopted on the second day of the workshop in forming groups of 5-6 participants and discussing the answer explanations between ourselves also helped me understand how each person approached a question and the different ways one can solve a question. This experience combined with the detailed explanations by Arun/Gowri (for every question, irrespective of those I made right or wrong) helped me end the worshop with confidence on my abilities to tackle the section.
Finally, the exam day arrived – Aug 17. This would be one of the very few exams that I took with least tension and pressure. Four months of preparation and doing several mock tests helped me to be confident of my abilities on the exam day.
AWA topic was a little tricky for me and I could somehow manage to complete the essay within time. Since I had practiced writing few essays during the mocks and at home, I could easily templatize my essay. This helped me to complete it in time even though I took time to pen down the ideas.
IR section was not difficult as compared to the Manhattan & Kaplan mocks, so I could complete it in time with very less guesses.
Quants section, again was not difficult, even though I am sure I committed 3-4 silly mistakes. Of course I would have been happier if I scored a 51.
Took 2 short breaks of 5 mins each after IR and Quants section to ensure I am fresh for the most important Verbal section.
Verbal section was of moderate difficulty level with 1 tough RC passage and few tough CR and SCs. This time I didnt panic and was able to finish all questions well within time (>1 min remaining on the clock).
I was delighted to see the final screen that flashed with my score of 760. The breakup of the scores across each section also made me happy, especially the 41 (94 percentile) in Verbal. This score was way beyond my expectation of achieving a 700+ (with a 35+ in Verbal), while joining CV in April.
Looking back, I can very well say that CrackVerbal helped me to bridge the missing link in my preparation to achieve a good GMAT score. CV armed me with the right strategies and tools to confidently take the exam.
Thanks again to CV team for all the help and guidance.