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From 620 to 720 (49/41) in 45 days!!


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Hey all,


I think I’ve finally managed to beat the GMAT and get close to my target score. Things looked bleak a month and a half back when I got a mere 620 after preparing for 3 months. While my Quant score was a decent 48, it was verbal that killed me then with a mere 29, when I was expecting at least a 36-37. In hindsight it was probably SC and RC that let me down because I always had the tendency to go by what sounded right rather than apply the SC rules. Also I probably hadn’t practiced enough RC passages ‘coz they are so boring. For my retake, I figured I couldn’t really do much to my quant score so I decided to focus only on SC and RC. I had used the Manhattan SC book for my first attempt and nothing specific for RCs. I had just done about 15 passages from the OG 13 apart from the ones that I did on the practice tests.


For my second attempt I used the SC Grail to improve my SC skills. While I had heard good things about the book, I didn’t bother with it in my first attempt coz I already had the Manhattan SC book, which was a mistake. I found the rules in the SC Grail much easier to absorb than those in Manhattan SC. I also found it to be a more complete book because it has rules, practice questions, everything. For non-native speakers who are struggling with SC, I strongly recommend the SC Grail over any other book.


For RC I decided practice was the way to go so I decided to do 4 passages every day for the next 30-40 days that I had. This meant that I needed close to 100 plus practice passages for which I used the following resources – the OG 13, the OG Verbal Review book, and the RC Grail. I ensured that I didn’t go lax on the discipline front and diligently did my quota of 4 passages every day. This strategy actually works brilliantly because, if nothing else, it makes you very confident of tackling any kind of passage that the GMAT could throw at you. I liked the passages in both, the Manhattan RC Book and the RC Grail, specially the RC grail because it gives you a lot of practice passages and doesn’t go too heavy on the strategy bit. One complain that I have with the OGs is that most of the passages contain a lot of questions, which kind of spoils your RC strategy. But all in all practice and more practice is the way to go if you wish to improve your RC skills in quick time.


On test day, one thing I noticed was that I was more relaxed than I had been the first time. I guess the fact that you’ve been there and done that once does make things a little easier the next time around. The AWA, IR, and quant sections went quite well by the time I reached verbal I was absolutely ready to take it head on. While I didn’t think my verbal section went particularly well, I knew I wasn’t doing badly either because a lot of the questions were looking fairly difficult to me. I even got two bold faced CR questions! One word about SCs, I think I saw a lot of questions in my second attempt on which more than one option looked grammatically correct and I had to actually focus on the meaning of the sentence to get the answer right. So don’t get too technical with all the grammar during your prep.


All in all I’m sufficiently happy with a 720. Now it’s time to start working on those apps which is looking like a Herculean task at the moment. However, I’m sure with discipline and hard work, this mountain too shall be conquered.



Edited by topgun
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