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Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V)

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Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2017, 08:18
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I just want to encourage anyone who is studying for the GRE, especially if you have been out of school for more than 5 years and have a full time job and family commitments. This is for those of us who absolutely cannot prepare for the test in three weeks :-D . You can do this!! Just give yourself plenty of time.

Here's my story - I graduated undergrad in 2004 (social sciences), and finished my first masters (humanities) in 2008. At the time I submit my business school applications this year, I will be in my mid-30s. Work history is completely communications and project management. I wanted to really do well on GRE to make up for my non-traditional career path and age (i.e. compared to the typical MBA applicant). I've always been good at math, but certainly not the best - I did not study engineering or accounting or computer science, for instance. So I knew that I would need to dig deep into quant prep.

I started studying for the GRE in October 2016, and just took the exam yesterday. SIX MONTHS people. With a tough full time job (50 hours a week), I knew I had to spread out the studying in order to get my target score. I just didn't think it would be so stressful. It didn't help that I had no idea what my strategy was for the first month or so.

So when I started studying in October, my target was 328 - 162 Quant and 166 Verbal, translating to 700 on the GMAT. Ah the days of innocence.

I initially started with Manhattan's Foundations of GMAT Math to get reaquainted with math. After going through maybe 3/4s of the book, I decided it would be a good idea to take a class in my city focused on the GRE. So I took a two-month class, costing $500 with Sherpa Prep. The class schedule was brutal - 3.25 hours in classroom every week, plus an expected 10 hours of studying (I did 5). It was during that time I realize the GRE (as well as certain study plans) is really designed for young people who just finished college. It took me a month to accept that I could not study for 10 hours a week on top of my job. At the same time the class helped me push past procrastination and also forced me to get used to sitting in one place for 3 hours.

My first practice test was the ETS one in December 2016, and I scored 160 Verbal, 154 Math. This reminded me again that Math was going to be a problem. So I really focused on Quant in my class and in studying. By the time I finished the Sherpa class in early February, I had taken 4 Manhattan GRE practice exams and was scoring about 321. I did not feel ready for the GRE, despite my preparation of four months. So I moved my test date by 2 months, paying the $50 fee. I decided to try out Magoosh (which had been recommended to me by a coworker), and I sheepishly revised my target score to 326, i.e. 160 Quant and 166 Verball. :oops:

For two months I worked through Magoosh videos during my lunch break and in the evenings and weekends at a coworking space. I learned new words for vocab using flashcards I made, and created flashcards with strategies for each type of question on Quant (eg. combinations, geometry, integers, etc). It was brutal and I definitely gained 4 pounds from eating takeout and skipping exercise. By the time I took my second Magoosh Practice exam, the rewards showed in 160 Quant and 166 Verbal. I was so happy! This was 2 weeks before my test date. So I said to myself, you just have to repeat the performance on test day and you are golden. I kept studying and decided to take my second ETS practice test two days before my test date. I scored 158 Quant and 163 Verbal three days before my GRE. That was the worst day of my life since I decided to apply to business school. I was so depressed after. 321 after six months of stress and studying. What the heck!!

So I spoke to a kind friend who advised me to take it easy. And I decided to accept that I may have to retake the GRE (something I had refused to consider). I also decided to really rest up on Saturday - went to yoga, scheduled a massage, and slept and watched Netflix. The one bit of studying I did was to review about 30 mins of Magoosh reading comp videos, read my formula flashcards again, and research strategies on time management. I realized that I had missed the last 2 - 3 questions of every section in the last ETS practice test because I ran out of time. The day before my exam, I realized that I needed to skip ahead to the end of the section for Reading Comp (leaving the long passage for last) and to make sure I got any easy/medium questions lingering at the end of the Quant section.

So test day, I went in with a downgraded target score of 160 Quant and 164 Verbal. Yup, I am nothing if not a realist. I told myself, if I could just get 324, then maybe I could improve by 2 points in my second try at the GRE. I'm still amazed at my score, especially the verbal. I finished 2 minutes early for each of the verbal sections (there were three) so I figured I was doing okay. And the AWA essays were quite fun to write - though I am hoping for a 4.5/6 - I made sure to reserve my energy for the other parts of the test. Quant was tougher - I knew I'd done good in the first Quant section, so I went on the bathroom break telling myself "they're going to throw you a tough second quant section" and trying to prepare emotionally. Somehow I managed to pull through, despite missing a lot of questions, and score the 161.


Honestly, I wish I had done a bit better on Quant. It would have been sweet to land in the top 15 percentile as a non-engineer. But I have to be thankful for the fact that I broke my overall target. Assuming my official scores are the same, and the GMAT conversion doesn't change, this translates to a 710. I am not taking the GRE again - doing so may possibly increase my quant but I don't want to risk my delicious verbal score. I'M SO GLAD IT'S OVER.

Good luck everyone. Devote enough time. Study smart. Use a variety of resources, and come up with a time management strategy (preferably sooner than the day before the test!).
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Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2017, 01:04
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Thank you so much to share your experience.

regards
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Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2017, 07:58
169 Verbal..Wow! Are you a native English speaker? What were your strategies for Verbal esp. RC?
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Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2017, 10:00
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arijit87 wrote:
169 Verbal..Wow! Are you a native English speaker? What were your strategies for Verbal esp. RC?


Hi arijit87, being a native speaker helps, but I think reading extensively has a strong impact in the long run. Magoosh Verbal was really helpful for RC. Towards the end I created flash cards with strategies for RC and its different types of questions, and just kept reading them in the last week before the test. It definitely helps to be someone that reads the news and current affairs daily - you pick up grammar organically that way.
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Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2017, 10:27
Yeah Aaliyah, well said! While I read RCs, by the time I reach the end of a passage, I forget the beginning of it and I got to read the passage again to understand it completely. Reading a passage twice is not good because it kills a good amount of time. How can I overcome this? Any idea?

Could you pls share your strategies for Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence as well?

A silly question though, do you think that making flash cards for Vocabulary and strategies is more helpful than penning down in a notebook?

Thanks!
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Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V) [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2017, 12:26
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For RC if I remember correctly, Magoosh advised to first read a paragraph then write down the gist of the paragraph (1 sentence) without looking back. You do this for the rest of the passage. Then after the final paragraph you write down what you think is the purpose of the passage (eg. "to propose a new way of thinking about Aztec cooking rituals").

The key is to not spend too long on your first read - you want to understand the structure of the passage, and you want to understand where each paragraph or section fits in the overall passage (eg. P1 talks about X, P2 starts contradicting X because Y, P3 has more to say about Y, P4 says more research is needed). Then when you tackle each question, its your job to go back into the passage and find the relevant paragraph then read more in depth. For questions that aren't related to a specific section (eg. what is the purpose of the text?), you have to go several steps back and use your summary to answer those.

You don't want to read the full passage twice (unless its a very short one), but you can certainly end up reading sections of the passage multiple times as you answer the questions.

The strategy for text completion and sentence equivalence are somewhat similar in that you first read the question then IGNORE the answers. Come up with your own word for the blank first, then look at the answers to find the right one.
Re: Non-traditional MBA applicant - Scored 330 (161Q, 169V)   [#permalink] 10 Jul 2017, 12:26
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