a study plan

so i’ve been getting some questions on btg for what my study plan was so i’m going to write about what i did.  but to be honest, i don’t think i did it that effectively so i’m going to follow that by what i think i could’ve improved on.  and i’m only going to talk about what i did this second time around since that’s when i scored 730.

what i did

i signed up for btg’s 60-day study plan but i never really looked at the emails.  i think i read the first few but didn’t even have the materials that they were recommending.

i was taking the veritas prep course which meets twice a week for3 hours each session…that’s a lot of time but make no mistake, even though you’re in class and learning, it’s not the same as doing the work on your own.

since i had gone through almost all of the veritas prep books the first time around, i didn’t really use them this time.  that’s not to say they aren’t good books, if i had enough time, i would have done all my quant books again.  i remember i was very frustrated and struggled a lot with the quant books because i didn’t know how to do a lot of the harder problems and i would look at the back for the answers and “solve” it that way…i didn’t learn anything by doing that.  verbal was easier for me but i reacted in pretty much the same way, when i missed the problem, i looked at what the correct answer was but i don’t think i truly understood why it was correct.

during the class, instead of working through the veritas books, i was going through the total gmat math book and i thought it offered good strategies but it really didn’t have enough practice problems or too many difficult problems.  each section of the book has a practice drill and a practice challenge…the drills were always really easy and the challenges were harder but usually not too bad.

i also tried to take a practice cat exam over the weekend.  initially, i was hesitant to take one because i didn’t want to know my score.  throughout the class i scored between 640-660, which was really frustrating because that’s what i was scoring last year and even though i was concentrating on quant, my score was essentially the same.

i eventually also bought the og and tried to do timed sets for at least 30 minutes (30 minutes to do 15 problems, 60 min/1 hr for 30 problems, etc.).  i started off with the first section, problem solving, and i was doing really well with that…like 30 problems in less than 15 minutes, but those problems are easier since the difficulty generally increases.  i thought that it’d be good to spend less than the average 2 min on those questions so that it’d give me more time for the difficult questions.  which wasn’t too bad of an idea but i later realized that i wouldn’t have that many easy questions i could carry over time from on the actual test since it’s cat.  i started the og pretty late into my veritas prep course and i had scheduled my gmat exam to be several weeks after the course concluded.

about a week before the exam i decided i should reschedule from july 12th to august 9th.  i was still scoring around 660 so i knew it was unlikely that i’d get 700+ on test day.  when i rescheduled the exam, i began to take my study a lot more seriously.  that’s not to say i wasn’t studying before, but i’m such a procrastinator and i’m so bad at self-discipline that it was really half-assed.  especially working full-time and having class 6 hrs a week, then taking a 3-4 hour long practice test on the weekend, it feels like you don’t have much time/energy left to study.  i think i only studied maybe 2 hrs a week during this time and still went out with my friends and watched a lot of tv/movies.

when i rescheduled, i realized that i needed to really kick it into high gear.  i stopped going out with my friends on the weekend, unless there was something really important like a birthday party or engagement or something and i also cut back on my tv time considerably (although i didn’t eliminate).  and i tried to make myself study even when i was tired–even if it was only for 30 min.  i’ve read that it’s better to study for 30 min to an hr each day instead of like 8 hours over the weekend.  this definitely wasn’t easy for me.

during this time, i read all of my veritas quant gmat books (but didn’t do any problems) and finished total gmat math and did about half of the og ps problems.  i decided i wanted the highly recommended mgmat books and borrowed what i could from my friend.  i think at this point, my test was about 2-3 weeks away.  she gave me all the quant books except for equations, inequalities, & vic’s because someone else still had them and word translations because i had purchased it through amazon to get the mgmat 6 cat exams.  i stopped working through the og to concentrate on these books and when i had about a week left, i purchased the advanced gmat quant book.

i was also working through the magoosh quant problems as much as i could.  the last week before my exam, i had done most of the mgmat advanced quant, finished the og ps questions, and finished the magoosh problems as well as went through my incorrect and flagged pools again.  i was also able to go thru my “flagged”/incorrect og ps questions once and i think i did the first 30 ds questions.

throughout this period, i also was signed up for btg 60-day quant and verbal questions and would attempt mgmat’s 700-level challenge problems that they post on their blog.  i also increased my cat exams to about twice a week, on saturday and sunday but later on i stopped taking as many because i had read that you don’t learn much from the cat’s besides knowing your pacing/timing and about what your score will be.  i could be spending that time studying, especially since cat’s tire you out and as a result, you’re unlikely to study much afterwards.  and i posted before about how my scores wildly varied from 620 to 750 at this time but on the last 3 tests before, i was consistently getting 700+.  it was then i realized that not only was the 750 not a fluke, but something i could possibly get.

i wasn’t able to finish a lot of good, important books–such as the og–and i feel that i could’ve done better on quant.  during this time, i only focused on quant but my verbal score shot up to be in the 90th percentile pretty consistently.  i’m not sure what i did for this to happen since i didn’t really study for it but i’m really happy that it did because i wouldn’t have gotten a 730 without it and i’m relieved that i only had to study for one section–the quant.

it is somewhat disappointing that my quant score didn’t improve more even though i focused solely on it, but i think this just goes to show how difficult it can be to raise your score.  in the 4-5 weeks between when i rescheduled my exam to taking it, i think i spent about 13-15 hours per week studying and taking cat exams.

what i wish i had done

so now you know what i did…but here’s what i would do if i had to do it again.  now, this plan is considerably longer as well, like maybe 3 months or longer, which i know most of you don’t have.  i would’ve started with all the mgmat quant books–including the one i didn’t have at all (inequalities).  if i had enough time, i would’ve also done the veritas prep quant but this was less of a priority for me since i had done them the year before, but i would’ve definitely did the advanced quant and possibly the math essentials books because i had never done them before and i would imagine that the advanced quant would be good material.

then if time permits, i’d go through total gmat math followed by the og questions, possibly starting with ds first since that was a weak point of mine.  data sufficiency is unique to the gmat and is pretty difficult question type because it’s so new to most test-takers.  the gmac has been increasing the number of ds questions throughout the years, especially for high performers so it behooves you to really get familiar with it.

and i would’ve continued doing magoosh, btg 60-day questions, and mgmat 700-level questions from their blog during this entire time as well.  it’s still a lot and i didn’t really change my materials, just the order i did them in and how much time i spent with each.

i would’ve also made it a point to go over all the questions i missed or didn’t understand multiple times until i finally got them right.  i think this is important to do and wish i had time to do this more when i was studying.  and although i never did this, i recommended it in my tips section–see exactly what areas you’re weak in whether it be probability/combinatorics or algebra and really focus on those.  and also be aware of how much time you spent on each question.

i would recommend taking a gmat cat in the beginning to see what your score is, followed by a diagnostic test to see where you’re weak, and taking a practice exam maybe once every other week (mgmat, veritas, etc.), and taking the last gmat cat maybe 1 to 2 weeks before the exam to see how you improved and where else you can still improve.

and wish i had been more self-disciplined…stopped checking facebook, my rss feeds and other sites i visit, and a lot more tv still.  it would’ve been good to do about 20 hrs of study a week i think.  it’s significant but not killer.


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