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GMAT Student Post: Business School for Tech

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 2.03.19 PMEveryone, listen up! Frank has some great tips for quant. Thanks, Frank! 🙂 

About me: Hello, my name is Frank and I have worked for 5 years as an embedded software engineer for a prominent mobile semiconductor company in Texas. In college I studied Computer Engineering, and subsequently completed my master’s degree in Computer Networking. I am still as of yet undecided on my ultimate business school aspirations; however, I do have strong aspirations to working towards technical strategy development for the tech industry with a stretch goal of CTO eventually. I am planning on applying to Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Duke, UT, Yale, and UNC in the fall. My current hobbies include long distance running and amateur photography.

My biggest challenge: When I initially took a Kaplan sample test at the beginning of my GMAT preparation, I scored something in the low 500’s and found that my math was substantially worse than my verbal. This came as a shock to me, since a large part of my curricula in undergrad/grad school was quant based. I buckled down and resolved to study seriously over the course of 2 months using Magoosh and MGMAT preparation – loosely following a compressed version of the Magoosh 3 month schedule for beginners. I focused broadly across both verbal and quant for the first two weeks, brushing up on my fundamentals across the board. By week 3 or 4, I transitioned to focusing on thoroughly absorbing the information in the math MGMAT books. I studied daily for 2-2.5 hours after work, with a break day (or two) every week. My GMAT practice CATs improved substantially with the following break down:
Kaplan – 640 MGMAT – 680, 700, 720 Official Guide CAT – 680, 720 . The final OG CAT was taken the week before actual test day, and lo and behold I also scored a 720!

Tips for other students: Some tips that I was able to keep in mind that helped me drastically improve in quant were:
– Don’t approach any as if it’s novel – there’s always a trick and if by a minute you don’t see an obvious way to solve elegantly, begin the deduction process so you can move on.
– There is no reason to brute force or understand everything 100%, you just need to know when to recognize patterns and apply solving techniques appropriately
– Every time you start a new question, look at the time remaining, subtract 2:00 and write the result next to the question. This practice helped my timing immensely because it gave me a boundary that which I knew I could not cross. If I hit the 2:00 mark and was not very close to done, it was time to guess and move on.
– Same trick above with integrated reasoning, but subtract 2:30.

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