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GMAT 735: A 260-point improvement to 100th percentile score

GMAT 735: A 260-point improvement to 100th percentile score
A 6 min read

Achieving a 100th percentile on the GMAT is an exceptional feat; but rising from the 21st percentile to this peak is truly a tale of unprecedented determination and resilience. Divy’s journey from a GMAT 475 to a stunning GMAT 735, the 100th percentile, showcases three things:

  1. how he overcame ghosts in Verbal (starting score 14th percentile),
  2. how he leveraged his improved verbal capabilities and his Quant prowess to score 99th Percentile on Data Insights and,
  3. how he used data to perfect his Quant score to 99th percentile. Let’s dive into Divy’s journey and see how he achieved his GMAT Focus success.

Watch Divy’s full interview here:

The Starting Point: 475 (22nd %ile) with multiple glaring issues!

Divy began his GMAT preparation with a modest score of 475, ranking in the 22nd percentile overall, struggling particularly with the Verbal and DI section.  In addition to his inability to solve questions, Divy faced extreme timing issues. Here is a quote that exemplifies his situation:

“For the verbal section, my reading skills were relatively weak from the beginning itself. That’s why I got a 14th percentile as I couldn’t even attempt all those questions in the given time frame for the verbal section in my diagnostic mock,”

Time Management - GMAT 735

Figure 1: Excessive time spent on DI questions. Note 1) excessive time on initial questions and 2) low overall accuracy

Divy’s verbal skills were initially weak—his reading skills were not strong enough to tackle GMAT-level material, and he found himself struggling to even complete the verbal section in time. Critical reasoning was particularly challenging; he often found himself blank when asked to strengthen an argument or identify assumptions (details in Video).

“I was just reading the argument and then reading the options and then thinking. I was taking a lot of time, for example, a 700 plus level question was taking me even more than three or four minutes just to understand the question.”

Verbal Improvement Powered by Prethinking

Divy credits much of his improvement to a structured learning approach provided by e-GMAT and to Prethinking – a technique that e-GMAT pioneered in 2011. He emphasized the importance of understanding the basics before attempting higher-level questions, particularly in the verbal section. His cousins, both engineers with high GMAT scores, and both former e-GMATers, recommended e-GMAT to Divy so he could focus substantially on verbal improvement, his biggest weakness.

At the same time, improvement did not come easily for Divy, as evident his journey view below. He initially scored many C-grades in learning activities but got better as evident by the A-grades later on.

GMAT Focus 735

Figure 2: Initial B and C grades slowly turned to A grades.

In fact, he initially struggles with Cementing, a pivotal stage in e-GMAT’s three step learning methodology. But using his strong foundation and leveraging e-GMAT’s error log, Divy was able to cross the thresholds.

GMAT Focus 735

Figure 3: Initial failures followed by Success.

As Divy cemented his prethinking ability, his accuracy and timing improved.  The diagram below shows how his accuracy in assumption-based questions increased while his time to answer questions decreased (screenshot from Divy’s Scholaranium account).

Accuracy improved while time to answer questions went down

Figure 4: Accuracy improved while time to answer questions went down

Excelling in Reading Comprehension

In Reading Comprehension (RC), he tackled his initial fear of long passages by 1) following Reading Strategies and by practicing extensively with difficult passages. As he applied these strategies extensively e-GMAT’s Scholaranium, his accuracy improved while his time to answer questions came down. 

The screenshot below shows how his accuracy improved from 68% to 82% while his time to answer questions reduced to 1’24” (by 25%).

Excelling in Reading Comprehension

Mastering Quant

Being an engineer, Divy was naturally more inclined towards quant, but GMAT quant demanded more than just computational skills. He focused on high-yield areas like number properties, probability, and overlapping sets. His strategy was to perfect the easier questions, where perfection meant two things – improving accuracy and reducing time to answer questions, so that he had ample time to answer challenging questions.  The quotes below epitomize his approach.

“In quant, massive weight is given to probability, overlapping sets, and number properties”

“Also, you have to get 20 out of 20 questions correct, you have to do the entire thing correctly to get the Q90. One or two questions wrong will bring down your score to as low as the 80th percentile”, warns Divy.

Divy utilized e-GMAT’s PACE architecture and Scholaranium extensively. Pace highlighted gaps and equipped him with the skills necessary to fill those. Scholaranium ensured consistent performance. It also provided a tracking mechanism.

Mastering Quant - GMAT Focus 735

Figure 5: Divy’s accuracy improved on Prob., P&C, etc. while his timing reduced.

DI Excellence

Equipped with superpowers of comprehension and having filled the holes in his Quant prep, Divy went through e-GMAT’s DI course. Leveraging strategies outlined in e-GMAT DI courses and through rigorous practice, Divy managed to reduce his time per question from 3-4 minutes to a more manageable pace and by developing specific strategies for different types of DI questions.

As his completed the courses, his Data Insights ability improved from below 50th percentile to eventually an excellent 99th Percentile.

e-GMAT gives written explanations for the questions and those were quite good, they helped me a lot,” Divy reflects on the resources that aided his preparation.

DI Excellence

Figure 6: High accuracy while reducing time to answer

e-GMAT Mentorship

e-GMAT played a crucial role in Divy’s success. The pre-thinking modules and detailed strategies and explanations for verbal, quant, and DI, the timely guidance from Rida, Payal, and Rajat, the high quality mocks and detailed performance analyses, and the close monitoring and course correction, all provided him with a one stop solution for his GMAT prep, crucial for his improvement to GMAT 735.

Mock Tests and Strategic Review

Divy’s approach to mock tests was methodical; he not only practiced extensively but also spent significant time reviewing each test. This helped him identify weak areas and prevent repeat mistakes.

GMAT focus Mocks Score

His strategic skipping of the most challenging questions in the DI section during the actual test helped him manage time effectively and avoid losing out on the easier questions toward the end of the test.

Key Takeaways for Future Test Takers

Divy’s final GMAT score of 735, with a perfect Q90 and a near-perfect V84 and D85, placed him in the 100th percentile overall, a testament to his hard work and strategic preparation. He managed to improve his score by 260 points in just seven months, a feat that speaks volumes about his dedication and systematic approach.

Divy advises future GMAT takers to start with a diagnostic test to pinpoint weaknesses accurately. Focusing on improving weaker areas first can lead to significant score improvements. Regular practice, timely review, and maintaining calm during the exam are pivotal.

Conclusion : GMAT 735

Divy’s journey from 475 to 735 on GMAT focus is not just a story of personal achievement but a beacon for all GMAT aspirants. His experience underscores the importance of perseverance, the right preparation strategy, and the effective use of resources. For those embarking on their GMAT journey, Divy’s story offers inspiration and a blueprint for success.

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