Friday, September 30, 2011

Update: 2 days before GMAT

Hello again from Mother Russia, 2 days prior to my GMAT date of 02.10.11. 

Tomorrow morning, I'm on my way to Moscow. I'll check the test center location first thing, then have a good rest and maybe a little bit of repetition. 

Last two weeks, I was working overtime at work constantly and I had a stringent GMAT study schedule. Therefore I couldn't update the blog to present how my study goes. Actually I do not have a lot of time right now to get in to details of my studies, the analysis of my prep tests and the evaluation of the test results. However, to demonstrate how I was doing, here is a chart that I prepared, showing my prep test scores:

Only 3 of the exams were on Sundays. I had all the other ones week-time after work, earliest at 20:00. Some of them were finished at later than 1 a.m. I want to believe that this fact had a considerably negative effect on my results.

The anomaly on the upward trend of the overall score, which can be seen on the last prep test happened because somehow I couldn't manage my time on the verbal section. I had 6 mistakes until the last 6 questions, where I had to guess all and made 5 mistakes. I believe in myself that on a relaxed Sunday noon time, with a clear mind, I am able to do much better with timing and concentration. 

That's it for now. See you on the other side!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Analyzing MGMAT Free Test Results

About 10 days ago, on 30.08.2011, I took MGMAT's free online test. While the overall score of 730 97% (Q50 95%, V40 91%) showed a little progress from the previous two 710s (Q50,V36 and Q49,V36) that I got from the GMAT Preps, the detailed breakdown of the quant and verbal sections helped me to understand more about how I did, and where my weaknesses are.

When you open MGMAT's exam review page, it takes you to a main review menu, from where you can pass to the overall score, verbal, quantitative and AWA review sections. Now, I want to analyse my quant and verbal section results one by one.


For the ones who haven't taken any MGMAT CAT yet, the quant section breakdown looks something like this:

Regarding my quant results, the following are the facts that I understood:

- Except the first 500-600 and the last 600-700 questions, all the others were 700+, so I should get myself ready for the intensity without any breaks to get a top notch quant score.
- I had 11 mistakes, comprised of 6 problem solving and 5 data sufficiency; still I managed to get a %95 percent Q50, which means that GMAT allows mistakes and I shouldn't bust my ass back off spending 5 minutes in a question.
- I was thinking that I don't need to waste time studying for quant. Although now I know that I'm weak in some subjects as inequalities and factors-multiples.
- I need to be more careful in order to avoid making silly mistakes on trivial questions. It means: practice practice practice!
- If I can achieve a Q51, my overall score will come directly to a 750 even with my current verbal level. On that ground, I now know that I need to take the final step to reach the top in quant.


OK, the verbal. My observations are as follows:

- The verbal section was a little bit more diverse in means of question hardness than the quant. There were 24 700+ questions and I messed up so bad in the beginning that the exam even gave me a 300-500 question.
- I made six consecutive mistakes in the middle of the exam, but I was going so good prior to that, it only dropped my percentage from 99% to 81%.
- My total 15 mistakes in this section consists of 4 CR (2 600-700,2 700+: 28,6% wrong), 6 RC (2 500-600, 2 600-700, 2 700+: 50,0% wrong), 5 SC (5 700+: 33,3% wrong). The most important lesson I learned after checking the wrong answers one by one is that I need to improve my vocabulary. At least half of my mistakes was because I didn't know some key words or I misunderstood a sentence. I decided to study some vocabulary every day before sleep (They tell that brain memorizes best before sleep). In addition, I believe that when I excel my sentence correction skills, I will be in the place that I want to be.


As a result, MGMAT CAT provides a lot of detail in the review, as the difficulty of the question, time for each question, question topic and an estimate of your percentage after each question. Therefore, in my opinion, it act as a better source of self-evaluation than the GMAT Prep itself. On the other hand, GMAT Prep can more concretely show where you stand as a prospective test taker.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

RIP Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

The recent plane crash in Russia, killing almost the entire Lokomotiv hockey team is very sad. Plus, the fact that it is a result of poor inspection makes it worse.

I'm in grief since I heard the news yesterday on the radio. It is very disappointing that any kind of inspection/control in Russia is solely on paper. According to the news on, the same plane was banned in Europe due to safety concerns. Although promising to update the condition of the plane, Russian authorities(!) then somehow changed their minds and kept the plane as it is, leading to this terrible accident.

According to the same article, "Currently Russia and the formet Soviet States have the world's worst air safety record, with 13 times more incidents than the international average". 13 times!!

In order to save the country from this shameful position and to prevent further similar accidents, solid steps must be taken to fix this current overlooking and ignorant approach as soon as possible.

My deepest condolences to all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Love and hate relationship with the practice tests

If there is one thing that I understood during my brief studies till date, it is the fact that how worse you feel yourself during the test, the better you score. I mean your anticipation about your score is generally wrong. In the end of the exam if you feel that you were horrible and expect a 650 coming, in most cases it turns out to be above 700.

I didn't feel good on my first CAT (GMAT Prep 1: 710). Quant section was stringent, especially with complex data sufficiency questions on inequalities (I must work on those); and verbal was mind boggling, with endless RC passages on eccentric subjects with tons of technical terms. Although I actually didn't know what to expect as it was my first prep test.

The other two CATs, on the other hand, really felt dreadful. I was hungry even before I started CAT no.2 (GMAT Prep 2: 710) and considering the fact that the test takes hours, you can imagine the mood I was in all test. Hunger already causes a disproportionate anger and impatience on me on a normal day. Furthermore, I know how the results of mock exams affect one's psychology for the real GMAT, so it is always crucial for me to score high. Long story short, it was like a torture trying to focus until the end of the test. I even thought about leaving it unfinished. As I urged to finish it, I felt that I did lots of consecutive mistakes. The simplest looking quant questions, shortest SCs seemed impossible (By the way, I think it is a trick that GMAC uses sometimes to test attention to details). Well, the result was a modest q50-v36 710. I can't say that I'm proud of that verbal but the overall score was much higher than my forecast.

The third prep test (MGMAT Free test: 730) was by far the hardest. At some point in the middle of the quant, I started wondering where did they find so oppressive questions. SC was hard as always for me since I recently started focusing on SC; RC passages were hard to follow and a few CR had some dubious reasoning (Here came my first criticism). Pushing the final button to see my results, I honestly felt that I'll get around 630. The result told otherwise, 100 points above my anticipation. For 15 seconds I experienced an "I can't believe my eyes" moment, but then I remembered that there's an opposite correlation between the feeling and the score and it made sense.

A good feature in MGMAT tests is that it shows the hardness level of the question on the results section, hence providing a more tangible source of self evaluation. It was interesting to see that the wrong answers in both sections were almost as much as the ones in my first two practice tests. The results show that I solved a fair amount of 700+ questions correct and didn't made consecutive mistakes, which I believe has significant importance.

To sum up, I can say that I have a love&hate relationship with the practice tests. I hate them throughout the tests and love them when I see my scores. However, don't start thinking that I'm satisfied with my scores. It's just a relief of scoring much better than expected. I still aim for a minimum 770.

p.s.: For some time I'm planing to write on the difficulties of a regular study amidst a non-stop 70 hours work regime without weekends, in a country Amazon doesn't deliver to. I hope it will be my next post subject.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The beginning and the choices

I remember that my interest to business started with CNBC. I was in high school back then. One day after school, after throwing my bag to the corner of the room, I opened the TV and started zapping. Then I stopped at CNBC (It was number 9 on our remote) in an effort to understand what were those symbols and numbers passing from the bottom bar. The speaker was talking about the current news and their effects on the stock market and the country. First time really listening to what they're saying, I was really impressed with the correlation among things and with the fact that it is completely understandable. Before that, I had the idea that they are all functions and assumptions with vague conclusions.

Studying business management after high school was present in my choices, however, the lack of supervision and career support for high school students caused me to follow the trend of being an engineer. There was such a primitive idea on people's minds that if you are among the most successful, you should choose engineering. We were brainwashed with this point of view. Even some of the teachers were scaring us by giving examples from people who chose other professions and now hardly paying their rents. Since my parents are both opera singers, they only had superficial knowledge about business world and different professions, so no help from this side of the story as well. 

Almost 10 years from that moment, now, I feel the change coming. I'm fixed to the target and I feel enthusiastic about the journey of change and the rest of my life. Despite the fact that I still have lots of questions on my mind, after more than 1 year of research about business schools and programs, I narrowed down my options to 6. My almost final choices are as follows (no specific order):

- SDA Bocconi
- Duke Fuqua
- UNC Kenan-Flagler
- Cornell Johnson

The criteria I used to choose the programs were several; including rankings, faculty, location, careers, curriculum, financial aid (loans especially), alumni/current student comments and admission criteria.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hello world!

Yes, hello and welcome. In this blog, I'm planning to write about my efforts to be admitted to a top MBA program. I hope this blog will be a good milestone for my business education adventure.

In my first post, I want to give an introduction about myself. As it can be understood from my blog's title, I'm a Turk living in Russia. To be more precise, a Turkish guy living in Russia for the last 22 months. I am currently working as a project manager for a mid-size construction project.

As for my background, I previously worked abroad in two other countries (Actually, except my internships I never worked in my home country). I graduated from university as a civil engineer with a formidable - read 2,20- GPA. I may get in to the details of the several reasons of this rock-bottom GPA later.

I'm planning to pursue an MBA for thousands of valid reasons. Although I'll pass this subject because it would be a shame to spoil it all for the adcoms by writing them all here.

For the time being, I can tell that I started my GMAT preparation almost one month ago. The first 15 days of the preparation lacked serious concentration but then I got myself together and managed to study everyday at least for half an hour. My study method is rather contemporary than conventional. One day I solve 15 questions, the other day I read a random article online and write down the words that I don't know, the other day I repeat my vocabulary list and so on... My math is quite strong, so I don't spend much time on it. I can even say that my quantitative practices are limited with the quant sections of the practice tests actually.

I actually took the GMAT almost 5 years ago, just after my graduation and got 680. One month ago, to mark my GMAT preparation start-point, I did a CAT and again got 680(It seems like not much changed last 5 years). My current aim is to try solving one practice test per week. I want/need it in order to improve my meager concentration and to monitor my improvement. My test scores till date are as follows:

- 15.08.11 GMAT Prep2           Overall: 710 Quant: 50 Verbal: 36
- 21.08.11 GMAT Prep1           Overall: 710 Quant: 49 Verbal: 36
- 30.08.11 Manhattan GMAT    Overall: 730 Quant: 50 Verbal: 40

It seems like the preparation starts to pay off. My aim is 770 by the way. It is a stellar score and I feel like it can minimize the current disrepute that I have because of my lovely GPA.

Well, that's all for the first post. I guess I already wrote more than I should for the introduction. In the following posts I want to give more detail about my MBA targets, to talk about the challenges I experience through my studies and to compare the GMATPrep and MGMAT.

Bye for now!