Mes: agosto 2010

TOEFL is done, 109! Undecided about Harvard

Some good news! I’ve scored 109 in TOEFL! Enough for any top business school :). I was very concerned about not getting 104, the required minimum of Chicago Booth.

I’m very happy, this score was my ultimate goal.

The breakdown is:
– Reading: 29/30
– Listening: 29/30
– Speaking: 22/30
– Writing: 29/30

I’m a bit disappointed with the speaking score (worse than my previous attempt in March), as I think I did much better this time. I hope it’s nothing related with the microphone as during the exam I had to change it several times as no one worked fine (remember the story about the exam conditions).

However, I think the score is fair and the breakdown shows the reality of my English level. The speaking is by far the point I should improve from now to the beginning of the MBA. I will concentrate on that once I’m done with the applications.

This score may help me decide to apply to Harvard (its requirement is 109). Honestly Harvard is not my top choice, but well, it’s still Harvard… I will see if the application is easy and doesn’t need too much effort.

In two days… China!

In less than 48 hours I will be on vacations in China! I’ve been looking forward to this trip from months. Not only because the trip itself, but also because my family (and my wife’s) are also coming with us, and it’s been 8 months since we don’t see them.

Similarly as we did last year in our US RoadTrip, we are going to make a big tour visiting several cities and places, this time in almost two weeks.

The planned itinerary is the following: Beijing (4 days), Xian (2), Guillin(2), Hangzhou(1), Suzhou(1), Shanghai(2) and back to Hong Kong.

I will post pics and info about the trip when I get back.

See you in September 🙂

TOEFL final attempt

Hi guys,

Today I’ve taken the TOEFL for the second time (the first was in March and I scored 102) and I think I did better than the first one. I expect between 105 and 110, but we never know. I need at least a 104 to apply to Chicago Booth, hopefully I get that!. Harvard seems more difficult (109), tough I’m still thinking about whether I should apply there when I’m not super fan of that school. We’ll see.

Just in case that helps, I’ve worn earplugs all the time and I think it has been the best decision I’ve made, as last time I got distracted in every question.

Thankfully I did that because it was the worst test room, organization, etc I’ve ever seen in my experience doing these kind of exams (TOEFL(2), TOEIC, French exams, GMAT, etc).

There were no separations between desks and we were like 30 guys in a very small room. My elbows were almost touching the guys next to me. I had direct view to the guy in front of me, and the guy next to him, and so on. Half of the headphones didn’t work and while some guys were trying to concentrate in the reading passages, the others were shouting “describe the city you live in, describe the city you live in, DESCRIBE THE CITY YOU LIVE IN!!!” louder and louder. No luck, they didn’t work guys. In fact, they seemed from 1980s. I saw 3 guys doing the exam in CRTs screens that remembered me my old 486 computer.

Honestly, it was like doing the exam in a McDonalds.

And that’s not all, the exam was scheduled to start at 9 AM, and at 8:30 we were already grouped next to the room door, but we were outdoors! you know this is Hong Kong, 32 degrees and 98% humidity. The guy was calling one by one and by the time I entered the room it was 9:30! and I was sweating like if I were in my way to finish a Marathon. And then, the freeze with full power air conditioning.

I decided to put my earplugs, forget about the world and focus on the exam.

Really, what an experience! but no doubt the earplugs saved my exam.

Cracked the GMAT, 740!

Hi guys,

I’ve taken the GMAT again, and I scored 740 (Q50, V40)!! I’m, finally, very satisfied.

As you probably remember, I took the exam last month and scored 690 (visit GMAT is done… but not over), after having a big trouble sleeping the night before. At that time, I was pretty deceived and wanted to retake it as soon as possible. I was strongly convinced that I would score higher with no much effort, as last time the practice tests showed that I could break 700.

How did I prepare this time?

First, I tried to focus on my weakness and to think about “what I did wrong” last time and “what I should improve”.

What I did wrong was easy to answer: I didn’t sleep the night before. What should I improve? I thought I was already well prepared last time to break 700. However, I needed to keep the current level, so I decided to do again a lot of exercises.

I prepared it for around three weeks. This is the material I used:
– Official Guide 11 and 12 (OG11 and OG12): I did the last 50 questions of PS, last 75 of DS, all SC, all CR and around 30 questions of RC. From OG12 I did only the exercises that were not in the OG11 using this useful site What has changed?.
– Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction book: I reviewed my notes, which contained the most important concepts explained on it.
– GMAT Club: I have free access to all their GMAT quantitative practice tests because I’m moderator of this community. The tests are much harder than the real thing, but quite useful for people targeting +Q49.

I made the following practice tests:
– GMATPrep1 720 (50,38)
– PowerPrep 750 (50,42)
– PowerPrep2 740 (50,41)
– Knewton 690 (47,37) -> Knewton scoring algorithm is totally faulty. I only missed 3 questions in Quant and 4 in Verbal…
– GMATPrep2 760 (Q50,V41)

In the real test I wanted to secure a +700 score, and I knew that it was very important to not getting stuck in any question that could put at risk the whole exam (i.e. spending 8 minutes in one question). I was decided to guess one or two questions if I fell short of time, as I wanted to reach the last 5-7 questions with enough time to finish the exam.

Quant section started well. I knew I was doing good because all questions were difficult (many DS, probability/combinatorics, geometry), in line with my practice tests. I had to guess one or two questions but by the time I finished the section I was confident to score at least Q49.

Verbal section, however, started much worse. I received soon two very tough RC texts. In the second one, I doubted in the 5 questions. Usually, when I doubt in RC questions, this almost always means that I choose the incorrect answer. After this RC text, the level went down considerably, and I received in a row quite easy SC and CR questions. Although the level increased by the end of the exam, it never was as tougher as it was in the first 10 questions. By question 37, I thought I was going to score around V36-V38, and I realized that I haven’t received a bold CR question yet (the bold ones are used to be difficult, meaning that you are doing good). Luckily, I received the first and unique bold question in the 40th question.

I finished the test and before clicking on view score, I tried to imagine my score. I was expecting good quant mark, but I didn’t have a clue about Verbal. The only thing I wanted to see is a 7 in the hundreds digit, and I was not convinced. However, I clicked and saw 740. I felt relieved, the pain was gone. It was worth the effort I put on this. I finally felt accomplished: I cracked the GMAT!