Round 1: it is time to wait

I know  I know… It´s been long enough.

Truth is I have just finished my R1 applications. Tuck, MIT, Duke and NYU are done and now it is time to wait and let admissions teams work.

This might be the hardest part: to wait knowing there is nothing else you can do right now. A week ago, I still had essays to write, ideas to polish… But now it is all waiting to get invited to interviews. Unfortunately, I have not been able to take advantage of the open-interview period at Tuck or Duke, therefore I have to still hear from any of them.

Thinking about how this R1 process have been, I still believe the best thing I did was to start early, more precisely with GMAT and TOEFL. I am still amazed by how many applicants leave GMAT for September or even October, or later if they are aiming for R2. I can understand this if you have taken the exam before and it has not gone your way, but first -timers? Not so much. Besides, if you, for some reason, don´t get a good score, you will barely have the time to retake. Once you get your GMAT out of the way, you have all your spare time to think about essays, contacting students, re-write that first essay, talk to your recommenders, change your essays a little bit again, fill out the online form…

But without time to get some breath R2 is right there, and of course there is a need to decide to which schools to apply and start the process again. I have narrowed the choices to 5 schools, depending a little bit on how much West-Coast do I want to go. I can say that one of those will be HBS and the other Stanford and I intend to add a third one: either Berkeley or Wharton or UCLA, in principle.

Speaking of UCLA, I attended an event last thursday in Madrid (quite different from every other event I have attendend as it was a dinner event) and I had the most fun. There was no presentation, it was all conversational, and we spent all the evening hanging out with alumni; what an amazing group. School events have been really helpful for me to decide in which way to go, I have to say.Although you realize (I you had not before) that every school has great alumni and great things to offer.

Well, that is all for today. I will keep you posted on how interviews (hopefully!) go and my plans for R2.

Have a great week!

Hugo vs GMAT: from 710 to 760


Yesterday I took the GMAT for the second time and I nailed it! Okay, not nailed, but you understand what I mean.

The exam

This I time I had reserved and afternoon spot, in case I needed to catch some sleep in the morning, and also to avoid arriving at the test center feeling sleepy. Therefore, I had a good late breakfast after waking up, and headed to the test center a little tense but much more calm because I already knew what to expect. Since I arrived early, I started the exam well before I was scheduled. And there I was, facing GMAT once again.

AWA was easy. Assumptions and flaws were very easy to counter, and I worte a solid essay, at least that is what I think.

IR went much better this time. Although it is the area of the exam in which I felt a little more insecure. I guess it was because of the tension, and because it is the first part in which time is really constraint. Nevertheless, I did not lose focus, and was sure I had done a decent job.

Quant came right after the break. the good news was I was not feeling tired and I was eager to start. The first question took me 3 minutes to solve. I kind of knew this could happen, because is the first one, and sometimes it takes some seconds for me to get completely focused. But from them on there was no problem. There was a moment in the exam in which I started thinking that the questions seemed to be a little easy, but I tried to not worry about it, as it had happened to me before in a prep exam, and in the end I was doing great. However, I have to say that until the very end, there was not a question I had to skip or which I really struggled to solve, and when I finished I was not sure how good my score could be, although I was confident it could meet my goal.

Verbal has always been my strongest area, therefore when I arrive to this part of the exam, I always have the feeling that the worst is behind me, and that I can only improve in any case.  I started a little slow in the first 3 questions, but when I reached full speed, I almost did not doubt in any other question.

So, when I finished I quickly clicked “next” to see my score, wishing it would be above the 730 mark I had set as my primary goal

The Result

760 (50q, 44v)

I have to say that, when I started preparing for GMAT again, the though scoring so high never went through my mind, although in the last two weeks I started thinking that, on a good day, I could get past the 740. The best feeling is knowing that I have given my best, and that I have performed well when it mattered.

What I did differently

Part of my success in raising my score from 710 to 760 can be attributed to my interest in going deeper into some mathematical concepts and areas, such as probability orr divisibility and remainders. For that I used the Manhattan GMAT Guides, which I had not used before, and other resources I found in specialized blogs. Thus, I mastered some types of problems that had represented a challenged last year, making me much better at math.

But, to a great extent, my success can be attibuted to confidence. This time, I have felt so much more confident in what I was doing, almost never doubting my answers, not only in the quantitative section but also in the verbal part. And I do not mean rearding concepts I previously did not master, but regarding every type of question. Mabye it was because I had already taken the exam, or because I was not so pressured, or just because of the weather…but now I truly feel I am a good GMAT test-taker.

Before clicking on “Publish”, I would also like to thank Domotron, GrantMeAdmission, TopDogMBA, texaswannabecali, MBAOnMyMind, pullingthatMBAtrigger, ProGMAT,  and scltn for their comments and support this last month. Sorry for not answering all your comments last week, but I am back!! I know some of you are still fighting the GMAT battle so, don´t give up and, as At. Madrid coach usually says: “one game after another”.

Let´s enjoy some vacation days, shall we?

Hugo vs GMAT: fourth practice exam

Just as the NFL preseason enters its fourth and final weekend, I have also come to the end of my particular GMAT preseason. Yet again I freed my scheduled for 3,5 hours in order to take the last practice exam before tuesday when I will be facing the real exam.

This time I took a completely new exam, and again I completed all the sections, including AWA, because thus I can practice writing and I get to the Quant section with a full hour of work, just as I will next tuesday.

The Exam

AWA and IR went without much trouble. Although I was gladly surprised by the fact that none of the IR questions were the same that in the previous “new” exam, therefore I did take it seriuosly.

Quant started very very well. I was going fast and sure of what I was doing. But all of a sudden I started seing questions that I though were too easy, and very close to one another, so I started thinking I was not doing too well… maybe. The good thing is that did not let that stop me, and tried to focus on the questions ahead. You never know.

Verbal wnet great also. The only weird thing is that I got asked the same question twice, and with just another quesiton in between those two times: I got asked question A and answred right; then question B, and when I also got it right, question A appeared again… I may have been a bug. From that moment on, everytihng went back to normal.

The Results

770 (50q, 44v)

What to expect on exam day

Just as in professional football, preseason success does not equal suber bowl victory. On exam day there are many factors that come into play, first and foremost, that you know it counts. Because when you are at home, even if you get a little nervous (I do) because your results will reflect your progress, deep down, you know it is a fake exam, therefore, you sometimes answer more quickly than you would or don´t think too much a certain question.

Personally, I will try to reproduce as much as possible what I have done in my preparation: not to overthink the questions, not to doubt my judgement and my answers,… and very important,to ease the tension.

With the results I have been getting my main goal has not changed: 730, with at lest 48 in quant. But now, I hope I can get at least a 740. Then again, we are talking GMAT here, and it is usual that your score goes down when compared to practice exams, so 730, and if I can get anything above that, it will be more than great.

I´ll let you know in 4 days.

Have a nice weekend my followers!

P.S Just one more week until we completely dominate those Dolphins!

Hugo vs GMAT: third practice exam

I have just taken my third practice exam, a weekly ritual lately.

I have taken one of the exams I already took last year. Of course I donñt take this results as seriously as the ones from “new” exams because, in the end, you see some questions you have answered before, and even if you donñt remeber the answer and have to work a little, you have clues that point you inte right direction. But, in any case, they are good training for the 3 hour and a half exam that I will fae very soon, so I´ve tried to take one weekly.

I won t go into much detail, just saying that I fell confident during the whole test, and confidence pays.


770 (50, 47)

What´s next?

I have rescheduled the exam for september 2nd. In these 8 days I will try to focus a little more on verbal (because most of my preparation has been on quant), while also going  through some math concepts again so I make sure I don´t forget anything essential before the D day. Besides, I´ll try to practice IR a little.

Overall, I think I am almost as ready as I will be; I will take another practice exam next week that I think will define my expectations for real GMAT, but I would like to socre a 730 at least. Anything above that is great, of course, but let´s not get ahead of ourshelves.

Short post today. I hope I will be able to share more substantial news soon, regarding GMAT, and also how my applications are going.

Have a great week!


Hugo vs GMAT: second practice test

Today I took my second practice test.

This time I chosed to do one of the “new ones” to better assess my current level. Besides, to  make it the most similar to an actual exam experience, I also completed the AWA.

The exam:

– AWA: it was not difficult. It served as a great practice for the real exam.

– IR: it was great to see new and different questions here. In generall, I found them to be manageable, nothing too difficult.

– Quant: this time I did not felt so sure. In fact, I started answering wrong the first question, and with some doubts in the first part of the exam. Of course I recovered as I moved forward, but I always had the feeling of being performing below what I expected. I finished the section without knowing what to think after a complicated start,

-Verbal: I felt very comfortable during the whole test. I was sure that I was crashing the verbal part. In fact, I ended the section with almost 7 minutes left on the clock. Mostly because I answered very quickly the last 10 questions, although being sure of what I was doing.


750 (49q 42v) IR 8

Okay. Quant was better than I expected. Clearly, I did not start as badly as I thought and my recovery was in time and effective. Nevertheless, I need to pay some attention to a couple of questions that caught me off guard if I want to take the exam at my best. Regarding verbal, it is clear that I was not crashing the GMAT as much as I thought. Maybe I got overconfident and I should have used those 7 minutes to think deeper about some questions, in spite of how sure I was of my answer. A 42 is great, but I thought I was doing better.

Overall a great performance indeed. What does it mean? It means I will most likely change my exam date to late August, because it is clear that I am prepared to take the GMAT and score higher than the last time, therefore I would gain nothing by postponing it. Besides, leaving it for september means I have to keep practicing, and I need all the time I have to create the best applications I can.

This does not mean that I am done with GMAT. I must use the couple weeks left in August to polish some concepts and practice certain types of problems so can entrer the test center as self-comfident as I can.

Have a nice sunday!



Hugo vs. GMAT: first practice exam

As promised, I am here to share now how I am preparing to take the GMAT again.

So far, I have focused mostly on quant, as I tend to make more mistakes and more often in this section than ithe verbal section, which eventually are paid in points. Last year I mostly used the OGs but, if you want to get a different result, you must change what you did the first time to some extent. Therefore, I have added new materials so I can be even better prepared this time:

  • Manhattan GMAT guides: I have worked through the five quant guides, and I have learned a somethings that I was not aware of and thathave been extremely useful when facing certain types of problems. I wouls say they are very practical.
  • Advance Quant by Manhattan GMAT: provides strategies and techniques to take on some types of problems, some of them useful. Will tell you more when I finish reading it.
  • GMAT forums:  I have gotten some extra materials that provide techniques to solve certain problems more quickly, also a better explanation of probability, one of my weakest points until now, among other things.

Regarding verbal, I have not done much yet. Most likely I wil have a look at the Manhattan Guides, since I got them, in case they can help me increase a little my score too.

GMAT exam 1

After a couple weeks of studying, yesterday I decided to retake the first exam in the Prep software, just to see where I am standing, right at the start of the process.

  • I did not take the AWA, but I did took the IR, although I remebered most of it, because all the questions are always the same.
  • The quant section went very well, there were not many questions which I remebered, and even if they sounded familiar after 10 months, I did not remember what was the answer or the correct approach. In fact, there is one question that I knew I had taken several times, and I knew it had cost me time to crack… that I answered incorrectly yesterday. In any case, I felt good during the exam, I had not felt so sure of what I was doing in any of the previous practice or real exams I had taken.
  • Verbal also went very well. Here I found many questions that sounded familiar. But, beside the fact of knowing I had took them before, the solving-process remained intact, so the exercise required all my atention.

It was the first exam in which I ended both sections in time, without any need to rush the final questions.


Q 50 V 44 770

I don´t know to what extent the score is influenced by the familiarity of some questions, but at least it tells me that I am on the right path, and that I have to keep going to reduce the uncertainty to a minimum level when facing quant problems.

Also, the exam has confirmed that I need to pay futher attetion to Geometry.

That´s all for today folks!

Keys to the GMAT Exam

Now that I´ve finished with the GMAT, I can look back at the whole process that was my preparation and what it took to achieve my goal. A lot of things and details, as I have stated in a previous post, come to consideration when thinking about the exam and how to prepare it, but I would say that there are four main key factors leading to success:

Study. Not much to say here. Proper preparation is essential (of course).  Whether you decide to self-study or take a preparation course, you should anyway be prepared to commit a great portion of your already limited free time to the GMAT, and take it seriously. One point being clear: no matter what is your starting level you will get better with practice. The first thing to do, in any case, is to learn a little bit about the exam: how it is structured, which math or verbal concepts are tested, how much time you have, how it´s scored…  And get yourself a copy of the Official Guide.

Know yourself. The GMAT-process is different depending on each person: there are people who need no more that a few weeks (sometimes as few as a couple) to master the exam, while others need more than three months to achieve their goal (it also depends on how much time you can allocate to study, of course). Likewise, there are “all-around players”, very good at solving both math and verbal questions, whereas other people need to focus more on certain sections/question types of the exam. You should be aware of your strenghs and weaknesses, not only in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of skill, which will define you as a GMAT-student and determine your schedule and how you allocate your time. For example, in case you are really great at math and not so much at verbal, it is clear that you should spend most of the time (maybe up to 80% of it) practicing verbal questions and reviewing verbal concepts/theory. On the other hand, if you know you are kind of slow answering certain types (or all) of questions or solving math problems, then you should target your efforts in pacing yourself better.

Like it. Somebody told me -and I have found it to be true- that people who like the exam usually do better than people who do not. It is a very logical thing: if you enjoy the GMAT, you will find it easier to spend time studying and be able to do it with less effort (and also finding it all far more interesting). I have to say that this was my particular case. I thought of every question as a little challenge (the big one being the exam itself), and that motivated me to always look for the better way to solve the questions or do it more quickly, and find the logic behind them. You get to kind of enjoy the process.

Rest. This may sound like a cliché, but it is also very true. Your chances of success will be hurt if you come to the exam mentally and physically unprepared. Not only you have to be ready to answer different types of questions, but also you have to solve each one of them as quick as you can, one after another. That requires for you to be alert and not lose focus. So never overlook the importance of a good night of sleep the day before . Bottom line: you have to be at your best if you want to score really high.

There maybe other test takers who would include other factors, but in the end, if you do a good job in each one of the above-mentioned-areas, you wil be in a good place to start.

Good luck