I took the GMAT in October and am so glad that's it's over. I am a female Asian American and was born in a foreign country but have lived in States since I was five. Even though I work in finance, I knew that the quant portion was going to be a struggle for me. I started studying about a year ago but didn't study seriously until 4 months prior to my first attempt. It took me 3 tries and I finally got a 710 (45Q & 41V 5.5 AWA 6 IR). I contemplated whether I should take it one more time but after having devoted a full year to studying, I decided that it was enough. Plus, I wasn't sure if there was any more room for me to improve. My first two tries were as follow:
June 2013 660 (43Q/38V/5.5 AWA/8 IR)
Sep 2013 670 (42Q & 41V/4 AWA/4 IR)
- Manhattan GMAT
set for both verbal & quant
- Official Guide 13th
- OG Supplement Math & Verbal
1. Read through the Manhattan GMAT guides
to understand and master concepts
2. Studied and master all OG questions. I made notecards for any and all questions I got wrong or could not answer under 2 minutes. (I attempted to use an error log
but didn't quite work for me as I felt it was a waste of time and was not disciplined enough to use properly.)
3. Took GMAPREP tests over and over again to exhaust all their questions. I also purchased the additional pack of questions available through the site.
4. GMAT Hack (after 2nd attempt)
5. Signed up for Magoosh
(after 2nd attempt)
6. AWA: Practiced with a template that could be used for any topic. I was able to type the structure of this template within 10 minutes and it accounted for 200 words of my essay. This seemed to work fine as I got a 5.5 in all three attempts. I'm sure the computer gave me a 6 and the person gave me a 5 as my paragraphs were VERY boring in structure but this is just my guess.
I scheduled the test as soon as I was able to hit 700 in the mock tests.
First test (660):
I took my first test on a Saturday and arrived 15 minutes early. I started with the AWA and was given a fairly typical question about some health club. The IR went very smoothly and I was able to finish all 12 questions with time to spare. This was strange because I thought the IR in GMATPREP was REALLY hard. (After 3 attempts, I have come to the realization that IR is pure luck. How else can I explain the sporadic swing between a score of an 8 and a 4?) I took my break but came back to my computer only to realize I was late and lost a full minute due to poor planning on my part. The only clock was in the waiting area and I started my 8 minute countdown once I reached the waiting area and did not account for the time spent scanning in and out. I was completely flustered the rest of the test and was so tight on time that I had to guess the last 10 questions on quant. I considered cancelling my score but curiosity got the better of me and I left that day with a 660. I was very disappointed in myself because I was hoping to get into the 700s.
Second test (670): The second time around, I was determined to finish quant. I worked swiftly and convinced myself that if I could finish the quant, I would surely get a better score. However, that was not the case. I must have had too many careless errors and ended up with a lower quant score even though my verbal score did increase.
Third test (710): After my 2nd attempt, I was beginning to doubt if I would ever reach 700. I knew I needed to improve my quant if I was going to break that barrier so I mainly focused on math but still made sure to review my verbal notecards to stay fresh. My main focus was to learn how to solve math problems more efficiently. For instance, how to solve ratio problems using the visual approach. I learned to master a few types of problems to the point where it became my strength. When a similar problem appeared on the test, it only made me more confident. I also went back and reviewed all the Manhattan GMAT books
to try to master more concepts. I found Jeff Sackerman's GMAT Hacks website to be useful as well. There were a lot of free articles which were extremely helpful in showing shortcuts and different ways to approach certain type of problems. I also purchased his book as well mainly because I was starting to run out of new problems to work with. I stumbled upon Magoosh
and was drawn in by the 50 point guarantee. I found the site to be extremely helpful and felt that my quant did improve greatly because of it. At this point I was running out of materials so having more questions to practice only helped. However, the requirement to get the guarantee was too great (you had to complete A LOT of problems) and in the end I was not able to qualify for the money back guarantee. However, I was SO happy with my 710 that I did not regret purchasing it.
For my 3rd attempt, I took the test on a Friday and had to take a day off from work. I was already missing out on round 1 applications so I knew this was going to be my last attempt if I wanted to apply in time for round 2. I felt more relaxed and didn't even tell anyone but my husband that I was taking the test. This helped me to relieve any unconscious pressure in having to tell people I failed 3x even though my friends and family were all very supportive no matter my score. By the third attempt, I was very familiar with the testing center. The day before test, I visualized myself seeing a 700+ on the screen. I brought with me to the testing center a vitamin water, a banana, and a granola bar for energy. I knew I had a timing issue so I allowed myself strategically to skip 4 of the quant questions throughout the test. I finished the quant section on time but was not completely confident. I then tried to clear my mind and make sure I did as best I could on the verbal. When I was done I pressed submit and was pleasantly surprised to see a 710 on the screen.
Thanks everyone for hearing me ramble on. Crossing my fingers this is good enough for the schools I'm applying to.