Finally I did it! I was able to score over 700!
My post is quite long, but I tried to organize it so that you can go directly to the part that interest you.
I am French, generalist engineer, I worked around 5 years in Japan and came to live in Brazil end 2005. There I started to look for work, but beginning February I decided to try to get into INSEAD.
Deadline for the application was in March (for September 2006 intake) => I started to seriously worry about the GMAT: I needed to score 700.
I bought the Princeton Review
"Cracking the GMAT
" and started studying it, together with Barron's TOEFL as I also needed to get through the TOEFL.
I was not working so I had quite a lot of time to study. But I only studied some 4 to 5 hours each day for 2-3 weeks, but using exclusively the Princeton book.
First attempt end February: 610, Q48 V27...
that was tough. I had done the TOEFL like 4 days before and got a 283 / 300, so I was actually very confident about the verbal, even if I knew that the level was higher for the GMAT.
Anyway I still had almost a month ahead until the INSEAD application deadline, so I decided to reschedule another GMAT exactly 31 days after this first trial after some more study.
But I did not study enough, first there was the carnival here for a week, then I came back and only started working some 2 weeks before this second trial. I did not do enough serious study, just read english, review once again my Princeton book, downloaded some stuff on P2P, was able to score 700 on Power prep once and thought that would do it...
Second trial: 620 !!!!! Quant 49, Verbal 26, I was maaaaaad !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway I could not do anything else at that moment, because I had already sent my application to the INSEAD, no way to take it another time.
I decided that this was my GMAT level, and that my Verbal skills were bad, which in a way did not surprised me that much, because I had always been very bad at French back in High School.
A month after that, I received INSEAD answer, which told me, in a nutshell: "we cannot take you because your verbal score is too low, but we liked your aplication so do not consider our letter as a refusal, but more as an encouragement. Come back to us when you have improved your verbal score."
I could hardly believe such an answer, but I read it several times, and convinced me that I had to find a way to increase my score. After all, if I invested the necessary I was maybe able to do it.
September 2006 intake was not possible anymore, so I had to target the 3rd round of January 2007 intake, which was some 2 months and a half ahead, which was maybe manageable to increase my score.
Choosing the course
I realized that studying on my own was not my strength, as I had already spoiled the 2 first trials by poor studying. So I had only 2 options:
- online course: the main obstacle was my poor internet connection (256kbps);
- intensive course: no course was in Brazil, so I needed to go abroad to do one.
Intensive course was maybe a good solution, of course it was the more expensive, but it represented only 1/10th of INSEAD fee, so if was ready to pay the INSEAD, why not? And spending this amount of money would be another motivation to study on my own more effectively.
I did not wanted to take Kaplan
or Princeton course, because I had the books. Veritas
site seemed serious and simple Plus they had a 7-days intensive course in New York City, exactly at the moment I needed it, a bit more than 1 month ahead. Plus I had never been to the big apple, and always wanted to see it.
This would be it: Veritas 7-days course in NYC
Before the course
I had 48 and 49 on quant, so I could spend hours to make it a 50 or even higher, but that was not the point. The point was to increase my verbal to a 35 or higher.
I found a great site for any GMAT takers: http://home.comcast.net/~dave.kim/index_files/Page423.htm
I used a lot all the links and advices of this page, I bought the Verbal OG
book and Kaplan 800
, and try to adapted gmattutor.com 300hr study plan (http://www.gmattutor.com/index.html
) by taking out quant stuff, and focusing on the books and materials I had.
After some 2 or 3 days of study, I took test 1 and 2 of PowerPrep and got 710 (Q50 V35) and 710 (Q51, V34). I was very happy but was a bit confused about these results. I remembered my hate towards anything that was about litterature at High School, and remembered my feelings during the 2 first trials of the GMAT: I terribly lacked confidence and focus.
So maybe something else was necessary, not only a normal Prepcourse. That's when I found about TestPrepNY (http://www.testprepny.com
), which helps you focus and use all your abilities during the test. Once again that was no cheap, but I badly needed that 700.
New York - the course
, see at http://www.gmatclub.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=5323&highlight=veritas
, I described my vision of the course.
, the course was great, the person in charge there (Bara Sapir) taught me some great techniques, helped me gain confidence, and forgot about the past. There is an important thing about her course though, but you will understand it if you go there: you do the work, she only shows you the path and how to focus, you have to train and to feel it. But it gave me what I needed: tools not to panick, to go there and do my thing without my mind telling me: "What if I fail? Man, I do not understand this question, how I am going to do??? Oh, GOD, I knew I could not do it!!!!".
Between the course and the 3rd trial
course confirmed that I had abilities in verbal, as in many situations I was better at CR or RC than natives! That increased a lot my confidence.
During the 2-3 weeks before the test, I did all the Veritas
Homework, did 3 full tests the last week and got:
800score test 4: Q42, V33 (after this one I spent one full day doing only quant Q !!!!! and this was necessary as apart from the Prepcourse I had only practiced verbal)
test ? : Q43, V38
800score test 3: Q47, V43
And this time, I did the full tests, I mean together with the essays, and that proved me that even after 1 hour of essay, 1h15 of quant, I was still able to focus and get good results at the verbal, so I considered myself prepared.
Last 3 days: SC problem
During the last 2 days, I practiced some SC, which was now the only area where I lacked confidence (I think it is maybe the hardest of verbal). I realized that I should have concentrated more on SC during my study, and should have done the whole 1000SC, as the Veritas
teacher told us. I started once again panicking a bit. But I practiced the TestPrepNY tools to calm down and focus only on the test that I would succeed no matter what.
The day before the test I was really relaxed, I went to Sao Paulo (where I took the test), arrived at the hotel around 5 or 6. I had taken some study to do there, but I refused to do them and watched some movies until bedtime. I guess this was a great thing to relax and think about sth else. There was always a part of my mind that was trying to tell me: "What are you doing man? Why aren't you studying SC???? Are you nuts?" But I did not let it grow and was able to control it. I guess that was also sth TestPrepNY taught me: control my feelings, do not let them spoil my relax time.
The day of the test
I still do not understand how I achieved such a relaxed state on this D day. Everything was OK, I had already accepted my score, should it be below or above 700, I was there to do the test and that was all. During the whole test I did not panick and stayed focused. I was just a bit worried because I had the impression that a lot of quant and verbal questions were too simple. But once again, when I surprised myself thinking about that, I would remember: "This is not the point now, so go on with your test".
And when I saw the 80th percentile in verbal, and saw that the first digit of my total score was 7, I was relieved and so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OK, for the one who did not get their books
yet, I am selling mine, together with Veritas
material, check http://www.gmatclub.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=213528#213528
Then for my own strategy
/ technique used during the study, check http://www.gmatclub.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=213526#213526.