Took the exam today and scored a 760 (Q49, V44). I should be happier with my score but am not and here's why:
After my AWA section, I raised my hand for a break. The moderator/observer guy, who was a bit overly friendly, said “alright, take your time!” Like a complete idiot, I assumed that Pearson would notify you when your 8 minute break was up. Unfortunately, this was NOT the case. What was the consequence? When I returned from my post-AWA break and started on the quant section, the time remaining had already been depleted to 71:03
. 4 minutes vanished into thin air. Psychologically, I was so in the zone that I was only briefly flustered. I simply told myself that I've trained too long and hard to let this ruin my test day and kept moving forward. In an attempt to stay on MGMAT’s timing schedule, I rushed through a few questions without thinking through them thoroughly. Got to the last question, which was a hard one, with about 1:45 remaining. Took me ~1:30 to finally think of the correct formula but with 15 seconds left, I did not have enough time to calculate it out. So what should have been a surefire Q50 / 770 and potential Q51 / 780 turned into a Q49 / 760.
Would appreciate people's thoughts on me potentially retaking it. In the 3 months leading up to test day, I approached the GMAT with the intention of destroying it. It's really become a matter of pride at this point and the thought of such a stupid and avoidable mistake is driving me nuts. I would have been perfectly proud and happy of my 760 if it were not for this mistake. It’s like making it to the 100M sprint at the Olympics expecting to win gold and then getting silver because you heard the gunshot a half second after everyone else.
Bit of background on me: 25 years old. Currently work in the corporate development department of a well-known Internet company. Prior to that, worked as an investment banking analyst.
Anyhow, here is a breakdown of my study strategy:Class:Manhattan GMAT
. Enrolled in the live class. Overall it was pretty useful but not so much because of the class as because of the materials and resources.
Pros: Quant strategy guides are really good. SC guide is really good. Extremely detailed spreadsheets for answer/timing tracking on OG problems. Extremely detailed and focused study plan. And, most importantly, 30-minute office hours with their instructors. While my classroom instructor was great, a MGMAT instructor named Horacio Quiroga gave me some advice that was critical to my success. I met the guy through office hours in my last week of class and, if you look at the trajectory of my practice CAT scores after that week, you'll see the results. He acted like he had a vested interest in my GMAT score (offered to hold follow-up calls with me beyond the duration of the class, on his own time) and the advice/guidance he gave was tremendous.
Cons: Unfortunately, because they need maximize their addressable market, class room lecture plans aren't really targeted to the students who are looking to get mid-high 700's. Based on my experience, most of the students are looking for mid-to-high 600's and the classroom is taught with that in mind. They have a separate series of 2-hour segments called "The Quest for 750" but I did not take them so I can't comment. While the class is really good for building fundamentals, if you're shooting for 760+, you'll probably need to do a lot of additional studying post-class.Study materials
1. MGMAT Guides
- Quant and SC are great. Tried the note taking strategies for both CR and RC and found they only slowed me down.
2. OG 12
, Q and V books - Did most of the problems for all three books at first according to the MGMAT study plan. After I exhausted all of the MGMAT study plan HW problems, began to do only the later problems (anywhere from #50 to #90 and on, depending on book/question-type).
3. A set of 400 problems which I got by emailing the guy at this website: http://gmatquantproblems.blogspot.com/
. A friend of mine who had taken the test recently recommended the set to me. These problems were most representative of the actual test. $150 for 400 problems, all of which are at least as difficult as the hardest quartile of official guide problems. You should be scoring in the Q47/Q48+ range before purchasing. If you’re shooting for Q50, this is the set to get after you’ve exhausted the official guide.
Warning: the guy is pretty flaky over email. He's apparently a GMAT tutor in Argentina, where customer service is low on the list of priorities. He takes Paypal or money order and physically mails you the questions (I know - old school).
4. Jeff Sackmann's Extreme Challenge - There are 2 guys on this forum who talk about this thing like it's GMAT quant salvation in a PDF. I suspect they might be related to Jeff Sackmann
. Don't get me wrong, it's got some good, representative problems. But out of the 100 questions, 30-35 of them were probably combo/probs. How many combo/probs did I see on the test? 1. I did wipe it out quite quickly though, probably purely because of Sackmann's set. The set is split roughly 35/65 PS/DS. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone NOT purchase it but it’s not nearly as helpful as some people here claim.CAT & actual exam
MGMAT 1: 6/6/09 – 570: Q30 / V38
MGMAT 2: 7/21/09 – 660: Q44 / V36
MGMAT 3: 8/9/09 – 680: Q47 / V35 – MGMAT classes
ended this week
MGMAT 4 : 8/16/09 – 730 : Q48 / V41
MGMAT 5 : 8/23/09 – 750 : Q48 / V44
GMAT Prep 1 : 8/30/09 – 770 : Q50 / V45
GMAT Prep 2 : 9/13/09 – 780 : Q50 / V48
Actual Exam: 9/18/09 – 760: Q49 / V44Key takeaways
- Before anything else – *****DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID AND ASSUME THAT THEY WILL NOTIFY YOU WHEN YOUR 8-MINUTE BREAK IS UP*****
. If you did not read my intro paragraph, this cost me 4 minutes in the quant section and turned a 770 into a 760.
- SC: Exhaust all of the OG problems and make sure you read the official explanations for EVERY QUESTION, EVEN THE ONES YOU GET RIGHT. For the ones you get right, go through and read the official explanation for why every other answer choice is wrong. Every wrong answer choice typically has 2-3 errors and chances are you’re only able to identify 1 of them. By going through the official explanations for why each answer choice is wrong, you really train yourself to recognize errors, which is the key to SC. Even on the toughest SC problems, you can use error recognition and POE to arrive at an answer 95%+ of the time. This was the revelation that kicked my score up from a V36 to V41 in a single week.
- CR/RC: you should approach studying for these the same way as you approach SC although you probably don’t need the same level of meticulousness. After a while it’s just pattern recognition. Stay as close to the text as possible, avoid extremisms, etc. etc.
- Quant: Do problems and own the problems. I went from a Q30 to a consistent Q50 by doing somewhere around 800-1,000 quant problems. My history in math is a bit unique though and I can offer up more details if anyone is interested in how to move from a Q30 to Q50.
- Study hard and consistently. I’m not sure I would have been able to make the gains I made by studying in broken intervals. I averaged 20-25 hours a week for 13 weeks straight. There were maybe only 3 days during which I did not study.
- GMAT club is a great resource but try and filter out the noise (this applies to any other GMAT forum, including MGMAT's) . I found motivation through some really solid posts on here. Also found some gems of quant wisdom. But this is a free-for-all forum and not every post is made of gold. There were a few times when questions totally unrepresentative of the exam were posted and proceeded to drive me crazy because I couldn't figure them out. Also, there are some posters who provide wrong answers with such a high degree of confidence that it can be dangerous. GMATclub is a great resource with some amazing contributors, but be careful of how deeply you read into certain posts.
- Don’t use any CATs until you’ve done a decent portion of the OG problems in timed conditions.
- MGMAT CATs are 10-20% harder than the real exam. It’s a pretty good proxy for the real test but GMAT Prep is (obviously) by far the best.
- In my personal experience, the real GMAT was a bit harder than GMAT Prep. Quant section was a tad bit more difficult and verbal was definitely more difficult. I missed 0 SC in my last 2 practice CATs (both GMAT Prep) but probably missed 2 or 3 on the real exam based on my V44 score and my feelings about the RC/CR questions.
- If you’re a native English speaker and you’re in the mid-to-high 30’s in verbal, you can probably get away with not taking any notes in CR and RC.
- Embrace the AWA! I’m actually really glad they make you do this first. It really helps you to ease into the test and overcome any initial anxiety you might have. An hour in the actual testing environment will calm the nerves, especially since you know you're working on the part of the exam that doesn't really count for much.
So that's my story. Happy to provide more insight or answer any questions if people have them.