It’s difficult to write a review that is both comprehensive and concise, but I will do my best!Brief Background
5 years of work experience (capital markets trading)
3.4 GPA – top 25 undergraduate (Finance/Economics/Mathematics)
3.8 GPA – public ivy, MS/Engineering (personal interest)… while working full-time
Target MBA Programs – U. of Chicago, Duke, UPENN, and Columbia
Goal – 700+GMAT 1
I decided to take the GMAT, but aside from briefly looking over the general format of the exam I didn’t study. I underestimate the exam and the result shouldn’t come as a surprise to most of you. 44Q/30V/610/5.5AW.GMAT 2
Study Materials – It was clear that I needed to tackle my verbal skills. My goal was to score 700+, so I signed up for the Newton course. I completed the course material and took all of the required exams in approximately 6 weeks. The material was decent. However, I don’t think it’s aimed at 700+ scorers. Then again, I believe that mastering the fundamentals is the key. My scores steadily increased (600, 610, 640, 660, 710, 680), but the scoring on the quant section was unreliable. Despite the fact that they have hired engineers who developed the official CAT, I believe Newton’s CAT algorithm is slightly flawed.
I spent the next two weeks doing OG problems (I saved them for the end as many people on here suggested) and took both official GMAT practice CATs. I scored Q48/V40 (710) on the first one and Q49/V42 (750) on the second one (3 days before my actual exam). I was stoked! After my first practice exam, I reset my goal to 730 so the 750 was a great confidence booster. However, I still had to execute on exam day.
Long story short, the day after my last practice exam I came down with the flu. I had a fever of close to 103 and felt AWFUL. I felt somewhat better (fever was gone, but many of the symptoms were still bothering me) on exam day, but my energy levels were low and I had a hard time focusing. I knew I had done pretty well, but I also knew that it wasn’t my best showing. My score was Q47/V41/710 (5.5 on AW)
. Although I was pleased with my verbal score, I was discouraged by the fact that my quant score came in under the 80th percentile. Regardless, I was very happy that I scored 700+. That’s the magical number that everyone shoots for…. The big question. Do I take the exam again? Most people told me not to worry about it, but hey… we are all competitive!GMAT 3
I honestly believed that I would have scored higher had I not come down with the flu a few days before the last exam. I decided to take two weeks off and take one more practice test. I told myself that if I scored 750+ (I knew the score would be somewhat skewed), then I would sit for the exam one more time.
I reinstalled the GMATPREP and scored 760 (Q49/V44). I signed for an exam that was two weeks out.
Study Materials – MGMAT Number Properties
and MGMAT Sentence Correction
. Both of these books were very helpful. Granted, I only lightly read each of them. After going through an aggressive study regime for two months, I didn’t want to wear myself out again. I didn’t even do any OG practice problems. Instead, I read over some of the solutions in the quant section (primarily data sufficiency).
Because I had already scored 700+, I didn’t have any stress or worries when I sat for the exam today. I understood that this exam would have zero effect on my candidacy for an MBA program. This was for me. Be prepared for a stress on the quant section. Unless you are someone who scores 50+ on the quant section, you need to be prepared for 75 minutes of CRAZYNESS! It’s just the way it is. The exam is supposed to be hard and you’re going to encounter some tough problems. It’s important to know when to cut your losses. Anyway, I finished the quant section with about 30 seconds left. Verbal was straight forward and I actually finished 5 minutes early. When I clicked “report score” I felt a rush of relief… I would never study GMAT problems or take the GMAT again.
My score showed up and it’s about what I expected.Q49/V41/730
I also took more time and expended more energy on my essays. I am hoping for a 6.Concluding Thoughts
Anyway, best of luck to everyone. As you can see, it is possible to improve your score dramatically with hard work. Sure, not everyone will score 700+, but don’t get too discouraged by your score on the first exam.
One more thing. Don’t focus on your practice scores! They mean absolutely nothing. I believe people spend WAAAAAAY too much time taking practice exams. Every hour you spend taking a practice exam is an hour of preparation time lost. It’s important to review each exam. I spent close to the same amount of time reviewing my CATs as I did taking the CATs. I learned a lot from each exam. I studied my mistakes, but more importantly I noted problems that I “guessed” on. You need to make sure you keep track of them, because if you get the problems you guess on correct, then you will never master that area! Work on mastering the material first. After that, work on problems and THEN timing. Good luck!