Hello GMATClub friends,
Phew, I’m so glad this is over. I’m so happy for my score, but sad that I was so close yet so far from 99th percentile. I had my debrief title planned out and everything. It was going to be "I am the 99 percent!" but alas, I'm only the 98 percent... Anyways, my final GMAT score is 750 (Q50 V41) and I had about 2 months to prepare for the GMAT.
Some background on me... I graduated from a very small liberal arts college in California just over a year ago. The college is ranked in the top 100 national universities, but even if I gave you the name, almost none of you would have heard of it. I did a double major in Communication Studies and Religious Studies and a minor in Music. On another note, I was always good at math (800 on SAT, top scores on all quant courses in high school), but didn’t take a single math course in college because I got the requirements waived. I worked IT for 9 months after graduation (I worked IT all throughout college) and decided that I wanted to make more of an impact in the world than configuring VPNs and fixing Exchange issues. So I moved to Texas and am currently working at a fundraising and marketing consulting firm for cause and faith based non-profit organizations. I’ve only been here for a few months, and because I didn’t know a soul when I moved to Texas, I put all of my time into the GMAT.
Here’s my debrief...
Let me start by saying that I had a 10 hour block with Jim Kernan at Stratus Prep
, but only used about 5 hours of it (I am working with them on my applications as well and will try to make a review of that in a couple of years when I am done with applications). Jim was a great motivator and the material that I got with Stratus Prep
was pretty good overall. However, I found that I didn’t actually need one-on-one tutoring, and basically used my time with Jim to get “inside the mind of the GMAT.” Unfortunately, this means that I can’t give a real review about Jim as a tutor - the only real question I had for him was about assumption CR questions (which actually became my strongest question type in the CR section by the time I took the test). On the other hand, I can give a review on the Stratus Prep
material. I received a large PDF on the Quant section that was very good overall. It helped me get my fundamentals mostly solid, but still needed to buy a couple of Manhattan GMAT books
to round out my studying (Number Properties and Word Problems). There were however quite a few typos and math errors. That being said, I don’t have a recommendation either way about Stratus for GMAT prep.
I started studying by going over every single question in OG13, Quant Review 2, and Verbal Review 2. I also went through practically every single Thursdays with Ron: http://www.manhattangmat.com/thursdays-with-ron.cfm
. The guy is brilliant. These and the Stratus Quant guide were my bread and butter for the first part of my studying. After I finished all of that, I took a practice test once a week and reviewed all of the questions. I also did all of the GMATClub Quant Tests. All my scores are below:
- GMAT Prep 1A: 610 (Q42 V33)
- 800Score: 680 - I absolutely hated 800Score, the questions were convoluted on both the Quant and Verbal. I do not recommend them.
- GMAT Prep 1B: 730 (Q48 V41)
- MGMAT 1 (6/9): 660 (Q45 V35)
- MGMAT 2 (6/15): 680 (Q44 V38)
- I started taking GMATClub Quant Tests here. I’ll share those scores later
- MGMAT 3 (6/22): 750 (Q48 V45) woah there... I did not expect that, I don’t know what happened here but I wasn’t going to complain. This was a huge self-confidence booster
- MGMAT 4 (6/29): 700 (Q46 V40) after the 750... meh
- MGMAT 5 (7/4): 690 (Q45 V38) double... meh
- MGMAT 6 (7/5): 710 (Q45 V41) triple... meh I was losing confidence on my quant skills on MGMAT, and would’ve had very low confidence if it weren’t for my GMATClub Test scores
- GMAT Prep 2A (7/6): 740 (Q50 V40)
- GMAT Prep 2B (7/7): 770 (Q51 V44)
- Actual GMAT (7/13): 750 (Q50 V41)GMATClub Tests
- got them free because I got 25 kudos from Bunuel through this: http://gmatclub.com/forum/new-project-review-discuss-and-get-kudos-points-153555.html
. I seriously milked the thing for all it was worth until I got 25+ kudos. Also, I think replying to those threads helped my Quant significantly. I had to find a third or fourth alternative way to do the problems, and I think that the only reason I got solid on exponents was because I replied to those threads (I had about 5 questions on the actual GMAT on exponents). Thanks Bunuel!
6/1: Q51 (M25 free test - that's a self-confidence booster if I ever saw one)
6/15: Q24 - ouch...
6/21: Q51 - woot!
Just as a note. These get easier as you go along. The hardest questions are in the front end, and there are fewer 700 level questions as you get closer to the end. By the last test I was getting half 700 level and half 500 and 600 level questions, whereas in the beginning I was getting 3-5 600 level questions and 700 level questions for the rest.
As you can probably guess, I think the deciding factor in my Quant score was the GMATClub tests
. I got used to both the timing and the higher difficulty level. The actual GMAT quant questions were definitely a lot easier than the GMATClub and MGMAT quant questions. It’s like running with weights and then running without them for the real race.
I didn’t really spend any time with Verbal outside of the practice tests and the OG questions. I read through the MGMAT SC
book once, but that was it. Looking back, I probably should have spent a bit more time on the verbal, but all’s well that ends well right?
During the last week of studying I purchased the additional GMAT question pack on GMATPrep. I found this extremely useful. Actual GMAT questions in my opinion are a bit more nuanced than GMATClub or MGMAT questions, so this got me back into the actual gmat questions.
I did not study at all during the two days before because I needed a serious mental break. I studied eight hours a day through my 4th of July four day weekend, and decided to take a couple of days break before the GMAT.
Test at 8 A.M.
AWA: Did so many of these during practice tests that it was just clockwork
IR: I was always shaky on this during my practice tests, I can’t really judge how I did
Break 1: Bathroom and stretch
Quant: I felt that it went very well. It was very easy, but I was running out of time on the last question and had to guess. I didn't guess on any other question - I assume I would have gotten a 51 if I actually did that last question. I didn't get a single combinatorics problem, thank God. I did get a couple probability problems and couple rate problems, but those are actually easy for me. Combinatorics... not so much.
Break 2: same as first one
Verbal: This was actually pretty hard for me. I had four complete-the-argument (questions with blanks) CR questions which were always the hardest for me. This means that I got relatively few strengthen, weaken, and assumption questions (which I am very good at). I also didn't get any bold-face questions (I'm actually surprisingly good at those). It was very unfortunate and I attribute my lower verbal score to this. I spent way too much time on the complete-the-argument questions and probably got most of those stupid things wrong. I was really surprised that I got so many, normally you just see one or two, but I got FOUR. Ugh... Just like in the Quant section, I was running out of time, and I rushed through the last 5 questions with 7 minutes on the clock. On the last question, I almost did a quick educated guess with 30 seconds left, but the timer ended before I could click confirm. Definitely didn't feel good after I finished my verbal.
Clicked through the last few pages and got a 750! Overall, it was a good experience, but I can’t help but wonder if I would have gotten a 99% score if I managed my time a bit better. Oh well, guess we'll never know.
AWA: Make sure you get a outline that you can use for any argument they throw at you. You want this to give you as little difficulty as you possibly can so that you don't waste your mental energy. I used http://gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-analytical-writing-assessment
. I followed that outline exactly, and it made the AWA section incredibly easy.
IR: I can’t help much here. I just did every IR section I could get my hands on, but never got above a score of 6 on any of them. I probably should have spent more time on this especially because I’m not applying for schools until a few years out. It may actually matter then. Oh well.
Quant: GMATClub tests
... need I say more? Fine... make sure you can do every problem at least two different ways, don’t memorize the problems, don't try and find a "magic way" for every question (as Ron from MGMAT says, the GMAT weeds out people who try to be memorize everything - you need to be very flexible and have a ton of different approaches), and lastly get yourself to the point where you can at least start every problem without thinking about it for more than 15 seconds. Here is a great website to look at for video tutorials on EVERY single OG question: http://www.gmatquantum.com
. This helped me develop my quant skills tremendously, he lays out every problem in a very logical and formulaic way. This website helped me just as much as the GMATClub tests
. I think this is a hidden treasure that most people in the GMAT community don’t know about. Give him some more web traffic guys, he deserves it!
Verbal: develop a system to work through problems - especially for SC. For SC, get your facts down, there are only a finite amount of rules, so learn them! I suggest MGMAT’s SC book. I always write the most common type of errors on top of my scratchpad before the verbal section: parallelism, tense, subject/verb agreement, comparisons, idioms, modifiers, etc. I find the problems easier to spot if I have a checklist to go through. If you want to get good at CR, my suggestion is to not read the question stem before the argument like some books suggest. It messes with how you read the actual argument. You should read the argument for full comprehension and almost try to figure out what type of question it is from the argument alone. Normally you will see one glaring weakness or missing premise in the argument. Then look for the answer that matches that issue. If you do this, it will be harder for the wrong answers to play with your mind as you read through them. You are on a mission! It’s like walking into a grocery store and not knowing what you want. You will likely leave with a random chocolate bar or bag of chips just because it was staring at you. For RC, most of the time, the answer to the questions that ask for specifics is practically verbatim from the text. There is little “implication,” so just look for the answer in the text. Also, don’t outline RC passages, it takes way too long.
Overall: Review, review, review. Again, know how to do every quant question at least two ways, it will help you in the long run. It’s not about how many questions you do, it’s how thoroughly you understand the questions. Lastly, make sure you get timing down because that will make a huge difference in your score. If you have bad timing, you will feel rushed at the end and you will end up rushing through questions that should be easy for you. A bit hypocritical here I know, but do as I say not as I do!
Well, that’s my debrief. I welcome any questions you may have.
Now to focus on extracurriculars and getting promoted! I’m applying for for Fall 2015, so I have a lot of time to build up my resume now that the GMAT is out of the way.
Good luck studying everyone!