Hey folks! Just got back from the test center a couple of hours ago with a score of 730 (46Q, 44V, 96 %tile). This is going to be one long post so if you're not in the mood of reading I suggest you bail
This was my second attempt. The first attempt was in June when I scored 620 (39Q, 35V).
I consider myself a person w/ average intelligence. I've never been a stellar student and had an undergrad GPA of 3.4 or so. Though I've always known I can do better at tests, etc., I've never really worked that hard because I'm a pretty lazy guy. That was up until I got slapped by a 620 on GMAT the first time
It may be worthwhile to mention that I started out taking Kaplan
tests, which I hope all of you know, give you a score much lower than what any other company's test would give you. Unfortunately, I didn't know this at the time and after scoring 540-600 on each test, I gave up studying for the GMAT for over a month. Then I found out, thanks to this forum, that Kaplan
scoring is quite unquantitative, so to speak. Wish I could make Kaplan
hand over my wasted time in money.
Also, as you can tell by my quant score, I'm not the best in Quant. In fact, often times, I feel borderline mathematically challenged. My study strategy the 1st time 'round:
- I studied OG 11
front to back
- Took a lot of tests: Took 4 Kaplan
's, 1 PR, 5 MGMATs, 2 GMAT Preps and 2 PowerPreps. Unfortunately, I considered taking tests and studying my mistakes 'studying'. Scores were as follows:
MGMATs 620 - 720
GMATPrep & PowerPreps 720+ in all of them
Having heard that GMATPrep's are the closest indicator of actual scores I went into the test center feeling very confident and came out with all notions of my abilities shatteredLessons learned the first time 'round:
- Actual GMAT math was much harder than anything I'd seen except for MGMAT. So I had to take my Quant level up a notch.
- I had to learn how to manage my time on the quant section; I had pretty much guessed blindly on the last 5-6 questions just to get my answers in because I had run out of time
- Taking tests and studying your mistakes is not equal to studying. It's just equal to practice.
- Feeling over confident on the Verbal section, as I did and not spending enough time on each question, as I surely didn't was a sure way to get myself slaughtered, as I already had My study strategy the 2nd time 'round:
- One of the first things I did was to start participating a LOT more on the Quant section of this forum.
- I immediately realized that if I wanted to improve my score in quant I had to get my hands on some of the toughest questions out there. Hence, the $80 well spent on GMAT Club Challenges
(now called 'Tests').
- I started maintaining an error log
- For the first time in my life, I actually prepared flash cards for both Quant and Verbal
- I hunted down a fabulous document on MGMATs website on time management: This alone was responsible for making me finish all questions in the given time
- I practiced the Kaplan
test's Quant sections to improve my time management.
- I downloaded 'the great' Walker's Timer and started timing myself on each question that I solved on the forum.
- One thing I realized three weeks before the test was that improving the verbal score significantly has a huge impact on increasing the overall score. Therefore, I started paying a lot more attention to Verbal than I previously was
- I started visiting MGMAT forum's 'GMAT Prep Verbal' section to learn some unique verbal strategies
- I took a few tests: 4 PRs (650 to 720), 2 GMATPreps (760, 760), 1 PowerPrep (760) & finally, 1 MGMAT (730)Lessons learned the 2nd time 'round:
- It's just a fu*%in test. Practicing sufficiently and more importantly, practicing/studying in the right way will get you that 700 that all of us are after
- It's not a test of how smart you are because if it were, I wouldn't be here writing this post
- Time management on both sections is as
important as knowing your stuff.My suggestions for any one wishing to listen:
- Do not waste much time on OG: I don't know why OGs are hyped so much! Honestly, the first 66% of each section is useless. The questions are too simple to help one in anyway. I would recommend doing only the last 3rd of both Q and Verbal.
- Do not waste time on 1000 SC's, etc.: Though these provide decent practice material, many of the answers are incorrect and more importantly, several of the questions are incorrect. I would recommend sticking to official material like PR, MGMAT and most importantly, GMATPrep.
- Start participating on GMATClub immediately: I will attribute 85% of my success to this alone. Had it not been for this forum and for the folks here, I would not even have known that certain types of questions exist, let alone knowing that there are ways to solve them! I cannot begin to stress how much this forum has helped me. The level of questions here and more importantly, the level of folks who participate here, are absolutely incredible. There is no better way to get your ass kicked than to start solving questions here. Only once you are made aware of the types of questions that exist can you move towards finding ways to solve them. That is exactly the awareness this forum has instilled in me.
- Download Walker's timer and use it for each question you're doing. If you didn't get the question in 2 mins means you missed out on it in the actual test. Approaching problems this way really helped me.
- If you're not great at Quant, get access to GMATClub Tests
: Trying to solve these questions in a timed environment and scoring 50 percentile more than just once really helped me. The former because it closely imitated the real test environment and the latter because the more I got my butt kicked the more I realized how much ground I needed to cover. It raised the bar, which is what you really need for this test.
- Maintain an error log
: I read several opinions against this but in the end, maintaining one really helped me. I copied all the problems that I got wrong or that taught me a new trick (both in Quant & Verbal) and pasted them into word docs. I visited these docs. at regular intervals to make sure I remembered my error or the trick. By the end of it, each of my docs is over 50 pages long. A significant part of the studying the 2nd time round constituted reviewing these logs
- Practice PR tests for Verbal and Kaplan
Tests for Quant: PR math
is too easy and Kaplan Verbal
is plain fu**&d
- Put equal effort in preparing for Verbal as you do for Quant: As I mentioned a good Verbal score can really do wonders for your overall score.
- Finally, pacing is key. I used the following pacing chart for math and verbal (Respectively). It's in the format Time Left, Question you should be on in math; in verbal.
60 -> 8; 8-10
45 -> 15; 16-18
30 -> 22; 22-24
15 -> 29; 32-34
I found it absolutely necessary to follow this strategy for time management. My score improved immediately.
- How you study is as important as what you study. Make sure you're learning. That can happen only via practice and repetition.
- For verbal, I would highly recommend visiting MGMAT's forum; specifically the GMATPrep Verbal section. It is there that I learnt stuff like: 'being' is perfectly acceptable; the construction 'not only X but Y' is correct (that is you can omit the also), etc.
That does it I guess. I'm at a point in life where I needed to believe in myself to do well on this test and I needed this test to go well to believe in myself. Thankfully, things seem to have fallen into place. My heartfelt thanks to all the folks out here - those who created this forum and those who participate in it - I know that my improvement would not have been possible without you.
Let me know if you have any questions; I'll be more than happy to help any which way I can.