For months I have been a silent member of this wonderful community. As I read GMAT experiences of others, I always hoped to write one of my own. Finally, the moment has arrived.About me:
I am from India. Unlike many of the members, I am already an MBA. I hope to get into a PhD program at one of well-known b-schools in the US. My area of specialization is information systems. I have some experience (3+ years) in teaching, academics, and publishing in top-tier journals. Target score:
Because admissions in PhD programs are very competitive, getting above the 700 mark was absolutely essential. GMAT 1st Attempt: December, 2012
I was a complete noob
. I collected a lot of material (without consulting people) and started going over it randomly. There was no system to my approach. The outcome was predictable. Yet, somewhere I felt a false sense of confidence that on the test day, something miraculous will happen and I will score a 700+. Unfortunately, GMAT got better of me
and I ended up with a dismal 620. The sectional breakup was something like Q 44/V 32.
Even after a bad show, I went ahead and applied at different schools. I somewhere knew that I would not make the cut but, much like my GMAT attempt, I was hoping for something to WORK OUT!
Yet again, the outcome went against me. None of the schools accepted me. THE DECISION
It was almost the end of the story for me. I had decided to give up on the dream but my better (much better!) half persuaded me to give another shot. By the time I decided to make another attempt, 2013 had already half-passed. I decided to take up the challenge Step-I: Consolidation
I began by consolidating the prep material. I looked up GMATClub for some advice. I found several threads where people discussed about prep materials. I understood that my kitty did not have important stuff such as MGMAT guides
and CR Bible. I decided to invest in those books and stay with them for the entire prep period. My prep material now included MGMAT guides
(Quant, SC, and RC) and PowerScore CR
Bible. This is where I want to highlight the importance of consolidation. There is just too much stuff out there. Some of it is tested, some of it is not. The quicker you decide on what is suitable for you, better prepared you will. Your choice may not be the most popular but it should suit your purpose, style of studying, and the conceptual level.Step-II: Training
Having the materials is not the same as studying (
). I had to decide between studying on my own and hiring a trainer. I decided to invest some more and collaborated with a couple of trainers: one for Quant and one for Verbal. I cannot emphasize how helpful they were. My style of studying is collaborative. I need someone to study with. Because of job commitments, it was not possible for me to join a study group. The trainers not only gave a great refresher for concepts but also studied and solved problems with me. I am not sure about posting the details of GMAT tutors but in case anyone wants to know, I will be happy to provide the details. I really found the trainers worth the money. Again, collaborating with a trainer is a matter of personal choice. If you are comfortable with studying on your own, please do so. Step-III: Practice
I often encountered threads that talked about solving thousands of problems. The members on those threads are not wrong but one must learn from whatever he/she is solving. It is the old cliche: practice and review. The second part is every bit as important as the first one. Whenever I solved questions, I reviewed the answers of ALL THE QUESTIONS and not just of the ones that I got wrong. You should know why you got something wrong and you should also know that you got the answer with the right reasoning.Step-IV: Mock tests
Once again, I encountered several threads about the accuracy of different mock tests. I guess there is no unanimous opinion. What one does on the test date is most important. I, however, found another use of mocks. In my last attempt, I especially tense when a new section was about to start (anxiety) and when verbal section was about to end (suspense). During my mocks, I tried to frame my test-date responses. So whenever a new section on the mock was about to start, I used to tell myself that 'you will face this on the test-date. Remain calm!'. This mental preconditioning was more important for me than the actual mock exam scores.
To illustrate the point, my highest score on GMAT Prep mocks was 730. In fact, on the MGMAT exams, I crossed 700 only once (a 720)
But in all these mocks, I conditioned myself for different pressure scenarios for the actual test day. Step-V: The last few days
For the last few days, I practiced as many official retired questions as possible (OG + the add-on question pack). The add-on pack is truly worth the money. I think it is most useful for getting the thinking aligned with the kind of questions asked on GMAT. I found the pack extremely useful. It is highly recommended. Step-VI: Family
I have read several GMAT experiences but few seem to have highlighted this point. In weeks leading to my first attempt, I was staying away from my family (in a different city). This made my life very monotonous. Before my second attempt, I got a job with which I could stay with my family. For me, the warmth and comfort of staying with your loved ones is immense. GMAT IS A VERY STRESSFUL EVENT. There is no denying it. Had it not been with my family, I would have never achieved this kind of score. Had my parents and my wife not supported me, I would have not even given another attempt.
I recommend test takers to have a good time with family. Don't make GMAT 'The End of the World". It is not. One should enjoy life and prepare for GMAT. Don't do one at the cost of the other. ON THE TEST DAY:
After a fairly sound sleep, I got up. The center was a few kilometers away from my home. I used public transport to get there. After the usual verification process, I was escorted to the terminal. Thankfully, except the score, there was nothing eventful about the test
I completed all the sections on time, chose the option of 'reporting my score' and closed my eyes. After a couple of moments, I looked at the screen. It read: 760 (99 percentile) with Q 50/ V 42. I could not believe my eyes. I somehow lifted my hand and the proctor escorted me out. The proctor then gave me the unofficial score report. I was reborn! CLOSURE
There is an old proverb (I guess it is there in all the languages): you haven't lost if you haven't given up
! No matter what, don't quit. Try systematically and believe in yourself. If one is good enough, then he/she will beat the beast. All the best!
From 620 to 760: Getting reborn!