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I learnt a lot taking the GMAT the 2nd time and would like to share some tips.
I first took the GMAT on 12/12/2008. When I got 640 (Q:34/40% V:42/95%) I saw the score and felt that I could definitely do better in math, and that 40% was definitely not representative of my abilities. So I retook the GMAT at the earliest date possible 1/12/2009 and this time I got 710 (Q: 48/84% V:40/89%).
I'd like to share how I went about improving my score:
Some general things to keep in mind:
Math: 1. Math is really the challenging part of the GMAT and you need to get in the flow and complete the math section to get an overall good score. 2. If you've passed high school - you must have done the GMAT math type problems earlier. You just need to be confident about them, and somehow bring them back from your memory. 3. Before you get into the advanced type problems, make sure you build up starting with the basics, and practise a lot. 4. Practise tests are important, but equally or more important are sets of math problems
Verbal: 1. The only thing you can really work on here is sentence correction, and in general practise all the sections to get a better overall score.
Specific Action Plan: Do all official guide math problems starting 2 weeks before the actual test.
1. Pick up a copy of the Official Guide 2. Go over the math review (arithmetic, geometry etc) 3. Start working on the set of 450 problems in the problem solving section. Even if you have done these before, that's not a problem - do them again. 4. The right way to solve these, is to divide them up into batches of 30 and do them 30 at a time. So solve them, write down the answers, and when done with 30, check the answers. For the ones you got wrong, make sure to review the answer explanations and be able to solve a similar problem in future. 5. Work on about 2-3 sets of 30 each per day. 6. At this rate, you will be done in less than a week. 7. Do the same for the Data Sufficiency problems. 8. Note that it's important to complete all these problems within 2 weeks of taking the GMAT ie if your GMAT is in 2 weeks, start today. This way, your mind will get into the sense of urgency mode (I've got to finish these problems in 2 weeks!) which is so important in the test.
Once you are done you will have accomplished the following 1. You will have solved problems of the exact type that appear on the offical GMAT. You will notice that the last 80 questions are from the problem sets are the tough ones and the types you see once you are in the 600-800 range on the GMAT. 2. You will have addressed your weaknesses from these representative problems 3. Your mind will get into the flow and sense of urgency of solving these representative problems.
For Verbal I don't have many tips except that in general read a lot. Try to read an interesting novel that will get you reading more smoothly (I read Maximum City and Shantaram). Again, it's about getting into the flow. For sentence correction, you can approach it scientifically and follow the tips in Princeton Review, and practise them. And in general, just practise a lot, from the Official Guide itself, using the techniques I used in Math above.
I think these are good tips. Do as many practice questions as possible, completed in sets. Make sure to have a takeaway from each one you get wrong. I'd also add that in verbal, understand what your biggest problems sets are (parallelism, idioms, etc), and work on them.