Sorry, it took longer than I anticipated to get back here.
One edit, I scored 41 on verbal not 42 as I first reported. But the total score IS 730 (Q49, V41)Debrief:
First of all, site like gmatclub.com is an amazing resource. I had signed up for question of the day and that kind of kept me in the GMAT mindset everyday. One difference I noticed on this site, compared to others, is that responses are much quicker when you poste a question. That's a valuable feedback mechanism for a student.What I did to get 640
I did a lot of research on the materials and I think I made the right decision as far as the books are concerned:
Sentence Correction: Manhattan GMAT
Critical Reasoning: PowerScore
Reading Comprehension: Manhattan GMAT
Quant: Manhattan GMAT
I think these were valuable tools to build your basics. I am an engineer and I didn't pay too much attention to Quant Basics; but not paying attention to Quant overall was a huge mistake.
Other than these, I also purchased Magoosh
. Once you have finished your basics you can goto Magoosh
for fun way to exercise as their explanations are good and well recorded. They are also very prompt on their support.
I postponed my test two times as I thought I just wasn't ready to take it.
Tests I took:
All 6 MGMAT Tests. My scores ranged from 640-710, rise and fall were random.
GMATPrep: 680 and 710.
I have read high praises for MGMAT tests and I think they are pretty good; but they are tougher than most GMAT question in terms of time required to solve. I felt like they are not very good representative of the GMAT questions; but if you can get most of the questions on MGMAT then you can ace GMAT Quant.
So, after months of reading I finally appeared for the test. I hadn't done much studying the day earlier (except for the light morning studying) and was ready to go. I had a parking situation the day of the test (I know I should've visited the center earlier) but that was a non factor. I took the test and noticed Quants were too easy. MGMAT test primed me to do the Quant faster, as I would always run out of time. This rushed me throught the actual test and I ended up finishing Quant 6 minutes earlier. later I found I was getting easy questions because I just wasn't answering them right. I thought 38 in Verbal wasn't too bad so I was okay with my verbal.
I decided to take the test soon.What I did to get 730:
I took a month long break and then around 1st week of Jan, I started looking for the next available test date. I liked Feb 13th and signed up for it.
I knew I needed more practice on Quant; but I also knew there was something missing in my approach to Quant, namely DS.
I realized I was rushing through the Quant section and picking the easy answers. This was the biggest cause of why I crashed on Quants. I think I must have answered many DS questions wrong; many times I'd just pick E
because I thought the answer wasn't sufficient. I then drilled it in my head to answer DS question differently; this was the biggest thing that caused a paradigm shift on my approach. Don't answer whether an answer to the DS question is sufficient or not. Try to find out how you can make the answer sufficient rather.
If you exhaust your options then move on. This specially applies if the answer choice is too obvious; GMAT is trying to trick you there so don't fall for it.
For verbal, I tried eGmat
SC, the free version. I really think they have put together a nice program. I didn't pay for it since I was already scoring 38. I then reviewed Manhattan GMAT SC
guide. I practiced few more from OG.
Once I had my approach right, I realized I knew more questions for Quant to practice from. Now that I had already taken one real GMAT test, I also realized that you shouldn't practice any question set if you want to efficiently manage your time
. Practicing certainly helps, but who has months and months to practice anything thrown to you. Manhattan GMAT
Advanced Quant, and other Quant materials out there are good, but occasionally they do go beyond the scope or the structure of the question typical in GMAT; specially if you want to score over 40 but are OK scoring under 50. I had read good things about Jeff Sackman
's challenge set and started doing his questions. The sets have great questions and very close to GMAT; but they do get repetative and sometimes slighly out of the scope; but they were as close as you can get to GMAT except for the OG questions themselves. The ones that helped me most were Data Sufficiency and Extreme Challenge set.
In my question to stick close to GMAT Questions, I attempted PowerPrep tests. I also bought Paper Test (1 set) and FOCUS (all 3) from GMAC site. I did all the verbal (and few Quant) questions on Paper Test. FOCUS was extremely helpful even though few questions were repeated from the OG. For every questions missed on FOCUS, GMATPrep and PowerPrep I made sure I understood why I missed it and that I attempted it after 7 days. I had to repeat on few questions until I got them right next time (after a week).
This helped. For SC, I have read this advice many times and I'd reiterate it. You have plenty of questions in OG to practice from. For every question, fist find out a reason why the wrong optiosn are wrong.
For each option, I'd summarize the error (such as parallelism, modifier error etc). Instead of picking the right one, pick why others are wrong. In real test, you obviously won't be writing why an option is wrong but mentally you will process it and move onto another option. This slowed down my speed but was well worth it.
I retook the test; I again had minor setback in the morning (forgot to bring my residency paper, license isn't enough if you are not a citizen); but since I had arrived an hour earlier I had enough time to go back and get the required papers. Quant went well but I was very hungry around Verbal time. I suggest you take a pack of nuts, they help (I forgot to take it from my car). This made me very weak during the test and I skipped 2 questions in verbal just to retain the focus. This didn't have too bad of an effect as I scored 41 finally.
1. Practice helps. Practicing the right material could be the key to efficiently utilize the time you have. Make sure the questions are as close to the GMAT (OG, GMATPREP questions) as possible.
2. Don't rush in your practice. It is more important that you are learning and moving forward, than finishing 100 questions in 3 days. Have a plan, but be flexible. You don't have to finish all the problems you planned to solve, but it is important that you learn from your mistakes.
3. If you find your approach is not working, try reversing the approach. Instead of picking the right answer, find out why other answers are wrong. Pick a reason to eliminate an answer.
4. For DS, find a way to solve the problem with given options. Give up only after you have exhausted your resources; doing all this in 2 minutes will be a challenge and practice helps on this situations.
5. For AWA (I scored 6/6 last time) analysis of argument, list out all the premises, assumption and main conclusion before you start your essay. Then attack the assumption, and premise if applicable.
I hope this helps. You can raise the score in as little as one month as long as you realize what your weakness is and modify your approach accordingly.