Before I start my debrief, I've got a few things to say... I'll just mention it right now! I've been a member of this place for about a month and a half now and you people have been absolutely wonderful! Thank you to all of those of you who have contributed in every way, great or small, towards making this community a better place!
Special mention to the folks who interacted with me on my "GMAT Journey" thread! You all gave me a feeling that I was not in this alone
Now on with the debrief!PART I - Prologue
GMAT 1st Attempt: 26th December 2010
Total: 650 (79th Percentile) Verbal: 37 (80th Percentile) Quant: 44 (65th Percentile)
60 Days Later
GMAT 2nd Attempt: 24th February 2011
Total: 710 (92nd Percentile) Verbal: 40 (89th Percentile) Quant: 48 (82nd Percentile)Part II - Once Upon a Time in a Test Center [Test Day Experience]
The test center for the re-take was the same as the test center for the first attempt, I didn't have any problem getting to the place. I left my home at 8 A.M. and reached the venue at 8:30 A.M. My test was scheduled to begin at 9:30 A.M. and the lady at the reception told me that the signing-in process will start only at 9:15! I had 45 minutes to kill.
The test center was located within the campus of the Rajgiri College of Business Studies. The campus was very beautiful and the weather was very pleasant. So I went for a walk around the garden and relax me nerves. I have a friend who is a student in the college; I gave her a call and she came down to meet me. I guess she was a good luck charm of some sort. Anyway, the conversation cheered me up a great deal. She left at around 9 and I made my way to the reception. At the reception, I took a seat and started listening to songs by my favorite band "The Who"
I was called by the Pearson Vue representative at 9:15. He immediately recognized me and he welcomed me with a smile and then suddenly I realized that there was no one else at the test center - I would be taking the test alone! WoW! A lucky break indeed. No distractions! Just me! :D Woooooohooooooooooo! I beamed back at the representative in return to his welcoming smile! After finishing the signing-in process, I was ushered to my cubicle.
I used chineseburned's guide for the AWA and I didn't have much trouble with that... Wrote about 500 words for each of the essays. After that I took a break - Drank Redbull... Ate a bar of chocolate... used the restroom and rushed back into the room(total - 5 minutes)
The quant section started. The first one was a speed-distance problem and the last one was a rate problem! As for the rest of the problems, I don't have a bloody clue! I was in a trance of some sort.... I don't remember a thing... I remember everything that happened before and everything after I started attempting those questions... But when I try to recall what happened in between.... BOOM... Mind's drawing a total blank! I was on auto pilot mode :D
Anyway... I do remember a few things:
1. No tough combinatorial problems
2. Tough geometry. But not 3D. Triangles, Volumes, circles etc.
3. Only 1 probability (which I guessed)
4. Tough work-rate problems
5. Lots of problems from number properties.
After the quant section, I took another break... Same as before... Redbull... Chocolate... Restroom... While I was at the rest room, I tried to judge how well I performed. That is when I realized that I don't remember ANYTHING!
I didn't think about it much though... I returned to my seat and started answering the verbal questions. Verbal was okay... The RC passages were moderately tough. I took more time with the CR questions and rushed with the SC questions. I finished the test with 5 minutes to spare. As was the case with the quant section so is the case with verbal too... I don't bloody remember!
Then... The exam ended and I checked the score :D
710 with an 80/80 split! I was elated! I was grinning so wide that I could have swallowed a banana sideways!
I had exceeded my target score in all of the three areas! The Pearson Vue representative congratulated me and I rushed out of the center to give my dad a call and share the happy news with him. I went and had lunch at a classy restaurant and returned back home and posted me scores on the GMAT CLUB!Part III - Suiting Up! [Preparation Strategy]
Despite the poor performance in the Quantitative section of my first GMAT, I knew that quant was my strength. My first priority was to stabilize the quant score and then start working on the verbal score.
After the first three Manhattan Prep CATs, I was confident that I could consistently score in the 46 to 48 range in the quantitative section. I did not take any effort towards improving my verbal score. However, I noticed that I consistently scored in the 34 to 36 range in the verbal section.
Since the quant score stabilized in the 46-48 range, I started working on the verbal aspect. Here's how I did it:
STEP 1: Know your enemy
I used the "Generate Assessment Report" feature provided by Manhattan GMAT
to determine my strengths and weaknesses in the verbal area. Using the data from the first three Prep CATs, I generated the assessment report.
I learned two things from the report generated:
1. In the increasing order of accuracy SC came first (lowest accuracy), followed by RC and then CR (highest accuracy).
2. I was under-performing when it came to 700 level questions across all areas. Thus, I discovered that my fundamentals were clear but my strategy was flawed.
Step 2: Learn to walk before you learn to run
As a result of the previous step, I knew where to start from. I turned every SC question I had answered incorrectly into a flash card. On the front of the flash card, I wrote the question number and test number of the question. Behind the cards, I wrote all the splits that I could observe. Then I circled the correct one for each split and wrote the relevant rule next to it.
This helped me improve my SC strategy and also helped revise the rules pertaining to various topics.
Therefore, I deliberately slowed down in order to speed up later!
Step 3: Adapt
I took my 4th Manhattan CAT and I generated the assessment report for that test. I was overjoyed to see that the %right for SC rose from 51% to 60%! My plan worked! :D
But, I realized that the %right for CR and RC had dropped
This is where the "adapt" part comes in
I adapted the "flash card" approach discussed in the previous step to help me improve my %right in CR and RC.
For every CR question that I answered incorrectly, I made a flash card. On these flash cards, I wrote the question number and the test number for each question. Then for each question, I made the "T Diagram" on the front side of the card. On the back side, I wrote the question category and the reason why a particular answer choice is wrong or right for each answer choice. This helped me improve my strategy and also helped revise the nature of wrong/right answer types for each category of question.
For every RC passage in which I got more than 1 answer wrong, I made a flash card. On these flash cards, I wrote the question number and the test number for each question. Then for each question, I paraphrased the passage on the front side of the card. On the back side, I wrote the reason why a particular answer choice is wrong or right for each answer choice. This helped me improve my paraphrasing skills and also helped me improve my strategy.
Step 4: Test
I took my 5th Manhattan CAT to measure the gains I made :D
Woooooohooooooooo! I improved my %right in RC to 80%. SC remained constant at 60%. However, the % right for CR questions dropped to 48%. On analysis, I figured that the drop can be attributed to the increase in number of 700 level questions.
Step 5: Define the Approach
At this juncture, I was three or four days away from test day. So I decided to take inventory of the approach I'm going to use for each question type. I decided to borrow time from SC questions and invest it in CR questions. If I took an extra 30s on a CR question, I could get most of them right. I also chose to spend bulk of the time in paraphrasing for RC type questions and take less time to answer each question.
In the increasing order of time taken per question, SC came first, followed by RC and then CR.
Last few days:
I spent the last couple of days to make myself more aware of potential pitfalls. This helped me avoid the frequency of silly mistakes. Part IV - Arsenal [Prep Materials and Prep Tests]
1. Manhattan GMAT
- All 8 guides
2. Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition
3. 6 Manhattan Prep Tests
4. 2 GMAT Prep TestsIf you want me to elaborate on any of the parts or include additional details, please feel free to ask me to do so!