[/highlight]– READ THROUGH MY REPLIES TOO - I'VE PROVIDED ADDITIONAL INFO THAT MIGHT BE OF MORE HELP. [highlight](edited MAY 12- JUST GOT MY AWA. I got a perfect 6.0 - YAY!!!!!!)[/highlight]
I scored a 740 and can't be gladder (Yes, “gladder” is a word!) to share my story with GC members! I initially decided against writing my experience however my wife talked me into penning it down as a gesture to give back to the GmatClub community! So bear with me through this and I hope atleast one of you can benefit from my experience (if you are able to get through this loooooooooong write up!!)
This is my second attempt (740, Q49, V42) – so there are a few things that I learned from my first attempt (660, Q46, V35, AWA 5.5) and I hope you can avoid these during your FIRST attempt. And yes, I’m not a native English speaker however English was the medium of instruction at my school (in India!)Resources –
For the first attempt, I did use the right materials – Manhattan SC, Manhattan quant guides, Powerscore CR
and a few questions from the verbal & quant official reviews. I think the problem was with the sequence. I started with OG12
and studied simultaneously with the guides. It should’ve been the other way around. Learn the basics, strengthen basics with practice and then use other resources that you have (or that you were able to afford) for more practice. I also had access to the 6 full length tests from Manhattan. For RC, I did not use any specific materials except OG and some random articles on the web.
For my second attempt, I bought the e-GMAT
combo that provided access to eGMAT
’s SC & CR, GMAT Club tests
and a 3 month membership to Grockit. And I still had access to all the other resources that I mentioned earlier.
Although I registered with beatthegmat and gmatclub for both the attempts, I hardly used the “question a day” e-mails. I did not like the way I had to go through the questions at random without a proper plan of attack. It felt like I was reviewing questions without knowing if I really should. I read the articles posted on the forums (on SC, CR and Quant) but they were mostly included in the materials I was already using. Whoever has access to a majority of these resources, I suggest that you use your time on the forums wisely. Since I used the GMAT club tests
for the 2nd attempt, I did not care much for the “question of the day” e-mails, but otherwise I suggest you make best of these questions.
And during the preparation for the 2nd attempt, I read more often that I did in my entire life (3-4 articles a week, that is!) – I used the magazines from the public library (the US public libraries are the BEST. So many resources at no cost! ) -
• The Economist
– Good source to learn how parallelism and modifiers are used. The content will also be useful for AWAs and critical reasoning in that a lot of opposing views are usually presented for any article.
• The New Yorker – the articles themselves are long…5-6 full pages (ugh!) and I never tried to finish an entire article. I personally believe that the style is closer with the GMAT sentences, which are long and weird! You’ll also learn a lot of new words (can’t say that the new words are useful though).
• Scientific American – only 1 or 2 articles a week to get acquainted with bizarre topics for RC.
• American History (or any magazine that covers American history – civil wars, WW II, etc) – Very useful to learn those perfect tenses and conditional tenses. Just 1 or 2 articles a month.
• I listened to the NPR (national public radio) on my way to work every day. Its only a 10-15 minute drive but the news and the language made sure that my ears are used to the correct usage of American English.
A special note to friends back in India – not to worry if you don’t have physical access to these magazines.
• Access the economist
online for 5 free articles a week. The “economist
debates” are especially useful for your AWAs in learning to write opposing views, support one side and conclude accordingly. Don’t spend all of your time reading the entire debate – just enough to get the drift of it and the conclusions. The “Wall Street Journal” online also offers 5 free articles per week.
• “Scientific American”, the “New Yorker” and American History are all available online (although limited content).
• The NPR radio is also available online (live streaming 24 hours and recorded programs too)
• DO NOT read “The Hindu” or “The Hindustan Times” or other Indian national news sites. I mean no offence to the content but those resources are way off GMAT’s standards.Preparation –
For the first attempt, I studied diligently for 3 hours every day. I was so stressed out and couldn’t focus at work or at my personal life. Everything seemed to come to a standstill. I was fussy about every little thing – the time I took to practice the exams, the daily routine, not accompanying my wife even for the groceries and most of all skipping my physical routine – All work and no play made jack a dull boy! I corrected this “fussiness” during my preparation for the 2nd time. I tried to keep life as normal as possible but studied at the same rate of 3 hours/day. I still wasn’t able to give 6 hours on weekends because it seemed too much for me and I had gotten so busy at work that it took a lot of energy to just keep myself going. Barring a few days, I was able to study atleast 2 hours a day and run for atleast 30 mins a day. (as in physically run on the treadmill and not run away from GMAT, although I almost gave up twice.)
During the first time, I understood all concepts and did pretty well (>80% on OG12
) with practice, which was limited to OG12
and the Manhattan guides. However, although I did keep track of the specific questions that I made mistakes on, I did not perform an analysis. I did not “know” my weak areas and I only had a rough idea. Although, I went through some questions on beatthegmat and gmatclub forums, they did not stay put in my mind – I should’ve revisited my weak areas and practiced more to encounter tough questions and be prepared to answer atleast some of them.
During my preparation for the 2nd attempt, I downloaded the error log
excel docs from gmatclub and beatthegmat and kept track of my mistakes for OG12
and the Quant & Verbal reviews. I went as far as creating bar charts to see where I made more mistakes (inequalities naturally!) on each section. I made my own notes from Manhattan SC – basically to remember all the rules that I’m supposed to remember. I studied all the Manhattan quant guides twice and made notes too to review anytime I had a 15-20 minute break. Let me write about the full length practice tests in a separate paragraph.
For the 1st attempt, I only took the 2 gmat preps and 3 MGMATs. But for this time, I took 10 practice tests (6 MGMATs + 2 GMAT preps twice) under timed conditions and took them at the same time as my actual GMAT time – 11:30am (I’m now sure you are nodding your head that I’m indeed fussy!). After completing the OG12
, the reviews and 4 MGMAT full length tests under timed conditions, I went into “Review
” mode. I took a 2 week break to only review – basics, incorrect questions on OG, official GMAT reviews and the 4 MGMAT tests. I have an [highlight]image attached to this post
[/highlight]with all the practice test scores (another evidence of my obsession to monitor & control!). It was clear that I needed to strengthen my “quant timing” and “verbal accuracy”. Although many of my fellow MGMAT-users said that the last 2 MGMAT exams have easier questions than the first 4, the improved scores in MGMAT 5 & 6 boosted my confidence and I wanted my confidence to stay that way. And I’m sure I faced more new questions from GMATprep repetitions than repeat questions from the earlier preps. I spent all of my last 5 days reviewing all of these tests, especially the GMAT preps and reviewing my notes. You may note that my actual GMAT verbal score is the highest among all GMATpreps.
Last few paragraphs, I promise!On the D-Day
Mistakes from the 1st attempt and what I did in the 2nd attempt.
1. I did pretty good with the AWAs so I thought I should eat a snack and breathe easy to get ready for the quant section. However I overestimated the break and know what? The quant section had already run for 2 mins by the time the admin logged me back in and I was in a shock for an instant but carried on telling myself that I can do it. I was so nervous that my font size got bigger on the notepad. Would you believe if I told that I used up all of the space in the notepad around the 30th question? Well I did and got it replaced too.
For the 2nd attempt, I ensured that I had the snack but went back in exactly after 7 mins. I also had another minute to breathe easy during the instructions. Also, I used nominal font size for problem solving and still had only 1 page left in the end. And the quant questions didn’t seem easy either. At no point was I sure that I will score a 50, just like I did with the practice tests. I carried on and had 3 minutes left for the last question. I’m glad I got a 49 and am sure the 17 gmat club tests
that I took helped me to stay focused.
2. For my 1st attempt, during the 2nd break, I did have a snack (a chocolate bar) but what do you know – it wasn’t enough. My brain demanded more fuel than that was available in my stomach! By question # 27 I had acquired a headache. I just couldn’t focus. And then my intestines made one small noise – that’s it! All hell broke loose and I could see that the RC passage I was reading was vanishing into thin air instead of reaching the cache. I already knew the result of my verbal section. No wonder I scored only 35.
During the 2nd time, I ate half a lunch during the break. Rice + Potatoes – all complex carbs that break down slowly for slow release of energy (bull shit, you say? Weird but true, I say!). I did not feel hungry until 2 hours after I completed the exam. And just to be sure I had taken an Excedrin (anti-headache + caffeine pill) during the first break. All along, the sentence correction questions felt like I haven’t seen anything like them before. But I was determined to stick to the rules (for example, “…without X, Y or Z”, subjunctives, unambiguous antecedents, etc). The CR questions didn’t seem tough but I did struggle with a few questions, one of which was a mind boggling “method of reasoning” question. Each of the choices was worded with such complex language, I just knew I shouldn’t waste my time with that question – I quickly scanned and chose an answer immediately.
All is well that ends well. I’m very happy that I got a 740 and hope to get atleast a 5 on AWA. I’m sure you are happy that this “brief” debrief has come to an end, finally!!
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