First off, let me preface by stating that I've never been a great test taker, especially with respect to standardized tests. It's been about 7 years since I took my last standardized test (SAT's), which I also never performed spectacularly on. However, given my rather low UGPA, I thought it was at the very least necessary to aim for a high GMAT score, especially considering that I also unfortunately fall under the ultra competitive Indian / Male / IT profile. I didn't do as well as I intended, but looking back on it, I actually perceived it as somewhat of a notable accomplishment, considering I initially started test preparation in March of this year, did not enroll in a test prep class, and had to deal with a particularly grueling work schedule for my consulting job. For those interested, here are my experiences:
Material used:Kaplan Premier Live Online 2010
- I used this mostly for quant studying. Even though I had a strong quant background from my ugrad days as an engineer, I was rather pathetic when it came to discrete math type questions (rate problems, mixture problems, combinatronics, etc.) I liked the table method used for solving some of the rate and set theory problems. Didn't like the verbal strategies.OG12 and 11
- Once I acquired the strategies I needed, I began target practice. I did all of the problems from OG12
and did some of the verbal ones from OG11
. The OG problems, while definitely representative of the test, do not cover enough 700-800 level questions (only like the last ~100 questions from each section or so). Nevertheless, this is a must have.Manhattan GMAT SC Guide
- Everyone on this forum swears by this, but I think it might have made me worse. I'm a native English speaker, and prior to reading this book, I was actually moderately successful in answering SC questions by feel. After reading this guide, I couldn't help but overanalyze every SC question thereafter, especially trying to recall idioms. Maybe I just need to give this another shot for next time.Kaplan 800
- Okay for quant, didn't like it for anything else.Manhattan GMAT CR, RC Guides
- Reading has always been a weakness of mine for some stupid reason. I could not get myself to use the strategies in those guides, especially for CR, since the diagramming would take way too long. Instead, I just kept brute forcing practice of CR and RC questions until I finally got acclimated to them. I actually like reading the RC passages now. CR is still a tragic case - I can narrow down the answers to 50/50 but always end up selecting the wrong of the 2 choices.GMATClub
- This was the second (arguably the best) best resource for my GMAT studying. I just went on each of the individual forums and answered questions there. Bunuel is the God of GMAT Quant, so I spent a lot of time there! I used a tweaked version of Chineseburned's AWA guide for my essays. Though I discovered this late, there was also a thread in the CR forum dealing with LSAT LR questions. This proved very helpful. Also did the various GMATClub tests
Like I said, I essentially spent a little more than 2.5 months studying for this. Focused on solely quant in March, verbal in April, and practice exams in May leading up to this past weekend when I took the test. I work 9-11 hours a day along with some unexpected weekends, so it was tough to squeeze more than an hour or two of studying per night. Weekends were a premium commodity, so I used as much time as I could to study then.
From May 1 until May 20 I did nothing but practice exams and further drilling. I had to take 2 weeks of vacation from work in order to get enough time to take one full length practice exam per day. I ordered Manhattan GMAT
's noteboard and marker pen replica in order to simulate the exam experience as closely as possible. I also did all sections of the test, including the AWA essays. I was aiming for anything 700+.
CAT 1: 650Kaplan
CAT 2: 680Kaplan
CAT 3: 710Kaplan
CAT 4: 650
MGMAT CAT1: 680
MGMAT CAT2: 690
MGMAT CAT3: 750
MGMAT CAT4: 690
GMATPREP 1: 620 (this was a major wtf moment since I took it a week before my exam)
GMATPREP 2: 650
Test day: 680
- I had to do the quant sections of the MGMAT CAT's untimed, since the questions were downright ridiculous. I also paused frequently when doing the AWA in order to consult Chineseburned's guide and tailor it accordingly to my style. Verbal I did timed.
- I almost had a heart attack after taking the first GMATPREP. My scores were better in MGMAT, which people claim is harder overall. This had me freaking out since it was only a few days before I took the exam.
- GMAT Club tests! Do them, especially for Quant!
- Don't get too caught up in studying! Squeeze in time for living healthy! As a result of spending all day studying during my break, I ate less than usual and stopped going to the gym. Eventually the exam stress caught up to me both mentally and physically. It was not pleasant at all.
- During the GMATPREP practice tests, I kept running out of time on Quant, while finishing the verbal with time to spare. This was the opposite case on exam day, when I barely finished both sections on time
- On the test, I felt like I butchered the quant especially on an endless array of DS questions (DS is not my strength either), but I felt real good on the first half of the verbal. However, I'm pretty sure I messed up on a few SC questions midway through in conjunction with some CR questions that eventually sealed my fate.
At this point, I will most likely retake the test before the end of summer. I am a fall 2011 applicant. I'll probably enroll in a quick test prep course to fine tune my skills. I definitely think I can refine my undisiplined approach towards verbal questions. I felt dejected when I saw my score, but I felt a little better considering the circumstances I had to put up with along with the idea that I know I can improve. I know I can get at least into the 40's for verbal. This was probably one of the most (if not the most) draining experiences of my entire life, but I still think it was mostly a good one.
I've only been lurking here at GMATClub, but the community is awesome. Just wanted to give my thanks.