I ended my ordeal with GMAT today in a successful (sort of) way. I was very relieved to see a score of 720 (50Q, 37V) which was 10 marks higher than both my GMATPrep scores and 40 marks higher than my first GMAT attempt. While the score isnt earth shattering; I will take it.
I took my first GMAT in July and got a 680 (49Q, 34V). Quant is my strength but verbal clearly isn't. I thought I practiced well enough but on retrospection realized that I didn't do smart work. I was looking to get through all the questions, be it in a practice mode or mock test mode, and was analyzing my mistakes carefully. While my first attempt isn't so bad I definitely was below optimal performance on the exam day and this was caused by lack of time management.
So for my second attempt I decided to go through every question that I get right and wrong and analyze it thoroughly and make notes. I also decided to record each CAT I took, note down my splits and the number of mistakes I was making in those. I started this journey off by telling myself that RC and CR are my friends and SC is my enemy. I did not understand that I was wrong until I analyzed the data I collected. I observed that CR and RCs weren't necessarily my friends and in fact, SC was. I was making fewer mistakes in SC. That was a big revelation. I think it is important to at some conclusion of this sort relatively soon in your preparation. Not by taking just 1 CAT or a few questions but over a period of 4 weeks, take 4 CATS, do 200 questions outside the CATs in each section and then look back at the numbers.
I also realized that my timing was a bit off in the CATs I took. Thats the exact same mistake I did in my first GMAT. So the takeaways were - improve RC, get fundamentals of CR absolutely right and keep practicing SC. So what I did (all verbal, I rarely did quant except for CATs):
3)Vertias SC and CR,
5)about 300 SC and 300 CR in the 1000 series,
6)a whole lot of grockit,
7)ton of GMATClub questions,
8)Manhattan question banks
In the text books I read the CR and SC theory and then continued practicing whatever problems I could lay my hands on.
I took a lot of CATs and most of them indicated my score accurately and I got my timing strategy set. More than anything GMAT is a time management exercise. I had a strategy for every 15 mins. I was to get 7 done in the first 15, about 8-9 in the next 3 15min slots and leave a lot of time for the last few because I couldn't concentrate well enough towards the end. Similar strategy for verbal. Before the exam I took the bold decision of writing up the exam strategy in a post and hoped I wouldn't make a joke of me if I flopped in the exam. Thankfully it came off and here is the post - d-day-strategy-103043.html
1. Manhattan GMAT
test 6 - 24 July - 49Q, 36V - 700
free test - Aug 8. 640. - This was before they updated their scoring logic to give higher scores than the usual kaplan tests as many of us were calibrating that a score in kaplan is 100 less than the actual because of their weird scoring logic.
Free test - 31st July - 49Q, 42V - 690
4. Platinum GMAT Free - 1st Aug - 49Q, 34-37V - 680-690
5. Princeton Free test - 22nd Aug - 47Q; 39V - 690
Practice test 2 - 47Q - 29 Aug; 41V - 700
7. Knewton Free test - 4 Sept 710 - 47Q 40V
8. Cambridge ETS - 11 Sept - Desktop based Great tests - 47Q; 38-39V - 680-690
9. Crack-gmat.com free test. - 655 (Weird score, no splits)
test 3, CAT 1- 25th Sept. 730 - 50Q and 36V.
test 4, CAT 2 - 26th Sept - 740 - Really easy quant. Don't consider Kaplan
quants as indicative.
Test 5, CAT 3, 30Sept - 690 - Bad verbal
13. BELL CURVES Free test - 1st Oct, NIGHTMARE. Very tough Quant and VERBAL. Quant was tougher. Got 630
CAT 6 - 7 Oct - Got 740 - Easy quant
15. GMAT PREP - 1: 8 Oct - 710. Q49 and V36/37 - Look at this ..damn close to real.
16. Manhattan CAT, 14 Oct - 690 (48, 36)
17. Bell curves..second free test..Oct 10 - 690 (47, 34)
CAT - 15th october - 730
CAT - 20 Oct. 720
20. GMATPrep - CAT2 - 21st Oct - 710 Q50, V35 - Again ..look at the close score and splits.
The best things I discovered during my second attempt were GROCKIT and GMATCLUB. I am so surprised that GMATCLUB is free...honestly. The features these guys have built into the forum are nothing less than what would go into an awesome commerical product (trust me I have been a product manager for a while now). You have the score calculator, followers summary, data analysis of your questions and Mr.Bunuel and so many instructors and all sorts of features. The questions that people post in this are nothing short of fantastic. I am a big big fan of GMATCLUB and strongly recommend that you all recommend GMATCLUB to anyone who wishes to do well in the exam.
Now to the exam day:
People advice not to do anything the day before but I couldn't help it. I finished the whole manhattan question bank. And did the tough verbal questions from OG. I cannot be sure if thats a good thing or bad but I did it.
I heard in a Kaplan
video that you should get sleep 2 nights before your exam as you probably won't get as much sleep the night before. That makes a lot of sense and I followed it. 2 nights without sleep is much worse than 1 night without sleep. So, I did that. Thankfully I slept pretty well the night before too.
For the breaks I took a banana and a choclate bar. I am not sure if you want to take any energy bar or some medicinal bar but I believe that you should take something that you will totally enjoy eating. Even if it is unhealthy because what your mind needs, more than anything else, is a BREAK. You need to feel relaxed in your break otherwise there is no point. So I took something that I know I will enjoy eating and forget about the exam for a few moments.
I arrived at the center feeling good but nervous. I could hear my heart racing but I felt I was under control. Its obvious we all feel nervous but its important to tell yourself that if you are 90%-80% cool ..you are fine. Its understandable that the 10% tension won't go. So do not sweat about making yourself 100% cool ..you won't! and in the process you will start losing your 90% cool.
I was happy to recieve a booklet of 5-6 writing pads instead of just 1 pad. That way I could jot down any formulas I wouldn't have remembered under stress. I usually forget the sum of GP, AP, internal angles of calculations of a regular polygon, some properties that differentiate rhobus, parllelogram etc etc. A few squareroots, fractions and squares and a few prime numbers. So instead of reading the instructions for 8 mins, which I probably already know, I filled in the first sheet of my writing pad. I also jotted down my timing guidelines.
The plan was to finish my AWA fast and relax in my chair. I did them pretty well but took more time than I would have liked on the argument. Issue was easier and I took less time and so instead of clicking confirm, I just waited and realxed as if you hit CONFIRM the test center guys don't let you sit near the computer. Towards the last 30 seconds, I hit confirm and raised my hand. 1 hour of the battle done..and well done at that.
I went out, got a bite of my chocolate and realxed in the chair. I was feeling about 95% cool as I knew quant was going to be smooth. I took some cold drinking water, from the drinking water dispenser, into the restroom and splashed it on. Felt cold but I read that it helps. I did a few jumps and stretches and got ready for quant.
Quant started off easy. I don't recall even making a single mistake but I am sure I must have done at least 4 else I would have got 51. I got 1 probability, 1 permutation, ton of number theory, a few more usual in geometry. Pretty straightforward and I kept sticking to my time and had 5 minutes for a last question on number theory which took about 3 mins. That was the toughest. I wish I could tell you all the questions because I remember them so well...but I am not supposed to. So end of Quant...well done!
Now for the tricky part..the verbal. I was not exhausted but I could feel the bite. I had a slight headache of staring for that long at the computer (I am also a headache kind of guy). I forgot my paracetamol tablets and asked if the test center guys had any and they didn't. So I forgot about it, had my bite, did a few stretches and deep breathing, splashed cold water and told myself to stay cool. I wrote down the words "STAY COOL" on my pad in font 40.
I didn't realize I spent more than 8 minutes outside. I actually did.. I spent 23 extra seconds... how dumb..but 23 seconds isn't so bad..but I didn't panic about that. As usual...verbal started with SCs. I got a few in a row and 1 decent CR but the shocker came when I got a bold faced CR on question 10. I thought..ok I must be doing well..and I did feel that way. I suck at bold faced ..so I eliminated a few and then guessed. RC's weren't too difficult but the questions felt tough. SC's weren't too bad and even the CRs were fine until the last 40 minutes in my exam. I think I lost the plot there. My coolness level dropped to 40%, I was nervous and got weird thoughts. I couldn't focus. But I took a moment and calmed down. The SCs, CRs and RCs didn't get easier and I felt they were getting tougher. I went through all ..guessing a few ..doing a few... and got it done. Again there were a few CRs that I can't figure out the answers even now. Well... its over anyways.
I was nothing short of ecstatic to get a 720 (50Q, 37V). I was happy that this was DONE.
Feel free to ping me for anything at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let me know how I can help.
A big thanks to GMATCLUB,