I just took the test this morning (29 May 06) in Frankfurt, Germany and scored a 690 (Q44, V41). Although I was aiming for a 700+ like everyone else on this forum, I'll take my score. After all, it is still 91 percentile and acceptable to all of the top business schools.
First of all, I want to echo what most other people have said: http://www.gmatclub.com
is an incredible resource. I think it is the secret weapon for anyone who wishes to score well. Any success I had on the GMAT, I owe to this forum and its participating members. Iâ€™m writing this detailed post in hopes that it helps others who are in the same shoes I just spent the last four months in.
Here are my notes on my preparation/practice test scores/actual test. Hopefully they help. Iâ€™ll answer any questions you all may have.
I probably studied much harder than the average person. I studied seriously for about 4 months and spent 1-2 hours per weekday and 8-12 per weekend (Sat and Sun combined). Add that up and that's a lot of hours. I'm a weak standardized test taker, so it was a necessary evil. Rigorous study and hard work were the only ways I was going to get a competitive GMAT score.
I purchased almost every GMAT book available and found both Kaplan
and Princeton to be good starting points. Either of the two books will help lay a solid foundation and identify weak areas. Princeton organized their questions according to difficulty level which helped me gauge what my abilities were. Kaplan
was just full of hard questions. I used both books, but anyone can get by with just one of them.
Once I had a general idea of what my weaknesses were, I used the Manhattan GMAT books
. In my opinion, these books are essential. I ended up buying 6 of the 7. They really go in-depth and teach you the concepts behind the questions. Additionally, the books give you access to 3 online practice tests. I can't talk enough about how they helped me, so if you're studying for the test, do consider. As I went through the Manhattan books
, I used the Kaplan 800
book (also highly recommended), to really help me test concepts and get me thinking on a "higher" level.
After finishing the Manhattan books
(as I went through those books, I still did practice sets), I transitioned to the Official Guide. I saved these books for the last 1/3 or 1/4 of my studying. Once I started the Official Guide, these were the only types of questions I solved (there are subtle differences between OG questions and non-OG questions). I did this because I really wanted to develop my pacing and test-taking skills. I found that a large part of doing well was knowing when to cut your losses on a question (ie: blindly guess) and move on. We all want to answer every question correctly, but spending too much time on a question can result in 5 wrong questions later on in the test because you were rushed. Sticking to the OG really helped me in this respect. Thereâ€™s no set rule. Knowing when to cut your losses and move on is a skill that you develop only after answering tons of questions. I didnâ€™t really pick this up until my 2-3 weeks before my test today. I guess you can call it a 6th sense.
Once I was about halfway through the OG books, I really started picking up the pace on practice CAT tests (as you can see below). I really leaned heavily on the Manhattan and Princeton Review
tests. The Princeton Review
test was particularly notable because I had the option of seeing my score as I was taking the test. This helped me understand the scoring mechanics and really highlighted the importance of getting the first 5-8 questions correct. I saw that my score (give or take a few points) was largly decided in these initial questions.
Of course, I saved the GMAT Prep tests for last. They are as close to the real thing as you can get. My GMAT Prep 2 didnâ€™t go so well, but it was mostly because I worked 15 hours that day and then tried to cram a test in when I got home. Iâ€™m sure glad I got the 600 on that test than on the one today
Practice Test Scores:
Here are my practice test scores. As you can see, less than spectacular, and all over the board. Especially GMAT Prep 2. Because there were only two GMATPrep tests
, I had to deviate from my Official Guide rule when taking practice tests.
CAT 1 (2 months before): 520
CAT 2 (1.5 months before): 570
CAT 3 (1 month before): 550
CAT 4 (3 weeks before): 550
Manhattan CAT 1 (2.5 weeks before): 580
Manhattan CAT 2 (2 weeks before): 600
GMAT Prep 1 (1 week before): 640
GMAT Prep 1 retake (1 week before): 700
PR CAT 1 (1 week before): 680 (See my notes)
Manhattan CAT 3 (3 days before): 690
GMAT Prep 2 (2 days before): 600 (I was devastated when I saw this)
Practice Set Results:
These are my results from my OG11
practice sets 1-3 weeks before the test today. The list is in chronological order, so the sets near the bottom of each category were most recent (a week ago). Generally, I saved the hardest questions till the end of my preparation. You can use my results to gauge where you're at.
Number of problems / Number WRONG / Average Time per Question
21 / 4 / 1:56
20 / 4 / 1:22
20 / 9 / 1:50
21 / 5 / 1:55
14 / 5 / 2:22
20 / 0 / 1:00 (easy questions)
20 / 1 / 1:31 (moderate)
20 / 8 / 2:08 (hardest questions)
40 / 5 / 1:22
21 / 0 / 1:36
20 / 5 / 1:52
39 / 3 / 1:12 (easy questions)
29 / 5 / 2:25 (hardest questions)
21 / 3 / 2:15 (hardest questions)
20 / 8 / 1:47
22 / 3 / 1:41
21 / 6 / 1:48
15 / 2 / 1:29 (hardest questions)
20 / 0 / 1:40
20 / 2 / 1:37
20 / 3 / 1:48
20 / 1 / 1:34
10 / 4 / 2:20 (hardest questions)
40 / 4 / 59â€