I got done with my second attempt at GMAT yesterday, so thought of posting a debrief.Attempt 1:
I started my GMAT preparation somewhere mid-December 2011, and scheduled exam appointment for 01/31/12. Right from the beginning, I had a lot of trouble with the verbal section. So, most of my preparation was primarily focused on verbal.
I got myself started with MGMAT SC
, and found this book extremely helpful. I could track steady progress on my SC skills. I also got a copy of OG12
Verbal and Powerscore CR
bible. I also purchased a subscription to GMAT Pill, however it did not benefit me as much as the books above. Although GMAT Pill explores some shortcut approaches to tackle certain type of problems, and might work well for some, those strategies didn't work for me. So, I pretty much kept myself confined to the few books I bought. I also used the GMATclub toolkit iPad app for practice. I did not use book for quantitative, but practiced on questions I found on practice tests.
My practice test scores showed progress as I kept practicing. The following were my scores:
12/18/11 - GMATPrep 1 - 620 (Q50, V25)
01/02/12 - MGMAT01 - 680 (Q49, V34)
01/10/12 - GMATPrep 1 - 700 (Q50, V32)
01/14/12 - MGMAT02 - 700 (Q47, V38)
01/15/12 - MGMAT03 - 680 (Q48, V34)
01/20/12 - GMATPrep 2 - 710 (Q49, V38)
01/21/12 - MGMAT04 - 720 (Q50, V38)
01/23/12 - MGMAT05 - 730 (Q51, V39)
01/25/12 - MGMAT06 - 750 (Q51, V41)
Although my practice scores kept getting better, I wasn't confident enough of doing well on real exam, probably because I, for some reason, found each MGMAT test easier than the previous one. However, I would be content with a 700+ score.
My exam was scheduled at 10am, and the night before the exam I found it extremely hard to sleep, probably due to anxiety. The next day, with probably only about 2-3 hours of proper sleep, I headed for the exam. The exam started off pretty well, I did a decent job on the AWA. Had some gatorade and apple during my 8 minute break, and then breezed through the quantitative section. I then took my next break, again had some gatorade and apple, and started off pretty well with the verbal section. By the time I was on my second RC, lack of sleep started hitting me. I spent more than 10 minutes reading the passage, and even then, had no clue of what the passage said. At that moment I wished two things, that I practiced more of RC, and that I slept well the previous night. Another 5 minutes down, I could barely interpret meanings of any of SC or CR questions. Tried hard to focus, but in vain. The next thing I remember is seeing 10 minutes remaining on clock with 10 questions to go. So, I had to guess a few questions to make sure I finished the test with no unanswered questions. I knew I had messed it up, but I was hoping that luck would somehow get me 700+ score, so I decided to go ahead and report the scores. And, when I hit the button:690 (Q50, V33)
I was disheartened, but I knew what went wrong, so I decided to retake the exam, with rectifications in my approach.Attempt 2:
I gave myself 5 weeks to prepare for my next attempt, and scheduled my exam on 9th March 2012. This time I already had a fairly good understanding of SC and CR. I decided to primarily focus on RC. After doing some research, I unearthed this iPad app called Zite, which is like a personalized magazine, with loads of articles, and surely a good tool for those who want to practice reading. So, I started endlessly reading articles on topics that I disliked the most, such as literature, humanities and social sciences. I also made it a point to create passage maps as I read, it helped me grasp the passage better. Since I am not an avid reader, I had to make the best use of time to work on my reading skills. I continued my practice using GMATclub toolkit, and also subscribed to grockit. I particularly practiced on the harder RC questions on grockit, and I found these questions harder than those on OG. But then it helped me tackle almost all other passages elsewhere.
I kept practicing and I retook some practice tests. This time my scores were as below.
02/18/12 - MGMAT01 - 740 (Q50, V40)
02/24/12 - GMATPrep1 - 750 (Q51, V40)
03/05/12 - GMATPrep2 - 760 (Q50, V42)
This time I was pretty confident of doing well. Keeping in mind that lack of sleep had messed up my previous attempt, I slept for 12 straight hours on the night before my exam. I went to test center about 15 minutes prior to appointment time, did check-in procedures, and got started. Essays went pretty smooth, took my 8 minute break, had some water and apple, and got started with quantitative. First 3 questions went pretty well, and to my horror I was stumped by questions 4 & 5. I spent nearly 12 minutes on those two. I had to rush through the other questions and I somehow got done with quantitative with 5+ minutes left on clock. After the next scheduled break, I got started with verbal. I knew I did well with the first few questions, and then at questions 11 & 12 came the boldface CR questions. I somehow fell behind the clock over time, and with 20 minutes left on clock, I had made it just to question 28. With 13 questions remaining, I was a little worried about managing time. Luckily, the 4th RC passage, although hard, was a short one. I finished the verbal section with less than 20 seconds to spare. I had a feeling that I messed up some of the last few questions in verbal, but wasn't really sure whether I did. I hoped to score at least a 730. The score report revealed:760 (Q50, V42)
I was more than happy to see that score.
There are a bunch of very useful tips on the many other posts, but just a few tips below from my experience.
- Get good sleep on night before the exam.
- Reading and understanding passages/articles on uninteresting subjects not only helps to do well on RC, but helps to understand questions faster, and thus saves a lot of time.
- There is no substitute for practice.