Note: I originally had been writing this post as a reply to a post from another forum member, but I felt it eventually warranted a post of it's own as I didn't want to dominate his/her story. Anyhow, my apologies if some comments seem directed towards a reply to that post but here's my story
I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I began my journey to conquer this damn GMAT. Not many of my friends or peers had taken the exam yet and those that did were not looking to attend premiere schools. So I began just by purchasing a Kaplan
book because that's the brand I was most familiar with. After wiping through that, I found myself needing a lot more based on practice exams (I think I was scoring around 630's-640's) at this time. So after going through book after book (I have Kaplan
books, Manhattan books
, Princeton Review... everything
), I found that the most helpful were the Manhattan books
. This I found rather late in the game, but nonetheless, I think they played a key part in my 700 (Q42, V43) for the first test.
Though I thought 700 was a decent score, I knew it wasn't what I needed or better yet, what I wanted. I broke 730 on some GMAT Prep exams, so that was my goal. Even more frustrating was that I completely blew it on my timing for the quant. Not having my handy GMAT timer
beeping in my ear to keep my on pace really killed me... I found myself with about 8 or 9 questions left on the board with only time left to guess for them. So while driving back home from the test center I came to the conclusion that I needed to retake the exam. I KNEW if I just perfected my timing that I would dominate this test.
Well... prior to my first exam I signed up for a trial of Knewton's GMAT Course. Mainly because they had some deal that if you take one of their practice exams 7 days before their test and send them your actual results, that they would give you $100 (by the way, I never got that $$$ from them. Where is my $100 Knewton?!?!
). ANYHOW, I decided I'd take Knewton up on their 50 point guarantee. Well, 3 months later after going through their course, I found that it really didn't help much at all for my quant. Knewton just isn't designed for the 700+ test taker, at least in my opinion.
Where it may have helped though was in my verbal. I wasn't focusing on verbal at all in any of my studying because it was quant that I felt I had to improve on. However, I suddenly found myself just destroying the verbal of my practice exams... 44-48's. So I decided to strictly focus on quant problem areas (as identified by Knewton) moving forward. I then grabbed some Manhattan books
on two areas that I felt I needed the most help on, probability/combinations and number properties.
Mind you, this is only a week and a half prior to my exam. So I'm completely focusing on these two areas and I get an awesome handle on them. Here's where I made my mistake though, I believe I focused on my problem areas too late in the game. In my opinion, those last few weeks I should have just been nailing problems out to work on that timing! Well, low and behold, I do the EXACT SAME THING in regards to my math timing... only worse. My heart dropped when I was at question 27 with 3 minutes left. I didn't even get to guess on problems past 33.
Overall, my problem on this exam was not a matter of content, it was just a matter of me refusing to skip a problem. There were 2 problems that I must have taken 8 minutes on each, and that was my dagger.
At the end of the exam, I was not going to register my score. With that poor timing on the quant, I was imagining scores around 610-620. For some godforsaken reason, I decided to just let it roll and see what I got. I had been through so much studying, I had to at least see the damn thing. Well, to my surprise it was a 700.... my verbal came through for me at a 45 (98 percentile). Though my quant, a miserable 39.
Yep, the one thing that I tried to focus on, I actually dropped in. I think it goes without saying that I'm pretty upset with myself. However, I feel a bit enlightened now because I think I have a valuable weapon in my back pocket, the verbal score. I know very well that I can improve my quant because my main problem was strategy, nothing else. I know the content, now I just need to get it so ingrained in my mind that I can handle it in a timely manner. So I will be taking the GMAT for the third time in about a month or so from now. That I will be accomplishing with the following plan:
1) Read over each of my basic overview books (I have a Princeton and Kaplan
one, with Princeton seeming to be the better of the two)
2) Get the rest of Manhattan's books for quant. These things are great and I wish I would have just bought the whole set from the get go. I'll go through each of them, one by one. Note: For permutations/combinations/probability I also HIGHLY recommend the book from Veritas Prep
3) Problems, Problems, Problems.... while using a timer of course!
I'm going to run through all of OG 11
and OG 12
, mixing in GMAT Club Questions until I have all of those completed as well. Obviously, I will have a focus on quant here but won't disregard verbal. I'm going to learn to love quant problems like an emo kid loves his sisters jeans
4) Get a score that will have me laughing my way out of the test center. I know a 690 is a decent score, but I want a score that will have me applying to schools with complete confidence. That I will have after my third exam!
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading my story. If you have tips for me, I will take them with open arms!