I've been a phantom on this website for quite some time, but continue to be impressed by how all the advice and help given to each other has formed such a strong community (hamm0 and domotron, your blogs are awesome; the entire Tuck thread is awesome too). Since I learned a lot from GC (and passed many hours at work reading the site
), I decided to pay it forward and offer up my experience with the gmat so that others can learn from it.
Long story short, I decided to study for the test early November 2013. I would be having a lot of downtime at work coming up and this was a great opportunity to focus on the gmat. I went to the library, got OG12
, and finished it in about 3 weeks. I worked on the questions for about 4 hours a night on the weekday and then 8-10 hours on the weekend. Basically I broke my plan down into two steps:
1. Go all in for these three weeks with OG12
; if I get near 700 then get more prep materials to commit fully to the exam.
2. Go all in on the prep materials. If I get 700+ on GMATPrep, then take the exam. If not...then reassess b-school decision. (More on why I want to be part of the 700 club later)
Took the Economist
test three days before Thanksgiving and got the range 700-720 (more on the Economist
test later). This was a huge boost to my morale; I always performed well on standardized tests, but never exceptional (partly because I didn't have the resources, but also because I just didn't appreciate how important it is to study for these tests).
After Thanksgiving, I got Manhattan GMAT
prep materials. I kept a journal of formulas or tricks as I went through the books so I could have an easy reference for review. My goal was to finish all 10 books (or however many there are) and take GMATPrep 1 before xmas. A few days before xmas, I took GMATPrep and got a 670 (Q45, V37). I was a mixture of upset and pissed with myself. I went through the exam and noticed that I made some silly mistakes, got complacent in verbal, got tired, etc. Decided to take the week of xmas off from all things gmat (but of course, not gmatclub
I had been looking at Magoosh
for a while, because it was one of the first blogs that popped up when i googled mba or some other variation of gmat-mba-blog-how-to-get-a-900. Their layout looked intuitive and for $99 was CONSIDERABLY less expensive than the competitors. Magoosh
’s gmat score calculator
matrix is awesome (http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/how-to-cal ... at-scores/
); not 100% accurate, but it will give you an excellent idea of what quant and verbal scores will give you a certain total score. I figured if I needed more studying after xmas I would try magoosh
. Since I in fact did need more studying after xmas because I was unsatisfied with my 670 score I signed up with Magoosh
(more on them later). I used Magoosh
more for the question bank than the lessons, although I did learn a few tricks. After several weeks I finished the Magoosh
question bank and decided to reset GMATPrep 1 and retake it so I could compare it to my first take. I would say 90% of the questions were different on verbal, and only 2-3 were the same as before in quant. 720 (Q46, V44). Now we're in business, baby. How did my verbal jump 7 points? Can't really put a finger on it, one day CR and SC just started clicking in my head. I've been reading the Economist
since I was in the womb and analyze some dense literature (legislation, ugh) so I'm pretty good at RC. I'm also just naturally interested in a variety of subjects so I love the RC passages bc I actually learn while reading them. However, studying for SC will definitely make you better at CR. Getting good at SC requires you to focus on each part of the sentence so you can figure out what is modifying what, are number and person correct, what does this idiom require, etc. This transfers over to CR because the attention to detail and the breaking down of sentences into bits allows you to dissect CR passages and their arguments. I would be predicting answers before I saw them and I think that's a position you want to be in.
Bought OG13 along with the quant and verbal reviews ($30 package I think from amazon). Would do 10 of each, PS, DS, CR, SC, and RC Monday through Thursday, Friday off, Saturday morning test, Sunday review test, repeat. GMATPrep 2, Round I: 710 (Q47, V41). Verbal dipped, but I can live with it.
Week later took Economist
again. Got 720-770 range. Niiice. Following week, Round 2 for GMATPrep 2, 730 (Q48, V42). I received 8 on every IR, but that doesn’t say much since GMATPrep repeats the same problem sets.
One point: it may be counterintuitive to keep taking the same tests again. However, because I was doing so many problem sets and spaced the tests out I rarely remembered any question so the test felt fresh to me. I think if I had been taking GMATPrep 1 one week, resetting, and then retaking the following week my score would have skyrocketed simply due to the fact that I would have remembered some answers. So I think you should space tests out.
I had scoped out the building on two prior occasions so I knew exactly where I was going so that I wouldn’t lose any brain power on finding a new place. I exercise regularly and eat reasonably healthy so I drink a lot of water. This would later come to hurt me.
Did all the palm scanning and see a lot of people in the room and am a little anxious because I was hoping for solitude and quiet. However, I got these giant earmuffs and they blocked out everything. Even without the ear muffs though it was fairly quiet; most of the people there were taking the GRE.
AWA: Best prompt I’ve seen. Was able to point out 4-5 flaws and crunch our 4 solid paragraphs.
IR: Got my 8.
Quant: Yikes. For some reason whenever I think I did not do so hot in quant I get a good score and when I think I nailed it I get a 45 or 46. Last three questions were pretty easy. All had to do with primes and one was even testing the definition of a prime so I was spooked that I seriously dropped the ball if I was getting softball questions. Also, I didn’t get a single rate question! I am a rate-question-killer and was upset I didn’t get a single one since I regularly see 2-3 when I take practice tests.
V: Ugh. As I stated before, I drink a lot of water. I had to go to the bathroom at every break and near the end of IR and Quant I really had to go. Luckily though, it was near the end. For verbal though, it started around question 25. In addition, I was complacent and let the test come to me instead of attacking it. I lay back in my chair instead of grilling the screen as I normally do to get my 40s. It really felt like that first GMATPrep test when I got a 670. Around question 30 I realized what was happening. In addition to my bladder problem I was running a little low on time. However I think the time issue and my complacency were reflective of me just getting a bad batch of questions. I drew a bad hand. At least I know that I’m not a 37 and that I can improve. Once I saw my score though, I was disappointed. I wanted to be part of the 40-40 club and would have traded some Quant points for verbal even if I got the same score – just to make the numbers look less uneven.
Sitting on the train back home listening to London Grammar I realized that 700 is still an impressive score and I’m lucky to get that. It’s near the mean of one of my top choices (Darden) and although not that near to the mean of my other choices, it does pass the 700 barrier and should check the intellectual horsepower box for me. Also, I know that I can do better in verbal so I’m a bit optimistic. So, I’m planning on taking the test again in March. I think I will be more laid back this time around in terms of studying (I think domotron said something similar for his retake), partly because I have a decent score and can play like I have nothing to lose with the test, and partly because I’m a little burned out and don’t want to push myself too much.
12/18/2013 GMATPrep 1 Round 1 670 (Q45, V37)
01/12/2014 GMATPrep 1 Round 2 720 (Q46, V44)
01/18/2014 GMATPrep 2 Round 1 710 (Q47, V41)
02/01/2014 GMATPrep 2 Round 2 730 (Q48, V42)
02/08/2014 GMAT 700 (Q48, V37)
OG obviously. Manhattan. Magoosh
. Manhattan materials are a necessity. They give you the strongest foundation and skills, especially in quant. Could not have done number properties without it. Manhattan materials. Get them. Now.Magoosh
. For $99 you cannot beat the price. Period. Question bank of about 900 in addition to great question support; they will respond to your emails within a day. The staff is awesome. Again, for $99 can’t be beat. What is also great about Magoosh
is that they are real with you. They understand that there are other products out there that will complement or supplement Magoosh
’s online resource. They actively recommend using Manhattan products and incorporate them into their study plans. I appreciate the fact that they know their limits and they know what works and are willing to recommend other products.
I didn’t want to schedule the test until I knew I was ready; it’s $250 so I wanted to make sure it would be worth it. After I took GMATPrep2 Round 1 and scored in the 700 range again I thought I was ready. I was hoping to get something in two weeks and went to book my time…but there was nothing until a month later. Eff me. So I just booked it for a month. BUT! everyday I would check the website a few times a day to see if a sooner spot opened up and within two days one did. So, if you don’t get the date you want keep checking back. People inevitably cancel for whatever reason and spots open up closer to test day I think bc ppl get the jitters or realize they aren’t prepared enough. Pure speculation on my part.
Also, one great thing about the GMAT is that you can schedule it throughout the day. I'm a better afternoon test taker, but I rescheduled my exam for the 10am slot bc that's all that was available. Better than the 8am for SATs, but I wonder if that impacted my score...Economist
There isn’t a lot out there on the validity and accuracy of the Economist
test. I think GC has a post on it, but here’s my two cents: the quant formula is off by a little. Economist
will give you a range of scores. In my case, the last test I took I got 720-770. My quant range was 49-51 and verbal was 41-44. Verbal is on point and I think other posts recognize that. Other posts also recognize that quant is off. I would recommend that you take the lowest part of your quant range and then subtract it by 1 or 2 points. So my 49-51 is really more like a 47-48.
I work in DC in national politics. I’m talking the sausage-making of democracy: back-room deals, crafting legislation that is good, but not great (bc great can’t get passed), and a lot of personal relationships. I wanted to be part of the 700 club so there couldn’t be a knock on my brainpower, that standardized aptitude wouldn’t be an issue for me since I’m from what I think is a non-traditional field. So can some of you enlighten me: is politics considered a non-traditional field and is my 700 good enough for me (assuming I don’t score higher) even with what I consider to be an unbalanced 48-37 split? Thanks.