Today I took the GMAT and scored a 49 in Quant (86 percentile) and a 39 in Verbal (87 percentile) resulting in an overall 710 (92 percentile).
My journey began in early September when I took a GMAT for the MLT application. I had never taken the exam before. So, I downloaded the free exams from GMAC took the first test and scored a 640 (42 Quant and 36 Verbal). After that I essentially did not look at the the study materials I had purchased from Veritas
because I was deluged with work. Although, there was one week in between Thanksgiving (after I got news that I was accepted to MLT) and December where I did do some preparation.
When the New Year came, I made a real effort to start studying. This was crucial because MLT requires an official score by February 1st to remain in the program. So, I scheduled my test date as late as possible January 29th. I began studying some time after the 3rd and hit the books hard. I found the Veritas books
to be generally easy and went through the material swiftly (about 3-4 books per week - studied for ~25 hours per week). I also purchased the sentence correction guide from Manhattan GMAT
(a true gem!) along with the OGs. Overall I feel the Veritas prep
material was just "ok." Honestly, I think you cannot go wrong with MGMAT and the OGs. Although I purchased the OGs, I was only able to do about 80-100 questions total (all sentence correction). I would have loved to gone through the questions but ran out of time. This is when I noticed that I really should have started WAY earlier. I believe most of the gains I made were in the last week of studying. Ideally, I would have simply delayed the test date for another week or two but given the pending MLT deadline I had not choice. In fact, earlier this week, following a practice test, I felt so inadequately prepared that I ordered the MGMAT reading comprehension guide as well as the PowerScore critical reasoning
guide. I also prepared myself mentally to retake the test. Below are the results of the practice tests I took. Note that I did take the first GMAC exam twice (however there were 4 months apart).
1. 1/17/2011 - GMAC test 1 = 680 (47 Quant and 35 Verbal)
2. 1/25/2011 - GMAC test 2 = 690 (48 Quant and 36 Verbal)
3. 1/25/2011 - MGMAT test 1 = 670 (45 Quant and 37 Verbal)
Clearly, I was disappointed and surprised when I scored a 680 last Monday. After all, that's only a 40 point improvement from my diagnostic and more notably, my verbal dropped! So, I decided to focus on sentence correction solely for the next 4 days. On Sunday I spent the day on quant (mostly looking over formulas - quant has always been my strong suite, I couldn't have spent more than 20 hours on quant). On Monday I reviewed a little bit of verbal mostly covering sentence correction but I did touch up on some RC and CR.
On Tuesday, I took a half day came home and took the test only to score a 690, ugh! I was so frustrated, 5 days before the exam and I couldn't even crack 700! However, I noticed that I shot myself on the foot by taking too much time on the verbal. As a result, I had to guess on the last five questions (four of which I got wrong).
So that night, I decided to go back at it again. This time I decided to take the first MGMAT exam. I was aware of MGMAT CATs reputation for having insanely difficult quant. So I approached the quant in non-chalant manner. Mainly I did this because I wanted to get to the verbal and make sure I get my timing down. I finished the verbal with over 12 minutes left on the clock. Even though my score was a 670, I was happy because my verbal improved as did my timing. Very important, this MGMAT test are great tools because they provide the test taker with data (timing, sections, correct, wrong, etc). To my surprise, I evidently needed to work on CR.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, I reviewed materials for a maximum of 3 hours (mostly sentence correction). On Friday (yesterday) I took the entire day off met up with a friend had a phenomenal lunch, had a few beers, took a nap, and watched some basketball. I think this was key, I completely relaxed the day before the exam. Ohh yeah! One other very important thing I did, I visited the test center and asked questions. Thank goodness I did this because the test center was located in a plaza and the exact location was rather tricky. So I didn't have to deal with the stress of finding the test center today.
This morning I woke up around 8:15, ate some food, and reviewed materials for 35-40 minutes or so. I arrived at the test center about half an hour early 11:30. The AWA went "ok" I did practice doing a two sets of the AWAs during the GMAC so at least I felt fine with it. The quant was rough there a few questions were I certainly made educated guesses because I did not have the time to work the problems out. As per the verbal, well I had a real difficulty focusing, I was thinking about music and I kept thinking what the hell I was going to tell my friends when I scored a 640. Yet, I figured what the hell I'm planning to take the exam in late March anyways, so this is no big deal. Finally, I finished the exam and got my result. I was taken back, I did not expect to do that well. I think it's palpable, I was thrilled.
1. Build a consistent study habits and schedule your exam 2 months ahead. I feel that test takers need about 4-5 weeks just to learn all the strategies and use another 3-4 weeks to hone these newly acquired skills.
2. Simulate the test environment as best as you can! This means completing the AWAs, this is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of preparation. Not so much because the AWA is difficult, but more so because the AWA wears you at and by the time you get to the verbal you're ready to pull your hair. Also, do respect the breaks and other rules such as no food or drinks. Remember you want to train.
3. Order good study materials and do sufficient research. Veritas
was alright, but way overpriced. Truth be told I feel I could have benefited much more in terms of results and price from Manhattan GMAT
. I will say this about Veritas
, the client service they delivered is unmatched.
4. Make educated guesses. For example if a quant question about number properties, exponents, etc. includes the words "INCLUSIVE" generally it will be one of the two answer choices that are sequential (e.g. 42 and 43). If you have no time an have to absolutely guess, then I pick "43" because it's an inclusive meaning +1 question type.
Another key note, historically, I have nearly always performed better under pressure situations (i.e. the actual exam) than prep exams. Why that is? I don't know. It's just the way it is. Trust me, no matter how often this happens, during the actual exam I generally think I'm blowing it.
So here is the final part of my post, where I ask for your advice. Should I retake the GMAT? I only studied for 4.5 weeks and my improvement was decent 70pts. However, I know that I can really improve my verbal and quant can also benefit from me focusing on number properties and advanced geometry. I would have finished the OG questions and read the books that are shipping to my address as we speak (MGMAT RC
and PowerScore CR
). I truly believe I can improve my score at least another 20-30 points. Still, I was an econ major in college, so I am well aware of the law of diminishing returns. Is it really worth this extra effort? Should I be focusing my efforts on my endeavors outside the office which have become increasingly demanding (United Way, MFI, and Big Bros Big Sis)? These questions are difficult to answer. I had dinner tonight with a good buddy of mine (Wharton '03 alum) who called me an idiot for even thinking of retaking the exam. But here's the rub, say I don't get accepted to any of my top 3... though these hypothetical dings would probably derive from gaps in other parts of my apps, I would always left be wondering, what if I retook the GMAT and scored a 750? When you answer this little conundrum I'm faced with, do consider that I will be applying this coming fall for a full time programs starting Fall 2012.
Feel free to PM questions or anything specific that we rather not discuss openly.