Hello all !
First, you will notice that this is my first post. I've been using this forum regularly since last summer, but I never posted anything. There were times when I wanted to ask questions, but I never dared to do it.
I must admit I often felt intimidated. For me, 720 is an amazing score that I never thought I could get. For others, it's a really bad score. I often felt discouraged reading other people complaining about their 700-710 score. I always had good grades in school without working so much, so it was hard for me to accept that for the GMAT, I wouldn't get on top that easily.BACKGROUND
My college degree was in science, so I did some math back then. I started a B.A in biochemistry but didn't like lab work, so I switched to humanities. I finished university in 2005, so it's been a while. I'm 31 years old. Recently, I've been working in the travel industry. My first language is French.PREPARATION
I started preparing for the GMAT in last August. At first, I studied in a lazy way. I can't concentrate for a long time, so I figured I should start early and do it little by little. I took a first GMAT Prep test
to see how I was doing. I scored 670
. Not bad, I thought. Now it can only get better. I wasn't worried.
But... the problem is when I did this exam, I took many breaks... I overestimated my capacity to concentrate for a long time. In early November I took the Kaplan
free test. I did it properly this time, and I scored 610
. I was devastated ! That's when I woke up and started preparing for real. My GMAT was scheduled for December 6th
: I had one month left to level up !
I started studying like crazy... well, that was crazy for me, because as I said, I can't study for many hours. After one hour I have to stop and do something else, because I cannot concentrate anymore. And even so, I can't do more than 5 hours a day. I had 2 weeks before starting to work full time so I had plenty of time during the day. I practiced questions for all sections and I studied math theory because I realized I forgot a lot since college. After a week, I did the MGMAT
free test and scored 650 (Q43, V36)
. I was happy : I felt I was on the right track.
Second intensive week, then another free test, this time Veritas
. I scored 710
. I was overjoyed ! At that point I didn't really believe I could score 700 at the real test. But still, I was really happy.
Then I started working full-time, so practice became more difficult. It was hard to concentrate after a day of work. Still, I was able to do 2 to 3 hours a day. I did many GMAT Club tests
, thanks to the 1 000 000 posts promotion. For some reason I felt that math was my weakness, so I really focused on the quantitative section. I used the GMAT Club's Math Book
and found it very useful. I felt I was still lacking in basic math concepts so I decided to purchase Manhattan GMAT's Foundations of GMAT Math
. It was a bit too late, so I'm not sure if it was really useful, but reading it and making sure I understood the basics made me more confident.
On the last weekend before my test, I took the second GMAT Prep test
. I scored 690 (Q44, V40)
. I was a little bit disappointed as I was secretly hoping for 700, but it was ok. I was confident I could score between 670 and 690 at the real test, so that was my realistic goal.
Then I realized that there was one more free test I didn't do, the Princeton
one. So I decided to do it. Bad idea : I scored 580 (Q41, V29)
. I couldn't believe it ! This made me lose all my confidence. Now I was going to the test thinking that it was possible I could score below 600, something I never thought before. I became more stressed and anxious.
At this point, I realized that I was actually weaker in the verbal section than in the quantitative section. Quantitative is hard for me because there are still some questions types that give me a hard time, like mixture problems and combinations. But I spent too much time on difficult questions that made me think I was really poor in the quantitative section, when actually, I wasn't doing so bad.
I used some information I found on the forum to try to improve my verbal score. RC was the hardest for me. I improved when I started to take notes, because while taking them, I was organizing the information and understanding it better. I didn't really use the notes afterwards. It was helpful while I was writing them. I read Gin's RC technique
and found it quite useful.
Still, I knew that the main reason that my verbal score was low was simply because it's the last section. Again, my concentration problem. After more than 2 hours, it becomes really hard for me to focus.
The night before the exam I didn't do anything. I watched a TV show I like in order to relax, and went to bed early.THE REAL TEST
And then December 6th came. I was so stressed I thought I would be sick. When I sat in front of the computer, I seriously thought I would be unable to get a hold of myself. I couldn't think clearly. It is such a good thing that the exam starts with AWA ! As I was writing my essay I calmed down.
In practice tests, I always struggled with integrated reasoning. I always take too much time and end up guessing. But still, in both GMAT prep tests I got 8, so I wasn't too much worried.
Then I took the much needed 8 minutes break, and attacked the quantitative section. As soon as I sat I wrote my timing stategy on my pad : Q10 : 55 min left; Q20 : 35 min left; Q30 : 10 min left. I really have to keep checking on this, because I'm always too slow in this section. Still, at some point I got behind schedule and started panicking. I guessed a couple of questions and was able to finish on time. At this point I had no idea how I did, but since I got some probability and combinatorics questions, I felt that might be a good thing. (I didn't get any of these in the GMAT Prep tests)
Another much needed break, then the last part. In every practice test I always finished the verbal section way to fast, with between 5 and 15 minutes left. Therefore, I decided to slow down. But guess what, I slowed down too much ! I never checked my time in the verbal section before. But then at some point I realized I was late, and got this awful, cold feeling and started panicking again for a few seconds.
I think what happened is that at some point, I got that really nasty RC passage. It was really long and really awful, talking about the origin of vertebrates, was it fresh water or sea water, and blah blah blah. I was taking notes furiously and ended up completely lost as there was way too much information, and I lost a lot of time there.
Still, I was able to calm down, speed up and finish on time. During the last questions, I felt more and more nervous at the thought of learning my score. I was about to have a heart attack when I finally clicked for the last time. And then... 720 (Q48, V41)
. Oh, the happiness !
So why did I scored higher than all the practice tests I did ? I'm not too sure, but I think everytime I did a practice test, unconsciously, I didn't give my best. Thinking about it, when I was in school, I didn't study that much, but I always scored high in exams. I think I simply don't give my best unless it's the real thing. That sounds pretty stupid, but that's the only explanation I can find.
Sorry for the long post, I hope it can be encouraging for people like me who do not have any business or finance background !