Before I begin my similar looking, long GMAT story, here is a brief summary for the quick readers:
My GMAT journey started in July 2010, ended on 24th August 2011.
My brief bio: Indian engineering graduate, 3 years WE in pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, want to do an MBA as almost everyone else on this forum.
My stats: GMAT Attempt 1 in October 2010: 720 (Q51, V35), AWA 5.5
GMAT Attempt 2 on 24th August 2011: 760 (Q50, V44), AWA 6.0
Tests taken: MGMAT tests, 800 score tests, GMATprep, gmatclub.com verbal sectional tests
Books referred: Manhattan verbal guides, Powerscore Bibles, GMAT Official Guide
, GMAT verbal handbook
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------My story:GMAT attempt 1 (July-October 2010)Motivation:
To go through the formality of GMAT, and get a good enough GMAT score to apply to top 10 US B-schools.Strategy:
Finish GMAT OG
, read a few supplementary GMAT books, solve as many questions online as I can, give 5-6 practice tests and then crack the GMAT on the D day.Backdrop:
My academics history is very strong. I have been in the top 1% of any class I attended. The Quest:
Having an engineering background, my maths is very strong. In the first GMAT prep test I scored 51 in quant, but much lower in verbal. I knew I had to focus on verbal, and dedicated more time towards it. My score kept on improving in the practice tests.
GMAT Prep 1: 720
GMAT Prep 2: 720
MGMAT 1: 710
MGMAT 2: 720
MGMAT 3: 720
MGMAT 4: 740
I felt confident that I would score in the 730-750 range (though I was greedily praying for 750).
Everything was flowing smoothly. I completed GMAT OG
, Powerscore bibles, 6 practise tests, and a lot of online practice questions (more than 1000, including those on gmatclub forum).
On the test day I got a 720.
720 is a good score. I was not shocked or disappointed, but was neither satisfied. It is generally said that things that are farther from you attract you the most, a similar case happened with me. I decided with my scorecard in my hand that I will be entering the 750+ club.
for retaking the GMAT:
1. My progression was consistent, up to the very day of the GMAT, and scoring higher seemed plausible.
2. I belong to the Indian pool of applicants, whose GMAT scores are very competitive
3. I wanted to target top 10 B-schools
4. My GMAT score didn't place well with my other academic achievementsInterval:
After my first attempt I took a break. I tried to turn things happening around myself into a motivation to retake the GMAT. Slowly, I knew the decision has to be mine, and made it in May 2011. My New StoryGMAT Attempt 2 (June-August 2011) My new motivation:
Succeed, or die trying.My new Strategy:
complete GMAT OG
, read more supplementary books, take more practice tests, solve more online questions, crack the GMAT on the D day.Backdrop:
I had given GMAT once; I knew my enemy now, and also my weaknesses. I just have to work on them now.The Quest:
The preparations began. I tried to stick to my schedule, and decided to give more sectional verbal tests in order to gauge my progress.The mismatch:
Not everything was flowing smoothly this time. My workload had increased. Some days I walked into my room so tired from work that I would fall asleep the instant I sat down on my chair, or bed, or anywhere. Then I would wake up at 3 or 4 am in the morning, take few bread loaves with nutrella as my dinner and go back to sleep again. My sectional verbal scores on 800score tests were disastrous. Some friends even joked about the fact that our ability to learn new things is declining. I started reading GMAT retake stories on gmatclub and found many who got the same or lower scores. I started doubting my capacity. But finally decided in favor of going for the reattempt, and convinced myself that even though a lower score will make me look like a fool, but like a fool in front of everyone else, not in my own eyes. I would be fool to back out without challenging my limits.The haphazardly correct path:
I started making use of the little time I could get. In my free time at office, I started solving online practice GMAT problems. I stopped counting the questions I solved per day, but rather relied on the new things I learned. I gave GMAT prep 1 (3 weeks before my GMAT), scored 770 (Q51, V41). I kept on digging deep, taking more time to understand and reach an answer instead of guessing and moving on.
One week before my GMAT appointment, I gave GMAT prep 2. I couldn't complete the verbal section on time, and canceled the exam. But I knew I was on the right path. I had deliberately slowed down my speed to gain better understanding and higher accuracy, or I just said these words to myself to keep my calm. 2 days later I retook GMAT prep 2 and scored 750 (Q50, V41). Somehow I didn't feel bad about my quant score (which should not have dropped from a consistent 51 to 50). Maybe the verbal was still challenging to me as a non-native speaker.The D Day:
I did not practice quant the last week; neither reviewed the basic formulas/concepts. On the GMAT day, I felt that my body temperature was a bit high. My hands were shaky as I put my belongings in the locker. Probably I was going after something that now mattered to me. After finishing my GMAT and before confirming to get my score, I wrote on the scribble pad: "Please give me 750". I clicked the "Next" button and saw a 760 score.The Aftermath:
the ordeal was over; I became my greedy self again. "Why 50 on quant?? Maybe 51 could have propelled me to 780, a better score than 760 of course." were my thoughts as I left the GMAT center.Takeaways:
You need to have the following three books in your GMAT verbal arsenal:1. Doing Grammar
2. Manhattan GMAT SC guide
3. Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible
In case you need more RC practice, buy GMAT verbal handbook, or go for any LSAT question bank.
I will update my AWA when I get it. Also will debrief my preparations by this weekend.
AWA updated, got a 6
Hello Guys, as promised I will debrief my preparations that helped me move from 720 to 760. This post has already been a long one, so I will try to keep it short, but do feel free to ask anything you want to know.QUANT
Some basic tips (these tips might sound familiar, but if repetitiveness makes you feel the importance of something, then here you go.) Quantitative Questions:
1. For a quantitative question, be ready with the tip of your pen touching the scribble pad. YOU NEED TO WRITE IT DOWN ! There is no alternative way. Some quant questions can be solved by common sense alone, but GMAT has tricky answer choices and it is always better to confirm once by solving. By writing down you help yourself in the following ways:
-> Build confidence
-> Be sure about your answer
-> Avoid rechecking
-> Move on to next question without a drag over last question
2. Word Problems: You have to reduce the given word problem into one or two mathematical equations, before proceeding to solve it.
3. As in verbal SC is a time saver (target = 60 - 90 seconds each), so in Quant quantitative questions are a time saver (90 - 120 seconds).
4. If you cannot decide how to proceed to solve a quantitative question even after 2 minutes, take a guess and move on immediately. However, if you have started solving the question and 2 minutes have already gone, keep on solving for further 1 - 2 minutes. Data Sufficiency
5. YOU NEED TO WRITE IT DOWN. For reasons as stated in point one. But here, you do not need to reach an answer.
6. Keep the data given in two options separate from each other, i.e., while solving with data given in option A, forget about data given in option B, and vice-versa.
7. The data contained in the question premise applies to both option A and B, so use it while evaluating A and B option. Note: I often made errors by neglecting this point, so be careful and keep this point in mind.
8. You might have heard of the common AD/BCE or BD/ACE split. Also, a more not so common tip is: If both the options A and B provide the same information, then the answer has to be either D or E.
My timing strategy for quant section was:
75:00 -> Question 1
55:00 -> Question 8 [Phase 1: GET IT RIGHT!]
40:00 -> Question 18 [Phase 2: PACE IT!]
20:00 -> Question 28 [Phase 3: Be Steady!]
2:00 -> question 37 [Phase 4: Be steady or pace as per your compliance with the above phases]
I always stuck to the above schedule.VERBAL: My nightmareSentence Correction:
I bought three books to improve my grammar. "Painless Grammar", "Grammar Sucks" and "Doing Grammar
". "Painless Grammar" is an average book, a bit boring. "Grammar Sucks" is an interesting read. "Doing Grammar
" is what made me move from V35 to V44!! The beauty of "Doing grammar
" is that it makes grammar so easy and simplified for you. Now you may ask, "Isn't this what any grammar book is supposed to do?". Yes you are right, but not all books succeed at doing so. The other book that helped me a lot is manhattan GMAT SC
guide. I read "Doing Grammar
" two times before my GMAT, and Manhattan SC two and a half times.Basic Tips:
1. "Stop and Check!" As manhattan SC tells you. you have to stop and check for the various errors - Subject-verb, pronoun antecedent etc.
2. Paraphrasing does not help much in SC. (at least not to me)
3. grammatical soundness >>>>> what a correct sentence should sound as per youReading Comprehension
I read kaplan
, princeton review
, manhattan RC
, and then Powerscore LSAT Reading comprehension
Bible. I found the Powerscore book the most useful and will recommend it. Powerscore's reading and solving strategy suited me and also made more sense. It basically tells you to read a RC from the author's view, that is, you are the author.
My reading style goes like this:
RC pops up on the screen. "Yay, so whats all this about, HUH!" 1st paragraph read. "Now what man!" 2nd paragraph started. "So what! hmm! oh.. is that true? Oh, i didn't know that!" 2nd paragraph read. "So what are you getting at? come on, don't tell me you have no clue! What.. really??". last paragraph read.Basic Tips:
1. Treat RCs as a Treat. they help you score. One clear understanding of the RC and 3-4 questions right straightaway.
2. Practice and practice. it is the only way to keep on improving.
3. GMAT OG 12th
edition RCs are easier than those in GMAT Verbal guide, and also easier than those that you will probably get on your real GMAT.Critical Reasoning:
I would recommend mahattan CR and Powerscore CR
bible. Powerscore's book gives detailed strategy on all types of CR problems. Manhattan CR
focuses mainly on the most common CR question types in GMAT. Powerscore's questions are a bit tough, hence good practice. But, powerscore's book tells you to read the argument first, then the question, while manhattan tells you to do the vice versa. I agree with manhattan. your pick which book to use.Basic Tips:
1. there maybe more than one correct answer, but only one best answer. (yup, it matters)
2. You MUST have a strategy to solve each type of CR question, a strategy well tested and practiced.
3. Paraphrasing helps, a LOT.
My timing strategy for verbal section was:
75:00 -> Question 1
55:00 -> Question 10 [Phase 1: GET IT RIGHT!]
40:00 -> Question 20 [Phase 2: PACE IT!]
20:00 -> Question 31 [Phase 3: Be Steady!]
2:00 -> question 41 [Phase 4: Be steady or pace as per your compliance with the above phases]
I always stuck to the above schedule.General Tips:
1. If you come across a new strategy, try it on questions without timing yourself, then by timing yourself. Also, do not try any new strategy 1 week before the exam.
2. It is best to spend the last 2-3 days revising rather than solving a bunch of new hard problems.
3. Good luck!
My GMAT Journey: 720 + dare = 760