I joined this forum last month. The forum has helped me a lot in all aspects of my preparation, and 'Share GMAT Experience' section has been particularly helpful. Reading success stories of other GMAT takers helped me stay motivated. Now the time has come to share my experience -
I started my preparation in first week of June. Before that I bought following material
- GMAT Official Guide 13th
- Manhattan Sentence Correction
- Aristotle Prep set (bought the whole set back in January when it was on a one-day sale)
Total cost ~$60 (thanks to discount coupons)First month of prep:
I was going to take the diagnostic test from OG on the first day but was too afraid of failing to live up to my expectations, sounds silly, I know. So just went through both sections and corresponding sub-sections, and was able to conclude that I needed to spend most of my time on Sentence Correction. A bit about my background: I am an Indian IT male engineer. I have taken IIM-CAT (Indian management aptitude test for those who are not aware) couple of times so had a rough idea about my strengths and weaknesses.
So I started going through SC Grail. This was convenient because first, it is smaller compared to Manhattan SC guide, and second, it is in PDF format so I was able to study at work too without drawing any attention. Took me around 4-5 days to go through it because my knowledge of English grammar was worse than a 10 year old. After finishing it, I started solving 100 practice questions from the same book. I started with about 60-70% accuracy that went to about 90% during last 20-30 questions. Then I went through Manhattan SC guide thoroughly and started with OG 13
SC questions. Here again, I started with about 70-80% accuracy that went to ~90%. After studying SC on-and-off for about 3 weeks, I started solving RC/CR questions from OG. I had surprisingly high accuracy in both sections (~90%). But I forgot the fact that these were the easier questions at the start of problem set. This increased accuracy made me over confident. I thought well, if I can conquer verbal, I can easily conquer GMAT. Slowly I stopped studying seriously. This was in last week of June.Second month of prep:
July went by quickly and I had made no progress and had not even booked the date. Then it was August second week already. Suddenly it hit me that I needed to be more serious about GMAT. So I went on mba.com on 17th August and booked the date - 18th Sept. Because I thought a total of 2 month preparation would be enough. And decided that I will take my first GMATPrep on 20th. Till now I had not even touched Quant section. So I spent the next 2 days solving about 150 questions from OG (PS + DS).
I took the first GMAT Prep (V1) on 20th and scored 710 (Q48, V39) and was very happy to see 700+ figure on the screen. But after analyzing the questions, I was shocked to see that in SC, I got 9 out of 16 wrong! This was the section I spent most of my first month on! I was pissed. Again went through Manhattan SC guide and solved many OG questions. Also solved CR questions from OG. I did not touch Quant as 48 was good enough score and I wanted to cross 40 in verbal.
I took my second GMAT Prep (V1) test on 26th and scored 690 (Q49, V35)! are you kidding me? my Quant score was up by 1 point without any effort but verbal was dropped by 4 points after additional prep! Moreover the total had dropped below 700. But at least I had made progress in SC - got 3 out of 16 wrong. Again I revised the SC concepts and solved some CR questions. I did not prepare much for RC because my accuracy in RC always hovered around 80-100%.
I had read in forums that even repeat GMATPrep tests
have many new questions as the question pool is large enough. I didn't want to waste GMATPrep (V2) early in my preparation so decided to take retest of GMATPrep (V1). Took GMATPrep (V1) Test1 retake on 29th and scored 750 (Q49, V42). Overall about 30% were repeat questions. So I just concentrated on analyzing new questions.
Then I took GMATPrep (V1) Test2 retake on Sept 1 and scored 770 (Q50, V44). Again there were about 30-40% repeat questions so just concentrated on analyzing new questions.
Now decided to attempt MGMAT CATs. I had read on forums that the quant section is harder than actual GMAT / GMATPrep. So wanted to make sure I prepare myself for the worst. On the very next day i.e. Sept 2, I took MGMAT CAT 1 and scored 680 (Q45, V37). I thought, well, Q45 is not bad considering it was really more difficult compared to GMATPrep. And V37 is also okayish. So did not think much about the score and instead spent time analyzing the questions and the mistakes that I made.
Took the MGMAT CAT 2 on Sept 4 and scored 640 (Q44, V33)! I was so pissed! This was my lowest verbal score and total dropped below 650! I was devastated. This score was exactly 2 weeks before real GMAT. I started losing confidence. But again religiously went through all questions and analyzed my mistakes.
Took MGMAT CAT 3 on Sept 6 and scored 690 (Q45, V38). This looked better than previous score and felt a little relieved to see a score that was very close to 700. Again did thorough analysis.
Took MGMAT CAT 4 on Sept 8 and scored 680 (Q46, V37). I was feeling neutral after seeing this score. On the one hand I was happy that it was pretty consistent with earlier score, but on the other hand was also irritated that I had still not crossed 700 in any of my MGMAT CAT. But as always, did analysis of test.
Took MGMAT 5 next day i.e. Sept 9 and scored 670 (Q46, V35). REALLY? Am I ever going to get past this range?? Only 9 days till real GMAT and am still stuck in higher 600's! I was at my lowest confidence level after this test. I had given up! I thought, well, as my score is not moving anywhere, I might as well stop taking these tests and enjoy the remaining week instead of studying! I started to think about postponing the exam. But I even started to doubt myself, what if I score even lower after a month? What if X, What if Y?....
Suddenly I thought, well maybe MGMAT tests are not real indicators of my current level, because I was scoring well in GMATPreps. So I decided to take GMATPrep (V1) Test1 repeat 2. I expected to score 750+ as most of the questions would be repeat. So this was a fake boost-self-confidence plan. I was that desperate! So on the same day as my MGMAT CAT 5, in evening, I took this GMATPrep. And scored only 710 (Q48, V40). Surprising fact was that about 60% of total questions were new. But after seeing the score, I lost all remaining confidence. If I could not score 750+ in 40% repeat test, there is no chance of 700+ on real thing which was just 9 days away.
I decided to take a 2 day break to clear my mind. I thought over preparation and constant tests had drained me out. So its better to take complete rest for couple of days.
After two days, on Sept 12, I took GMATPrep (V2) and scored 730 (Q50, V38). I was happy to see 700+ on screen! Finally! But in all this joy, forgot to analyze the answers and clicked exit.
On next day, revised some SC concepts and solved CR questions. Then on Sept 15, took GMATPrep (V2) Test 2 and scored 680 (Q49, V33)!! Oh god! Again the low verbal score had dragged me below 700. This was 3 days before GMAT!! How was I going to score 700+ on the real test??? But this time, I went through the questions and analyzed mistakes.
I decided to take one last test on Sept 16 - GMATPrep (V2) repeat and scored 750 (Q50, V41). Then I decided not to study anything on the day before GMAT to avoid feeling drained out. But next day, I felt so good that I solved few questions from each section and had 100% accuracy. Also went through AWA guide posted by chineseburned and prepared my template and wrote one essay. At night before going to sleep, I remembered that there were 25 online SC questions in my Manhattan account that I had not attempted. So I decided to solve those. And again to my horror, I got 11 out of those 25 wrong. But till now I had stopped caring about my scores in Manhattan tests. So this performance did not affect my confidence.
Here is the list of practice test scores:
GMAT Prep Test 1 (V1) 8/20/2012 Q48, V39, 710
GMAT Prep Test 2 (V1) 8/26/2012 Q49, V35, 690
GMAT Prep Test 1 (V1) Repeat 8/29/2012 Q49, V42, 750
GMAT Prep Test 2 (V1) Repeat 9/1/2012 Q50, V44, 770
MGMAT CAT 1 9/2/2012 Q45, V37, 680
MGMAT CAT 2 9/4/2012 Q44, V33, 640
MGMAT CAT 3 9/6/2012 Q45, V38, 690
MGMAT CAT 4 9/8/2012 Q46, V37, 680
MGMAT CAT 5 9/9/2012 Q46, V35, 670
GMAT Prep Test 1 (V1) Repeat 2 9/9/2012 Q48, V40, 710
GMAT Prep Test 1 (V2) 9/12/2012 Q50, V38, 730
GMAT Prep Test 2 (V2) 9/15/2012 Q49, V33, 680
GMAT Prep Test 2 (V2) Repeat 9/16/2012 Q50, V41, 750Test Day:
My appointment was at 9.30am. I reached there at 8.45. Read chineseburned's template once again on my phone and tried to relax. Test started at 9.30am. AWA was pretty easy and since I had my template ready, I kept typing non-stop for next 28 minutes. Then wasted the remaining two minutes reviewing (just looking) at the essay but forgot to submit the essay!! Suddenly when 3 seconds were remaining, I realized this and hurried to submit. But before I clicked Ok on the pop-up, time ran out!! My heart stopped. I thought, for quant and verbal there is severe penalty for not completing the section on time. If the same rule applies to this section, I am done! I might get zero and then it does not matter how well I score on remaining two sections. I will have to take the test again. While I was thinking all this, IR section started. I was feeling so devastated about making such a stupid mistake, I could not concentrate on IR at all. I guessed more than half of the questions. Then took the break and tried to forget what had happened. I was so angry at myself that I didn't even eat or drink anything as I had planned. Just walked up and down the corridors.
Quant looked pretty easy. There were few tricky questions but I managed to spot them and move ahead. I got 3-4 probability and couple of difficult geometry questions. So I thought I was doing really well. This helped me get back to normal.
Then started with verbal. In this section, I tried to keep my eye on the clock. Guessed couple of answers in the middle but made sure I leave sufficient time for each question. Finished the section with 30 seconds to spare.
Hurried through the feedback screens and clicked to receive the score.
The screen flashed 720 (Q48, V41). I was disappointed with quant score but was elated with my verbal performance. This was THE highest verbal score among the practice tests and real GMAT.
Key points to remember:
1. Analyzing the tests is extremely important.
2. Do not be demoralized if your score in practice tests (other than GMATPrep) does not meet your expectations. Just concentrate on learning from your mistakes and understanding concepts.
3. OG and GMATPrep questions are the most important questions as far as prep material is considered. Period.
4. Keep believing in yourself. Even with 680 three days before the test, I was able to score 720.
5. Use Manhattan GMAT
forum to the fullest. I have read detailed explanations of GMATPrep SC questions on that forum and Ron's explanations are awesome! So I am sure Thursdays with Ron must be equally good and helpful.
6 And of course, use gmatclub.com - the best supplement for your GMAT prep!
Btw, after returning home, I googled and found this post
and was really relieved to know that there is no penalty if you fail to submit AWA before time expires. Now waiting for the official score report