Today morning I finally got through the GMAT after 3 months of studying.
I am very happy as this is my first attempt and I never equaled this score in any of the practice tests.Background
: Electronics engineer working as Automotive/Aerospace consultant for 9 years.Study material used
: MGMAT, OG13 and Verbal2nd edition and Aristotle SC Grail (which I borrowed from a colleague). I think GMAT Club was very helpful for the inspirational and valuable experience that everybody share. The only regret is that I joined it very late just 3 weeks before the exam. Also e-GMAT
's free sessions on CR (the concept of prethinking) and SC(meaning first), truely changed the way I approached these questions.
AWA: Nothing much to say, an argument with too many loopholes to write a book about.
IR: IR was much simpler than any other I encountered before, even easier than the GMAT prep, hope to have done good on it.Quant
: I think quant comes naturally to me and in the mock tests I scored 48-51 consistently, so I wasn't too bothered about it and I din't bother to look at any of the material. One thing I can tell to test takers who have good quant is that don't be complacent even if you can easily complete the test with 15-20 min to spare, as it could lead to a lot of silly mistakes, especially in the easy questions, hurting the score more. But I find GMAT is a little biased towards people who are not good at Quant as the test makers underline the part of question which if you miss could lead to wrong answers
. Though I can easily finish the test ahead of time I would use that time to crosscheck my answer back into the question to double check. On the test day there were some questions which test your skills on the range of options on the numberline that you would like to substitute to get to the right answer(like <-1, -1 to 0, 0 to 1, 1<). These kind of questions usually come in DS questions. Try all the four ranges mentioned above to be very sure. I hope it might already be mentioned in some of prep material. I din't get any question from Permutation and Combination or Probability, though its bread and butter for me. There were some tricky questions on geometry, though I solved them, I hope they would have felt easy if I had atleast looked at the material once. Another example to avoid complacency.Verbal
: Verbal has always been my weak zone and especially SC, though I heard from people that its the easiest part and people use it to gain time for CR and RC. It never happened to me. My average time on each question was almost the average time we get for Verbal section 1:50 and somehow I found that RC was the easiest and high scoring for me and I wasn't taking much time on it. After going through the MGMAT I found that the best way to be invovled with the pessage was to keep taking notes even if they meant nothing. My notes, for a typical RC passage would look like this:
mnmnmnmmmn - Point (Ok so 2 guys are arguing about something and author has his point of view) - This I wont write.
mnmmnmnmnmnmnmnmn (Ok so author gives 2 examples and each refute one of the claims of arguing guys) - This I wont write.
mnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmn - Could also be Point(More examples and recommendation to use authors point) - This I wont write.
Seems crazy (Infact one day my wife read it and only then I realized it made no sense and we both laughed), but kept me slow and stay connected with the passage(So I don't have to read it again only the markers for the POINT of the passage). Also after reading each paragraph I would pose for a sec and give a simple layman thought to what the paragraph means (as written in the brackets above). It worked for me and also I found that because I was reading well I was not double reading and was still within the 1:50/question range YES TRUELY. In generic questions such as, what is the main point, what does the author/passage... etc I would go with MGMAT's concept of giving scores to each option if they relate to certain paragraph in the passage and then choose the option with most points. On real GMAT, I got 4 passages on GMAT 2 short and 2 lengthy (I was happy as I am good at RC, I wont have mind the fifth one at the cost of some SC questions). Standard was the same as in OG13 RC.
CR was OK as I was in the 75% zone so not much problem (as SC was much worse and was the main focus) neither were the bold face ones, in fact I did much better on these questions, but I didn't get any on the real exam(as if the GMAT knew
). Nevertheless only thing I did was practice and practice, but was cautious of EXCEPT (din't get any on the real exam) questions. Some questions where you have options with long sentences, I tend to loose focus of what the question was asking strengthen or weaken, so would write it down. The e-GMAT
concept of prethinking the answer works wonder as with practice most of the time the answer would be close to your pre-thought and that works wonders to your confidence even on the real exam. On real exam CR standard (3-4 questions) was little above the OG13(answers were very close and differ in only one or two words), but close to MGMAT Test5.
SC, my bete noire, I am not bad at idioms as I had a good reading habit, newspapers, books so my ears were somewhat accustomed to idioms, but on real tests there were not many questions testing idioms, instead there were many on punctuation mistakes, especially on the difference between , and ; also , and - (surprisingly
). As I was studying SC I was going from bad to worse. As the more I studied, on seeing a question I would first try to use the most obscure topics of SC instead of first checking the most obvious ones like SV agreement, noun pronoun agreement, etc, and when I looked at the detail explanation of the answer I would be surprised to find the sentence was not so tough as I thought it to be. Even though after practicing a lot, things were not working out, as I was between 50% and 70% accuracy and I had exhausted my OG and Verbal guide. So I thought of looking for more questions online when I found this site. After enrolling I got automatic enrollment with e-GMAT
and they provided some free sessions and the concept of MEANING-FIRST clicked for me. So I started taking time on first understanding the meaning before eliminating the choices, which helped especially in parallelism questions. My accuracy started to improve though I was taking about >2min per question. But it did not matter as my RC and CR were not taking much time. I also laid my hand on Aristotle SC Grail, the concepts are explained in very easy manner, especially helpful to non-natives.The real test
: Mostly I have mentioned about it in each section, I scheduled for monday, the morning session as throughout my life I have given exams in morning, had good sleep, slept at 9:30 the previous night and got up at 6, had banana and milk my standard breakfast, no food during exam breaks, never had it before. Used both the breaks to get some oxygen in the lungs and water. Don't want to do anything unusual on GMAT day. Test experience was fine. Asked the curator to adjust the AC cooling which she obliged. I used the ear plugs (so I really did something for the first time
) and it helped in concentrating and eliminating disturbance from other test takers especially during AWA.
WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO DO WRONG: The week before the GMAT, was earmarked for only tests and brushing up, but as I was doing the tests my scores were not improving so I started doing more tests 2 in one day on the friday before the test and then again 1 on saturday morning, guess what I was not able to complete the quant section which used to be my strong hold, I was well 4-5 questions short. My mind just stopped working and I realized I was overdoing and must stop doing it. I started to look sick (as my wife noticed) and she strictly told me enough! no more tests. I didn't do the verbal part for that test and I told myself I have done enough preparation and will not touch any GMAT stuff today(saturday) and on sunday before the real test scheduled on Monday. That saturday evening I went out with my wife and had some cocktail to get back to the normal me
. Sunday was complete rest no word about GMAT just doing some chores of the house. I think it really helped as on monday I was totally fresh and was ready to take the GMAT with a positive frame of mind. I just sailed through the test and was happy to see my score 720 I couldnot believe for a moment as I never scored 720 on any of the tests.
MGMAT1 - 680 (Q51, V30)
GMATPrep1 - 710(Q47, V38)
MGMAT2 - 660 (Q51, V28)
GMATpill - 630 (Q42, V34) I completed quant in 45 min and realized I have made silly mistakes
GMATclub - 690 (Q51, V32)
MGMAT3 - 700 (Q49, V37)
MGMAT4 - 700 (Q51, V29) I really doubt V29 could lead to 700 score even with Q51
MGMAT5 - 600 (Q47, V21)
GMATPrep2 - Did not complete
GMAT - 720 (Q51, V37)
The whole experience of GMAT is great. During the study phase my flat was being furnished with woodwork and so I thought of doing the paint work myself. I would study during the weekdays write a test on saturday morning, paint my flat for the rest of the day and review the test in the evening. Again paint on sunday and review my weeks-notes in the evening. The paint work was really satisfying and kept me charged up. It was also a nice way of spending quality time with my wife who assisted me with the paint job. I have to give lot of credit to my wife who supported me through out the journey.
Remember when it is enough, remember not to punish yourself, remember to keep doing things that motivate you and keep you charged up, remember your family is your biggest support.