I took my test today at Chennai. Scored 730 with Q49 and V40. Will post my detailed de-brief in a day or two. Thank you all!!
I am back with the story of my GMAT. Kindly read through and post questions if you have any. It’s a bit long.A Little History:
The thought of writing the GMAT first struck me during the summer of 2010. That was when my close friend and colleague decided to take up his MS at the Arizona State Univ. I felt miserably alone at work. Until then I hadn’t thought a thing about my career path. That was when I came across this forum. GmatClub was a great source for a newbie like me to know what the GMAT is and for what purpose it is taken up by so many people (until then all I knew was that GMAT was tough!). After going through the very many posts on this forum on the previous test taker’s experience and their success stories, I decided to give it a shot around mid may last year.
I chalked up strategies for a full 4 month study with the help of debriefs that are present in this forum. But destiny struck in the form of the FIFA 2010 world cup. I gave up studying for the whole duration of the cup (that was one long month!). I didn’t get the motivation that was necessary to study so much. After all it was 2 yrs since I prepared for an exam proper. Once the world cup was done, I was so busy with work that I didn’t get a chance to study at all. That was when I decided that I should book a date for the exam so that at least the fear of the D-day approaching would be enough motivation for me to study.
I booked the exam date as Feb 21st, 2011 around the last week of August. I would have booked the date a bit earlier, but I couldn’t find any morning slot (9.30 A.M.). I was very particular about the morning slot because of the experience I had previously with my GRE. I had given the GRE at 2.30 p.m. and absolutely bombed the test. I wasn’t able to concentrate at all in the afternoon (almost dozed off at one point) and was just happy to end the test. Granted that I didn’t get a good night’s sleep before the GRE test, but still I didn’t want to take the risk.
So I still did have 5 solid months for the prep. Another mistake! I thought I had too much time and slacked off. Two whole months wasted doing nothing. Just then I read a post from BB on this forum in reply to a member’s question on how many months of prep is necessary to score a 700. BB had replied saying, 3 months is absolutely necessary and if you haven’t started your preps before that, you are already late for the show. Now that sparked the fire! Materials Used:
I had the OG10
and the verbal and Quant reviews for practice.
For concepts here is the list of books that I referred to.
(1) GMATCLUB math book.
(2) IMS CAT materials.
(3) Kaplan Advanced
(1) Manhattan GMAT SC
(2) Aristotle SC Grail.
Started using the Manhattan CR
book, but after a few days I decided that I couldn’t follow the steps mentioned in it and decided to read the argument more closely and answer the questions.
For practice I had downloaded the LSAT set from AristotlePrep. It has a most comprehensive list of questions and will definitely test your skills in CR. I found that pretty useful. After doing all the questions from the set, you will surely get a much needed confidence boost. The set doesn’t come with explanations, but you can find that most of the questions are discussed in this forum.The Prep:
I am dividing my prep details into 3 sub topics so that people will get an idea of the start, the mid phase and the end of the prep.Start:
I had decided to take a mock prep test. I downloaded the GMATPREP software from MBA.com and gave the test. I scored a 620 (forgot the split). But I knew my weakness. I was able to most of the PS from Quant but almost got most of the DS wrong ( I am still weak in DS!). On the verbal, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got most of the CR correct. But SC and RC just scared the life out of me. I had a long way to go in those sections.
So, I started the prep by working on the SC. I had initially got the MGMAT SC
guide. I read the guide thoroughly. I did a number of questions from OG12
, which the MGMAT guide directs us to. In between I also started the Quant preps. I always thought that I was strong on the Quant, being an Engineer and all. But the mock prep just brought me down to earth. So I started form the scratch, read all the basics form the CAT materials from IMS. Most of the stuff on that material is not needed for the GMAT, but still it gave me a solid platform.
Then I came across the GMATCLUB math book. The GMATCLUB math book project is a boon to all the GMAT takers. You will find a lot of shortcuts and stuff that is absolutely necessary to well on the GMAT. Kudos to bunuel, bb, walker and shrouded1 for bringing out such a comprehensive list. I know it is still a work in progress, but still I feel it is comprehensive. Without the GMATCLUB math book, I would not have got a 49 on the Quant. I did a few problems from OG 12for practice.
But even after such preparation, I still didn’t feel confident enough to take another mock test. Mid phase:
After a lot of soul searching, I sat down to take a mock GMATPREP cat. No, this is not a fairy tale and I got a measly 620 on it. I posted on the forum asking for suggestions to improve my score. This was when I went through Rishiraj’s post on his 760. That post was of great help for me that I have read it at least 5 times till now. The books he refers in his post, the Aristotle SC grail, Aristotle RC99 and the free CR set are a God send. I think those books did the star turn for me.
I first bought the SC Grail and went through it diligently. By this time I realized that I shouldn’t be wasting my GMATPREP CATs and bought the MGMAT tests. There are 6 of them, so you’ll have lots of CATs to practice. In between I also got access to the GMATCLUB tests
. The GMATCLUB tests
really helped me improve my Quant. There were a lot of new concepts and new problems to learn out of them. I think I did close to 10 tests. Once you start timing your tests, you’ll have a fair idea of where you stand. And GMATCLUB offers you 25 tests to time yourself. Please get the tests and start taking the Quants at least. It will definitely help you increase your quant score by a huge margin.The Final dash:
By this time (one month for the test), I had a fair knowledge of all the concepts and had practiced a lot of GMATCLUB tests
. So I was fairly confident of my quant preparation. Still I had to improve my verbal. I started doing questions from RC99 and the free CR set that is available in their site. I did all the CRs and did about 20 RCs across different difficulty levels. I knew that my weakest link in the verbal was the SC. So I had to improve on the other 2 sections. After doing these questions, I was able to increase my accuracy in CR and RC to almost a whopping 90%.
The RC strategy which I used was very simple. Just read the passage diligently, with a lot of attention to details. I dint use the booklet even once for the verbal. I just understood the passage and that was good enough for me to answer the questions. As for CR, I didn’t need much practice in that section, but still working on the LSAT set from Aristotle prep helped me to work on difficult questions and answer them correctly.
On the 1st weekend, I took an MGMAT mock test. I scored a 670. I forgot the split (sorry!!), but I do remember doing miserably in the Quants. The quant section needed a lot of calculations and I couldn’t complete the section at all. I guessed the last 8-10 questions or so. Verbal was good, though still majority of my errors were in SC. RC and CR improved by leaps and bounds.
On the second weekend, I took a GMATCLUB math test and a verbal test from MGMAT (skipped the quant in that). I got 27 questions right in math and got a whopping 45 on verbal!! Yes, 45! This I think was an aberration since I dint even come close to a 40 when I took the tests before. I got only 2 SC s wrong and 1 each in CR and RC. This did infact give me a lot of confidence. Now I knew I was ready to compete in the big league. During the second week, I took a lot of GMATCLUB quant tests and one or two verbal tests. I didn’t want to lose focus, so I took a lot of tests.
Third weekend, I took a GMATPREP test at office. Yes, I took it on a Saturday. The day was off for us, so there weren’t many people around. I tried simulating the test center, i.e. taking 8 minute breaks between sections and so on. I think this is very important. At least once before the actual test, I strongly recommend people to do a dry run as in the test center. I skipped the AWA and took only the quant and verbal. I scored a 730 (Q49, V40). Does this ring a bell? This is my exact test day score. GMATPREPs are excellent indicators of your actual score. I strongly recommend people to take these tests close to your actual test dates.
The last week of the test I tried relaxing. I studied very little, reviewed some of the concepts and took another Club test. Friday I gave my 2nd GMATPREP test (I had got permission to go to office late), I scored a 720 (Q48, V40). I was very happy with the score I got that I simply forgot to review the mistakes. Now this is a very bad thing to do. Always when you take any test, make sure you spend ample time reviewing the questions you got wrong and also the questions which you weren’t really sure about. This really helps improve your knowledge.
On Saturday, I gave another GMATPREP, though this time with the AWA. For AWA I simply followed Chineseburned’s templates. Those templates are really good. It taught me how to lengthen my essays. I am yet to get my AWA score, so I will inform you of the templates’ effectiveness when I get it. I was fully equipped for the final test. I had got Redbulls and Mars bars to munch during the breaks. I gave the test and scored a 750 (Q50, V40). Many questions were repeats though. But now I knew that I would score above 700.
The day before the test, I didn’t study a thing. I just relaxed, ate well and had a good night’s sleep.The D day:
My test was scheduled at 9.30 in the morning. I had started very early from my home and reached the test centre at 7.45 a.m. I had a nice warm cup of tea to get refreshed. I was allowed into the test centre at around 8.15 a.m. Once inside I was given an instructions manual about the test. I quickly went through it. I was then asked for my passport. This was for my Identity verification. I was allotted a locker to store my things. Then the test administrator took my palm vein scan and my photograph.
I made sure to use the restroom before the test. This is very important. Kindly take all the breaks allotted and use the restroom even if you don’t feel like going. A full bladder is a bigger hindrance than any other thing.
Once inside, I was allotted a seat. The test centre was pretty decent. It was well lit and had perfect air-conditioning. During the tutorials, I started jotting down the AWA templates so that I could be sure not to forget any of them. I selected the colleges to which I thought the scores should be sent and then GMAT officially began!
The AWA was pretty smooth. I had a good argument and Issue topic. I sailed through that section. After finishing it, I took the 1st break. The proctor scanned my palm and allowed me to take the break. I dashed to my locker, got the Mars bar, took a huge bite and drank the Redbull I brought. Used the restroom once again!
Went in relaxed and started the quant. I found the initial few questions very easy. I felt I was sailing through the 1st 10-15 questions. It was very similar to the GMATPREP with a few tough questions. But if you took the Club tests, then the hard questions would be a walk in the park. The final few questions were seriously befuddling. I got four straight Co-ordinate geometry questions. I finished the section just in time.
During the second break, did the same routine as before. Enter Verbal!
By the time I reached the verbal section, I was already pretty exhausted. I got 4 SCs first up. I still have no clue whether those were correct or wrong! But then the CRs and RCs started. I started feeling a lot more comfortable with the test. Even while answering the SCs I was feeling a lot more confident than before. The verbal section was absolutely similar to the GMATPREP; even the order of the questions was similar. I finished the section with about 2 minutes to spare. Went through the motions, that is the survey, my college and other information. Report the score or cancel? Report!
730- 96th percentile.
Q - 49, V – 40.
I was absolutely over the moon with the result. I even started a beat with my hands on the desk. The proctor seemed to have heard it and tapped my shoulder. I just smiled sheepishly at him and went outside to collect my unofficial copy of the score.
I conveyed the information to my parents, brother and my friends. They were more happy than I was. That was when I realized that a huge part of my success was due to this forum. Heck, I wouldn’t have got the idea to give the GMAT if it were not for this community!
I owe a lot to all the members here, especially to Rishiraj. His post was a shining light on my fading prep process. His recommended books are really a great read. Special thanks to the GMATCLUB math book authors. And to Bunuel whose apt and detailed explanations on every quant question posted here really helped me to scale the quant. Thank you all!! I am forever indebted to you!