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I am extremely happy to share with you that I managed to score 730 (Q49, V40) today. I am indebted to the GMATclub. A big thank you to all of you.
I took 1 1/2 weeks leave to focus on the GMAT exam. This was my 3rd and final attempt. My two previous attempts gave me disappointing scores of 600 (Oct 2004) and 620 (Jan 2007). At 34, age was indeed catching up with me to do an MBA from a leading business school. Hence this time around, it was indeed a do or die situation for me. This would have been my last attempt anyway.
Most of you who have families would agree that it is indeed challenging to prepare and give GMAT exam especially if you have young kids. It was challenging for me too with a young daughter vying for your attention and a demanding job. But I have been incredibly lucky that my daughter was very understanding and I delegated and empowered my subordinates to take decisions on their own for topics they are responsible for leaving me to focus on my GMAT which took priority over everything else. I have to admit I have never worked so hard in my life for any competitive exam. I am happy that with God's grace and through sheer determination and hard work, I have managed to get a decent score. I guess luck also plays a part. Sometimes one's best effort is not good enough. I thought I was not badly prepared for my previous two attempts eventhough I admit that I was psyched up for peak performance this time. I have to thank my wife and my 2.5 year old daughter for being so understanding and not disturbing me when I used to study for such an extended period of time and for praying for my success.
Given the kind of preparation I had done and the kind of scores I used to get in the GMATprep, this score is slightly less than expected eventhough I would I am very relieved that I have scored above 700. I scored 790 in the last GMATprep test that I gave 2 days back which tremendously boosted my confidence. The scoring in GMAT prep tests was progressively getting better with scores of 780,770,760, 740. I think I would have given atleast 6-8 GMATprep tests to get used to all quant & verbal questions. Eventhough some of the verbal questions were repeats I used to try and treat them afresh. This incredibly helped me. In terms of prepration, I went through all the material that has been recommended. The following are some of the material I referred to.
My sincere congratulations to you on your success. You should be very proud of yourself.
When I read your post, I felt that I could relate. I am 35 year old dad with a 7 month old. With a family, there are days when focusing on GMAT studying can be challenging. I am currently between jobs. So, although I have lots of available study time, the stress of job hunting plus challenges of finding time for study wears me down but I am trying my best and hope to achive a good score to apply within a year or two to an MBA program in Canada.
Friends thanks a lot. I wish you all the very best in your preparations. My advise would be to do the GMATPrep tests atleast 4-6 times by resetting the software to get attuned to the GMAT format and the type of questions.
I personally felt that GMAT quant was easy except a couple of questions towards the later part of the test which I had no idea how to apporach (probably a very hard bin question). Verbal was also surprisingly easy with only one RC that was fairly long. Infact I was doing so good in Verbal that I thought I will end up getting 45-47. But at times verbal scores are unpredictable. It is difficult to tell where one could have gone wrong in verbal. I was not 100% sure for only 2 CRs in the entire verbal section.
Ronron, you asked me to name 4 books that were most important. I would name OG11, Princeton Review (latest edition), Manhattan Sentence Completion and Manhattan Word Translations. Besides GMATClub is an invaluable resource.
Congratulations on the great score. I can completely understand the challenges of balancing between your personal study time, jobs and family. I am going through a similar position except that my wife and I dont have a kid yet. Hats off to your determination and perseverance. All the best for your admissions and I really hope that you land up in a college you want to be. Cheers.
One of the other things that I must mention that I bought about 100 transparencies, a hard board and a fine transparency pen to simulate the scratch paper & pen in the exam. The pen in the exam is crappier so you would be better off trying out with a superfine pen when you are attemtping your tests at home. When I got 620 last time, scratch paper was one of the major reasons for the setback. Though I was better prepared than my first attempt and though I had read about comments regarding the scratch paper & pen, to experience it for the first time in the exam was something I was not mentally prepared for. So this time for all my exams at home I always used to do scratch paper work on trasparencies.
I was very disappointed to get 600 after my first attempt since I had worked extremely hard for over 3 months. I was so mentally demoralised that I could not muster the courage to attempt GMAT again till after almost 2 years. But the 620 after my 2nd attempt was devastating for my confidence and I had almost resigned and given up. But something inside me kept up telling me not to give up and with support and encouragement from family I decided to give my best shot one last time. As one grows in their career, it becomes even more difficult to find time to study. Anyway I am happy and relieved that I am done with this beast.
Btw I took the recommendation to heart about exercise and started running in the evenings a week before the exam. This helped me because running helps with better blood circulation and a feeling of well being. Also based on recommendation from other members as well as my doctor I tried Red Bull during the breaks to keep me mentally alert and energetic during the test. Maybe that also helped. I had never taken a Red bull before. I took both breaks but I decided not to change the scratch paper during the 1st break because I had created grid lines for choices A, B, C, D and E during the 5 mins tutorial section and I had specifically instructed the proctor not to change my scratch paper when I went for break after the Essay section. This also helped.
Here is my breakup for all GMAT attempts.
730 (Q49, V40) - Oct 2007
620 (Q46, V29) - Jan 2007
600 (Q43, V30) - Oct 2004
For verbal I revised Manhattan SC cover to cover atleast 2-3 times. But Manhattan SC is no way sufficient. Thereafter I did the Brutal SCs. The Brutal SCs true to its name is really brutal. The first time I did it my hit rate was 60% eventhough I had finished Manhattan SC twice. Even towards the end my hit rate was 90-95% in Brutal SC. What I tried towards the end was to understand exactly why I got each and every verbal question wrong in GMATprep as well as OG questions and finding out why the choice I chose was wrong as well why all other choices were wrong as well. Infact I wanted to investigate what made me choose a wrong choice in Verbal during practice tests. This thorough investigation tremendously boosted my verbal pratice scores. Towards the end I started getting scores in excess of 45 in verbal in my practice tests. I relied on a lot of GMATclub, a lot of external links like OWL for fundas on Participles, Gerunds and Infinitives etc. The idea was to get my fundamentals clear as much as possible for both SC and Quant. The GMAT is tough unless one has strong understanding of fundamentals because one will invariably see different questions in the actual test and it is all about applications of what you have learned. So no matter how many tests one gives if the fundamentals are not clear he or she will continue to perform miserably.
Btw I also did GMAX Online course and I think their quant online video lectures are one of the best. I have done Manhattan classroom course and had access to their online videos. Though I would refrain from comparing the two, I found GMAX online more useful. The quantitative teacher in GMAX online is so exceptionally good and his fundas so clear. Its amazing how cool he is when explaining the Quant concepts. I have to give some credit to GMAX online for my quant score. I have to admit thought that the GMAT cheat sheet or summary of all formulas in Quant Turbo guide of Manhattan classroom course was also very useful to quickly review all quant fundamentals. I did GMAT club challenges but I used to perform miserably. I couldn't finish more than 7-8 tests but GMATclub challenges were useful to clarify my fundamentals and make me realize the kind of silly mistakes I used to make.
For CR I did not do anything special. After a certain point in time one starts recognizing patterns. Infact I regret that I did not go thru the Powerscore's GMAT CR Bible which some recommend. To ensure that one is 100% prepared for CR, I think it might be good if you could go through this book. Ofcourse for the types for questions and approaches I relied on Manhattan RC/CR book but similar concepts can be found in other books as well. I did peek into Powerscore LSAT Bible which was uploaded by one of the members and the material looked good.
For RC, I was miserable too. But surprisingly towards the end my RC improved significantly to the extent that I was making very few mistakes. I guess what helped most was to review the questions one gets wrong and understand what led one to choose a particular choice. Quiet often we choose an answer based on instinct. That should be avoided at all costs. if it is a detailed questions, pl. ensure that you read the relevant paragraph before answering even if you might think that you know the answer. I managed to avoid a few silly mistakes by doing this. Also for bigger paras, I also tried to paraphrase but trust me it is not easy to paraphrase as well one can possible do in a mock exam in the actual exam owing to time pressure and partly owing to the crappy superfine pen and scratch paper. But it does help a little to paraphrase a few words to get the gist of the paragraph for bigger RCs. For smaller RCs, ensure that you read and understand the RC the first time you read it. This makes it easier for you to reply the questions once you are through with the reading.