Today I received my official score report email. Since I lurked on GMAT Club for the last month, I figured I would try to give back and share my experience. I also hope that, by sharing my story, others can see that anyone
can achieve a good score on this test with the correct preparation. If I can do it, you can do it!
Also, from my experience you don't have to spend a lot of money to prepare!
My journey began this spring, when I decided to pursue a graduate degree in either finance or business administration. I've been at my job for 5 long years, and have been busy studying for license exams, giving zero thought to the GMAT. As someone who doesn't fit the typical "business school" profile (undergraduate degree in architecture/design, didn't take a single English or math class in college), I really feared taking the GMAT altogether. Hoping to enter a full-time program as soon as fall 2012, I decided, in July, to take a brief break from my architecture examinations and buckle down for the GMAT.
I was originally hoping to take the test in late August (to give myself 6 weeks of prep), but, when trying to register for the test, realized that the only available date until October was July 30th. This left me exactly 17 days. I said, "what the heck...", and signed up. The clock was ticking.
Study Material I used:GMAT Review (11th Edition)
-- I got this book from the public library. I found this official guide to be the most helpful book. The real problems, with explanations, helped me establish where I was making fundamental mistakes in both Quant and Verbal.Kaplan GMAT Home Study Book 2006
-- I got this book from the public library. This book is a bit dated, but, on my limited budget, I went with it. Basically, this book contains hundreds of practice problems. It's great if you are looking to just hammer away at problems (which was my strategy).Manhattan CATs
-- I forked over the 40 bucks for access to these 6 tests. This was the only money I spent on preparation material. I found these extremely helpful in two ways: 1) they correctly diagnosed my weak spots, and 2) they helped me solve quant problems quicker.
Study Strategy -- Quant & Verbal:
My basic strategy was to take a Manhattan practice test every other day. On my off days, I reviewed the missed problems, and used the two study books I had to learn how to solve those missed problems. I went over every missed problem, of every test I took, and studying the applicable concepts. In all honesty, this took me about 3 hours every night...a lot of time, but it improved my scores greatly.
I took a total of 7 CAT tests (5 Manhattan & 2 free GMAT Prep) in 16 days.
1st) Manhattan 1 -- 620
2nd) Manhattan 2 -- 630
3rd) Manhattan 3 -- 700
4th) Manhattan 4 -- 770
5th) Manhattan 5 -- 740
6th) GMAT Prep 1 -- 750
7th) GMAT Prep 2 -- 740Study Strategy -- AWA:
In all honesty...I didn't prepare for the AWA. I know it sounds horrible, but I didn't want to spend any time writing essays when I only had 17 days to prepare for the test.
I took a simple strategy -- I decided that, no matter what the prompt was on test day, I would write a very organized 5-paragraph essay for each prompt.
Essentially, I decided that I would have a intro paragraph, three major points, and a conclusion paragraph. Writing isn't my strongest subject area, so I tried not to fret over this...after all, the AWA doesn't affect your composite score (horrible advise, I know, haha).Test Day
My game-day goal was a score of 700.
I took the test on a Saturday at 5pm. Not my ideal time to be taking the GMAT, but, like I said, it was literally the only seat in a 3 month window.
The morning of, I did about 20 Quant questions on Manhattan test 6, and then called it quits. I wanted to just get my mind thinking and moving.
I arrived at the test center about an hour early (i couldn't sit still at home), and, to my surprise, they sat me for the test almost instantly.
The AWA was about as expected. I wrote my well organized 5 paragraphs, but felt that my content was pretty weak on both sections. I'm also not the greatest speller in the world (thanks for dumbing my English, spell check). I tried not to think about it after I finished, but figured I probably scored in the 50th percentile.
The Quant section was tough, but i did not see any questions that I didnt recognize. About 20 questions into the test, I realized that I was taking too much time. I made two educated guesses in a row to try and finish in time (bad idea in hindsight), and, instantly, the questions got way easier (meaning I probably missed both of those questions, haha). I finished with about 5 minutes left. I felt mixed, and drained, after finishing the section. I was thinking, at this point, that I would probably end up a few points below a 700.
The verbal section seemed to go well. There were no questions that I couldn't narrow down to two possible answers. I finished with about 15 minutes left on the clock. I was drained...but still had to chug through the experimental section (just appearing if you are taking the test this month).
After what seemed like forever, my score popped up on the screen...740 (49Q, 41V)
I couldn't believe it...I felt very poorly after the Quant section, and really felt that it would be a stretch for me to reach my goal of 700. Needless to say, I'm still stoked!
Perhaps the biggest surprise is my AWA score--a 6.0
This has convinced me that format of the essays matters way more than the content.
To all of you...GOOD LUCK!If i can do this...you can do this!!!