I will not lie, I have waited a really long time to be in this position where I am (most probably) done with the GMAT.EPISODE 1
I used the Economist
's GMAT Tutor program for my first attempt (Got a 50% discount !) on 20/3/14.
My prep scores before the first test: ( I had started on 'n off prep in June, though I really started seriously in October)
GMATPrep #1 17 May 2013 680 Q47 V38
GMAT Tutor #1 21 Jun 2013 710 Q50 V39
MGMAT #1 22 Jun 2013 710 Q48 V39 IR 5
MGMAT #2 25 Oct 2013 750 Q48 V45 IR 6
GMAT Tutor #2 22 Dec 2013 740 Q50 V42
GMAT Tutor #3 12 Jan 2014 740 Q50 V43
GMAT Tutor #4 26 Jan 2014 740 Q50 V43
GMAT Tutor #5 23 Feb 2014 740 Q50 V43
MGMAT #3 09 Mar 2014 780 Q51 V45 IR 4 ( I was like wwwaaaat
GMAT Tutor #6 12 Mar 2014 740 Q50 V43
GMAT Prep #2 14 Mar 2014 750 Q49 V42 IR 7
You will notice that all of this took place over a very long period of time. I work full-time and had no real hurry to take the GMAT so just tried to spread everything out. I used my Economist
course completion percentages as milestone to gauge my progress and take prep tests. One big flaw with the Economist
tests is the absence of the first 2 sections, this may contribute to an inflation in actual performance. Also, in spite of me having done extremely well in a couple of the tests I could not get above 740 ( even with 2 mistakes in Quant and 3 in Verbal) at which point I had serious doubts whether there was attempt from these guys to lock the highest score in keeping with their point improvement guarantee. Nevertheless, I would rate their adaptive learning system to be top notch and their course content as adequate for someone looking at a ceiling of 700-720. Somewhat lacking in higher-order topics. I also used a few MGMAT math guides.
I work with a lot of excel so I created a template to monitor my response times, progress, success rates, answering behavior etc for all OG questions. (A friend who saw the file open on my laptop called me mad
Anyways, I also got a number of tutor interactions which were extremely helpful. My tutor, Jake, helped me with a lot of the little nuances that I need considered particularly in Quant. He motivated me when I encountered some hard topics and was very supportive in general.
I also used the AWA submission feature on the Economist
website to create a generic framework that I have been able to successfully use on both tests (6/6 both times)
GMAT 1 : 700 Q49 V36 IR7 AWA-6
I was not devastated, but I was unhappy and felt extremely uncomfortable. I had put in a lot of hours into completing 90% of the Economist
course apart from all the tests and felt kinda pathetic. Some observations in hindsight:
1) I should have prepped with the earplugs on (i.e. not accounted completely for test-taking conditions)
2) I ran out of steam on the last quarter of an hour and got too excited to see my score (I knew intuitively I had done well on Quant)
3) I was more nervous than I'd considered I'd be
4) The verbal on the real thing was quite a bit more challenging, and the appearance of a 4th passage on Questions 38-41 messed it up for me
5) I had gotten used to a familiar pattern of questioning because of the Economist
course, the real test seemed quite different
6) I noticed that in the week leading up to the test my CR success rate had dropped remarkably, I have not figured out the reason, but it MAY have had something to do with Red Bull (I avoided it completely the second time
I took some time to recollect myself and it was hard to get up from the strange situation I was in.. It was not a bad score, but I could do better and considering the fact I am an Indian Male (Not IT thankfully) the odds were against me putting up a fight for a place in my dream schools. When I finally did decide to re-take, I spent 2 days over-going my approach and made focused efforts to rectify.
1) After a bit of web-crawling I identified VeritasPrep
's CAT as a good resource for Verbal prep.
2) I purchased the MGMAT SC
Guide (which would prove immensely useful), the MGMAT CR
Guide (Great too ! ), Powerscore Bible (I found it a bit meh) and the Official verbal book (Again, useful for first and second gear revs)
3) Prep Tests Under Almost the same exam conditions (Earplugs, 4 hour sits with breaks, Gatorade and chocolate in breaks)
4) Made my self believe that I was seasoned and after a few weeks into prep, I found myself enjoying the CATs rather than being cowed by them
5) Went over Bunuel's excellent Maths concepts pdf 3 times
6) Bought GMATPREP #3 and #4. Did these 3 times each, Did #1 and #2 2 more times until I started seeing repetitions
7) Bought the GMATClub premium membership which gave me access to the Veritas
CATs (The best thing that ever happened during all my prep)
8) Focused more on review
9) No of hours/day in prep increased to 4hrs with focus on doing a variety of questions, both verbal and quant with breaks in between
10 ) 1 last prep test 2 days before the test
Scores are also attached.
GMAT Prep #3 770 Q49 V44 IR 8/8
GMAT Prep #4 780 Q50 V44 IR 8/8
Goals : Increase by at least 1 point in each of the categories; Maintain perfect on Essay
Test Day : I felt confident because I picked up the same test-center. I was nervous, but not as much as the previous go. There was a period of about 40 seconds as I sat reading the instructions when I felt I was gonna get screwed but luckily it passed !! My test center also had one particular station which was enclosed in a small room, separated from the other test-takers - I had not got it on the previous occasion, but was lucky to be assigned to it this time. It had brighter lights, more privacy, a bigger table with more space and an unexplainable cheery positive vibe to it
The AWA came and went, it was the perfect start, a good size in the passage, and I found a few cleverly hidden flaws; by my second attempt, I had practiced approx. 30 AWA's up to this point, my template was ready and It was a matter of just outputting with the same consistency. I did 5 paras in total, word count approx 500 words and 3 minutes for my grammar and spell check.
The IR started with a difficult question related to inequalities which took 4 minutes, I got a bit nervous at this point but carried on, trying to be positive. Got a tough passage where I was unsure of 1 particular Agree/Disagree type response. I was fairly certain I had got at least 10/12 correct. I finished the last question with 5 seconds left.
Deep breath, raise hand, off to the break room and locker, a bite of chocolate, couple of gulps of Gatorade, a few happy thoughts to motivate myself ( :p ) and back into the fray. It was just another tryst with my friend and adversary, Quant. This was my turf and I needed to do well. I was surprised to see a REALLY difficult first question, took me 3 minutes (gremlins raised their heads again, smiling mischievously at my predicament), got the correct answer, click NEXT fast !! Got the easiest question EVER ( I remember it, but I'm not sure if its okay to share it! I thanked the GMAT Gods for that), 20 second for that, timing back on track! The rest of the section went like a blur, I felt more confident with each question, kept checking the scribble on top of my sheet (Fraction, Zero, Minus, Plus, One, Under-root; It's something I made during prep
). I was able to keep good time and judiciously gave the 3-4 minutes that some questions deserved, for the last 7 questions I had 18 minutes remaining.I guessed on 2 questions: 19 (which might have been experimental considering it appeared in the middle-order) and 36 (which was the toughest probability question I had ever seen, though I did come down to 2 options so that was a 50/50). Spent a lot of time on the last question, 20 seconds remaining ( scribbling away in panic !!), 5 seconds left (got it !!), selected the option, timer ran out. At this point I was horrified thinking whether my section was actually completed as I had not clicked next ! I asked the proctor when I came out and she reassured me as long as I had picked an option, the section would be scored as completed. What a relief !
Same routine, chocolate, Gatorade (an inward thought of crushing every red bull can in sight) and back in my bright little cuboid ! Now this was the real test, Verbal had let me down before and my scoring had always been erratic, I had scored everything between V36 and V51 on prep, a lot depended on the day, I also told myself that no prep material I had covered did verbal exactly and with the same difficulty as the real thing. I made sure I wrote enough ABCDE's on all the pages of the fresh booklet I had asked for. Tried to focus as the timer hit 0 and the final battle bean. Again, it was a blur, I just remember I kept good time, made sure i did the initial CR's and SC's in under a minute. Got a couple of very tough passages in which I felt I picked 1 or 2 50/50s. C. Around question 24 is when things started getting tough, I was keeping good time but started taking more time on the questions, felt like I relapsed into another bout of fatigue similar to the last time, I tried my best to focus on the task, it was almost over! The third passage was 4 paragraphs of bio-chemistry that I hope I never see again ! Almost over, onto question 35, it was an SC. Now I was in doubt about my performance? I had not got a 4th passage that normally always appears in good performances, and I was feeling the pressure. Question 36... CR... Question 37... SC (Panicking inside!) Question 38....... "Which of the following options best summarizes the adjoining passage"
I felt SO relieved ! But there was only 9:30 on the clock, I had to get a move on. It was a 3-para charger which discussed a topic I was very familiar with and interested in (This was like a second wind, if nothing else). Took 2 minutes to read, Tricky and similar options though I was extremely confident of my choice in the end. 6:30 - Second question discusses "which of these is closest in meaning to...", an inward smile, a confident choice, NEXT ! 4:30 A paradox resolve-type question - The blood was pounding in my ears at this point, the correct answer referred to different parts of the passage that I had to re-read 3 time but I got it in the end! Question 41 - SC. (Thinking: Oh this is easy ! its A !! ), Selects A and about to click next when I see that I still have 1:10 left, So i start thinking, Question no. 41 can not be this easy, hmm.... (0:40) That's when I saw it, it was a neatly hidden flaw to do with Complex Gerunds (Before doing the MGMAT SC
book, I had no idea what a freakin' gerund was, sounds like a vegetable! )... (0:20) I'm smiling broadly, I know it is C.. I select the option and then spend the next 10 seconds staring at the timer, my battle about to be over, With 2 seconds left, I click affirmative on the Confirm screen.
Yes, Yes, Yes.. No I don't wanna update info... Accept Scores, Yes...
IR = 8 93rd percentile
Quantitative = 50 89th percentile
Verbal = 40 90th percentile
Total = 740 97th percentile
I was literally expressionless, the proctor escorted me out where the other lady handed me my unofficial score report. I felt the beginnings of a smile finally started appearing on my face. I saw the proctor smiling at me, she said,"Congratulations and best of luck for the future! You may pick up your belongings and leave now.""Yes, Maám !", I replied back. My GMAT journey was (hopefully) now over
Prologue : I received my official scorecard 3 days later. My Final Score: Q50, V40, Total = 740; IR 8/8; AWA 6/6
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