I gave the GMAT last week and am thrilled to report that I scored 740 (Q48, V42). I am your average Joe (Jolie) and I believe that if I can score 700+ then most people can. Below is what I learned from the GMAT and I hope you benefit from it.
I am from Delhi (India) and have been in US for the past 15 months. At the beginning, the exam seemed to be very difficult. I scored a sore 530 on my first mock – Kaplan
free test. The worst part was I scored a mere 23 on verbal. I used to think that with my convent education and a degree in economics, verbal would be my strength but the test told me otherwise. At this time, all I could hope for was to get close to 700. 740 seemed out of question.Preparation - books and materials
I started off my preparation with the MGMAT books
. I read the Number properties, Equations & Inequalities and word translations for quant and the SC, CR &RC books for Verbal. The quant books were excellent. For me, the number properties book was extremely high ROI followed by Inequalities (my weakness). On Verbal, the SC book was quite good but I found the CR and RC books to be average. 2 months into my prep, I was already hitting 630s on the MGMAT exams. My quant had gone up to 47 while verbal was hovering around a respectable 30 (MGMAT 1 – 580, MGMAT 2 – 630).
At this time, I decided that I needed a prep course to boost my verbal. After considering Vertias, MGMAT and Kaplan
, I decided on e-GMAT
’s live course because of its focus on verbal. This course took my preparation to the next level. The SC concepts that I learned through MGMAT were crystal clear after going through this course. Two other things helped me a lot on SC. Firstly the fact that the course is very heavy on application. There are these application files that don’t teach you anything but to apply what you have learned. Secondly, they have this OG solutions video course that is awesome. The downside is that such solutions are only available for SC and not for CR. The CR course when combined with live sessions is really good too. It helped me weave through the logic of arguments and provided me an approach for most CR questions types. My accuracy just shot up. I would definitely recommend this course if you need help on verbal. This course played a major role in improving my verbal from 30 to 42.Preparation - Practice and Practice tests
I used the GMATPrep, MGMAT tests, and 2 tests from Grockit. I would say that the GMATprep tests
were the closest indicator of my performance on actual test. I took GMATPrep 1 twice (first time initially and second time towards the end) and GMATPrep 2 once and scored 720 (Q48, V40) and 730 (Q46, V43). The MGMAT tests were really good for quant and good practice for Verbal. I would definitely recommend them for getting yourself in the test mold. I did find that the MGMAT tests were more lenient that GMATPrep towards mistakes but their probably their higher difficulty level did compensate for that. Overall, definitely good practice. The Grockit tests were ok. I would rate them below MGMAT and definitely below GMATPrep. I would recommend that you use a couple of these tests to get your stamina up before you take the MGMAT or GMATPrep tests
. The Grockit question bank on the other hand was quite good. It helped me practice on my specific areas. Grockit RC + e-GMAT
RC made a very good combinationMy Lessons learned and helpful tips for others
I believe that preparation is one aspect of the GMAT. However, to ace it, you also need to look at the test more objectively because your goal really is to get an end score. You don’t need to be the best grammarian or the best critical thinker in the world to ace the exam. I did not realize that till about 2 months before my exam. Once I realize that, I felt that my scores improved faster and overall I was more efficient in my studies. Here are a few things that I would recommend:
1. Build a process with 80% repeatable accuracy
: The GMAT will throw random (SC, CR, RC) questions at you. In a timed environment there is no time to invent and to do well you will need a standard approach for every question type. Take an approach using which you can efficiently solve 80% of the problems correctly and practice and master it. This would help you a lot. Remember you don’t need to solve every question on the GMAT to do well
2. Build on fundamentals
: The GMAT tests your fundamentals. Initially, I struggled with CR because I focused more on elimination of answer choices by classifying them either as too extreme or out of scope. While these tricks definitely helped, they were not a proxy for fundamental understanding. In fact, I was able to use these approaches more effectively once I understood the fundamentals such as what a strengthener means, and how to strengthen an argument.
3. Revise and revise slowly
: We all worry about timing while solving the questions and I think that it is the right thing to do. However, once you have solved a set of problems, go back and spend some time (at least 3 minute per question) revising the problems to understand the sentence structure in SC, logic swings in CR, etc. You will learn as much through these revisions as you did while learning the concepts. This would be useful in subsequent practices.
4. Don’t worry about the most challenging problems
: Most of us do not aim for 800 and hence don’t need to do every problem correctly. According to Stacey from MGMAT, even 760 + scorers get 10-15% of the questions wrong. Hence, always assume that there are 10% of the problems that will go over your head. Ignore them and you will be much better off. Initially I spent a lot of time on solving every problem. I realized that I was spending 50% of my time on these 10% of problems. Also I had to tweak my process to solve these. I was much more efficient once I started ignoring some problems every now and then.
5. Follow the 80-20 rule in mocks
: Pretty much the same point as above. Even in mocks, you will get some of these problems where you would not have any idea as to what the problem is testing. Don’t fret over it. Remember, half the battle in the mock is choosing where to spend time and you only need to do 75%+ correctly. Get into a habit of spotting these questions while taking your mocks. My performance improved considerably once I stopped spending time on these problems
6. Own up your weakness – You know it
: After preparing for a few months, you will know your strengths and weakness. I realized after preparing for a few months that just accuracy is probably not the best indicator of weakness. For example, I had decent accuracy for assumption questions on Grockit even though I lacked confidence. This accuracy however did not translate into a stellar performance on MGMAT mocks. Once I told myself that I need to get more confident about these questions and worked on it, my performance on mocks improved.
7. Do OG twice
: Very similar to the revising slowly. There are so many concepts in OG that you need to learn. Plan for doing OG twice. I found it very helpful.
Overall, I found this forum very helpful. The contributions by BB, people like souvik, bunel, gurpreet sing etc. helped me a lot. Compilation of GMATprep problems by legendaddy etc was also extremely helpful. SC articles by Shraddha form e-GMAT
were really helpful too. Thank you so much for contributing to my success and I hope this debrief contributes towards your’s.