I took the GMAT last week and thought I should share my experience; maybe it can be helpful to someone out there. Also, I need some advise from you guys.
First off, here's the break up as on the unofficial score report:Quant
EDIT: Got the official score card; AWA 5.5, IR: 8
And now a little background about me. I am from India, completed B.Tech in 2011 and have been working for 2 years now. I was thinking of taking the GMAT since last December but didn't start studying until I actually registered for the exam in May
! So my first tip is to register and set a date for the exam; you get a deadline and it puts some positive pressure on you to start preparing seriously. Then I bought the OG and took the diagnostic test to assess my strengths/weaknesses. This is a must step because frankly speaking you do not need to complete the entire OG, just concentrate on the weak areas and the string areas will improvise during practice tests anyways. I already suspected my weak section would be verbal as my basic math is pretty good; the diagnostic test proved the same. In the verbal part my weakest area was SC, then RC and then CR. Now my work was cut out for me
At that time I had searched for online resources for GMAT preparation and hence had to order some local material. In India, we have a group called IMS which provides study material for various competitive examinations and I ordered their material for GMAT. I quickly started with verbal and set a date for initial study of each topic. Now I know many people think that the number of hours you study or the number of questions you try should be the main focus of your studies, but that is not at all true. Throughout my entire preparation, I have practiced less than 500 questions and studied for less than 40 hours. Its the quality and not quantity of your prep that matters! The GMAT is divided in specific sections testing specific abilities, you only need to understand this and align your preparation accordingly. And that is the main reason you need to identify your weakness and work on it. Like most of you out there preparing for the exam, I too am working and had only a limited amount of time for my preparation. Also, I laze off at times
. Basically, it is important that you have a targeted study plan and since the GMAT is structured so efficiently it is pretty easy to make a good study plan. Prepare your plan (it should be detailed, do not make a vague plan say "I will complete verbal in month of June"; that is not at all helpful, your goals should be more like "June 1st week: understand basics of SC, 2nd week: basics of RC, 3rd week: CR, 4th week: practice OG questions and analyse responses, take any help as required from friends/online forums). And more importantly, stick to your plan; a variation of day or two is OK but don't stray too much from it. If you do stray, make a fresh plan for the remaining time; otherwise time will just seem to fly off and you won't be able to concentrate properly
OK, so that's what I did; started on my verbal and took the first GMAT prep test on 26th May. Scored 720 (Q-50,V-38) and was very surprised and happy
. Also, I had completed the quant and verbal sections well before the alloted time. And then I lazed off for a few days
. But no loss as I had accounted for that in my plan
. Anyways, the point is my verbal had improved slightly so I knew I was on the right track. But GMAT prep software gives you only two tests and I didn't want to take the 2nd test soon, so I talked to a friend and he suggested gmatclub.com. That's how I came to know of this wonderful site
. Initially, I was browsing through the site aimlessly and couldn't understand how exactly to use this site to improve my prep. Also, the first test showed me another weakness I had totally not though of, AWA and IR. My initial plan focused mainly on verbal and quant and left very small time for AWA and IR. That was obviously a mistake
. As my quant was already strong, I decided to push it to the end and started with AWA instead. The IMS material provided a basic outline for the essay and then I stumbled upon chineseburned's AWA guide which is simply awesome! This is all you require for AWA folks, this and practice at least 8-10 essays to get a hang of it.
Next on list was IR. Gmatclub led me to gmatpill for this, which was really useful. About 100 questions are free to practice on gmatpill and I spent them all on the various types of questions in IR section. Even then, I was finding it hard to manage the time on this part. It was around this time I realized that the GMAT prep software also gives you some practice questions
! And so I practiced the 15 questions for IR. (Total 90 practice questions are available for free in the software, I tried only 39: 15 IR, 15 SC, 7 CR, 2 DS as per my need) Again, it's not important how many questions you try until you understand how exactly to tackle them. In the meantime I took the MGMAT free test; scored a dismal 650 as I was not feeling too well and decided to ignore that! My RC and CR had improved but the SC part was still way below average and I couldn't understand why. While practicing SC I did good but on the exam it was not at all good! So I went back to square 1 with SC. I went through the SC related stuff on this forum and slowly started building my basics again. This was 10 days before my actual exam! I was a little nervous about taking such a drastic step, but nothing had worked till then so this was my best course of action; and it paid off.
I went on leave from work a week before the GMAT date(I had some family obligations as well), this gave me more time in the final days for preparation. It is always helpful to take at least 2 days leave before the d-day as it helps you to relax and be focused. My SC part was not entirely done but as the exam date was approaching I took the 2nd GMAT prep test on 13th July and scored 710 (Q-50,V-36). Again, I had completed the sections well before time. This time I did extremely bad in SC, hence the drop in score. But I did not lose my calm, and just completed the SC part as planned. Time management is another important aspect of the exam and I had at least accounted for that much. In fact I decided to go a little slower during the actual exam so as to avoid any silly mistakes.
I had scheduled the test for 9 AM so that it fit right between my breakfast and lunch. It can be pretty hard me to concentrate feeling hungry (or sleepy) in the afternoon; so make a point to schedule the appointment at the best convenient time for you. The AWA part went good, so did the IR until the last question. I had less than a minute for the last question, so I selected the answer at random and then started reading the question
but ran out of time before completing it. Does that count as an attempt even if I had not pressed the next button but had marked the options (please help somebody)
Then the first break; about these optional breaks, you must take both, go and wash your eyes to relieve some strain and re-focus yourself for the next section. I had brought a juice bottle and some light snacks with me, but only drank juice in both the breaks; be sure to take what you like/need to have during the breaks. The quant part was good as expected, there were a lot of tricky DS questions in the end and I had to guess one. In the end I completed it under 60 minutes. Then another break and started my weak part, verbal! I purposely went slow so as to avoid mis-reading or misinterpreting anything; at the same time I kept a watch on the clock so as not to go over-slow. An hour into the verbal section I really started to feel exhausted, and in the final 10 minutes there were 3 questions left. My eyes were so heavy by then I had read all of them twice! And I completed the section just 2 minutes short. Finally couldn't wait to see the score, but had to wait to fill all the stuff required by GMAT and felt really good on seeing the score
In short, the GMAT has a well-defined structure
understand it first. Register for the exam so that you may start preparing seriously. Know your weak areas and prepare an action plan to improve these within a stipulated time frame. Practice and analyse, don't just attempt many different questions. Also, keep in mind the time limit for each section, and prepare accordingly. I took only 3 mock tests unlike many other people, but understand that you need to know what will help you reach your target; do not blindly follow what other people do, strategy for each and every person is different, you just need to prepare your strategy. And finally schedule the exam at the time most convenient to you and take something with you for the breaks. I would also like to thank the contributors to gmatclub.com.
Now, some things I need your help for:
1) What to do next? (I want to start school around Aug'14 if possible and latest by Aug'15; haven't been able to exactly short-list schools, dream school INSEAD)
2) Should I go for counselling? (How important is it?)
3) My graduation grades aren't that good and I think my work experience quality will be considered average; how can I improve my profile?
Ganesh Tukaram Jagtap
have a nice day
my gmat debrief
pm me in case of any queries