Thank you people for all the congrats
Here is the story of my preparation. Sorry for the long post.Disclaimer:
As you will see, I had no time to thoroughly decorticate GMAT, I have a limited experience with it and in no way do I pretend to be a GMAT guru (like some of permanent residents of this forum). I still hope you will find some helpful info in what will follow.
To begin with, as I was not going to apply to any top American school, but only to European schools, I told myself that a score of 700 - 720 would be sufficient. An I wanted to pass the exam in October to be ready to apply for R2 in INSEAD.
Baseline evaluationGMATPrep #1 - 710 Q48 V39
I began in June by taking the first GMATPrep test. As at that time I didn't know too much about the GMAT, I was quite surprised by the difficulty of the Quant section, to say nothing of the Verbal one. Ten years ago I had taken GRE and made a 800 score on the Quantitative ability part of the test, so I thought that GMAT would be something comparable in difficulty. Well, it was not.
I tried to solve all the questions in the Quantitative part, and finally had no time to make the last 4 questions. But overall, I was satisfied with my quantitative part result.
The verbal score was bad. I made 10 faults in total, but 8 of them were in SC, one in RC and one in CR. So I saw that my weak point was in SC.
My problem with SC was that even though I am a fluent English speaker (meaning that I can communicate on virtually any subject, but I am far from bilingual), I had a vague idea of what the good command of the standard written English really
means. In other words, when I saw the answer choices for SC questions they were all good for me since they were all comprehensible, I even had a tendency to prefer the most wordy constructions as I thought they were more sophisticated and thus better
Study PlanMy first fault
was that I didn't fix the exam date. I knew that I wanted to pass it in October, but the real date is better - once you have it, you can build up a study plan, you can mobilize yourself.
So the second fault
was that I had no study plan. Now I understand that it is important to evaluate the available time budget
and to schedule the study in order to cover all the necessary subjects. I sketched up my thoughts about time budget here:http://gmatclub.com/forum/750-study-plan-expert-opinions-needed-100069.html#p775022
Well, I had probably overestimated the time needed to work on the questions in this post, but anyway, the conclusion is - be realistic about what time you need and what time you have
So, since I had no study plan to discipline me, I made a long pause (summer vacations etc..), and I really began to study only in the middle of July. As I have a family and a job, I was able to spend for the preparation not more than 6 hours on the workweek and 8 hours on the weekend. I had also to schedule the exam on the 13th of September (one month before my previously planned date), as I had job constraints beginning from 15th Sept. And still up to the middle of August I had an illusion that I had plenty of time, and I wasted it
The manuals I used:
standard manual 2004 year edition - completed.
- made only last 30 questions in each part, except for the RC that I didn't do at all.
4.MGAMT Sentence Correction - only opened one week before the exam, had no time to really work with it.
5.MGMAT Number properties
- good one, made the second part of it dealing with advanced questions.
Basically, more than a half of the preparation time I worked with Kaplan
books. But these Kaplan books are not really good for the 700+ level
, especially for the quantitative part! The quantitative section in the Kaplan 800
is too easy, it is about 600-700 level questions.
I think I should have worked more with MGMAT
books, since the impression that I had from the Number properties book was really good. Based on this impression and even though I never read the other volumes (apart from a bit of SC), I think that these books is a must do for anyone who aims at 700+ level. The problem is price, but there are solutions (second hand, etc...)
I think that the OG12
questions are neither difficult enough to aim at the 700+ level.
In Quantitative section, I took the last 50 questions in the PS and last 30 in the DS parts and I was able to solve the majority of them in less than 90 seconds. On the real test the situation was quite different.
The verbal section of OG12
is too easy also. I made only one error in 30 last CR questions, and only 5 errors in 30 last SC questions.
So, my conclusion
is that even the hardest OG12
questions do not correspond to the difficulty of 700+ real GMAT test. Those who aim at the 730+ level should try other question sources.
I took two GMATPrep tests
and three MGMAT tests. The results were (in chronological order):
GMATPrep #1: 710 Q48 V39 (baseline test, without any preparation)
MGMAT #1: 720 Q44 V45 (after two Kaplan
MGMAT #2: 720 Q47 V41
MGMAT #3: 730 Q49 V41 (after Number properties MGMAT book
GMATPrep #2: 760 Q50 V43
The story was that after I had finished Kaplan
books, especially Kaplan 800
, I felt myself strong and confident
at least in Quant section, for, as I said, I had no problem to solve all quant section in Kaplan 800
. So I was really surprised by the difficulty of quant section in the first MGMAT. I understood, that I had particular problems with Number properties, with Inequalities and with Probability and Combinatorics. I also had a big timing problem, as I tried to solve all the problems and finally had to answer the last 8 (!) questions almost randomly.
The V45 on the MGMAT #1 was a pure chance for me, I managed to answer last 8 questions without mistakes (with two or three educated guessing) and that inflated my verbal score.
I made MGMAT #3 after I worked through the MGMAT Number properties
guide and that helped me to improve the Q score. I also used much more "guess and move on" on the questions that I felt would take too much time to solve.
The final GMATPrep #2 that I took two days before the real test was encouraging
. But the score was too inflated: I had four questions from the OG12
(two in Q and two in V sections), and last questions in Q section were too easy (it seems that GMATPrep has a limited stock of 700+ level questions).
Other sources for preparation
I think the most important source are still the good manuals. But in addition to that:1. Forums.
I visited GmatClub and MGMAT forums. There are a lot of really interesting info. The problem however is that there are a lot of interesting info
. So much, that the forums can easily become chronophages. So be careful!2. Internet in general.
I read some articles on MGMAT, Crack the Gmat, Beat the Gmat and others f*** the Gmat sites
. The problem with these sites is that to maintain the referencing in search engines they have to put new articles on the regular basis, no matter what the quality of the articles is. And basically this is the same info that is in the manuals, so on my opinion it is not a worthwhile time spending. 3. Newspapers.
I read somewhere that the CR and RC passages were similar to the OpEd articles in the leading newspapers. So I installed on my Android mobile phone an application called Newspapers and for two months on my daily two hours of commuting I pleased myself with the OpEd articles from NYT and IHT. That was an interesting reading, and it resembles really the GMAT texts. I think, it is a must do for the non-natives just to get immersed into the language environment of appropriate quality.
Well, I will add some more insights in unstructured way.
1. I actually had no special Verbal preparation strategy. My principal problem was SC, so I made SCs and I bought MGMAT SC
But I am still far from the natural feeling of the native speaker, and the SC questions are made to puzzle even the native speakers. So I think that to have a 60%-70% success rate on the tough SC is good enough for a non-native.
2. On the RC and CR non-natives have less excuses. Even if vocabulary can pose a problem, it is more about logic and structure comprehension.
3. On RC I never used the structure diagrams - it was too time consuming for me. I preferred to read the text completely without skipping any sentences, even for the long passages. It worked quite well, I even learned some interesting info from RC passages, even if it wasn't the purpose.
4. On the CR I didn't use the diagrams. And the strategy of reading first the question never worked for me. When I tried to do in this way, I had to concentrate on the question and then to keep it in mind while reading the passage. It was rather difficult, and finally I almost always had to re-read the question wasting the time.
5. One thing about CR is that I find really important is to locate the conclusion
! I mean literally to locate it, because you have to work with the conclusion which is stated in the question stem
, not the conclusion that you can make yourself. I had a tendency to make my own conclusions, using those that were stated as an intermediate conclusions, and thus making errors, especially on the passages dealing with the subjects that were familiar to me. I don't know if it is clear what I'm trying to say, but you have to work with what is written, not with what you can construct. Once I understood this point, I began making less mistakes and I became more rapid in locating the right answer.
6. Of course, the point No.5 doesn't work with the CR questions that ask you to draw the conclusion while the question stem contains only the premises and evidence. I had 3 or 4 such questions on the real test, and I found them tough.
7. I don't believe in the strategy of spending more time on the first 6 or 7 questions. On the 700+ level the trade-off is really limited, you can even seriously harm your score if you will be short on time at the end of the section and you will make a row of faulty answers. Even if at the beginning I believed in this strategy, this article made me change my mind:http://www.manhattangmat.com/gmat-uncovered.cfm
See pages 18-22!
Final final remark: Time is the most precious asset on the GMAT!
Both during the preparation and during the test. Don't waste it! Make a study plan for your preparation and stick to it. Adopt the "guess and move on" strategy for the real test to pace yourself. Become quick
on the calculations, PS solving strategies, SC split strategies etc.
You will do it!
My GMAT experience