I've been looking at this website for the last month or so. It has been helpful. Now that I'm done with my GMAT test, I feel obliged to write a post.
My unofficial gmat score report gives me a 740 with 49 in Quant and 42 in Verbal. I was hoping for a 700, so it really caught me off-guard. Very happy. It actually got me wondering whether your score can change from the unofficial to official reports! Some people might be going for super high scores, but I just needed a 640 or higher, so I'm ecstatic.
Here is the process that I followed:
Started with the Kaplan Premier
Edition Book. After I finished that, I did the Kaplan 800
book. That's it. I did the odd question on GMAT Club, I found a cool link to a whole host of RC questions and tried to do a couple of passages a day for a week or two until I had it down. At the end, I downloaded the GMAC software. Although I did skim the GMAC tutorials, I really just used it for the practice tests.
I prepared for a total of 8 weeks. Every weekend I did a full length practice test. Here's how they went:
In-Book Test: 610
CD CAT 1 : 580
CD CAT 2: 550
CD CAT 3: 550
GMAT Prep Test 1: 700 (free at gmat.com)
CD CAT 4: 600
Online Test: 710 (free at kaptest.com)
GMAT Prep Test 2: 720
It always confused me why I got such low scores on the Kaplan Premiere
Tests. But in retrospect, it made me study harder. It worried me! I knew that the Kaplan
tests were harder than the real thing, but that's the way to do it. Practice the most difficult questions, and the real test will be easier. That's something that the GMAT 800
book did well too. GMAT 800
has a really good section on Sentence Correction. Much better and more detailed than the regular Premiere book.
So... I practiced for about 15 hours/week, including practice tests. I ramped up my practice time over the last 5 weeks, because the Kaplan
scores worried me! All in all, I'd say that I easily broke the 100 hour mark for study and prep. But I doubt that I had more than one or two weeks with more than 20 hours of study.
My tips would be:
- Doing a good number of practice tests teaches you to budget your time properly, which is important. But still watch your time. I divided my total time into quarters. If I was doing 10 questions in more than 20 minutes, I tried to speed up. Answering the odd easy question quickly helps you to gain time.
- Although Kaplan
says to write a passage summary for each RC passage, I didn't bother with this. Although I did start by trying to do passage summaries. My strategy is to read the first paragraph twice and really understand it. Then read the rest of the passage and try to understand exactly what it's saying. Then, if necessary, read the whole thing over again before answering questions. This may sound like a lot of reading/re-reading, but it probably takes the same amount of time as reading the passage once and writing out notes. The key is to truly understand the passage. If you don't really understand it fully, and you try to answer the questions, you will fail. At least from my experience. The RC section is one where I had to say, "screw time, I need to understand this passage, otherwise I'm just going to 50/50 these questions." I find that it works, but I also agree that the more passages you practice, the better you will do. Kaplan 800
passages are so hard and nasty, that they'll make the others look easy. I think with RC that you have to just take your time. Forget about rushing and make up time on SC and CR.
- I think that relaxing is an important part to doing well on the real test. It's funny. I've raced downhill mountain bikes for 8 years now. I felt as amped up and nervous as I started the GMAT as I do at the start line of a race! But I think that you can't do well if you're not relaxed. The essay questions at the start help you to calm down and get into a groove. But even so, you still need to relax before each section if you're at all tense. Because I already knew all of the instructions for the test, and instruction pages on the real test give you an alotted time to read them, I used the instruction time to do deep breathing and relax for the upcoming section. I think it worked.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the makers of gmatclub.com and everyone who is active in the forum. This is a great medium for learning more about the GMAT. Hearing about other people's experiences really helped me, and that's why I wanted to add mine to the pot.
If I could give one last piece of advice, it would be "you can do it." When I started, I scored a 68% on my Kaplan
diagnostic. I had to just laugh when I came across math questions that I had no idea how to answer. It had been so long! The verbal I did by sound. If it sounded right, I picked it! No logic or anything. But I studied. Just like what I outlined here. And it worked. If I had tried to write the test two months ago, I bet I would have done a 550 to 600 tops. But I studied, and it worked. It's a simple formula.
Good luck, and best wishes,
An interesting side note: I was worried that as I started to do well on the real test, the questions would become so hard that I'd start spending too much time on them and really blow my time budget. This never happened. In fact, one of the last Quant questions in the section was something like this: "In one day, Mark drove 146.04 Km. to get lunch, then drove 45.6 Km. more and stopped for gas. Then drove 46.03 Km. more before reaching his destination. How far did he drive in this day?" Unless I got this question wrong, I think that the answer was just adding the three numbers! How could this be the third to last question on the Quant section when I scored a 49? I thought the questions were supposed to get harder. Don't get me wrong, there were some hard questions, but I thought this one in particular was peculiar! Anyways, the test will be like the practice tests. Especially the ones on gmat.com. Feel comfortable with them, and you will feel comfortable with the real thing.