I'm done with the GMAT today and scored a 750. It feels great that months of hardwork is behind you and the credit for this success in part goes to these great forums which have been my life support so to speak.My GMAT journey in a Nutshell:
Currently i work in sales at a pharmaceutical company and that means though the job involves a lot of traveling so maintaining discipline was a challenge. To maintain the momentum, I had to sometimes take my books along so after a long day of meetings, I would be studying in my hotel room.
Post- MBA I intend to work in VC/PE fund and for that the unsaid pre-requisite condition is an MBA from a top 10 school. My interest in VC/PE industry grew when I was working on my last startup which unfortunately didn't do well and had to shut down. Nevertheless, it got me quite excited about this industry and I knew for sure either I'm doing to do something of my own again or I'm going to work at one of the VC/PE funds
I started my prep in October with a diagnostic test in which i scored a 650. I don't remember the exact split but it was fairly balanced.. Given that the average GMAT score at HBS, Stanford GSB is around 730, I set a target of improving by 100 points in 5 months. Yeah 5 months seemed long to prepare for the GMAT given that most people here finish it in 2-3 months but given the nature of my job,i thought that i wouldn't go too hard on myself.
I am a native speaker so i think that some things on verbal came naturally. Having said that, i think that the GMAT Verbal is less of an English test and more a test of your reasoning skills. Anyone can solve all the questions if there were no time limit but since there is time constraint, i think you have to learn smart ways to figure out the answers in the shortest possible time and for that you need to be quite familiar with the content. Also learning strategies for tackling various question types is important. And I honestly believe that unless you're not overtly gifted, you can't get a good score by not studying at all.
For Verbal, I had purchased ManhattanGMAT Verbal guides and Aristotle Verbal Grail series though i primarily referred to the grail series. The books are very exhaustive in terms of concepts covered and practice. I didn't refer to anything else for Verbal other than this.
For Math, i primarily referred to ManhattanGMAT Quant books. I especially liked their number properties book and overall i found their math books to be much better than their verbal books. I supplemented this with PS & DS Boosters for practice because honestly most OG Math questions are way to easier than the GMAT Math questionsTest day experience:
I had my test center around half an hour from where I live . I reached the test center half an hour early. There must be around 8-10 other test-takers in the afternoon slot. The test center staff was cordial and overall I had a pretty good experience and the test went well with no major hiccups. Here's my feedback on each section. I have highlighted my overall assessment of the actual GMAT with respect of the GMATPREP. I think it'll help the folks here get an idea what the actual GMAT is like.
AWA- The prompt was easy. Used the template by Chineseburned. Finished writing by the 25th minute and revised the essay for the remaining time.
IR- I found the IR questions on the GMAT to be easier than those in the GMATPREPs and much easier those in the MGMAT CATs(EASIER)
Quant- The quant on the GMAT was quite like that in the GMATPREP and much easier than that in the MGMAT CATs(Comparable)
Verbal- The verbal section on the GMAT was a little more difficult than the GMATPREPs. I found the CR questions comparable, and the SC and RC questions to be a little tougher than the GMATPREPs(Slightly tougher)
I think preparation is important but what is also important is how you handle the pressure on the test day. My priorities during the exam were a)Controlling my mind so that I am totally focused on the test and b) pacing so that I don't face time crunch later in the section. I knew that if I am able to take care of these two things, then doing well on the test won't be a herculean task and in this regard, taking practice tests helps a lot.
I'm very relieved now and i think that I am going to work hard at my work for the next few months now so that I'm able to lap up some good recommendations. After all, you need many more things apart from a good GMAT score to get admitted to a top school.
Thank you again. Adios!