I’m an Engineer from India. Graduated in 2005 and worked with a Global Manufacturing giant for 1.5 years. Joined a startup in the Building Materials industry and have been working with their Operations team for the past 3 years.
Decided to give my GMAT in 2007.
GMAT attempt 1- Nov 2007: 680 (Q49, V34)
GMAT attempt 2- Oct 2009: 750 (Q49, V42)
Decided to retake the GMAT ‘cos neither was 680 reflective enough of my capabilities, nor was it good enough. I knew I had to work a lot on my verbal to improve my score. I restarted preparing around about feb or mar in 2009.
This is a list of material that I used most extensively:Verbal:
1. Manhattan Sentence Correction
Guide 4th edition
2. Official Guide 10
, 11 & 12
3. Verbal Review for Official Guide
1st & 2nd Edition
4. Manhattan GMAT
5. Kaplan 800Quants
1. Official Guides
2. CAT (Indian MBA entrance test) material
3. GMAT Club TestsTest Resources:
1. GMAT prep (latest version)
2. GMAT prep (older version)
4. Manhattan GMAT
5. GMAT Club testsSentence Correction
SC was my weakest section and one that scared me the most. Going into the GMAT it was my strongest section..!!Manhattan SC guide is a must have
for anyone looking to do well in SC. Buy the latest edition if you do not have it already; you’ll get access to the 6 MGMATs as well. Do OG10
. You can skip OG11
if you like. Go thru’ the explanations given in the OGs; they are invaluable. And please do the OGs at least twice. Verbal Review for Official Guide 2nd editions is also highly recommended.
Stay away from 1000SC if you are just starting your preparations. They contain a lot of non-standard questions and some of the answers in the guide are wrong. You can use it later on in your prep, when you are more confident with SC. Also, thousandsc.blogspot.com
is a great resource for answers and explanations.
Start referring the Manhattan GMAT online forums
. The teaching staff is very active on these forums and always offer great solutions and explanations. Stay away from other online forums for SC and their typical “SC question of the day” and “SC discussion” type of threads. The reason is that none of the posters in these threads are experts (except maybe a few) and often endorse the wrong answer and explanation with all the confidence in the world. You’ll only end up getting confused. Also, a lot of the questions posted in these threads are non-standard questions and not reflective of the GMAT.Practice, Practice and more Practice..!!
This is the only way to improve your SC performance. With enough practice you’ll be solving SC questions in less than a minute’s time. Most SC questions have the 3-2 split
. You’ll start noticing it as you practice more and more. Eliminate bad choices immediately. Typically you will end with 2 close choices with even the toughest of SC questions. Critical Reasoning
This was always one of my stronger sections. But yet, I found it to be the toughest on the GMAT. The difficulty level of CR questions on the GMAT was definitely tougher than what I had come across during my preps.
OGs and the Verbal Review are the best resource yet again. Do as many questions as possible. With enough practice you’ll start seeing certain patterns. Strong language and assertions are normally never right when it comes to evaluating an argument or determining assumptions.
There aren’t a lot of rules that one can use for CR and there is not much you can do to improve your accuracy other than practicing as many questions as possible.PowerScore CR
bible: I never read it cos it was a huge document, but I hear great things about it. Do it if you have the time and feel it is necessaryManhattan CR
guide: It’s a short guide and pretty concise. Go thru’ it once or twice.Reading Comprehension
Another problem area for many. I was scared of passages on feminism, labor reforms, civil rights etc earlier, But by the time I took my GMAT I was getting every RC question right on my GMATprep tests
and wouldn’t be surprised if I got them all right even on my GMAT.
The key here is to understand the passage clearly instead of looking at the questions and searching for the answers in the passage. During your preparation, take your time to understand the passage before attempting the question. It’s ok if it takes multiple reads before you understand what the passage is trying to say
. With practice your speed and accuracy will definitely improve.
Again, there are no rules or tricks for RC. You have to figure out which strategy works best for you. What works for one may not work another.
Start reading quality editorials and articles online. Suggested resources: articles and editorials in New York Times and WSJ (these should you help you with your grammar and general diction as well).Quants
Having taken my CAT (an Indian MBA entrance test) multiple times, I was pretty comfortable with PS. But DS is the real kicker here. I screwed up my quants royally on the GMAT. Ended up with a mere 49 when I should’ve scored at least 50..!! Reason: lack of practice and speed. Do not take Quants lightly
. If you think you are good, then aim for 51..!!
DS is very very different from the questions you see in CAT. And tough DS questions are what will decide your Quants score.
Except for a handful of good questions, OG’s are crap when it comes to Quants. I would suggest the GMAT Club tests and MGMATs (Manhattan GMAT)
for better and tougher questions. Number systems
is the most important topic in DS on the GMAT, so be thorough with your basics. Please go thru’ the Quants theory in the OG to understand the scope of what is tested. Do not waste your time on learning things that will never be tested on the GMAT.
GMAC offers GMAT Focus
for $25 on their website. This is supposed to be pretty good. Never tried it though. I did not go thru’ the 1000PS and 1000DS documents, so can’t comment on them. Tests
Good quality tests can make a big difference between a good score and a great score. GMATprep
: What you score on the GMATprep before your GMAT will be within 10-20 points of your actual GMAT score.
Not many people know this, but There are two versions of the GMATprep software
: one is the latest version on mba.com and the other was released a couple of years back, in 2007. Download both for extra practice.
Attaching the links for both the GMATprep versions:Old GMATprep Version
:http://www.2shared.com/file/2404941/b43 ... Setup.htmlNew GMATprep Versionhttp://www.mba.com/mba/thegmat/download ... onsoftwarePowerPrep (this is a really old version)http://ftp.muw.edu/Utilities/GMAT/ppgmat30.exe
The GMATprep exams can be taken at least twice without seeing too many repeat questions. Please make sure you take at least 2 GMATprep exams right before your GMAT at the same time as your GMAT appointment.
My GMATprep scores during my preparation:
1. GMAT prep 1 (2007) -770 (Q50, V47)
2. GMAT prep 2 (2007) -750
3. GMAT prep 1 (2009) – 750 (Q50, V41)
4. GMAT prep 2 (2009) – 750 (Q49, V42)
Before my GMAT
5. (9 oct) GMAT prep 1 (2007) – 770 (Q50, V45)
6. (10 oct) GMAT prep 2 (2007)– 760 (Q50, V42)
7. (12 oct) GMAT prep 1 (2009) – 770 (Q50, V45)
8. (13 oct) GMAT prep 2 (2009)– 750 (Q50, V40)
9. (14 oct) GMAT prep 2(repeat) (2009) – 780 (Q51, V47)MGMATs
They are great for Quants practice and good for verbal. They are CAT in nature and the scoring algorithm is pretty accurate.
My average score over 6 MGMATs: 730 (don't have the breakup)KAPLAN testsPlease stay away from these
. They are just bad practice material. They not CATs and have very poor questions.PowerPrep
These tests are excellent during the initial stages of your preparation. The scoring algorithm is the same as that on the GMAT. But the questions you see on PowerPrep will be easier than those on GMATprep. Also, most of those questions are now in the OGs My G-Day experience:
I had scheduled my GMAT for 15-OCT at 9.00 AM. Not my preferred slot but this was all that was available.
Starting 10-Oct, I started taking full length GMATprep exams , including both the AWA essays, at the same time as GMAT slot, 9.00AM. Even though, I saw some repeat questions, I was a seeing a lot of new questions.
I wanted to sleep for at least 8 hours before my GMAT, but could manage only 6 as I couldn’t finish my revisions and was pretty nervous. Nevertheless, woke up, got ready, had a really light breakfast (just some fresh fruits..!!) and was off to the test center. Had a RED BULL on my way. Reached the test center about 20 mins before my appointment and completed the test center verification formalities. Started my exam around 9.15am with a racing heart!AWA
section was as expected; the argument was full of loopholes and assumptions and was easily attackable on multiple grounds. And I had already decided to structure the argument based on my template that I had prepared during the course of my preps. The analysis of an issue was not too tough either, and I was able to squeeze in 3 points/examples in favor of my stand on the issue. Finished both the essays a minute too late maybe.Break 1
: 1 Red Bull + 1 chocolate + Slow breathing for a minuteQuants section
: I wanted to do well in quants, scoring at least 50, if not 51. And I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Based on the questions in GMATprep, I knew I was gonna get some tricky questions which would require both time and speed. And speed was not my forte..!! Anyways, I really got stuck in a 2 or 3 DS questions and I have a feeling I got them wrong, resulting in a score of only 49..!! I Didn’t manage my time in the section very well; I managed to confirm the answer for the last question with just 3 secs left..!! Speed and lack of time management cost me dearly in Quants.Break 2
: 1 Red Bull + 1 chocolate + Slow breathing for a minuteVerbal
: I knew my Quants performance was not up to the mark, but I just told myself that you have done better than you think and you are gonna make up for lost ground in the verbal section. Didn’t let a single negative thought pop into my head. Started off with a couple of SC’s, followed by a couple of close SC’s and CR’s. My strongest point in Verbal was my RC. I was getting all my RC questions right on all my GMATprep exams and had been feeling very comfortable with RC’s on such tough subjects as feminism, civil war movements in America, socialism etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if I got all my RC questions correct on my GMAT. I was really quick with all the SC questions, and was feeling very comfortable with whatever the GMAT threw at me. There were a couple of really close questions in SC, but I think I got them right. CR turned out to be my nemesis. Long passages with 2-3 very close options. I wasted a lot of time on some questions and still wasn’t sure of my answers in some cases. In spite of a very good pace thru’ my SC and RC questions, I had rush thru’ my verbal section towards the end. Had to finish 12 questions within a mere 12-13 minutes. I knew I had one RC left, and was sure it wouldn’t be a tough one. I decided to guess on the CR questions and breezed thru’ my remaining RC and 4-5 SC questions. The strategy paid off well as I had enough time to finish my verbal section. Said “Yes” to the final question in the section and heaved a huge sigh of relief .. !!
Was given some survey questions to fill out and I was in no mood of doing anything other than looking at my score..!! I was zoned out and had no patience to sit thru’ a bunch of boring questions. Decided to leave them unanswered and went to the report scores screen.
The moments the software takes to show you your results were excruciatingly painful..!!
When I saw my score, I was over the moon literally. Punched my fist in the air a few times and kept saying “YES.. YES..” to myself. I got exactly how much I wanted..!!
Came out, called my folks and some friends..My tips for the G-day:
1.Get ample sleep
. GMAT can be very fatiguing, both mentally and physically. (On your way to the test center, listen to your favorite music, music you can sing along with, to calm nerves or whatever that helps..!!)
2.Take it easy on the day before your GMAT. Just take a GMATprep and do some basic revisions. Don’t study anything new. It’s not worth it. Trust your preps and sleep early.
3.Take your favorite energy drinks and chocolates with you. These things give you instant energy and are digested very quickly. Munch something light in the breaks even if you are not feeling hungry.
4.Take full length GMATprep exams in the days leading up to your GMAT, including AWA essays, timed breaks et al
. It will condition your mind and body to sit thru’ the actual GMAT. (it’s easy to neglect the AWA section when taking mock tests, but, trust me, that's a bad strategy. The two essays can be mentally fatiguing and can leave you tired and stressed out for Quants and Verbal, if you haven’t had enough practice).
5.Prepare yourself mentally before every section. Even if you are not doing well in the first few questions of a particular section, you CAN make up for lost ground by getting a string a correct answers. Whatever it is DO NOT THINK about the previous question. IT IS A BIG BIG mistake.
6.Do not try to judge the difficulty of the questions you are getting. Even if you get the first 15 questions right, you will see a few really easy questions, ‘cos that’s how the GMAT is designed. And remember, more often than not, you are doing much better than you think you are.
7.If you have had a bad section, forget about it and move on to the next.
Don’t screw up your next section thinking about the previous one. A lot of people make that mistake and end up with scores much lower than what they deserve.
8.WHATEVER you do, manage your time and answer all the questions in the section. Leaving a question unanswered will affect your score adversely. Guess the last few questions if you have to, ‘cos chances are the GMAT has already determined your score, but leave nothing unanswered.
I’m sorry for posting such a long post, but I do hope that at least some of you can benefit from my experience.
Thanks for reading and All the Best. Would be more than happy to answer any queries any of you might have.