Thank you gmat club! Thankyou Bunuel, Karishma, Chineseburned and others who have taught me so much.
I took my gmat 3 week ago, I've been occupied with a lot of office work that I conveniently chose to ignore writing this. My apologies! A bit about my background:
Indian,Engineer, mba from one of the top ten b schools in India, work going nowhere: so thought of having a score just in case I choose to apply in the near future.
I assumed GMAT would be a cakewalk for me as I have already cleared the CAT in India. But I was wrong. The two exams are very different: in CAT you can choose to leave out your weak areas and answer selectively, in GMAT you cannot.
So I casually took a GMAT prep practise test in office, taking just about 30 seconds for every question, priding myself that I'm a know it all. I was shocked with a 490! So then began my phase of contemplation, if i should write or not write, as I realised I have to put in the effort to study. I wasn't sure if I wanted to. Actual preparation:
I thought the best way to study would be to take practise tests. I took all the free practise tests I would find online. At that stage, I did not even clearly know what the format of the exam was. The scores were hovering around mid 500s. I then stumbled into GMAT club. It was an eye opener. I spent almost a whole week just reading through the website, understanding the test format, looking at people's queries, realising the effort everyone puts in etc. I then realised I need to have a concrete plan in place. This was about 3 months before my test date. I had not booked my test date then. And this is how it all panned out:
1. I used Manhattan SC. I spent a whole week studying Manhattan SC and taking down notes. (I made concise notes covering only the areas that I already was not aware of)
2. I then read Manhattan CR
- took less than a day to complete. I took down notes, but I would say it wasn't too helpful in dealing with CR, except for understanding the various types of questions.
3. I started taking Manhattan tests every week: (This was after finishing CR and SC books, and while I was in the middle of AQ) Scores were hovering around 680-710.
4. It was July 4th: GMAT club tests
for free! I got overwhelmed and did 4 quants tests and 2 verbal tests. I had earlier taken the free tests offered by gmatclub- it was quite easy. So I took the first test with an 'easy' attitude. But.. Quants was so difficult I scored only 27% in the first test! I then realised I shouldn't be taking it lightly. I slogged through the other 3 quants test, but my score had only reached 43%. At the end of July 4th, I was so exhausted. So exhausted that I did not go back to my gmat preparation for a whole week. Don't ever overload yourself. Please pay money and buy gmatclub tests
atleast so that you can spread it out :D
5. A week later, I resumed preparation- I did a hundred 700 SC questions (a great download from GMAT club)- it really helped me practise and put in place concepts for 700+ SC questions.
6. I am living in a foreign country, and it was a one week break here. I had to use that time to go back to India. Again, my preparation was stalled for 10 days inbetween. I did some study while in the flights, but not too much.
7.I came back and realised I had lost focus. I decided it was time to book the test date. I wanted to book it two months later, but I did not have dates, so I had to take it at the 40th day. 40 days to go.
8. I realised my quant isn't as strong as I thought it was, I opened Manhattan advanced quant. Started out with the practise sets directly. Timed them always. It was a good refresher.
9. I narrowed down some weak areas in quant: which was principally absolute values and inequalities. I did Bunuel's signature questions on those- what an eye opener.
10. I then got hooked to Bunuel's signature questions: I would have done about 45-50% of his signature collection. It was a pleasure.
11. All the while, my score in Manhattan tests were not improving. It was fluctuating in the same range: 690-720. And random increases and decreases.
I never scored well in Manhattan IR. Never crossed a 3/8. It was very disappointing.
12. sitting on gmat club and doing random questions became a time pass activity. I had their app downloaded, and would open it even those 2 minutes i was in an elevator for want of something to do!
13. Ten days before the test, my friend gave me the old Kaplan
tests. What a shocker! 590-630. It totally demoralised me. I would keep checking gmatclub for assuaging posts on how Kaplan
is not reflective.
14. the last one week: I took two manhattan tests. My test was on a Tuesday. I also had the GMAT PREP practise questions for
That weekend I took both the GMAT prep tests: 700 and 710. I was mighty disappointed. I would keep coming back to the GMAT score predictor and hope something would change, it never did. I knew my range was 680-720.
15. That is when I stumbled into souvik's The Most comprehensive colleciton of everything official-SC. That last weekend I consumed that like crazy, but still could do only half of it.
16. Read through Chineseburned AWA strategy earlier- brushed it up once again. Every single practise test I took- I always made it a point to write the essay. On the test day:
I had already visited the test centre, I took a cab and reached there half an hour before. The exam began. I always used a laptop for preparation, but for the first time I was using a desktop- the difference being that the desktop is at a higher angle. That was pretty distracting at first. I wasn't able to concentrate for my AWA- but I'm generally fast at my essay, so I used the time to compose myself and read through the essay 3 times before submitting it.
My achilles heel section: IR! It was much much easier than MGMATS. but I was not able to concentrate! I kept re reading the question! But somehow I was able to focus towards the end . I wasn't exactly sure how I had done it, but I knew I would get a decent 4 above.
Break: Based on some debriefs I had read: I was ready with my energy food. Two little mandarins. A big table spoon full of glucose. A quick run to the restroom. Back to the exam hall. I was somehow much more calmer by then. Thank good for the opening section which is not that important.
Quant: The very third question was a tough one for me. (a DS question with inequalities where we need to test 7-8 cases) I spent a lot of time on it, and was somehow sure I got it wrong. But beyond a point, the questions were so easy that I started to freak out. The 24th question was literally a 400 level question: what percent of x is y types. I was a bit worried- but I had read in GMAT club that it could also be the trial question for later tests. I had taken a second booklet around the 20th question.
At the 30th question, I realised I had just 10 minutes! My handwriting became larger and larger, that for the 33th question- I needed another booklet. I raised my hands and the supervisor thought I finished my test and came in to look at me without a booklet!! I had 4 quesions and 6 minutes left! she took away my existing booklet, and I was staring at an upstream downstream speed question and I had no booklet!! In the pressure of the moment, I solved it in my head and moved on.She came back with a booklet by then. When I finished the last question I had 3 minutes to spare. I don't how I gained that speed. At that point, I calmed down and thought in detail about the upstream downstream sum. I realised I had done it correctly, even though I had no paper. That was a confidence booster. I clicked submit. (Although, this is a wrong thing to do. If I had realised it was wrong, I may have been a bit upset during verbal)
Again, I had a banana and a table spoon full of glucose. Had enough water just to wet my throat and went back for verbal.
Verbal: The second question was an idiomatic SC and I spent almost 4 minutes on it, before I chose to move on. Verbal SCs were not as easy as i thought ,atleast in the beginning. Towards the end, I clearly knew the SCs were 700+, and I also knew the clear right answer. So it felt good. RCs were not that tough. But again. I had 7 questions left and just 10 minutes. That time pressure helped to focus my concentration- and I got an unexplainable power to do it fast.
As I waited for my score, I wasn't even nervous. I knew it had to be a minimum 670. that is not too bad right? But yeah, I smiled as I saw a 750!
phew! Now I had never touched that score in any test, but I realised my performance under pressure is pretty good. What a learning !
So my final scores:Q-50 V-41 AWA:6 IR:8
Could I ask for anything more? :D A strategy I would recommend:
As you would have realised, my plan was confused- I kept trying my hand at every possible material I could lay my hands on. Avoid that. If you are already in the early 600s in your first test, this is a great strategy I can recommend to you:
1. Manhattan SC guide. Take notes.
2. When you are practising SCs, always try and understand why the answer you thought was right is actually wrong. That is important. Almost every question you would have access to is discussed well in gmatclub. Do the same for CR. Always be clear about where you go wrong. Follow Karishma- she is pretty good.
2. Manhattan Advanced Quant (time it!) and Bunuels' signature questions just for your weak area. It helps a lot with 700+ questions. But still -don't be demotivated by it- it is much, much tougher than the actual exam. Even if you do not do Bunuel's questions, ALWAYS check for Bunuels' answers. His way of doing maths is unbeatable. Try and learn that.
4. Manhattan's test series: Quants is tougher than the actual exam, but it is ok, the scores are a good reflection.
5. Finish your GMAT Prep tests a week before your exam. Spend the last week doing Souvik's "comprehensive collection of everything SC, RC, CR, DS". It really, really helps you develop a ear for GMAT kind of questions. If it wasn't for this score, I would have regretted not doing that.
6. You can also squeeze the GMAT prep software, get the older two version, squeeze those two too, and literally get 12 practise tests. But remember there could be overlaps and don't be influenced too much by the scores. Use it merely for practise.
7. Don't miss chineseburned's AWA strategy. It helped me with my 6/6.
8. The GMAT prep's IR questions are closest to the tests. don't fret over Manhattan's- it is too difficult.
9. Always do your AWA and IR. As someone else had mentioned in their debrief, it is not a sprint, but a marathon. they key is to keep yourself focussed and energised for 3.5 hours.
10. Pick up the one page summaries you can find here for Powerscores's CR. I was having a difficult time spotting a certain type of answer for 'Assumption question", when I spent 10 minutes reading through the summary, it was a Eureka moment: I was always looking for supporter assumptions and never could identify defender assumptions. I consciously tried applying that and it worked.
11. Error log
, It is very helpful for initial stages. I always wrote 7*8= 72. One look at error log
and I realised I had repeated that mistake twice. It did help me to weed out such costly mistakes. There are so many tiny things I learnt through that error log
(and I was not even too sincere in maintaining it)
Spend a lot of time on this forum reading people's experiences, it helps you a lot. One of my friends didn't do well because he didn't take a restroom break. Don't end up losing out for such small things.
Good luck! May the GMAT lord shower you with a 750+ as well!