I have been preparing for GMAT for over 10 months. Having seen multiple ups and downs, joys and sorrows, I am elated to score over 730 (my goal) on the exam. I hope that this score with my experience will help me get into one of the top B schools, probably with some scholarship. I would appreciate inputs from other’s who have some experience with the same.
I got a lot from the communities at BTG and GC . Here are the things that I learned.First phase: Study hard and solve lots of questions
I started preparing in November 2011 using the Princeton review’s cracking the GMAT
. The book is a great introduction but little beyond that. It just lacks any depth and is quite inadequate for non-natives. I took a mock test after completing the book and scored a pathetic 23 on verbal. That’s when I joined BTG. I saw MGMAT highly recommended and purchased the entire pack.
The MGMAT books
were much better and dealt with things in unbelievable detail. The quant books especially the one on number properties and sets are excellent. I have TATA McGraw Hill’s CAT book that deals with the same topics but it in no way compares to the MGMAT series
. I also liked the Verbal books for they helped me improve my Verbal score to from 23 to 32 (MGMAT mocks) but somehow I could not improve beyond that. This was a very frustrating period as I kept on revising the books but without much improvement. I solved a number of questions on GC (Kudos to BB for the tagging system) but that did not help.
Phase 2, focused study
Desperate for improvement I looked for help. I found two companies that fit my budget – GMATPill and e-GMAT
. After asking people around, I went for e-GMAT
(thanks Vinnik for your recommendation). The course was really helpful in pushing my score from 32 to 40. These folks at e-GMAT
have a very different approach. They teach SC using logic, something that came very intuitively to me. I knew most of the rules but was not aware of the logic behind those. Once you understand those, applying them became a lot easier. This helped me improve. SC became fun. In CR, the Prethinking approach helped a lot in improving accuracy for more difficult questions. Overall, the course gave me much more structured approach towards my prep. Overall, the course provided me with a lot more clarity. Check it out if you need help on Verbal.
This also helped me focus on quant and improve to 50. I read the number properties book again (very important if you want to reach 50), did all the difficult DS problems that I found from any source and revised my mocks diligently. The last point helped me a lot. As I solved my mocks, I realized that in every mock I would answer 2-3 questions incorrectly due to silly mistakes. I focused just on weeding those mistakes out and was able to do that in 2 weeks. My learnings:
1. Do not give up: GMAT is a very logical exam and if you are good with logic you should be able to do reasonably well. Focus on the basics if you are not improving. Define your weak areas and work on them.
2. Keep time for Sentence Correction: SC is vast, especially for non-natives. The best way to master SC is to build a foundation. Learn clauses and phrases well. Then, learn all the rules but focus especially on Verb-ing modifiers, Verb ed, FANBOYS. Work on your ability to identify lists. We are not trained to do that. (look at the helpful resources section for help there)
3. Understand the logic in CR: Most of us are good in CR. However, to score 40, you need to be better. Focus on why the correct answer is correct and the wrong answer is wrong. This was one thing I struggled with. I wish I had created a document of all the good solutions. Look for good solutions either on forums but pose a question if you are satisfied with the logic.
4. Read properly in Reading Comprehension: Build your vocabulary (not GRE level but definitely better than regular English), get comfortable with the various topics and learn how to read and retain information. My ability to retain information was limited when I started. I had to take a lot of notes. As I stretched myself, I realized that I could retain more and consequently the speed improved and the reliance on notes went down. Also read a few good magazines/journals (if you can read journals, they help a lot)
5. Quant: Aim for a 50 and work on it. 700+ score becomes a lot easier if you can get 50 on quant. Work on your weak areas. Do not leave DS for the end of your prep. Do it early. Do not hesitate to brush up the basics even if you are very good.
6. Focused prep: As you isolate your weaknesses, find good theory material and questions. Work on it till you are satisfied with it.
7. Selective Sacrifice: GMAT prep requires time and everyone is busy. One of the biggest challenges I faced was to decide where to cut off. I stopped attending all but important social visits. I did lighten up on my gym schedule but realized that it was counter productive. I also realized that short sport stints such as playing a game of badminton really helped me. I would recommend that you don’t give up on sports while preparing. One more thing, I also took half my vacation during for my prep.Helpful resources:
There are many helpful resources available on the web. Here are some that I have AWA:how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
- the best one.GMATprep questions: gmatprepsc-105446.htmlgmat-prep-critical-reasoning-collection-106783.htmlSources to improve reading
1. NyTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html
The opinion column is full of great articles. Read those that are not too long.
2. WSJ: A good place to get started for business articles. There are some articles on policy too.
a. Economic section: http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news- ... pnav_na_us
b. Life and culture: http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news- ... lture_main
3. Discover magazine: http://discovermagazine.com/
4. Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/
(lots of short articles)
5. HBR blog: http://hbr.org/
(short and long articles, excellent sentence construction)
6. Journal of American history: http://www.journalofamericanhistory.org/
7. Competition Success Review: Print only, for people in India.
8. Creativity post: http://www.creativitypost.com/
- bio sciences related articlesUse Evernote
: This is a very helpful tool to catalogue whatever you read. There are times when you stumble upon something that you are unable to complete. Use this tool to tag and archive. Why use this tool: It has excellent search capabilities and it works on every smartphone, tablet and computer. Give it a try. You will not be disappointed. This is one life saver free tool.
I know it has been a log debrief. I hope it helps you.