Last monday I took the GMAT and was delighted to get 760. Although I've never posted in the forum, it has been hugely helpful and I've enjoyed reading quite a lot of these debriefs so I thought the least I could do was put a short one up myself.
I planned to do the GMAT at the beginning of the year but went abroad for a few months and wasted quite a lot of time doing no revision at all, so when I got back (5th June) I booked myself an appointment for the 5th August (approximately 2 months) and started revising.
Before I even begin I want to say this; If I had one piece of advice to give to GMAT takers it would be to focus on the Verbal section. I think a lot of people place a lot of weight on the Quantitative section when in fact the Verbal gives you the most bang for your buck. It affects your overall score more and is, in my opinion, the easier one to improve in certain respects.
I'm a recent economics graduate so my maths skills were reasonably fresh. I purchased the OG and worked through every question, usually in batches of about 30 and giving myself around 2 minutes for each one, taking down the numbers of the questions I got wrong. I did this until I got to the Sentence Correction section. Once I reached here I decided to stop because unlike in other sections I felt I wasn't using any type of logic or understanding but merely guessing which was leading to a lot of mistakes. I had read too many times on the forum how valuable OG questions were to waste them by guessing and then reading up the answers.
So I purchased the Manhattan Sentence Correction
guide, which I found awesome. I read it once in just over a day but didn't take everything in properly so read it another time and made notes on each chapter. Now I had some sort of rulebook to follow when trying to answer SC questions I tried some more and improved considerably in my percentage correct. In the Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning sections of the OG I answered more than 90% correct so I didn't feel the urge to get freaked out about those.
Up till now I still hadn't done a single practice test. This was approximately a month in. I knew I only had 2 GMATPrep tests
and wanted to use them when I felt I was reasonably ready as opposed to a way of checking my starting point which is what a lot of people recommend.
I took the first test on July 14th. I was fasting (the whole last month was during Ramadan) and this was just before sunset so by the end I was answering questions pretty quickly just because I wanted to be done. I finished all three sections with quite a bit of time left over (8 mins for Q and 10 mins for V) and feared the worst when I clicked through to my scores but to my relief I scored 720 (Q48,v41). 720 was the score I was aiming to get in my real test so I was really happy to be on track and furthermore I felt that if I gave it 100% and didn't make silly mistakes I could even improve in the three weeks I had left.
Next I got the maths Manhattan books
off a friend and flicked through them. The most useful ones were the number properties and word problems. Number properties was actually really interesting and I learnt a lot of stuff I didn't know about prime numbers and fractions especially the recurring decimals fact (2/9 = 0.22222, 15/99 = 0.15151515 etc). These little facts are really helpful and save a lot of time in GMAT questions so I would definitely recommend reading these books.
I wanted to save my second GMATPrep exam so I decided to take a Manhattan test on the 26th. I scored a 680 (Q46,V37) which sent alarm bells ringing. I started to think that I may have gotten lucky with some questions on the GMATPrep exam and I wasn't as good at this as I thought. I took another Manhattan exam on the 29th and again scored 680 (Q46, V37) which was worrying. I had a week left and was now nervous that I wouldn't get my 720 goal and would have to retake. I skimmed through the Manhattan SC guide one more time and rewrote my notes. I also found an SC guide written by 'Whiplash' which I used to add to my notes (thanks!) and I'll attach here.
August 2nd was the day I decided to take my second GMATPrep exam. This almost seemed as important as the exam itself. If I got 720 this go around, I could push the Manhattan exams to the back of my mind and go in with confidence. If I didn't.. then I would've had a lot more stress than I had hoped for. This time I took the exam and was better with my time, didn't rush through and tried to make sure I wasn't left with too much time. I finished the exam and got 760! Unfortunately my mac then decided to crash which meant my score was deleted and I couldn't see which questions I got wrong. My annoyance was minimised by the score I'd managed to glimpse just before the app crashed.
I retook GMATPrep 2 the next day and got 730 (Q50,V40) but saw a couple repeated questions so was under no time pressure at all. I was happy with the score but knew it was possibly inflated due to my repeat of some questions.
Word of advice: I bought the OG individual Quant and Verbal guides. To be honest I shouldn't have bothered; the questions seemed much easier than OG and I felt like I was just doing them for the sake of it. I think the OG is enough for people who aren't feeling too nervous for the exam.
I retook both GMATPrep exams just for exam conditions practice and got 760 and 770 but again I didn't take these scores seriously as there were quite a few repeats and I was more doing this just to get myself used to the format. I also did the final exam with AWA which I realised I had neglected only a few days before my actual exam. I got ever so slightly nervous but once again this forum proved invaluable. I used a template posted by "Chineseburned" I believe? (Thank you!) and this helped me get a structure to my answers. Again, I'm an econ major and a native speaker so I don't have too much trouble writing analytical essays for the most part.
On the test day I arrived really early, had a quick glance through my SC notes again then chilled in the waiting area. I was fasting again but luckily it was a 10am exam so I wasn't feeling too hungry. Got the AWA done reasonably well for what I felt was a tricky question, the IR I'm not too sure how I did as I always find the questions a bit unclear but the quant I finished with a couple minutes to go and felt reasonably good about which left just the verbal. I raced through the verbal questions and finished with about 8 minutes to go on my 41st question. I took my time with it but was a bit nervous as I knew the exam was meant to be quite time pressured. I clicked through and was delighted to see my score of 760 (Q49,V45)
I had been aiming for 720 so to get 99th percentile was really more than I'd expected and hoped for.
I wanted to thank the forum and all the posters for all the moral support I got from reading your comments and I wish all future takers the best of luck!