(trying one more time...)
I have always wanted to come back from the test center and write about a score that would inspire others. My debrief is not so much "a how to" as it is a "can be done"....so here goes!
I work fulltime, and started exploring the MBA option a few years ago. Been thinking of taking the test for a few years now, but was uncertain about the when
part. At the start of the year, I decided it had to be this fall or not all! So it began...I found it quite hard to get going initially - work was a major roadblock. But then thanks to corporate godsend, my project got canned and I had a few weeks to kick start my prep (~May 07). A few weeks into my prep I started looking around online and found this debrief (which i tried to emulate)... I still love it for the detail:
Work didn't let up for long, but wasn't too brutal. So I started accumulating the material listed in the debrief. Also signed up for the wonderful yet very unnerving GMAT club challenges
. These challenges did well to destroy any bravado that I had built up with OG reviews. But going through them was a learning experience. It let me go back and review concepts that I thought I knew, but not well enough!
The journey continued for many months...Momentum was always an issue. A tough work week or two would bring all prep to a stand still. But I tried to get a couple of study hours in before work each weekday. I had initially set up my appointment for the 4th of August. But as the test date approached, I was quite convinced that I wouldn't be ready. But, with a determination to not let August pass without a test score, I moved the date to the 31st. And then prep work began (again) in earnest. I started putting in study time consistently on weekdays and weekends. On weekends I would just go in to work and sit in an empty conference room all day. I finally took my official prep test in the 2nd week and got 720 (49q, 40v). It was my second full test ever and was more surprised by the mental effort it took to work through 3 hours. The first one was a Kaplan
test..which was so convoluted that I found it a waste of time (scored 580 btw ).
This last week, i just used up a week's worth of vacation. Been at home, and focussed on OG11
reviews. I went through the whole of SC last weekend - Had to do this because I got half of all SC wrong in my prep test. I didn't worry about RC or CR much. Once done with SC, I went through all the quant exercises, beginning to end. For comparison here is what I averaged in my OG review: SC - 8/10, DS - 8/10 (last 30 questions , i got 15 wrong
), Problems - 8.5/10.
And last night was tough! This should have been expected based on other's experiences. But the world came crashing down. After taking an easy day, reviewing grammar concepts, I started reviewing my Veritas project GMAT
again. This book had helped immensely in the last few weeks. It helped strengthen concepts and also build confidence for combinatorics and probability questions. But as I started to re-do problems that I had solved in the past, my brain started to freeze. I was committing simple math errors, missing insights on concepts that I was getting right earlier and so on...I didn't feel very well after that.
At this point, my response was...
# treat it like a prep test, find out where you are at.
# its nerves. it happens. Focus on the problem, find the solution. One question at a time.
# Good that the errors were made on the night before. Now I know that after all these months of learning not to make silly errors, I will have to recheck every multiplication and factorization.
# and yah...my job still pays good $ - so its not the end of the world.
A fairly sleepless night went by. I reviewed my notes this morning. And off to the test center I went. I got to Pearson half hour before my appointment. Present at 8:30 am. Ready for whatever the dell inspiron was going to throw at me...but a crisis called before I could get there.
The crisis was that my foreigner in an alien land status required me to present my passport - safely tucked away at home. 15 miles away. A mad scramble ensued. Wife's coordinates were gathered and she was given instructions to acquire passport from home and meet me enroute somewhere. Called Pearson test center and informed nice lady about current mitigation op in progress. Nice lady said...be here by 9:15. And that was that. Mitigation op progressed OK...thanks to lethargic local cops, ignoring speeding and red light jumping silver coupe. Passport exchanged hands at dynamically scheduled drop off point. I got back to Pearson at 9:15.
I know that this is a bit of a tangent and rarely occurs...but I think it affected my mindset today. IN crisis mode, i find calmness and focus. I am not encouraging anyone to repeat this. Please take your passport with you if you are not a citizen of the country you are in! Or read the gmat rules on ID (completely). If I had been late to the test center, I was prepared for the lost of $250. If not, i knew i had the essays to get my breath back.
As the test began, I went through the essays in the alloted time. Quant was OK, but could have been better. I had random brain freezes on questions I knew were solvable. On some of these, I manage to thaw my senses and see the light. Overall, I thought it went OK...but wasn't confident. I took breaks after both the essay and the quant sections. Pearson allowed 10 minutes...wasn't sure if it was going to be 5 or 10 minutes. That time really helped recharge and rejuvenate. As verbal got started, I thought i was making errors because the difficulty levels seemed to vary. I was doing OK on time initially...about 1:50 per question. But later on as I started looking at the clock, I realized I was averaging less than a minute. I think I saved the most time on CR...i was breezing through them. With 12 minutes to go, I had 3 questions left. At this point..i knew I had either aced it or flunked it. I went through the last few...spent about 5 minutes on the last SC (question 41). I then filled the torturous survey, trying to be nice when all I wanted was to click the wrong radio button (if only pearson would allow us to take the survey online). Survey done. Score or not? Hell with it..i want my score.
...and 760. 48 q, 44 v.
I thanked the nice lady at the reception. She was happy to see the score too. I am glad there are nice people like her around.
I am off to see how I can put together an application and jump through visa hoops to get to a good school.
Quick note on study materials and time spent:
Manhattan (complete set)
Veritas Project GMAT
GMAT Club Challenges
( I did about 8 of them) Kaplan
(didn't like it) GMAT prep (did one prep test. Tried to save one for the last week. But didn't use it.)
3 months. In spurts. 1 week of concentrated prep in last week.