Took the test at the Pearson Vue center in San Jose today. The results are:
Q 48 86%ile
V 46 99%ile
Total 760 99%ile
Of course I'm very happy about my scores, but I can't help thinking that my Q score came in lower than I expected. More on that later.
Peterson's GMAT -- A good, quick read to know the basics for the GMAT, but I didn't touch it after that. All the problems are quite easy and don't have the breadth of those on the real test.
OG, 11th ed. -- Definitely the best resource for study. The last third of each section is a good indicator of the actual questions and level of difficulty. I haven't used the 10th ed, so I can't compare between the two. I like that the problems are arranged in the order of difficulty. In the last few days, moving backwards from the last question, I only worked on those questions I didn't recall from the GMATprep tests
. I wish there were more OGs for sale, or that each OG was thrice as thick as it is now.
: ~10 days ago, I discovered this forum and read that many people (esp. high scorers) used this book. I rushed and bought it, but didn't find it useful. The PS and DS are way weaker than those in the highest bin in the OG, and definitely easier than the actual GMAT. I mean, just slightly changing the wording of PS/DS questions doesn't make them more difficult. I didn't use it for verbal at all. In RC, I found that I disagreed with their answers and explanations a lot. I think itâ€™s ok for CR, but still not close to the toughest questions on the real test.
Manhattan Verbal guides: Frankly, I found the techniques in the CR and RC book (Premise-Assumption-Conclusion diagrams, skeletal diagrams, writing down summaries for RC, etc.) onerous and impractical. I don't know about others, but I simply didn't have the time to use these techniques during the test. We get < 2 min for each V question, and even though I used ~1 min on average for SC in any of my practice tests, I didnâ€™t get time to do any kind of writing for CR/RC. I found the Manhattan SC
book to be awesome and I'm glad I found it. At first, I was unsure of my SC answers but worked on them steadily. I have to credit only this book with raising my V score. IMO, SC is the only area you can study for a relatively short period and see quick results. This book summarizes all the SC traps quite nicely and I referred to it again and again. It is a short read and the concepts are explained clearly. As a result of this book, in my last SC practice session (I only solved questions not seen before in the GMATprep tests
), I was getting a strike rate of 8/9 in SC in the top 1/3rd bin.
Arco's 2007 guide: Borrowed this from the local public library. This is totally useless. I found that the V questions are not formulated carefully, so there was considerable headache in trying to learn from my mistakes. A question has no value if you try to learn from your mistake and donâ€™t agree with the OA. I found this to be a common problem in all V questions other than those from the OG. The Q section isn't very helpful either.
This book has 6 paper tests and 3 CATs. The V questions were so far removed from the real thing that after the first test, I did only the Q section on each test.
AWA -- Downloaded the AWA document from this forum and found it immensely helpful (to the author(s): thank you!). These essays are very good and gave me a lot of ideas about sentence formulation, choice of words, etc. (how many ways can you say â€˜firstlyâ€™?) I didn't find the ARCO essay AWA guide at my local B&N, but I guess I didn't need it after all. Iâ€™ll post my AWA score when I get it (Iâ€™m guessing > 5.0. I think my essays were not much worse than those in the AWA doc).
Study time -- I started reading the basic Peterson's book ~Nov 4th, but soon found its limitations. I got the other stuff (Manhattan, OG, etc.) ~Nov 10th and started studying for 2-3 hrs every weekday and for a few more hours during the weekend. I guess I put in a total of 20-25 hrs per week from then till Dec 19. The best decision I took was to take the last week off and study like crazy. This cannot help beyond a certain point, but it worked for me. Not in terms of boosting my scores by a huge number, but it got me in a 'GMAT frame of mind' that I thought I was lacking, and gave me some time to work on different kinds of Q problems. Before then, I would return from work at 7 every evening and even if I put in 2-3 hours every day, it simply isnâ€™t the same as having an entire week to probe your weaknesses and work on them.
Nov. 5th: Peterson's paper test from the GMAT book -- this is not a full test but estimates your score from a total of ~ 50 questions. I scored ~680, I think.
Nov. ~10: Diagnostic paper test taken at Kaplan
: 650 -- I was expecting better and was surprised by this score. Only later did I realize that this test is ridiculously tougher than the real thing. I guess Kaplan
wants you to think that you really need their tutoring. Anyway, at the least it gave me the impetus to get off my butt and start putting in some real study time.
Nov 24 -- Powerprep I, 710 (Q 50, V42?)
Nov 30 -- Powerprep II, 730 (Q 50, V40?) â€“ I didnâ€™t track V scores precisely
Dec. 7 -- GMATprep I, 740 (Q50, V43)
Dec 10 -- GMATprep II, 730 (Q49, V43)
Dec 20 -- GMATprep I, 770 â€“ not a true score. I had reinstalled GMATprep, hoping to get a different problem set. This works to an extent in Q, but not at all in V. I found that I remembered almost all of the CR/RC questions/answers, and by this time, I had exhausted all questions from the OG. Still provided me good practice for Q, though.
I reinstalled GMATprep again on Dec 21, but in vain. Many of the Q questions were the same too. I didn't take GMATprep after this.
Worried that I was running out of tests, I bought the retired paper tests (# 28, 42, 52) from mba.com. I didn't find them helpful at all, and if you use them to get a fair measure of your real ability, you are wasting your time. I took the first two sets and scored:
Dec 22 -- 770
Dec 24 -- 800(!!!) ==> I was so happy about this, despite knowing that Q on these tests is WAY easier than the new CAT. I'm sure many people here had the same experience. Since the paper tests are constructed differently (6 sections averaging 25 min each), I took 3 sections at a time at a 75 min stretch. They are a poor substitute for the CAT. They are ok for V practice, though. It is difficult to believe that these are real tests from the past. I think the Q level now is much higher than just 6-7 years ago. I actually finished the Q section with a few minutes to spare â€“ THAT had never happened before in GMATprep. They gave me a nice confidence boost.
I think the 1000 SC/PS sets on these forums could have helped me study more efficiently, at least in Q. In all my practice tests, I was very fast at calculations and almost never made careless math mistakes. My Achilles heel was that sometimes, I would misinterpret the question and would go down the wrong path. By the time I would realize my mistake and start over, the 2 min average for that question was up. The honest answer is that maybe Iâ€™m not as strong in Q as I thought I was, and could have worked smarter and harder at getting some of my fundamental ideas correct about concepts (not the equations) such as probability, interest, etc. You solve 99 types in the practice tests and forums, but the real test has the 100th type, and if your basics arenâ€™t solid, then youâ€™re lost. I probably should have tackled a broader category of problems. Perhaps the 1000 DS/PS set on these forums could have helped me in this regard. Unfortunately, I discovered this forum just about a week ago.
I'm really happy with my score, but scored 2 pts lower than my usual in Q (and a little higher than usual in V). Around problem ~20, I got a seemingly easy profit-loss question, but my answer didn't match any of the answers. I wasted > 5 mins on this, and still ended up guessing. This put me under tremendous time pressure. A few questions later, I got to an equation that I simply couldn't factor, no matter what. Ended up guessing on this one too after a few minutes trying other approaches to the problem. I rushed the last few questions like crazy and had to guess the last question with 4 seconds to go. I wonder who the Quant gods on these forums are who finish Q with a few minutes to spare. I always struggled with Q timing, even on my practice tests, but never to the point where I had to guess on a question. This was the only time I scored < 49 in Q.
I have an honest question: I know my overall score is very strong, but the programs I'm applying for (Haas, Carnegie-Mellon, and UCLA -- all part-time programs), are quite quantitative, and as such, perhaps the Q subscore is more important to them. In that case, do you think my Q is on the lower end of their scale, or am I being paranoid? Do schools put a higher emphasis on Q than V? Or will they just put me in the 700+ bracket and forget about my score?
Now that the GMAT is done with, it's good to have my life back. I've been living and breathing GMAT for the last 5 weeks. I'll take a breather for a couple of days before working on my essays. I haveâ€™t played with my 2 yr-old kid beyond a few minutes for the last two weeks and havenâ€™t helped my wife with anything either. Didnâ€™t even go out to get a Christmas gift. She told me today that my score was a great gift. That still means I better get her something soon
Thanks to all the people here whoâ€™ve posted detailed replies to many questions (not mine â€“ I had no time to post questions last week. As you see, Iâ€™m making up for that now). I have been a lurker for the last week, but dearly wish that I had found this site sooner. Names escape me, but Iâ€™ve found posts from dahiya, honghu, paul, and jaynayak to be very helpful. Thanks everyone!
If you force me to give you â€˜adviceâ€™
--If you want to score 51 in Q, start with the basics. Get your basics right, and only then move on. Donâ€™t assume (like I did) that just because you get a few probability/parabola/whatever problems right, you can solve any problem in that category. The ones in the actual test are worded differently and may be trickier. Iâ€™m not saying theyâ€™re harder than the GMATprep questions, just different.
--Timing is everything. ALWAYS work under time pressure and also learn to guess intelligently and move on. Getting stuck on a Q question for > 5 min (again, as I did) isnâ€™t smart.
--If your test center is Pearson near San Jose airport, youâ€™ll need earplugs. The planes are loud! If you can, take a couple of tests in a public library with some ambient noise so you learn to concentrate even then. I did this and think it helped me.
Let me know if you want to buy any of the above materials from me (my email's in my profile). I'm in the SF bay area, so if you're local, you can pick them up anytime.
I'll take a beer and laze in front of the TV now
Good luck to all of you who're taking the test soon.