Written 8/25: Warning: As you can probably tell from this long thread I tend to say very little with many words, so read at your own risk. If you're cramming for the GMATs then it's more valuable to read the shorter debriefs
My “quest” is over, and luckily I don't plan on engaging in another GMAT quest ever again. I received a Q49, V44 for a 760 and I'm not too bummed out about not hitting 800
.Thanks to everyone at gmatclub for their continuing support, the mods and creators of gmatclub tests
, and special thanks to Avenusaur and gmanjesh for their valuable tips and sanity checks.
I took my gmat this morning. I'll start with the test day debrief and follow with my study recommendations.
I read a lot of debriefs from other people so I was able to get a lot of tips before test day. I know some people have trouble sleeping the night before or wake up really early on test date; luckily for me I slept like a baby and felt really good the morning of the test. I had planned on getting to the test center an hour earlier and grab brunch since my test was scheduled for noon. I ended up getting there there two hours early. I took the extra time to buy 2 bottles of 5-hour energy, 2 bananas, and water. At the diner, it only took me 15 minutes to eat. I had prepared for test very intensely for ~5 weeks, averaging about 6-8 hours a day. However, this past week I didn't really study much and the day before the test I hardly studied anything at all. I felt a bit rusty so I was determined to do some practice OG problems at the cafe. I think this is a fairly good way of getting your brain in gmat-mode prior to taking the test. After about 15 minutes though I got tired and went to the test center 1.5 hours early because I had read that people are often allowed to take tests early.
At the test center (16th floor of Herald Square- NY) I was sort of annoyed that there was construction going on. The lady was very nice but unfortunately I could only start the test at 11:30, so I had to sit around and wait for an extra hour. The test center itself was going under construction and thus there were no bathrooms on the floor! What's worse is one had to take an elevator to either the 15th or 17th floor to use the restroom. There was staircase that said “Staircase under construction, only enter under emergencies.” I decided that having 8 minutes to wait for an elevators and use the bathroom constituted an emergency so I risked my life and used the staircase (which was clearly under construction but fine).
During the wait room I also had to use the bathroom twice for some reason. I was a bit embarrassed that people would think I had an overactive bladder.
Perhaps the most important tip I received came from the admin. As you all know, 8 minutes is a short time for a break. The admin told me to raise my hand and call the admin before clicking YES for the break.
The reason for this is because sometimes it takes a while for the admin to come, and if he's standing there while you press YES you get the full 8 minutes. This came in handy because after the quant section I had a couple of minutes left and raised my hand for my break. Since I was in the corner it took him literally two minutes to come over. If I had opted to take the break and clicked yes I would have been screwed ¼ of my time. Definitely try to remember this during your test.
The center came with earplugs and huge headphones to block out noise, which I used during the test. I started the AWA and felt that they were a lot more difficult than I had expected. I sort of struggled through the second one (take a side) because the prompt was so unclear but I wrote it anyway. I figure I should at least receive a 5.5 since I'm a native speaker and wasn't too worried.
During the 8 minute break I ran up one floor and used the bathroom, ate a banana and swigged half a bottle of my 5 hour energy. I'm probably used up only 5 minutes of my break but I didn't care and wanted to start.
I made sure to follow MGMAT's timing strategy of checking the problem number every 15 minutes. I think this strategy is much better than looking at the problem and then figuring out how much time is left. MGMAT recommends that when you have 60 minutes left, you should be on Q7 or V8, 45 minutes left, Q14 or V16, 30 minutes left, Q(14+7) or V(16+8)...etc. I think this strategy is optimal because it frames your mindset. It's not that you are running out of time, you just have more questions to do. If you look at the question number and then try to determine how much time you have left, you may feel under pressure because of the clock ticking down. Small tricks such as (not like
) this were helpful to me.
I ran into quant troubles very early (at #5 and #6) but I had expected this since many people wrote this in their debriefs. Quant was a bit weird in that the questions were either really easy or really hard with few hard manageable questions. I only received 1 combinatorics/probability question that was so easy I had to do it three times to make sure there wasn't a trick question involved. During the latter part of the test I received some brutal geometry questions that involved similar trapezoids (wth?) and regular octagons. I sort of had time management issues in that somehow I had 20 minutes left with 6 questions to go but then 8 questions left with 4 to go, after those two problems. I ended up fairly satisfied with quant and expecting a Q50.
I ate my second banana and took my second swig of 5-hour energy. I had only planned on drinking half a bottle each break but since I had brought two bottles, I think I took the full bottle and downed the entire thing. After I used the bathroom I began to feel really jittery. Definitely not a good thing.
The verbal questions were fairly straightforward. I ran into a couple difficult sentence corrections at the beginning and I extremely long question (comparable to LSAT) but most of the questions were okay. The last 3 verbal questions were CR and very difficult; I spent my last 12 questions trying to figure them out and I wasn't sure whether I got them. Also, during the section I received absolutely NO bold-faced questions. I had heard rumors that those questions were indicators of doing well so I was a bit scared that I screwed up verbal badly. I ended up finishing with about 3 minutes left.
After the test was done I answered all the boring personal questions and before I clicked Report Score prayed that I would receive a 750+. I clicked and the screen showed a Q49 (87%) V44 (97%) - 760 (99%). A few fist pumps later I turned my head and saw the administrators smiling at me (didn't know they were watching). I received a couple of congratulations and exited the test center. After I left the test center I was a tiny bit disappointed by my Q49 (Avenusaur after all received a Q50 V44 which I hoped to match =) since I had successive Q51s, but I quickly shrugged that off since, well, a 760 definitely won't preclude me from any schools. Whew! Congrats on reading through this. On to my study strategy... Study Strategy
I am a recent college grad and had a couple of months before I started work. I figured 3 months would be sufficient time to prepare. I started my log on 5/26 but somehow procrastinated for 2 full months, leaving me about 6 weeks to study. I was so angry that I let that happen that I determined to dedicate all my time to the GMAT. For the next 5 weeks I studied about ~6-8 hours every day. The last few days before the test I probably studied about 3-4 hours a day. I didn't study at all the day before. What works for me might not work for you, so take everything with a grain of salt. With that said, I don't think I could have studied for more than 5 weeks with that intensity anyway, so I was pretty happy with the study timeframe.
I purchased the complete MGMAT books
+ OG guides on craigslist for $40, and bought the MGMAT online resources for $40. I also used several LSAT books, gmatclub tests
...etc. Sentence Correction
Materials Used [in order]:MGMAT SC
- I went through this twice and really got the hang of it the second time.
Brutal SC Doc- The first time I went through these I got really frustrated. I kept an error log
and redid them a week before the test day and got most of them correct.
Gmat-Sucecss Scs- Available online. They were very helpful but contain a lot of errors. They are good practice but make sure to google your answers to double check.
GMATPrep SC question doc- From sterny's debrief, I found these a week before the test. I went through them in two days and I believe they helped tremendously. In my opinion, MGMAT SC
is necessary to get a good quant score but definitely not sufficient. Once you get the basics, you need the GMATPrep SC doc to learn about the subtleties in the choices. Often times they'll be changes in meaning, ellipses, complex parallelisms- things that MGMAT SC
don't cover. Critical Reasoning
Materials used:Powerscore LSAT Logical Reasoning
Bible- My friend recently took the LSAT and let me borrow his LSAT LR book. Although I had the MGMAT CR
book I didn't think it would sufficient. I also didn't want to spend money on the Powersccore GMAT CR Book. I must say that this guide was ESSENTIAL (I'd bet that the powerscore GMAT CR book is equally good). It breaks down every single type of question and gives you strategies that make every question seem clear. For example, the assumption negation technique tells you that you can double check your answers simply by negating the answer choice and seeing if that weakens the question. The evaluate the argument technique tells you that when faced with answer choices, assume it is true then assume it is false. If one strengthens the argument and the other weakens it, your answer choice is correct.Kaplan
LSAT Mastery- I had to buy this book from Amazon because it's only available for Kaplan
students who register for a full LSAT course. Basically it is a list of almost all the official LSAT questions broken down by type. After reading the Assumption section in the Powerscore LSAT bible, I would do the 100 or so Assumption questions in the LSAT Mastery bible. After reading strengthen/weaken, I would specifically target those questions. Because all the questions are specific and from an official source (LSAT), I thought this book was also invaluable. Reading Comprehension MGMAT RC
Guide- I went through this first and really liked it. It definitely helped taking notes and identifying the structures. I started RC averaging about 3 wrong but after getting through the guide, I was still getting 1-2 wrong per section.
Powerscore LSAT RC
Guide- I went through this after and thought it was helpful but nothing groundbreaking. A lot of emphasis was put on diagramming (which of course is essential for the LSAT) but it was difficult to apply to the GMAT. However, I did learn 1 important tip- when doing a history passage or one with a lot of dates, draw a timeline of the events. There, I just saved you $60.Kaplan
LSAT Mastery- I had trouble with hard science passages and did all the LSAT science passages (organized in the book). I also did all the social science passages. Again, I really liked this book and would advise any serious student to get it (though it may be difficult to find).
Random LSAT Prep Tests- I did like 5 or 6 LSAT sections (each contained 27 questions/4 passages in 35 minutes). I don't think these were necessary but definitely helped.
The most important part of RC is just to practice. I used to think it was hard to improve- you either get it or you don't- but honestly after a lot of repetition you learn to read things very carefully. Eventually I just realized that when doing local questions, I had to read word-by-word or else I would miss the information necessary to answer the question. After I realized I simply wasn't reading carefully enough, my RC scores shot up.Quant MGMAT guides
- I read all the MGMAT guides
and went through them. Number Properties was very helpful, as was Geometry. I think they were essential in improving.GMATClub tests
- I got them for free after 200+ posts, which I managed to cram in several days (I'm a cheapo so I had registered for gmatclub 6 months beforehand to satisfy the 90-day requirement =P ). They really helped me concentrate on the details and I thought they were probably my best practice resource. A lot of info is given so I won't go too much in-depth. However, I felt that after doing the first 9 or so I got the hang of them. The following were my practice scores
As you can see, not the prettiest of scores. I thought the specific-question types were very helpful as well.
Sackmann Extreme Challenge & Data Sufficiency Sets- I thought they were a bit pricey at $25 per set, but if you get the Total Gmat Math
(which I didn't) + Sets I think the price is reasonable. I thought the DS set was great in helping my DS. The Challenge Set emphasized way too much on probability and combinatorics (which were barely represented on my GMAT).
That pretty much completes my materials. I also used OG11
, Official Verbal Review, and Official Quant Review. Honestly I only completed the questions that MGMAT required, so I went over a lot of the sentence corrections in the guide. Since I didn't use MGMAT for CR, I didn't even do 1 official CR question (LSAT questions were more than sufficient). I think the OG books are helpful but slightly overrated. They tend to be too easy for those looking for 750+ and one can definitely get by without them.
Aside from these sources, I also did a lot of verbal and quant questions in gmatclub forums. The verbal questions helped a lot and the quant questions were pretty challenging. Perhaps the biggest resource I haven't focused on is Google. For all the official SC and most of the official CR questions, you can paste the first few words in quotes and you'll be presented links to explanations. By far the most helpful responses were Ron and Stacey's on the mgmat forums. For the GMATPrep SC document, I learned a LOT from their posts. Don't expect to get your questions answered if you post them on the forum however because the instructors generally only answer questions from course students, and even then they don't get answered in a timely manner. I read through Chineseburned and OG11
's AWA guides and did one full CAT (MGMAT #6) with AWA.
I used MGMAT and GMATPrep CATs. They're pretty self-explanatory.
5/26 - 690 - Q44 V39 - MGMAT1 (didn't really study until 7/15 after this
7/17 - ??? - Q48 V?? - MGMAT2
7/25 - 680- Q47 V36 - MGMAT3
8/1 - 720 - Q49 V39 - GMATPrep18/7 - 760 - Q50 V42 - GMATPrep 2, closest approximation
8/12- 740 - Q50 V41- MGMAT4
8/13 - 720- Q48 V40 - MGMAT5
8/17 - 770- Q49 V46- GMATPrep1 Retake
8/19 - 780- Q51 V45- MGMAT6
8/21 - 780- Q51 V46- GMATPrep2 Retake8/25 - 760- Q49 V44- Official GMAT
Whew! I think that about covers it. I definitely typed more than I wanted to but hopefully you found some of this information helpful. I found that keeping a diary kept me motivated and focused for much of my preparations and I encourage you to start one if you need support. Ask away if you have any questions and good luck on your test!
[Original First Post]
I am a recent college grad and am planning on taking the GMAT during the summer before work starts. My tentative test date is July 31, which is 2 months away. The only roadblocks are that I will be away for an entire week in a couple of weeks and then another 2 weeks early July (all vacation plans), so I won't have a good 3 weeks to study. However, that still leaves me a good 5 weeks to prepare, and during these weeks I plan on studying every day!
I will take my first diagnostic in a couple of hours. I'm pretty cocky about my intelligence so I imagine scoring 750+ on the final test is manageable as long as I put in the work. Of course, my real goal is 800, and although I probably won't achieve it, I don't rule it out. I was mathematics minor in college, so I don't imagine the quant section being too much of a problem. Verbal on the other hand will be a monster...
I'm a poor college grad at the moment, but I looked on Craigslist several weeks ago and was able to get all 8 Manhattan GMAT books
+ 3 official GMAT guides for $40, in like new condition. To improve my reading comprehension, I will try to read The Economist
every day for 1 hour. Since I purchased the MGMAT texts second hand (they were part of a course), I don't have any access to the CATs, so currently I don't have any sample tests. I plan on purchasing the 8 MGMAT CAT tests as they seem like a good deal. I'll definitely be using gmatclub for help and might purchase the gmatclub tests
(though there seems to be fewer verbal sections, which is what I want to focus on).
Anyway, I'm mainly using this thread as a log to keep me motivated. Any tips + suggestions will be useful. I'll try to come up with a nice schedule and stick to it. And so the quest begins...
Summary of CATs taken:
5/26 - 690 - Q44 V39 - MGMAT1 (didn't study until 7/15 after this
7/17 - ??? - Q48 V?? - MGMAT2
7/25 - 680- Q47 V36 - MGMAT3
8/1 - 720 - Q49 V39 - GMATPrep1
8/7 - 760 - Q50 V42 - GMATPrep 2
8/12- 740 - Q50 V41- MGMAT4
8/13 - 720- Q48 V40 - MGMAT5
8/17 - 770- Q49 V46- GMATPrep1 Retake
8/19 - 780- Q51 V45- MGMAT6
8/21 - 780- Q51 V46- GMATPrep2 Retake
Summary of gmatclub tests
Date Test Correct Total % Correct Mean time Percentile
7/18 m01 31 37 84% 83.4548 sec 84%
7/19 m02 33 37 89% 93.8058 sec 90%
7/20 m03 30 37 81% 111.1665 sec 80% (mean time getting longer... errr burnout haha)
7/21 m04 33 37 89% 107.7445 sec 91%
7/22 m05 29 36 81% 122.0276 sec 82% (thought this one was pretty challenging)
7/23 m06 24 33 73% 136.3358 sec 53% (blah... didn't finish)
7/27 m07 28 37 76% 121.3407 sec 66%
7/29 m08 20 34 59% 124.5703 sec 39%
7/30 m09 24 37 65% 95.5053 sec 34%