I took my GMAT for the 3rd and final time last week and was fortunate enough to score a 760 (Q49, V45). I just wanted to share my experience with everyone since many of the past debriefs provided me with a lot of great insight and inspiration during my preparation. Hopefully my story will do the same for some of those currently studying for the GMAT!1st Attempt – 11/08/07 – 640 (Q43, V34)
My journey began in August of 2007 when I decided that I wanted to get an MBA. My initial intention was to apply that autumn but after learning more about the length of the application process, I decided to delay for one year. After bouncing the idea of taking a prep course around in my head for a few days I decided to register for the Princeton Review
. My primary reason for taking the course was for the structure but it didn’t hurt that my friend also signed up for the same class and that she had a 10% off coupon from her company that I could use
. Overall, I thought the course was worth taking. Princeton Review
provided a significant amount of practice material, like the OG11
, many full length CATs, and a good amount of timed practice sets, for me to hone my skills. If you’re looking for some magical shortcut to 700 then this class is not for you. But, if you are looking for a well structured course that teaches some useful concepts, then I would suggest considering Princeton Review
. On test day I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t scored higher than 650 on any practice test so I basically walked into the testing center knowing that I’d be back sometime in the future. I ended up running out of time on the quantitative section, which adversely affected my performance on verbal. I ran out of time on verbal as well. Ultimately, my downfall was my own lack of diligence (preparation) and underestimation of the difficulty of the GMAT. No one to blame there but myself!2nd Attempt – 02/25/08 – 650 (Q48, V32)
After my first disappointment I made a promise to myself that my second attempt would be my last. After taking a long overseas vacation and taking some time off for the holidays I called Princeton Review
and asked them to reactivate my online classroom access, which they very willingly did free of charge. I created a strict study schedule consisting of predetermined sets of OG11
problems bracketed with practice CATs to track my progress. About a week into my preparations I stumbled across the GMAT Club while reading about college football of all things! This site was one of my best resources. I purchased the 25Q+5V challenges and ended up plugging in a few of them into my study schedule when I needed a change of pace from the OG11
. A week prior to my second attempt I took each GMATPrep CAT twice, scoring 720, 700, 710, and 660. I tried to shrug off the 660, labeling it as an outlier, since it was so much lower than my other scores. Ironically, the same score that I discounted was the best predictor of my true score of 650. I was pretty devastated. It was just so hard to stomach that I had spent the last 7 weeks studying for a mere 10 point improvement. Not only that, my verbal score even dropped by 2 points! 3rd Attempt – 05/01/08 – 760 (Q49, V45)
I spent the next week moping around and feeling sorry for myself. After the majority of the sulking had subsided I decided to find out why I had failed to meet my goal of a 700+ score. I mainly lurked on the “Share Your GMAT Experience” forum, reading debriefs and various threads on the most effective ways to prepare. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t take enough full length adaptive tests and that my pacing could use some improvement as well. So, I developed yet another study schedule but this time it consisted of practice CAT after practice CAT with some OG11
work scattered in between. I ended up taking 22 CATs over the course of 6 weeks. Here were my results:
PR1: 650 (Q47, V33)
PR2: 670 (Q50, V33)
PR3: 660 (Q48, V34)
PR4: 680 (Q45, V39)
PR5: 670 (Q47, V36)
GMATPrep1: 740 (Q50, V40)
GMATPrep2: 720 (Q48, V39)
PowerPrep1: 720 (Q48, V40)
PowerPrep2: 710 (Q48, V38)
GMATPrep1: 760 (Q50, V42)
GMATPrep2: 750 (Q49, V41)
PR1: 720 (Q51, V39)
PR2: 730 (Q51, V41)
PR3: 690 (Q50, V36)
PR4: 750 (Q51, V43)
PR5: 700 (Q48, V39)
GMATPrep1: 760 (Q50, V42)
GMATPrep2: 760 (Q50, V41)
PowerPrep1: 740 (Q50, V41)
PowerPrep2: 740 (Q49, V41)
GMATPrep1: 770 (Q49, V46)
GMATPrep2: 760 (Q51, V41)
Mean: 720 (Q49, V39)
Median: 730 (Q50, V40)
In addition to recording my scores, I also kept a detailed log of my pacing landmarks. I divided each section into groups of 10 questions and documented the time it took to complete each group. Mid way through my study schedule I had already developed the ability to determine how much time I should have remaining at any point during either section. This way, instead of realizing that I was off schedule towards the end of a section, I could constantly adjust my pacing to maximize my time efficiency. After all, it’s just as bad to run out of time as it is to not use every minute to your advantage. Plus, it was a huge confidence booster not having to worry about whether or not I was going to run out of time. I ended up finishing with 3 and 7 minutes remaining in the quantitative and verbal sections, respectively. It’s kind of strange; of my 3 GMAT attempts I felt the worst about this last test. I got a bunch of easy questions towards the end of the quantitative section so I was almost certain that I had done poorly. I wasn’t sure what to expect with verbal since my practice scores were all over the place. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest when I was answering those survey questions at the end of the test.Final Words
Most people who achieve the score of their dreams usually feel relieved or satisfied after doing so, but I feel more grateful than anything else. I feel grateful because I feel like I slightly overachieved last week. I am in no way saying that the score I obtained was beyond my true capability. I am just saying that it was probably on the higher end of my true range and given another 100 tries on the GMAT, I probably wouldn’t be able to replicate this score more than 10 or 15 times. I guess it just goes to show that on any given day a few guesses can fall your way and on any given day an few guesses can turn out to be wrong. I’m just thankful that lady luck was on my side last week. Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me. Thanks to everyone who has posted and continues to post on this site and in this forum.
For those who didn’t want to read my life story here is a short list of advice I would give to anyone preparing for the GMAT:
-Study the OG11 (Official Guide, 11th Edition)
: This is probably your best source of practice material. There are over 800 real GMAT questions as well as detailed answers to help you understand the material.
-Take Practice CATs
: More specifically, take the GMATPrep. The software interface and artificial intelligence are identical to that of the real GMAT. Since the software draws from a large database of real GMAT questions, reinstallations result in 50-80% new questions. The GMATPrep is also the best indicator of your true ability.
-Pacing is Key
: Master time management prior to the real GMAT and there will be one less thing to worry about when you take the real thing. After all, what good is knowing all the right answers if you run out of time to answer them all?
-Participate In the Math and Verbal Forums
: Post questions you can’t figure out. Help others by not only answering their questions but also providing explanations. It’s amazing how much you learn when you are responsible for showing your work!
-Take GMAT Club Challenges
: These tests aren’t adaptive, but they are well worth the $80USD for the 30 tests. The quantitative problem sets are much harder than real GMAT quantitative questions but they are great for training both patience and concentration.
-Consider Princeton Review
: I am in no way affiliated with PR. I, like many others, am just a normal guy who had a hard time getting motivated to study for the GMAT. I just felt that PR provided me with some good resources and stayed true to their promise that I would be satisfied with my score. They offered to let me re-take their course free of charge and reactivated my online classroom access not once but twice.
-Do Not Dwell
: One of my worst mistakes on my first attempt was letting my poor performance on the quantitative section negatively affect my performance on my verbal section. There's nothing you can do about past sections. This also holds true if you feel you did not write good essays. Just move on. Do not dwell!