Reporting a 760 (Q50 V41) - 99 percentile on January 3rd. And I was really close to rescheduling the test that morning! I woke up on the test day to an email from Pearson Vue telling me that a fire drill had been scheduled at the test center that day and that I could reschedule my test for free if I wanted to. The mention of flashing lights and loud noises worried me for a bit. Glad I decided to go ahead with the test. I felt I was ready and waiting would only have hurt my score.
My background - An Indian engineer (non IT) working in the US for the past 7 years.
Study Plan:The First Week
- Started off 5 months ago when I picked up a random GMAT book from the local library (I think it was Crack the GMAT). I went through it to get familiar with the exam format.
- Downloaded GMAT Prep and straightway used the first test as a diagnostic one. Scored a 690 (Q47 V38) but ran out of time on all section. (WARNING - Make sure you take screenshots of all the questions before you exit the test, there is no way to go back and review them once you have quit, I found out the hard way)The First Month
- Ordered OG'13, Verbal and Quant Supplements, and the whole set of MGMAT books
- Zoomed through all MGMAT quant books and read through verbal books as well.
- Started knocking out official questions on Quant and Verbal supplements.
- Watched Thursdays with Ron videos on SC
- Took the Diagnostic Paper Test OG'13 - PS and RC (0 Wrong) DS (2 Wrong) SC (4 Wrong) CR (2 Wrong)
- Thought I was on track to take the GMAT after another month of preparationThe Epiphany
I changed my study plan after watching an eye-opening video from the “Thursdays with Ron” series titled - “A new way to study SC.” I delayed my GMAT and changed my approach..
- Reviewed MGMAT SC
book, topic by topic, in detail.
- Practised SC questions topicwise from Verbal supplement and gmatclub forum (wanted to save OG questions for the end)
- Followed similar topicwise approach for Quant - solved problems on gmatclub forum
- Watched relevant videos by Ron (I must have seen almost all of them by the end) The Lull
A month long lull ensued after we moved; my commute increased to 2 hours each way (driving). I studied sporadically focussing too much on the details and less on the larger picture.The Final Push
By mid november I was itching to get this thing over with.
- Covered CR topicwise - practiced questions from the forum, verbal supplement and watched relevant Ron’s videos.
- For RC I only practised OG problems. The CATs
A month before the GMAT I started taking practise tests on Sundays. On weekdays I worked on OG problems under timed condition. Saturdays were spent relaxing or revising.
NOTE: All my CATs were timed and included essays and IR.
- Diagnostic GMAT Prep 1 (circa August): 690 (Q47 V38 IR 7)
- MGMAT CAT 1 (Dec 9): 730 (Q49 V41 IR 3)
Got 4 questions that I had seen previously on
- MGMAT CAT 2 (Dec 16): 770 (Q50 V46 IR 5)
Only 1 familiar question on which I spent over 2
minutes and got it wrong on purpose
This is when I booked the earliest available test date - Jan 3rd 2013
- GMAT Prep 2 (Dec 23): 770 (Q50 V45 IR 8)
My last practise test, 11 days before GMATThe Last Week
- Only practised GMAT Prep and OG questions (Used GMAT Prep PDFs from gmatclub)
- No practise test in the last 11 days before the test
- Minimal studying in the last 3-4 days - only official questions
- No studying on the last day The Day
Appointment was a 12 PM, I had visited the center earlier. Thankfully, was able to get a few good hours of sleep. Spent the morning solving 8-10 easy quant problems and reading a couple of RC passages to get the brain ready and awake. Had a light breakfast of fruits and reached the center early.
Got a corner booth, put the headphones on - heart pounding, butterflies in stomach etc. AWA
- I had my template ready, which I began typing out even before I read the argument. It was a weak one, I listed out flaws but was a bit off on my timing so had to rush in the end. IR
- I had been nervous about this section, thanks to the brutally hard problems that I saw in MGMAT CATs. OG problems were more realistic. My strategy was to not spend too much time on the hard logical 2-part analysis problems. But in the end, I ended up attempting all the problems and was done with a couple of minutes to spare. Expecting a reasonable score.
Took a break, had a chocolate and went back in.Quant
- The first question itself was a tricky one! One of those where your traditional algebra doesn't work. I was prepared for it and once I noticed that algebraic approach wasn't working, I quickly switched to number plugging. I was constantly ahead on time and although there were a few problems that I could not solve, I did not get hung up on any of those. Overall, I think there must have been at least 3 - 4 answers that I picked without solving the problem. Finished the section comfortably on time. The fire alarms were not too distracting thankfully.
Took another break and knew that the hard part was over. I had always been at ease during the verbal section. I used to finish it early in practise tests, like 15-20 minutes early. Verbal
- I took my own sweet time on all the questions that day, but was still keeping ahead on time. RC and CR were manageable enough, not too convoluted or too dense. SC was a bit tough though, probably seemed so because new topics were being tested on the real test.. By the 20th question, I was exhausted and my head had started pounding. I took off the headphones and stretched a bit in the chair and ploughed forward. Finished the section with 2-3 minutes left.
The satisfying part about the score was that I was above 90%ile in both sections. Party time! In Conclusion
- Have a strategy for everything - for each section, for each question type, for your timing, for guessing, everything.
- Backup methods and number plugging are extremely important in Quant. For some question types, it was infact my main approach.
- RC and CR - practice official questions to recognize patterns. Focus only on the scope of the question to eliminate irrelevant answer choices.
- Ron's videos are gold not only for study techniques but also for general GMAT strategies.
- IR section is way too hard (at least as of now) on MGMAT CATs. OG questions are more realistic. Use the MGMAT video to develop your own strategy for this section.
- Do not put too much emphasis on practice test scores but use them to identify your weak areas. GMAT will always feel tougher than practise tests because some new topics might be tested. Quant is a bit easier than MGMAT CATs but the questions can be tricky.
- Be comfortable with number properties, rates, sets and averages..
- Most importantly, it is absolutely critical to learn to manage your time, I scored 760-770 in all three CATs that I finished ahead of time. Do not linger on problems if you are stuck or can’t decide between answer choices, trust yourself and pick an answer and move on.
Good luck to everyone and thanks to MGMAT and gmatclub. Hope this post helps some members. Let me know if you have any questions.