I've just been out of the GMAT centre couple of hours ago and I couldn't wait to post my debrief. I managed a 760(Q50, V42) with about 17 days of prep (50 hours excl tests). I'm really elated and would like to share my journey over the last 2 weeks.
A few things about myself: I'm a male software Proj Mngr with 8.5 yrs workex working in the Oracle Apps domain. I had a few weeks of break between jobs and thought this was the best time to prepare for the GMAT. I wasn't sure if 2 weeks would suffice, but I thought if I manage an average of 5+ hrs/day, I could still put in 80 hrs. Eventually I did put in 50 hrs of prep and 30 hrs of test/review.Prep Strategy:
I gave my first GMAT Prep practice CAT on Dec 5 just to see where I stood and managed a 720 (Q48/V41). I quickly realized that SC was my Achilles heel. As I had just 2 weeks, I knew I couldn't play around with many books and had to get it right the first time. I looked closely at GMAT Club's recos and settled for 4 books - OG12
2012 Premier, MGMAT SC
Guide and Powerscore CR
Started off with MGMAT SC
. Excellent book. First read was a quick skimming of concepts. Soon realized I wasn't able to remember all rules and was still using my ears as a guide for everything. Revised it this time paying closer attention to the rules. Because I knew that if my ears could really help, I would have scored well even before my prep. Idioms were still not easy to mug up; and I decided to use my ears for Idioms as I found that worked pretty well for me. By the time my prep ended, I managed a 87% accuracy in SC on the OG12
Based on a friend's advice, I used OG12
only for the last 2 days. That's because the questions turn up in GMAT Prep and I wanted the 2nd GMAT Prep to be the last test I took. OG12
is best for the questions. Powerscore CR
Bible was excellent in the way it categorized problems and outlined approach.
In Quants, I was doing little bad initially on DS, but then realized I was subconsciously treating a No answer as insufficient data
The other mistake was I ended up solving more than was necessary to determine sufficiency. This caused issues in time management in my practice tests. Once I solved these, Quants was fairly straightforward. I hardly devoted 8 hrs for Quants in my entire prep. RC was also ok for me as long as the topic wasn't very abstract. So didn't do any Prep there either.Practice Tests
05-Dec-11 GMATPrep Test 1 - 720 (Q48, V41)
CD CAT 1 - 630 (Q50, V32)
21-Dec-11 MGMAT CAT 1 - 690 (Q46, V38)
22-Dec-11 MGMAT CAT 2 - 730 (Q49, V40)
26-Dec-11 MGMAT CAT 3 - 720 (Q47, V41)
27-Dec-11 GMATPrep Test 2 - 760 (Q49, V45)Kaplan
was really awful and demoralizing but luckily friends told me I could add 100 to my Kaplan
score. Never give Kaplan
as your last test....it could suck out all your confidence.
MGMAT CATs were good because the difficulty level was slightly higher than the real one and so it kept me pushing for that extra bit. One drawback is that the questions are really long on quants and so the score gets affected. Many answer explanations focus on trial and error which I don't consider a smart approach, in prep stage at least. otherwise the tests were great.Test Day
My appointment was for 1 PM and since I checked out at 9 AM from my hotel, I thought I'll head for the test centre and see if there are empty slots. I was lucky there was one and they let me in at 10 AM! 1 PM would have screwed my lunch and I get really restless on an empty stomach
AWA was fairly good. Took a quick loo break and dived right into Quants. It went like a breeze and for the first time in all tests I took, I finished 8 mins early! Took the next break and gobbled up a Snickers and a glass of water. I went back in and found the Verbal moderately difficult. Neither too bad nor too good. In the end, the Oracle (read GMAT Prep) predicted it right once again, just as many GMATClubbers have said. I saw the magic number and was really relieved.Things that worked for me
1. Not all areas can be improved equally easily and if you're one of those who are weak in SC, be happy coz IMHO it's the best weak area to have in Verbal as it can be improved fairly easily going by rules. Of course, "awkwardness" can't be learnt overnight but rules can be learnt. If you're bad at RC (luckily, I wasn't), it's hard to improve unless you work on it really long enough.
2. Similarly, initially, I realized that there was no reason for my DS to be bad if I was good at problem solving. So I knew it was an area I could invest my little time on and get high returns. I think building the right "investment portfolio" for my time served me well in the end.
3. Use of right materials also meant my time was used well.
Anyways, all the best to those taking the GMAT shortly. And to all ye GMAT Clubbers - Keep up the good work!
I'm off to celebrate! Ciao!