Took my GMAT last week and received the final score yesterday. Putting up my two cents for whatever it may be worth to peers on the forum.
I am an engineering grad and have a diploma in management. I currently work in investment banking division of one of the top investment banks in India focusing primarily on cross-border M&A.
Given my occupation profile, time is the supreme luxury for me and I had to finish the GMAT in ~1 month from starting the preparations.
I started my preparation sometime during last week of December which is generally a slow month for most of banking activity for foreign banks in India (even though it has nothing to do with typical slowdown in India which happens around Deepawali). At the onset itself I took GMAT prep test 1 and scored 670 (Q34, V26). This was fairly demoralizing, but gathered some courage to evaluate the test and following were the outcomes.
1. Did not have stamina to last through 2.5 hours of problem solving and reading (although I can spend hours on excel and ppt)
2. Quant: Silly mistakes such as wrong arithmetic operations and incorrectly reading the question.
3. Verbal: Bad accuracy in CR and SC (~30% - 40%), reasons - I did not know GMAT grammar for SC and for CR I thought way too much into the question, most of those are fairly simple to think.
Based on above I started preparing to work on (a) stamina, (b) learning SC nuances, (c) increasing focus to reduce silly mistakes, and (d) just simply my thought process
Preparation hours: I could hardly get 1-2 hours on weekdays that too sporadically, and 4-5 hours on the weekends if I was not working on those days. So I had spread out my preparation plan to 1.5 months from 1 months earlier envisaged.
Material used: OG13, Manhattan SC, Kaplan Premier
Strategy: First week I just read through Kaplan Premier
as if it were a magazine or a non-fiction book. Not stressing my mind, just reading it and solving the problems as they came. It just made me familiar with the GMAT landscape. Other than that in my mind that book does not serve absolutely any purpose.
In subsequent weeks, I would spend 1 hour a day to study and practice concepts from Manhattan SC and remaining 1 hour in practicing questions from OG13. I typically would do set of 20 questions from QA, SC, CR or RC on rotation basis, allocating 30 min irrespective of which section it is. I religiously maintained a log book in which I included the following
1. Key concepts,
2. Quality of questions, marking some very good questions in SC which tested unusual concepts
3. Error log
4. My own strategy snippets including shortcut formulas for QA and some ready references SC
I kept the weekends dedicated for test taking. I did this mainly because I had access to Manhattan and Kaplan
tests, and I used them to build stamina.
After 2 weeks of this regimen, the test scores were as following.Kaplan
(690) - Q49, V30
Manhattan (700) - V49, V30
Clearly, I was only improving on easily fixable items such as stamina and reducing silly mistakes. The major area of learning SC grammar was still not up to the mark. The challenge however was that I had finished Manhattan SC book and I did not know what to do next, that is when I recalled a old technique I imbibed during my JEE preps. Instead of looking a multiple books and resources, it is much better to repeatedly do the same book as doing so imprints much of the book in your mind. To draw an analogy, if you walk in your room, you instinctively know where the light switches are despite the room being pitch dark, you may not know the same if you lived in hotel rooms, changing the room every week. This idea is controversial and people have divergent views, I used it because it had worked for me in the past.
Hence, I kept on doing Manhattan SC book repeatedly, and continued with my regimen finishing OG13. I bought OG Verbal
and GMAT prep question and test packs. So continued with my 20 question - 30 min schedule with carefully logging details as noted above. After another week, test scores were - Kaplan
(720), Manhattan (690). So while repeating Manhattan SC was improving my SC accuracy and I could easily identify and recollect the key ideas, I had trouble structuring the thought process keeping all these ideas in mind. While I was sitting one Saturday, thinking about next steps, I got an email from e-GMAT
that detailed a free webinar on SC. I attended the webinar and found it quite good, I explored further and decided to purchase their offering suite.
I did not attend many live sessions after I purchased it, however I read through the entire SC prep material and in conjunction with Manhattan SC book, this was the boost I needed. After carefully completing the e-GMAT
material and Manhattan SC prep book. My SC accuracy went up to ~90% from 60-70% a week before. I would typically get only 1-2 questions wrong in 20-25 questions I would attempt.
Took the tests again on the weekend. Scores improved to Kaplan
(720), Manhattan (740). Quant had improved to score of 51 with little left for me to prepare, I usually got 5-8 questions incorrect due to silly mistakes but thought I should channelize my efforts to verbal.
I was about 2 weeks away from the test. So I just stepped on the gas and started revising all the stuff I had gone through. That is when all hell break loose. Two of my dormant projects went live and I could only see consecutive all-nighters for the following 3 weeks. So I made some flash cards on one Sunday in second week of Feb and carried them all around in all my meetings, reading through them in wash room and other breaks.
For two of the following weeks I did not study anything. I had my test scheduled on Monday and on Friday, it looked like I may not be able to take it. So I tried postponing it, and realized that the charges were as much as the test fee (so much for precision preparation). So decided I will take it anyway. Until then I had neither written any AWA nor had attempted IR seriously. So on the weekend I took the remaining GMAT prep tests and scored the following
GMAT prep test 2 - 740 (Q50, V39), IR - 7
GMAT prep test 3 - 760 (Q50, V41), IR - 8
GMAT prep test 4 - 750 (Q50, V40), IR - 8
Relieved by the scores, I purchased the GMAT write 1 and wrote 2 essays. First one was not scored because I was using some words repeatedly. After re-writing, it showed a score of 6 on first essay and second was also scored as a 6.
My appointment was for 9am. I reached the test center at 8:20 and after the formalities the test started on time. The infrastructure was impeccable and I had not difficulty of any manner.
AWA: I finished the AWA just in the nick of time, was left with 1.5 min to review, I quickly glanced through and fixed 2-3 grammatical mistakes and clicked on submitting just 2 seconds before the clock ran out.
IR: Fairly challenging and tricky. Standard questions which were intensive on both comprehension and calculations. Finished the section in 28 minutes and took a brief rest for 2 min.
Took the optional break and ate half a chocolate bar and had some juice.
QA: Started with a question so easy that I spent 2 min just to ensure that I may not missing something profound. Subsequently, the degree for difficulty was almost the same and the questions were simple but tricky. Tricky in the sense that it was very easy to fall in a trap. The quality was comparable only to the questions in GMAT prep questions pack. OG is way too easy in comparison, and Manhattan/Kaplan
are frivolously difficult. Towards the end I had about 9 minutes to solve 3 questions and at 35th number came a question that required atleast 10 minutes of calculations. I deployed each and every trick I knew to simply the question or look at it from difference angles. So I gave up and randomly guessed. Next 2 questions were even more difficult but were very tricky. Finished the section with 1 min left.
Took my second break, and had some coffee I had brought with me and finished the remaining bar of chocolate (coffee was a big mistake). Also, I kept on thinking about the 35th question I guessed.
Verbal: Fairly standard questions, same quality as those in OG, GMAT prep set, and OG Verbal
. I saw a bold faced question at 17/18th spot. It was among the easiest of all the questions I had done prior to that. So it got me worried. Following that the questions became a little more challenging, until I reached question 30, an RC set which was possibly the most difficult to read of all the RC sets I had ever seen. Meanwhile, coffee being a diuretic kicked in and I had to go to the washroom. So the last 11 questions were a nightmare, each one more and more complex as compared to the previous one (or perhaps I thought so, as I was not the best state of mind).
Finished the test and clicked to generate score and was surprised to see 760 (Q51, V41), I was expecting more in the range of 700-720 given my verbal performance.
Received final score yesterday and AWA score was 6
For people having trouble with Verbal, specially SC, I will strongly recommend e-GMAT
and Manhattan SC. Use them in conjunction.
Do not drink coffee or any other diuretics during the breaks.
Quant: It may be helpful to look at some basic theories of trigonometry and solutions of triangles, they save a lot of time and are not that complex to understand. Formulae for incircle, circum-circle, sine rule, cosine rule, and knowing some basic pythagorean triples (3-4-5, 12-5-13, 8-15-17, 7-24-25 etc) will make your life much simpler.
Happy to help on any queries.