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I just took the GMAT this morning and got a 770, after practically having a panic attack about the test two days ago. If I weren't getting married in two months and hoping to apply in round 1 this year, I probably would have postponsed the test given how freaked out I was. I'm definitely glad I didn't end up doing that.
My experience: I've always used tutors to prepare for standardized tests (i.e., when my parents were paying for it), but I studied on my own for the GMAT. I started studying in February for an hour or so a day after work, and started putting in several hours a day about three weeks ago. I used both the Manhattan GMAT and Princeton Review books to study. I first went through all of the Manhattan GMAT books, taking notes on the chapters and doing all the recommended practice problems. I did not take a practice test until after finishing the Manhattan books, because I only want to take the two official GMAC practice tests. Having taken the GRE for my previous masters, I felt that the tests created by other services were not a great indicator of how I'd score on the real thing if I took it that day. They might be worthwhile just to get comfortable taking a test on a computer screen (having taken the GRE I didn't feel this was necessary for me). I scored a 760 on my first practice test, getting 11 quant questions wrong and 1 verbal question and decided to spend the last month focusing on quant.
To complement the information I learned in the Manhattan GMAT books, I got the Princeton Review book. The Manhattan GMAT books are good for learning the material; the Princeton Review book is helpful for learning test-taking strategies and just generally remembering that this is a game to be beaten and not a reflection of your intelligence. After relentlessly hammering the quant for a month, I took a second practice test and got a 700; this time I got 10 quant questions wrong and 10 verbal wrong. This is the point at which I had a bit of a meltdown because I felt like I hadn't gotten anywhere in studying the math and was just getting worse in verbal. I realized I couldn't just neglect the verbal (I probably did worse because it wasn't fresh in my mind) and probably just needed to take a couple days off before the test to relax and not burn out. After taking a bit of a breather but still not feeling quite confident on the math, I was very pleasantly surprised at my score!
In summary I would say: 1) The Manhattan GMAT books are probably useful if you really need to learn the material (you struggled with math and haven't taken it since high school, you're a non-native english speaker and need help with idioms, etc). Otherwise I felt the books were somewhat overwhelming and just made me more nervous about the amount of material I was expected to know. I didn't have any questions on the test where I thought "I learned how to do this from Manhattan GMAT" 2) It really helps to relax for a day or two before the test. The amount of information you can cram into your head in one day is not as useful as being able to go into the test refreshed and in the right mindset. 3) Don't neglect your strengths to just focus on your weaknesses as you'll end up being rusty on your stronger subjects. You don't need to spend equal amounts of time on everything, but if you're great at geometry, you should still go over some geometry problems every once and a while to stay on top of it
Good luck to those of you who haven't yet taken the GMAT or are taking it again!
I've always been strong in math (econ major, masters in quantitative psych, etc) so I'm not sure how useful my tips are. But what worked for me was to create an error log so I could see what kinds of problems I was missing and why I was missing them. For example, I found that I tended to do the right work but would answer the wrong question, so I had to learn to go back on word problems and make sure I answered the question. I also think it's best to just do the official problems. I would get nervous when I couldn't answer a sample question in the Manhattan GMAT book, even if it wasn't an accurate reflection of the kind of questions I would get on test day. For me this was particularly true with probability. The Manhattan example questions in the Advanced Probability/Combinatorics chapter were impossible as far as I was concerned (which is really sad given that I've taken a year of grad level statistics/probability), but I didn't see anything remotely that hard on the real test.
Great post and very inspiring. I'm hoping to score this well an important just took the cad from knewton and got a 540. I have a long way to get there. Can you give any information on how you were scoring on the practice tesrs?
Great post! And agreed about Manhattan GMAT books -- great for refresher or relearning. Thank god someone else said it -- I also thought the amount of material at times felt a little overwhelming. But as I felt more comfortable with each math topic, it will eventually come as second nature if you do enough practice questions.
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http://blog.ryandumlao.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/IMG_20130807_232118.jpg The GMAT is the biggest point of worry for most aspiring applicants, and with good reason. It’s another standardized test when most of us...