I'm another one of those lurkers that pops out of nowhere and wants to give back to the gmatclub community.
I have taken the GMAT for the first time today and I'm very happy to have scored a big fat 770. Before I pass out on my bed, I would like to give a quick summary of my experience with this beast.
A few things to note before I go into the details of each section:
- I am a non-native english speaker. In fact, english is my third language. That said, I have been exposed to english for a very long time now and given the nature of my job (buy-side investment analyst) I am quite comfortable reading long and tedious texts in english. So, although english is not my first language, I probably had an edge in the verbal section over the typical non-native speaker.
- I am, generally speaking, quite adept at studying for exams and especially taking exams. I consistently perform better during the actual exam than during my study. The reason I mention this is because throughout the years, I have developed my own way of studying and taking exams which has worked out quite well for me but may not be the best approach for everyone.
- I have dedicated between 3-4 months for studying. I spent on average 20-25 hours per week. I also took a whole week off just before the exam. The GMAT is like a marathon (at least for those aiming 700+).
- Before touching any book, I tried a Kaplan
CAT test to see where I stood. I scored a miserable 570 and I realized that I needed to do some major work to get to where I wanted. At that point, I was aiming high 600s, low 700s. I was not desperate however, since I knew I had the time and motivation to study. I had also read many inspirational accounts of how people managed to raise their scores by 200+ in a few months and I knew that I could be one of them.
On with the serious stuff now:
1. Kaplan Premier
: I had a slight idea of what the GMAT was, but this book gave me a great overview of the material that could be tested. Of course, this book only scratches the surface and cannot be used on its own for any serious studying. In fact, you would probably not lose anything if you just skip this book.
2. The whole MGMAT series
(8 books). I will give some details on how I used them in the following sections.
3. Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible
: Yes, the MGMAT series
does come with a book solely dedicated to Critical Reasoning, however, after reading multiple reviews in this forum and in other sources, I came to the conclusion that the Powerscore CR
bible is the best source for this section of the GMAT. To be fair, the reviews I have read on MGMAT's CR book weren't bad, but the consensus was that Powerscore CR
was better. If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend that you stick with the MGMAT CR
4. OG 12th
editaion and OG Quant
and Verbal books
5. GMATCLUB Tests
- I have used all of Manhattan GMAT
's books on Math. I have read each book only once, but I have written down notes as I went along. I did all of the end of chapter exercises and followed did the OG questions as they appear in the MGMAT books
. Note that I only did the problems in the OG 12th
edition the first time around. I did not touch the OG Quant
book at that stage.
- I alternated between Quant and Verbal until I finished all but the MGMAT Reading Comprehension book which is the only book that I haven't read at all. Again, as I was studying the verbal part, I did the exercises in OG 12th
edition but did not touch the OG Verbal
- After 2 months and a half, I had finished all but the CR bible book and the geometry book. I decided to do a GMATPrep test to see if I had managed to learn anything at all. To my surprise I scored a 710 (I was expecting mid to high 600). This greatly encouraged me, but I knew that I still had a lot to do.
- When I finished all of the books and the OG 12th
edition exercises, I then attacked the OG quant
and verbal book, alternating between them. I also started doing GMATClub tests
. The GMATclub tests
are very discouraging at first, but at about the 8th or 9th exam, you start noticing a marked improvement. Don't pay attention to the percentile results of the first few exams. I have a strong feeling they are scewed.
I also did MGMAT CAT Exams. These were my results:
CAT 1 : 670 - I did not answer the very last question and from what I understand, MGMAT gives a big penalty for not answering a question. Perhaps my real score would have been higher even if I had selected a wrong answer.
CAT 2: 690
Cat 3: 720 - again, I did not answer the last question
Cat 4: 770
Cat 5 : 760
GMATPrep 2: 740
By the end, I knew that my chances of scoring 700+ were very high (I did the AWA section for the last 3 cats I did). Also by that time, I had raised my objective and aimed for 750+ instead of 700+. This may sound silly, but setting clear objectives in my head drives me a lot. Try it and see if it works for you.
A few ending notes:
- All of MGMAT quant books are essential! These are real life savers. I am usually quite good at math, but some of the tricks that MGMAT suggests are just invaluable. I credit these books for taking me to Q48-49.
- GMATClub tests
are probably the reason why I was able to score Q50 (I had a Q50 only once during an MGMAT cat so I wasn't sure whether I would be able to replicate that score on the real thing).
- MGMAT SC
and Powerscore CR
bible MUST are also essential books to read. MGMAT SC
brought me to V40-42 and Powerscore CR
improved on that and brought me to V44-46.
- Improving the Verbal score has a dramatic effect on the overall score.
- Math on the real gmat is easier than MGMAT Cats and much easier than Gmatclub tests
, but still can't be underestimated.
- Verbal on the real GMAT is not too far from MGMAT Cat although I agree that it is a bit more "clear". But if you score well in the verbal section of MGMAT CATs, there is no reason why you shouldn't do very well on the real thing.
- Shout out to any CFA Charterholder or candidates that are studying for the GMAT! If you put the same level of energy and discipline required to pass any of the CFA exams on the GMAT, I can pretty much GUARANTEE that you will break the 700.
That's all. I hope that was at least a bit helpful and I apologize for any mistakes. I am currently half asleep and will pass out any second now.
Good luck to all!