Wow, what a journey, it's all over and I came out with a 780 (50Q, 48V)! It's not an 800, but damn, I'll take it. Debrief to come soon.
Just wanted to thank you guys on this forum, I definitely could not have done it without you guys!
When I first learned about the GMAT's question formats, I was truly disheartened. I used my SAT scores to approximate what percentile I might fall in, and concluded that if I was really lucky, I might be able to obtain upper 600s.
When I found out there was sentence correction, I was horrified. My closest approximation for how well I would do was my SAT2 Writing score. Even though I took the SAT2 Writing 5 years ago, it still hurts to remember my score of 420 (50th%ile)! My strategy for the SAT2 was really nothing more than "going by ear" because that's all I knew how to do.
At this point, I did what any sensible person taking a new test would do. Logged on to mba.com and tried some practice questions. I ended up correct on about 90% of the Quant questions and about 30% of the Verbal. Not very impressive.
My past experiences with standardized testing have never been kind, and things were not looking any brighter this time around. I really didn't think there was anything I could do but hope to "get lucky" and score near a 700.
Then I found GMATClub.
At this point this is approximately how I was doing on practice questions:
PS: 99% DS: 80% RC: 75% CR: 50% SC: 50%
Lurker in the background
I admit, I was a lurker long before I became a poster. I heard there were several stories about people adding 100s to their score just by using the forum's resources. It took some time, but I read through many of the stickies that outline, in detail, the GMAT scoring methods, good GMAT materials, and inspiring stories from past GMATClubers.
During my SAT days, I never knew the impact of studying for standardized tests. This time around, much more mature and much more knowledgeable about the degree of which these tests mattered, I knew that these guides had to be an integral part of my study plan.
Familiarizing myself with the GMAT
Though doing practice questions and practice tests is a great way to improve your score, I really wanted to ground myself in the fundamentals. My approach to CR and SC was completely wrong, and I wasn't doing much better than straight guessing at the answers.
The thing that made the test "click" for me was the Princeton Review's Cracking the GMAT
. Reading and really absorbing what that guide had to say about approaching GMAT questions really made a huge difference. Not only did my RC and SC scores shoot up, I actually understood why my incorrect answers were incorrect
. Though the sample questions do have a slightly different taste than the official questions, I found that they make you exercise same skills as the OG.
I had similar approaches with the Kaplan GMAT Premier Program
and Kaplan GMAT 800
, but I don't think I got much out of them, especially since the questions didn't represent actual GMAT questions very well. They were pretty good, but I think PR gave me everything I needed in terms of strategy. At this point, I felt ready to just crunch through as many questions as I could.
After reading these books, my %correct really shot up:
PS: 99% DS: 90% RC: 80% CR: 80% SC: 80%
Practice makes perfect
Grounded in the right mindset, I knew it was a matter of doing tons of questions. I signed up for the GMATClub forums, and spent hours upon hours on the posted questions. The great thing about the forums is that people really explain why each wrong answer is wrong and why each correct answer is correct.
I saved the OG. I knew these would be the best questions to do on the "home stretch" coming up to the test. I didn't start using the OG until I was getting a large % of forum questions right.
For the 2 weeks before my test, I went to the library almost every day. I did about 100 questions, some from each section, per day. I went from the beginning to the back of each section (harder every day), and I kept track of what percentage I was getting correct.
Days 1-4 - PS: 99% DS: 95% RC: 99% CR: 99% SC: 80%
Days 4-8 - PS: 99% DS: 99% RC: 99% CR: 99% SC: 85%
Days 8-12 - PS: 99% DS: 99% RC: 99% CR: 99% SC: 90%
Last 3 days - GMATPrep, SC1000
As many people on the forums have suggested, I saved the GMATPrep 1&2 for right before the test.
The first time through, I had some timing issues (and was distracted by my parents) so I didn't finish the verbal section; the test ended with about 7 questions left to go. I scored 740 (51Q, 39V).
The next day, I retook GMATPrep1 because I felt the distractions really caused my scores to go down. I knew there would be a lot of repeats, so I didn't review my answers from the first time through. This time, I scored 760 (51Q, 41V).
Last day before the test. I took GMATPrep 2 and scored 770 (50Q, 45V).
I eased up my studying at this point, but every night before bed, I did about 20 SC questions.
Wow, my test was for 9AM, but I didn't get to bed until 2AM. And I didn't fall asleep until maybe 2:30AM.
I set my alarm clock for 7AM. By 6:30AM, I was already up and getting dressed.
I get tired when I eat too much, so I skipped breakfast for a cup of milk. Jumped in my car, headed straight to 7-11, and bought a 24oz. cup of coffee.
Got to the test center 1.5 hours early. No one was there.
Still nervous about my SC, I whipped out my clipboard and did 40 more SC. The test admin saw me outside and told me that I could come in and take it early if I wanted to. I just wanted to get it over with, so I said sure.
Since I was the first one there, I could choose any locker I wanted. I chose number 8
, which is lucky and analogous to wealth in Chinese.
They sat me down at my computer, and gave me the crappy laminated graph paper and pen. I tested out the pen and it seemed fine.
Since no one ever cares about essay scores, I'll just say I think I did well. But I have no idea, and I never practiced it. I just followed the old boring opening, 3 arguments, closing format, because I'm pretty sure they like seeing it. I barely had time to finish each one. Afterwards, I took my break. Walked to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face.
Started math. I grabbed the pen, and pushed it towards the paper. It wasn't working!! I started panicking, and scribbled furiously until ink started to come out. Phew, close one. Went through the math and I got to the last question with 25 minutes to go. Odd. I was worried because that probably meant I had a ton of easy questions due to getting questions wrong. I stretched a little and took a few deep breaths to calm down. Answered the question with 20 minutes to go, and skipped the break.
Started verbal. Nothing out of the ordinary, just made sure to take a little more time on SC than everything else. At one point, right after I hit next, I KNEW I had chosen the wrong answer, damn improper pronoun. Woe is me. But I quickly forgot about it and moved on. Finished verbal with about 5 minutes to go.
During this period after the test, where there's nothing left to do but click accept scores and next. There's a weird feeling of weight-off-your-shoulders mixed with apprehension for what's about to come. I sat there for a few minutes, bracing myself for the inevitable. Clicked next. During the nice little delay where it's calculating your score, I crouched down, crossed my fingers, and said a little bit of prayer. "Please, just 750 is fine."
The score appeared: 780 (50Q, 48V)!
I could barely contain my excitement. 99th %ile in Verbal! Wait WTF 95%ile in Math? I'm supposed to be good at math! Woohoo who cares, 780!
I stood up, speechless and in awe of the score.
780. I could hope for nothing better, and I realized that H/S/W just probably just a few years away.