Okay, not quite sure about the etiquette regarding the length of these testimonials, but mine's probably going to be pretty long (the stuff that I think really helped me is under the bolded statement). My situation is a little unusual, albeit no more unusual than anyone else's =) I hope this will be readable as I'm still pretty fried and now that I'm finished with the GMAT, I'm going to give up smoking and over-the-top grammar (read: grammar-nazi!)
I just took the GMAT today and surpassed my own expectations. While I know 740 isn't the highest of scores, for someone who was only hoping for 700, I'm pleased as punch. What really surprised me was that my verbal score carried me. I've always known that I wasn't terribly strong quantitatively, but I figured I was just pretty balanced overall.
In any case, my score of 740 equated to 44Q, 48V. For comparison's sake, I've taken 20 practice tests (8 w/o AWA, 12 with) which I will enter into the statistics on this site later. The following is some data from my practice exams. Please note that I took the 4 Kaplan
tests at the very beginning of study (in May) and again at the very end of study (in August). The scores didn't seem to change much, so I don't think it skewed my data ... well, except for the documented problems with Kaplan
highest overall: 710 (GMAC, Kaplan
lowest overall: 560 (Kaplan
mean overall: 643.5
highest quant: 50 (Kaplan
lowest quant: 22 (kaplan
mean quant: 40.75
highest verbal: 44 (GMAC)
lowest verbal: 31 (Kaplan
mean verbal: 36.95
About my prep:
I had the luxury of being able to step back from my job into more of a consulting role and move back home in order to focus more fully on the GMAT. As such, I opted not to take a class (although, I was highly tempted since the Kaplan
book was the first I went through =P ). I went through about 7 books while following the 300 hour plan
. I tried to keep a very disciplined schedule of studying in the morning, working out in the afternoon, and studying again in the evening. I also took my first 8 practice tests (w/o AWA) interspersed with studying. If I had to do it all over again, I would've found this site much earlier (I only found it with 3 weeks to go!) and gone through the Manhattan GMAT books
. Well, I would've preferred the stuff in the next paragraph not happen ....
Then, on July 1, my dog passed away at the age of 12. It was rather sudden and very difficult for me. Then, at almost the same time, I found out that my old director (of IT) was leaving the company. Unfortunately, he was the only one in the company I didn't get along with (so...no letter of rec -- hopefully, a good explanation and my role as consultant will help take care of that in my applications). Anyway, the VP of HR called me to invite me to interview for his position (didn't end up working out...). Then, the next week, my father had a (thankfully, negative) cancer scare that was quite difficult emotionally. That lasted for another week and a half. In any case, July was a very emotional month and I had to really force myself to stay focused, although, altogether, I took about a week and a half off from studying.
Sorry, these are a lot of details, this is the stuff that I thought really helped me.
I spent pretty much the entire month of August doing full length practice exams. I did this to focus on building up my mental stamina. Roughly every other day, I would do a full exam and nothing else. Then, the following day, I would review all the answers. I inserted the delay because when I review answers, I generally try to do the problem again from scratch first and then review the answer right away, so I wanted the questions to be not as fresh in my mind. I was a little frustrated with the scores as I wanted to establish some consistency, but, I tried to remain focused on building that endurance and becoming more familiar with the experience itself. I took all my breaks -- I always drank beverages only during breaks and always made sure to splash some cold water on my face.
The last week, I pretty much tried to relax. I did problems on the site and reworked some old problems, but mostly tried to build my "mental confidence" back up.
Finally, the day of, in my opinion was just as crucial as the preparation itself. I had been drinking energy drinks (I really like Vitamin Energy) and had been weaning myself off of them during the last few weeks. I drank three today ... spaced out, of course and I didn't crash until well after I was finished with the exam. But, what I found most important was a quote that randomly popped into my head as I was on the freeway enroute to the testing center. It was actually from an anime series that I've been watching (from 1994!) I offer it to anyone who doubts his or her potential (fansub translation): A serene state of mind enables one to surpass one's own abilities.
I kept hearing that in my head as I was shouting cliche slogans at myself while driving =)
My advice is to do all the prep you can, but in the end, never doubt your own potential. During the test, my mind was calm even though I could feel my heart pounding in my chest roughly 70% of the time. My hands and feet were cold, despite the fact that I have excellent circulation but, this was not because I was nervous. After the fact, I rationalized I must've been willing my brain to pull more blood out of circulation =)
Just remember, with the right state of mind, in the right moment, you truly do have the potential to surpass your own abilities!
Oh, and if possible, try to smile and stay positive. I lightened the mood a bit with all the staff members at the facility and even got some laughs ... of course, outside the testing room. I think it also helped my state of mind. Remember, there's a lot of nervous energy in the air and they have to deal with that day in, day out. Never waste an opportunity to brighten someone's day. I joked around with the proctor when I was doing my last fingerprint -- I told him it might not match because my fingerprint is much more confident than it was when I first came in =)
Good luck, or rather, best of success, everyone!