My long struggle with GMAT has (hopefully) culminated with 680( Q49, V34). It may not be a stellar score, however, I have done reasonably well to prove my credentials. Although GMAT journey was difficult and left me emotionally drained, it has improved my overall personality, confidence, and of course, attitude.
Without further ado, let me jump right in and start explaining what has worked during the 4th GMAT attempt (Jan 2012- March 2012) along with the strategies and the study material. You can also follow previous two of three GMAT debriefs linked in my signature. 1. Background Info- 4th attempt
After three failures, I was totally devastated. However, I was very determined to get a better score, which is at least 80% reflective of my abilities. Also, I got $345 refund from Knewton as my last attempt was within 50 point of my diagnostic score. So, i thought of giving GMAT yet another try without thinking about money part. 2. Finding out root cause
I participated in few discussions and tried to narrow down my weaknesses. Somehow, i couldn't reach to a conclusion that I lacked verbal or quant concepts. I tried to talk to MasterGMAT, GMATPill
, Knewton (any instructor on a LIVE class) or e-GMAT
(Rajat) instructor, but no one could really pin point the weakness. In fact, all of them gave very generic answers. To be fair to these companies, it's very difficult to tell the weakness unless you hire one-on-one tutoring program.
Later, I reached out to BB and asked him what I should do- no harm in asking even if the founder of GMATClub is extremely busy
. To my surprise, BB was extremely helpful and suggested me to go through MGMAT's GMAT Roadmap
, if i was interested in another attempt. I half-heartedly ordered the book and read only relevant portions in three days. I was dumbfounded after realizing the importance of timing aspects of the GMAT. Furthermore, in MGMAT Blog, it was mentioned that if there were a large (100 point or so) drop in the GMAT score from practice scores, the timing would almost always be the factor.
In addition, GMATLA's post
opened my eyes. I immediately bought the scratch-pad and included essays in ALL gmat practice tests. Since I liked noise cancellation headphones during previous test, i bought them to simulate real test conditions.
Please don't be cheap in buying all the tools needed to replicate real gmat experience at your home or library. After all, you're targeting freaking 100k (or even more costlier) MBA programs. So don't be a penny-pincher. Believe me, nothing beats the feeling of getting a good GMAT score.
In short, timing, timing and timing were the REAL root cause of the low performances in previous GMAT attempts. It's hard to explain why i couldn't find it earlier, but better late than never
. 3. so what was the timing strategy
I can't explain in my words but read GMAT Roadmap
by MGMAT. Also, Stacey has written most of the strategies in MGMAT blog but it's so much easier to follow one book and get them all at one place.
If you don't want to buy the book, read following threads. These threads summarize the strategies. Time ManagementEducated Verbal guessingEducated Quant Guessing.
In addition, you can go through following videos especially 2nd, 3rd and 4th lesson. They have paraphrased the same strategy in a small video. http://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gener ... strategies 4. Study Material
Since i finished almost all resources, i had nothing new *official* or good quality material. So i got 3 GMAT paper tests package. I must admit that i didn't utilize the verbal portion completely, however, i timed all the tests and reviewed my mistakes. The results confirmed my observation that i had nice grasp on concepts but lack timing strategy during the test.
So i attempted all 9 verbal CR/SC sections under timed conditions. After that i switched again to Official guide 12th
edition and did all sections in mini-tests of 15 question.
Mini-sets with 2 mins per question constraint:
15 PS +10 DS one day
10 CR + 15 SC questions following day.
2 RC passages with 3-4 questions along with any of one of days above.
Doing above helped me skip questions, which I can't answer with in 2 mins, and consolidate my timing strategy.
Overall material used in 4 attempts:
, Verbal review and Quant review- Excellent.
2. MGMAT Books
- Excellent including best SC book.
- Highly recommended for SC and CR
4. Knewton- Okay or i wasn't able to extract much out of it.
5. MasterGMAT- Okay but level of questions are not similar to those in GMAT. Also, questions aren't GMAT like.
(Verbal Pill)- Not sufficient enough. Stay away form the hype.
7. Critical Reasoning (PowerScore book)- Best CR book
8. Grockit- Okay for online simulation of mini-tests with GMAT like questions.
I have used other material aristotle sc grail, Nova Quant, Powerscore RC
( hardly used) kaplan
sc/cr workbooks but they might not have made any impact on my concepts.
Even though i failed in my second GMAT attempt with V 20 after going through e-gmat
course, the course helped me to totally deconstruct CR and SC section. e-GMAT
's course content is excellent, however, i think they can improve by adding some intangibles especially on timing strategies.
At last, I reset my MGMAT tests and did 4 of them along with the essays and recommended breaks at home. I couldn't find a public library which can provide steady internet connection near my home. So I did all tests at home.
Essays + MGMAT 1A (Q 48 , V 33)
Essays + MGMAT 2A (Q 47, V 37)
Essays + MGMAT 3A (Q 46, V33)
Essays + MGMAT 4a (Q 42, V35) ( poor concentration in quant)
MGMAT Quant questions are little tougher in different perspective, making you to do unnecessary calculations. But verbal is fairly representative. RC's may be a little off but what the heck. Practice tests are only to practice and to find weaknesses, right?
As you can see my scores jumped considerably while being persistent with the timing strategy. I knew the RC passages but didn't remember anything about the question or the answers. I was stunned to find out that even after getting many questions incorrect, i was able to score around V35. So, i accepted the fact that I suck at RC and won't be able to answer all 4 questions correctly. I never tried to spend more time than necessary especially on inference questions. After seeing performance reports, i decided not to get stuck on inference questions and guess on at least one inference question that asks to infer from complete passage. Please note that inference questions are of two types: general inference about a entity discussed in different paragraphs and specific inference from one section. The former is a tough one and i had least success in this question type. So i decided to skip this along with any not frequently asked CR question if I stand more than 2 mins behind the benchmarks. 5. Testing experience
AWAs went as usual with not many hiccups apart from the fact that i lost 2 mins of break when proctor didn't see me waving after deciding to take a break before Quant section.
I was really surprised to see during Quant section that applying timing strategy made me feel calm during the test and allowed me to answer questions that I can within 2 minutes. This is evident from the fact that i scored 49 in Quant despite not getting Q49 in any of my tests this time. I saw one geometry + time-distance problem with a weird picture, i laughed and skipped within 5 seconds:).
During verbal, i knew if I stick to the timing benchmarks, i'd do great. I found myself right on time at Q 10. I checked in at #15 and found 2 mins behind the level. I skipped one CR question before 20 and recovered some lost time. Then came a LONG RC. i kept my calm and answered the questions and skipped tough RC inference question. I was again 2 mins behind the timing and skipped one question to get back on track. I couldn't focus on last 3 verbal question and i thought i got them incorrect.
Then i completed formalities and found my GMAT score- 680. A feeling of accomplishment after struggling for 21 months. Then, i met my wife and hugged her and thanked her for the support during the last two years. More than anything, i proved to myself that i'm capable of achieving and prevailed in the end. 6. Last few strategies i used
1. Verbal and Quant timing
VerbalAndQuantTiming.png [ 21.24 KiB | Viewed 7596 times ]
2. Please check the screenshot of the laminated scratch pad. I always used to put dot(.) if I answer choice is a contender. If an answer choice is definitely wrong, i mark it crossed out. This way i don't need to write A, B, C, D, E for every question or make a big table within one minute before the section starts.
Also, divide the pad in two columns so that you can keep your old segregated from the work on the current question. This strategy helped me avoid potential mistakes in mixing responses of two different questions.
Dividing pad in two columns also gives more space for Quant. Otherwise you may end up using complete scratch pad and need to ask for a new one during the test, a process which may distract you and take up one minute from the time proctor sees you to the time proctor gets you the new pad.
AnsweringQs.JPG [ 2.24 MiB | Viewed 7616 times ]
I'd like to thank BB, GMATLA, Talk2VJ, dentobizz, windofchange, and many more great minds at GMATClub for giving encouragement, support and resources to prepare for gmat. I'll be soon joining other forums on GMATClub.
Please feel free to send me any PM for any questions.
"Whether You Think You Can or Can't, You're Right"--Henry Ford
My GMAT Journey