I gave the GMAT for the first time today and did reasonably......no wait...... AWESOMELY well!!! Q49 (90) and V46 (99) = 760(99)
. Yeah baby!!! Will post a detailed debrief later. Thanks to all those guys out there who helped with their detailed explanations and strategies. You guys simply ROCK!
I got my official score report yesterday. I'm pretty dissapointed with my AWA score - 4.5 (55 percentile)
. I knew I had screwed up my issue essay but was expecting a 5+. I guess I botched it big time...
I hope schools don't hold this against me.
My Prep details:
1. OG 11th edition *
(The basic Kaplan
book - don't remember the name)
3. Princeton - Cracking the GMAT
4. Kaplan Verbal
5. Manhattan SC *
7. Powerprep software *
8. 800score.com tests (Absolutely pathetic. Do NOT use these. I stopped after I took one and got a scaled score of 57
in quant. RIDICULOUS!)
9. OG10 *
(Just the section on SCs to complement the MGMAT SC
10. The 1000SC and 1000CR documents *
11. http://www.gmatclub.com *
12. An error log*
(Nothing complicated; just an ordinary Excel sheet)
* - The absolute must-haves for anyone taking the GMAT.
Duration and Study Plan:
I actually started preparing for the GMAT about 8 months ago. But due to some unforseen circumstances, I had to give it up in between. I started with the prep again in October '06 AFTER
booking my date (12th Feb, '07). That gave me about 4.5 months. Honestly, I knew two months of intensive studying was sufficient to get a 720+. But I had to travel thrice between Dec '06 and Jan '07. So I gave myself a buffer of about a month. To structure my prep, I got hold of a 300 hour game plan available here:
. I tried to stick to it as much as possible. I guess I must have put in about 225-250 hours of GMAT prep. A word of advice here: Please study with a well charted out plan. It helps. Period.
This is by far the easiest part of verbal. What makes it relatively simple is that the GMAT tests a finite set of rules. So if you can learn these rules, you can beat SC questions on the GMAT. The MGMAT SC
book, the 1000SC document and the SC section in OG10
are more than enough to make you a (GMAT) 'SC-guru'. Solving all the questions in the 1000SC document is pure overkill. Use the MGMAT and OG10
for learning the concepts and use the SC1000 document to improve your timing and accuracy. Doing about 350 - 450 questions from 1000SC should have you solving most SCs in under a minute. I personally solved SCs initially in sets of 20 in 30 minutes and later in sets of 20 in 20 minutes. Occasionally I would take 40 questions at a time just to improve my stamina. (vivek123
suggested this to me. Thanks vivek! It helped!). Look for a specific reason to eliminate an answer. Don't just go by your ear. Being a non-native speaker of english, I found questions with idioms and altered intent the hardest to crack.
. Despite all my attempts, I could not get a 90%+ hit-rate in CRs. And then I met these two guys called ak_idc
. I PMed these guys asking for help in CR. The replies they gave were fantastic! Fig, your 7 step CR strategy was out of this world! I also looked at a document (found on the net) listing the common logical fallacies. This is not a must-do, but I found it particularly interesting. I guess it also helps you spot the wrong answers. Another fantastic resource for CRs is Honhgu's
thread listing the intricacies of the If X, then Y
technique. This is particularly useful for those parallel-the-reasoning CRs. I'm pretty sure I nailed most, if not all, CRs in the verbal section. For anyone who needs help in CR, please contact these guys. I used the CR1000 document extensively. I initially solved questions in sets of 20 in 35 minutes and then in sets of 20 in 25 minutes. Towards the end of my prep I also looked at the LSAT CRs. They are a superset of the GMAT CRs. At the end of it all, CRs were my favourite questions on the verbal section! This just re-enforces my statement that everything the GMAT throws at you has a pattern to it. You just have to learn to spot the patterns.
Honestly, I found all 'techniques' for RCs pretty useless. Nothing seemed to work for me. In my opinion, there is no substitute for understanding the passage but then again, it's my
opinion. You don't need to understand EVERY line, but do attempt to discern the structure of the passage. To improve my reading speed, I regularly read 'The Economist' (borrowed from the library at work). The articles are of the highest quality and cover a broad range of topics (from business to science to economics to etc etc). This is an absolutely fantastic publication and I am going to continue reading it. The RC passages in the GMAT should be more decipherable after you have read about 2-3 editions of the magazine. For practice, I did the OG passages and the passages from the Kaplan Verbal
workout. I found the RC1000 document pretty useless as I could not time the tests I took with it. So I stopped using it after reading a couple of passages. In practice tests and on test day, I used the time I saved on the SCs and CRs to solve RCs.
This was pretty straightforward. I went over the concepts from the Kaplan
book. Princeton is useless for quant. Their problems are way too easy. The quant forum on gmatclub is a great resource for tough problems. Fig
gives absolutely fantastic explanations. 'Use' him! I was particularly weak on the inequality-yes/no-DS questions. So I paid particular attention to those. I was a little dissapointed with my quant score. I am an engineer, so quant is suppossed to be my forte. I scored a 50 in all the GMATprep tests
and in the last Kaplan
test that I took. I know for a fact that I got two problems wrong. I realised just as I clicked on the 'confirm' button. A second too late! The last 50 questions in the DS and PS sections in the OG are reflective of questions at the 45+ level.
I went through some essays from the Arco Essay book. The templates are nice and there are some useful points you can pick up. I didn't dedicate too much time to AWA - about 5 - 10 hours overall.
Practice Test Scores:
CAT3: 570 ( This was about a month before the GMAT. I was severely depressed for a few days after this! Do NOT
trust your Kaplan
GMATPrep1: 760 (Q50 V47)
GMATPrep1: 750 (Q50 V44)
GMATPrep1: 780 (Q50 V49)
GMATPrep1: 780 (Q50 V49)
Note: I have some serious doubs about Kaplan
's scoring system. In Kaplan
CAT2 I scored Q41 V 37 and ended up with a 650. In Kaplan
CAT4 I scored Q50 and V37 and ended up with.... guess what?? 650! Pretty stupid huh?! Nonetheless, the Kaplan
tests are great for practice, provided you take the results in the 'right' spirit.
Using gmatclub.com effectively:
gmatclub.com is a very
powerful resource. Unfortunately there is right way and a wrong way of using it. I used it the 'wrong' way for a long time. I was a victim of the 'Post-A-Reply' syndrome. Please spend more time putting up questions and reading the explanations given by the members here. Most of them are (very helpful) GMAT veterans and can give you superb advice. But then again, it is upto you to tweak that advice to make it suit your style. Of course there are people(ok...a person actually) who will put you down in a pathetic attempt to justify their alleged superiority. My advice: Ignore them, put your head down and aim for that 750!
Now to answer that million $$$ question:
Do you need to attend a prep course?
The answer is a big 'NO'. Two months of smart,dedicated studies is all it takes to BEAT THE GMAT!