So, after what seems like 6 months on GMAT Club and close to a month and a half of serious preparation, disrupted by finals week for a bit, I can finally say that I am DONE with the GMAT. I got done with the finals on December 17th, and I studied seriously from the 18th to the 28th. Before that, I had studied on and off for the length of Fall semester.
Before the debrief, I must first thank a few people without whom this score would not have been possible. bb
: Thank you so much! For all the resources that I was able to obtain, and for the constant support Dawgie
: Can't thank you enough either. Not just for GMAT-related things, but in general. Even though you like pulling my leg, you've helped me a lotsrjaidev
: Last minute SC frustrations and random conversations
Test Day Experience
My test was at the Oakland Center. Though it was scheduled for noon, I wanted to give myself ample time for the formalities. The check-in was prompt and they gave me a locker to put my stuff away. I got the laminated pad and 2 new pens and I was given a corner station. Kinda happy about that. The station also had a set of noise canceling headphones but I didn't use it since the test center was pretty quiet and there weren't too many distractions anyway. I read the argument, wrote the essay in about 15 minutes, checked my essay for spelling errors and the like, and went on to the issue essay. This one was something fairly straightforward as well, and I was able to come up with a good 6 paragraphs, each 5-6 lines long in about 20 minutes. With ten minutes to spare, I wondered if I should take the break, decided against it and went with the flow.
Started Quant. First question was normal, second had a giant 3x3 table with lots of information and asked me to find something and I was like, ummm, okay. I get to somewhere around the 25th question and I have half hour left. It's a 3-D coordinate geometry problem unlike anything I'd seen. I try to arrive at an answer, making sure I didn't get anything wrong, and the next question is another problem of the same type. This was when I started COMPLETELY freaking out. This problem, I was able to solve even though it took me some time. Then I get a DS which asked me about the a maximization function from a given function. My mind immediately jumped to calculus of course, but I remembered that there was no calculus on the exam, but I used my method to solve the problem anyway. Then guess what? ANOTHER 3-D problem. This was when I told myself that there was no way I was getting that 51 I wanted. In fact, I resigned myself to a score of 44-45 in Quant. By the time I got to the 35th question, I had 14 minutes left, and when I ended the Quant section, I had 10:32 on the clock.
Decided to take the break. Went to my locker, put my stuff in, took a bite of a Snickers bar (hadn't had anything to eat since morning, just drank a glass of mango juice before I left home), drank some water and went to the restroom. Stood there for a second, splashed some water on my face and told myself FORCIBLY to not think of the previous section and just focus on Verbal. When I got back, I had about a minute left on my timer. I start off, a couple of SCs, a couple of CRs, the first passage is scientific. So I'm good so far, I take my time, writing down key pieces of information, relationships, views etc. The first question was fairly straightforward, but the subsequent questions were tricky, with two answers that were really close and it was down to the minutiae. I told myself to think as neutrally as possible and picked the answer and moved on.
Then I got stuck on this CR question which had two options that I could NOT choose from. Thinking back, I don't even remember what the question was about, but I just remember being SO frustrated that the two choices sounded so similar that I literally just stared at a wall for like 10 seconds. And THEN I realized there was an error in the choice of wording in one of the options. Mentally beating myself for not noticing it before, and blaming it on the developing hunger, I moved on. Another RC, a couple of SCs, a couple of CRs, another RC, a couple of CRs, more SCs, and wait, I am on the 41st question already?!?! I did not feel like I'd attempted so many questions. I looked up at the timer and saw almost 23 minutes remaining. I smacked myself hard and almost froze up thinking I might have made some stupid mistake on my way. But then I told myself that I had spent enough time on each question. I didn't "move on" from any question. So I clicked confirm on that question and then, of course, GMAC gave me the ginormous demographics survey thing, but thankfully I'd filled in my profile on the website already, so there wasn't much to fill in. I got to the report screen, clicked report and waited for the ten most frustrating seconds of my life. And then the screen flashed with my percentiles and I saw a 760, Q50 (Yay. DAMN, not a 51. Oh well), and V44 (Yep, right on target with practice exam scores), waved frantically for the proctor with a MAD smile on my face and got out. The person who gave me my printed score report took a look at it, smiled and wished me a happy new year. I got my bag and walked out. Bang bang.
Though I had the entire MGMAT series
, I barely touched any of the books. To me, the biggest value came from the CATs. Their tests are outstanding, and in fact, I felt that my Quant section was pretty similar to the MGMAT stuff than to GMAT Prep. Their assessment reports helped me focus my energy on the areas where my accuracy was below, say, 80%.
I used the following resources in my preparation:
1. Aristotle Prep SC Grail
- Amazingly concise book that worked for me because I was only looking to go through the nuances. The facts and rules are presented in a crisp, clear manner. I paraphrased the book into some 40 bullet points which I used during my preparation.
2. The Powerscore On-Demand Course
- I only used this for the Critical Reasoning section, and of course put together my own document with all the strategies incorporated in it. The act of putting this document together helped me hone my CR skills more than anything else.
3. The Official Guide
- Excellent practice material and use the MGMAT OG tracker with this if you have the time. Will help you identify specific areas of weakness and work on it in a structured manner.
4. The GMAT Club Tests
- These are great for practice, but I was already scoring 50-51 on all my practice tests without too much practice, so I didn't do all the tests. Maybe I'd have gotten a 51 if I had paid a little more attention to Quant, but oh well.
5. Several Documents - These can be found in my signature!
Resources I had and did not use:
1. The Veritas Prep Guides
- These books are actually excellent practice materials. The strategies, again, are concise, and the questions are pretty reliable. If I had more time I might have worked on these.
2. The OG Reviews - Didn't even go through them. I only went through the OG like a week before the test.
Shameless Plug: The books are all available for sale in the US if someone wants to buy them.
Just make sure to go over all the problem types. Use the AD/BCE technique for Data Sufficiency questions. Don't ever try to estimate the question levels. My last question on the test literally asked me to plug in values into an algebraic identity. I don't really have much else to say. The GMAT Club tests
will help you go from a 48-49 to a 50-51 if you use them rightly.
Read the strategies and make a list of the rules. ON YOUR OWN. Don't use lists made by others because what they might have found easy might be difficult for you and vice versa. Once you have studied the strategies, practice them on official questions. It's about quality and not quantity. I answered questions here, but I only practiced, really on the OG questions and the GMAT Prep SC questions, and that only 150 of them - not all 186. That document, btw, has a couple of flaws. When I get the time I'll rectify the document and post an error log
for it as well.
This was probably my best question type since I had a natural flair for most of this. I read through the Powerscore On-Demand Course CR strategies and took notes and just internalized the strategies. ALWAYS identify the conclusion of the argument. Then try to think of possible assumptions and weakening links. For strengthen questions, the answer choice would either negate the links or explicitly state an assumption. For weaken questions, the answer choice would be the one which states the missing link, or the assumption. Simple strategies like this will matter more than trying to memorize the random rules and explicitly stated procedures.
I am a voracious reader, but only when I like it. I absolutely despise reading editorials. Scientific articles are totally fine, since I'm an engineer. But passages on civil rights movements just bore me (No offense, but never been much of a social sciences person, at least when it came to reading. At the start of my preparation, I used to get really bored of the passages and lose concentration. Result? I used to get like 1 of every 3-4 questions wrong. But I also had this eerie habit of finishing the test with 20 minutes to spare, at least. So I decided to use the time to my benefit and I started reading the passages while simultaneously taking notes. Mind you, this will NOT work unless you have enough time left. But if you read fast enough and practice enough, you'll get to a stage where you are able to read the passage in 3-4 minutes and take notes (physically in the beginning and then mentally, perhaps). This will help drill the passage into your mind as you answer the questions. I know there are alternative strategies recommended here, but personally I feel like nothing can be as good as completely reading the passage and then attacking the questions.
That's about it guys. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I'll be glad to answer them. For now, it's time for me to finish watching Pirates of the Caribbean.
P.S - I had Charlie the Unicorn stuck in my head the ENTIRE exam. The bed intruder song popped in and out sometimes. Maybe it helped. Probably not.
P.P.S - The more I got into it, the more I started treating the GMAT like a game. You've gotta make it enjoyable