Ok i've been a CD-ROM in the past (read-only-messages
) but after 2 and half months of stuffing my poor brain, i'm officially done
Got 700 right on - Q47, V38. AWA score not back yet but I think around 5 is realistic. Here's my debrief!
Just found out that I got AWA 6.0
Above my expectations. Graders didn't seem to be too harsh in their marking. Basically I went over a couple of obvious points for both argument/analysis essays, and used transition words and varied my vocab as much as I can. Voila!
- GMAT for Dummies:
Yes I actually bought this as my first book, being the newbie that i was
It had some good introductory paragraphs but unfortunately the questions were no where near the real level. In particular the Verbal questions were too easy to narrow down choices - definitely I'd stay away from this book if I had to redo the whole experience.
Absolutely the best one of course - lot's of realistic prep questions at all difficulty levels. The only downside is it doesn't provide too much strategies, but that's expected. There're so many prep questions in this book that I couldn't even finish them! As well, the GMATPrep is golden. Use it and use it often. I did 4 tests with it using the uninstallation trick and rarely had question repeats. I think you can use it at least 5-6 times and still find questions fresh.
- Kaplan 800:
Didn't find the Verbal strategies too useful, and the Quant questions were not difficult enough. OG has better toughies. I did find the Sentence Correction part to be useful though, as it pointed out alot of common question types, so this might be its only saving grace.
- Princeton Review:
Best one besides the OG - provides what the OG doesn't, strategies. Quant methods like backsolving and number picking saved my day and improved my speed by miles. In the beginning I had up to 10 questions left when time ran out, but by the time I was done I was able to get to all questions just in time! Plus the CAT online test from PR is pretty much the most accurate one besides GMATPrep, as many have stated, so overall this book is well worth your money. The book is also easy to digest due to some witty humour.
Didn't find it too much use - pretty much covers the same ground as PR but less easy to absorb
Plus the CAT was totally insane in difficulty. I got 550 here when I was getting 600-660 in the GMATPrep.
My overall strategy for studying was quite similar to most people. Around 2 hours of prep each weeknight after work, and probably around 6-8 hours in total on weekends, plus doing 1 CAT test every Saturday morning. Basically worked this way until my CAT scores were around 700, then I knew I was getting ready for the real thing. I didn't start really preparing for AWA until this time.
The week before:
The week leading up to the test day I ramped up my prep - spending almost every waking moment preparing for it. I didn't come onto GMAT club often tho - I found that reading other people's posts was making me more nervous and scattering my concentration (all you 700+ takers!). So basically I tuned out and just kept my eye on the ball - the GMAT. My scheduled appointment was on Monday 1:45pm, so on the Saturday morning prior I did a GMATPrep CAT with full AWA and got 690. Slightly lower than before, but too late to change anything now
But doing the CAT with full AWA was definitely helpful, as the 1hr you spend on it can really tire you out by the time you hit the Verbal section, so I suggest taking the CAT with full AWA whenever you start ramping up for the big day. Then I prepped slowly for the rest of Saturday and Sunday, saving up my strength for Monday. Sunday afternoon I also took a test drive to the test centre, which definitely eased my mind during the real drive on Monday.
Had a nice breakfast/lunch (brunch?) with 2 eggs, toast, soya milk, a sandwich, and a banana. Filling but not too oily - oily food will really slow you down during the day. BTW, although this sounds like a big meal, i still felt my tank starting to run empty during the test (and this is with snacks during breaks!). So eating a full meal prior the test is crucial.
Snacks that I brought along: 3 bananas, a Gatorade, a bottled water, a Kit-Kat, an energy bar, 1 apple, and 2 clementines.
I almost finished them all during my 2 breaks
Got to the test centre, signed in quickly and took a quick bio-break just before the real thing. AWA was what you'd expect, one question about the education system and another about country Sacchar's trade export deficit problem.
While taking the 10 minute break after AWA, the receptionist-test admin lady came by and told me that a 6ft tall man with a WIG
tried to sign in for the GMAT test using a woman's ID.
When asked to take his fingerprint and picture, he quickly grabbed his ID and ran off
Who'd actually try to pull that off?!?!!?
By this time I was getting hungry - Had a banana, some Gatorade, took another bio-break and washed my face with cold water, and I was back in the race.
I felt the quant section was a bit harder than that of GMATPrep. There were fewer run-of-the-mill type questions. I didn't get too many typical rates/tax/money/beans/potions questions. Although these same concepts are tested, the questions often asked of different things than those in the OG. So I'd recommend brushing up on the basic concepts in these sections for sure. I think Pearson/GMAC beefed up the difficulty level slightly since the GMATPrep software was released. I also got a few weirdly-worded questions, hopefully they were experimental questions!
Another break! Ate almost everything else that I brought along. It's crazy how the GMAT sucks up all your energy!
More or less same as questions from the OG, but I felt they were mostly on the hard side (perhaps because I was doing well?) Alot of ambiguously worded answer choices in RC and CR passages. Sentence corrections were also tough, I wasn't able to narrow down choices on many of the questions. But otherwise the format, content, style, etc. were very similar to the questions in the OG. My suggestion is to master all the toughest verbal questions from the OG if you want a feel for the realistic level that you'd see on the real GMAT.
As I went to the last question on verbal with 18 seconds left, the screen suddenly froze! I was scared to death that my score would be lost, after all that effort! It seemed like an eternity before the hour glass finally disappeared and the last question showed up (ok, more like 10 seconds
) I had no idea what happened and why it took so long to load, but whatever. Finally finished the last question, and with my heart pounding I completed the questionnaire that they had at the end - 700! Wow - it was all worth it
As I left and the test administrator lady printed out my score sheet, she congratulated me on a good score
Ok it was no 780 but nevertheless I was satisfied and quickly sped away in my car to a nice big dinner
So to summarize:
- don't get the GMAT for Dummies
- do get the OG and the PR (for strategies as well as its CAT)
- do a GMATPrep/PR CAT every week until you get to your desired level
- do use the GMATPrep at least 5-6 times as you won't get repeated questions often
- do take a test drive to the test centre - it'll really ease your mind to know where the centre is
- do eat a big breakfast and bring lot's of snacks to the test
- don't wear a wig and try to pass for another tester
- do master the toughest quant and verbal questions from the OG - they're likely the questions you'll see on the real thing
- do ask me questions if you have any
Thanks GMAT Club!!! For all the great info and resources on the GMAT. I'll continue to stick around as I look into schools to apply to. Good luck to all you upcoming testers!