Sorry if this post is TL;DR but I think it contains some good insight also for other people.
Books & materials usedKaplan
New GMAT 2012-2013 PremierManhattan GMAT
Set of 8 Strategy Guides, Fourth Edition
GMATPill (whole set)
GMAT Question Pack 1
IR Ofiicial Online Questions
GMATPrep v.2 - 1 660 - 9.5.2012
GMATPrep v.2 - 2 580 - 16.5.2012
GMAT Test - 1 - 590 (Q32/V30) - 18.5.2012
GMATPrep v.2 - 2 670 - 3.7.2012
GMATPrep v.2.1 - 1 700 (Q46/V40) - 4.7.2012
GMATPrep v.2.1 - 2 710 (Q48/V40) - 5.7.2012
GMAT Test - 1 700 (Q48/V37), IR8, AWA 4.0 - 7.7.2012
Bachelor, Software Engineering - Austria, Vienna
Master, Software Engineering - Austria, Vienna
Software Developer, 4 years part-time at biggest Insurance Company in Austria
Software Developer, 2 years at a Start-Up (projects in Health Care Sector)
Software Architect, 3 years at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
Length of study
Started: 1rst of April 2012, took 1rst week off from work
Last week: 11th - 18th May 2012, took 1 week off again
weekdays: .5 - 1 hour
weekend: 5-6 hours
Started: 25th of May 2012
Last two weeks: 23rd of June 2012 - 05th of July 2012, took 2 weeks off again
weekdays: 1.5 - 2 hours
weekend: 8 - 10 hours
My journey for the GMAT started in April. I talked to a friend who did the GMAT already and got some advice from him. He used the Kaplan Premier
to study and got a 610 but he thought a better score would also be possible. I therefore purchased the Kaplan
In my first week I took of in April I went through the Kaplan
Guide did the example question in it, took some notes in my moleskin book and did some of the OG questions of each section. Unfortunately what I didn't know at this time was that the difficulty level of the questions goes up the increasing number in each section. I didn't only the first 50 or so and got all right so I felt quite confident (haha I know dummy error
I was also searching through GMATClub a little bit during this time and tried to find resources. Probaly too much.
When my week off was over I had finished 3 sections from Kaplan
PS, CR & DS and felt that I was good on track (what a missconception).
I did examples during the week and spent my weekends learning (5-6 hours) I just felt that I didn't had enough energy after a whole week of work (man was I WRONG
During the first week after my week off I realized that the examples with higher numbers were getting harder. This somewhat disrupted my learn schedule.
When I was finished with Kaplan
I felt that I was missing more knowledge about SC, CR and RC. I also wanted to try the Number Properties Guide
from MGMAT because I heard so many great things about it.
I got the 8 guides set from a friend. I read through the Number Properties Guide
first and was amazed by how much better this guide was than the Kaplan
I did't most of the examples in the guide as well as most of the examples mentioned in it for PS & DS (also the advances stuff). Got most of it correct. This was approx. 2 weeks before the test.
1 and a half week before the test I did the first GMATPrep v.2 I got a solid 660 with room for improvement (at least I thought so).
Then I proceeded with the SC guide. Read through it and took notes. I found it very hard to remember all of it.
Then came the CR guide and the RC guide. Also with notes.
Did some parts of the Word Problem guides (Probabilities, Statistics, Rates etc.) because I got some of those problems wrong on my mock up test.
2 days before the test I did my second GMATPrep, I was exhausted from the day already and took the test at 10 PM ... When I was finished it was 2 in the morning ...
I got my result ... 580 => I was SHOCKED and completely freaked out. Only 1 day to go and such a bad score ...
I couldn't sleep this night ... slept only 4 or 5 hours and learned the whole next day with just a short break for lunch (1 hour). My girl visited me and told me that I look awefull and should go outside with here. I refused (I was so scared). I learned until 11 and slept alone this night (I didn't want to have any distractions). Next day, testday ... I had my test at 2 PM. Didn't sleep well this night either 3 or 4 hours.
When I took the test I realized I couldn't concentrate ... I know I was doing bad ... especially during my strongest section (quant) ... I knew the reason ... I haven't concentrated on quant besides doing the Number Properties guide
and the last time I did some quant examples was 2 weeks ago. I wasn't just in the right mood for quant (warmed up).
BUT one thing slowely dawn on me. During the test ... performing sooo badly ... I had to smile.
You will ask why the hell is this guy smiling during a test that he completly bombs?!
The reason was simple ONE bit PART of my character. Even though I was doing so bad, I could see myself already I month later ... doing the test again ... and this time just beating the hell out of the GMAT...
This gave me so much confidence. Because I knew I would never give up.
I got the result I expected 590 (Q32/V30). I knew the reasons.
1. I couldn't concentrate because I was sooo exhausted from the sleepless nights before
2. My eyes were killing me for the same reasons
3. I was not in the mood to perform as I could in quant
4. I was to nervous, anxious before
5. what I didn't tell so far ... I overdraw my 8 minutes break for quant because of some bad coincidence
After that bad experience I took some time off and researched for better ways to strengthen my verbal (because I knew this was still my weakspot) and was certain to next time also spend some energy on quant to get me in the right mood / be prepared next time.
I found the GMATPill. It had good reviews and promised wonders ... in my situtation I needed wonders.
What I didn't saw at this point was other, compeptive offers from eGMAT
at this point. Would also interst me how good they are in comparision.
I bought the whole GMATPill package for 350 $ (I have to write Zeke maybe I get the difference for the GMATClub discount back
Before I bought it I wrote zeke about how I should learn with the GMATPill. I told him that I have 5 weeks at my disposal as well as 1 week to take off before the test. He gave me some good advice on how to use the GMATPill and his response time was good enough for me (1 or 2 days to answer).
I also asked him about the IR section and how to learn for it (his learn schedule on the platform didn't included IR when I wrote him, NOW IT DOES).
So my second chapter of the GMAT story began. I learned each weekend 8 hours on Sat and 8 hours on Sun during the first 3 weeks. During weekdays 1.5 hours.
I watched the videos for strategies for SC (1rst week), DS (2nd week) and the vidoes which explain OG questions. What I didn't do was stop the video for a question before and go through it to use zekes strategies (ONE MAJOR FAILURE OF MINE, because this really helps to understand his techniques). CR was in the 3rd week. After that I realized that with this pace I will get into time pressure (I wanted to have some time buffer to review some stuff, and not do my last section in the last week of the test). I bumped my learing time on weekdays up to 10 hours and during the week to 2 hours.
I finished RC the same way. The last two weeks I took off, and bumped my learning time up again (10 - 12 hours each day, for two weeks). I went through RC and PS in 5 days. This time for RC and PS I stopped before I watched the solution vidoes for OG questions and did them myself before. BUT I had to review SC/DS and CR again because I didn't stop before the question videos (this COST ME SOME TIME).
Then came the IR section. I walked through GMATPills vidoes and found them very helpful. Did the IR official questions and got 6 - 8 right out of 12 (a little shocked about how hard the sometimes are - ONLY for me of course)
After that I reviewed some chapters of MGMAT Word Problems again (Rates, Permutations, Statistics, ...) and rehersaled some math basics (properties of triangles etc.)
The last week I spend on questions. I had already finished the OG 12
questions completely. But reviewed the ones I got wrong and checked if I did them right the second time.
With the official question pack I purchased (+ the question in the GMATPrep software) I spilt the questions up into packages (6 packages in sum).
1 package contained
10 SC or RC
One of these packs took me ONE morning / afternoon to finish + review the explainations
Mondoay: After I finished two of them I started taking the first exam on the next day.
Tuesday: GMATPrep v.2 - 1 perp test went well I got a 670 (Q42/V40) + review
Wednesday: Pack 3 + GMATPrep v.2.1 - 1 perp test went also well 700 (Q46/V40) + review
Thursday: Pack 4 + GMATPrep v.2.1. - 2 perp test even better 710 (Q48/V40) + review
This time I decided to take the last day off (BEST IDEA EVER). We had July and it was damn hot in Vienna this year ... actually the whole first week of July and the whole last week on June was 30 - 36 degree celcius the whole time ... I was a little sad to miss out on so much sun, but I figured the GMAT is worth it
(of course it is worth much more), I even purchased a air con for my appartment ot learn at 24 degrees in my room (otherwise I can not concentrate).
The last day I went to a public swimming pool sat down in the shadow and relaxed. Talked to friends via Skype which I haven't heard from for a while (because I didn't contacted anybody during my last two weeks of learning) and my girlfried came as well.
One side note. I had a fight with my girlfriend on this same day before. She wanted to go somewhere else. Of course this was not the real reason for the fight, and why she started the fight, I knew the real reason. She was just pissed that I didn't had time for here during the last month and she was scared of loosing me when I go to another country for the MBA there. I explained to her that this was my BIG DAY and this is the day I have sacrificed so much for and that I would be very happy if she supports me and comes with me to the swimming pool (remember last time I told here that I don't want to have any distractions
) but I also accpet if she wants to do something else.
We spend the rest of the day in the public swimming pool and went home. One thing I forgot was to put sun cream on. So I had a major sun burn. It hurted so much and I couldn't sleep as well as possible again this night but way better than the first time (remember put sun cream on even when you are sitting in the shadow
I woke up that day and WAS SO NERVOUS. My girlfriend supported my so much, she made me breakfast, talked to my in an encouraging way and spent the time with me till I had to leave for the test.
BTW this was the moment I knew I will some day marry this girl
I was prepared with healthy food (cereals, flakes, nuts, bananas, kiwi, pinable, etc.) and a lot of liquid (tea, I stared drinking a lot of mint tea during my second attempt and wanted to keep this behaviour) and as soon as I went into the training center my anxiousness was OVER. I knew now is my time. There were only 5 people schedules this day (Saturday) and not everbody showed up. I had the testroom almost for myself (PERFECT).
I took the AWA in a breeze. I thought I did a farly good job but ONLE GOT 4
. Anyways the IR was way easier than in the examples. I got a straigth 8.
Then came the first break. I moved around (moved my legs and arms etc.) took the time to go to the toiled drank my tea and ate some fruits / cereal. Then I wanted to check in again.
But the guy for checkin was not there. I saw him on the monitors in the trainingroom.
Funny thing. I had a bad dream the day before that I was doing great at the GMAT but the system had a defect during the midst of the test and I would have to retake it.
And what do you think happend ....
The guy came out of the room and told me that there is a problem with the system. My heart halted for a second. I told me to checkin again and walked me to my terminal. He tried to login ...
tried it again ... NOTHING ...
F*** was my first thought ... this is not happening. BUT IT WAS.
He called somebody. But the guy didn't pick up. Then he called again. This time he did. The guy told him his password and everything was find. I could log in.
A few seconds were deduced from my time, but who cares, it was quant, so my strong section! I was just happy to finish the test (because on the next day I would fly to USA for two week and couldn't retake the test well after it).
I went through quant like a sprinter (in hindsight maybe too fast) I had 10 minutes left for my last 3 answers. I took it slowly and finished the quant section 30 secs before it ended.
Second break. Tea + Fruits + Moving again.
Then came verbal. I had a good feeling through the whole section. There were some lengthy RC passages but I felt confident.
Nevertheless I finished the section good in time 1 minute left. I went through the general question screens. And then was the moment I have been waiting for. The question if I wanna cancel my scores
or wanna see it. I of course wanted to see them ....
For one short moment my heard stoped again ....
There it was 700 ... with a 48 in quant. I was very happy. But I didn't understand the 37 in verbal.
Anyways I was happy with my score. Now the 2 weeks of USA could come!
I called my girlfriend. She was soo happy for me. I drove to a party of a friend of mine and had a great last day in Vienna. The next day I boarded my flight to the US and my holidays 2012 could begin....
Words of Advice
I wasted time searching for the best study plan, finding resources (Excel Sheets) and reading stories about the GMAT.
1. Better would be to just use the "GMAT Club Guide to the Official Guide for GMAT Review 12th Edition v4.xls" ... this is really enough to track your progress. I enhanced it a bit for my needs but the basic version is fine as it is.gmat-club-guide-to-the-gmat-official-guide-12th-ed-85956-100.html
2. Reading just one or two (best rated) gmat stories is also better than reading 10 of them => WASTE of TIME
3. Another way of wasting time is by using TOO MANY resources use MGMAT Guides
(but focus on them) OR another resource but DO NOT SPLIT your concentration
4. DO NOT USE the Kaplan
guide unless you are targeting around 600 it is simple NOT GOOD enough to get a score above 650, except with luck maybe, I know some people may not agree but I am sure for 90 % of the people out there it is not possible to get a good score with Kaplan
5. most importantly .......... NEVER GIVE UP!!
Things I wish I knew
That the Kaplan
guide is soo bad MGMAT Number Properties
is really that good!
GMATPill SC, CR, RC is really good
Things I have learned
You can do it if you want it.
Things I wasted my time on
see Words of Advice
Finally, my test experience
see my debrief
Advice and product reviewsKaplan
DON'T USE IT (if you need more than 650)
invaluable good resource, if you don't have enough time use the number properties guide
ev. the sentence correction guide only, if your weakness is quant only than also use the word problems guide it is very good, and easily comprehensible
even if the reviews seem staged and overenthusiastic I can tell with all certainty that the SC, CR and RC guides helped me a lot, verbal was my weakness, and even if my testresult is not that great in verbal during the mock tests I could feel that my improvement was enormous.
The PS & DS parts are good but neglectible. I think a combination of GMATPill for SC,RC and CR + MGMAT Number Properties
, Word Problems Guides are a really good combination.
Any questions are more than welcome.
And for all you guys out there. Beat the GMAT you really CAN DO IT!
Give kudos if you find my post helpful