UPDATE : Got the official report
IR : 8, AWA : 5
My GMAT story is weird. My wife and I work in the same company, at the Corporate headquarters of the largest steel manufacturer of India. In our hopes to advance our lives we gifted each other a GMAT registration on this Valentine’s Day, 14th Feb 2013. (A touch too cheeky I guess
). From that day on our journey began which has culminated for me yesterday on the 17th of July and will go on for a few more days for my wife.
This community has been the most prominent source of knowledge and motivation for me all along. This is such an example of the way the way the internet has connected the world across not only physical boundaries but beyond belief, religion, economic standing and political differences. I am truly touched by the community and the people who choose to be a part of it. The debriefs here have been source of constant motivation for me and I cannot thank the people enough for what I have gained here.
My wife has been an amazing companion on this journey, providing support the whole way for which I am grateful to her. But my heartfelt thanks also go to the people frequenting these forums. BB thanks for starting this amazing thing, Bunuel, Hat off to you, you’ve have taken GMAT maths to a whole new level of understanding. Zarralou has been a great fellow who contributed equally in the maths as well as the vebal section of the forums. Souvik, Carcass, Whiplash, Spidey ( I read his notes but never saw him on the forums) and Slingfox (excellent notes on every section-and the guy took pains to type them all in
) hearty thanks to all of you.
The only secret I’ve found behind GMAT success is not knowledge – they only test you on high school topics. Its not speed - the questions are designed to be solvable in 2 mins. The secret is sheer consistency and stamina. Its not a sprint, you don’t need to dash through the questions. It’s a marathon where you need to start jogging from the first IR questions all the way through the next 90 questions, consistently solving them one after the other and keeping your pace up till the very last questions. So that is the kind of training GMAT needs. Right from day one, begin building stamina along with speed
. I’ve found that once I got back into study mode after 4 years of slumber, I could best build my stamina by sitting out 2 straight hours before taking a break. Of course it was difficult in the beginning with my mind wandering off to various locales but in the end it was achieved.
I guess readers will always wonder why most debriefs here are so long. Now I know the answer: The journey is so long and tiring involving so many hours of hard work put in ( in my case it was close to 250 hours), that it creates an emotional attachment to the effort and everything associated and a person who has taken this journey cannot help writing about it. Heres my 2 cents on what I went through. I hope that with these rather long (and drawling at times) passages below I will have given back something to the community that has given me so much and will inspire a few people as much as so many others have inspired me. ( Err I guess I lost parallelism somewhere in that last sentence . someone correct me please
The sections are divided into three parts
1. Run up to the Exam day
2. The EXAM day
3. Preparation and Study tips
1. Run up to exam day
After all my studying was done for, I had managed to get a 7 day leave from work. I cannot imagine why some people advise you not to take practice exams in the days just before the actual one. I had scheduled my self to take exactly 6 tests in the 7 days with the last day for revision.
The following were the test I took and their results
10th July :MGMAT 4 : 730 Q 47 V 43
11th July :GMAT Prep-1 : 750 Q 51 V 42 (Yes, I saved it for the last)
12th July : Kaplan
2007 CAT-4 : 690 Q51 V 36
13th July : MGMAT 5: 750 Q 50 V42
14th July : MGMAT 6 : 780 Q 51 V44
15th July : GMAT Prep 2 : 770 Q51 V44
In every exam I completely replicated what I expected my actual test day to be like. I took the timed breaks and changed my diet and liquid intake to find out what suited me the best. I found out that it was chocolates and Glucose water along with a pinch of salt that did wonders for me.( I use a variety of salt which has a portion of KCL along with the regular NaCl, I guess it helped my balance the Potassium levels in my blood stream)
Regarding the exams, I will mention them later on in the section about preparation material and study patterns. But the MGMATs were kind of unrepresentative towards the end. I would request Manhattan staff frequenting these forums to kindly look into the matter. There is a huge discrepancy in the difficulty levels of the questions faced in the earlier tests i.e MGMAT 1 and 2 and those that come later on. The most important part of the practice exams is the analysis one can make from the results. In each of these days as well as the other practice tests I completed before, I would spend 4 hours on the test and then make sure that I spend atleast another 6 hours analyzing the results and the reasons behind my mistakes. MGMAT offers great analytical tools to help you find and target weaknesses. But I can confidently say that the part which helped me the most are the explanations of GMAT Prep questions that are found on GMAT Club and Manhattan Forum and my going through as many GMAT prep questions that I could find in the last day of preparation i.e. on 16th July. Special thanks to Ron Purewal and Stacy Koprince for their efforts in both the forums in Verbal topics.
Apart from the tests I also went through OG-13 for the second time, but this time under strictly timed conditions. I set and average of 65 seconds for PS and DS and 90 seconds for SC, CR and RC. Under such conditions I achieved 94 and 93 % accuracy in PS and DS and approximately 85% accuracy in each of the verbal sections.
I visited my center exactly 10 days before my actual test. This is an important part of the run up to the exam and a small bit of advice from my side. Always make sure that you visit the center atleast once before your examination. There are so many factors that can ruin your composition on the D-Day. Things like reaching there on time if you are going to use public transport, or finding your way in case you are driving can be disturbing and can make you nervous. Special care is required in case you are going to drive down to the center, finding a parking is a much tougher challenge in most areas, than finding your way to the center. Then again you need to find out how the center is, if there is a washroom inside the center or do you have to move out to use a loo.
During the last three days of my preparation I really wanted to build up my morale and confidence for the time ahead. I can vouch for the importance of family in this regard. My wife was a pillar of support for me the whole time. But there were some other things that I did to boost up.
In my undergraduation years I must have watched maybe 500 odd movies
, but there are a few movies that had managed to affect my psyche in a major way. I went through 3 such movies during the last three days of my prep :
1. The Greatest Game Ever Played : the story of a small town boy played by Shea Lebouf who goes on to win the US Golf open as an amateur.
2. Miracle : US hockey team winning against all odds
3. Chariots of Fire : this one was my favorite with a story of sheer grit and determination
(p.s. –Ironically, I have never set foot on the playground or athletic field in my life
Music had been a major part of my life – I was the lead in a band in college- and it affects me more than anything else. There were 3 songs, 2 of them from the last 2 movies above which always brought back the feelings associated with the stories depicted in them. They were Lose Yourself by Eminem, Dream On by Aerosmith and the title track of CoF. I took them along to listen to on my way to the exam.
Of course all these are very individual feelings, but one needs to be aware of them to be able to harness them.
2. Exam day
Thanks to a great natural gift I have – I can fall asleep at will- I had no trouble sleeping the night before and woke up abruptly to a nightmare with me reaching the test center and hour late and missing the GMAT. I looked at the clock and it was 0530 hrs. Phew. Couldn’t sleep any more. My wife woke up and told me she’d dreamed of me doing great on the exam.
I have always been the kind who studies right till the last moment before the exam, so following tradition and not heeding most of the debriefs here at GMAT club, I went through all my notes as well as those of some other people (Whiplash, extra thanks again) and solved the first 10 questions of OG-13 in every section except RC. So by 0730 hrs I was ready and on my feet to rock the test. As practiced during the run up days I had curd and muesli with loads of sugar- your mouth tends to saturate from the sweetness, but damn it helped.
I drove down, dropped my wife in her office, took my share of wishes from my lady luck and then headed for the dreaded destination. The selected songs were playing from my playlist. I went through the adrenaline rush that “Lose your self“ brought in, the hope and will that “Dream On” induced and finally through the calm resolution and sheer determination that the “ Chariots of Fire” inspired. I reached there with the soothing piano riff filling my mind with confidence.
But lo behold, once there I realized that all the parking spaces were taken up by taxis, which had not yet begun their daily run. Guys appearing at the Yousuf Sarai center, New Delhi do take care. Fortunately I found the metro parking nearby and parked my car with the music still running through my mind. At the center, I went through the formalities that I was well versed with. ( Watch the videos they show on mba.com regarding your test taking experience). I had some issues because my signature was not matching the one on my passport. ( p.s – my passport was made 8 years ago and apparently the loop in my “y” has gotten a bit wider now
). But twas okay and I got to my terminal without much hassle.
First I tested my pens to ensure they were trouble free and had the proctor change them till I satisfied. (Maddened the good fellow- had him change them 4 times). I went through the formalities, named all the schools, I wanted my score to be sent to and thus the game began.AWA
I cannot thank GMAT club and this link
Enough for helping out on this part. Apart from the essays I wrote in my exams, I had prepared exactly 2 days for this. The question was as standard as it could be and asked me to critique the marketing strategy of a company. I jotted down points that came to my mind breezed through the typing and was finished with the checking and refining with 4 minutes left on the clock. I relaxed for a minute, and then prepared my scratch pad for the rest of the sections. 1 pages for IR, 8 pages for quants and 1 page for Verbal with a grid for approximately 20 questions IR
A section I dreaded from my MGMAT practice tests. I had not been able to complete the 12 questions in any of the 6 tests and of course the questions repeated in the 2 GMAT Preps. However the questions were easier than any of those in MGMAT or GMAT prep. This came as a surprise as I was expecting the worst in this section.
The breakup of the questions was exactly the same as in the GMAT preps, but in no particular order. Finished with the 12 questions with 1 minute to spare, called up my proctor for the break, went on to the break screen and came out.Break-1
As practiced during every practice test, went to the loo, had 2 chocolates, my glucose concoction and a glass of water. Chilled for 2 minutes and back into the game.Quants
This was a breeze and I still cannot comprehend why I lost that 1 point and 8 percentile in Quants. I had had an easy time in this section both on the OG as well as most of the practice tests. Went though the questions, one after the other determined not to make mistakes but alas, somewhere something must have gone wrong.
Again finished this section with 2 minutes to spare. Called the proctor and then clicked the next for the break before going outBreak-2
By this time I was beginning to feel some exhaustion and had to find a way to refresh. I had read somewhere in some debrief, that splashing water on your face enhances blood flow to the brain- a phenomenon known as Divers rush. It works.
I need to relax my mind for the gruel ahead, so I didn’t take out the earplugs during the break and had the chocolates, glucose and a glass of water. Sat down for 2 minutes to take a couple of deep breaths and went back in.Verbal
This was the area I was most concerned about. I had started off with a score of 31 on my first MGMAT so, inspite of all the preparation and practice, I was skeptical. As I will mention below in detail, the questions on GMAT prep as well as the real GMAT are worded so eloquently that there is no scope of ambiguity in the questions and the answers.
I would like to answers another debated topic : The GMAC is test meaning in more and more SC questions. I had about a third of my SC questions where a major portion of the answer choice was underlined, and which had no discernible splits in the choices.
Again finished the section with 1 minute to spare. I felt I had done well but my apprehension remained. I clicked the NEXT button with my heart rate rising with every passing beat. Everything that could had been done had been done.
Skimmed through the bio section and was finally confronted with the screen that asks you whether you want to deduce any meaning out of your 200 or so hours of hard work or you want the GMAC to cancel everything. This came with a strong bold warning that they will cancel it for you automatically if you don’t ask them to do otherwise.
Please GMAC don’t do this to us. Make it the other way around.
With my hands shaking I clicked that NEXT and I was so embarrassed that my heartbeat must be disturbing my fellow test takers. Nevetheless the software took its sweet time torturing me and finally spat out the results
Quants : 50
Verbal : 44
Total : 770
I wanted to jump and scream aloud but my proctor had already arrived to guide my excited self out of the exam room.
3. Preparation and Study tips
I spent a total of about Rs. 2500 for my entire preparation and was focused on improving verbal during the entire time. I would still swear by the OG-13 which was the most useful resource albeit the most expensive one. It gives you a preview of the mind of the test writer and what goes on inside. The way testmakers think, write and communicate can be understood and adapted to if one goes through the OG carefully. I also got the Manhattan SC guide e-book version, and got the 6 tests along with it. Got second hand copies of the Kaplan premier
2007 (Came with the old CD), Manhattan 4th edition quants guides and the Power Score CR Bible
. Apart from these I spent about an hour a day on GMAT Club.
But the most significant gain was from my error logs. I created error logs (actually adapted one I found here) for the OG-13 and all Manhattan guides including sentence correction by listing the OG questions category wise. I will post that later on sometime.
These resources are explained belowOG -13
: The best resource, wins hands down over any other test, study material, guide … anything. Go through it atleast twice. You’ll find revelations in every pass.MGMAT SC
: In my first Kaplan
test I for 16 questions wrong 8 of them SC, in the first MGMAT 7 wrong SC’s. This book changed that, and in the end I got only 1 sc wrong in GMAT Prep-2. Go through each chapter religiously and then do the corresponding OG questions. This is especially recommended for non natives like me who need help. It especially helps to take notes, but if you are too lazy to do that there’s plenty of options herei-believe-these-notes-are-very-good-collection-of-sc-notes-101380.html#p794883
p.s.- Manhattan guys please give a little more serious examples at the end of each chapter. The ones in the present edition were too easy.Power Score CR Bible
: awesome book which gives you a clear method of thinking. Changes the way you look at sentences and arguments. I felt that now I view arguments in newspapers and other magazines much more critically than before. The TM bits of the book are worth remembering and whiplash has done a great job of compiling the book into a few pageszomg-the-bang-bang-cr-guide-100473.htmlMGMAT tests
: I gave the 6 tests that came with the SC book and religiously analysed every question that came up. I have already given the score in the last three tests, but the First three tests are as follows
MGMAT 1 : 670 Q45 V33
MGMAT 2: 700 Q48 V34
MGMAT 3: 710 Q48 V35
But there was a big gap in the first test and the last test in that the level of difficulty reduced with successive tests. I got about 90% questions that were tagged as 700-800 level questions and only about 30% such questions in the MGMAT6 in which I scored 780. I don’t know if this is to boost students morale or some fault in the algorithm. And yes the quants in these tests is punishing.Kaplan test
: Could never pick up the book, but I gave all 4 CATs with a score of 610, 620, 640 and 680 . The quants is pretty representative but the best part of these tests is the RC which is cruel and makes you quite immune to the sort of RCs that come up in these tests.GMAT Club
: Oh this is the best resource a GMAT aspirant can find. Hearty Kudos, not only the club ones, to the guys running it and more to them who take time to contribute in it. My entire quants prep was coached by Bunuel, BB and walker with their GMAT Club math book - An excellent compilation, sufficient to take you all the way up to Q51.
Also repeated thanks to Zarallou, souvik and all the other guys who have contributed to form the verbal sections in the website.
I would like to end this with my favorite quote from Von Bismarck“ With Faith in God, put on your spurs and let the wild horse of life fly with you over the rocks and hedges, Ready to break your neck, but always without fear”Its not unbeatable people
and yes I will be posting updates and a test center review soon.
Test Center Reviewhttp://gmatclub.com/reviews/location/new-delhi-451?6
When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.