I took the GMAT exam in December and I haven't had time yet to speak about my experience yet. I've been a "lurker" for most of my time here, answering questions by myself and reading about people's experiences. I hope my experience will come in handy for people waiting to pass their GMAT exam.Background:
I work as a lawyer in a non-traditional field. I was in the "Sciences" program in high-school, which did involve a lot of maths, but was never really good at it. My mother tongue is French, but I did learn English fairly young, and wouldn't say it posed any problem for the GMAT Exam.
I'm still researching MBA programs, but one program in which I'm particularly interested right now would be INSEAD's, because of my interest in general management and its global focus. General strategy:
I studied for about 4-5 months, taking a 10-day vacation one month before the exam (it seemed like a mistake to me when I came back, as I didn't feel as quick as before, but perhaps it gave me energy until the exam!) As I work full-time, I studied around 1-2 hours a day on average on weekdays, and maybe ~3-4 hours per day on weekends.
My main focus was maths, as kindly suggested by a diagnostic exam. Although I wasn't worried by Verbal, I still took the time to do a lot of practice in order to understand the idea behind GMAT questions and their answers.
I studied using the following material:
- GMAT Official Guide
- Official Quant & Verbal Review
- MGMAT Complete Set
- MGMAT Advanced Quants
- Gmatclub Math Textbook
- GMAT Quantum videos
I would say that all these books were useful in their own way. It was probably a regret that I focused on the Official Guide at first, and used up all its questions very quickly, but at least I waited for the last two months for the Quant & Verbal Review. As I went through the questions, I kept an error log
, noting the questions which I got wrong, or which I had no idea why I got right, reviewed them, and tried them again a few weeks later. I also carefully reviewed questions from MGMAT questions banks and MGMAT exams. Again, like many people here, I found them harder than Gmat Prep questions, but they were good practice for the real exam.
I also tried to use my CAT exams wisely, using the first ones to gauge my level, and the second half as practice before the real exam:
14/09: MGMAT1: 690 (Q44-V39) -- This was my first attempt and made me optimistic, too optimist! Because of the following results, I suspect there was a bit of luck involved!
21/09: MGMAT2: 620 (Q39-V36) -- Back to reality!
29/09: MGMAT3: 670 (Q45-V36)
10/11: MGMAT4: 730 (Q45-V45)
17/11: MGMAT5: 730 (Q45-V45)
24/11: GMAT Prep 740 (Q47-V46)
01/12: MGMAT6: 740 (Q46-V45) -- I was confident at that point, as I had four consecutive good grades, including on GMAT Prep.
Finally, I also extensively used Gmatclub forums to supplement my learning. Found interesting discussions and knew that I could always learn something from answers by users. I also discovered the gmatclub CAT exams as my exam date was nearing, but decided it wasn't worth investing time and money in so close to exam date (my opinion might probably have been different if I had discovered them earlier on!)Test day:
I passed my exam on December 5th. I didn't break my routine - had a regular breakfast, a coffee, and headed to the test centre. I was a bit troubled by some of the reports I had read here, and brought granola bars, gatorade, bananas, and everything possible, but ended up not touching them.
- The AWA part went fine. I followed Chineseburn's guide and it worked well. I had never really practiced that part, and finished flush at the end of the 30 minutes.
- The IR part went also fine, a lot better than during my practice exams (during which I always obtained around ~3-4). I was planning to skip questions but ended up not doing so.
- The Quant Part... was a shock to me! 10 questions in, I was convinced I was behind schedule and started going quickly, perhaps skipping 1-2 questions. I ended up at the last two questions with 10 minutes left..! At the break, I was convinced I had done badly and was imagining scenarios. Turns out it was my best Quant grade ever!
- Finally, I felt confident for the Verbal part and especially aimed at not making dumb mistakes.
When I saw my score, I nearly fell from my chair. My heart was pumping - I couldn't want to go out and tell everybody, after having studied for so long! From my practice exams, I certainly wasn't expecting such a good grade!Some advice:
I saw many useful pieces of advice by visiting this forum. Here are my main thoughts:
- See the GMAT as a game
. Motivation can easily sink when you study a few hours a day. Just look at the GMAT as a game that involves maths (like a complicated Sudoku!). You'll realize with time that you are good at certain of its minigames, and that you need to focus on some others to get better at them. At the end, I'll admit it, I almost had fun solving some of the questions I was faced with (!) ...
- Focus on the basics and practice
. It serves no purpose to try to solve super 700+ exercises if you keep making dumb mistakes in the process. Through practice, you are more accurate, and if you do happen to make a mistake, you can have a feeling of where it is, or what the proper answer should be.
- Give yourself mini-objectives
. "By the end of this week, I'll do all the exercises in Book X and 10 questions in Book Y". It's the best way to stay focused and not be discouraged by seamingly unsurmountables tasks.
- Do full CAT exams
. It's most complete practice you can have: you are timed, you have to do an essay and the IR section beforehand. You'll train your endurance and it will be the closest simulation you have of test day (well of course, you could always buy an erasable pad and use ear plugs... but......)
- Read gmatclub forums
. The discussions here are a great way to discover alternatives ways to find a solution. Having more tools will make you a better fighter!
I hope my experience will be useful to some of you. Please don't hesitate to write back should you have any questions! I'll try to update my post as more ideas come to mind.