For the beginning, let me briefly introduce myself so that you will have some idea on my background and why it was so much pain to swallow GMAT pill…
I have graduated from third division mediocre US college and was already in MBA program in third division mediocre US college, for which I did not need GMAT to gain admission (my GPA was high enough that they granted me unconditional admission). I needed GMAT to apply for PhD program in Business Administration. The PhD admission, I knew, was competitive and I needed score of 700 or higher in order to be seriously considered for admission.
At high school, I never bothered to like Math, since I was fond of humanities and history. Due to the fact that I spent several years in the US and that I was fond of reading English literature and The Economist
(not for the purpose of GMAT only) I considered the verbal part my strength (error #1). Never bothered to take GMATPrep Exam, which would be an accurate assessment of my standing (error#2)
That is why as I started preparing for GMAT in the summer of 2009, I did not spend enough time for verbal and as a result scored very low on Verbal Part in addition to low score on Quant.(October, 2009, 610 Q44 V31).This time I knew that I did not spend enough time preparing for the test and my studies were only limited to GMAT Official Guides and Kaplan 800
and Premier. I knew I could do far better.
The second time, I took GMAT in January 2010 with a month long preparation which was not intensive enough (error#3) that I scored only 660 (Q47, V34), which was quite disappointment for me. This time, I thought my preparation was good enough as I utilized ManhattanGMAT set, GMAT club tests
, Official Guides and a little bit of posts on the forum. However, I never bothered to keep error log
(error #4) despite seeing many suggestions to do so on GMATclub.com. I never bothered to intensively work on my weaknesses such as Probability, Combinatorics, Geometry, Number Properties and etc. I used outside sources for studying Sentence Correction such as GMATclub tests
, and other SC tests posted on GMATclub (error#5). At this time, my stamina for GMAT was weakening. I wanted to throw away everything and forget about GMAT. It is hard to describe the frustration I felt with myself. Nevertheless, I wanted to do PhD and I needed better GMAt score for that.
The decision to take GMAT the third time was not easy. I rigorously researched the test prep companies that I could utilize to increase my GMAT score. After careful research, I chose Knewton because it guaranteed 50 point increase or money back. To be honest, I was not satisfied with Knewton from the beginning. Most of their tests were imitation of Official Guide tests and most of the methods they utilized to do the tests such as plugging in numbers were from that of Kaplan
GMAT books. Since I already studied KAPLAN
GMAT and already almost have memorized Official Guide tests, Knewton course did not bring practical results for my preparation. They claimed that their online prep system is adaptable thus it adapts to your weaknesses by focusing on your errors on tests. However, the Knewton system never bothered to focus much on my weaknesses, of which I was aware. I did not study much neither on Geometry and Number Properties nor on Probability and Combinatorics. To be brief, I relied too much on Knewton and I failed (error #6). Although couple days before my Official Test Day, my test scores on Knewton CAT were ranging between 700 and 750 (my last CAT), on the test day (June 2010, I scored disappointing 660 (Q46 V35)-the same score I got on January 2010. The only thing that changed from my previous Official GMAT was that I got lower on Quant and got a little higher on Verbal. My confidence in myself and my ego were ruined. At that day, I swore not to take GMAT again, ever!!! I thought that GMAT was not for me and I was destined not to score on 90th percentile at least. After wasting so much money, time and other resources that I could have spent on something else, I did not know what else to do.
The decision to take GMAT the FOURTH time was not easy. I took a break for almost 6 months before I started thinking of my past experiences with GMAT. I literally went through mental crucifixion and pain before I decided to open any book related to GMAT. This time, I lacked any new resources to practice GMAT. Since by the this time, I took GMATPrep several times and almost memorized Official Guides and have read Manhattan GMAT
set several times.
However, one thing was different this time. I swore to keep error log
, writing down every single problem on quant that I get wrong. I promised to spend at least 6 months before I will make any decision regarding GMAT appointment. And I urged myself not to waste my time studying something else on SC besides Official Guide Problems and GMATPrep. I went through all GMAT club Quant tests, Official Guide Math Tests, kept error log
along the way. And memorized the problems I got wrong so that when I looked at quant problem second time, I already knew the answer before solving it.
Moreover, I tried to focus on my quant weaknesses more, trying to turn them from my weakness into strength. For example, when I first took the GMAT couple times before, I considered probability and combinatorics my weakness. But this time I did so many problems on those areas that the only problem I got on combinatorics on official GMAT exam I did in less than 1 minute and with 95% confidence that I got it right.
Regarding SC, I say thousands of THANKS to Mr. Ron Purewal. I never had money to hire such an outstanding instructor. But, his free posts on ManhattanGmat and BeattheGMAT forums are invaluable resource to study from. Through reading his endless comments to GMATPREP and Official Guide Problems on ManhattanGMAT and BeattheGmat.com websites, I became familiar with GMATland rules on SC. Though my fourth score on verbal will not be much different from previous one, I can swear that I learnt a lot more from Ron Purewal’s posts on forums than ManhattanGMAT SC guide, Knewton, Gmatclub verbal tests and Kaplan
book combined. If you read, every post-explanation by Ron for each question that ever appeared on GMATPrep software, chances are very high that you will gain a little bit of Ron’s SC reader eyes . Believe me, those eyes are invaluable while taking GMAT. In addition, I have read PowerScore CR
Bible, which I consider a lot better than ManhattanGMAT CR and a very good resource to study to increase GMAT CR.
I can be honest that I was not much excited about taking GMAT the FOURTH time and I did not study with much enthusiasm and passion as I did before. I did not have passion as I was super bored studying the same “material” for the FOURTH time. But, in my humble opinion, because I chose the correct strategy and I tried to avoid the mistakes I did in my earlier preparations, I was able to do a lot better and cross that mental barrier. On May 30, 2011 on my FOURTH attempt I scored 700 on Official GMAT!!!(Q49, V36)
At this time, I do not know whether I will take the test the FIFTH time sometime in the future and try to get 750. I think is realistic if I have enough guts to study for. But what I know is that GMAT is a challenge and one needs to utilize all the good he or she has accumulated in himself or herself to overcome that challenge. If I utilized the CORRECT strategies ON TIME that were advised on GMATclub by wise people, if I could choose the correct timing, sufficient patience and endeavor to study for GMAT, and if I could avoid ANXIETY, NERVOUSNESS and INCONFIDENCE in myself I felt each time (except for the FOURHT TIME) I sat for GMAT, I would not have this painful experience and would get the score I want in less time, spending less money and less resources.
LESSONS FOR FUTURE GMAT CHALLENGERS:
1. Everyone can take GMAT and score high-No matter which school you graduate from, no matter what is your academic background
2. DO NOT BE DUMB like me, USE the STRATEGIES and ADVICES wise men of GMATclub put on the web for FREE
3. Take it only, if you are able to manage your anxiety, nervousness and level confidence at the time you are taking GMAT
4. Do not rely too much on one TEST Prep company if you want 700 or higher, utilize other sources as well
5. CORRECTLY assess yourself before taking Official Test by using GMATPREP for free
6. Do not ASSUME that if you lived in the USA for a while and read The Economist
just for fun, you will not have problem with GMAT verbal
7. Be sure, anyone can top Quant part with enough preparation
8. Turn your weaknesses into your strength
9. FOR SURE KEEP ERROR LOG
10. Do not study SC from any sources but Official Guides and GMATPREP and USE RON’s free posts wisely
- I do not know why I scored 36 on Verbal despite my intensive preparation on SC and CR. My RC was already good enough. probably, I spent too much time thinking while doing the test and I had to guess last three questions.
To sum up, I owe a lot of THANKS to Mr. Bunuel (for explanations to every problem I asked), active math moderator and GMAT CLUB members, Mr. Ron and free ManhattanGMAT forums and any other online GMAT club forum members whose experience served as a motivation for such an ordinary guy like me to cross the 700 barrier and Mr. chineseburned, whose AWA template on gmatclub helped to improve my official AWA from 5.0 to 6.0 (91th percentile) !!!
Thank you guys,
I promise to stay active on GMATClub and may be retake GMAT once in future so that I can prove myself that I can be on 99 percentile as well. But, who knows…
Never give up,,,