How it all started in 3rd quarter of 2011: I read a book called "Stay Hungry Stay Foolish" on Indian entrepreneurs and found that I'm well suited to the path of entrepreneurship. Let's learn what it takes to get there.
Background: 7 Years of IT Consulting Experience (SAP Technical) and BE (IT) with below average GPA.
I have learnt a few things about GMAT in almost 2 years of my preparation and I wish to share those things with those who are relatively at the beginning of this journey. My journey is more or less not over but it has come to a point where I can breathe..
Irrespective of countless practice scores (majority of which were close to 700), here is how my real score's panned out:
GMAT-1: 18-01-2012: Q39, V19, Total: 480
GMAT-2: 13-07-2012: Q44, V21, Total: 550
GMAT-3: 28-10-2012: Q47, V29, Total: 620
GMAT-4: 29-12-2012: Q49, V31, Total: 650
GMAT-5: 13-03-2013: Q49, V35, Total: 700
I take full responsibility of my scores and no exam was planned in a hurry or was given under work pressure. Though, I've been under the payroll of a leading IT firm but I have got full opportunity to study and my work load was almost negligible.
Ok, In first few attempts I thought inexperience of online exams is what's taking toll on my score and nothing's horribly wrong. But, I was wrong. This test is as much mental as it's a test of your reading skills. Only in my 3rd attempt, I realized that I first need to learn how to read before sitting for such exams. But, how much reading do I need as I have not read any book apart from technical instructional manuals in years and I have not been avid reader in my under graduation days as well.
I was poor in Quant all my life so I'm at backfoot for both the skills tested in this exam. Nevertheless, if business needs those skills, I will have to learn to be successful, no way out.
My mind is different than most of the guys out there. It does not run for a short cut. It believes that if I'm told to learn these skills (CR,SC,RC,Quant), they are there for a larger picture. In first 3 attempts at GMAT, my mind gave up knowingly that I'm not good enough yet and I do not deserve to be cleared by this exam. But, please do not follow my foot-steps as GMAT will make you feel this way even if you are a 780 guy. So, I came back to the drawing board and started again, hoping that someone will come and hold my hand to get me past the line that I have virtually drawn for myself.
Indeed, many sellers came but those were all thugs in one way or another and done too little for me, except boosting my confidence artificially that I'm capable of 700 now. Like a small optimistic kid, I believed them and sat down for GMAT, only to find out that I've marginally improved. If I start exposing them how they harmed my preparation (not only in monetary sense but in terms of time and effort), it will take an another page and my review may get blocked as well since these guys have strong ties with the business. But that's anyhow not the topic of today's post.Test Day:
For the second time in my test history, I got down at the wrong station. Make no mistake, all my tests were at this very location. This single fact might tell you a lot about my psyche. Anyway, I reached test center taking an auto from this close station and reached test center almost running. At this moment, my brain told me look how stupid you are once again, do you really deserve to be in the 90th percentile ?
I replied back to myself, I have been in this spot before (running and coming late/confused) and I do not blame my 550 on my getting down at wrong station so how will that effect now ? So, I won the first mental battle that was critical to my outcome.
I have got used to burn very less energy in AWA and IR and it took me 2 attempts to learn this. My strategy at IR was to do selective questions and I was lucky to have ample questions from my zone.
Journey of those 2.5 hours that has shown me 7 as the hundred's digit of my score:Quant:
I was half of my strength in Quant from my last attempt. If I'm doing a simple percentage question in 1min in my previous attempt, I was taking 2 mins this time, but deep down I knew there are many questions I'm familiar with that I know are sufficient or insufficient by just looking at them and using my previous knowledge. GMAT is not a bluff test and it gives you questions on the same pattern, no matter what. So, I even took 4-5 mins on simple word problems that otherwise would not have taken me more than 1:30 at home. But, the important thing was "I did not give up". 7 questions, 7 mins to go at the end but no panic. I told myself, 2-3 of those will be conceptual D.S questions and my fundamentals allow me to get them down in no time. I guessed on the last one but I managed to get the same score as earlier and I almost knew that going into the break. Mentally I have won this section.Verbal:
I got an SC first. I spent 2 mins or more on this but I couldn't get this down. Next was CR and I guess I missed it as well. I have heard how critical are the first few questions of this exam and unknowingly, I pressed the panic button. There on, I could not get the meaning of most of the sentence's and CR did not make much sense as well. But, instead of giving up entirely this time around, I decided to take the maximum possible output and rather than ON/OFF situation, I tried to do damage control. I'm good with RC but not sure if I was understanding them properly or not as I was kind of baffled. I used an another sense that I have acquired by doing thousands of official/unofficial questions. I know what's not the answer and I can eliminate 3 out of those with my experience. I did the same and even though I was trying hard to understand the argument and sentences, fear of failure has once again struck me hard and I was not confidently picking one choice out of the remaining last 2. I have worked quiet hard on my verbal but all in vain if you are paranoid in the middle of your world.On GMAT courses:
Please do not fall upon the fancy advertisement of Native vs Non-native speakers and refuse to buy the argument that non-native's can teach non-native's better. Trust me on this, the game is not between natives vs non-natives. Its a standard English game and your non-native instincts are not going to harm you as much as your reliance on those people who claim "Relax guys, we have dissected the Verbal side of exam for you". Its a reading skill that you need most and I do believe reading can hardly be taught. I can tell you how to read in not more than 3 hours flat and its up to you after that, how you practice that skill. There are not too many things out there.
I'm refraining myself from mentioning the name's of those companies whose material I have tested (3 online courses and 1 offline classroom course) but I would like to give you a hint on this: You can make out if a company is honest or not if its giving you a trial of its full content upfront and claiming that it will give you a full refund if you didn't like their product. I tried Magoosh
7 days prior to my last attempt, thinking that I will return it with in 7 days of its purchase. I made set of 41 questions and gave verbal tests out of it. At the end of 7th day, I was done with their Verbal content, but I did not chose to return it and ask for a refund. Simply because, I have spent 10-12 times more on other courses, where in I did not get any refund whatsoever. Why shall I ask for refund from these honest people who are allowing people to test their product for 7 long days. Their quality was also better than many others I have tested in the past, without much of the advertising fluff and tall claims about the score improvement in so & so days.Despite the Verbal mess-up,
I managed to see 700 on the screen but somewhere I know that it nowhere translates what I have gone through in the past year or so. I have some personal duties to fulfill before I can start writing applications. I have seen many crests and troughs of this exam in past 2 years and I wish to share them with others.
There are 2 reasons for doing that:
1) I come from a teacher's family and I feel responsibility to share what I have learnt through this hardship. I can pass on the virtue to reach Q49 and V35 if some one is patient enough to follow the path.
2) Teaching pushes me to study before I can teach. Maybe, I could improve on my score as well this way.
I know many of you will not agree that improvement on score is worth the effort. For me, it hardly matters because I think I already know as much as a 730-740 guy knows. I'm a believer in old-school ideology that these are critical skills for business, no matter many people clear this hurdle without paying attention to this aspect of exam.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org