As promised here it goes...
looking back to my last attempt in May11, when I ended with a 680
, I would say that "6
" on my score was probably blessing in disguise- not to boast myself but I still distinctly remember saying to myself that OK GMAC you shall pay for giving me less than what I deserve ..remembering that moment I just feel
, though I do not know if 730(Q49,V41)
is too great a score to brag about and probably I could have done have better in Quant esp.., but now I am more confident, and hopeful to get into my dream school- Harvard, most of all a sense of relief is always there after such a long excruciating journey How it all began once again -
After getting a 680, I was quite disenchanted for some time with the state of affairs around me. I think during June-July 2011, I was not too sure about how to go from here- should I retake or just be with it ? then came a colleague from my company, who was also trying for GMAT and knew about my score etc.. if not him I may have not appeared again for the test, he really pushed me so hard to try again and I do not know why on the first place I was listening to him (we are not very chummy even today except for normal chit chat), may be somehow I was too immersed into my dream of getting into my dream school (see above) that I was ready for a long journey ahead to improve my last score by a good margin. It took some time to get back to normal and review all the pitfalls- what worked and what not for me. From the word go after exam it was quite apparent that I needed to improve on verbal.
- it may sound simple and may have been written umpteen number of times here that one must identify his or her week areas and focus on where ROI is best, however one losses focus in between so anyway I mentioned this. For me area of improvement was- SC, and increasing my vocab list.Early phase of prep ...
I spent around 2-3 months (Aug-Oct 11) on Wren & Martin to understand the basics of the rules (one may not need to do this .. but just did anyway I went through) around Jun 11 I guess I enrolled to GMAT-pill also (RC piece I must say quite good, much on course later). For RC I felt that my vocabulary was not quite good so during the same time started reading "The Hindu" editorials, The Mint "WSJ" column, and going over GMAT/GRE flashcards available on dictionary.reference.com very diligently!Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
I guess it's difficult in the early phase to get used to read something like editorial, in which you do not have much interest, but what to do such is the life-get you used to it
by end of Oct I could sense quite good improvement in my reading capability- I used to read as if I am analysing the whole passage, it made lot of difference later on solving RC and even to some extent the long CR passages. Going over Wren & Martin may not have been that eventful, however SC's made lot of sense after going over the relevant chapters
. Then cam Deepavli time & my parents were after me to come home see some girls for marriage, I was like what to do now
Just when I thought I should gear up my studies, this new emotional blackmail from parents was certainly a big distraction for some time. Decided to visit my native (@ >1000 miles away from work location) for more than a week. Thereafter few weeks of gulp-shup on phone took quite a good toll on prep. I think Nov-Dec went like a lean period for studies, and somehow I moved over the proposals. Second phase, time to pace up a bit -
I knew I am taking too long to finish this GMAT thing, otherwise by stretching too long you run the risk of getting nowhere but becoming "delusional"- you know you should do now, but you do not get motivated enough or have energy to do that particular stuff.
came Jan and my new year resolution was to finish the exam by March at max and started working towards this. Almost regularly 1-2 hour on the verbal- I used to go over 15-20 questions from SC, CR and sometimes 2-3 passages of RC in the morning and review later on the day while at work
(yeah I know what you feel about it, but...) or after the work as time permitted. I mostly focused on the OG11
, 12, Verbal reviews.Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
By second half of Feb I could sense an improvement as whole on verbal front, but then since I had done those official materials so many times that almost remembered every question, so I thought I might be overestimating my prep.In between this, I had to attend one of my very close friend marriage and again had to go to my native because my Grandpa and Mom both got hospitalised in early March, resulting in about 2 week of disruption again and my whole plan seemed shattered, at least for short term, as I had plan to finish the exam by March max. Third phase, and perhaps the final push (at least this is what I promised myself) -
Well as mentioned above 2 week of disruption was quite bad in terms of derailing me from my studies.. But somehow pulled back together and set a deadline of Apr 1st-2nd week for the test. Went ahead with revising whatever I had done so far, including OG11
, 12, verbal review questions, and @ the 3 rd week started flirting
(yeah I used this word purposefully, you do not do such tough problems at the fag end of your prep but life does no mercy sometimes and you have to do with whatever time you have got) with GMAT club's hard maths problems. I To assess my progress finally took GMAT Prep Test1 and scored 740 (Q50, V40)
...Progress/Jolts/hurdles in this phase -
As promised to myself, I tried to put forth all I had. In between my Grandpa passed away, was not quite sure now should I go again ? (I was just back from home 2 weeks back)... after 4-5 days of back & forth and guilt feeling that I'll not be visiting native for last rituals, I decided to not go and said Grandpa I think I spent quality time just at the last moment of your life..now it's time you RIP and I move forward with my Karma, as proclaimed lord Krishna in Geeta. As I mentioned I had done quite a few times official material so I was not pretty confident of Prep test 1 result. After reviewing results (wrong Q's: SC-3, CR-3, RC-2) I thought I have to improve on SC, so signed up for free course material of E-gmat
and later went on signing up for the SC course @ 25th March (more on review of the material later)...so I had to postpone the test plan to 2-3 week of Apr. Now began the intensive workout of E-gmat
SC material and couple of other mock GMAT prep tests- results were more in range 720-770. After repeat test 2 and getting 770, I felt time to enroll for the test and given the lot of rush for May dates April date was quite easy to get. So I enrolled for 24th Apr in the afternoon 12:45 pm NTTF center, Bangalore, India on 23rd Apr (yeah just one day in advance
) D-day/Test day Experience -
Reached the test center about 11:15am and showed my passport to the invigilator that I am here for test scheduled at 12:45 pm, she replied back negative, you can not start just yet...please come @ 12:00, we can not allow you start so early, despite seats were available. I was like what the heck
but said OK no problem lets watch around the center. Good center- neat & clean, not much of outside noise, easily accessible, and most of all very close to my office, so I could go to the office after taking exam without taking a leave
. Alright went back to the center @ 12:00 again and finished the formalities before getting started. one more thing I recalled Chineseburned's guide on AWA
and guided myself to finish the AWA on positive note. I still do not believe but I could finish both the essay' in just 20 minutes. No I did not write much less but rather I felt I could write very thoroughly and added lot of punchy words as suggested in the template, so all in all ended this AWA section with pretty positive yet conscious note. After finishing the AWA, I ran to rest room, gulped some fruit juice, and munched some chocolate to tackle the quant section. Started the section calmly, going was great till I stumbled upon 2 problem in later half (@ Q no 25-30)- one I could not understand even after re-reading 3 times- I guess it was a mere formula conversion, but heck guessed & moved for the good and another one was P&C problem, which I also had to guess & move- this problem I am still solving every now & then
and I feel probably if I had did this one correctly I would have a 50 in quant. Ended quant section with little displeasure and thought could have been little better, but pulled back together to what was going to come & perhaps much more important than what just went by- the verbal section. Started verbal part to break the ice this time for ever as I promised to myself- no more GMAT after this as it has taken lot of time and compromise on personal front. Initially going was good but after second RC I guess I encountered few pretty unconventional SC's
- I just do not know how to categories them as I had not encountered such problems on prep material or otherwise. I relied on my instinct and sometime had to rely on working backward. I don't know what happened but after third RC (@ Q25) I started feeling nervous & thought I messed the those SC's a bit. The sense of nervousness grew as I moved forward and stumbled on 4th RC @ Q no 34. Actually I was searching for bugger bold face CR
, which I had not got so far. After finishing 4th RC, I saw Q no. 37, which was a CR but an assumption Q (fill in the blank type)- I almost cried thinking that I have lost the test and perhaps going to get somewhere close to last score (680). I almost paused for few moment, prayed Almighty- please not this time, give me the energy to finish the test with 100% of my strength and managed to finish the test on time. Went through the demo details quickly and pressed the report score button- I closed my eyes with both palms and prayed again and said Almighty please I need a decent score time, do whatever it takes, even if it means manipulating the scoring algorithm
of GMAC then do so but I need a better one this time! I managed to gather the courage to open my eyes slightly to have a sneak-peak at my score, as much as I can recall it was the digit 7
on the hundredth place that I saw first...oh dear I was curious now to see tenth place-3. After re-affirming at least half a dozen times that yes it's 730
, I moved to see the Q/V break-up, with which I am little disappointed esp. the quant one to see Q49, V41
. I said all-right the score might not be a perfect one but not as bad as it could have been, given my nervousness during the exam, esp. in the last. I thanked almighty and all the near & dear one's who stood by me during this difficult phase and moved to collect the unofficial report from the invigilator. I was in for a little shock, the lady apparently remembered me (man some people have really good memory, I had taken the test almost a year back!), after few chit-chat left the exam center and feel pretty relived than anything else now.Prep Materials -
I utilized or almost grind-ed every problem (esp. the verbal section) from OG11
, 12, verbal reviews. I had all the guides from MGMAT but the one I used the most was SC, and to certain extent quant number properties the advanced strategy guide to certain extent. I used Powerscore CR
bible for CR and I relied on GMAT pill
strategy, increasing my vocab, and reading the editorials for RC. For SC, I relied on many resources as I was pretty sure that this is the area that is going to give me the best ROI and that's strategy came pretty handy at the end- Aristotle SC, MGMAT SC
strategy and to some extent GMAT pill
concepts. For quant nothing more than the Bunuel's problem sets and GMAT club hard problem sets.A little detail on each prep material (esp. the one helped me to reach this score) - SC - MGMAT SC
is quite exhaustive and probably must have, however as many others, I too faced trouble following the whole guide. So tried my hands on Aristotle's SC- a very crisp & too the point guide, good to review the concepts quickly.GMAT-pill- Good on concept frameworks, good customer service- pretty well response in case of questions, but lacks the quality & new questions (other than OG), sometimes not much focus on how to take out all the wrong options- overall I would assign 3/5 to this course. E-gmat
- quite good approach to solve the problem, quality of questions was pretty good, equal emphasis on removing all the wrong answers was good part, not so good part- even though I did not had much chance to interact & ask questions, but on one occasion I was told that please do not ask question other than official one's or the their's own. After my reply on that post, I feel they could sense the repercussion so no retort came..on other 1 or 2 occasions I had questions which I wrote to admin E-gmat
but did not get reply neither I followed up because things were moving quite fast at my end and I had registered at almost end of the my study plan (@25th Mar). so I feel E-gmat
may have little scope to improve on customer service- may be my case is just an exception but this is just my experience. Also couple of quiz questions can be safely retired as Q's based on Idioms are phased out by GMAC now. In all I would assign 4/5 to this course. CR - Powerscore CR
Bible: This guide is quite easy to read and follow. It breaks down each argument type pretty well. The practice questions in the end of the chapters & examples seemed quite good in quality. The guide does a good job of explaining few obscure problem types such as- parallel reasoning, resolving the paradox, roles of certain statements, evaluating arguments , etc. However in last leg of my prep, I focused mainly on "Assumption, Strengthen/Weaken, Main point, Evaluating Arguments"- this group seems to consist almost 80%-85% of the problems on GMAT CR (a revelation to me after analysing my Prep test mocks!) RC -
I think I liked the GMAT-pill methodology on RC's. It does pretty good job of explaining how to attack the RC's. However I must warn, esp. non-natives- if you do not have a reasonable vocab, please try to improve it first. Otherwise no method is going to work!, no alternative to that hard work... Quant -
Well where is Bunuel- people seriously interested in increasing his or her quant score find him (well I mean his signature's Qs
).. and you take a bow sir, I almost owe it to you! I know my score should have been a min 50 but such is life...I am over it now! so apart from his signature's Q's I tried my hands on hard Q's from Gmat club's tests- more to learn the concepts and apply during real time. Must say these tests are designed to push you hard. Do not get disheartened to see bad results after taking them, just learn the process- you should be rewarded on D-day for sure!
Oh dear lord it took more than 4 hours to type it all & I feel still many things left to share ...
anyways I'll adding few takeaways, advice later (I am too tired to type anymore, so sorry for now guys)...please post out if you have any comments!
My GMAT Journey 540->680->730!
~ When the going gets tough, the Tough gets going!