Happy to report that I am done with the GMAT. I ended up with a 700 - Q48, V39
. I took the test multiple times but due to work pressures, and I never felt totally prepared. I had a 150 point increase from the first time I took the exam. I am a little dissapointed with the overall score as I have seen others with at least a 710 with that same breakdown, but oh well, I am done with it. I am still considering applying (i.e., weighing costs v opportunities), but more importantly I had to prove to myself that I could score a 700. I felt that I had failed multiple times with lower scores and I just had to prove to myself that I could do it. Here is a quick debrief of the resources I used and the test day experience. Knewton
- I used Knewton
to hopefully use the 50 point guarantee to push my score up. My real GMAT score used for the course was a 660, which I scored last year. I guess I can still get my money back, but would have preferred the 710 score. Overall, the course helped to push up my verbal score, but I didnt necessarily like the quant portion of the course (compared to other resources that I have used). The sentence correction part of the course is excellent. MGMAT
- I didnt use this resource this time around (I did use it in previous study sessions), but the MGMAT books
are really good for building a good foundation. I didnt like the homework problems (not even close to real problems) and the CAT's are pretty unrealistic. The sentence correction book is pretty good (similar effectiveness as the Knewton
SC). OG 11 and 12
- I didnt use these this time around as I had been through them before. These are really good for scores up to about 43Q and 35V, but it wont push you up anymore than that (in my opinion). Its good to go through these books in conjunction with the MGMAT books
. Jeff Sackmann sets
- These were the best resources that I used to get my quant score up to a 48. These gave me about a 4 point bump. There are 1800 questions in all, and they are very close to the real thing. I can't say enough about these sets, they are worth the price. They really help to drill concepts into your brain and how to apply these. In hindsight, I would purchase the GMAT Bible as well. GMAT Club Tests
- These are also an excellent resource. I didnt have time to do many of these tests, but with I would have had more time to go through them. I went through about 5 or 6. I also used the iphone app, which I really liked and used during times when I couldnt pull out books (in transit, during meetings, etc.). Using the GMAT Club tests
over another month, and I think my quant score would have come up another 2 points or so. Really wish I had more time to go through more of these. Original GMAT Tests (through mba.com)
- These are basically the same as the OG, and if you have time, they are a good resource for basic questions. The verbal part is more realistic than the quant section (i.e., verbal is more representative). GMAT Prep
- These were great and I took two timed tests. I scored a 730 on the first exam, Q47 and V44, and a 710 on the second exam, Q45 and V42. I killed the question bank at that point and feel that it helped to boost my score. Test Day Experience
- I went into the test more prepared than any other attempt. I had already told myself that this would be the last attempt, no matter what happened. My test time was at 10:30 on a Saturday, which was key because I am not really awake before 10:00 AM (I had a previous bad experience at 8:00AM). I took a Mtn. Dew, Aspirin (just in case), and a Reeses candy bar. Before the exam, I sat in my car and listened to some rap music to get pumped up (Lil Wayne I think). I got checked in and started into the essay part. This went ok, but I ran out of time on the first portion and the first part ended as I was proof reading the essay, so hopefully it went ok with no mistakes. The second part went more smoothly, and I think it went ok. I took the 8 minute break, and stepped out of the test room. I went to my locker, had a few swigs of Mtn Dew, ate half my candy bar, and then headed to the bathroom. I made it back to the computer after about 6 minutes, so I was in good shape. I started into the Quant section. The first few questions were ok and throug about 6 questions, my timing was ok. Then the questions got tough and I had some issues with timing. I got about 4 minutes behind and I told myself that I had to make a decision. For about 3 or 4 questions, I took about a minute to read the question, quickly solve and then make an educated guess. I was afraid that this killed me. I worked through the rest of the questions and figured that I did average at best on the quant section. There were some questions that I swear were either written poorly, or I just couldn't figure out how to do them (i.e., mainly geometry questions), because they seemed really straight forward when working through them. I took another break, ate the rest of my candy bar, drank some Mtn Dew, and then headed to the bathroom again (I think it is important to get up and move around during the breaks to prevent tunnel vision during the test). I told myself during the break that I was going to kill the verbal section in case my quant score needed an extra boost. I started into the verbal section and it was fairly normal. I had some CR questions that I felt didnt have a correct response, but probably just because they were fairly difficult, and I just couldnt figure it out. I had a few timing issues and employed a similar strategy as I used in Quant. I had brain fade around question 35 and told myself to pull it together. I finished the test, clicked through the screens and suddenly...700. I was thrilled and yelled out loud, something like "yes." I walked to the front desk and the lady handed me the score and said "great score." I just smiled and said thanks.
A few things that I noted during the process, that I wish to impart. First, if you are married (or in a serious relationship) like I am, then you need to work out a plan with your spouse/partner. It can be frustrating for them, and they probably dont understand why you are doing high school math instead of hanging out with them. I basically just studied after work, but had promised that this would be the last time that I was going to take the test, and then would weigh my options after I recieved the results. Second, you need to figure out how to study for tests. This may sound simple, but I feel that there are some that retain information by studying theory, and there are some that retain information through repetition. I am the latter and I figure that I did something like 3000+ questions and felt that it was second nature when the exam arrived. Third, you need to figure out how bad you want it. If you really want a good score (and you're not some natural genius), then it is going to take some hard work. I really feel that anyone can score a 700 (I was never great at math or test taking in school), you just have to want it enough and put in enough hard work. Fourth, be sure to use resources that maximize effort.
Hopefully this was helpful and best of luck to everyone!