Thank you everyone for their kind words. I finally have some time to talk about my preparation.
WARNING: THIS IS A VERY LONG POST. IT'S 4 YEARS AFTERALL =)
After the initial euphoria, I finally have time to settle down and type this long story about my preparations. Perhaps the last few parts would be the most recent and relevant, but I felt I wanted to share my whole journey to hopefully motivate and inspire everyone.
My GMAT journey started in late 2003. Back then, I had wanted to pursue an MBA, but it was a little early as I graduated only in 2002, and most programs required at least two years of work experience. Anyway, I thought I'd get a head-start by studying first. Even right here at this point, I can give a nugget of advice from my lengthy experience. As long as you don't have a target (I didn't have one when I started. No dateline, no particular school/program I was particularly interested in), it is going to be very difficult to keep yourself motivated to study as there is simply no pressure to meet any dateline. So my advice for new members, set a target and work towards achieving it!
As I did not know anyone who did GMAT, my preparation was all over the place. I started by reading mba.com and discovered I needed to do some Math and English. At that point, it didn't seem like a big challenge as I have always been strong in Math and English wasn't a big trouble for me either. However, I needed to find out more and stumbled upon GMATClub in 2004. From here, my preparation started in earnest. I started by reading the GMAT forum, studying how people studied. I went out and got the OG (edition 10 at that point, and I still used that edition running up to the test), I borrowed a Kaplan Math workbook
. When I went through the Math workbook, I knew I was screwed. This is not the differentials, Integrals or Fourier transform I had been learning, but the old high school stuff that I learnt many years ago. And the data sufficiency concept was a whole new thing. I knew I was struggling then as my approach to the DS problems was essentially to work through the entire problem until I got an answer before clicking one of the five available choices. It was only much much later, that I realize DS are just yes/no questions. Once you find that you can say yes or no to the question, you can click the answer and go. Anyway, I was promoted in 2004 and given more responsibilites so my preparation came to a complete stop as I could not cope with the new workload and GMAT at the same time.
However, I didn't want to waste all the preparation I have already done, so I just kept in touch with GMAT by simply attempting the problems on GMATClub. Even then, it was not regular. There were weeks when I was posting 100s of post, and there were times when I went MIA for weeks. Anyway, come 2005, I started to go full steam again. Still, I didn't set myself a target (big mistake!), but it was this time I learnt about a SC book from MGMAT. It was getting rave reviews so I went out and got myself one. I think I owe my verbal to two sources, the MGMAT SC
book and the GMATClub verbal forums. Here's another tip. Once you have learnt and understood the material in the SC book, keep attacking the problems you come across in the verbal forum
. You'll see improvement very rapidly. At this point, I was working on ~30-50 quant problems while I brushed up my verbal abilites on GMATClub. Alas, just when things were running smoothly, I was posted to Japan for an attachment. This broke my pattern of studying again, so I had to stop and went back to ground zero. Still, I kept my knowledge alive by posting on GMATClub whenever I could.
When I returned from Japan in 2006, there was more responsibilites thrown to me. At the same time, I made a switch to another group in the same company, but dealing with another side of engineering. So this period of adjustment, coupled with my marriage preparations put a naught to re-starting my GMAT preparation. This time round, I had difficulty even coming to GMATClub regularly. This went on till July 2007. I finally put my foot down and told myself I'm going to apply for a Master in Accounting program in 2008 and I need to get the GMAT done and dusted by late September in order to meet the application dateline. So finally I have a target! With this dateline in mind, thing finally fell into place.
- I went out and got myself two books. (1) The GMAT quant OG
book (2) THe GMAT Verbal OG
Book. I didn't want to get the OG11
as I had OG10
. Anyway, I used both books to quickly brush up my quant and verbal skills. Since I have been practising on and off over the years, it came back to me rather quickly. I was working 25PS, 25DS, 10RC, 10CR and 20SC every day. I used a spreadsheet I downloaded a couple of years back to note my time and mistakes so I could come back to it quickly. I was doing this every single day and finished both books within 2 weeks. Now, I felt pretty good that I had dusted away the cobwebs. I started to work on my old OG10
. I worked the last 100 questions for the PS,DS,RC and CR sections (I read somewhere on the forum that the last 100 questions were the more challenging ones), sticking to the same schedule everyday. In between spare time, I would log on to GMATClub and started working on the problems posted there too. I eventually finished everything in a week and a half. This was near the end of August.
- I went out and book a GMAT slot. It's amazing how fast the slots are taken up. I finally found on the 29th Sepetmeber. Now that I have finished all the ground work, I started working on the CAT. From here on, I didn't want to suffer a burn-out, so I did CATs on alternate days. So it's either 2 or 3 CAT a week (Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thu depending on whether I was tired on Monday). I did not study on Saturdays and Sundays, reserving those for family activities. So on the days when I am supposed to do a CAT, I tried to finish my work early, head home for dinner and settle down to for the CAT by 9:30p.m. I discovered something here, by doing your CAT when you're dog tired from work, you actually build up your stamina pretty much. Initially, my eyes were near to closing when I reached the quant section, but after awhile, the biological clock started to adapt and I didn't feel so tired anymore. Anyway, there I was , working CAT on alternate days and on days when I didn't need to do a CAT, I would be on GMATClub hitting the questions. (I considered this a rest day, as working on GMATClub questions carried no pressure. There is no need to do 37 quant and 41 verbal. Just do a few and hit the sack)
1 week before test day:
- I started to work everyday. By now, I have pretty much exhausted my CATs, so I started to work on some ETS paper test a friend passed to me. My schedule for the last week was: Mon (ETS paper test), Tue (Arco CAT), Wed (ETS paper test), Thu (GMATPrep CAT), Fri (ETS paper test, quick reivision, and read a few essays from ARCO GMAT CAT Answers to the Real Essay Questions)
The rest of the stuff, I have posted earlier. SO here's a general recap for members who are starting out their journey:
1) Set a target. Preferably, it should not be too long as you'll suffer a burn-out very quickly
2) See where your strength lies. If you're not sure, just go out and grab yourself a quant and verbal book to at least learn the basics. Kaplan math workbook
and MGMAT SC
book worked for me. It might work for you, but I'll leave that decision to you.
3) Start a discipline approach to the OG - Say 25 PS, 25 DS, 10RC, 10CR, 20SC everyday. Time your work, and jot down your mistakes. (I'll attach the spreadsheet I used. Someone designed it, post it on GMATClub, but I think it's kind of lost after so many years)
4) When you're through with the OG, work mercilessly on the CATs. Working on a book and on a computer is different. It's also a good time to learn some paper management so you don't run out of paper during the test (the proctors I got were very attentive, but it's best not to take the chance and be left without new boards while they run out to get you fresh ones).
5) Pace yourself carefully during the last month or so to prevent burn-out. Get plenty of rest and lots of water.
Here's all the scores I got for my CATs. GMATPrep and powerprep ware pretty close to my final score. All CATs were done in between late August to September.
Powerprep 1 (Q47, V40) 710
Powerprep 2 (Q48, V41) 720
Paper test (Q45, V43) 650
Diagnostic (Q41, V40) 650
1 (Q38, V27) 550
2 (Q32, V37) 580
3 (Q38, V30) 570
4 (Q41, V35) 630
Princeton 1 (Q40, V30) 580
Princeton 2 (Q42, V39) 650
Princeton 3 (Q41, V33) 610
Princeton 4 (Q41, V38) 640
Cambridge 1 (Q45, V40) 640-660
GMATPrep 1 (Q47, V37) 690
Cambridge 2 (Q46, V39) 680
Cambridge 3 (Q43, V38) 630
Cambridge 4 (Q46, V35) 610
Cambridge 5 (Q43, V32) 580
Cambridge 6 (Q48, V34) 630
ETS Paper 1 (Q48, V46) 700
Arco 1 (Q50, V41) 650
ETS Paper 2 (Q50, V45) 760
GMATPrep 2 (Q50, V40) 740
ETS Paper 3 ( Q47, V42) 720
One thing I discovered, GMAT is a strange beast. On days when you felt you were breezing through every single question, you get a shock when you see 600+ scores flashing on the screen, and on days when you felt you absolutely bombed, the system decides to give you a 700+ score. My GMATPrep 2 score was a good example. I really felt that I bombed the whole thing, and voila, I got myself a nice 740. The same thing today, I thought I had committed suicide during the test but still eked out 700...
Lastly, I want to thank everyone who have helped me throughout these years. It has been an amazing journey, and I value all the friendship and camadarie I have encountered along the way, even though we have never met face to face. I'll still be around to help, and also to continue on this incredible journey.
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