Finally, I have taken the grand test. Here is my preparation story to share with all my beloved GMAT Club members.
I started to study intensively two months ago, and after reviewing Princeton Review Official Guide, I took the P.R. simulation test and got 530. Aiming at USC admission, I knew that I had to get a score over 600 to have a shot getting in.
Before I took the P.R. courses and studied the Guide Book, I received a shocking 430 on GMAT on the first simulation test. My confidence was basically destroyed, and from then I felt that reaching 600+ was impossible. After I self-studied the P.R. Office Guide again , I had some sense about how the test makers want to get out of the test takers. Especially for Verbal section, I started to understand the logic behind CR.
My second P.R. simulation test was taken after I finished 50% of the GMAT OG
11th edition, and I got a 570. Although not enough, I felt that I was on the right track; I also built up my confidence again. After I finished almost 80% of the OG 11th edition, I took the first GMAT Prep and I couldn't believe my eyes that I got a 660. Then I posted my first thread at GMAT Club about how indicative GMATPrep score is.
So far I have taken three tests in which I omitted the essay section. Taking suggestions from the members here, I decided to take a full GMATPrep with essay a week later. This time I got a 680, but I did see few of the same questions from my first GMATPrep. Two days ago, I did the GMATPrep again and received 710, but I saw even more questions which appeared in my first and second GMATPrep.
I felt like maybe 710 is doable in reality. With second language in English, Verbal is really a challenge, and in order to get over 700, I know that I have to get above 31 in Verbal and maintain a 50 or 51 in Quantative section. I was telling myself, "if I got lucky on some RC topics with which I am more familiar, such as Business, Technology, Manufacturing, etc. then reaching 700 is not impossible!)
However, I was too nervous to sleep well the night before the exam. What went worse is that the questions I got were totally different from my practice ones. For instance, I always got DS with x+y>1 and x/y>1 that type of questions. I saw maybe one or two only today. I pretty much was panic a bit because all the questions, especially DS, were too creative and too different from the ones in my practices. I even found myself not having enough time to finish and I had to guess a few DS questions.
The Verbal section was even more bizzare. Usually I received CR questions about what statement undermines the conclusion, etc. I received one CR about weakening the statement. I would say 1/3 of my CR consisted of choosing an conclusion for a passage and asking for assumptions. Most of my SC were short sentences, and only one of my RCs were long enough to scroll down. At that point, not only could I not focus but also had I lost my confidence because my Verbal section seemed too easy.
After I filled out the survey, I pushed the next button holding my breathe... I even covered my eyes, thinking that I had to retake this and pay another $250. The score of 660 was not very good and far from what I expected (over 700), though, now I've decided to focus on the rest of my applications. If the school requires me to take one more GMAT, then I will do so. Meanwhile, I will continue to visit the forum regularly to practice my verbal!
At last but not least, do you guys think 660 has a shot getting into USC? I was even dreaming about applying Stanford (IF and only IF I got over 700)... Any feedback or recommendation for me? Thank you.
One thing I can share with members who are in 400-high 500 range is that 100+ points improvement is definitely doable. My verbal is still bad, but I improved a lot from 9 to 31 by understanding the concept behind test makers. Right now my strongest part in Verbal is CR; I can basically got most questions right (as long as there is no new vocab in the questions so I can have a fully understanding). SC is what I have to work on. RC involves some of the CR logic as well. In addition, once you get how to define the meaning for the passage, you may answer the type of question "What is this passage about", and you will at least score 1/4 to 1/3 of CR.
Just my 2cents....