thanks for the support.
Some good news, wrote to the director of the programme that I am applying to about my unofficial results this evening at 11pm, and he replied in double quick time with a "Congratulations Dennis, that is a commendable score", and that they were looking forward to meeting me (at the interview I hope ??). And that from an email asking if I needed to retake the Gmat to garner a better grade ...
I think my experience with the G-Day test was not particularly atypical, but nontheless, I think there is some simple lessons that can be re-learnt.
And here is the story:
My preparation began 30th September 2006 - the day i registered for the Gmat on 1 nov 2006. My level of knowledge about the Gmat : very near zero. I'm from Singapore, and many of our programmes (or so I thought) do not require gmat as a selection requirement. ANd only after attending an information session on a post grad programme that I was interested in, then did i realise that I needed to do a gmat.
Thinking it was something like the TOEFL, I thought a month would suffice. So I registered FIRST, and then went on google.com to find out what I should do to prep for the test. And then I found you guys. My jaw dropped very soon after reading for the next 20 minutes. Then and there I seriously thought about rescheduling the GMAT to a later date.
Problem was, I'm cheap, and US$50 is a lotta money to me. So I avoided as far as possible. The interview process for that programme was also begining in November 2006, and I didn't want to be held back by the GMAT.
So I dove straight in with only 2 resources : Kaplan
2006 Comprehensive Edition AND GmatClub.
First 2 weeks were difficult, as I was revisiting math concepts that I last used maybe 10 years ago at pre-university level. I did engineering, and did do advanced engineering mathematics, but stuff like Geometry, and basic arthmetic, was almost Greek again. And Kaplan
was my primary tool at that start.
I read the study notes - Kaplan
has a good section in the rear of the book on Math concepts that are necessary to get by in Gmat. I headed for that section FIRST. I felt it was important to get back fundamentals as quickly as I could.
Then I spent the next 2 weeks doing ALL of Kaplan
's sample questions cover to cover.
Before I finished Kaplan
, somewhere in the tail end of week 2, I knew I needed more help. So I went out to get OG 11
. On hindsight, the OG Is defintely THE most important book. IF you have absolutely no time to prep, you should just have the OG and GmatPrep. That will give you baseline preparation.
The next 2 weeks was finishing ALL the OG, and then I went out to get OG Quant
. My verbal was ok from the start (just had to get used to American standard english ... our education was founded by the brits, so ...). And OG Quant
was polished off cover to cover in 3 days.
Throughout my prep phase, I used an Excel spreadsheet to tabulate my error log
. It helped me identify key problems, such as topics that I was consistently getting wrong, the reasons behind the mistakes (wrong method / technique used, wrong data interpretation, etc). It started very basic, and as I moved along with my prep, I developed the error log
to have more and more detail. - If you guys would find this useful, I don't mind putting it up for you to download
The last week was largely spent doing Sample Tests with Kaplan
, GmatPrep. I did a total of 6 sample tests, with 5 tests with very low deviation (670-690), and my last Gmatprep saw a score of 730. But i felt that this wasn't fairly indcative as many questions were repeated.
The last 3 days of prep day, I spent a good part of it at GmatClub! I went to the quant forums, and I started working on questions that other forummers had problems with! It was great! Not only did i save time in working on questions in sample sets that I was very competent in, I was also helping other solve their questions! I strongly recommend this as a late stage prep tool.
Come test day, I was less than in pristine condition thanks to the whole lot of crap that I had to go through to get admitted to the exam.
The security procedures were TIGHT man. And I mean, tighter than when I had to entre the US embassy in Singapore. The proctor even checked my pockets. I got my picture taken, thumbprint scanned, had to sign on a digital tablet, show my 5 forms of id (i'll put more of that in another post "Horror of Horrors").
I made an effort to manage my stress level at the test, and constantly kepy the time left on the clock in my vision. (Time management was a problem for me in the sample cats).
The essays did come a little bit of a challenge, with the analysis question fairly close in nature to some of the OG essay questions. I don't know how I did on that one though ...
The questions were fairly typical, and it got me worried, especially at the Quant section, because some of the questions were realy easy. Some of the DS questions didn't even require any kind of working, I could pick out the answer straight from the screen. I knew from past experience that questions like that held me back a great deal. I couldn't let go. Even if I had the gut feeling that i was right about the answer, I still made myself prove it mathematically! SO that wasted time. During the test, I made a huge concerted effort to tell myself that I should be ok.
By the time I got to verbal, man, I was wasted. As is with everybody else i'm sure. So that key at this section is endurance more than ability. So I took it fairly slow, and read and read passages slowly so that my now exhausted brain could register details.
In all, the whole experience was ... well, exhausting. I went to a wedding right after the test, and when i got back home, i crashed for nearly 15 hours ... heh
I'm just glad that its over. It was a huge cost to me in terms of time. and my girlfriend and family constantly remind me what a grouch i was ... heh.
But I just wanted to end off with one last bit. I know that many people were a little doubtful that the Gmat can be adequately prepared for in a month. I'm not naturally gifted for studies (in fact, I suck at it!), and less so exam taking. But I do know that I am better at sprinting, then at marathon running. I do better in short spurts of dedicated and concerted effort, then a long training phase. So that works for me, it sure won't work for all you guys.
But the ultimate key, is that you must take a LEARNING approach towards your prep. Ie. you really must know WHY you got questions wrong as well as why you got others right! And for DS type questions, often you just have to tried it like a problem solving question and work it out, so that you can uncover the true methodolgy behind how a question like that works.
Be critical of yourself enough for you to want to get to that next question set, and go through 4 hours of self-induced pain. But don't be too critical of yourself.
The Gmat is undeniably an arduos process. It is painful. But I always prefer to do it once, and do it right. But if it takes more than once to get the score fo your choice, then, dude, DON'T GIVE UP!
As a parting gift, here are some tips that I gathered from my exprience on test day:
Tip: I used 20 min blocks for each set of 10 questions, leaving 15 mins for the last 7 questions on quant. For verbal, i never did have to manage time, i usually finished on time.
Tip2: Ask the proctor for a NEW marker. I had to go through 2 other markers, the first had inconsistent ink flow, and had to redraw lines and diagrams 2 or 3 times, wasting precious time. The 2nd marker was so old, it FRAYED !!! Finally the proctor gave me a new on, with less than 20 mins left on quant ... but it worked well.
Tip3: Don't wait till the abosulte end of the notepad's pages before u ask. The notepad is numbered (1-10). And on page 9 halfway through, you should put up your hand to ask for the next one. It does take some time for the proctor to get to you. Don't waste precious time waiting for him or her to come replace your maxed out notepad.
Tip4: Take your breaks. I found this good to re-zone myself after every section. Even though I didn't need to relieve myself, I still took every break to go to the gents, to stretch my arms and back, splash a little water on my face and lips (this is better than drinking water - you don't have to pee after that !), and also, to warm my hands with the hand dryer. I think this was very essential to me.
Tip5: Stay calm! I think that if we let anxiety to overtake, logical thinking just goes out the window! I did some basic breathing excercises to keep my heart rate down, evertime I notice a tough question, and I started getting worried.
Tip6: Be ready to go with a best guess choice: Don't hover over questions that you can't solve defintively. The time is a crucial component of success for the gmat. If you've used up that time that you allocated for that question, go with a best guess option, and move on! And don't let it bug you. Chuck it out of your mind for now, and focus on the next question.
Hope this was of some use to you chaps. I'll still be participating in this forum, even though I think I'm done with the Gmat. That's just because everybody has just been great, and i wanna keep contributing.
Push on guys, its a worthwhile cause!