I gave my GMAT on 16th Sep'13. Got my score - 750 (Q51, V40, AWA-5/6, IR-8)
Little Background on me:
I graduated from IT-BHU with a Dual Degree in 2012. I have since been working in an automobile manufacturing company. I wasn't too sure about an MBA earlier, but then two things happened:
- I didn't like my job much (basically, however hard I tried, I couldn't be an engineer at heart)
- I heard about the Early Entry option at ISB
I knew I had to give the GMAT to be eligible for ISB and so the preparations started around the end of July'13. I was, however, quite sure that I didn't want to spend much money on the preparation courses. I had the OG, through the grace of a dear friend, and a lot of study material, almost everything that is available. Though, now I realize that I didn't use all of them. Didn't even require to.
First things first, I read everything there was to know about GMAT - from their site, from Manhattan - everything includes the following:
1. Why GMAT?
2. Benefits of GMAT
3. Exam Structure
4. Myths of GMAT
5. Scoring Pattern
It is really helpful to understand beforehand, and keep in mind the exam pattern and the scoring pattern. The scaling system that GMAT uses and the given set of types of questions it asks. It lets you familiarize yourself with the test and helps take down any anxiety you might have about it.
Second, I started with the OG. I knew Quant was a strong area of mine, so I decided to finish the section and then turn to Verbal. I think I made a mistake here.
I finished all questions of Quant from the OG, marking the questions I got wrong and redoing them. I didn't analyze much into the mistakes I was making. Another mistake.
Once done with the Quant, I turned to Verbal. I started with CR - solved fifty questions - turned to SC - solved 50 - back to CR - back to SC.Big Mistakes.
While doing the Verbal sections, I realized I was just burning myself away. I was doing the questions, getting them correct too, but without much understanding of the break-up of types of questions and how to handle them. Meanwhile, I developed my own methods of tackling the questions. They were effective, but still, I had a feeling there was something I wasn't doing right. And then it struck me.
1. I had not taken a single Mock Test.
2. I had not taken the date for GMAT.
First Mock Test:
GMAT Prep:- Scored a 710. But, the best part of it - I got to find my weak areas.
When I analysed my results, I found that my SC wasn't going too well, my CR was OK, and Quants - I thought I would nail it, but DS screwed me over.
Thus began the actual phase of good learning for GMAT.
SC:- After the test, where I got only 4 correct out of 14 questions on SC, I knew where I had to focus. I read the Manhattan guide for SC. The good thing was that the Manhattan guide had the same devises for tackling SC as I had developed on my own while solving, though mine were a bit unpolished. So, I honed those methods, basically involving splits.
I had to test my SC now, and the OG was done with, also that the OG questions are really not for scoring above 700. So I turned to GMAT Club free resources, doing the tests, and the 700+ SC questions. My SC improved a lot, with the forum questions, and the Manhattan strategies, but there were still mistakes that I was making, silly ones.
Finally, two weeks before the GMAT, I took a free session from eGMAT
on Importance of Meanings in SC. It was long, almost 2 hours, we did only 4 questions, and full of its product marketing (which was essential to them, of course), BUT IT WAS GOOD. I had known that meaning was important, but they put a different perspective altogether. They showed how we could SOLVE questions JUST WITH THE MEANING. Great Stuff. Only complain with eGMAT
- The complete session was too long and draining!
CR:- My CR was good from the beginning. When I started giving extra focus on the SC, the CR section scores went down a little and I realized the reason not too late. I wasn't giving proper attention to the question, and trying to pre-determine answers to pre-thought questions. I turned to Manhattan again for some guidance, but didn't find it much helpful this time. Too many concepts often lead to a muddle instead of straightening things out. However, one good thing it taught me - Always read the QUESTION FIRST.
I decided to make my own principles for CR, which were very similar to RC -
1. Read the Question First (As MGMAT said)
2. Read the excerpt, VERY CAREFULLY.
3. Understand the passage! - Critical for CR - If you don't understand the passage - don't go for solving the question.
The base idea of approaching the CR, hence, was - Know the Question -> Read the passage Once and understand it completely. The answer comes almost instantly when you go through the choices then.
I used the same approach in RCs. I gave a lot of time on the passage, in understanding it, sometimes up to 6-7 minutes. It cut-short my time spent on the questions to ~30-45 seconds. (During the GMAT I gave ~10 minutes to a particularly tough RC - Fortunately, it had 4/5 questions (don't remember exactly))
DS:- My quant was good, calculations were strong and fast and I took almost 1 minute for most of the questions. ( I had 15 minutes left for the last question during GMAT). However, with the same speed, I was making awful lot of mistakes in DS. And all of them were in misinterpreting the question. I had the correct answer on my notepad, and I marked a different option due to some unknown confusion in my head. So, I devised another method to solve the situation.
I would mark 1, 2, 1&2 on my pad -> try the question with option 1 -> mark a tick/cross against 1 as per the result -> try with 2 -> mark a tick/cross -> try with both -> mark the tick/cross.
Reduced my mistakes. Helped me score a 51.
I followed few strict rules while doing the tests/questions.
1. Every single question I ever did for GMAT was timed - Be it a test, or practice.
2. All questions which were incorrect, were reviewed to understand the mistakes I made.
3. I found all material from the free resources available at GMAT Club. Little extra is needed. Also, that the more different sources you refer to, the greater the chances of things muddling up in your brain!
4. The preparation has to be very religious. I dedicated at least 3-4 hours everyday to the preparations. I shifted my birthday party for the same, stopped going to karaoke clubs. It wasn't a self-imposed ban nor am I saying you should stop doing anything fun.
I did go out but If I did, I would make it up after coming back. Regularity in studies is the basic key for doing well here.
I prepared for GMAT in ~60 days, with 3-4 hours of studies at least everyday, while holding a 6-day job and took no leaves. It was rigorous, but then it paid off. All I did was I found a time-table I was comfortable with. Yours could be different from mine, but the regularity should be maintained.
Another thing, take tips from the forums, take the best methods for solving questions, BUT, Always Mold them into something you are comfortable with. If you apply them without understanding the basics of the technique, it might do you more harm than good.
Best of luck for your tests.