I took the test on December 28 and got 750 (Q50, V40, AWA 4, IR 7). I hope my experience will be somewhat helpful for those struggling with the GMAT.
I received first degree in Finance in July. Planning to apply to an MBA course in the future, I started preparing early before occupying myself with office tasks.
My prep time:
I gradually learned about GMAT since the first half of 2012, though not too much (~ 2-3 hours/week). 2 months before test date, I started to study intensively.
At the first stage of my preparation, I focused on Quant only. The materials I used were 5 books from Manhattan series. Although those books are undeniably useful, finishing them may take a lot of stamina, especially if you have limited time. Math knowledge tested is rather simple but there are many traps in the questions. The Gmat Club Quant Tests
are highly recommended since you will get familiar with the traps after doing a few tests.
mastering SC concepts is the easiest way to improve your verbal score. Manhattan SC
is a good book but it may be difficult to digest at first. After finishing Manhattan Guide, I still made many mistakes in SC so I decided to use Aristotle SC Grail
to grab the basic concepts and then read Manhattan again. This strategy really helps since my accuracy rate increased significantly. For practice purpose, I recommend purchasing Aristotle New SC Questionbank
and practicing regularly on Veritas Free Question Bank
.Critical Reasoning: Powerscore CR
is a great book to help you prepare for CR questions. I used to take note for every questions but then I found this method time-consuming and somewhat inefficient. For me, the better way is to learn the usual patterns of CR questions so that I can predict the answers or find the answers without spending too much time. Some useful materials are Aristotle free collection of LSAT CR
(it was removed from Aristotle's website but can be found in Gmat Club) and Veritas Question Bank
this is the section that I fear the most because GMAT reading passages are convoluted for a non-native speaker of English. In the forum, there are many methods to tackle RC questions. You should try all the methods to decide which is the best for you. I have changed my strategy 3 times before finding that the one for me is to read the whole passage (taking note is my weakness again). The only way that helps is to read as much as you can. I read The Atlantic
and Smithsonian magazine
everyday because their articles are rather complicated and contain some GMAT's reading topics. I also used Aristotle RC 99
to practice. First, I do the questions in test condition and then read the passage slowly to fully understand it. The passages I encountered in the real test were much more easier than those in this book.Practice Tests:
Take as many practice tests as possible (including AWA and IR). Doing so not only helps you build stamina but also makes your test day more comfortable.
Here are my practice tests history and my review:
- Kaplan CAT 1 FREE: 630 - In my opinion, you should not expect too much from this test because it is not adaptive. Just take this to know what the Test is like.
- 800score: I don't like these tests. I got 20 on the Verbal test (although it is said to be easier than the real one) and decided to avoid 800score since then. Don't be discouraged by low score.
- GMAT Prep 1: 730 Q50 V38
- Princeton 1: 730 Q47 V45 Good test to practice but the section score maybe in accurate. You may lose 1 point for 1 wrong answer
- Princeton 2: 720 Q49 V41
- Veritas Free Test: 740 Q51 V41 One of the best free tests beside GMAT Prep and Manhattan Free Test. Be aware that there may be some questions you have encountered in Veritas Question Bank
- Manhattan CAT 1: 730 Q51 V38 Manhattan Quant is much harder than what you see in the real test
- Manhattan CAT 2: 720 Q51 V37
- Manhattan CAT 3: 710 Q48 V38 I tried to solve a question for too long and failed to do the rest well. Remember to move on if you cannot find the answer after 2.5 minutes
- Manhattan CAT 4: 730 Q51 V38
- Manhattan CAT 5: 730 Q49 V40 Verbal scores in the last 2 tests are higher than usual because you may see more easy questions
- Manhattan CAT 6: 740 Q51 V40
Before test date: a few days before test day, I reviewed all the Topicwise
collections of CR and SC to hone my skills. Because Topicwise collections have many questions from Manhattan CAT, you should read these materials only after finishing all Manhattan CATs. For Quant, Bunuel's collections are great.