As many other non-native debrief writers, I would like to apologize for my english in advance
. I will not bother to proofread it.
I did my GMAT a couple of days ago and scored 700 (Q49, V36, IR 7, AWA 5.5) and feel somewhat obligated to share my experience because of without gmatclub, I probably wouldn't achieve the score I did. I finished my bachelor June 2014 and planned to do a MSc in Financial Mathematics (no GMAT needed) starting August 2014. Long story short, I felt that my mathematical background wasn't enough (even tho the program coordinator told me it should be enough before I started, I even took an extra class to be prepared
) so I quit the program pretty soon. With a part time job at a bank, I had plenty of time for GMAT. I was familiar with GMAT and had done a GMATPrep test about a year ago (500ish , Q49, caV20), but I had not really studied anything for it. I glanced through what scores would be needed for different MSc in Europe and sat my goal for 700.
As I read through gmatclub looking for good tips, strategies and study material, I found very few european users. Most users on gmatclub are either from India or America (selective memory
) and most users are studying for MBA. The opposite of me, a Swede studying for MSc. I found many motivation posts and debrief about full-time workers doing GMAT on the evenings and weekends. I am a very lazy person who always had it easy in school and who never really struggled in school. We (Swedes) are definitely spoiled with our school system. In fact, we even get paid to study at a university and even have the option to take very beneficial student loans. This is why I would like to say that I really respect the hard work you Americans and Asians do and envy it to some degree. The lack of good european GMAT debrief is partly the reason I do this "Share my GMAT experience", maybe there are some excellent debriefs (I didn't look very carefully
).This debrief will probably be most worthwhile if you
- Studying for MSc (Master of Science)
- Non-native speaker
- Need advice on verbal
- Insecure about AWA
- Don't want to take expensive courses online
2.Material used and strategy
I had a decent mathematical background from my bachelor so quant was never really a problem for me. Therefore, I mainly focused on verbal with a study plan over 1,5-2 month. I used the following study plan as a benchmark and adjusted as time passed. This post has a lot of good information and I will not write them all out here again, my tips will be in addition to the ones provided in this link.study-plan-for-verbal-gmat-98342.html
Its very important to find you weaknesses and focus on them one at the time. One saying that really affected me was something like:"GMAT is like boxing, you need lots of practice before you can step out in the ring"
To be good at something you need to practice a lot. It should be in some of the links provided here, videos that are good if you are tired of hardcore studying but still want to study i-bet-everyone-agrees-with-me-over-the-quality-of-content-on-119374.html
Most posts and strategies suggest a "error-log" of some sort, it could be handwritten, excel-file or whatever. Don't fell obligated to keep an error-log, I started to fill in all my incorrect answers, but this was too time-consuming and I didn't gain a lot of knowledge form it so I stopped.
If this is you biggest weakness, you should be happy! It is the easiest one to improve
Not only will it prepare you for GMAT, but also improve your english overall. I used only MGMAT SC
and I think this will be more than enough material to study. You probably will have to read the book twice (yes twice!) as you won't grasp everything at first glance, at least I didn't. For practice questions I used OG13 and the gmatclubforum. I used to go to the SC-section on the forum and do every question on the first page every other day (gmat-sentence-correction-sc-138/
Idioms might be hard for you as a non-native student. I read somewhere that the GMAT don't have too much idioms on the real test anymore. Hence, I think it will be enough to learn from the ones you encounter and maybe take a quick read through the examples in the MGMAT SC
. However, you will have to know when to use "due to","since","because", "whether" etc. My quick tips when studying SC1. Do not stress-read the book
: The general opinion on this forum is that MGMAT SC
is enough and it will improve your SC. I stress-read through the book very quick thinking that just reading the book will improve my score, but I did not fully understand the information inside. Although I improved a bit, there were still things left in the book to learn. A book is only as good as you make them. Reading the book is not your goal, learning what is inside is! 2. Do all the exercises in the book
: I know they are boring and you want to continue to the next chapter as soon as possible, but the questions are very good practice and come with good explanations. 3. Do A LOT of questions
: There will be different areas in SC (modifiers, subject-verb agreement etc) and its easy to focus on a specific area to improve. You might need to do thousands of SC questions during your prep time. I quote Bruce Lee:""I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times."
This is true about SC as well. Even thought every question is different, there is structured in a similar way.4. Understand why you are wrong
: As I mentioned before, you don't have to keep an error-log. But, it is important to understand why you are wrong. Otherwise, how will you improve yourself? I know there are some questions in this forum with questionable final answers, don't bother too much on these. Its important to get the big picture and the important stuff, but you don't need to know exactly every nitty-picky detail.5. Guessing the correct answer is not correct
: Yeeey, it guessed correct of the two answers I had left. Lets move on!
This thinking will only cheat yourself. It is of course ok to guess on CATs and the real GMAT, but until that point understand why your guess was correct. It could be good to have some sort of guessing-backup plan. Since GMAT don't like redundancy, I read somewhere that picking the answer choice that is the shortest is good. Unfortunately, I don't know the accuracy of this plan.
I learned all my tips the hard way (even though I had already read them numerous times in other debriefs etc). So please, take my tips into consideration. It will help you in your study towards GMAT.
I used the PowerScore Verbal Bible
and from what I have read on the gmatclub, it is the best book out there on CR. It has a lot of god information and you should stick with the strategies provided in the book. CR can be a bit tricky, on my first GMAT Prep I had every CR correct and all my incorrect answers was either SC or RC. So I thought that CR should be no problem in the end, but due to my low score I had only tackled easy CR-questions. When I had improved my SC and RC a bit, I faced 700-800 type of questions and these ones was much harder. Don't fall into this trap! My tips:1. Find the conclusion
: I can't stress this enough! If you don't know the conclusion, you will have a very hard time answering the question correct. Before my GMAT-prep, I didn't even know what an conclusion was, now I do. The questions I got wrong was mainly because I had misinterpreted the conclusion or could not find it. You should be able to answer the question without peeking on the answer choices, limit yourself to 10-20s before you look on the answer choices.
In addition, all the tips on SC applies to CR as well.
RC is the hardest one to improve on. Although If you score pretty low, you can improve a bit. My biggest problem was and still is to answer the "main conclusion" type of questions. I started to read the MGMAT RC
but didn't find it any good. Start reading books here are some tips of good books:books-to-read-improve-verbal-score-and-enjoy-a-good-read-76079.htmlmba-books-good-books-to-read-prior-to-mba-74557.html1. You have to find the text interesting
:Aaah maan, here is a long text about some archeology in south america. This thinking will not do you any good. You have persuade yourself into thinking that the text is interesting. Here is a good link that might change you thinking of the RC.http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/curiosity- ... n-success/2. Find the conclusion
: What does the author want? Why is he writing this? There will be a question of some sort about the purpose of the passage.3. Don't waste your time
: If you didn't grasp the text and the authors meaning and fell clueless about a question. Don't bother to go back and try to find the answer. "Main conclusion" and "Purpose of the text" type of question are hard and I felt that you either know them or not. Spending 2-3min extra to end up with a slightly more educated quess is a waste of time.4. Develop your own strategy
: I tried different strategies but none seemed to work so I I ended up with my own: Read the text and hope for the best
. I think its important to look on the big picture on RC, find what works best for you and go for it. Most strategies for me was too time-consuming and I ended up with a lot of stress and a lower score.
I did not practice anything on this part because I doubted it would matter when applying to a MSc (never found any requirements on IR score). I'm quite decent in quant but somehow I always struggled in IR. My scores in CATs were about 2-5 and it felt even worse in the real GMAT. I skipped probably 3-4 questions and guessed on 2-3 and was expecting a very low score. It is still a mystery for me how I got a IR 7
Analytic writing assessment
When writing a English text, I often struggle to express myself and have a hard time finding the right words. Google translate and some page with synonyms are often my two best friends when writing something in English
I would not be able to have my friends on the GMAT so I was cannot describe the feeling when I found this link how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
. It is the jackpot for all you that are insecure about your writing skills. You do not need anything else then this! Find a text you comfortable with and start practicing, you should be able to write this in you sleep! I typed the following text over and over again, maybe 50 times to have it memorized.
I didn't look on the text I was going to argue before I've finished writing this text, this took me a top 10min to do. If you practice writing a text, its very important to time yourself. 30min is not long and time flies fast when you are stuck.
The argument states that… stated in this way the argument fails to mention several key factors on which it could be evaluated. In addition, the argument manipulates facts and conveys a distorted view of the situation. The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there are no clear evidence. Hence, the argument is unconvincing and has several flaws.
First, the argument readily assume … This is a stretch… It could have been clearer if it explicitly stated that…
Second, the argument claims that… This again is a weak and supported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between X and Y. If the argument had provided evidence that… Then the argument would have been a lot more convincing.
Finally, questions… Without convincing answers to these questions, one is left with the impression that the argument is more of a wishful thinking rather than substantive evidence.
In conclusion, the argument is weak for the above-mentioned reasons. It could have been considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to assess the merits of a certain situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors. In this particular…without this information, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open for debate.
You may argue that every text is different and one size does not fit all. In addition, It might not even be necessary to get a good AWA score for the education your applying to. But knowing that you can write a good AWA memorizing 75% of the text will release some stress about the other parts of the test and you won't have to put a lot of energy when you are writing the test. You can instead focus your energy on Quant and Verbal
I got 5.5 on my AWA score and the real AWA didn't go as well as my practice AWA's. I believe that the text above is a good enough to get a 4 (given that you fill in all the blanks
) The link provided is truly a gold mine!
3. General tips
A bunch of things I learned from my preparation1. Look around on gmatclub
: There are many good posts to learn from and lots of tips, strategies etc.2. All books are available in pdf-format
: I downloaded all my books from a torrentsite (most of you know which one, otherwise ask a fiend who might know). The pdf's were in good quality. You save a lot of money, but the negative side is you have to sit in front of the computer all your study time. Many people have asked for links, I will not provide any links or torrents. But I suggest you go treasure-hunting at the pirates bay 3. Don't gather to much links to read and questions to do
: It could be stressful to know you have a lot of work to do in front of you. You probably won't even do a forth of all the links you saved and questions you download.4. Don't multitask
: Don't do several things when you are studying. Focus should be on GMAT and nothing else. Don't check your stocks, play some stupid game, text friends, look on facebook/instagram or something else when you are studying. If you really need to do any of these things, draw up a schedule where you have breaks.5. Keep youself motivated
: Probably the most important factor, otherwise your study will be mediocre and you will spend your hours doing small progress. 6. Stay healthy
: Eat well. Work out. Hang out with friends.
It's very important to be familiar and prepared for the real GMAT test. There is a lot of good CATs out there, I only tried two of them. You definitely need to do some full-length tests before the real GMAT. GMATprep:
This test is almost an exact copy of the real test. The layout was the same and the questions felt the same as well. Don't do this test to many times as there is a limited number of questions. One in the beginning to get a grasp of what you need to study, one in the middle of your study period and one in the end of your study period. This is your best predictor of your final result! I did the mistake of doing the GMAT Prep to many times in the beginning, thereby wasting valuable tests in the end. I knew my scores were to some degree inflated since I remembered some of them. My improvement from 500ish to 600 over a year is mainly because the last year in my bachelor degree is in english and I read a handful of english books over the year. My results
Aug 2013: 500ish (Q49, V20ish)
Sep 8 2014: 600 (Q49, V23)
Sep 20 2014: 700 (Q50, V33)
Sep 26 2014: 740 (Q49, V41)
Nov 6 2014: 740 (Q50, V40)Manhattan GMAT Tests:
This test have harder quant. If you get a lower score on quant, don't panic about your result! I got around Q44-46 in all my 6 tests, even though i always got at least Q49 on every GMATprep and the real test. I freaked out when I saw my quant score was down from a steady Q49 to Q44, but I did some research and it turned out that this pattern was typical. It is still good to do them as you will experience stress that might come in the real test and its always good to be over-prepared. I do would like to say that you will need some practice even if you have a good background in mathematics. I spent some hours doing quant-questions and practiced on my weak areas, it will not be a walk in the park. I felt that both the scoring algorithm and question algorithm was a bit strange on these tests. On quant, I got, on most of the tests, close to only 700-800 questions. This will not be case on the real GMAT as they throw in some easier questions between the hard ones. Verbal was quite similar, even though I felt that the verbal questions were a bit to long and more time consuming then the real ones. In conclusion, definitely worth the $49 that they cost. Even though I got a steady Q49+, I was a little bit insecure about what to expect on the real GMAT. The last verbal scores of 40 in verbal was an end I wanted on my study prep and I felt confident towards the real GMAT.My results:
10/2 MGMAT 1: 640 (Q44,V34)
10/9 MGMAT 2: 640 (Q46,V34)
10/31MGMAT 3: 680 (Q44,V38)
11/5 MGMAT 4: 640 (Q44,V34)
11/8 MGMAT 5: 690 (Q44,V40)
11/11MGMAT 6: 700 (Q45,V40)Some tips from CATs:1. Do the CATs like it were the real GMAT
: Prepare yourself like it were a real test. Do IR and AWA every time too, do not skip them! Stamina will be an important factor on your score and reading an RC or CR three hours into a test is not the same as when you just started studying. Eat the same way, take the same breaks, don't make any exception. If you feel a bit tired or stressed on the test, don't stop! You might feel tired or stressed on the real GMAT too. 2. Schedule your real GMAT on your best hours
: I am not a morning person. My best hours are on the evening and night, unfortunately there was no GMAT-times 23:00
. I had my time 12:30 and I suggest you do all your CATs at a similar time. Spend your morning the same way you will on the test day. Don't do a CAT after you have studied a couple of hours. It will only be misleading and a waste of a CAT. 3. Take the day before or two off
: You should not do any studying the day or two before your test. Relax and don't do anything particular. Your body should be in top-trim on the test day. If you have a job, apply for a day off or call in "sick" if you have to. You should at tops go through some SC.Comparison of CATs and real GMAT
: This section is only from my own point of view and will not be proofed in any way. I've only done the real GMAT once and will share my thoughts based on that one test. Quant:
As I mentioned the MGMAT have much harder and trickier quant, they tend to throw you more harder questions than the real GMAT. I got 30 of more 700-800 questions out of 37 on most of my MGMAT CATs (the first 2-3 are always easy questions). On the real GMAT I got some very easy questions both in the middle and at the end of the test. I remember one question that I felt was somewhat too easy for a high score (It was some probability question about picking balls from a bag that I solved in 10s). Don't feel bad/insecure if this happens, It happens to most of test takers with high quant score. Verbal:
I would say that the real GMAT was similar to the CATs I did. Maybe slightly shorter but I can't distinguish if I was more alert and read faster - since this time it was for real - or not. I had plenty of time in the end, something that never happened in any of my CATs. Every section in the real GMAT is pretty much the same.
I hope this debrief was helpful in some way and wish you good luck
Feel free to message if you have any questions :D