Initial Debrief - Test Date : 24 September
I was waiting to write this review for more than a year
And now I can do this with 680 (I know it is 20 points below 700, but I'm satisfied anyway)
I first started to look towards B-school in 2009 at a time when deadlines were very close and found out about the GMAT just couple of months before the final deadlines. I didn't realized then how serious the task would be for me.
I've tryed almost all availiable materials on GMAT - MGMAT (books, tutoring, CAT), Kaplan
(CATs), PowerPrep (Books), Knewton, GMATPrep CATs and E-Gmat
before I seen 680... :_)
1st attempt (530):
My first attempt was an unfortunate series of events. I went for local course in Russia offered by MBA Consult. It was one of the two Russian companies offering GMAT courses in Russia. I didn't make any review just took the first company I've found. The following part about MBA Consult might interest only guys from Moscow Russia, as the company is represented only in Moscow, but anyway
MARTERIALs of MBA Consult
As you can guess the materials offered by MBA Consult are just extracts from various well-known resourses such as Manhattan GMAT
Quant part materials were well planned and comprehencive, as most part was taken from MGMAT. Unfortunately, materials put inappropriate emphasis on the quant parts that are not heavily tested - Geometry and Propbabilities - about 40% of the time or more. They didn't offer any comprehensive stratagies on number prop and equations - themes most commonly tested on GMAT.
Verbal part was terrible. Materials included almost no clear instructions on how to approach verbal part. Materials lack any sufficient info on CR part and SC. To summarise they were almost useless. The only thing they offered were question bank taken from well know resourses.
Another bad part of the MBA Strategy is that the teachers of the company HAVE NEVER TAKEN GMAT THEMSELVES! I asked them why, they say they do not need to pass the test to give advice. Lacking any practical experience of the test they were unable to provide any working timing strategies. Quant part instractor for example told us that it is fine to be at 25th question with 15 min left.... almost 5 questions behind the schedule!
After a 1,5 month of preparation I considered myself ready for the test. I hoped to receive at least 700. I was shocked to see just 530 with q29 and v33. I was shocked with such low quant score.
2nd Attempt (620): MGMAT, GMATCLUB tests
During the second part of my preparation I spent 90% of the time trying to improve my quant part. Unfortunately, I didn't realise that I should probably spent some time reading comprehensive materials on the quant part. Instead, I've started practicing. I bought MGMAT test and made them one by one unltil I knew all the question bank. My highest score at MGMAT was 36. I learned several consepts from practice but I was still far away from the score I needed. I've found MGAT test, as many others did, very helpful even without using their prep materials.
Being unable to make any further progress with MGMAT I've decided to find something else. On GMATCLUB I've found decent reviews of GMATCLUB math tests and started working with them. They have appeared much easier that MGMAT, but looked more like a real test. GMATCLUB test are probably the best math practice after GMATPrep that I've seen. I learned several excellent statagies. I started with 18/37 correct but after a couple of months I was able to make as much as 27/37 correct. I was impressed.
To be more sure about my results I've taken private tutoring classes with another Russian company that offered GMAT preparation classes - MBA Stratagy. I've found the company much better - atmosphere, instructors, materials. All instructors scored at least 700 or 710 on real test and thus looked more reliable.
Quant part instructor Elvira was really nice and clever. She offered several excellent stratagies and explained several concepts that I didn't understand. She was really involved in the process and cared about my improvement.
Verbal part instructor was not that good. I came to her after I've completed all recommended by GMATCLUB members verbal materials MGMAT SC
and PowerPrep CR (I found the books very helpful and I think everyone should read them if he wants to see good score). However, the verbal part instructor seemed useless.
My second attempt gave me 620 q44 v31 (!!!). I didn't answer the last question on quant part but still received q44. After the first q29 q44 with 1 unanswered seemed looked good. On my GMATPrep CATs I scored q45-48 but still didn't believe I could score that good on real exam. However, I was unpleasently surprised with v31 after preparation. My goal was to achieve at least 680 and thus I've decided to continue my struggle.
3rd Attempt(640): Knewton
I was disappointed with Russian survice and decided to look for some American advice. I've read excellent reviews about Knewton on GMATCLUB (thanks again for your website!!!). And decided to spent another 400$ on GMAT. After almost 8 month of preparation I was looking for some guarantees. Knewton's 50 point guarantee and excellent reviews on GMATCLUB convinced me to choose them.
I was really impressed with Knewton's website. I really liked the organization of the website and intructors attitude. For just 400$ you receive comprehensive materials on tacktics and strategy and I really felt that they cared about my results.
I learned several good strategies in quant and verbal. However, they didn't work for me as I'му expected they would. Suprisingly, the best part for me was AWA. I received excellent feedback and recommendations. And was able to improve my AWA score from 4 to 4.5.
The only weak part of Knewton is their CATs. I scored 570-590 in all tests. However, on the real exam I received 640 (q47 v31). I think Knewton CAT results work, you just have to add 60 points
Knewton correctly predicted my verbal score but lowever my quant score 4-5 points.
Anyway, I was not satisfied. I was frustrated and didn't know what to do. My final hope was MGMAT tutoring. MGMAT tutors are about 200$ an hour, but they were praised everywhere. So, I've decided to visit them
4th Attempt (640):
This time, before coming to a tutor I've completed ALL useful materials I've read before again - MGMAT SC
, CR and all MGMAT quant books (very helpful and well written). Quant part of MGMAT is probably the best of all books on math. Then I've started working with a instructor. I took on-line classes.
I've spent 10+ hours with instructor and paid over 2000$. To summarise my experience in was a bit worse than ok. Instructor didn't seem involved in process. I didn't feel that he cared about results. He offered almost no useful stratagies. He explained to me couple of difficult questions and explained couple of concepts in CR. Unfortunately, almost all time I've spent with him learning other parts of exam were useless.
I thought that he would help me to find my weak points and develop a comprehensive stratagy, but he just explained some questions that I've sent to him. He recommended to track my progress using 800 score CATs. On 800score I scored from 680-730. And felt myself ready for the test. My instructor agreed.
You cannot imagine my dispair when I saw 640 again (q45 v33). I was shocked 2000$ almost 3 month NO PROGRESS!
5th Attempt (680):
This time I decided to find some advise on GMATCLUB. I found some excellent reviews of e-gmat
- the company I've never heard of. It specialises in SC and CR for not native speakers. The courses is just about 50$ each. So, I've decided to make a final attempt and try e-gmat
I was really surprised to find A LOT OF new material about SC even after I've read SC MGMAT at least 3 times and thought that I knew everything about grammar. E-gmat
was really helpful. They explain in detail not just rules but exact rules that are tested on GMAT and give very precise and comprehensive explanation of every question of OG 12
. After the course I didn't have any questions that I could not understand in SC. I want to thank e-gmat
for such a brilliant materails and especially the way they are presented.
On the day of exam I was relaxed and didn't hope to see any improvement. I have decided that this will be the last time I take exam, no matter what. How surprised I was to see 680 (q45 v38!!!). I think that the improvement in verbal part was possible only because of excellent materials of e-gmat
. Unfortunately, I was not able to repeat my best score in quant - 47, that could give me 700 with 38 in verbal part, but I'm happy anyway.
I want to thank GMATCLUB fot excellent website and math tests and e-gmat
for their SC materials.
Sorry for a long story. Hope you will find it useful, especially guys from Russia, who are planning to take GMAT and do not know where to start and what preparation companies to use.