I’ve been a non-participating member of GMAT Club for some time. I sat the GMAT in August, but have only just got around to writing a de-brief. This website has been so helpful to me; I always found the stories in this section really encouraging. I’m hoping that at least someone finds my story useful….
June 2003 - 540; Dec 2003 - 590; Aug 2007 - 710 (quant 45, 77%; verbal 41, 93%)
In 2003 I used the Official Guide, Kaplan
& Princeton books. My first attempt was a rushed effort, and the score wasn’t a great surprise. My second attempt focused too heavily on answering questions under test conditions, and didn’t focus enough on understanding the basics, nor on my weak areas. I put my MBA plans on hold after the second attempt.
I decided that I would sit the test again in 07, and that I’d get some help this time! I contacted a tutoring service that I found on the GMAT Club website (Integrated Learning http://www.integratedlearning.net
), and ended up meeting with a private tutor.
I live outside the US, so we corresponded via Skype, and via a programme that the tutor had, which allowed us to work on-screen at the same time; it was like being in the same room….pretty awesome.
Most of my GMAT prep was quant, which I was much weaker in. I went through all relevant quant fundamentals with the tutor, who introduced structure into my study, and set me on the right path. We focused on understanding the basics, getting on top of my weak areas, becoming aware of GMAT traps, and learning new strategies for answering different types of questions. It made all the difference to me. I made sure that I understood the basics before I started answering questions under timed conditions. This was a much different approach to my first two attempts, where I had focused on speed rather than fundamentals.
The main materials that I used were the Official Guide, and a Workbook of questions that the tutor gave me. I found the Powerprep download to be a good tool too (in the last few weeks I used that quite a bit); I also bought 5 exams from 800 Score (which I found to be really good); and I bought the GMAT Challenges (which I found tough, but good for practising tougher questions).
For the verbal section, I went through the Official Guide. I also had a photocopy of the Grammar Reference section from one of the books that I had used in 2003 (I can’t recall if it was a Kaplan Verbal
or Princeton Verbal book); it had a lot of useful sentence correction basics that I would refer back to.
In relation to SC, I kept a log of SC questions that I had found tough. In relation to RC, I made sure that I really understood what the primary purpose of the passage was. I would spend an extra minute or two really understanding what the passage was trying to get across. That worked for me.
In the last few weeks before the test, I started to focus on exam speed and stamina. I tried as much as possible to sit through 75 mins of quant and 75 mins of verbal in one sitting.
I found it so important to be really relaxed during my practice tests. In fact, whenever I started to feel stressed during a test, I would stop for a few seconds and take a few deep breaths. That really helped.
I found an entry from someone (on this site I think) which was helpful with my timing, and which I used on test day. I wrote down the following list on my pad during the test (it represents 13 minutes for every 6 questions):
Qu - Min’s left
6 - 62
12 - 49
18 - 36
24 - 23
30 - 10
I constantly referred to this list during the test, and it helped me keep on track. I think that my timing was an important factor. In my earlier tests (in 2003), I was way too focused on trying to get the first ten questions right (and left too little time for the last, say, 8 questions). This time around, I just tried to keep to about 2 minutes per question. (However, note that in the verbal section, the list above did leave me a little short on time for the last few questions).
In summary, some key things that I did in my final attempt:
• I met with a tutor who put structure into my study; made sure that I understood the fundamentals; taught me strategies to tackle different types of questions; and made me aware of GMAT traps. This was the key to my success. (In my first two attempts, I was randomly jumping from topic to topic when I studied, especially in Quant; and I didn’t understand the basics)
• I didn’t start testing myself under timed conditions until I knew how to answer questions without being timed. (This made me focus on understanding the basics rather than just focusing on speed)
• I kept a log of tough questions
• I made some study notes that I kept referring back to
• When doing tests, I tried to stick to the 2 minute limit (I used the list I outlined earlier to keep me on track). if I was over two minutes and wasn’t close to an answer, I’d guess and move on
• I stayed really relaxed and focused throughout the entire exam.
I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to GMAT Club and its members. Often when I was feeling discouraged about the test, I would read some of the success stories and they motivated me to keep going.
Best of Luck