My long GMAT journey started in August 2012 and ended on 10th February 2014 , when I gave my second attempt at GMAT attempt. I will give a brief description about my first attempt before explaining my second attempt experience.
My GMAT journey started in August 2012, when I enrolled for the GMAT course at a top coaching institute in Delhi. I knew that I have to apply for Fall 2014, so I started off early in case I have to re take GMAT. Moreover, I was also required to IELTS/TOEFL after the GMAT. At this point of time, I had in mind target score of 700 and was aiming for top 20 B schools in US, so I knew it was important to take coaching from a top institute. Therefore I enrolled for a 10 week course at Jamboree, the top rated and the most expensive test prep company in Delhi. I was already good in quant and joined coaching mostly for improving my verbal since I am not a native speaker of English. But to my surprise the quant faculty was excellent and verbal faculty was just average. Moreover, the online GMAT mock tests provided by the institute were below average. Overall, I was not satisfied with my coaching classes.
Though, my quant was good, I was struggling very much on verbal in all the 3 sections of the test. Then, I came to know that I had to do everything on my own. I came to know of MGMAT books
and started studying MGMAT SC
book. After I finished the SC book, I actually came to know the large difference between what was taught in my coaching class and what I learned in this book. MGMAT SC
books are really an eye opener and build very strong basics. I was eventually improving in my SC. Then, I also started doing RC and CR from MGMAT and they were also good. MY CR also started showing some improvement. Although, for RC I practiced hundreds of RCs but still my accuracy was stuck at around 60%. I did OG 13
twice before my actual GMAT exam. For IR, I practiced the 50 online questions that came with my OG 13
. Throughout my GMAT prep, I studied for about 5 hours a day. I worked very much on my verbal, but I was not able to improve, so I lowered my target score from 700 to 650.
I started giving multiple mock tests. I was always able to complete the quant section a few minutes before the time, but in verbal, I had to guess 4-5 questions in the end since I had timing problem. I was scoring around 650 in my mocks, so I set myself a target of 600+ in actual GMAT. Anything above 600 would have been good for me. So, I finally scheduled my GMAT on 4th April, 2013.
Then, came the exam day. My exam was scheduled at 9 AM. Since it takes 2 hours from my house to reach the venue, so I left home early and reached the venue at about 8:10 in the morning. Finally, the exam started with AWA, which went pretty well. The IR section also went good. I blindly guessed 2 or 3 questions, which were my weakness.
Took an 8 minute break. Since, I didn't took anything to eat or drink during the break, I had a glass of water and stretched my hands and legs.
Then, came the quant, my strength, I was sure that I had done the initial 8-10 questions correct. I was ahead of time at this point of time. Then some difficult questions started coming in between. I got stuck on a few questions in geometry and number system. I wasted around 8 minutes on a couple of questions that were difficult and eventually I had to guess. Then I looked at the clock and there were 20 minutes remaining with 12 questions left. So, I started picking up some pace. My last 3-4 questions were very easy, so I was able to finish the test just on time.
Then, took a break and told my self that quant has gone well and so will verbal. I was ready to face the verbal, my weakness, with confidence. However, this time I didn't notice the time and took an extra 2 minute break.
Started off pretty well, but in the middle I got very difficult SCs, which had most of their part underlined and all 5 options different. I got a bit afraid, so guessed them. Moreover, the RCs were difficult to comprehend. When I saw the clock, it was 15 minutes remaining with 10 questions unanswered. I knew that I took about 2 minutes to answer any question in verbal, except SC for which I took 1 minute, so I was sure that I will have to guess some questions, because I knew that there is heavy penalty on not completing the test. I got an RC around 35, I blindly guessed all the 4 RC questions even without reading the RC so as to complete the test on time. Then, I got a couple of SC and CR each which were fairly easy. One thing that happened me in this test was that in most of the SC and CR questions, I was able to eliminate 3 options and got stuck between the last 2 options. So, I had to randomly select 1 option out of 2.
My dreams were shattered.
Then I saw my quant score, which was 50 (90%ile), though was expecting 51, and then finally saw my verbal score which was 15 (9%ile), I was totally shocked!!! I scored 5 each on IR and AWA.
I reached my home and could not even believe what I had done. 5 months of rigorous preparation and a 15 on verbal, which was even less than what I scored in my first GMAT mock test. I lost my faith in GMAT and hard work. I thought GMAT was not made for me and I would take admission in some MBA college in Australia or any other country where GMAT is not required.GMAT Mocks
1. 11-Oct-2012 - GMAT Power Prep 1 - 550 (Q 49 V 17)
2. 22-Oct-2012 - GMAT Power Prep 2 - 600 (Q 50 V 21)
3. From 25-Oct-2012 to 02-Mar-2013 - 7 Other Tests from my coaching institute
4. 13-Mar-2013 - GMAT Prep 1 - 650 (Q 47 V 32)
5. 16-Mar-2013 - GMAT Prep 2 - 680 (Q 50 V 30)
6. 17-Mar-2013 - 800score Test 1 - 600 (Q 42 V 30)
7. 26-Mar-2013 - MGMAT Free Test - 650 (Q 51 V 31)
8. 29-Mar-2013 - Veritas
Free Test - 600 (Q 49 V 19)
9. 30-Mar-2013 - Princeton Review
Free Test - 560 (Q 49 V 18)
04-Apr-2013 - Actual GMAT 1 - 540 (Q 50 V 15)
Break from GMAT
I contacted a counselor in Delhi, and he shortlisted few colleges for me in US, Canada and Australia based on my GMAT score and told me that I need to give IELTS and score at least a 7 band. I took coaching for IELTS, which was provided as a complimentary with GMAT at the coaching institute where I enrolled for GMAT. I prepared for about 1.5 months and finally scheduled my exam on 8th June, 2013. IELTS is pretty much easy and mostly subjective. I had to wait for 15 days to see my score report, which was 7.5 overall. I was very much happy with it. I contacted my counselor and he told me that I could get a good college in Australia based on my IELTS band. Though, I was also thinking of Canada and the US B schools at the back of my mind.
Please see my signature to read my IELTS experience.
In August, I slowly started preparing for the GMAT. I told myself that only if I have enough confidence that I will get a good score in GMAT, I will give the GMAT else not. I wasn't serious about GMAT at this point of time since I had other option of doing MBA in Australia without the GMAT. I again contacted my counselor in October and he told me that I need at least 550 in GMAT to be eligible to apply for most colleges in Canada, although I could get admission in Australia. He even advised me to apply to a few colleges in Australia, but I didn't apply. Then, I though that I fell short of just 10 points. Maybe, God wanted that I give GMAT once more and get a great score. My mood of giving GMAT another shot became serious. Meanwhile, I also started reading motivational debriefs on GMAT Club. These debriefs inspired me to give another shot at GMAT. This was the turning point in my life.
I started preparing seriously for GMAT from October hoping to give the GMAT by December end. I started studying about 6 hours a day. December came nearby, but I wasn't fully prepared and needed some more time. I focused mostly on verbal and practiced very little quant during these days. I analysed my weaknesses in SC, CR and RC and started to work on them. I studied MGMAT books
3-4 times to get a got hold on the basics. I also watched videos by Ron on SC, CR and RC. Particularly, the video on Parallelism by Ron is very good. I decided to give the GMAT on 31st Jan, 2014, but didn't book it as I needed a few more days to give the preparation a final touch. Finally, took the noon slot for 10th Feb, 2014.
Last 10 days before GMAT, I did a minor changes in my strategy. I started solving SC by taking about 1:30 minutes, instead of 1 minute I used to took earlier, and I think this helped me improve my accuracy in the real test. I read two posts, one by bb titled "What to do 30-14-7-3-1 Days before the test" and other by Stacey Koprince titled "What to do for the last 14 days before the real test". Both these posts are very much helpful for developing your strategy for the exam day. Personally, I think these strategy made a difference in my approach on the test day and hence improved my score.Test Day
My exam was scheduled at 12:45 PM. I reached the venue about an hour before the commencement of the exam. The test started on time as usual.AWA
- I received a topic about how a grocery store could increase its sales and profits. It went fairly well.IR
- I didn't prepare for this section this time. I did a few IR questions only during the mocks. So, I thought that this time I could be able to score only 4, since last time I got 5. The first 2 questions were very easy and went well. The 3rd question was a bit lengthy, but I was sure that I had done it right. I did this section with very cool and open mind and in not much of a hurry. I had to blindly guess 2 questions, which were anyways my weakness. Overall, it went well and I was expecting a 4.
In the break, I grabbed a big snickers and some mango drink to get some energy.Quant
- Now came the interesting and easy part. The first 8 questions seemed easy to me and I was sure that all of them were correct. Then, a difficult questions started coming and I had to guess a few of them. At half time, I was on question 17, so I thought I was well on time. Then a few hard questions came, on which I spent more than usual time. Then, I found myself about 5 minutes behind time, so I blindly guessed 1 DS question in between so as to catch up with time. When I was question no. 27, only 15 minutes were remaining, so I picked up the pace. Unfortunately I have to again guess a couple of questions here. I was able to finish my test on time because the last 4 questions were very easy and I could solve them in a minute. Overall, I was expecting 49 since this time since this section didn't go as good as it went the first time.
In the break, I again grabbed a big snickers and some mango drink to get some energy. It helped me feel energetic and I didn't feel tired till the end of the test.Verbal
- Then came the hard part. The first question was SC and I took 2.5 minutes to solve this question and was also not sure if it was correct. I got my first RC which was small, made of 2 paragraphs and of medium difficulty. I kept checking the clock in between to make sure I was on time. I was on question no. 14 when 49 minutes were remaining. My second RC was long, made of 4 paragraphs and super easy to comprehend. I couldn't believe that this was a GMAT RC. However, the 4 questions that followed were not that easy. They were of medium difficulty. At around question 19, I got anxious and started thinking about the level of the test going on at the moment. This happened because GMAT was throwing easier questions at me than that came when I gave my first attempt. Somehow, I said to myself that I need to complete the test at this moment and stop thinking about the level. The test moved on. My third and fourth RC were of medium difficulty and questions were a bit difficult. The anxiety which had disappeared again started appearing and I was again thinking about the level of the test. I saw the clock, 17 minutes remaining and 11 questions to go. I had to guess some 2-3 questions in the last 10 questions, but they were alternate. At the end, the anxiety was so much that I wasn't able to do the last question properly. The last 3-4 questions were very easy as compared to the overall test. Overall, it went well but questions that GMAT threw at me were relatively easy as compared to my first attempt. So, I was afraid that I might get a score even less than what I got in the first attempt.
Then, I had to fill some demographic and academic information. During this time, I prayed to God that this time I get a good score, at least a 600. Then finally, I selected "Report my scores" and clicked next.
I felt immensely happy and thanked God. Hard work always pays off.
Then, I saw my quant score 50 again and verbal score 27. I didn't noticed my IR score at this moment. When I received my unofficial report, I saw 8 on the IR
. When I reached home, I actually realized that I have made a 100 point improvement in my GMAT, an improvement that I feel is really good.Study Material
1. Official Guide 13th
2. Quant Review 2nd Edition and Verbal Review 2nd Edition
3. All MGMAT Verbal Guides 4th Edition
4. Coaching Notes
5. Thursdays with Ron
6. Various questions from GMAT ClubGMAT Mocks
1. 07-Dec-2013 - GMAT Prep 1 - 660 (Q 50 V 30)
2. 15-Dec-2013 - GMAT Prep 2 - 650 (Q 49 V 28)
3. 18-Dec-2013 - Economist
GMAT Free Test - 660 (Q 50 V 31)
4. 22-Dec-2013 - Kaplan
Free Test - 720 (Q 51 V 27) (*640)
5. 29-Dec-2013 - GMAT Club Free Test - 710 (Q 51 V 35)
6. 18-Jan-2014 - MGMAT Free Test - 680 (Q 47 V 35)
7. 07-Feb-2014 - Kaplan
Test 4 - 720 (Q 51 V 33) (*690)
10-Feb-2014 - Actual GMAT 2 - 640 (Q 50 V 27)* - Score as calculated by me using the raw score conversion table. I don't know how Kaplan calculates the overall score from the raw quant and verbal scores. According to me, Kaplan scores are very much inflated.
I would like to thank GMATClub, bb, Ron, Stacey Koprince, Bunuel, daagh, other verbal moderators and all the members of GMATClub for their kind help and support. This would not have been possible without all of you.
I am very much happy with my score and now need to focus on other parts of application such as essays, LOR, etc. I am planning to B schools in Canada or US.
Thanks for reading..
P.S. - It took me 8 hours to write this debrief.