I am non-native English, from the South East Asia, with the finance background. I am new to this forum, but already benefited much from the GMAT experience shared here. While waiting between application falls, I want to give back something, but not very much yet, just sharing my own experience.
I started to learn GMAT quite late, after receiving the scholarship in August 2012. Before this I had no idea what on earth GMAT means. After 2 months evening course in the Language Center to get a basic understanding about GMAT (not really wise decision, and I wish I approached the GMAT Club earlier), I took 1 week off to concentrate on preparation before taking an exam in early December. The result made me frozen, a real disaster: 550 (Q44 V22). The point worth mentioning is that in the prior tests of GMAT Prep software, I had 660 and 680 (advice: don’t look into explanations, and you can still retake these tests after 2 months as a new).
Here comes into help our Forum. After reading several posts on time management, I realized that I made really stupid mistake in the first attempt: concentrating too much on first half, that left little time for the final questions, thinking that the margin between final questions are much narrower than the first ones. As a result, I had to guess randomly 6 or 7 final consecutive questions of Verbal section (for future takers please note that GMAT give hard penalties for 2 or 3 wrong answers in a row).
I was really busy at work in December and came back to GMAT only after New Year. I took the second attempt on January 28, 2013 after exactly 4 weeks preparation. Given my first collapse the result was incredible: 740 (Q50 V41) – totally reverse feeling of the first time. How I could come to this result, here is my experience:
- Books: OG 12
and 13 (checked all official answers even with the correct questions), Manhattan guides (I found these guides very helpful, easy to understand, and the correlation with OG questions), Nova Math bible (only probability and counting sections), GMAT Club Quant Tests.
- But the key of the improvement in my case was the timing (thanks again to BB for really helpful advices: timing-strategies-on-the-gmat-80176.html
+ Verbal: I found that with SC questions, when I have incorrect answer after about 1 minute, 98% that I will still get it wrong even if I spend 3 minutes, so I try not to spend more than 1 minute on every SC quest. The situation with CR is opposite, with 1’30 to 2 minutes I can come to the right answer almost in every question. The most crucial is RC - the part that is worth to invest the time; if I don’t get the stimulus, I will lose 3 or 4 related consecutive questions (that is a huge penalty), so in some cases I even read the stimulus twice to make sure I got the idea and logic. With this approach I also got most of RC correct, and certainly no consecutive wrong answers (my Verbal score in two tests of Prep Software before the second attempt were 40 and 45)
+ Quant.: Math has always been my strength, so I don’t have many advices here. I did improve between two attempts by practicing more with probability and counting questions, and some difficult questions that I found in this forum. Again, the timing, most important is to know which question is difficult, that you probably will not be able to solve in 2 minutes, just leave it as soon as possible and make sure not to get 2 wrong answers in a row.
+ Timing Practice: I used GMAT Prep and bought 6 Manhattan CAT Tests and found them really helpful to improve my timing skill. The Math Section is more difficult than in the real test, but the Verbal is very close.
Above is my experience, I think that everyone got different circumstance. I just want to share honestly my story. Once again, the key of my improvements: know your strengths and pay specific attention to the timing strategy.