Hi, all. I'm well-rested and ready to give you guys an account of my test day. As I mentioned earlier, you can find details of my arduous two-week study process in my blog.
Preparation for the Battle
Saturday night - Took Kaplan
CAT 2. Forgot to take a break between the two sections. Scored a dismal 550. Felt discouraged.
Sunday - I knew that I probably shouldn't tire myself out by taking another practice test. Therefore, I just spent a few hours going over some things.
I was really scared about today's test. I had bought more materials and started working on them only a few days ago. Although I did go over OG and reviewed many of the explanations thoroughly, I didn't have a chance to redo the questions that I had gotten wrong the first time. Consequently, I had no clue how I would do today.
Sunday night: Packed snacks (peeled oranges, grapes, tomatoes, and chocolate) and made breakfast for Monday. Laid out clothes for the next day. Went to bed at 12 A.M. Tossed and turned for a while.
Monday morning - Got up at 6 A.M. Sat down at my desk at 6:30 and read some essays that I wrote to get my brain going. Then I fired up my computer and did a SC section, some RC stuff, etc., in Power Prep. Consumed the protein drink that I had prepared the night before. Had a light breakfast (eggs, oatmeal, and fruits). Left house at 8 A.M. Got to the test center at 8:20. Studied my notes for 10 min. in the car.
I was shaking the whole time while doing the Q and V sections. I was the most nervous this time because I had worked really hard for the past two weeks and really wanted to break the 600 barrier. I must have lost some time during the exam since I had to reread some of the questions two or three times due to nerves.
Please review TestMagic member waterwork's posts. One of them contains his time management strategy, which I found invaluable on test day.
Summation (2 q's) - I got the second one later in the test. I was running out of time so I guessed.
Function (2) - Was a little confused with the first one but cracked it using algebra.
Combination (1) - simple
Probability (1) - simple
Geometry (1; PS) - Had to guess on this because of time.
Number theory (several)
Word problems - Groups, mixture, distance, pricing
Fraction concepts (2)
Data Interpretation (1)
Median, average, range
Exponents, other algebra stuff
Two questions where I had to decide on multiple answers (I, II, I & II, II & III, etc.). The second one I got near the end, so I read the question and the I, II, III choices quickly and picked, I think, the right answer.
I watched my time closely. Near the end, when I was running out of time fast, I started skimming questions and eyeballing answers to eliminate what I could. I wanted to avoid random guessing. I might have used the strategy of plugging in answers one or two times. I found, however, that the key to answering questions, such as the ones that test number theory, is figuring out how to manipulate equations using algebra. I learned this strategy from going through those hard DS questions and their explanations painstakingly. Plugging in numbers can be helpful for PS questions, but way too time consuming for DS at times. I had expected the quant section to be very difficult, but today I found the level of difficulty of the questions to be comparable to that of the medium to tough questions in the OG. Indeed, some of the questions were very similar to the OG questions. I made some guesses but still got a good score. So I think that strategic guessing and luck had something to do with it too.
Five to six SC questions in a row at first. I was doing these very carefully. I got some in the middle and some at the end. They weren't too bad. Parallelism, subject-verb, verb tense, pronouns, modifiers, you know, the usual stuff.
After the first set of SC's, I was hit with a RC science passage (about 40 lines long). It was pretty tough. I felt as though I was going at a snail's pace. After I finished this set, another RC came up! I believe that it was another science passage (40 lines long). I thnk that I got four passages total; each had 4-6 questions with it. The third was a long social science passage. I can't remember what the last one was about. Seeing that I was running out of time, I got the gist of the passage by reading the first and last sentences of each paragraph. I also tried to find key words in the passage and eliminate answers that looked out of scope.
The CR questions seemed pretty similar to the ones in OG. I'm the weakest in this section. Therefore, I'm sure that I missed a couple. One bold-faced question. One fill-in-the-blank.
I did a lot of skimming and eliminating answers during the last 10 min. of the test. I wanted to guess as intelligently as possible. I had about three questions left with 45 seconds to go. I was trembling so badly at that point that I almost didn't have time to pick an answer to the last question.
OG is invaluable for learning about math concepts, application, and the ETS's way of problem solving. You really need to go over the answers in detail. I downloaded an error log
from this site and reviewed both the questions that I got wrong and the ones that I got right but was unsure about. I also spent time reviewing the math concepts section in the beginning of the book. The verbal questions were great too. I think that I personally need to practice more CR questions and science RC passages though. Use practice tests to learn timing and go over the answers when you finish each one. Don't just keep taking tests! You need time to learn concepts and develop your own strategy. A prep course cannot replace intensive, structured individual study.
I spent a lot of time reading the success stories posted here and the Test Magic Forum to keep my motivation high. Thanks, guys!