I've been a passive reader for the past 4 weeks, so I figured I could post something about my GMAT experience(s).
My vita is atypical compared to most of GMATclub's members, I suppose, as I am still quite young (20) and will not pursue an MBA, but rather a Master's programme in Management (I'm a management undergrad student right now)
I took the GMAT last year in July and scored a disappointing 610. I have to admit that I wasn't well prepared and also some personal issues influenced my performance that day, but nevertheless that was no excuse for that score.
I knew I had to retake the GMAT before the application deadline for my university's Master's programme, so I initially scheduled my second GMAT for 8 May. As I was quite busy with my exams (still in the last year of undergrad), I could not study at all for the GMAT until mid-April.
I started with the GMAT preparation by taking the GMATprep mock exam #1 and scored a 590, which was something to build on. I knew that I would have to improve a lot, especially in the verbal section (non-native).
I studied around 8 hours per day. I bought the MGMAT books
and subscribed to Grockit. The MGMAT quant books were very helpful and definitely gave me some tools and shortcuts on how to approach the GMAT quant section. Additionally, I subscribed on Grockit so that I could practice my weaknesses, which were DS and some quant topics, such as combinations and probability. Even though I consider myself good at maths, I quickly hit a peak where any further improvement was very hard, probably because I didn't grasp each single concept to its fullest. This peak was around Q49/50 and I knew that I had to rethink my strategy and focus more on verbal in order to achieve a higher score.
For the verbal part, I can recommend two books: Powerscore CR
bible (it is a bible, indeed) and MGMAT SC
. When it comes to CR and SC, I think that both books are the best. I went through some Kaplan
books as well, but I figured that they weren't as good as the CR bible/MGMAT SC
I practiced a lot for SC, and I would definetly recommend to do so. Basically, SC is about recognizing patterns as quickly as possible. The faster you recognize faulty patterns (pronouns, SV agreement etc.), the better you will perform on the real GMAT, as time is a crucial factor.
For CR I took a similar approach. I had internalized all the rules and hints that the CR bible gave me and tried to follow the Contender-Loser scheme the book proposes. Also, it was very helpful for me to rephrase the stimulus in my native tongue, so that I could recognize potential flaws etc. quicker.
RC: I didn't practice RC a lot, mainly because I think that it is "impossible" to practice. You either understand the text or you don't. Nevertheless, I read a lot of English stuff in my daily life, and spending a semester abroad in Canada (beautiful country!) last year really helped me a lot as well.
My target score for the GMAT was 720, even though I needed something around 650 to get into the Master's programme. But still, I didn't want to throw out the 300$ and also I figured that a little bit of pressure might elevate my score. Actually, I had a lot of pressure, because I didn't have an alternative plan other than to continue studying at my university.
Besides the GMAT prep, I took 3 other mock tests:Kaplan
: 650 - IMO, Kaplan
CATs aren't really representative, Quant 80%, Verbal 87% gave me 650? Are you kidding me?
MGMAT #1: 650 - kinda disappointing, my quant was embarassing (Q43, V37).
MGMAT #2: 700 - I was satisfied with that score, as I felt that MGMAT quant is tougher than the quant in the real GMAT
GMATprep #2 (3 days ago): 660 - That really hit me. I didn't perform well at all, even though I had a good feeling. My verbal wasn't that great.
Today: Got up around 7:30 am, test was scheduled for 10am. I arrived at the test center around 9:30, did the check-in and everything was set for the GMAT. I wasn't too nervous, but I'm never really nervous before an exam. Focus on your strenghts, be positive, and be confident.
I will skip the AWA and IR part, I guess that I did quite ok in both parts.
So, the GMAT.
I hit some harder questions right after the beginning, and it was some kind of alternating pattern from that point onwards. The system gave me some easier questions, then some harder. I must have made some mistakes in the harder part, so the system went back to give me medium questions. This game went back and forth, and in the end I had the feeling that it wasn't my best performance, but also not my worst. I felt ok, but I knew that I had to perform in the verbal part.
Right before the verbal part, it was very important for me to clear my head and forget about everything that happened in the quant part. I knew that I had to make it count in verbal, so I refocused and went in with a good feeling. The first couple of questions were very easy, so that the CAT quickly adapted and gave me some nasty sh**. That's the point where confidence comes into play: For some harder questions, I basically narrowed down all possible answer choices (regardless of CR;SC or RC) except for two. To me, both answer choices look "the same". Now I had to rely on my intuition/gut feeling and my confidence. I think that it is very important to pick an answer, and go on and don't think about it too much, if you are unsure whether it was right or wrong. Don't let your prior decisions influence you.
I finished the verbal part 15 minutes early. I clicked through the surveys at the end. When I clicked on the submit score button, I could hear my heart beat and was so nervous. The first thing I saw was a 7xx, which turned out to be 710 (Q48/V40). I was really reliefed in that moment and could have started to yell (watch?v=x6uALYCAaoM - best guy in the world - can't post urls), but as there were still some tests in progress, I had to control myself. Nevertheless, I am quiet happy with that score, even though I missed my own goal by 10 points. I guess I could have performed slightly better in both parts (Q49 and V41 apparently gives you 730), but it doesn't matter anymore.
For all the retakers: It is possible to score better! For all the non-native speakers: Practice verbal. It's worth it!
Cheers! (I'm drinking a beer as I am writing this)
PS: Kudos to the entire gmatclub, the question collections rock! The maths book too.