I took the GMAT for the second time last Friday and am extremely pleased with my score of 760, especially with my Verbal score of 46!!
I have gained immensely from the debriefs and posts on gmatclub and feel it is only fitting for me to share my strategies here as well. The background
As the title states, I had taken the GMAT a month and a half earlier and score a dismal 620. This was after consistently scoring around the 680-700 level in my mock tests. While I was extremely disappointed with my score then, the first thing I did was to analyse in a step by step manner what could have been the problem. I narrowed down to two things – one was test day nerves and second was my performance in the verbal section, especially with regards to timing, as I had ended up having to guess on the last 5-6 questions during my last attempt.The Retake strategy
For my retake I decided to focus primarily on two things – taking a lot more practice CATs in different settings to replicate the test day pressure and boosting up my verbal score to at least 40 by getting a better hang of timing on the test.The Prep Content
Since I had already gone through the MGMAT
guides for my last attempt, I decided to focus on some new material for my retake. I had heard good reviews about Aristotle Prep
books so decided to go with their entire set of Verbal books, along with the Kaplan Advanced
and Princeton Verbal Workout
books. For Quant I was using the Kaplan Math Workout
book and GMATClub tests
to practice from.
I found the Aristotle Prep books extremely useful in my prep. The books are written in a very crisp and easy to understand manner and have a lot of practice questions as well. I especially liked the SC Grail 3rd edition
book, which I found much easier to understand than the MGMAT SC
guide. Their Big Idiom Question Bank
too is a killer book that greatly helped me get those tricky idioms right. All in all I strongly recommend Aristotle books to anyone who is looking at getting a 40+ on Verbal.
I also used the Kaplan Advanced
and Princeton Review Verbal
Workout books and found them to be a good source of practice questions, especially the Kaplan Advanced
book, which had some very tough CR questions.
Since I had earlier struggled with RC, in both comprehension and timing, this time I decided to practice 100 passages at the least. I did 40 from the two OGs, 60 from the RC Grail
, and another 20 or so from the Manhattan RC
book, and I think this made a big difference to my RC performance in the test.The Practice Tests
I retook the 6 Manhattan CATs
and the two GMATPrep
’s. While this time my scores were in the range of 720-760, I did make it a point to reduce them by 40-50 points to account for the repeat questions that I was getting. I made it a point to take these tests in different places so I took one in a coffee shop while another couple in the American library. Even at my house I would take tests in different rooms because I was trying to get used to testing under different environments. I also bought the two new GMATPrep tests
and took them towards the end of my prep as those were the only tests I was doing with all new questions. I scored a 740 and a 760 on them, so was expecting a score of around 720-730 on the actual test. Must say I was pleasantly surprised at getting a 760!The Actual Testing Experience
Well I had already been there once so the first time jitters were not there. In fact I was feeling a lot more confident as I had already been there and done that once. I was pretty confident about the AWA and IR sections because even in my last attempt I had done fairly well on them (AWA 5.5 and IR 7).
The Maths section went well I thought; while there was the odd question that I knew I was getting wrong, I thought my performance was mostly on the lines of how it used to be in the practice tests so I was expecting a score of around 48. I also got a couple of Probability/P & C questions and one Inequality and Absolute value question each.
Since I had focussed a lot on verbal during my retake prep, I was feeling a lot more confident before the start of the verbal section. I was also not feeling tired at all and this is where doing those dozen or so full length CATs came in very handy. I thought towards the end I was getting some really difficult SC and CR questions, in some of which I was really confused between two options and ended up blindly going with one. The RCs I didn’t find too difficult and were mostly of the same level as those in the GMATPrep. At the end of the section I thought I might have got 7-8 questions wrong; turns out that number was closer to 3-4, so some of my lucky guesses must’ve worked Takeaways/Thoughts
- It’s very important to take a lot of full length tests, at least a dozen. It’s one thing getting questions correct in a book but entirely different getting them correct in an actual test with the clock ticking. Also take these in different places so as to step outside your comfort zone.
- Consistency and discipline will be the key to improving RC. For my retake I did 4 passages everyday for 30 days without fail, and it made an enormous amount of difference to my RC performance on the test.
- Idioms are very much tested on SC. In both my attempts I can recall at least 3 questions testing knowledge of idioms. The Big Idiom Question Bank
is a very useful book if you are struggling with idioms.
- It’s much easier to handle nerves while retaking the test so all those who are pondering whether to retake, I suggest you do so but with adequate prep.
Finally, I’m glad that the GMAT hurdle is successfully out of the way. Now it’s time to start working on my apps coz there’s hardly a month left for Round 2 deadlines. Wish everyone luck with their prep and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have.Edit:
Forgot to mention I have some of the material that I used in my prep in soft copy format so if anyone needs it just pm me your email id.
Here's how I got a 760 on the GMAT