Hi guys, I took the test for the second time got a 730 (49 Quant & 40 Verbal). Below is how I did it.
First Test: 620
1. Timeline: I had studied for about 3 months, 6-hours each weekend day and approximately 1 hour during each weekday. My sole resources were Kaplan
GMAT course book and later the Kaplan Advanced GMAT
book. I later enrolled in Kaplan
’s Advanced Classroom Course and purchased the ManhattanGMAT Sentence Correction and Number Properties books.
2. Practice Tests: I took about 7 Kaplan
CAT exams and scored from 570 – 710. The problem was that I was under so much pressure with work and studying I knew I wasn’t getting the best out of the course. Although I forced myself to push through the materials, my mental approach had been the GMAT was something I desperately wanted to get out of the way.
3. In January 2010, I took the GMAT. These are the things I did wrong:
a. I chose an 8AM appointment time which was predicated on getting a good night’s rest and starting early. Complete disaster; I burnt out midway through Verbal and knew I made a ton of silly mistakes in quant because I glanced over the detail. Lesson here is this: GMAT focuses on a lot of detail in the questions (especially quant) so take it when you are relaxed and alert.
b. I took four Full length practice tests plus two GMAT Focus test in the week leading up to the exam. Don’t recommend such an intense schedule.
c. Finally, I didn’t review all the verbal questions in the OG. Lesson: review every single one of the verbal questions in the OG. Most importantly, I did them on the side, then find out why I was wrong. A pattern emerged on the CR and SC questions. (Hint: didn’t have time to separately do them and check the answers so I read through the answer explanations but only after I started getting about 90% right. Again, there was a pattern for me).
4. Test result popped up as a 620. I was royally pissed and egotistically bruised. Picked myself up and decided I had to regain my pride.
Second Test: 730
1. Timeline: I started studying again in mid-May, this time I was doing about 2-4 hours each weekday (including at work mind you). Kaplan
online and MGMAT helped. You can do their practice sets in an untimed manner so I took full advantage of that. My strategy was as follows:
a. Pick a subject (example CR), then do the first practice of about 30 questions spanning all aspects (i.e. assumptions, weaken, flaws, etc). Then hone in on where I was falling short. I got additional resources including MGMAT CR
, Geometry, Equations Inequalities & VICs. I did this for every category and after spending 3-hours reviewing the material and practice sets, I got the fundamentals down.
b. Timing: I discovered that I was spending way too much time on quants because I wanted to solve each one the hard way (aka direct way). I cut my timing into half (with some to spare) by mastering the strategy of Picking Numbers. It is immensely efficient and so easy even a caveman can do it. Kaplan
preaches this a lot in case you are looking for a resource. Additionally, I used backsolving as a fall back (another strategy Kaplan
preaches a lot). These two strategies ensured I finished my quants with time to spare.
c. Next was getting rid of silly mistakes (like solving for % increase rather than how many times one figure is greater than another). These were killing me, in some practice tests, I could get 8 wrong answers in quant section and 6 of them will be because I didn’t pay attention to the detail (it seemed there was always two questions I was clueless about most of the time). Ok, my way was unorthodox but I combated it by taking four recent CAT exams, analyzing which questions I was getting wrong and discovered a pattern. I was getting about two questions wrong in the high teens (questions 16 – 19), about 3 wrong in the high 20s (26 – 29), and about 3 wrong in the mid 30s. I think I discovered when mental fatigue was kicking in so I slowed down around those areas (use this knowledge as you wish, it helped me eliminate silly mistakes).
d. Finally, Kaplan
’s program had this feature called the Ultimate Practice Tests, where I got to take my practice exams at the Testing Centers themselves. I did three such exams in the three weeks leading up to the test and the familiarity helped. If you can get this, do it as it helps immensely.
2. Leading up to Test Day: Reviewed all my incorrect answers on my practice tests (both Kaplan
and MGMAT tests). It was a great way to refresh my skills. Also stopped partying for a week (which was hell), eat healthy and slept well.
3. Test Day: I scheduled my exam for 12 noon. Good breakfast, brought banana’s and chocolate energy bars with me for the breaks. Checked in around 11:30am and commenced warfare on the test. Came out with a 730.
4. Parting comments:
a. You have to get motivated for this test.
b. Review the OG and other questions that you are getting wrong. I found patterns in almost all of them and the GMAT repeats them all the time (especially wrong answers I was drawn to).
i. MGMAT Number Properties
& Sentence Correction (must have’s, don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing these, they literally gave me over a 100 point boost)
ii. MGMAT Critical Reasoning (interesting book if you are struggling with CR questions)
’s online question bank (the ability to pick topic areas of focus is divinely helpful)
iv. OG latest edition (don’t even think of taking the GMAT without reviewing this one)
5. My Practices Scores were as follows:
CAT 2 620
CAT 3 650
CAT 4 710
CAT 5 650
CAT 6 710
CAT 7 760
CAT 8 650
CAT 9 740
i. Official GMAT CAT 1 710
j. Official GMAT CAT 2 740
Hope this is helpful.