My journey all started about 10 months ago. I was un-stimulated at work and decided it would be a good time to attempt the GMAT. My Mom and Aunt had recently written the test and done exceptionally well, so I figured I could do the same.
I began my test prep by purchasing the set of Official Guides as recommended at mba.com. I read through the concept portions of the verbal and quant guide and then took GMATprep1. I scored 710 (Q49, V38) and was quite happy that after so little study I could do so well. I then found GMAT club and read lots of information on the site and also did a lot of questions in the Official Guides. At this point I wrote my second GMATprep and scored 770 (Q49,V47). I did not do the essays for either of my GMATprep tests
, I did not realize that they were important.
At this point I had around 10 days left before my exam and I decided the best way to spend it was attempting the hardest quant problems I could find to try and get Q up to 50. BIG MISTAKE. The actual test came and I over thought every problem, panicked, and completely ran out of time. Not having practiced the essays may have hurt me as well. After knowing I blew Quant I barely tried on the verbal and was crushed to see a 670 (Q44,V39) at the end. The Second Try:
This ended my GMAT journey until about 8 weeks ago. I once again had a lull at work and decided to order Manhattan’s Advanced Quant Guide and the Sentence Correction guide. I worked through the whole Advanced Quant Guide and found it incredibly useful. I definitely have not seen a better resource for trying to push a Q49 to a Q51. It may not have immediately made my scores better, but by the end of it I definitely had an idea of how to attack any problem. This can also be a bad thing. Earlier on in my study when I was getting Q49s I would randomly guess at 4-5 questions a test. The good news is, it saved me a lot of time, and I was able to get the questions I did know right. Now after Manhattan I could take a good shot at any problem, but for the first time in practice, time became a major constraint. At this point I decided to book my test 4 weeks away. My plan was to do 2 practice tests a week, one with essays on the weekend and one without on the weekdays and focus on timing and accuracy on known concepts as opposed to learning new concepts.
My first two tests I ended up only doing the Quant and no essays, scoring Q49 and Q48. A little disappointed in my performance, I continued reviewing my mistakes (a lot of really bad, easy mistakes). My third test was a disaster. I was hung over from the night before but needed to get a full test in. I ended up getting 7 of the last 8 quant questions wrong, and scoring Q44. I lost a huge amount of confidence from this, and my scores showed it. I got Q47 on MGMAT4, and then wrote the full test on MGMAT5, scoring Q48 and a 710 overall. Key Breakthrough:
This is where I had an epiphany, and I owe it all to this post by a GMAT club member. what-to-do-for-the-last-14-days-before-the-real-test-120895.html
What this article taught me was that it is okay to skip a question. Know your weaknesses and bail, even if you know you could figure out the answer eventually. By reviewing my MGMAT tests it was very easy to see where my weaknesses were, and where I was going over on time. I made note of those questions, and made a pact with myself that I would never spend over 2 minutes on questions where I have low accuracy, and I would skip those questions and guess if time was a big concern.
With this strategy under my belt it took a lot of the stress away from the test. YOU DON’T NEED TO GET EVERY QUESTION RIGHT!!!
My results changed drastically after that. On MGMAT6 I scored Q51. I started weak and got 7 wrong in the first 17 questions, but then finished with 20 straight correct answers. I have to discount this Q51 though because I know the real GMAT would not have allowed me to score so highly with such a weak start, as demonstrated in my next GMATprep.
I then wrote gmatprep1. I only noticed one repeat question, suggesting they had updated the question bank in the last 8 months. I only got 3 questions wrong, all in the first 10 questions, however I only scored Q50. This suggests that Manhattan’s algorithm is slightly off. I followed this by writing gmatprep2 with essays, and scoring a Q51, V45 for 770. I got 5 questions wrong on this test, but spread through the whole test, allowing me to still score 99th percentile.
As a summary, my overall scores were
MGMAT3 Q44 essays
MGMAT5 Q48 essays
GMATprep2 Q51 essays
As you’ve noticed, I haven’t mentioned verbal much. That is because I consistently scored between V40 and V45, and didn’t feel like the studying I did do (minimal) was helping my scores or knowledge base at all. With 8 practice tests under my belt and a 770 to finish, I did not even look at anything to do with the test for the final 5 days before my test date.Test Day:
I took the test in the Etobicoke, Ontario test center. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but definitely no complaints. I arrived early and tried to get my head together before starting. I was really panicking right before and feeling very anxious. I settled into the essays though, and they calmed down my nerves a bit. They went very smoothly and I would be surprised if I didn’t get 6 again. After the essays I took a break, just long enough to get my nerves to start going again for quant lol.
The Quant section went okay. I got ahead of time early which was nice for the nerves, but did not feel like I was answering the questions very well. Around question 28 I got a monster geometry question. This was where I made my biggest mistake. I knew how to attack it, but ended up solving for the wrong thing. Upon realizing this I tried to back track, but my work was too messy and I couldn’t retraced my steps. I ended up having to randomly guess and spent 3-4 minutes. Keeping my work neat was something I worked on as a goal, so I was disappointed with myself and it affected me for the next few questions and I ended up being strained for time on the last 5. For some reason the last few questions were exceptionally easy (which was worrying) so I got through them okay, and figured I got somewhere between Q47-Q49, which means a high score was still salvageable with a good verbal performance.
On verbal I told myself I would try my absolute hardest and concentrate. I did this, but it ended up making me constrained for time (I normally finish verbal with 10-15mins to spare). I also got some very, very tough RC passages, which I imagine accounted for all my mistakes.
At the end of the test I was relieved, but not happy to see Q49, V41 for a 750. I was surprised this raw score added up to 750. Nonetheless, with the quality of test I wrote, I was and am definitely happy to have 750 in the books. I still feel like I am capable of much more, and am disappointed in missing 99th percentile and Q50, which were two of my goals. I am considering re-writing, and just not sending it to any schools, just to prove to myself that I can beat this test, once and for all. A Q50+, V45+ is so attainable for me, I just have to treat the test center like it’s my room at home. Through the quant section of the last 4 tests I’ve wrote I haven’t seen 1 single question I didn’t know how to solve with, say, a 5 minute time constraint. You haven’t heard the last of me.Lessons
1. DO THE ESSAYS!!!! I know they are annoying, but trust me, writing them for the first time on the real test WILL screw you up on your Quant.
2. DONT TRY TO GET EVERY QUESTION RIGHT. I know it is sooo hard to throw away a question you know you can get right, but the GMAT is a war, not a battle.
3. Know your weaknesses, spend less time on them during the test, not more
4. Don’t tell people you are writing it if that is going to make you feel more pressure
5. Remember: at the end of the day there is no pressure. It is just $250 and if you don’t like the result you can write it again the next month