Finally cracked the GMAT… From 700 (Q47, V39) to 760 (Q49, V46). Here are some thoughts, my story and a few advices (particularly for retakers): PREPARATION / MATERIALS:
I don’t want to give many comments about the books all members in this forum recommend (buy Manhatten SC and Official Guide, these are really the best); I also used Princeton, Kaplan
(Premier Program and 800), the Official Reviews, Princeton Math Workout and Manhattan Number Properties
. For me, Kaplan
was not very useful, I also cannot recommend the Barrons book.
Regarding CATs I highly recommend the GMATPrep (obviously), but also the Manhattan CATs. For only one book (26USD) you receive 6 online CATs. The math part is VERY difficult, but this is great for training and their explanations are easily to understand.
My scores in the CATs: Kaplan
1 CD-Rom: 690Kaplan
2 CD-Rom: 710Kaplan
3 CD-Rom: 650 --> stopped using Kaplan
GMATPrep 1: 760 (Q49, V44)
GMATPrep 2: 750 (Q50, V41)
MGMAT 1: 710
MGMAT 2: 770
MGMAT 3: 760
MGMAT 4: 750
(the MGMAT CATs are not very representative since I allowed me 10 to 15 minutes more to complete the quant part; however, I think working longer on their quant problems is better than trying to rush through the questions in 75min… you learn more by solving it yourself)
Importantly, one CAT took me about 6 hours. I took the CAT and at the evening or the next day I reviewed all the questions in detail. You do not learn by taking a maximum numer of CATs, you learn by identifying mistakes, learning fast solutions, new approaches etc. I usually wrote the most important things / problems / solutions on paper in order to create a little booklet with difficult problems.TO ALL RETAKERS
Well, many people think that retaking a test with a score at or above 700 is irrational. However, this might not be correct. The question of whether to retake the exam is NOT AT ALL dependent on your score. It solely depends on the question of whether you think you can actually do better than you did before. If you think you did not prepare well the first time or the test day went really bad, this is a sufficient reason. On the other hand, just thinking you had bad luck that day on a few questions or you have done better in some CATs is not a very good basis for retaking – do not lie to yourself, you will get caught. You have to be sure that you can increase your score – no matter if your original score is 400, 600 or 720. Be honest to yourself and realize when there is no more upward potential. GMAT is one and only one factor in the application process. All the good schools could fill their MBA programs with an average GMAT of 750 or 760. However, they do not do so since there are other factors. If you have a good GPA, you attended a good university, you work for a good company, you made some important personal achievements, write good essays etc. --> that is equally important. Do not overestimate the GMAT and also do not underestimate it. THE ACTUAL TEST
For me it was important to relax the day and night before. I had a good sleep and an even better breakfast. I did the exam at noon, which is a much better time for me than in the morning. I also took no break within the exam – I think this depends on your preferences. For me, breaks interrupt my “flow” of thoughts and I prefer sitting at the computer all the time. Althought your eyes might be a square afterwards
The AWAs went well, nothing special. The quant part also went well (though I expected a 50). I lost plenty of time on some of the early question and that wasn’t so positive since I later on felt the time pressure continously.
The verbal part was my weakness (I thought), since I am not a native speaker and I rarely scored above 41 in the CATs. However, on test day it went great. Especially the reading passages were better than expected and I had not one of these science passages. One good strategy, though easy, that I developed is the “go one step further” approach. When you are a good test taker, you will mostly get difficult questions with a lot of traps. So after marking your choice of preferences, stop two or three seconds and think: is this actually the right answer, does it make sense from the bottom or is it just the answer GMAC wants me to pick? I know this is a bit like the Joe Bloggs approach on a higher level but at least it helped me a lot. Especially on CR problems.THE GMATCLUB
The challenges are great; I had the chance to take only a few of them (which was probably why I scored Q49 and not Q50
), but they are highly recommendable. Regarding the forum, going through the problems is also great training. However, what I sometimes find disturbing are comments such as “I pick D”, “Another B”, “C wins” or “Clearly E”. I do not want to offend anyone, but all the members here in this forum can only learn and progress if they have explanations WHY it is choice A, B, C, D or E. I learned a lot because some members put great effort in making their choice transparent and outlining their process of thought. Therefore, please, in order to help others, do post an explanation and not only the choice you pick.
In conclusion, I wish all of you good luck for whatever your do. Hard work usually pays off, but do realize when you have reached a certain line that you cannot cross. This is not a weakness, it is a strength!
Though this GMAT experience has now developed to a really long post, I hope that I could help some people with my thoughts. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or ask in this forum, I will be very happy to answer your questions. All the best & take care!