I took the GMAT for the 2nd time this afternoon, with much better results. Here's a little background and my debrief:
Back in March, I signed up for a Kaplan
prep course. I did all the homework, did all the practice tests, made flash cards and even signed up for some private tutoring. I felt like I had grasped all the concepts pretty well, so the tutoring was mainly to calm my nerves and build my confidence. I took the GMAT for the first time in June and was super nervous. I also had a job I didn't like and felt like I had a lot riding on this test. I ran short on the quant section (I never figured out if I hit "yes" on my last math problem before time ran out) and in the qual section, the sentence corrections often had me torn between 2 choices. I walked away with a 640 (though 5.5 on the writing), very disappointed. In a search to air my frustrations, I found this forum. I wish I had found it before I took my GMAT the first time.
I bought the gmatclub challenges
(though I think I only used half of quant ones and none of the verbal), a couple of the manhattan gmat
prep books (which come with six online practice tests) and the Official guide quantitative review and qualitative review books. I also took the official GMAT practice tests three times. However, I think what really helped was my approach to studying, which was a lot less intense this go-around. When I was studying for the GMAT the first time I felt like every free moment needed to be devoted to studying and felt guilty otherwise. This time I studied, but I still went out and partied, still did my hobbies, still went on Saturday morning runs. Mentally I placed a lot less emphasis on the test- I went in more with an attitude of "just try again and see what happens, it's not the end of the world". During this time I also got a new job that I like a lot more than my old one, so I felt like even if I didn't do well, I still had a lot of other options. Don't get me wrong, I was still nervous this morning.
The essays were pretty standard and not hard, but I was a little rusty from lack of practice. The quant section was a lot easier than I expected- I didn't get a single combinatorics question. The qualitative section's reading comp (not one of my strong suits) also turned out to be pretty staightforward (mainly science passages) but sentence correction took me awhile. I felt like I had done relatively well in the math but was a little shaky in the verbal.
Final score: 740. 49 quant, 42 verbal, 97 percentile.
, while sets up a great study structure, often has problems/tests that aren't hard enough. In my experience they also tend to focus on areas such as probability and combinatorics a little too much.
* In math, keep reviewing the basics. I've read this written a lot of this forum, but it's true. Know your even/odds rules. Know prime factorization. Work on making the deductions/connections, especially in data sufficiency (for example, given a set of rules, be able to say "oh, well then X has to be negative" and the like).
*It's better to do a few problems and really understand them in and out than to do a thousand problems blindly.
*The 6 Manhattan GMAT
online tests (free if you purchase any of their books- I found mine on amazon for less than $20 each) are a great resource but often too hard to finish in the alloted time, especially the quant section. So don't freak out if you're not getting all these. However they do break down each problem into subject area and difficulty level, which is nice.
*The official guide reviews are great extra practice. Also, take the official practice test multiple times. Also great practice representative of the real thing.
*For me, one of my biggest problems is psyching myself out. I've had friends and family both say "you know this is your biggest enemy, so just don't let it get the best of you". Right, like if I say "okay heart, stop beating so fast" it will miraculously obey. But find out what works for you. For me, it was the reminder that even if I didn't do well, I still had other options.
Hope this helps. Now, onto burning my flashcards.....