My GMAT journey was a roller coaster ride. Fasten your seat belts as I take you through the numerous ups and downs I experienced during this amazing journey.Buying the park ticket
: I decided to prepare for the GMAT in June 2012. I left my job, made a list of books, and ordered them online.
List of books: Kaplan PremierOG 13th
Ed, OG Quant
All the Manhattan Quant and Verbal Guides The first UP
on the roller coaster: Made a 3 month schedule and started solving the Kaplan Premier
. I was impressed with my progress and grasped all the concepts very quickly. I timed the practice problems and was able to solve most of them in the stipulated time limit. Finished the Kaplan Premier
and attempted the practice test that is included in the book. I was able to solve a lot of questions and was happy with my performance. I then decided to take a small break and went on a 3 day short trip to a nearby hill town.The first DOWN
: I had fun on the trip and was feeling de-stressed. On the third day as I was returning by a car, my mom called me and informed me that my father had an heart attack and that he was admitted to a hospital in the Intensive Critical Care Unit. I was completely shattered and told the taxi driver to rush to the hospital. I finally reached there in the night and saw that my dad's health had improved. We then shifted my dad to a bigger hospital that specializes in heart surgeries. Two days later, my dad was undergoing a coronary angiography to check how many blockages were present in his arteries. During the procedure he suffered a second massive heart attack and breathed his last. I was completely shattered and for a month I didn't study at all. I was just remembering all the moments I spent with my dad. Also I had to be strong so that I could support my mother. The second UP
: When I had met my dad on the night he got his first heart attack, he thought he was going to die and told me "Please study hard". These words ringed in my ears and I decided to chalk out a new GMAT schedule and achieve a good score. I planned to give the GMAT at the end of October. I completed all the MGMAT guides
and made my own notes. All this while I had completely forgotten that since I am from India, I require a passport to sit for the GMAT as other identifications such as the driving license are not accepted. I then hurriedly applied for a passport at the start of October. I got an appointment scheduled on the 15th of October. I thought the passport would reach me in 15 days and I would give the GMAT in November. I continued with my studies and concentrated on the official guides.The second DOWN
: After finishing the formalities at the passport offices, I was told that the cops would come at my place to verify my address. I waited till November 10th but there was no progress. I then went to the local police station and enquirer about the verification. They told me to bring photocopies of numerous documents and submit two photographs. After that a police constable visited my place and verified all the data. I checked the online station and realized that there are two stages in the police verification process. My passport documents were now sent to the crime branch office where they check whether there are any crimes against my name. I assumed this process would take a few days and concentrated on my studies.
I was planning to apply to ISB and SP Jain, two premier B schools in India. The deadline was the 30th of November for both schools. I waited and waited and waited and still there was no sign of the passport. I visited the local police station and the constable there told me that Mumbai is a big city and that they get thousands of applications everyday so the crime branch verification will take 45 days. Typical Indian bureaucracy. I was disappointed at this and missed the application deadlines. Some of my friends told me to bribe the police officials but I blatantly refused to do so. I then got so frustrated I stopped studying for the GMAT and concentrated on the volunteer work that I was doing at a center for the physically handicapped.The third UP
: It was the start of February and I casually checked my passport status. It said the passport is ready to be dispatched and will arrive in few days. I was happy seeing this and immediately remembered my dad's final words. This gave me the much needed boost to tame the GMAT. I quickly booked a date and there were just two dates available in the month of March. I booked the 9 am slot on the 28th of March. I then prepared a two month plan, joined a library, and started studying for at least 4-5 hours daily. I went through all the MGMAT guides
again and reviewed all my notes. I was very confident about my progress and thought that this might be a good time to give a mock test.The third DOWN
: At the end of Feb, I decided to take a MGMAT mock test. I was confident that I would easily score a 700. I started the test and observed that the questions were getting tougher and tougher. On the Quant section I could barely solve 31 questions in 75 minutes. On the Verbal section I attempted all the questions by guessed the answers on the last 3-4 questions. I then checked the results and had scored a pathetic 610 (Quant 38 Verbal 35). I was shocked at my performance because I had a 90% accuracy rate on on all the official guides. I got dejected and took 2 days off and just relaxed at home thinking of whether to postpone the GMAT date.The fourth UP
: I then analyzed my performance and realized that I was spending too much time on tough questions. There are some questions that are not easy to solve in 2 minutes and you should just guess and move on instead of wasting 5 minutes. I resolved all the official guides and then took the GMAT Prep 1. I scored a 700 and was happy to see the magical 7 figure. I scored a 49 in Quant and a 36 in Verbal. I was happy with the score.
I then revised everything and just 5 days before the GMAT I gave another MGMAT test. I was shocked to see a score of 640 (Quant 44 Verbal 34). That's when I realized that MGMAT CATs were too tough as compared to the GMAT Prep. I decided to ignore the MGMAT test results and gave the GMAT Prep 2 a day later. I scored a 710 with 49 in Quant and 39 in Verbal. This made me more confident and I was ready to take on the GMAT.The day
: I reached the Pearson center at 8:15 am. The security guard told me they let people inside at 8:30. Waited outside and chatted with fellow aspirants. Went inside, did all the formalities and sat for the test. The AWA section was easy. The IR section was a bit difficult for me. I think the reason was because I prepared just once for this section. The questions can be time consuming because there are sometimes 3 sub questions under each questions.
The IR section was done and I took the 8 minute break. Drank a glucose based drink and ate the famous Parle G biscuits. Went back inside and started the Quant section. The first few questions were very easy. Slowly the GMAT threw all the 700 plus questions at me and I observed that I was spending too much time on each question. I increased my speed and took a few guesses on the really tough questions. I ended up in a bad situation with just 2 minutes left to solve the final 3 questions. I was able to solve only 2 of them and the time ended. I was disappointed that I missed the final question. I was still confident that I would get a decent score in the Quant section.
Took the second break. Repeated the eating and drinking cycle and started the Verbal section. I comfortable solved the initial few questions. After that exhaustion started setting in because my mind was continuously working since more than 3 hours. I quickly took a few deep breaths and solved the remaining questions as fast as I could. Finished the verbal section, skipped all the profile info screens, and clicked on report my score. The screen then showed 710, Quant 46 and Verbal 41. I was a bit disappointed with he low Quant score. Maybe the GMAT penalized me for not solving the last Quant questions or maybe I took a couple of wrong guesses on the tough problems. I was still very happy that I scored a 710, a score that can get me in the top B schools if I work on my essays and get good references.
I called my family and friends informed them about the score. They all were happy. I went home and talked to my dad's photograph and thanked him for giving me a wonderful childhood and supporting me throughout my life.Takeaways from the ride
1. I found the MGMAT mocks to be very tough. The max I scored on them was a 640. The GMAT Preps are the best.
2. Don't buy a lot of books. Stick to the basics, especially for Math. OG 13th
ed, OG Quant
and Verbal, and MGMAT SC
are a must have.
3. Timing is very important. Always time yourself while solving practice problems. If a problem is too tough to solve by conventional means, use shortcuts, approximations or guess an answer.
4. Don't waste time on solving too many tough problems. Get your basics cleared. This is very important for DS.
5. Memorize the Idiom List.
6. Don't get nervous. If you bomb the GMAT, you can take it again in a month. Remember to have fun along the journey. The GMAT will improve your overall Quantitative Aptitude, which is very important in all aspects of life.
8. When you are 70 years old, you will look back on all these small milestones--the GMAT, getting an MBA, and so on--you achieved. My profile
26 years old, male, Indian
Bachelor of Engineering in IT with a GPA of 3.5 (converted according to WES chart)
3.5 years of experience (non-IT company)
A few months of entrepreneurial experience