after soaking in a lot of strategies from this forum and covering most 700-800 targeted material out there, I crossed the great barrier score. First, I want to say a big thank you to all of you. Second, here is what I found out:
My initial experimental tests (no prep) ranged between 550 (81 percentile on Kaplan
) and 650. I was looking to get into a bracket higher than that so I researched 700-800 score materials and got these, reading them in the following order:Kaplan 800
(fast read, easy questions, neat quick fix strategies but no theoretical substance).Veritas Prep on Demand
(I promise it was cheaper when I got it) http://www.veritasprep.com/GMAT_store/item-details/46/
- This gave me the three books from OG11
, a magic yellow paper + pen combination that followed me through my entire prep process, 15 tests that I didn't do (did one, but most were from other places (800Score, Arco, 5-6 Veritas
tests) and the one I did seemed easy), 16 or so online lectures and the Veritas books
. The Veritas books
were precisely the same as the lectures but also had a ton of Excercises. So If you have the books, don't bother getting the lectures. Veritas
has much less theoretical content than ManhattanGMAT (bellow) but had much much more exercises that were focused specifically on the material. They had several tricks different from Manhattan, but I found most of those hidden in the linked pages bellow on this forum. One thing really helped - the Probability and Combinatorics section of Veritas
. They actually separated Permutations, Combinations and Probability into separate sections in one book with separate exercises on each and then combined questions for the rest of the book (100+ questions). Unlike the Manhattan Probability material, the Veritas
one + the Veritas
exercises actually stuck with me. The only two sections in Veritas
I would recommend are the Arguments and the Probability/Combinatorics books. For the rest - get ManhattanGMAT and read this forum.Manhattan GMAT
all 8 books which come with test banks and 6 kick-ass full CAT tests. Those 8 are best possible theory books you can get if you have the patience to go through the full material. I did and it took a 12 day vacation + several weekends to complete them. I also did all exercises after each section, because brains can't be trusted to apply everything they read weeks after they read it. Here is how the MGMAT helped:
- Practice turned the valuable concepts into intuition for me -so I highly recommend practicing the concepts without delay after reading them.
- The Manhattan Qbanks are small and targeted to each book, but they will still kick your butt.
- The Manhattan CATs have tougher Math and fairly tricky Verbal. The math always took more time than was allotted so they made for excellent timing practice. I kept getting 47-49 on my Math after reading everything I could read about the GMAT math section.
- Manhattan Verbal was OK and I had no issues with timing in it (always finished 5 minutes early) except I could not get over V37 for 5 tests in a row. I felt like I had platoed. At this moment of great frustration came the GMATClub and saved the day. Just a couple of days of reading everything linked here:everything-you-need-to-prepare-for-the-gmat-revised-77983.html
I was scoring 45 on the Manhattan CAT verbal during the last week before my exam. Original Guides 11ed
-needless to say, those were a must read. Though because some questions repeat between the OG and the GMATPREP software I think I got a deceptively high Score on my GMATPreps.
Here is my order and scores on tests:
GMATPrep1: 740 (first attempt - right after I read the Veritas
and Manhattan guides)
MGMAT4: 680 (imagine the frustration piling at this point)
GMATPrep2: 710 (first attempt - checking my sanity after the negative progression in scores )
GMATClub strategy days
MGMAT4: 720 (q:44 v:45) (things were looking up, though I did miss 3-4 math questions because of timing)
Actual GMAT: 710 (q:47 v:41) AWA:5.5 - slowed down on two verbal questions and that made me rush through 4 in the end though I do think I got 2 of those (non-sequentially) right.
Oh and I did do 1000 of all the OG questions in the books (started with the harder questions, in case I ran out of time for the earlier numbers, and I did run out of time) and I did do those at 60 per day for a few days + 1 day when I did 300 questions. My scoring average was 85-92% right on most questions (85% on the hardest 20 questions of each section)
Word of Warning - some of the strategies on the verbal side that I learned on this forum slowed my reading a bit for a better score, but also made me have to catch up in time for the first time in my verbal testing experience. So more practice on my side would have been good, but it didn't help that I found the strategies during my last week before the test. The links are above, make sure to read those early in your testing practice
Here are the strategies that helped the most during test day that I learned form this forum:
1. I memorized the 15 minute interval table and wrote it down on my pad before each section:
Time left | Q#: Quant | Q#: Verbal
75 | 1 | 1
60 | 7-8 | 8-10
45 | 14-15 | 16-18
30 | 21-22 | 24-26
15 | 28-29 | 32-34
That really helped keep my time in check, except for the two questions in the verbal section that I slowed down on after only 15 minutes were left (that was on my hour # 6 of being under stress so I was getting tired).
2. I had also followed the Ursula's prep advice and jotted down all of my errors and reasons for the errors (careless, slow, unsure, etc) throughout my entire test preparation
3. I had read all of the Sentence Correction notes shared by people on the forum and spotted the because/in that and a couple of other tricks during the test.
4. During one of the Strategy discussions here I learned that messing up several questions in a row affects your score far worse than having right/wrong/right/wrong/right. So any time I was running out of time, I made it a point to do the remaining questions in this pattern until I caught up with my timing: guess a question / do a question / guess a question / do a question .
What happened on test day:
- Got up at 5am for a test at 8am (drive, food, dog-walking, and freak-out time was budgeted in). By 11:00 - 11:30am the words were blurring on my monitor and I was running low on brain 'RAM memory' (for non-computer folks, its the ability to remember content long enough to answer questions without re-reading). Though I did wake up at the same time and did the same ammount of work at the same time for 4 days in a row before the test.
- Did some questions in each section before going to the test center - several I inevitably got wrong but that was the purpose of doing the testing - it helped my brain ramp up to a its standard level safely without messing up important test scores.
- Took numerous "breathing" and "hands over eyes" breaks to reduce stress both before and during test breaks.
- Took every single minute the test gave me for a break. BY THE WAY: GMAT HAS CHANGED TIMING ON ITS BREAKS - BREAKS BETWEEN SECTIONS ARE NOW 8 MINITES LONG.
- The questions in the Math section all looked easy, in comparison to the Manhattan CATs. And they were not too layered. I didn't get a single probability or combinatorics question, which was not necessarily disappointing. Mostly number properties, inequalities and equations. With a few rate and time questions.
- The verbal was ok, though I did get a couple of questions that took me longer than usual - on SC, one CR. The passages were medium length with mostly 3-4 questions per passage. The shorter the passage, the nastier the questions, as usual.The AWA:
I have done some blogging in the past, and I did the AWA part to each sample CAT I have taken before the real test. The most useful AWA prep for me was a tiny book called ARCO - "Answers to the real essay questions." The 30-40 or so pages of strategies in the beginning of that book were worth their weight in gold. After scanning through 2-3 of their essay questions and following their strategy I did two random Essays from the real AWA Q bank and did beautifully with time to spare. In two hours, on the day before the test I felt ready for my AWAs. During the test, I used the same strategies and I think I did well. The tests questions were not the easiest, so I'm glad I took a few hours to prepare.
TIPS FROM ME:
Study theory before you starting to do tests for 4 reasons:
1. When you start doing tests, the reasons for your mistakes may get blurry and the stress and pressure will make it less obvious to spot what you don't know.
2. Practice makes good strategies intuitive, and stress will wipe out anything that is non-intuitive during the first few minutes of each section of the actual test.
3. When you start doing tests, you want to do more tests to beat your own scores thus studying gets very boring and harder to do.
4. No matter how many tricks you know, the GMAT tests knowledge of the concepts. So learn the theory behind the math and verbal. There will always be more tricks, but that's because they reflect the attempt that GMAC is making at going around the tricks GMATters are sharing online.
Reading the material on this forum will most certainly speed up your study process.
I hope this helps. I will add more as I remember. I am aiming for H/S/W and I hope this score will suffice.
My AWA just arrived: 5.5
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