How it all started
I did my undergraduation from Georgia Tech and after working for a year in London, I moved to India in the summer of 2011 to work for an Academy Award winning Visual Effects Studio in the capacity of a Production Coordinator. After about a year of working for the studio, I felt the time was ripe for me to start thinking about my future and it was then that I decided to pursue MBA and sit for the GMAT. So, after a lot of deliberation, I finally sat down to study in March 2012. GMAT attempt: 1
I have always been an academically inclined student and have always come top of my class. Hence, I did not think GMAT would be much of a problem. Even though I am not a native speaker, I have a firm command over English and seeing that it was the Verbal section that scared most when it came to GMAT, I thought GMAT won't pose much of a problem. Also, I had taken Calculus I, II, III in college and aced all three of them so I was very confident of the Quantitative section as well. But to my horror, what three me off the most about GMAT was the time management. I, like most of South-Asian students, am accustomed to an exam pattern in which I decide the pace with which I solve the questions. Hence, learning to adapt to an exam in which the exam dictated my pace was something I was not prepared for. I gave my diagnostic and I remember scoring a 570 and I was quite crestfallen. And I believe this was the moment that shaped my first GMAT attempt. I was so flustered by GMAT that I decided to beat it by throwing everything at it. I got my hands on all the material I could - from Kaplan
, Princeton to Manhattan - I solved them all. I also remember taking all the tests I could. Furthermore, I started solving the questions on the forums of this website. What this resulted in was that everytime I sat to write a test, I kept coming across questions I had already solved and knew the answers to. Hence, even when I was scoring in the range of 720 - 780 on all my tests (Manhattan, GMAT Prep, Kaplan
, Princeton), I did not know my true test score. Anyways, when I thought I had done everything I could, I took a date and sat for the test.
Firstly, what I found radically different about the actual test is that unlike practice tests, the GMAT starts testing you with some really tricky questions without giving you any time to spare. When I used to sit for practice tests, I did not come across challenging problems before the 9th - 10th question but on the actual test, I started getting challenging problems from the 3rd question itself! That really threw me off during the test. I knew that I could not get any questions wrong within the first 10-12 questions, so I ended up spending a lot of time and barely finished the section on time. When I started Verbal, I was already flustered and got some nasty RCs to add insult to my injury. To my horror, with 14 minutes to spare, I realized I had about 15 questions remaining and this was the time when I really panicked and ended up guessing a lot of questions to just finish the test on time. I was prepared for a bad score but I was really hoping that I cross the 700 mark. To my disappointment, I scored a 690 - M: 47, V: 37.
I wasn't disappointed because I got a low score. I was disappointed because the test utterly, ruthlessly beat me and I wasn't prepared for it. Also, since I had studied pretty much everything and didn't know how else I could boost my score, I was truly lost and that day was the most dejected I felt in a really long time. GMAT attempt: 2
All things considered, I knew I had it in me to beat the test and I knew that I could get the score I want. So I decided to give myself a second shot at GMAT. But this time around, I didn't want to leave anything to chance and decided to seek professional help. Now, I have never been a fan of coaching classes as I feel that they hardly get the time to address a student's personal problems and since the material was not something that was challenging to me, I decided to look for someone who could observe my study and test taking habits and tell me where I was going wrong. Around this time, a friend of mine suggested I look at http://www.highscore4sure.com
Since I was looking for inspiration, I decided to give them a look, got in touch with an instructor and arranged a meeting with him. During the meeting, the instructor outlined his approach to the exam and devised a personalized study pattern based on my needs. I was very impressed by his approach and decided to sign up for one-on-one sessions with him. I took classes thrice a week and this time, instead of focusing on the material, I concentrated on my test taking skills. In short, I went for quality over quantity. I started timing myself on every question and made sure that I never got stuck on a question for too long. I also narrowed down the tests I took for practice and solved only GMAT Prep and Kaplan
tests (I thought Manhattan tests are grossly inaccurate). I must have taken the GMAT Prep tests atleast 5-7 times and instead of focusing on the scores, I focused on the nature of my mistakes. My instructor was of great help in this regard and he had some amazing tricks to tackle some of the most challenging problems on the GMAT. If someone is looking for quality personalized training, I highly suggest him.
After about 3 months of preparation, I signed up for a date again and this time I was prepared. IR was pretty complex but apart from that I thought the exam went pretty well. I was expecting a score of 750+ and was a little disappointed to get 730 Q:49 V: 42. I am especially disappointed with my Quant score as I was consistently scoring a 51 on all my practice tests and was expecting atleast a 50 on my actual test. Anyways, I was thrilled to get a 730 and now I can confidently apply to my dream B-school - Harvard.
To all those who are studying for the test, my advice would be not to look too much into your scores on the practice tests. Instead, focus on the nature of your mistakes and work on them. And if you feel lost, don't be ashamed to look for help, this is about your career after all. I hope my story was of some value to this wonderful forum and I wish everyone all the very best for your very own GMAT endeavors.