after hours (and hours and hours) spend going through the GMAT Club forums, and a couple of month of study, I take some times to share my experience and give advices for future test takers.
Non-native english speaker (so initially quite weak in verbal)
Engineering background (so supposedly quite good in quant)
Note: I passed the GRE 18 months ago so I guess this helped me (a little bit) for the quant part
I was aiming to score as high as possible as I have a weak undergrad GPA which is likely to hurt me during the application process
from where I started
my first test (princeton review free) was ok, I think somewhere 680 with a very low score in verbal (V35 or so) and a decent score in Quant (Q45 I think). THis was kind od my diagnostic test at the very beginning of the study, I don't recall exactly the scores.
My weaknesses were (obviously) verbal, mainly RC and SC. CR was ok as long as the vocabulary was not too hard.
In quant, I think I needed to refresh some concepts and methods, but I was globally ok.
This is the material I used (chronogical order). I was under tight budget constraint so I was not really choosing my books, I was working on those that I found cheaply or given away by friends.
A friend of mine bought me as a "Christmas Gift" the MGMAT Number properties
(and hence the mgmat test): special thanks to her.
- Mc Graw Hill , Mc Graw Hill Verbal, Mc Graw Hill Quant: believe or not this book is quite good, although there is a little bit too much of blabla in it, I guess to make it thicker.
- Kaplan Premier
- Manhattan Review
SC (not that bad, not very well organised but still...)
- MGMAT SC
- MGMAT Number prop
- MGMAT CR
and RC (useless in my opinion)
-Aristotle RC 99: best material for RC, clearly
- Aristotle SC Grail: really good, and with practice which makes it a very good book to have in case you finished all the others
- Flashcards from GMAT Club, another GMAT oriented site, half a dozen contributors (thank you big Panda), etc...
my study plan
I scheduled my exam 3 month ago. I thought I would have plenty of time to study.
I started by spending time on the GMAT Club forums to have an idea of which strategies work and which do not. It helped me to organize my study plan and to select the study material. However, there might be the risk of procrastinating if you don't pay attention to your timing.
I started by working through the Kaplan premier
: a heavy book, with a lot of (more or less) useful information. It is quite good to give you a general overview of the test, and to have a grasp of your weaknesses (if any).
Honestly, I think that as far as quant is concerned, everything that I needed to know for the gmat was in there (unfortunately, I did not know that before). The verbal is not necessarily the main strenght of the book, but if you are not aiming to score above 720... I think this could be sufficient. Again this will depend on where you start from. I'll get back to that later.
After that I bought the OG 12nd and the Manhattan GMAT SC
, and I worked quite a lot on the OG trying to understand every mistake i had done. The mgmat sc
was good , but a little bit too basic I think. It gives an excellent overview though.
To improve further my quant score I bought the number properties MGMAT and the Word translation as those were my weaknesses. It was quite helpful.
I also used the Kaplan math workbook
, which is ok, but not necessarily a must have if you are already scoring in the 720+.
Finally, I came across a lot of prep material on the internet, and used few of them but I think it is better to stick to OG, Kaplan
for math, and MGMAT. Also, there is no better way of improving than mock tests.
Please note that I think strategies book are great, but it is important to spend the lion share of your time on practicing. Otherwise, the strategies are just abstract concept and techniques that you think you understand, but in fact you are not 100% sure to know how to use them on D-Day ( I mean the GMAT, not the WWII one :p
For my RC and SC skills, I think reading newspapers helped me, especially for idioms etc... I forced my self to read regularly.
practice tests. practice tests, and... practice tests
Most of my preparation was based on complete practice test, I did every free test available out there, as well as the Gmat prep and powerprep, and obviously the 6 MGMAT.
I also used the GMAT Club tests
when they were free (president day etc... ) it is quite useful if you are good at math and want to be perfect... still, the questions are wella bove the GMAT level.
Quite frankly, I think this made me improve a lot, and it helped for my stamina and my timing as well.
Between each test I used to do some OG or Kaplan
, as well as some flash cards of my own, and tried to focus on topics I was weak in.
Here is a brief overview:
Gmat Prep n1: 730 (Q49 V40) : did this one month after starting, ie one month before the actual test
Knewton Free: 760 (Q49 V44)
PowerPrep1: 730 V49 Q40
Powerprep2: 720 V 47 Q42
MGMAT1 740 (Q47 V45)
MGMAT2 770 Q50 V45)
MGMAT3 780 Q51 V45
MGMAT4 770 Q50 V45
MGMAT5 750 Q50 V42
MGMAT6 760 Q51 V42
Gmat prep 2: 760 Q50 V42
Several people ask about how representative those scores are: well I think the Quant MGMAT is pretty much representative (even though the question are a bit harder on average), however, the verbal questions are on average easier, and the score tend to be a little bit too kind in my opinion.
The Gmat prep are pretty close to the real thing.
I did not prepare much for the AWA, so I struggled, and got caught by time. I don't think I did particularly well.
The quant test was harder than I thought and I spent too much time on the first questions (I wanted to have them right though) and got rushed at the end. I was not comfortable with the plastic stuff they give you to right.
The Verbal was more difficult than I thought too, especially the SC. I struggled from the beginning to the end, and had a lot of 50/50 guesses to make. The RC was ok though, I found that overall the level of the passage was not too hard.
Score: 760 Q50 V41
I am happy with my score, although I felt I could have scored better in verbal (at leat that is what my practice tests made me think).
Well I am not sure In mentioned everything here, but please feel free to ask fi you have any question. I would be glad to help you (after all, I think the GMAT Club helped me a lot so I owe you this
Thanks to all admins and contributors, I wish I could invite you all for a drink, but it might not be possible: we could have had geeky and GMAT oriented jokes :p
From now on, I leave the GMAT section and focus on the MBA one.
Good luck everybody, who knows I'll see some of you in my future BS (hopefully).
If you find the post useful, don't be shy and Kudo me