I had my first shot at the GMAT yesterday. It was a complete disaster; I ended up scoring 150 points below my best MGMAT CAT, and 110 points below my bets GMAT Prep.
My background: I am not a native speaker, and my previous career was as a chef in fine dining. I just finished a bachelor degree in hospitality management, and my dream was to apply for the Grand Ecole Program (pre- experience master) at HEC. I say "was" because with my GMAT score, my chances of getting in this year is roughly equivalent to a snowballs chance in hell (no time to retake before the application deadline.)
With my rather non- academic background, quant was a real challenge for me. At the time I started studying, my math skills were virtually non- existent. I had never heard about quadratic equations, and I could not even perform basic algebra, let alone algebraic translations. The last time I had math at school was at 16 (I am now 25), when I got a far below average grade for my secondary school exam. I was not poor in math per se, but I had no interest in the subject at the time.
In short, when I started out, I had to learn math from scratch (hence my profile name). This was far more difficult than I expected it to be, but for some reason, I had gotten it into my head that, despite having no experience with math, I belonged at an elite business school. In retrospect, I was way too optimistic about my own capabilities, but hey; being realistic was never really my forte. The critical reasoning questions were very intuitive to me, but math, you actually have to learn. Luckily I was OK with verbal, as I lived and studied in an international environment for most of my life, and I read difficult texts in English on a regular basis (The Economist
, novels, Internet)
When I started out, I tried to do a GMAT prep to assess my level. When I tried the quant section, I was completely clueless, and exited the exam. Should I stand a chance in the competition, I realized that I would need to focus full time on learning maths. My ambition from the beginning was to score >700. I enrolled in some economics courses at my local university, while I spent the bulk of my time studying for the GMAT. After about six weeks learning maths, I did my first GMAT prep and scored 540. Not bad I thought. Verbal was relatively strong. I did not study for it whatsoever and scored 35. Quant was 35, decent for my level at the time. I started with quant basics by GMGAT and Cliffs notes GMAT
book (great if you, as was the case for me, don`t know what the word "quadratic" means, or if you know no algebra whatsoever)
Anyways, scheduled my GMAT for three months later. Studied all 8 MGMAT books
, including the guide to the official guide (great for the quantitatively challenged, like me). Did most of the questions in the OG 12
, and a lot of practice tests. I was making great progress!
My test scores below:
- GMAT prep 1 550 Q 31, V 35
- GMAT prep 2 640 Q39, V 39
- MGMAT 1 530 Q 28, V 35
- MGMAT 2 650 Q44 V 35
- MGMAT 3 620 Q34 V40
- MGMAT 4 580 Q32 V38
- MGMAT 5 720 Q 44 V 38
- MGMAT 6 680 Q42 V 40
Before the GMAT, I was very happy with my progress, and felt confident that I would score in the 650 - 700 range. I followed MGMAT`s advice and worked less the days before the exam to have lots of energy on test day. the day before the exam, I did not study at all. I had a great strategy that worked well for me during my prepping, and I got a eight hours of sleep the night before the exam.
Nevertheless, I screwed it up completely. At test day, I was slighly nervous, but not overly so. I am usually calm under pressure, and do not get nervous that easily. The Essays were going just fine. I took a break, ran in the stairs, had an iced coffee and ate a power bar. I was feeling in the zone! Quant started out well. Half way in, I was getting difficult questions ( a good sign) and I was on schedule. About two thirds in, I got some really hard questions, and since I had some spare time, I spent some extra time on those. BAD MISTAKE. Suddenly, I was behind on time, and I freaked out. Couldn`t remember a thing, and guessed several questions in a row.
When I started Verbal, I was feeling mentally strained. The poor performance at the end in quant had completely messed with my head. I was staring at the screen, couldn`t make sense of anything, or so it felt. Got in a rush in the end for verbal as well.
For the questionnaire in the end, I was so tired, I couldn`t even read any more. When I was asked whether to report scores, I knew I had messed up. However, as many people say that virtually everyone has a bad stomach feeling before reporting the scores, I was expecting it to be somewhere in the low 600`s. When I saw the score, I was completely shocked. 570, Q 32, V 36.
Anyways, I got up this morning and decided that the time for self pity was over, and I booked a new GMAT in 8 weeks from now; just in time for my second- choice school deadline. I ordered the advanced Quant book from MGMAT, and Kaplan premier
, to get access to more CATs.
My plans for the next 8 weeks are:
- Go through all the MGMAT quant books one more time, to get the basics right
- Do all the GMAT Club tests
- work on my error log
- Go on vacation for a few days
My key takeaways from this experience are:
1) I was to obsessed with scoring really high, and consequently, I screwed up for my self. The nest time, I will focus on technique and timing, rather than getting it perfect.
2) I should not have taken the day before completely off. I got my best score on practice test`s after I had studied hard for several days straight. With a full day off, I was a little out of the zone when I started.
3) Don`t focus on the past section (obvious, but difficult)
4) Man plans: God laughs
Anyways, that was a long post. Advice on how to do better the next time is welcome