Some quick(ish) background on me and my GMAT history:
I have a BA in Physics from a top Liberal Arts college with a ~2.9 GPA and have been working in international sales for the past 4.5 years living in the Twin Cities area.
I took the GMAT the for the first time last September with the intention of applying to a local part time MBA program. I used no book prep, took no practice exams and only really used the Kaplan
question bank and even then I only finished about half of the questions. I realistically expected to get a score somewhere in the 600s which would have been fine for my purposes at that time. On test day my lack of preparation really seemed to bite me as I needed to rush through the last 10 or so quant questions and kept rushing through the verbal to the point where I had more than 15 min remaining at the end of the section. It didn’t help that it was a surprise to me that the quant section was first. Needless to say I was surprised and very pleased to see a 710 pop up on the screen at the end of the test. One of the main shocks I had was that my verbal score was better than my quant! I think I was V41 Q46 from what I remember.
Later last year after I started getting promotional material from full time programs I started to seriously consider the full time MBA. It even got to the point where I started filling out the application for the University of Minnesota full time program. At this point I had become a regular lurker on the GMATClub forums and after reading about other people’s experiences in retaking the test, it seemed like that was probably the best course of action for me. I knew I had left a better score on the table and planned on doing some proper studying this time.
In January of this year I signed up for the test again with a plan to start studying in February and take the test in mid-May. I eventually pushed it back to June 1st due to cold feet.
Materials I used:
The 8 Manhattan GMAT
study books- I worked through most of the quant books but never touched the verbal.Kaplan
Question bank- I thought this was a really easy tool to use. The questions were not as accurate to the test as I would have liked but I could use it from work or home and get a ton of practice in. The browser window was even formatted a lot like the actual test screen which really helped me. It was annoying that you needed to be online to use this however.OG 12th
ed. – These questions seemed to more accurately reflect the actual test (duh). I didn’t really use any of the other stuff in this book.
How I studied:
I worked through the Math books cover to cover in order at the very beginning of my studying which may not have been the best plan as by test day it seemed like I had forgotten a lot. The main part of my study plan was to see as many questions as I could in the time available. I tried to do at least 20 questions during my lunch break at work from the Kaplan
bank and work through the books at night. It took about a month to get through the Manhattan books
and after that it was all practice questions. I always intended to do a practice exam but never did find the time to do it.
On test day:
I had an 8AM appointment so I made sure that I went to bed early the night before. I had a decent breakfast first (PB&J) to make sure I didn’t get hungry or run out of energy. I took the test at the same place as the first time mostly to make sure that I could find it and wouldn’t be surprised by anything. A final bit of wisdom I took from a debrief on the GMATClub forums was to drink a 5 hour energy about 30 min before the test. This worked really well for me both times I took it as both times I managed to stay awake and focused through the entire test with no jitters or other side effects. As an aside you may want to be careful if you do this for yourself I am a bigger guy (6’2”, 260) so if you are smaller maybe only half of the bottle would be enough for you.
For the essays both prompts were really good and I had a ton to say. They were probably too good, as I ran out of time while typing without being able to proofread them. Oh well I will find out on those in a few weeks. For every break I made sure to go to the bathroom and drink about two swallows of water but not to dawdle to make sure I had plenty of time to get back.
As I started the quant section the very first question was a complete stumper and all I could think was ‘here we go again’. It felt like I was stumbling the whole way after that with every third or fourth question seeming really easy leading me to believe that I was doing really poorly. I was at least better able to manage my time better and finished with about 1 minute left.
After the last break I felt pretty bummed out since I was really hoping to rock the math but I decided that I just needed to focus even harder on nailing the verbal. I knew that after the first time I took this hat there would be plenty of time to answer all of the questions so I really took my time and did my best to get everything correct. By the end I knew that I was doing well since all of the questions were getting tougher and even the CRs (my best area) were incredibly subtle.
At the end I seriously considered throwing out my score since I still didn’t like how I did on the quant. I eventually came to my senses and was shocked to see a 750 (Q48, V46).
Things I did that worked well:
Lots of practice questions.
Used the “HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME” Using this method seemed to help me do better than just reading and answering. Kaplan
question bank. The questions aren’t perfect but there are a lot of them and they are easy to use.
Things that didn’t work or I would change:
I should have used the Manhattan GMAT books
better. At least I should have reviewed them closer to the test again.
Practice tests. I really wish I had done a few.
Now comes the hard part of deciding what I want to do now that I have a great GMAT score. I am fairly sure that I am going to apply to Minnesota this fall and see if I can get accepted with $$$ but I may also decide to apply to a few top 5 programs and see what happens.
Thanks again to all of the GMATClub members. This site was an amazing resource for me.