It seems as if a big chapter of my life just got over and man what a climax…(So glad it was not an anti-climax Wink)…
So am writing this with nice oldies (Kishore Da’s) songs playing in the background. I really am going down the memory lane starting from November 2010 when while having a serious chat with my colleagues and boss at Rock Bottom (oh yeah I normally engage in serious discussions in breweries), I had a revelation that I need an MBA if I want to speed up my career progression.
I have been in operations consultancy since last 3 years and I want to move up the consultancy ladder into strategic consultancy. So over the course of the following week, I discussed my plans with my better half and together we chalked out the path towards MBA. Clearly, the first step was GMAT.
I have organized my debrief in the following categories.
1: Chronological account of my gmatprep
2: Best Practices
3: Review of preparation material that I used
4: My regrets
Chronological account of my prep:
1: First phase - Self Study - November
A) Ordered OG12
and the 8-pack MGMAT book
B) Mock Test Score = 560
C) Went through MGMAT books
for 2 weeks.
D) Issue = Excessive travel at work was an impediment to my study plan. I could not discipline myself into studying in a structured manner. I realized that I needed a classroom type course with set syllabus.
2: Second phase - Knewton - December - March
A) Got Knewton course
through BTG - the discount was fabulous - $325 for a course that currently retails for $900 (Thanks BTG!!!)
B) Went through the course for the next 3 months (No it should not take anyone 3 months to complete the course. But due to excessive workload, I could not be as regular with it as I would have wanted to).
C) Mock test Score = 630
3: Break - April
- I relocated to Netherlands. So I had to take a month’s break from my GMAT study.
4: Third phase - Self Study again - May - June
A) MGMAT SC
& Powerscore CR
B) Mock test score = 640
C) Issue = Verbal scores were stagnant. My confidence was going down and believe me its not easy for a guy like me to lose confidence. I was all tied up in the rules of grammar. I was definitely not doing something right.
5: Forth Phase -e-GMAT Course- July
SC and CR courses & OG12
B) Only worked on SC for about 2 weeks. Took 1 week off from work (paid vacation). (I wish I had discovered this course sooner than this. It may have saved me the misery and disappointment)
C) Mock test scores = 690, 700, 710, 700, 710
Best Practices for verbal
[highlight]Think meaning first, grammar next.[/highlight]
In fact all experts here say this. I remember one of Brian’s posts in which he very nicely articulated this point. Also, Ron in most of his posts, especially on verbs and modifiers, makes this point very explicitly. But for me, this point really drove home when I went through e-GMAT course
and when I could see ALL questions being solved using the method in which first the meaning is analyzed before grammar.
a. [highlight]Think logically about the passage[/highlight]. Try to put yourself into that situation. This really works well. After all a CR passage is a scenario only. All you have to do is place yourself in that scene.
b. First understand the scenario presented in the passage and then review the answer choices.
a. Do not just read the passage, read it critically. Understand
i. [highlight]Key point in each paragraph in the passage.
ii. Relationships & transitions among the paragraphs[/highlight]. For example, is 2nd paragraph extending the thought of previous paragraph or is it refuting it, or is it stating a new point all together that is then discussed in the 3rd paragraph along with the point in 1st paragraph.
Review of Preparation Material
1. Knewtona. Pros
i.[highlight]Flexibility[/highlight] - Offers immense flexibility for professionals such as me who travel and who need to a syllabus/classroom experience to keep them motivated and on track.
ii. [highlight]Entertaining[/highlight]- We as professionals study after a hectic day at work. So if the lessons are entertaining, then we will be more likely to study properly. In fact I do remember that there were days when I would not have any tolerance for books, but Knewton
lessons were welcome at that time as well. I especially like the ones with Jen (only recall her name.Wink)
iii.[highlight]Complete Course[/highlight] - The course kept me on track with the coverage of complete syllabus. I really needed that.b. Cons
i. As many others have said, the questions have stark resemblance to questions in OG
ii. Also, level of detail in video lessons is less. They do have supplementary lessons, but those are not as interesting as Jen’s lessons.
i. [highlight]Great for SC[/highlight] - It is an excellent resource for preparing for SC, especially for someone like me who was stuck at 33. The process explained in application files really works. The process is reinforced in all these files since all questions are solved using this method.
ii. [highlight]Extremely Detailed[/highlight] - The course is very detailed, almost as detailed as MGMAT SC
, but a lot more practical.
iii.[highlight]Great for CR too[/highlight] - Even though I was pretty good with CR, this course help me improve the confidence and brought the next level of clarity. In fact it employs some extremely unique features in paradox and bold face concepts.
iv. [highlight]Flexibility[/highlight]- I could access lessons anywhere and anytime. (But I missed seeing a live person here. Yes I did miss Jen here)
v. [highlight]Easy to get questions answered[/highlight] - It is easy to post doubts in the forum and best thing is that we get responses pretty quick and that too from the course creators.b. Cons
i. Does not offer complete GMAT course. It only offers SC and CR. It does not even cover complete verbal course since it does not have RC.
ii. Forums are not as convenient as BTG forum. But I did bring this up with them and they understood the shortcomings. Hopefully they will do something about it.
3. Thursdays with Rona. Pros
i. [highlight]Covers very niche topics in good detail.[/highlight] These topics are not covered even in the MGMAT SC
book. For example usage of including and based on. So this is a great supplement to the book.
ii. [highlight]Taught by Ron, the trusted name in GMAT.[/highlight]b. Cons
i. It is too cumbersome to navigate and the interface is not great. Again this is a free resource so I should not complain. I would recommend everyone to see these lessons.
4. Grockita. Pros
i. [highlight]Good repository of questions for all of GMAT[/highlight]
ii. [highlight]Targeted practice[/highlight] - I loved the fact that I could practice in the specific areas that I wanted to. For example, I wanted to practice inequalities and I could get over 30 DIFFICULT questions on inequality.
iii. [highlight]Great Analytics[/highlight]- The system told me exactly where I needed to focus my attention. I remember that after I did 20 questions in geometry, I knew that I had issues with “inscribed figures”. I then reviewed the material for this topic, came back and practiced again and was glad to see that I had overcome my weakness.
iv.[highlight]Practice with others[/highlight]- I know we can practice with others, but I did not utilize this.b. Cons
i. I saw repeat questions in the mock tests. So that is a bummer. I wonder why the question bank for mock tests and practice tests be the same.
- I did not try hard enough to score 50 on quant. I somehow accepted the fact that I cannot go beyond 49. Now in the hindsight, I feel that I should not have accepted this.
Stretched GMAT Prep
- My preparation lingered for 9 long months. If I were to do it again, I would make sure I complete the preparation in 2-3 months. Overall its better for morale and keeps the momentum going.
Quantity vs. quality
- Initially in my prep, my benchmark was the number of questions that I solve instead of quality of questions. If I were to do this again, I would not hunt the web for more and more questions. Instead I would focus on trusted sources only and do quality reviews of questions.
So here it is…the saga of Aman’s GMAT is over. And now after a break of 2 weeks, I will move to the next step - the essay process.