I wanted to take some time out to write down my experiences during this journey for the benefit of all the GMAT club users out there, because personally I found the club to be an invaluable resource in getting to the score I wanted. I am basically going to take you through the study materials I used and my method for the prep work and taking the test itself. Its not going to be too exhaustive but hopefully it will offer some useful insights into getting past the 700 barrier.
Firstly, The study materials:
1) Kaplan Premier
2) 12th Edition GMAT Official Guide
3) Official guide for gmat verbal review
4) Official guide for gmat quantative review
5) Questions online @ gmatclub.com and 800score.com
6) Gmatclub flashcards and the Gmatclub Math Book (V.IMP. to study this -its written by ppl who know the GMAT for the GMAT).
And that's it.
Secondly, Study Method.
Phase one (first 4 weeks)
1) Don't burn through the official guide because there are a limited number of questions and you want to use them in the right way! Don't waste the GMAT PREP official download tests either. Use these in your final prep.
2) Do plenty of revision on the basic concepts of math and english that will be tested on the gmat.
You need to have all the formulas and concepts down cold. You only have 2 mins a question in the Quant section so you don't want to be sitting there in the exam trying to remember what the formula looks like.
3) Use Gmatclub flashcards and Math Book to learn all the shortcuts and other GMAT specific knowledge you will require on the test.
4) Take some of the diagnostic tests included in the books above to give you an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are. To ace the GMAT you need to make your strengths stronger but you need to make you weaknesses even stronger. If there is a weakness somewhere, a question is bound to come up that will expose it.
5) When you start answering questions like in the tests above MAINTAIN AN ERROR LOG
!. These can also be found on the GMATclub website. This is the only way to find out where your strengths and weaknesses really are! Take notes on what you got wrong and why you got them wrong...it will really open your eyes as to where the gaps in your knowledge are.
Phase two (next four weeks)
1) Once you've done the base work in phase one you need to start working on answering the questions as smoothly and efficiently as possible - so ALWAYS ANSWER QUESTIONS UNDER TEST CONDITIONS.
This is essential because it will teach you to perform under pressure and test whether you really have all the basics down cold. It also means you wont waste your Official Guide books.
2) Always answer the questions as if you were taking the test for real - so no peaking at notes.
3) Prepare the question sets you are going to answer in advance and then stick to it - it should always be the same routine - First, the AWA essays, then 8 min break, then 37 Quant questions, then 8 min break and then the 41 Verbal questions.
4) Use the timer from GMATclub if you are struggling with time - it is one of the most important skills you will learn.
5) Remember, answering GMAT question shouldn't take too long so you shouldn't find yourself taking a whole page to find the answer - if you are doing this you've missed something - GMAT is more about testing your understanding and then finding a straight-forward answer. In fact, you should split an A4 page into 4 or 6 blocks. you should be able to answer one question per block...this will also save space and mean you dont need to change booklets in the exam which will cost you even more time.
Phase Three (last two weeks)
1) start taking CAT tests from (free!!!) online resources to gauge your performance.
DO NOT get phased out by low scores from Knewton online, Kaplan
online, or Manhattan online CAT tests. These guys want you to think that you are poor at the GMAT so you will take their courses...my scores ranged from 560(!!!!) to 650 on these tests, but they still proved invaluable practice tools.
2) Ok so you've done all the hard work. Now is the time to take the Gmat Prep official CAT test. I scored 600 on my first test (without much prep work - phase 1-ish). When I retook the first test many weeks later I got 710 - let me tell you a little secret - there was such a big difference in my aptitude the second time round that I got a lot (not all but a lot) of new questions that I didn't get when I scored 600 - no surprise since the test is adaptive right?
3) Then after doing all the CAT tests mentioned in 1 and getting spooked by my low scores, I took the second CAT test. Guess what...I scored 720. Ok so confidence is growing now. Going back to my error log
(from the questions in the books) I found that I was regularly getting around 90% of all the questions right , EXCEPT data sufficiency. So I went through the error log
and found all the questions I got wrong and redid them all - and I got 99% of them right. In fact, I redid all the questions I got wrong in Quant to make sure I've got it down cold.
Of course, they were a bit more familiar cause I had done these questions only 4-6 weeks ago. BUT I got most of them right because I had taken notes and understood WHY I GOT THEM WRONG the first time round.
4) One thing you guys should know - I had a couple of months off and could devote plenty of time to studying - as you can see it takes around 10 weeks to get into top gear, studying 3-6 hours a day, weekends I took time off. But on top of this I did all the tests at the same time - yes the same time ie 12.30pm - I was going to take the real test. This built a rhythm and I knew how I would feel at that time of day and my concentration would peak at that time of day - I know this wont be possible for everyone, but those who can do it, should do it.
The last leg - TEST DAY.
1) Okay actually the day before test day first - don't do any aggressive studying. If you don't know it by now, you're not going to get it. In fact, I did next to nothing the day before - I wanted to be fresh on test day. I just did a few problems and again looked at my weaknesses (certain parts of number theory and DS questions).
2) TEST DAY - Arrive early at least 30 mins ahead of time so you can get signed in - and have your palm read about twenty times! Also you want to take some water and food with you.
3) Use the breaks, but beware, the 8 mins go by very quickly. I took 8 mins 17 seconds after AWA so lost 17 seconds from the Quant section - ok no biggie but doesn't help right?
4) Relax - you've done the prep work now its time to deliver. I was nervous but I had the confidence to deliver, since I knew what was coming. Go in there with Attitude - I am going to ace this test!
5) The Quant got harder and harder - it took me ages to answer some of them which left me short of time at the end. I guessed the last few questions. Make sure you guess - DO NOT leave questions unanswered, guessing and getting them wrong is better than leaving blanks. My personal belief is that the majority of your score will be derived from the first 20-25 questions. I know plenty wont agree with me on this but that's my view. anyway got Q49, the 85%ile.
6) Same with Verbal - got some killer RC passages, but pushed through and got V41 - 92nd percentile. I was actually disappointed with that coz in my gmat prep I was getting 42+. Again, guessed a couple at the end. Nothing serious.
7) Then I saw my final score 730 - 96th percentile. well, I was very happy with that - my highest score ever. I knew I work well under pressure and I did the work so I deserved it!
Well that's that. Ill try to add things I've forgotten later.
All the Best...
(enjoying life in the 700+ club. yeah!)