I have been an avid reader of GMAT club for some time, and I decided to share my recent year-long GMAT experience. I hope that this information will help other students who are studying for the GMAT. I experienced a successful increase in my GMAT score from a 610 to a 710 in about two months. My scores were verbal 36/79%, quant 49/85%, total 710/92%, and writing 4.5/38%.
For a little background, I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2010 with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in management. For the past ten years (including my time at college), I have worked for my family business. My responsibilities do not have much to do with any of the math on the GMAT, so I had not seen much of the quantitative material I studied since high school.
Like many people out there, when I first studied for the GMAT, I thought I could put in a few weeks and then earn a 700. The first time around, I studied for about 10 hours per week for 3 weeks. While studying, I pretty much stuck to doing problems out of the Official Guide. I made sure to time myself, and if I did not understand a solution, I looked up the problem in forums such as GMAT club for further assistance. To test how I was doing, I used the power prep tests and took two of them over the duration my 3-week study time. On the first one, I scored a 710, and the second a 660. Knowing that I needed a 700 or higher, I decided that the scores on my practice exams were close enough to where I needed to be, so I believed that I was ready to take the real exam. Unfortunately, my first official test score ended up being a 610.
After scoring a 610 on the real test, I was pretty down about the GMAT, but because I read a lot of other stories on GMAT club, I knew that it was not uncommon to get a low score the first time around and improve it the second time around. I also realized that I needed to do more than just read the Official Guide to study. While it is a great book, it does not cover every topic and detail, and thus I was left with some holes in my foundation.
All of this led me to find a tutor. After speaking with many, I went with a tutor named Scott from Target Test Prep. We worked together online using WebEx and Skype. What I liked about Scott is how thorough he was in each lesson. He made sure I knew everything from every topic. In addition, I also got online access to the Target Test Prep math guide, which was critical in my development. The guide has thousands of practice questions, so after learning each topic, I was able to practice everything that I learned in my tutoring session. I worked with Scott for about two months, covering both the math and the verbal.
I studied for about 15 hours a week during the two-month timeframe that I worked with Scott. Leading up to my exam, I took one last power prep test to gauge my progress and scored a 700, 48 quant and 39 verbal. I also made better use of the Official Guides by doing timed practice sets of 15 questions a piece. The reason the Official Guide worked better this time around was because I was not using it to learn each individual topic, but rather to test the skills I had already learned. Since the problems throughout the guide are in random order, it almost felt like I was taking a mini practice test each time I did a set of questions. This time around when I sat for the real test, I hit my mark and scored a 710, 48 quant and 40 verbal.
If I had some final advice for anyone just starting out on the GMAT journey, it would be to find a personal tutor or take a class right off the bat. It would have saved me some time. I guess maybe it was a good thing that I tried it on my own first, so that I could discover that I did, in fact, need a tutor. There are certain aspects of the test that are completely confusing without somebody to push you in the right direction. There are also certain strategies for answering questions that you can't gather from any of the research found online or from just the normal test prep book itself. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would have gotten a tutor sooner. Most people go to work for three or four years, and then they go back and take the test, and they're not in that academia mode, so it's nice to have a tutor who is in that mode already to kind of push you in the right direction. Every once in a while, I feel a little like I'm working the system using a tutor, but it's no different than taking classes. Just make sure to do your research, do what’s right for you, and you can definitely hit the score you need on the GMAT.