I celebrated with my husband and daughter in the evening and the adrenaline rush is so much that despite it being midnight, I am sitting in my study writing this debrief.
After 3 years of working as a chemical engineer in a leading manufacturing company, I decided last year to pursue my MBA. But life happened and we were blessed with a baby girl. So I postponed my plans a bit. Once my baby turned 6 months old, I went from full-time job to part-time job so that I could focus on preparing for GMAT, while taking care of my little one.
I started preparing in November of 2014 and was a lost soul. I took some mocks, read some books, got frustrated. I knew that I was not doing this the right away. I took a break from prep for 2 weeks. And then came back and started afresh.
This time I knew one thing - I had to be very planned in my preparation since every hour that is not judiciously spend on my preparation is either money lost (since I switched from full-time to part-time) or time away from my daughter. So gave myself 2 months to prepare.
In this debrief I have presented my plan, the execution, and the learnings along the way. Hope this helps.
I registered for an online webinar by e-GMAT
- Strategy Session. Right after attending this session, I purchased the complete course. Yes, I put all my eggs in the same basket, since the basket seemed pretty sturdy;). Rajat convinced me of the e-GMAT
way of preparation; the reviews seemed very good; and I made the purchase of the complete GMAT Package. Following that I created my schedule/plan.
Here is the weekly schedule. I have also provided a screenshot of this schedule that I placed in almost every room of my house to remind me and my hubby of my plan each day. This kept me motivated.
and my husband supportive. Such reminders are necessary!!
1. Dec 13 - Planning
2. Dec 14 - Dec 21 - SC Preparation
3. Dec 22 - 28 - SC Preparation
4. Dec 29 - Jan 4 - CR Preparation
5. Jan 5 - 11 - CR Preparation
6. Jan 12 - 18 - RC Preparation
7. Jan 19 - GMAT Prep Mock Test
8. Jan 20 - 25 - SC, CR, RC Fine Tuning
9. Jan 26 - Verbal Mock Test - GMAT Prep - 42
10. Jan 27 - 31 - Quant Preparation
11. Feb 2 - 8 - Quant Preparation
12. Feb 9 - 15 - Mocks - GMAT Prep
13. Feb 17 - GMAT
My thought process for the schedule
1. My goal was 750+ score. For this I needed to get Q51 and V40+.
2. I decided to start with verbal first. The sequence of SC, CR, RC is pretty logical and straight forward.
3. I decided to prepare using a single source now. I wasted November in scrounging for resources and that did not lead me anywhere. Before that, I remember that when I had prepared for GRE, I had the herd mentality and I read not one, not two, but three different books for the prep as if every book will provide new learnings. That just caused more stress than anything else positive. This time my mantra was - read theory and practice to apply and that is exactly what I did.
4. After doing all three sections of verbal, I decided to take one GMAT Prep test (verbal only) to see where I stand.
5. I set aside a week to fine tune my verbal prep. I realized that I would need that.
6. Then without fretting over my verbal prep, I planned to switch gears to Quant.
7. For quant since I was fairly confident of my skills, I knew that 2 weeks would be sufficient.
8. And last week was all full length mocks to practice my time management skills.
Key Features of my Preparation
1. Each learning session was 1-2 hours long - not shorter, not longer. For retention, I felt this was the optimum study session length.
2. While studying, I logged out from all social media, whatsapp, email, etc. Early on I realized how distracting that can be.
3. During my study session, I had help to take care of my baby so that I could focus 200% on what I was learning.
4. I did OG questions as I was learning the course. This helped me solidify my concepts.
5. I did not keep a stop watch with me until I finished the course. I did not even time myself. I was only focusing on increasing my accuracy.
6. I did very extensive reviews for both correct and incorrect questions. At times I spent 15 minutes reviewing the solutions. The solutions to OG questions by e-GMAT
are very helpful.
7. Verbal Fine Tuning - I have lots to talk about this one, so I will write a detailed section on it.
For verbal prep, I religiously followed the course content in the course. I did every activity in the course in the order. Since I was on a tight schedule, I watched the recordings instead of waiting for the live session to take place. The audio-visual courses are a delight to learn from. I was hooked on to the lessons. And the e-GMAT
3-step process for SC and CR is a must to follow. Initially it took an effort to curb the urge to view the answer choices right away, but as I committed myself to the process, I got past that bad habit as well.
My GMAT Prep test came back with a pretty even score of V37 all across. I was happy to see this score. But yes, I was still shy of 3-5 points.
Verbal Fine Tuning
Next I spent a week on a brand new platform that e-GMAT
released - Scholaranium. I knew that I needed to practice good questions and figure out what was holding back my score. So again, I approached one section at a time.
a. I created a quiz of 15 questions. Did the quiz untimed. My Takt time was 1.5 minutes and accuracy was 90%. I reviewed each question carefully and matched my approach with the recommended approach. Took notes in the system so that I could review them later.
b. With this information, I created my second quiz of 10 questions. This time all difficult questions. My accuracy dropped a bit = 80%. This was upsetting. But after a thorough analysis, I realized my shortcomings:
i. For one of the questions that I got wrong, I had not spent enough time on the question. I had spent only about a minute on that question and in that hurry I missed a very blatant error. Had I spent an extra 30 seconds on that question to match my Takt time, I would have gotten that question correct. This was an eye opener. Its not like I did not know the concept that was being tested. Its not like I did not know how to approach the question. Its that I was in a hurry and did not give that question its due time. So all in all, this was a very vital learning for me - understand your Takt time for every question type and utilize that information to pace yourself in the test.
a. Followed similar approach for CR.
b. The system told me my weak areas in CR - Weaken and Strengthen questions. I was decently good at the assumption questions but not so much on weaken and strengthen. I went through the solutions for these questions in detail and that helped me sharpen my skills.
a. For RC, I had no weak areas. I has upwards of 90% score in each quiz that I created.
So all in all, using this tool, I was able to work on my timing in SC and weak areas in CR. For RC, this tool was a confident booster.
Quant Preparation - Quant Gurus Read for Sure
I consider myself very good at quant. But 51 score does not come very easily. One has to have razor sharp focus and diligence to get to that score. The concepts that GMAT tests are not very difficult. But it’s the application of those concepts that is the key. The e-GMAT
quant course was very good in that aspect. I got a very good review of the concepts. Frankly some of the concept files I just breezed through since I knew the concepts so I used them primarily as refreshers.
I spent majority of my time practicing the questions in the course and questions in the recordings. These questions were an eye opener for how seemingly easy concepts can be morphed into complicated questions. I absolutely loved how in the first part of the live session Japinder would give a rapid fire quiz. Those quizzes truly checked one's proficiency in concepts.
GMAT Prep Mocks
Last one week I spent on taking mock tests and refining my mock strategy. I religiously applied the strategies suggested in the Strategy Session 2. And the information of Takt Time and Ability from Scholaranium came in pretty handy.
During the test, I was pretty calm. Now I must say one thing - I am a typically calm person and do not get anxious while taking tests. So that was something that went in my favor. But other than that, I would say that my preparedness with regards to knowing my strengths and knowing my time strategies helped me significantly. My approach when I entered the center was - Bring It On.
I wish everyone all the very best for their prep. If I were to give ONE suggestion to you all, it would be that remain focused throughout your preparation.