I took the GMAT for the first time in April 2010. Self Prep with some Manhattan CATs and GMAT Prep. Though I was getting about 710-720 in the GMAT Prep, I ended up with a 680 on the real exam (Q49 V32 6.0). It was quite a shock for me as I was aiming for the top 10 universities in the US and though 680 wouldn't reject my candidacy, it would not help me either. 2nd Attempt
I decided to retake the GMAT. Signed up with Knewton. I did not require much help in the quant section, but I did require serious help in the verbal. Knewton's verbal was very helpful but their CAT were not. Inspite of that, I was easily getting about 750 on the GMAT Preps with hardly any repeats. I was quite comfortable going into the test. But I had forgotten that man proposes and God disposes. Right before the test, I fell sick. I had a fever going into the test. I did not have much energy so I consumed a Red Bull. Again a super super bad idea. That made my mind run sooooo fast that I could not even concentrate. So inspite of the good preparation, I fell short and ended up with a 690 (Q49 V34 6.0). I had almost given up hope and decided that I will stop my GMAT retake attempts. But a friend boosted my morale and he said "Third time is charm dude, it happened on me for SAT, why dont you try it". I started thinking about it and started back with the prep. 3rd Attempt
I signed up for private tutoring with Manhattan GMAT
. I realised that with a 690, I am not lacking basics that most courses teach. I need some modifications in subtle areas that I am not able to visualize and only an external support with one-to-one dedication can solve this. Thanks to R1 I could not dedicate enough time to the GMAT and it took a backseat. Only when R1 deadlines passed, I started with full dedication. I set myself a date - November 14, 2010 (yea its a Sunday and I didn't know that they actually conduct the exam on that date, but wth). I re-read the Manhattan GMAT SC
guide, read Slingfox's verbal notes, practiced some questions on the BTG and practised using the Manhattan GMAT
CATs. On the day of the test
- I had got 6.0 two times on AWA so I was not worried. I wrote each essay in 15-18 minutes and spent the rest of the time calming and relaxing myself. At the break I splashed cold water on my face, neck and ears. This is aaaaamzing. It totally cools you down and reduces the tension. I was feeling fresh as I walked back into the room. Quant was super easy. For a bit I was thinking that something is wrong but then I started telling myself "I am a killer, I am killing Quant, I am going to hit a 50 for sure". This changed my attitude and morale and I felt better. During the 2nd break, I repeated exactly what I did during the first break. The verbal was not as easy as my quant section was. There were some tough CRs and within 5 questions, I got a super hard (4 paragraph) American History related RC. The next SCs and CRs and RCs were not as hard so I must have made mistakes to bring myself down. Quickly skipped through the exam background questions. I covered the middle of the screen cause I was not prepared for another shock. Damn it, the score appeared towards the top of the screen and my hand did not cover that portion. My eyes were on the %iles and it was 93 for Q, 83 for V and 94 overall. I did not even look at the score. I knew I had achieved what I wanted - 80/80 split that adcoms always talk about. I raised my hand and I was ready to pick up the phone and call my parents and friends. Finally I had slain the beast. Maybe, it is not the best score, but I know that this score is not going to negatively affect my application. Books used
Background - Canadian Engineer. So Q comes easily to me and V does not. I hated writing essays in high school because of the complexities of grammar. Also CR came naturally to me so I was never ever worried about CR. I would rarely get CRs wrong on the GMAT Prep.
1. Kaplan Advanced
, Kaplan Verbal Workbook
and Kaplan Math Workbook
- good for getting 600 not for 700.
2. Manhattan Guides SC, Word Problems, Number Properties, Geometry - SC damn good, Quant so-so
3. Jeff Sackman
's guide - Best Quant resource hands down. I completed the whole book in one week, did all the problems and I was damn sure of my Q skills. I knew that no way on earth I will get anything lower than 49.
4. GMAT Club Verbal Book - ended up using it partly. It is very well made though.
5. Powerscore CR
- hardly used it.
6. Powerscore RC
for LSAT - hardly used it.
7. Knewton course - value 4 out of 5. Excellent teachers, great teaching. Bad CATs.
8. Manhattan CATs - the best CATs out there after GMAT Prep.
9. Spidey's notes from the BTG forum, Slingfox's notes from this forum. Some other here and there.Lessons Learnt
1. Dont have red-bull or 5-hour energy before the test. It makes your mind run fast and you cannot concentrate. If you require energy, have a energy bar. Do not go for a super caffeine rich drink.
2. Disconnect Facebook if you can. I gained atleast 1-2 hours a day by temporarily deactivating my account.
3. Manhattan CATs are the best resource after the GMAT Prep.
4. Manhattan SC maybe the bible, but contains a LOT of information. You need to practise on real GMAT like questions and put the whole thing together. The book lacks that, so I really loved Knewton's SC lessons. Dave Ingber at Knewton made it simple. Then Tony Calderone my Manhattan GMAT
tutor helped me breakdown SC even further.
5. Be positive especially when you hit the plateau
6. For people scarred of SC - get modifiers, comparisons and pronouns corrected. These three are the biggest ones that most people mess up with. Once I got these sorted, I got much better at SC.
7. Follow advice that you think will work for you. Do not follow everyone's advice.
8. I was doing a part-time masters in engineering, studying for the gmat, writing the apps and working overtime because of some complex projects at work. DO NOT DO IT. I feel so relieved now that I have reduced my activities to 3 from 4.
9. Getting a grasp of SC is very good. Since I write a lot of reports, I felt a great improvement in my writing quality.
10. It is only a 3.5 hr exam. THE GMAT HAS NO RIGHT TO MAKE OR BREAK YOUR FUTURE. I told myself this and I went for the re-take.
Thanks to GC for all the support.
Now for some more confident participation in the MBA Schools Application section.
One Life, One Chance