Can't say I'm fully satisfied with my score, but here goes my debrief.
I decided to take the GMAT so I could make up for a downward trend in GPA - I'm actually applying to law school & not business school at all so I decided to use my 3-4 weeks of down time (before I start to prepare for the LSAT) to try to tackle this test. With my first score, a 560, I was pretty disappointed, but I don't think I really took that test as seriously as I could have; I had originally believed the GMAT was dramatically easier than the LSAT, but MGMAT's math section really had me shocked.
So I focused the next 3 weeks entirely on Quant, and picked up that score significantly. On Verbal, I'd get nearly all the RC & CR questions correct and miss the majority to nearly all of the SC. The following is my 3 and a half week journey with the GMAT - tips included.
MGMAT #1 560: 32Q (35%) | 35V (77%)
MGMAT #2 710: 44Q (73%) | 42V (96%)
GMAT Prep #1 740: 49Q | 41V
MGMAT #3 710: 48Q (86%) | 38V (85%)
MGMAT #4 730: 45Q (77%) | 45V (99%)
GMAT Prep #2 720: 50Q | 38V (maybe 39V I forget)
MGMAT #5 690: 48Q (86%) | 36V (81%)
Actual 750: 49Q (86%) | 42V (95%)Math Preparation:
My advice, like many others, is to focus on your weak spots - I was pretty daunted by the MGMAT math, and I totally didn't know that MGMAT tests contain harder math problems than the actual GMAT exam. And while I had a poor verbal score, I still had enough confidence that I'd do okay in the end because I had prior exposure to the LSAT. I score consistently in the 99% on the LSAT, so CR and RC are my strong suits.
MGMAT 8 Strategy Guides
12 Edition OG
I purchased the "Complete MGMAT Prep Set," which contains the above books, and I finished the Foundations of Math book in 2 days. Then I finished the Number Properties & Equations, Inequalities books in the next 1.5ish weeks; for each OG problem that I completed, I would record my success (or failure) on an Excel spreadsheet. This would prove useless in the end because I ended up having no time to review any of my mistakes. Somewhere around here, I took 2-3 practice tests. Happy with the Quant results, I continued to finish the rest of the MGMAT math books.
Most importantly, I made an outline (on Word) that summarized each of the tricks/techniques that I didn't already know.
MGMAT gives a ton of awesome tips for the math section. So by the time the actual GMAT test was coming around, I ignored the OG almost completely, and just reviewed the equations/techniques that I had summarized on my short list of around 12 pages. If you have more time, you should constantly refer back to the OG to relearn things, but I didn't have time.Big Flaw in Verbal Preparation:
By the time I finished the GMAT math books + all the recommended exercises, I had around 4-5 days before the actual test. Because I had been getting nearly all the RC & CR questions right while missing nearly all the SC questions, I decided that, like Math, SC is learn-able in 4-5 days.
This proved to be untrue (for me) and is probably not a good idea for you. If you simply look at the vast list of Idioms available online, unless you have preexisting knowledge of them, it is nearly impossible to memorize a seemingly infinite number of idioms and apply them to GMAT questions. Memorizing idioms + learning all the other Subject Verb, Tense, Modifier, etc. rules for American English is not possible in 4-5 days, and I should have started a bit earlier. 2 weeks should be a good amount of time to master SC, if you're really keen on it.
Because of my terrible planning, I ended up going through the full SC book (excluding idioms) in around 2 days, spending 1-2 additional days memorizing some of the more common idioms + doing practice problems in the OGs
. It is absolutely critical for you to do practice problems in the OGs - the MGMAT SC book is a gift from heaven
BUT only gives you rules and examples for a limited # of cases. And when you actually take the GMAT Verbal portion, multiple rules are tested at a time. So it's important both to understand the rules individually and when applied alongside other grammatical infractions.How to prepare for CR
Despite how low my verbal score is, I think I have some useful tips for CR & RC: I get most of the SC wrong, and CR/RC usually saves me. CR: I looked through the MGMAT CR
book, and yes, it does give useful tips. However, you cannot improve a ton on CR unless you do actual problems - in the masses.
Coming from taking the LSAT (in the 99%), which is composed of around 55 CR questions every exam, the GMAT CR is not actually that much easier than the LSAT
; this runs contrary to popular belief. The LSAT, however, tests on a greater variety of CR questions and has different subject matter. While for the GMAT, CR questions might be a bit more number/economics/business oriented, LSAT questions will talk about a wide array of fields. So don't go rushing into buying an LSAT prep course to prepare for GMAT questions.
Honestly, most of them aren't relevant.
Some techniques, however, are applied very effectively to the GMAT. (e.g. negating the AC for "assumption" questions, taking ACs to their extremes for "resolve" questions) So it might be useful to understand techniques for ALL minor question types, in addition to the normal "must be true/inference", "assumption", "strengthen", and "weaken" types.
I think PowerScore's CR Bible is supposed to be good - never tried it, but it comes highly recommended on online forums.How to Prepare for RC
Usually I get all the RC right, and this is Solely because I have done so many LSAT RC problems. So DO LSAT RC Problems. They are actually more tiring and more difficult than GMAT RC questions. It is also important to note that by reading more RC passages in a timed setting, your mind over time will adjust & adapt to the writer's lines of thought. For example, if you are dealing with a science passage, chances are they'll follow up with 3 different types of developments that (1) identify causes of the phenomena (2) talk about the process some scientists underwent (3) implications/impact of a discovery. For environment-related passages, chances are the author will transition from happy green, loving world to --> humans destroying it. There are a lot more predictable passage-developments...so do more passages and you'll be more attuned to reading the RC passages.Step in the shoes of the test-writer to
develop an eye for TONE. Tone questions are often peoples' big problem. But it's important to understand that it's almost impossible that a test-writer will make a Correct answer choice: unreasoned skepticism or vilified outrage. Test-writers will go for more intellectual ones...because the GMAT is unlikely to put an extremist essay on the actual exam - their RC passages (I assume) come from writing comparable to the Economist
/ Newsweek/ other respectable sources.I look for the following:
- Argument structure (signified by words like Therefore, Because, Since, Then, Thus etc)
- Distinctions (if they talk about 2 authors, people, views, animals, etc., I make sure that I know where in the passage I can find their differences & similarities)
- Tone/attitude words (they are All over the place - you'd be surprised at how many you can find if you really try)
And when I read a passage, I will always label each paragraph/section with a word/phrase in my head
. This way, I will know where to find everything once I hit the answer choices.Process:
Read the full passage (regardless of whether they highlight sections) then go to the question. Refer back as needed (and this is ties back to knowing where every important thing is in the original passage)Answers feeding to other answers:
I thoroughly read the passage, and I'm able to quickly answer questions. And when I'm confident about an answer choice, I often remember that answer choice for future questions; in some cases a previous answer choice can solve/add to my ability to solve the next question.Test Day: I did not take an actual full test until 2:30 AM the morning of my test - lots of mistakes.
And that was a stupid decision. But I did this also because I didn't have much time in the last few days, due to the heavy SC cramming. On the actual test, I overslept my first break on accident so I started the Quant section with 71 minutes instead of 75 - this made me guess on the last 4 questions. And while I usually have 15 minutes remaining for the Verbal, I was kinda scared about this section, so I took my sweet time until I ended up having to cram the last 5ish questions in 4 minutes.Here is what I learned and can recommend you do:
1 Hour before test:
- Get to the test center >45 minutes early to get situated
- Review the math cheat sheet you created
- Review the Sentence Correction cheat sheet as well (RC & CR should be a near-innate skill by now)
Right before test:
- Ask for 2 pens, in case one runs out
- Know Where the Clock Is so you can time your break.
- Know where the bathroom is so you don't waste time searching.
- If you wear contacts, bring glasses in case some vision problem occurs
- Ask for earplugs, headphones, etc.
- In your locker, your food should be in the front so you can grab & go. Practice unlocking your locker so it's One Clean Fluid motion when you actually end up in break-time.Food preparation:
- 3 bars - I had Nature Valley Chewy trail Mix: Cranberry & Pomegranate - excellent combo of nuts + fruit (stays in your stomach so you are not hungry)
- One Whole Banana - Eat half each break (has lots of natural sugar)
- Gatorade (not water) - works as an energy AND hydro boost - (has electrolytes Instead of caffeine) caffeine will make you pee because it increases your metabolism. Drink only 2 gulps during break to prevent need to pee.
- Energy drink - just in case gatorade doesn't do the job.
- The week before the test, I ate lots of tuna sandwiches...because tuna is good for the brain. In conclusion:
This is the last time I'll take this test(I think) since I'm not planning to go to B School. I was unable to reach my desired score of 770+, but wish me luck on taking the October LSAT - Thanks GMAT Club community & best of luck on your tests!