I just got home after taking my GMAT and I don't really know how to feel. I got a 710 (Q48, V40). While I am happy that I broke the 700 barrier, I'm disappointed that I did not score higher. Looking at the average GMAT scores for the schools I would like to apply to, I'm either right at the average or a little bit below. The test is exhausting and I'm not sure if I want to go through it again. I feel as though I gave it my best shot, but I'm very surprised at the Verbal score. In my practice tests I was consistently scoring 42-44 so I'm surprised that I didn't reach the 90th percentile (only 89th). I do know that since Quant was my weak area I spent the majority of my study time focused on it. Here is how I prepared for the exam.August 2010
At the encouragement of a friend I decided to take the GMAT. I bought the Kaplan premier
study guide. Right away, I knew that quant was my weak area. I'd never seen data sufficiency before and had no clue how to approach it. I also had forgotten a lot of the basic math concepts covered (probability, combinatorics, rate/work/distance, geometry, exponents, pretty much everything beyond basic algebra and arithmetic).
Sentence correction and reading comprehension came pretty easily to me and I got the hang of CR via the overview in the Kaplan
study guide. I read through the Quantitative review section thoroughly but still struggled to apply the concepts to different types of problems. September 2010
I took my first practice Kaplan
test (not CAT) and landed at a 650 (Q42, V40). I struggled through the quant and got several questions correct due to lucky guessing. Around this time I also discovered GMATclub.com. This site was an absolute God-send. Because of this site I learned about the Manhattan GMAT guides
and also gained valuable insight on the best way to get my score above 700. Even though I did HORRIBLY on my first GMAT club test, I knew I came to the right place to make progress. I participated in solving questions posted in the Quantitative Forum but was often stumped and did not understand the explanations given. At the end of the month I purchased the MGMAT Equations, Inequalities
, & VICs strategy guide (along with OG 12
) to get access to the CATs. I also took 2 Kaplan
CATs. Here are the resultsKaplan
CAT#3 - 590 (Q36, V34)Kaplan
CAT#4 - 600 (Q37, V34)October 2010
I decided to buy the other 4 MGMAT Quant guides. I started with Word Translations and skipped around in the book to the sections I thought I needed most. I quickly realized that I would be better off starting from the very beginning of each book, even if it meant reviewing concepts I already knew. This strategy paid off in spades. This approach allowed me to see how the more advanced problems built on the basics and tested them from different angles. I took another Kaplan
CAT (#5) and scored a 620 (Q37, V40). After going through the Word Translations strategy guide I took my first GMATPrep CAT and scored a 720 (don't remember the breakdown). I was shocked by this score since it was so much higher than my Kaplan
tests. However, it gave me a great deal of confidence and I decided to schedule my GMAT for late November. However, right before I could schedule the exam I found out that I got a promotion at work and would be transferring from Minnesota to Pennsylvania (happy, happy, joy, joy!!). The move required that I enter a 1 year relocation contract with my company. Because I wouldn't be able to start school in Fall 2011 like I originally planned, I decided to postpone the GMAT until the spring and apply for Fall 2012. At this time I took a hiatus from studyingJanuary 2011
With beginning of the new year I resumed my GMAT preparation. I went over the Word Translations guide
again and worked my way through Number Properties and Fractions, Decimals, and Percents. These books helped me improve tremendously. I went from getting 15-20/37 correct on GMATclub tests
to answering 20-25/37 correct. I learned that my company would pay for one GMAT test as well as a prep class, so I looked into taking either a MGMAT or Veritas
course. February 2011
I finished the Equations, Inequalities, and VICs guide. I worked my way through all of the questions in the OG and purchases the OG Quant
Review book as well. I decided that since I'd already covered the Manhattan guides I would take the Veritas
class to get access to more practice CATs and practice problemsMarch-April 2011Veritas Prep
classes, MGMAT Geometry
Strategy guide, and several CATs. Here are the results:Veritas Prep GMAT Simulator Test 1
- 680 (Q42, V44)Kaplan CAT #6
- 660 (Q41, V43)Veritas Prep GMAT Life Test 1
- 730 (Q51, V44)MGMAT CAT #1
- 660 (Q42, V38)MGMAT CAT #2
- 720 (Q47, V42)
I was feeling pretty confident that I could definitely get above a 700 and maybe even a 750+ if I took my test a month after the last Veritas Prep
class on 4/21/2011. I figured that would give me an extra month to work out the kinks.
May was a busy month. I was only able to take one more practice exam due to travel obligations for work. I took MGMAT CAT #3 and scored a 690 (Q46, V38). I was definitely disappointed at not cracking 700. I planned to take the last GMATPrep CAT but never got the chance. However, I did go through all of the sentence correction problems in the OG as well as 2/3 of the CR and RC. The week before my test I did 2 GMAT club tests
, reviewed all of the GMAT club quant flashcards, and did the gmat club geometry 1 and 2, probability, rate/work, and powers problem sets. Even with all of this prep I was extremely nervous about how I would do on quant. In many of my practice tests my quant scores fluctuated because I would sometimes run out of time and have to guess on a significant # of questions. Questions I could have gotten correct I got wrong because I didn't have the time to work through them.
I got to the test center about 30 minutes before my test time. The ID process was pretty easy. When it was finished I waited to be called into the testing room. The AWA wasn't too bad. I used the Veritas prep
outline method to construct my answers and was able to complete each essay in 30 minutes.
I took my 8 minute break to gather my thoughts before the Quant section. I must've been really nervous because the 1st problem through me for a loop immediately. It was a pie chart and it took me about a minute to figure out how to answer the question asked. I realized that it was really just an algebra question with variables in the answer choices. I knocked it out and moved on. Throughout the quant there were only a couple of questions that I could not figure out how to approach. I saw probability, but no combinatorics or rate/work problems. Most of the questions were number properties and exponents that were pretty easy to reason through. I did see more geometry than I expected but it wasn't too bad. By the time I reached the last question I had about 7 minutes left. It was a good thing because it took me 2 minutes just to figure out how to approach the problem. It was a ratio problem. I tried to solve it algebraically at first but then realized it would be easier to solve by picking numbers.
During my second break I ate an apple and drank some water. I felt pretty good going into the verbal section, that is until I saw the first question. It was sentence correction, and I swear the question was definitely a 700 level problem. I narrowed my choices down to 2 and guessed. Next was critical reasoning. It wasn't too bad and I was able to answer it easily. An RC passage followed after that. I will say that RC was the part of verbal I struggled the most with on practice tests but I found the RC on the actual test to be rather straight forward. I worked through the verbal and saw a lot of strengthen, weaken, and assumption questions. I was disappointed that I didn't see any boldface questions. When I finished I immediately knew I wanted to see my score. Although the verbal was challenging I was pretty sure that I did well enough to score above a 700. I was hopeful that I did better than I felt on the verbal and that the score might actually be a 44+.
I clicked through all of the screens until I got to the score report page. I clicked report scores and was partly relieved, but very disappointed to see a 710. Q48 was right where I wanted to be. However, V40 was a total bummer. I know that if I could've gotten a V42 my overall score would've been a 720 or a 730. So now I'm sitting at home, mentally drained and wondering what to do. A 710 is within the 80% range for all of the schools I want to apply to, but it's below the median at my top choices. Also, while a 710 won't keep you out of a school it's definitely not a score that opens doors. I feel as though I did the best I could on the test. All of my preparation definitely paid off in the Quant section, but I can't help but feel as though I could've done better in the Verbal. Should I take the 710 and just work to make sure my essays are exceptional? Should I risk getting a lower Quant score the second time for a chance to boost the Verbal score? Who knows, I might improve on both scores if I take it again. I'm really happy to be a part of the 700+ club, but a large part of me still wants more. Am I being too hard on myself?
To recap, I spent about 5 months studying for the GMAT. I used the following study guides:Kaplan Premier
- Good overview of the GMAT, but lacking in teaching how to apply the fundamentals
MGMAT Quant Guides - EXCELLENT strategy guides. If you struggle understanding how to apply the fundamentals to all types of problems, this is the book for you. Start at the beginning even if it seems redundant. These are great for self study if you can't afford a class.OG 12
- Tons of practice problems. Gets you used to answering GMAT questionsOG Quant
Review - more practice, but not too many 700+ level problemsGMATClub Tests
- well worth the $79. Harder than actual GMAT and gets you used to answering the toughest questions.Veritas Prep
Course - The verbal guides are really good, but the quant guides pale in comparison to MGAMT. Veritas
has great in-class instruction (at least my teacher was awesome) and tons of practice problems. The practice problems range from 500-700+ level.
Final result - 710 (Q48, V40)
Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who participates on GMATclub.com. The debriefs, strategy guide reviews, course reviews, club tests, and detailed explanations were invaluable in helping me to prepare for the test. This site was a great motivator to not settle for the 650 and shoot for the 700+. The stories here inspired me to study hard and encouraged me when I had setbacks. I recommend this site to anyone who is preparing to take the GMAT. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!