I recently gave my exam and scored a fantastic 750 (Q50, V41). I am your average test taker who scored 85% in his board exams, went to an average engineering college. Bottom line – I am not brilliant and I attribute this score more to my preparation more than anything else. This is probably my highest achievement. I have learned a lot from the success stories on BTG and GC and am writing this to do my part. Read below:
Like every Indian, I am strong in quant. Our education does that to us. Verbal on the other hand was my Achilles heel. Being convent educated I have a decent command over language – yet I had never done SC or CR or even RC (even though we do Reading Comprehension in school) like it is tested on the GMAT. Preparation Phase 1 – Getting to 690.
I started preparing in April 2011. I gave my first mock test – scored 580 with Q48, V25. My sole preparation was 12 hrs into Princeton Review’s Cracking the GMAT
guide (grossly incomprehensive by the way, don’t even bother). So I looked up on the web to see what else is out there. I found that MGMAT was the gold standard in everything. So I purchased all the Verbal books. Religiously did the SC book first. This book is great. It covers everything there is to the GMAT and probably more. It is rightly called the Bible for Sentence Correction. However, there lies the problem. As a common man cannot make all decisions based on the bible (or the Gita for that matter), I simply could not ace the sentence correction after reading this book. Don’t get me wrong: this book introduced me to many new concepts but even after doing this book twice, I could improve my SC to 70% accuracy. Their CR book worked better for me although I would say that Powerscore CR
is definitely superior. Anyhow, after spending close to 200 hrs on these books and the MGMAT tests, I could only improve my verbal score to 32. Preparation Phase 2 – Beyond 690
It was clear to me in October that I needed a change. I thought of taking a prep course but was not sure if it was worth it. I tried a small company that was highly recommended on this forum but that did not help either. Finally, in December, I tried e-GMAT
. I started with their sentence correction course. I had thought that I knew all there was to know in SC, but after doing a few concepts, I realized that I was mistaken. I knew the concepts all right but I still had not learned how to apply them. For example, I had not realized the ways in which Verb-ing modifiers could be used till I went through the concept in the course. I then looked into MGMAT and I could find that the same thing was covered in MGMAT as well but somehow I did not understand it the same way. I felt the same as I went through Verb tenses and parallel structures etc. I felt that the eGMAT
course was a lot easier to comprehend than MGMAT SC
. 10 days later I upgraded to the Verbal Live Complete. I found the CR course to be equally good. The Prethinking approach is just awesome – makes CR questions very enjoyable. Their coverage on evaluate (I did get a few questions) is probably the most comprehensive that I have found in any book. The live sessions were excellent but they cover only the more challenging problems. One other thing that I liked about their live sessions was that the community is quite interactive. In addition to learning from the instructors, you also learn from their community members. Overall, I would attribute my improvement from 32 to 41 to egmatQuant:
As I said before, I was quite good in quant. I did not really study quant from any book. This is where this forum was very helpful. There are so many great questions that people post that it gave me all the practice that I needed. I used Grockit (gotten through egmat
) whenever, I needed specific practice on any quant topic. In addition, I also worked with a friend and used to explain quant problems to him. That helped a lot (more on this below).
There are a lot of mocks but very few good tests available . When I say good tests – I mean tests that have a decent collection of questions and provide good and reliable scores. I found that other than GMATprep, only MGMAT has tests that are worth attempting. I tried tests from 800 score and did not find them very useful. Similarly, Grockit tests were ok – better than 800 score but not as good as MGMAT. The other thing that I found about MGMAT tests was that you could take them twice without worrying about repetition. Same for GMATprep.OTHER THINGS THAT HELPED ME IMPROVE
While I attribute my success to the time spent and the material that I used to prepare, there are a few other best practices that I would like to share. I believe these would help anyone.
1. Learn with an aim to teach
: How you learn something is very important. As I said before, I studied with a study buddy. I attribute my score improvement to her. She would ask questions that would make me think and that helped me improve from 48 to 50. At this same time, it’s very important that you work with someone you know and have a good understanding with. If you don’t have a good understanding with your Study buddy it would do more harm than good.
2. GMAT is all application of concepts and not a bunch of tricks
: Most of us know this but I had not realized the meaning of application as late as December. However, once you realize this, it changes the way you study things. Things look different to you like you are wearing another set of glasses. For example, after understanding the various ways in which Verb tenses can be tested, I started to recognize and reason the usage while reading articles in nytimes.com. Similarly, I could reason out arguments in wsj or even tech blogs like engadget.
3. Strategy can make and break your score
: Another thing that helped me a lot. Rajat’s strategy session was very helpful in this case. It helped me define what I wanted to achieve and budget my time accordingly. I would recommend everyone to attend this. It covers everything from how to define your weakness to how to budget time to work on it.
4. If you are taking longer to answer a question then you don’t have a strategy
: When I reviewed my mock tests, I found that the questions I did incorrectly were the ones where I did not have a concrete strategy for that question. These were also the questions where I spent most time. Once I understood that, I worked on defining a strategy for that question. Doing so led to considerable improvement. The MGMAT tests helped here again as they provide timing and accuracy breakdown at an atomic level.
5. Listen to everyone’s advice but don’t follow it to the T if it does not make sense
: This applies to this debrief as well. You will get a lot of good advice on forums but all of it will not apply to you. In some instances none of it might apply to you. It’s your responsibility to see whether it applies to you or not and what applies to you. If you don’t evaluate this then you may end up doing more harm than good. For example, one advice I got on this forum is that one needs to have a great verbal score to score high on the GMAT. I disagree. One can get a good score by excelling on quant. Other Debrief’s that I would recommend
Ebonn (101) (750, V51)
: A very down to earth debrief by a guy who got a perfect score on Verbal. His advice that “REMEMBER: for BOTH CR and RC, the key to ascertaining the correct answer is COMPREHENSION of the passage. The best way to do this is make "highlight" or "diagram" notes as you are reading!
” is golden. Everyone should read his debrief. sometimes-quant-can-t-get-you-there-117669.html
I apologize for this has been a very long debrief. I hope it helps you.