I hope that this debrief doesn't demoralize any soon to be task takers, but I just received a score of 610 (41Q 34V). I honestly expected that I would score in the 680-720 range given my practice exams. Needless to say, I was completely shocked when the score came up. To add insult, when the proctor gave me my score sheet, he smiled and said something to the effect of "hope that's the score you wanted." I was polite as I exited but the entire experience left me upset/frustrated.
The following is a summary of material I used during my preparation:OG11
- completed PS, DS, SC, and non OG 12
- completed all sections with the exception of the first ~50 questions in RC and CR
Additionally, I kept an error log
and reviewed each incorrect problem at least once Manhattan SC
- I found this guide extremely helpful (this seems to be the general consensus). Went through it completely twice and periodically skimmed through various sections. Manhattan Number Properties
- I mostly used this during my beginning phase of preparation. This became one of my strengths.Manhattan Advanced Quant
- I didn't really derive much useful information out of this one although I did employ its guessing strategy on a few occasions.Powerscore CR Bible
- Read this once through in the last couple weeks of preparation. I'm on the fence whether this was helpful. 198 700+ GMAT Prep Quant document
GMAT Prep Sentence Correction document
117 GMAT RC Passages
- I found these documents that contain questions from GMAT Prep software. I completed the entire Quant document and roughly 100 of the SC questions (while reading explanations by Ron & co. on the Manhattan GMAT
forums). I also completed about 15 RC passages (I actively sough out passages with topics that give me difficulty). These 3 documents were my focus during the last 1.5 weeks of preparation. Kaplan Question Bank
- Completed approximately 580 of the 1000 questions in the bank. In retrospect, this source was the least helpful. I discontinued using the Bank after my first month of studies.
Overall I spent two months studying. I have a rough idea of how much time (in hours) I spent preparing, but frankly I'm too embarrassed to disclose that.
I can't conclusively pinpoint what caused my score to fall below expectations. My timing was good, I finished both sections just in time (but at no point was I ever behind or forced to play "catch up"). I didn't have trouble sleeping last night and I got a solid 8 hours. Going into the exam I felt confident and prepared. I started off fine on the AWA and took a short break. Once into quant, I found the real GMAT math much harder than the practice tests. Unfortunately, I also received a few tricky questions in my weak areas. I did not receive any combination/permutation or probability questions; however, this may have been a product of poor performance. Once I solved the last question in Quant (relatively simple and involved prime factorization), I knew I must have struggled. Though I was aware that I probably didn't score well in quant, I did not dwell on this during verbal. In fact, I pushed myself even harder because I assumed a strong verbal score would still allow me to reach the 700 range. Nothing especially stood out in verbal, although I do believe it was slightly more difficult than OG and GMAT Prep. Mostly in SC and CR I didn't feel as confident in my answers as I usually do. I don't know if this was nerves or an actual discrepancy in the level of difficulty between GMAT Prep and real GMAT. I only received one long RC passage, which actually wasn't too hard. Finally, I finished the exam and completed the questionnaire. I was very unsure of what my score would be as I held my breath for a moment while it was loading. When 610 popped up I was stunned. Never in any of my practice exams had I scored that low (including the first exam I took to set a benchmark!). I expected that 660 was the floor and that I was capable of anything up to 720 (perhaps more with luck on my side). Needless to say, I grossly overestimated the former.
Since I am determined not to give up after one attempt, I will be taking it again in the near future. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that the test was due for upcoming changes as I registered two months ago. Therefor, as (*bad)luck would have it, 30 days from now puts me exactly one day into being a guinea pig for the new Integrated Reasoning section. For those interested, my practice results (under actual conditions but without AWA) were as follows: GMAT Prep 1 3/6/12 - 660 (44Q 37V)Manhattan GMAT 1 3/24/12 - 630 (41Q 35V)
- I was extremely flustered with Manhattan quant during this first test and suffered severe timing issues Manhattan GMAT 2 4/5/12 - 640 (42Q 35V) Manhattan GMAT 3 4/14/12 - 720 (47Q 41V)
- at this point I was starting to feel real improvement Manhattan GMAT 4 4/20/12 - 680 (47Q 36V)GMAT Prep 2 4/24/12 - 690 (49Q 39V)GMAT Prep 1 (reinstall) 4/30/12 - 760 (50Q 44V)
- admittedly I counted 8 Quant and 7 verbal that I'd previously seen. I did still get 2 quant repeats wrong and I conservatively estimate that if I'd received 8 completely new questions I would have answered 50% correctly (using this I assumed a net gain of 2 correct answers). Using this same methodology, I assumed a net gain of 3.5 correct answers on verbal. I know this technique is flawed, but with these assumptions my verbal probably would have still eclipsed 40.
It's hard to imagine that today's effort was my lowest ever total score (and on each section). It's even more frustrating knowing that I'm surely more capable than I was when I took GMAT Prep 1. During that test I was still very unfamiliar with many formulas and concepts. Finally, I certainly don't think 610 is representative of where I stand on GMAT content, but I did find the exam today more difficult than the prep tests and OG. I'm trying to reflect on whether this was due to poor preparation or bad luck receiving particular questions that stumped and/or tricked me. Maybe it was a combination of both. In the mean time, it's back to the books.