Dear all. I just took the Gmat yesterday, and thus I have decided to share some experience with you. I almost never write posts in forum, but since I took advantage of some experiences mentionned in this forum, I think it is my duty to share mine with you.
1) My preparation
I've worked for two months on the Gmat. It was mainly during the evenings and week end, since in the day time I have a job. My first scores were quite encouraging. I began with 680 on powerprep then, 700.
I thought "cool, let's aim for higher". Then I began to work on Kaplan
. I got 680 on the evaluation (not bad I thought), then I did three tests: 640, 620, 580... I was devastated, and began to lose confidence. Moreover, I was quite angry, because I did not always agree with Kaplan
's answers and explainations, in both sections (but verbal particularly). Hopefully, I went on amazon.com and learned that the grades on Kaplan
were not representative. Thus, I stopped Kaplan
and worked on Peterson's CD. My score was always the same: 670-690 ( it gives a range). However in the math section, my score actually got higher. I definitely recommend the CD
. The math is challenging, the verbal also (yet realistic), and the explanations are great. On the other hand, I never opened the book so I do not have a clue regarding its content. Then since my confidence was built-up, I wanted to make an appointement (by the way, I was aimaing at700+). However in my country, since the location of THomson Prometrics had changed, there was some delay in the dates availability: I had to take my test later than I wanted. Therefore, I went on working, doing some more tests.On Thomson, my quantitative was close to perfect, sometimes perfect. So I wanted to boost my verbal. I did tons of test, princeton (on & offline), more thomson, kaplan
again... Yet nothing worked, my verbal was ALWAYS the same. (32/41). I could not find what was going on. Thus, I tried to work on Official guide. I did ALL of the questions, marking the ones I had wrong in order to redo them again. It was priceless, even though I did not always agree/understand thei explanations. But my verbal didn'i take off on the computer tests...I did Kaplan
again, reached 620, and Princeton with higher scores 720-30, but Princeton is known to be easy. The exam was getting closer, so I took the last week end, to work a lot. I almost did not get out of my appartment. I had to find the key to understand the pattern of the verbal part. So I worked A LOT. Too much actually. I did an exam on the sunday after my week end (I passed the test on friday) a priceton one, enough to boost my confidence, and did... 590!!!. The test was not relly hard. Hopefully I realized that this result was not proving anything besides the fact that I was tired. My brain was saying to me "enough". Hence, I decided to change my approach: let's take it cool. I took three days off the work wednesday, thursday, and friday (test day). During that time I just did powerprep tests. The rest of the time, I slept in the morning, did some shopping, went to see a movie... I tried to freshen up my brain. I took my last test on wednesday because I had read somewhere that it was not advised to do one the day before the test. I got 750. Enough to keep a cool head, and to think "okay. we'll see on D-Day".
The final day, the day before the test, I read again the part in priceton regarding verbal. Maybe I was concentrated that day, but somehow I rang a bell that it did not before. I chose randomely 14 questions of each type in OG, and with Princeton in mind, I almost did a 100%. I was ready... The last evening, I saw my girlfriend, we went to the restaurant, and watched a movie. I tried not to think too much about the exam, and this was great.
I took the exam yesterday, and got 760! More than I expected or hope. Believe me it REAAALY feels good. I did some bounces in the street and drank champagne. I may have had some luck, but somehow I felt that I deserved it.
2) The test
The test was surprisingly not too difficult. Questions were challenging, but somehow not really more than in powerprep. Therefore, powerprep seems quite realistic. However, it definitely was not piece of cake. The essay part was awful. My keyboard was very hard, and it was qwerty, something I was not used to. Hence I had to look at each letter before typing, which takes time... One advice: in the OG there are two essays marked 6. I read them and reread them, and I think some of the vocabulary and expressions of the second one (analysis of an argument) are copiable. I for one used some of those expressions.
The quant was okay. However, taking the test in real conditions is by no means comparable to what you can do at home. After the quant section, I was EXHAUSTED. And I still had 75 minutes to go... The verbal was okay again. Not easy bu clearly comparable to powerprep. Pace yourself. I was at question 29/41, when I had 10 or 15 minutes left (I cannot remember). I was too slow, and I had to finish very quickly. This is very stressfull...
When I finished the test I was really exhausted. Moreover, I would not have betted a penny that I did so well. Actually I was expecting a 660. Imagine the good surprise...
3) My preparation: summary and advices
I know somehow what I did wrong in my preparation, and what I would not do again. So if you're just beginning your prep, this can be of use.
I definitely recommend:
- Official Guide for exercises. DO them ALL, or the most you can.
- Peterson for the CD. There is an almost infinte number of questions, but let's say you can make 6 distinct tests. Excellent explanations.
- Princeton review
: good for tests, but those are easy. Online tests are more interesting and challenging though. The book contains some interesting insight. i would recommend it also. Some Cd tests are bugged...(very annoying!!)
: I do not like it. The tests are too hard, the answers and explantions unsatisfactory... Moreover, I do not like the tricks in the book, which are to me like "recipes". I would not recommend the book. The CD however, can be a good exercise since, it can train you to get faster. Simply do not take into account the result too much. Hence I would recommend the Kaplan
only for bigger budgets. Otherwise forget it.
- BArron: awful cd. Never opened the book. Forget it.
b) Timing and study plan.
As I told you, I worked for 2 months on the GMAT. However, to me it was too long. If like me you begin with satisfactory scores (my first was 680), I would recommend to take the test earlier than I. This time spent working was not wasted, but in two months I had ups and downs in morale that I would not have had if I had taken the test earlier. Therefore, I would recommend a 2-3 weeks worktime.
My other mistake was that I simply took tests. Counting the ones I did twice, I think I have done 25 tests, far too much. I was expecting to get better by doing more tests, and worked very late on the books. This was a mistake, since doing more tests did not help me get better. The best way to do it, I believe, is to do a evaluation test (powerprep), work on the books (princeton for method +OG), and do tests from time to time to practice your timing and check on your progress.
Finally as I've already told you, do not work too much. Take time for yourself. You have too be in great mental and physical shape for the test. Once again it is exhausting.
Well, I think I've said it all. I hope this will be valuable to you boys and girls. Best of luck to all!