Finally, GMAT is over. Just finished it a couple of hours back. Right now I'm in office; just trying to compensate the 6 hrs that I lost for taking the exam. Still feeling a bit dizzy... but guys, I partly owe it to this forum. I have gathered a lot from this community, and if my experience can help any of u in any manner - trust me, it will be my pleasure! So here's my debrief. I will try to keep it objective, but can't give my word.......
Indian, Male, 32.
Married for the last 5 yrs (in fact, I owe my GMAT experience to my wife). I've a sweet li'l daughter.
Education: BE (JU, Kolkata) + MBA (SJMSOM, IIT-Bombay). Decent & consistent results thru'out.
Experience: 6yrs into Marketing, Sales Planning, BD, Alliance in Automotive & Retail (no international exp)
At present: I'm based in Kolkata (India), taking care of Marketing for a national food retail chain
Why I took the plunge?
I'm gonna think about that and frame a "good story" as a part of my application. But honestly - I'm looking for better career options and some global exposure.
When did I start thinking about taking the GMAT?
Somewhere in Oct '09.
When did I start preparing?
Well, in Dec I was going thru' an old version of Kaplan
(2005) just to get a hang of it, going thru' various online forums, speaking to one of my closest friends (I owe this to him as well) and still deciding "to be or not to be"... Smwhere around 5th/ 6th of Jan '10 I finally decided to go for it and bought Kaplan
Online Premier (2010) version. That's when I seriously started.
1) OG 10
Online Premier (2010)
3) Peterson's (nobody tells you about this; I found the Verbal & AWA sections really good. Quant was not up to the mark though. Plus, there are 9 mock tests. It's good for ppl like me, who think that practice tests help a lot)
Practice Tests I took & my Scores (as far as I can remember/ check. It's not well documented):
- 6 Tests (660, 560, 760*, 760*, 720, 700)[* I think there was some problem with the scoring in these 2 tests. Though I got more than 10 incorrect in each of the sections, still the scores were so high! I checked with Kaplan. But they never replied. In fact I raised this issue in this forum as well)
B) Peterson's - 9 tests (660, 640, 670, 710, 640, 700, 690, 650, 670)
C) GMAT Prep - 2 Free tests (690, 710)
D) MGMAT - 1 Free test (650)
E) Knewtown - 1 Free test (690)
F) Princeton - 1 Free test (710)
- 1 Free test (660)
My Daily Routine (Jan to mid-Feb):
Office: 6 days a week, 9 am - 9 pm (incl travel)
During Office Hours: 30 mins to 1 hr going thru' GMAT Club forum and solving a few Qs here and there
Time with family: 9 pm - 11.30 pm
Study (normal days): 11.30 pm - 2.30 am (3 hrs a day was my target. But at times used to wake up in the study room at 5 am just to realize that I've slept off from 1 am.)
Study (Sundays, holidays): mock test from 11.30 am onwards. review and then study at night. almost 8 - 10 hrs
My Daily Routine (mid-Feb to 3rd Mar):
During Office Hours: 2 hrs going thru' various sectional tests & GMATClub forum
Study (normal days): 11.30 pm - 3 am (tried really hard to keep myself awake)
Study (Sat & Sunday, other holidays): mock test, review and then study at night. 10 - 12 hrs
As I said, I believe in taking mock tests, rather than studying a lot. So that's what I tried to do - take as many tests as possible. But a few things I did:
1) Go thru' basic maths and note down a few critical formula (e.g. slope of a line, surface area of a sphere)
2) Permutation, Combn & Probability - start learning the basics and kind of going thru' solved Qs
3) Go thru' a few chapters of Wren & Martin - for english grammar & usage
4) Solve all the practice Qs in Kaplan
5) Note down some critical Qs (SC, DS & PS) that I came across at various books/ tests etc.
6) Understand the "templatisation" concept of AWA and try to adhere to it
7) Follow the time-restrictions during the practice tests, especially for the last 5/ 6 tests
Things I didn't do, BUT should have done:
1) Unfortunately, cudn't finish the OG. Completed PS. But cud do only 70% of DS and 60% of SC & CR each; less than 30% of RC
2) Started solving the 1000 SC. But cudn't go beyond the first 200.
3) Didn't document enough or make error logs
4) Didn't practised enough AWAs. In fact I wrote only 6 to 7 AWAs (in the last 10-days actually)
Yesterday I took it easy. Followed the normal routine and studied for around 2 hrs in the office. But didn't study at night. Had a beer in the eve, went home, prepared the xam-kit and spent some time with my kid. Then went off to sleep.
Was I nervous? U bet it! I was nervous 'cos I was going to take a competitive exam (that too a costly one) almost after 8 yrs. I was early to the Test Center.
Pre-test: going thru' the formalities. And talking to the centre head. Clarified a few doubts about the test rules.(For those who will be taking the test at the Kolkata centre, this guy is wonderful. Very cordial, helpful and friendly. He's ever smiling - helps to ease off the initial tension)
I was tensed since I didn't practice much. But topics were quite easy and I felt quite confident as I started the "Argument essay". As planned, I wrote down a few points about the topic on the scratch paper and followed the template. To my surprise I wrote quite a lot and finished before time. In the "Issue essay" template was not helpful. But again the topic was relevant to business. Here I wrote almost 5-6 points about the topic on the scratch paper and started writing. I could cover all these points well in time and finish the essay just on time. I was quite happy about the performance in AWA when I took my break (I still don't know my score, but shouldn't be less than 4.5 at least).
Break 1: A quick smoke, a hurried visit to the loo and almost 7 minutes were gone when I returned to the test room.
Quant: It's my strong point. And I knew I had to do well. Apart from the MGMAT test I've scored between 46 - 52. I was confident, but at the same time tensed - 'cos I knew this could actually ensure that I don't go below my min target of 670. But the 1st question itself threw me off! It took me "SEVEN" minutes to answer that. I still don't know why I kept trying once I passed the critical mark of 4 mins - that I had planned earlier. Somehow I could answer it and moved on to the next. The first jerk was never to be recovered, and add to that the fact that problems started getting tougher. Mostly from "number theory" and "inequalities". And of course a few nasty "algebra". And of course a horrific "calculation" - that again took me a bloody 6 mins. From Q No: 25 (20 mins remaining) I adopted a policy of "calculative guess" for tough Qs. The actual no of such cases could be from 3 to 5. In fact, I "randomly guessed" for two Qs - one proability and the other a word problem, since time was important. Just I tried to follow one thing "unless unavoidable don't guess 2 consecutive Qs". Still I couldn't finish the last Qs. I was kind of devastaded - never happened before that I cudn't finish Quant in time.
Break 2 - Felt like scrapping the test. But kept hope. Had a smoke. Went back.
Verbal - pretty similar experience as during my practice tests. It was easy to eliminate 3 options. But most of the Qs - was confused between the other two. So, went ahead with my "gut feel" (intuition) in such cases. Found it comparatively easier than the practice tests. Not too many 5-liners in SC; CR & RC were decent enough for non-native users like us. SC was getting relatively easier towards the end, making me nervous that I'm really screwing it up. Never bothered - since my Quant was already lost! CR Qs focused on "strengthening" and "underlying assumptions"; while RC passages dealt with neuro-science, history, women's lib ........ Actually, I never felt that Qs were getting tougher or something like that. I was just going thru' the motion. As during my mock tests, here too had to struggle for time. And had to hurry thru' the last 7/ 8 Qs and infact "randomly guess" the last question.
Clicking for the score:
I knew I screwed up! I was expecting nothing beyond 680 - 690. So didn't feel any tension etc while clicking for the score. But here too - I was thrown off!A whooping 740 (Q: 50; V: 41)
My comments / suggestions:
For folks who can take away a solid month or so from their commitments or can invest 4 - 5 months for the entire preparation process, you are lucky to get that opportunity! Please use it very very wisely. Go after GMAT with a vengeance, as if there's no tomorrow.
For those who's working and can spend only a limited time preparing for the test, be smart in planning ur prep. Either u can prepare hard or u can practice a lot of tests. Whatever suits you. Mentally prepare urself so that u r able to switch on and off - among xam prep, professional commitment and family life. It's tough, but use your time wisely. Don't get bogged down.
Strategy for the test:
1) Take as many tests as possible, just to prepare urself for the "test situations"
2) Expect a rough patch in ur "strong" areas.
3) Do not get into "test strategy" business untill who have mastered or at least reached a comfortable level with the basics. Trying to figure out tips and tricks, while u are trying to get your base strong is a death trap. Avoid it
4) Towards the end of your preparation, stay as close to OGs and GMATPrep CATs. I think, IMVVHO, that none of the test prep companies can appropriately emulate the actual GMAT material, hence their CAT material is bound to be skewed. However, a lot of the material in Kaplan
is great for learning, but not appropriate for judging where your 'score' is.
5) Visit ur test cente b4hand. And get a feel of the "ambience"
6) Prepare "error logs"
7) Don't focus too much on AWA. If u r decent in English written communication, follow the template for "Argument" and invest at least 5 - 6 mins for writing down the points in "Issue" essay
Yes, please feel free to ask any questions you have. And, good luck with your preps!
Based on this scores I have realized the following points:
Verbal: Scope of improvement is much higher in the verbal section
Quant: Still a little rusty when it comes to the "inequality" problems. Be prepared for "up sets"
Overall: Never "let it go". Till the last Q, u have a chance to improve ur score. Utilize that!
Please feel free to share any comments or advice you might have for me.
Any suggestion regarding the application process (I'm planning a 1yr MBA from a good institute that has a good placement record and that accepts "late" application) is most welcome.