I took the exam on January 29th, but decided to write a debrief when I have my AWA score.
So, today I received it and can tell you my story.
Maybe this will help somebody to avoid my mistakes 1. My background.
I am Russian female, age 29, with a university degree in international economics and 6.5 yrs workexp - 3 yrs as an analyst (reform of Russian power industry) and 3.5 yrs in corporate governance. I've made a journey from ordinary specialist to head of division.
Last year due to many reasons I decided to immigrate to Canada, and after some time the idea of immigration through studying (and then staying there) came up to me as the quickest and most convenient way. Plus, achieving an MBA or MSc degree would let me to return to my initial profession - I devoted last years to another field of activity (law) and would like to return to economics, and focus on financial or international management.
As a result, in December 2011 I understood that I had to take the GMAT.2. Preparation.
I was always rather successful in maths and english, and an "easy learner" in everything so I decided to prepare by myself, with no off-line or on-line prep courses.
I used the following resources:
- The GMAT Toolkit app
for iPhone. Yes, I put it as the main preparation tool, and wish many great wishes to its creators, because for me it became an inexhaustible source of practice material, very, VERY convenient to use and control the progress.
- The GMAT Prep. It was a valuable source of theory to refresh my math (which I have forgotten almost completely since school and first 2 years in university)).
- The GMAT Pill. The only one prep book which I read completely. Liked the language and proposed strategies. But I was rather disappointed that they do not provide all correct answers to their practice questions for free
- GMAT Question of the day. I have not missed any question - tried to crack all of them, and by the end of preparation was almost always right;)
. I went through some theory there, and tried some practice, but it was not very convenient to use (comparing to Toolkit app, hehe), so I did not use it much. Maybe this was one of my mistakes.
My strategy was rather easy. I familiarized myself with the format of the exam and also made a diagnostics by taking GMAT Prep test 1
on the next day after I decided to take the GMAT. I scored 500
(do not remember the Q/V, both were awful)).
After that I scheduled the exam for Jan 29, passed through all theory in GMAT Prep, read GMAT Pill and some chapters of the OG, practised a bit, and took a break till the end of New Year vacations (in Russia, we have long NY vacations - about 10 days. I went to Riga with my family, and we had a great time there)).
So, after returning I had about 3 weeks to prepare in a very intensive way.
I decided to devote 1-2 days to each part (SC, RC, CR, PS, DS) and then switch to another in approximately this way:
2 days SC - 1 day PS - 2 days CR - 1 day SC again - 2 days DS - 1 day CR again and so on.
I solved questions from Toolkit app, analyzing every wrong answer, making notes on strategy and discovering the shortcuts.
My weak areas were SC, DS, strong - PS, CR, so-so - RC.
I studied for about 6-8 hours each day with breaks, and a week before the exam took the GMAT Prep 1 again
. To my great surprise, I have not seen many repeats. Almost all questions except RC
were not the same as 1st time. I scored 700 (Q49 V37) w/o AWA
During the last week, I concentrated on my weak areas and made a great revision on all topics.
I also read AWA800 booklet and memorized the structure and commuters to use in the actual AWAs.
Two days before the exam I took the GMAT Prep test 2
(this time with AWAs) and scored 680 (Q49 V34)
. Plus, I was so exhausted by the end of the test that I could not concentrate on the last 6-8 verbal questions. At that time I understood that my another mistake was not practising AWA at other diagnostics tests.
I gave myself some rest on the day before the test, practised a bit (about 5-7 questions in every section), reviewed my notes and tried to relax.3. Test day.
My exam was at 2 pm in Academy of National Economy in Moscow.
I had a good sleep, rich breakfast and quick way to the centre - good traffic - thanks Sunday!
The centre is rather convenient (only 4 workplaces in the room with partitions), they provide you with at least 2 scratch pads (8 pages each), 2 pens, and earplugs, and encourage to ask for more if you need. I had no discomfort with pads and pens, almost no difference with regular paper and pen. The computers were rather old but still working))
Got to the test centre about half an hour before the test, passed all formalities and started the exam.
Essays were pretty easy, I had topics about whether people should devote themselves to work only (Issue) and something about healthy food (Argument).
During the break I had a smoke (the smoking room was not far from the centre in the same building), visited restroom, ate half snickers and drank some water. Was late about 20 seconds for the Q part, but it made no difference to me as I usually finished it with 5-7 minutes left.
Maths was not so complicated as I expected, very close to that from GMAT Prep. I even had a VERY easy question: in 1994, the company's profit was 100, in 1995, it was 400. By how many percent did the profit increase?
When I saw it I even thought I bombed the quant section
But I drove that feeling away and went on. I can say I had no extremely hard questions in quant section at all. Had to guess a couple of DS, but by the end I felt that I coped with quants.
Second break - another cigarrette, another half of snickers and some water. Was at the testing room on time.
Verbal section appeared to me a bit more difficult than that from GMAT Prep, especially in RC. The last passage was really monstrous. And again by the end of the test I was really anxious to end the exam and see the scores, so I guess I mixed last 10 questions up
May be this is the explanation for my poor verbal score.
When I saw the scores (650 Q49 V30) I can say I was a bit dissapointed, I expected at least 680 or more.
My only cold comfort was that another 2 people who were taking exam with me scored 420 and 510)))
But on my way home I realized that the score is really good (for my targets of course, because I do not need Wharton or Harvard
Again, taking into account my rather quick self-preparation, and the fact that last time I had to pass any exams in 2005, this is a decent score as I think.
Today I received my AWA score - 5 - and I think this is very good too, regarding that I practised AWA only once before the exam.4. Next steps.
Actually, I am going to apply this autumn, I am targeting more at MSc, less at MBA programs in Canada (York, Simon Fraser, U of Alberta, U of BC, U of Waterloo, Brock, maybe a couple more), and I need to get a scholarship as I do not have enough money for tuition fees and living costs.
So I ask you for some piece of advice - what do you think, should I retake the GMAT or not?
I feel that with more preparation I could achieve more in verbal section. My Q score is good, I have only not to spoil it.
I know that most scholarships are based on academic merit. My GPA is 3.88/4, I have not taken the IELTS yet, but expect smth like 7-7.5 there, and maybe I should achieve 700+ in GMAT to maximize my scholarship chance?
Anyway, my GMAT experience was very interesting for me, and I hope I have not lulled you to sleep by my debrief