I took the GMAT test on Tuesday of last week and I hit 700.
More than anyone else, I owe my success to Rajeev. At the beginning of this year, he taught me what to study and how to study it. He also encouraged me. More than anything else, that is how my score went from 630 to 700. My deepest gratitude and thanks to Rajeev.
Also, my thanks to everyone at gmatclub for their advice and feedback over the last several months. I learned a lot and it was very helpful.
The following are my actual test results:
12/23/11 – 620 (Q41 V35) [Q57% V74%] Total: 70%
1/27/12 – 640 (Q40 V38) [Q55% V83%] Total: 74%
3/26/12 – 630 (Q40 V36) [Q55% V79%] Total: 73%
8/14/12 – 700 (Q47 V39) [73% V88%] Total: 90%
Getting to this level was an absolute battle! I STRONGLY recommend that anyone wishing to reach their target score on the GMAT read the following debrief:my-gmat-battle-136538.html
My struggle with this test was very similar to hookemhorns612. I read his debrief on the gmatclub a few days before my test, and his advice helped me to relax, which is very important. Most important, read his key takeaways.
It seems to me that the hardest part about beating the GMAT is figuring out what to study and how to study. And, then of course you have to put the time into studying. After working all day, I typically studied 2 to 3 hours on weekdays and then 3 to 4 hours each day on the weekend. I did this for months. During this journey, the following is what I learned in order to beat the GMAT.
1.) Establish what your goal is for a GMAT score.
2.) Take a free practice test from MGMAT, Kaplan
, or somebody else to figure out where you are at in comparison to your target score. And, to figure out where you are weak.
3.) Buy a general GMAT prep book like Kaplan
GMAT Premier and go through it. As best as you can, try to learn the concepts and shortcuts that they teach.
4.) Take another practice test to see where you are now at and then analyze the results. What you should see at this point is that you are either very bad at quant or very bad at verbal.
5.) If you are very bad at verbal, buy the MGMAT series
of books on verbal. If you are very bad at quant, like I was, buy the MGMAT series
of books on quant. FYI, in order of importance you should go through the quant books in the following order:
a. Number Properties
b. Equations, Inequalities, & VICs
c. Word Translations
e. Fractions, Decimals, & Percents
6.) Also, buy the GMAT Official Guide
. And, the GMAT Official Guide for Quantitative review
, if you are focusing on quant like me. You will need these books for doing problems assigned from the MGMAT books
7.) Read every chapter of each book, do end of chapter problems, and also do ALL of the Official Guide problems listed in the book. If you do this, you will have done every quant problem in the Official guides. Also, keep an error log
of the OG problems that you get wrong. So, that you can go back and review them again at a later time.
8.) Once you go through all of the books, do it all over a second time. In my case, I did each book twice before moving on to the next book. Yeah, I know this is a great deal of work. It took me several months. But, trust me it works. Are you thinking instead of taking a shortcut and enrolling in a GMAT review course? I tried that… For me, it didn’t help. Or, at least very little.
9.) While you are going through these books, also daily go through problem types that you have discovered that you are weak in. In the Kaplan
review course that I bought there is a thing called quiz bank that contains tons of gmat style questions that are categorized by problem type and difficulty level; like Algebra and Geometry. This really helped me to gain practice and to improve my skills. But, I would imagine that other sources like MGMAT have similar resources. Also, gmatclub has tons of questions for review. I did not personally use this source, but I have heard very good things about them from others. If you are interested in the Kaplan
questions that I used, there is a self study version of the Kaplan course
I took that is cheaper than the review course that I bought that contains the quiz banks without the live online lessons. That would be what I would get if doing it over again. Jeff Sackman
’s practice sets are also very, very, good for practice. I also Jeff’s practice problems for Algebra.
10.) After going through all of the books, twice, take another practice test. You get practice tests with your MGMAT books
, so you can take one of these tests. See where you are weak and go back again and study and work problems from the areas you are weak.
11.) Keep doing step number 10 until you consistently score three times in a row at, or above, your target score. Preferably, 10 or 20 or 30 points above your target score.
12.) You might notice that I haven’t said anything yet about the GMATPrep software. This software is the best indicator of your test day performance. It contains two tests directly from the GMAT test makers. Since you want to be confident going into the real test that you will hit your target score, DON’T take these tests until you have completed step 11.
13.) However, there is an add-on that I bought for the GMATPrep software called GMATPrep Question Pack 1. I switched over to studying problems from this during my last week of studies. It was very valuable because it contains very new retired GMAT questions. So new in fact that you cannot even Google for solutions to them. No one can exactly replicate the style of gmat questions like the gmat test makers themselves. It helped me get comfortable with gmat style questions.
14.) Anyways, once you complete step 11, go ahead and take a practice test from the GMATPrep software. By this time, you should be hitting your target range. Review every problem you get right and wrong. Go back again and work on your weak areas.
15.) Take practice test #2. Go back and work on your weak areas. Again, you should be hitting within your target range.
16.) If you are not hitting your target range in the GMATPrep software, stop using it and go back to step #10. If you are hitting your target range, you should be ready for the real test.
17.) I also need to mention about mental and physical preparation. Succeeding on the real GMAT is not only about knowing the content tested, but preparing for it mentally and physically. I recommend, as best you can, try to get exercise on a regular basis and to eat healthy foods. Foods such as fish and green tea are considered by many to boost brain power. Getting good sleep is important, especially the night before. A positive mental attitude is also very important. Also, please try to relax… As I said, the link to the debrief above helped me to relax. Talk to friends. My one good friend told me that since I was scoring in my target range on my practice tests, that I should go into the real test and treat it just like another practice test. I did that and my real test scores were almost identical to my last practice test.
18.) Two more things I thought of, first get some spiral bound index cards so you can write down notes of important things you learn, like formulas and important problem solving strategies, and review them on a regular basis. I did this. Taking notes and reviewing them regularly really helped to reinforce concepts to me. Second, learn to read and understand the question you are looking at. For me, it was easy to misread a question. I would often get a question wrong not because I couldn’t do it, but because I misread and misunderstood the question. You can’t answer a question you don’t understand. It sounds simple, but it takes a lot of practice to get good at this.
19.) Finally, if you find that you make a lot of “obvious” mistakes when solving quant problems, don’t worry this almost goes completely goes away by practicing a lot of problems. For weeks, I found myself making silly mistakes when doing math problems. During my last month of study my silly mistakes went almost completely away. So, the more you practice the better you will get at solving problems and the obvious mistakes will mostly go away.
Sorry about this long debrief. I hope I described well what I had to do to succeed and I hope this in some way helps and encourages others. Most things in life that are worth anything take hard work. Believe it, you can do it!