GMAT 720 (Q 45, 77% ; V 44, 97%)
This note might be particularly useful if you have not really been a class topper, have never attempted competitive exams and have never fancied your chances on the Math Olympiad and yet wonder how to do well on the GMAT.
It was in 2005 when I decided to do the GMAT for the first time. At that point, I was not too clear about what I wanted to achieve. I bought the Princeton Guide and the Kaplan
Guide. I wasn’t even aware of the official reviews. After two months of some very shabby studying I attempted the test and got a 580. Obviously I was disappointed, but since I wasn’t too clear about an MBA anyway, I decided to just leave the score aside.
Only a few months back, around Jan of this year I decided that I needed to get into a top B School and I knew that a 580, or for a matter of fact, a 650 might not be enough. I knew that 700 was great. I quickly did some research and built on some good study material. I added the official guide to my study material. The first 15 days of Jan was slow with a mix of quant and verbal practice from the OG. It got a little more intense towards the third week and that’s when I attempted my first GMAT PREP test. I got a 650. At that point, I was pretty satisfied and decided to take the real exam around Mid-April. This I thought would give me about 3 months to get from a 650 to a 700. Sounded simple enough. But let me tell you one thing – once you reach the 650 mark every additional 10 points takes a lot more effort. I continued with some practice with the OG (I really thought that reworking questions over and over again just got me more familiar and comfortable) and also continued taking at least one-two prep tests a week (I know there are only 2 available but more about these tests a little later). I reached the 670-690 mark by I think the middle of Feb. My verbal was stronger than my quant. I was at around 45 in quant and around 40 in verbal. I knew I needed some help with my quant basics especially number properties. After some research I decided to buy the MGMAT Number properties
and SC (my SC was not too bad but had received great reviews about MGMAT so I decided to get the book myself)
Through March I also took the MGMAT tests. These are much harder than the real tests and I think these should be used for practice only. I did not time myself on these tests. Also, it might be wise to read your performance on these tests based on incorrect answers rather than the overall score. Im not too sure about the method of scoring used in these tests. I would score a 47-48 in quant with around 15 incorrect. I wonder if that’s possible in the real GMAT. But all in all, these tests are very good practice. If you manage to get less than 10 incorrect, each in quant and verbal you are doing very well indeed.
I took the GMAT prep test several times in the build up towards my exam date and started reaching 720-740 (verbal questions repeat pretty often but you will find only around 4-5 repeats in quant each time you take the test) . I realised that quant was my area of weakness and decided to get the Quant OG
for additional practice. Soon, closer to my test I started scoring around 760-770 in the Prep tests with scores of about 48-50 in quant.
I must admit, I was pretty nervous. The AWA was fine even though I had never practiced it before. My first quant question was a ripper. I spent around 4-5 mins on this question and this I think summed up my performance. I really never recovered from here and realised towards the middle of the test that I was getting nowhere in terms of timing. I quickly hurried through the latter part of the test and knew that I had not done too well.
Verbal was better. I felt very comfortable with all the SC and the RC and CR questions were not too hard either. My comfort levels with the questions made me wonder if I was doing okay. I filled in the post test details and not reporting the score did not pass my mind (I wonder how many people actually don’t report their scores) It got a 680. Although lower than my expectation it was not too bad a score. But I was really taken aback by the difference in my verbal and quant scores. I had scored 44 in verbal 97% and a 39 in Quant 57%. My quant score was identical to the score during my 580 attempt. I dint get it. All this studying for nothing? I had not scored this low in any of my practice tests. I knew I couldn’t take the GMAT again. I really couldn't go through all the studying all over again. Infact I almost decided to apply to B School with this score. Went through an agonizing weekend pondering over whether or not to take the test again. I knew that I needed a better quant score, but like I said, I really couldn’t go through all the studying again.
Screw it, just do it.
After three, four days of serious pondering I decided, I need to just “screw it and just do it”
I knew it was not going to be easy as I needed to work on my first set of essays too. I got a test date a month later. I decided to spend time on my essays for about 15 days and then get down to the GMAT for the remaining 15 days. I needed a breather anyway. My verbal was good, so I decided to spend most of my time on Quant. To be honest I don’t think I did anything drastically different. I just practiced practiced and practiced some more. It was only much closer to the test date when I got back to some verbal – dint want to loose my grip.
Test day – again
I approached this test a lot calmer. I decided not to do the AWA (had received a 5 on both my previous attempts). Started with Quant. Again, my first question was a bummer. What a terrible feeling. Decided not to spend too much time on this and just took a calculated guess and moved on. The second question was not too easy, but I think I figured it out. There were a few questions during the test that stumped me. But I had decided that if I could not figure out a method to get the answer within the first 30 seconds I would just move ahead with a calculated guess (you will get some terrific tips on calculated guesses on http://onwardtomba.blogspot.com/2006/08 ... egies.html
) I think this strategy really helped. Completed the quant section on time. I knew I had done better than the previous attempt. Took the break and munched on a chocolate. I think the sugar helps. Got on with Verbal. Verbal felt good throughout. Not a single question made me think – what the…? I got a ripper of a RC towards the end and I knew that I was doing well. I had to guess the last two questions. But I knew I had done well. Requested for my score. I saw a very satisfying 720 (V-44, Q-45). I had a wide smile as I went through the door and collected my score card. The sweet lady handing it out made me feel even better with a “good score" comment.
Yeah, a 45 in Quant is not the best you can get, but I was happy with my improvement. I drove back a very satisfied man
OG – you can’t do without this. It might be a good idea to get the additional Quant and Verbal guides (depending on your weakness)
Princeton Review : I think this is must for a start. Overall a very good guide to the test and some very good verbal tips. This is the best way to start. Kaplan
: Oh nevermind. Don’t bother. Won’t say more.
MGMAT : I used the number properties and the SC. The SC is very good and a must have. The number properties material was just okay. The key to sentence correction is familiarity. While working on the sentences from the OG, don’t stop at the right answer. Identify why each sentence is wrong. That’s the only way to get familiar with the different types of errors.
GMAT Prep Tests: One of the most important study tools if not the most important. This is closest to the real test. You can do this over and over gain. I repeat – you can do this over and over again. Do not stop at 4-5-6 attempts. The quant is mostly always different although the verbal keeps repeating in increasing proportions.
MGMAT Tests: Good practice. Introduces you to the harder problems. I dint time myself on these tests and averaged around 700-710.
Its all in the mind
The GMAT is as much a test of temperament as it is of intellectual capacity. It’s important to build confidence before moving into the test and it’s even more important to remain calm and composed. Do not spend more than 3 mins a question. Treat every question as just that – one question. Don’t get too ruffled by your previous question. You do not have to answer everything right to get a good score. Anyone, with some good preparation, some sacrifice, and dedication can get a good score. There are times when you feel you are getting no where but don’t worry too much – screw it, just do it