First of all, Sorry for the very delayed post, I wrote this back in Feb, right after I took GMAT and had been planning to post this for a long time but didn't get a chance to. Hope this helps.
My GMAT Experience
Just a couple days ago I have written GMAT and performed what I consider rather well.
I started off with 'Princeton Review
- Cracking the GMAT
', which gave me good basic overview of the test and the type of question I should expect.
1st test - GMATPrep #1 - 690 - Too many silly mistakes in Math
So, I got a 'Math Workout' book from library and worked on each and every problem for the next two days. The math was pretty basic, but I thought this will at least help me eliminating some of my silly mistakes.
Then I moved to 'GMAC Verbal Workout' and complete all but 10 (left few SC's so I get get back to them later after gaining more knowledge) of the 300 questions. Studied a little for AWA and wrote a full length practice test.
2nd test - GMATPrep #2 - 660 - Blamed mistakes on roommates for making too much noise and retook Quant & Verbal after couple hours break.
3rd test - GMATPrep #2 - 690 - Got only a few repeat question from before, so I felt better.
Started working out 'Kaplan 800
', having read on a blog that this has pretty tough questions and will make GMAT questions a breeze. Verbal was very tough and I noticed that I am making similar mistakes on various questions. Later I spent some trying to identify the faults in the process I am using.
4th test - Cambridge GMAT (1997) - 710-750 - Math seemed a breeze
After this, I started on 'Princeton Review
- 1012 GMAT
Questions'. I only did verbal portions of the guide which took more than a week to complete. The diagnostics at the beginning of the book suggested I practice RC and CR and that my SC was good. All the exercise questions gave similar results. But I didn’t completely trust it. After completing the Verbal sections, to verify my suspicion, I took the diagnostics from OG 12
. Results showed that SC is my weakest area, as I believed, and I did pretty good in RC and CR. For the few Math problems I did, I had ~50% failure rate and Also, for the Math section, I did several mistakes, many of them too silly. I started worrying about Math. The next morning I took the 5th practice test and the results freaked me out.
5th test - Manhattan GMAT
- 640 - Lots of silly mistakes in math, mostly in PS and a few theoretical mistakes in DS..ok ok in Verbal. Still SC was my weakest section. Again I blamed the low scores on something else, saying that working on Verbal for the whole week got my math score down. But I knew what I had to do.
I went back to B&N to finish up Math Diagnostics from OG 12
and the scores startled me, I was just on the edge of Average (there were 'Above Average' and 'Excellent' before it). Here I am just 5days away from the actual test and hadn't gotten both PS and SC straightened out. I knew my DS was good, and only PS needed most practice. I immediately bought the 'OG 12
', came home running and did several math problems for a couple hours and I felt better. So, I moved to working on SC.
I have ordered Manhattan SC
book at B&N few days earlier and hadn't received it yet. After a little bit of searching I was able to find a pdf copy online and started reading from it. The last pdf I read at home was Harry Potter 7, my eyes were in slight pain for at least a week after I completed that book and I made a commitment that I will not read another document on the computer screen with such bad lighting, But then, this is GMAT and I need to be at least 'Above average' in SC if I want to get decent Verbal score. Reluctantly, I started reading 'MGMAT SC
'. Thanks to in.flux, a software which adjusts screen brightness, it was not as painful to read. I completed part I of the book and took a test again.
6th test - Math from Princeton Review
- Cracking the GMAT
and Verbal from GMATPrep #1. Got decent scores, but improving SC may help further.
I completed partII from MGMAT SC
as well and was happy with my progress.
Day before - Spent most of morning on last two chapters of MGMAT SC
, working on questions froms OG 12
as described in the SC book. Answered 6 of 10 SC questions that I left in Verbal Review. Spent a couple hours on AWA. Wrote 4-5 essay/outlines chosen at random (OG has a pretty big list of questions). Tried to do Math problems, but being tired, I was not able to put full effort and made silly mistakes. Hoping to get back to it later, I took a small nap and started watching a Indian movie, 3-Idiots. I went to bed before the movie finished, forcing myself to get rid of all worries. I said to my self, "If I get below 650, I will write again and will be better prepared. If I get above 710, I may not have to worry and if I get in between 650 and 710, I will have to think about retaking the test". But for some reason I believed that I will get a 710..for some reason that number got stuck in my mind.
Day of (Feb 9th) - Because I know that I am not very good at waking up in the morning (and that once I wake up I am all set), I put several alarms for every few minutes until 1/2 hr before exam. I woke up for the second alarm, as always, and started to get ready. I went through my notes, end-to-end and read all the notes I have written. After a little while I left to the Test Center.
Results: 730 - 96% Q-50 V-38.
Total Preparation Time: ~37 days, 100+ hours, 6 practice test. (# hours does count the time spent working out practice test)
Things that I did that helped me:
Most of the practice test I took were full length and I had similar timings as actual exam.
Watched favorite movies to cool me down before the test.
Had a good night's sleep.
Didn’t get diverted by confusing results from different tests. Strongly believed OG, GMATPrep are the best indicators.
MGMAT has a little tougher Math, and good Verbal. Princeton Review
has tough CR and RC but very weak SC.Kaplan 800
has strong Verbal, the math here was enough for GMAT.
Mostly kept track of types of mistakes. Also always categorized mistakes: on types of questions for Verbal, silly mistakes for Math.
Controlled emotions throughout the test. Didn’t worry/think about the difficulty of each problem and didn’t do any of the calculations in mind to understand if I am making forward progress, all of these will only take up brain power. Focused on solving given problem/question.
Kept track of time.
Things I would do differently if I had to take GMAT once again:
Will identify weak areas earlier.