I have been a member of this forum for about 2-3 months now and have immensely benefitted during this time from the advice, insights and experiences of other members. I would like to thank all the members who shared their GMAT experience and invaluable inputs and would like to give back by sharing my experiences.
I took the GMAT on 10/05/2006 after about a total preparation time of ~2 months. Started out at a leisurely pace but got serious once i took the appointment date and put in a more disciplined effort for ~6 weeks.
My target GMAT score was 750+ as i already had a fairly good diagnostic score (~700). Being a non-native speaker, verbal-SC was my weakest area.
Preparation: I mostly focussed on the SC in the verbal section during the 2 months. My diagnostic verbal sub-score was around 32. So i was able to raise it about 10 scaled points in two months. My Quant scaled sub-score in all the practice tests except retakes was 50.
Kaplan verbal workbook
GMATClub Quant Challenges : Bought 3 of them and scored in 98-99% in each.
: Only SC part.
companion CD has challenging DS quizzes.
Got myself a High school grammar book to brush up the concepts.
Diagnostic : 690 (Q51, V31)
CAT1: 640 (Q50, V32)
CAT2: 640 (Q50, V35)
CAT3: 640 (Q50, V32) (This is when i realized, it was a waste ...)
800Tests CAT1: 750 (Q53, V46) (Took only one - dont recommend)
McGRAW Hills CAT 1: 700 (Q50, V35)
McGRAW Hills CAT 2: 720 (Q51, V38) (Good for practice, but dont rely on their scores too much)
GMATPrep 1: 740 (Q50, V41) 2 weeks before GMAT
GMATPrep 2 : 730 (Q50, V38) 1 week before GMAT
GMATPrep 1 : Retake : 770 4 days before GMAT - a few repeats
GMATPrep 2 : Retake : 780 3 days before GMAT - a few repeats
ETS Paper test : 750 (Q50, V43) 2 days before GMAT
In the beginning, i foolishly ignored the advice of many members to use OG and thought that the Kaplan
material being harder would be better suited for a higher score. Even after mastering the Kaplan
SC, my hit rate on SC1000 questions and GMATPrep was about 50-55%. Towards the last couple of week, i became convinced that i needed something more than Kaplan
to do well on GMAT SC. This is when i bought a High school grammar book and focussed really hard on OG10
SC. This gave me a lot of confidence and i was able to raise my hit rate to about 80-90% within 2 weeks.
My test was scheduled for 2:00PM. I had a light but healthy brunch at 11:00, spent the next hour or so revising a few idioms and math concepts (rounding, digit problems etc), went over my error logs in SC and made mental notes on how to be extra careful on tricky DS questions.
As I had checked out the venue a day before the exam, i did not have any trouble locating the centre. I also had a good feel for the driving time to the test centre at around noon on a weekday. I reached the test venue at 1:15PM. As i was the first candidate for the 2:00PM appointment, i had to wait for some time. Not having taken any test for a long time, i was a bit anxious and high adrenaline level was making me "jumpy".
I was careful to check that the markers given to me were working properly and rememembered to ask for ear plugs. I took both the optional breaks. Used the breaks to stretch, re-focus, use the restroom, and eat half a carb bar and get some water. I also made sure that i dont overrun my break time by returning a few mins earlier.
I wanted to send my GMAT score to 5 schools. However, when asked about this, by mistake, i clicked "next" after entering only one school, which took me to the test tutorial screen and there seemed no way to return to the previous screen. I immediately brought this fact to proctor's attention. However, this proved counter productive as not only did she take more than a few minutes to understand what had happened but also then told me that nothing could be done about it at that time and i would have to call GMAC to add more schools later
This ate about 2-3 minutes off my AWA argument section time.
AWA did not go very well, as i could not get over this stupid incident. I was not able to come up with many examples in the issue essay.
During the break, i told myself that AWA scores were inconsequential as long as i got a 4-4.5 or better and tried very hard to focus on the upcoming quant.
Quant was straight forward during most of the time. I did encounter one PS question which did not make any sense as the provided information was not enough. I wasted about 5-6 minutes on it, then chose the only alternative which could ever be true if one made an additional assumption.
My concentration level during the test was amazing - and i had never been able to focus with this intensity during any of my practice tests. Inspite of re-checking my calculations and answers, i was sailing really quickly through the section.
I reached the last 4-5 questions with about 18 mins remaining on the timer. Deliberately took a lot of the time for the next 3-4 and reached the last question with just over 9 mins on the clock.
i did not answer the last question in Quant even after spending almost 9 mins on it.
Almost every GMAT guide mentions that one should first choose an alternative and then start working on the last problem of a section - just in case one runs out of time.
I could'nt believe what i had done for a couple of mins. This was the second time in the day i was rattled by something unexpected. I had to gather every last ounce of my will to not ponder over it during the break and focus on my biggest challenge - the SC in verbal.
The verbal section started with a nasty CR. All the choices were terrible. They all seemed to be out of scope and were very close. After spending about 3-4 minutes on it, i just guessed and moved on. 1 RC out of 4 was relatively tough - but due to my sharp focus, i did not even have to take notes on paper - just read the passage and answered the questions most of the time - without even having to refer back to the passage. Some SCs were tough, but i had practiced with SC1000 and OG10
in the last few days and hence felt comfortable with most of them. When in doubt, i guessed intelligently. During the practice tests, i had used POE and used to strike out eliminated choices. However, i had practiced on plain paper with no grid. The note boards with horizontal and vertical grid made it awkward for me to use this method as i was not used to it. As a result, i did not use POE during the test.
I finished the verbal section a few mins early and then rushed through all the formalities.
I was expecting to see a 730-740 especially due to the eventful test experience and started preparing myself mentally to not get too disappointed. When a 760 appeared on the screen, i was really pleased.
My advise to others: During the test, keep yourself focussed on the next question/section and dont ponder over the past. Unexpected things may rattle you for a moment, but try to get over them quickly. Eat well before the test and get enough sleep the night before. Get as much familiar as possible with the test environment, including use of grid paper.
Received my AWA scores a couple of days ago : 4.5
I believe i can do better but dont think that i am going to retake GMAT due to low AWA score.
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions or feel that i can help you in anyway.
Off to the next stage ... essays
post edited: no specifics on test questions please - Praetorian