I've just finished with GMAT last week and scored 770 (Q-51, V-42). Owe a large part of the score to GMAT Club. It is only fair that I post my experience here. Hopefully some of you will find a few pointers. Please overlook the incorrect English that might follow. My writing goes only so much! Background
- Passed out from IIT Madras 2 years ago, worked in Management consulting for a year and now working in an MNC. I was and still am not sure about applying for an MBA. But I decided to have a go at GMAT since the score is valid for five years. I doubt my ability to study in the coming years. The job pressure is moderate. So I decided to make the most of my time. Pre -preparation phase
- I started thinking about GMAT from around May 2013. However, nothing transpired for around 3 months, except a Manhattan test in which I scored an abysmal 540. This made me realise that unless I book a date, nothing will happen. I wish to reiterate this - if you are anything like me - first book a date! So, sometime around August 1st week, after locking in on the time and space coordinates, I booked the date for October 11th. Diagnosis phase
- I equipped myself with basic information about the GMAT - type of questions, timing, adaptive strategies, etc. Solved a few questions from the Official Guide. Bought the Manhattan SC guide and started to go through it. The Manhattan test I had taken before had given me a fair indication of my abilities. However just to be doubly sure, I decided to take the Official GMAT test from GMAT Prep Software. Scored 670. I was fairly OK with Quant with some weak areas like Number theory, Remainders, Geometry and a few others - most notably in the DS arena. In Verbal, I was good at RC but needed to improve on CR and SC badly. And I had around 2 months at my disposal.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this phase. Without knowing what your weak points are - you can never arrive at a strategy to improve your score. Make sure that you don't skip over this. Preparation Phase
- Armed with some knowledge about my strengths and weaknesses, I set about my preparations. I used the following material -
- Official Guide
- GMAT Club
- Manhattan SC book
- 6 Manhattan tests
- 2 Official Tests from GMAT Prep Software
First of all I went through the material in the Official Guide. I made sure that I use a stop watch for solving questions and marked all the questions either which took more than the normal time, or which I wasn't able to solve. This was very helpful a week before the exam for revision. Once I was through the OG, I gave a Manhattan test and scored 620. An improvement over the 540. After that test, as with the subsequent tests, I did the following -
- Review my exam strategy - timing, psychology, etc.
- Review my mistakes - conceptual mistakes, silly mistakes, etc.
I cannot stress enough the importance of using the tests to zero on your mistakes and taking corrective measures. To cite a few examples, I realised that a major source of my mistakes in Quant was my handwriting and the cramped space that I was using. From the next test, I made sure that was ready with lots of empty paper space to work out the problems. I also started making 37 boxes - one for each question. This helped me review my exact calculations to get to the source of the mistake. As far as Verbal was concerned I quickly learned the major reasons for my mistakes. For instance, in SC I was looking for splits all right, but only in the beginning of the underlined part. I realized that I was missing the splits hidden in the end of the underlined part. To give another example, once I went through egmat
's meaning video on SC - I started over-applying it to problems - finding meaning differences when there were none, not referring back to the question for the correct meaning, etc. In CR and RC, I realized that I was reading the same thing more than once. Basically I was not reading with 100% concentration the first time. There were many mistakes in my psychology as well - I was relaxed in Quant and frantic in Verbal when it should have been the other way around. Armed with the information I set about systematically tackling these issues one by one and slowly started improving my scores in Manhattan tests - 670 - 680 - 720 - 720.
Also while I was doing this i realized some critical patterns. For instance, whenever I spent a week on CR but no time on SC, my CR score in the next exam would be good, but the SC score would be negatively affected. And vice-versa. Therefore I arrived at a system of spending distributed time on both CR and SC everyday. There were many other such adjustments that had to be done. Thus, I want to emphasize again and again to observe yourself, scrutinize your scores and then modify your approach. Nothing is more important than knowing yourself.
In this process, I used GMAT Club extensively for mainly 2 things - high quality articles especially by egmat
( in particular - SC: meaning video; CR - article on sample space) and the explanations to questions from OG and Manhattan tests. It was very helpful to know exactly why the right answer is right. Finally when one week was left for the exam - I mainly did the following -
- Went through the revision questions from the OGExam day
- Gave the second official GMAT test from the software - scored 770.
- Reviewed all my mistakes from all the tests
- Made a check-list of things to do at the exam - both mental and physical
And finally scored 770 on the exam day, which was exactly same as the official test results. I am tired of writing and will post the details of the exam experience in a few days!
I believe that there is a lot of luck involved in endeavors like these. It could be the difference between a 720 and 770. The key is to prepare as well as you can and leave the rest to luck. Thankfully, I was lucky on the exam day.