I took GMAT few days back and got a 760 (Q50/V42), AWA 6.0. I am sharing my experience in this forum since I gained a lot from this forum during the last 3 months.Background
- 10+ years in IT (you are right I am trying to get back after a long break)Why now
- Thats hard to explain but ever since I landed a job immediately out of college I had decided that I dont want to study anymore - may be cause I was feeling lazy or may be I was feeling comfortable with all the money coming in. But then there comes a time when you finally feel that this is not all that you are capable of, there is more to yourself and that's what prompted me to think about doing an MBA. I checked with my friend and he gave me lot of motivation to proceed. Everyone tells me it's probably too late (especially since I am married and have a son who is 1.5 years old
) but I felt that this is the right time for me. If I had done it earlier it would be for the fact that people around me are doing it. Now I am doing it cause I want to do it.Preparation
- I started preparation in Jan 2011 and prepared steadily for 3 months before taking the test on Mar 26th. Honestly I was afraid that I may not be able to keep at it especially since I had been away from studies for more than 10 years. But I surprised myself with the enthusiasm I had to get back home from work and study for the GMAT test. That was more than enough to keep me going.Process and Materials
- Before starting off, I read articles in this forum and at few other blogs on how others prepared and some of the recommended methodologies. Since I was trying to get back after a long break I decided to tailor these to my needs. This is what I did.Starting off
- I started preparation with Kaplan
(Kaplan GMAT Math, GMAT Verbal and 2010-2011 Premier
). I found them allright and prepared with them for a month. I took my first paper mock CAT with Kaplan
scored a 550. Even though the score was demoralising I decided that I am only starting and I can only improve from here. I analysed the test and figured out what I should work on.My strength
- I realised that Quant was my strong area and made sure that I never let it go. My weakness
- I had to work pretty hard on Verbal. I was equally bad in SC, CR and RC but I thought of giving RC some more time.
One of the major issues in Quant was my tendency to make calculation errors and missing certain data points in the question in my eagerness to solve it fast. I had to consciously work on this and these were some of the leading points in my Error Log
(yes I maitained one and it surely helps
).Improving SC and CR
- For SC and CR I bought MGMAT Sentence Correction
and Powescore CR. Both were excellent books and helped me work on my verbal score in SC and CR respectively. Improving RC
- Meanwhile for RC I was still a bit lost. I had started of by skimming through the passages and then trying to answer the questions. This surely was not working for me, so I decided to try the methods suggested in the various forums and by the GMAT prep agencies. Meanwhile I bought Aristotle RC 99, a good workout for RC but not representative of GMAT questions. Second method I tried was to read throught the passage, take notes and then answer the questions. This seemed to work but not with desired results. Then I tried something suggested in one of the forums - read the first para carefully, the first lines of remaining paras carefully and then skim through the rest and note down the key words. This again did not work for me. I was testing all these methodologies using the Aristotle passages. So I was able to compare the success rates easily.
Finally I decided to come up with my own method - read the passage thoroughly and critically and not worry about the time (no note taking this time
). This started working for me and I was seeing huge improvements to the extent that my GMAT Prep saw zero errors on RC. Even though my decision to "not worry about the time" saw me use close to 10 minutes on certain Aristotle passages it proved successful in the long run since GMAT passages were comparitively much easier.
I also bought the GMAT OG
and worked on the different sections. Before taking GMAT I completed all the sections of OG.Mock CATs
- Once I was done with MGMAT SC
and Powerscore CR
I went back to mock CATs (RC practice was happening in parellel since Aristotle RC had 99 passages
). The following were my scores (I was doing 2 CATs each week
CAT 1 - 650Kaplan
CAT 2 - 720
MGMAT CAT 1 - 670
MGMAT CAT 2 - 690
MGMAT CAT 3 - 680
MGMAT CAT 4 - 680
By this time I decided that I will take GMAT by first week of April (plan was based on how much more time I need to complete the remaining mock CATs and do some more practice
). All through, my Quant scores were stable and Verbal was improving though very slowly.Kaplan
CAT 3 - 710
MGMAT CAT 5 - 710
MGMAT CAT 6 - 750Kaplan
CAT 3 - 720
Before taking GMAT Prep 1, I had decided that in case I end up with a good score (for me that was anything above 720
) I will schedule my CAT the very next weekend.
GMAT Prep 1 - 730
After seeing this score I decided that I will move my CAT date a week earlier than planned. I discussed with my friend and scheduled my CAT on 26/Mar. I made this decision since I felt I was at my peak and moreover did not want a burnout.
GMAT Prep 2 - 750
After seeing this score my confidence was very high and your confidence matters.
Needless to say that after each CAT I was analysing all the errors to see if where I was going wrong and how I can improve. This is essential to your success since you do not want to repeat the same mistakes. Beyond a certain point these small things matter more than knowledge as such. In addition to my error log
I was also maintaining notes on some of the questions I got wrong in these CATs. Before each CAT I went through the error log
and my notes. I was also doing the various questions available at the GMAT forums of which I was a member. Another thing - I took all these tests at 9:30 AM each day since I was planning to take the real one at that time.Time spent
- 1.5 to 2 hours per day on weekdays, 6 to 8 hours per day on weekendsCAT experience
- I woke up earlier than I had planned to (this usually happens to me before any exam
) and went through my notes and error log
one last time. I reached the centre half an hour before the test but I was asked to wait at the reception. I was not being called even when there was just 10 minutes left (I was aware that there are certain things to be done before the exam
). I complained to the person sitting at the reception and he comforted me saying that even if you start late you will get all you 4 hours. Well that surely was the case though not very professional.
So after all the prelims I started at 9:40 AM and the essays went by without much trouble except that while I was typing the last line of my Issue essay I ran out of time. I was worried that it did not get saved but the guys at mba.com confirmed that whatever I typed would have been saved. After the essays I took the optional break, drank some water used the restroom and signed in again. Quant section was kind of moderately difficult and by the end of it I was really not sure how I performed. Fortunately I did not run of time as was the case in the many mock CATs earlier. Again I took the optional break. The Verbal section was easier than I expected especially with this being my Achilles heel.
After answering all the survey questions (which seemed to take an eternity
) I selected to view the score and was elated on seeing a 760 - My highest score so far
- My friend who motivated me, my family (wife and parents
) who did not bother me much when I was preparing and the many people in this forum who answered my queries, gave many wonderful ideas and posted so many good questions to work on.
So friends that's it from me. Now the school hunt starts.