Hi everyone. I've been preparing for about 3 months for the GMAT, and I finally took the test today. I read the GMATClub forum a bunch of times and it was very helpful to read about all of your experiences. I was truly hoping that I would score well so that I could share my experience with all of you... and now I can!
My biggest concern (after finding out about it) was about those "noteboards" that they give you. I read a number of complaints about them and it was making me nervous trying to imagine what they would be like. They are spiral-bound legal-sized laminated yellow grid paper, and they give you water-soluble fine-tipped pens to use with them. Don't worry about the size of the tip, it is quite small and I did not have any trouble with the size. That said, there are drawbacks which you should know about. First and foremost, the stuff will smudge if you lean on it with your hand. To accomodate for this, practice note-taking so that you begin in the top left corner and work your way down, then use the middle, work down, then use the right and work down. That was for righties. For lefties... I have no idea what it's like, but I imagine that it would be very important to be prepared for this smudgeable pen.
That said, I would like to share my "training" experience... I bought the Kaplan Premier
Program book with CD ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743265424/
) and the Official GMAT Quantitative review ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0976570920/
). I found that Kaplan
's techniques were nice and open-ended (I like to figure things out myself) but perhaps a bit too open-ended. What I mean is that they have sound general strategies, but they don't really teach you how to do a mixture problem, a work problem, a ratio problem, etc. For this stuff I actually found everything I needed on http://www.purplemath.com/modules/
(scroll down to "word problems")! This is targetted at high school students but it was hands down the best explanations and practice I found anywhere. If you'd prefer a GMAT-targetted book, I skimmed the Princeton Review "Math Workout" book ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0375764631/
) and it was excellent in how it explained strategies for each problem (I didn't buy it because I was sick of studying and the strategies were more or less like those on purplemath).
The best part about Kaplan
was the CD companion, so if you have a Mac you're out of luck there. The book was a good way to get started, but those problem sets and CATs on the CD were absolutely brutal. Don't bother signing up for the web site, it's pointless. Kaplan
math problems are time-consuming difficult problems and I could never finish the section on time! Very humbling indeed, but extremely useful in pinpointing what my problems were.
I can't stress enough: your training involves two goals: 1) learning WHAT to study, and 2) studying that.
After each of my practice tests, (Kaplan
has one in the book and four on the CD) I went through every question I got wrong or took too long on or got correct on a lucky guess and I asked myself "WHAT went wrong? Why did I get that wrong/take so long/not know how to answer?" Write down the reason you blew it on each of those questions and that should indicate to you what your trouble areas are. I noticed that as time went by, I was able to identify more fine-grained trouble areas than at first. For example, first I was writing down "word problem" when I'd get a word problem wrong. After I knew the types of problems, I wrote down "mixture problem" or whatever type of word problem it was. I also noticed that I was frequently getting reading comp detail questions wrong.
You should ask yourself (on the quant section): "did I get this wrong because I didn't know some vital piece of information (e.g. 3/4/5 triangle) or because my strategy was not optimized?" If it's a matter of knowledge, write it on a flash card and study those flash cards. If its a strategy issue, work out a new strategy or refine the old one and try it out next time. My strategy for improving reading comp detail questions was simple: spend more time reading the passage before looking at the questions! I also noticed that I was reluctant to spend the effort to prove my guesses at a lot of the verbal stuff I wasn't sure about. Don't press the "next" button until you have PROVEN to yourself that your answer is correct and the others are wrong.
Finally, I recommend that whatever books you buy, you should buy the official guide and put it LAST so that you can easily transition to the real thing, which is NOT exactly like Kaplan
/PR/whatever. Also, do the easy problems! Nothing should be "below you"... I even made flash cards for basic multiplication as I found I was frequently writing 8x4=24. Definitely take both GMATPrep tests
(take at least one of them as your final practice test). The most important difference between the real thing and Kaplan
is that the questions in the real test tend to be relatively straightforward questions that you either know or don't know how to do. So... make sure you know EVERY possible thing they could ask you in the quant section. It is totally within your reach to know ALL of the requisite information, after which your only possible weakness will be your attitude and your carelessness. Both of those things are tough to address because they are pretty personal, but my advice is to remain calm and don't get distracted. Take your time on the first 15 questions of each section (it is no myth, like the OG says, it's extremely important!) but if you can't do the problem after 4 minutes, you MUST move on or you'll blow the whole test.
I went to the midtown Pearson test center in Manhattan and it was a really nice office with very nice people working there. I scored a 49/45 (90%/98%) landing me a total of 760 (99%)!
I would be honored to answer any questions you all have. I owe the rest of you posters my gratitude for sharing your experiences.