Ok so here we go. My journey from 600(AWA 5, IR 4, Q44 , V29) to 710(AWA 5.5, IR 6, Q48, V38)
This write up is a little long so please utilise your time in reading it as an RC passage and making your maps for practice
To start with, I am an average IIM, not from IIM but Indian IT Male is what I mean. An IIM is an interesting individual, having graduated from an xIT( where x is any real alphabet such that x>=A and x<=Z, of course x is not equal to “I” or zero ), often pushed into engineering, and made to study something so significant as to never come across in life again(yes I applied the “so..as to” idiom automatically). And just like all other IIM’s, I too decided that MBA is a good way for me to take that big vertical leap in my career and most importantly to get out of IT, and hence my journey began.
The thought process (not so serious) started around 2007 when I heard about GMAT for the first time probably. The research about the exam/prep and related stuff lingered for the next 5 years(ridiculous) wherein I just wasted time and convinced myself every time to push the exam date. Thankfully I realised in 2013 that 6 years is enough time for contemplating and I must give the exam now. This is my first advice to candidates- do not make the gap between graduation and writing GMAT so big as to struggle later on to come back to the “studying” mode. Unwillingly, i had to put myself in that more serious mode and started collecting materials, visiting forums, creating logins, talking to people who have given GMAT etc
I booked my initial GMAT date somewhere around April 2013, and rescheduled it 10 days before the exam, thinking that my prep was not adequate. If this was not enough, I did this rescheduling for 4 more times in the following months, not advisable at all as it adds a lot of confusion, dilemma and lowers self confidence levels. After celebrating 2014 New Year ’s Eve in a lavish manner, I certainly had enough of thinking over writing the exam and I decided to go for it on 20 feb 2014, no matter what. I had a good 50 days for preparation and thought would be adequate, clearly my second mistake.I started with OG 13
Verbal and Quant in parallel, and covered pretty much all the section in about three weeks, devoting anywhere between 1-3 hours on weekdays and 4 on weekends. In the fourth week of preparation, I started advanced materials such as 1000 SC, 700 CR and DS question and managed to complete around 80% of each. I utilised whatever time I could in office hours going through this material. Third mistake as I may call it. Finally with approximately two weeks to go, I started giving tests. Fourth mistake!!!!
I gave the GMAT prep 1 and scored a 630, was not dejected as I thought that was enough given my preparation. Moved on to give some free tests – Veritas prep
GMAT Tutor(660), Manhattan (670), and then purchased all MCATs. My scores in the MCATs ranged from 710- 770, I was quite happy and didn’t realise that the inflated scores were because of repeat questions, fifth and worse mistake ever! I continued to track my errors and weak areas and fine-tuned them during the final days of preparation. One day ahead of my exam, I gave the GMAT prep 2(sixth mistake) and scored a 660. Was quite disappointed as was expecting to touch 700 and knowing that it was a close simulation of the actual exam, it did manage to lower the morale just before the exam. I fell to allergy that evening and sneezed non stop only to wake up with a heavy head and blocked nose on the day of the exam. Nevertheless I lifted my spirits up, had a decent breakfast, strong tea and left for the centre. Had another cup of tea just before entering the exam hall and tried to mug up some final idioms and SC rules, yes it was the seventh and the last mistake. Entered the centre, did the formalities and started the test. AWA and IR were pretty straightforward, struggled with time in Quant and ridiculously struggled with time in Verbal( had 4 minutes to go with 12 questions remaining!). Decided to report my scores and there it was – 600! Shattered, dejected and upset, came back home and couldn’t really speak about it to anyone for a day. However with time and some words of motivation from friends and family, I decided to give another shot soon as I knew the score was not even a close measure of my capability
I took around two weeks of rest to get over the trauma, chilled out, not to mention with some alcohol sessions, and got myself on track to begin the journey second time. Based on my last performance I knew for sure that my hard work was not going in the right direction and hence decided to take professional guidance. After having studied a few forums for discussions around best coaching centres in Bangalore, India, I decided to go for Crack Verbal(CV). Signed up for a call back, had a detailed discussion with an expert staff member who advised me to not speed up and re-write the exam in three weeks but to give it around 2 months of good preparation. That’s when I selected a suitable date (23 May) and started preparing towards it. This is my advice to you all- Please book the date and study as it will add a lot of seriousness in your preparation else it will keep hovering around and getting postponed. I went ahead and attended a free class at the CV centre in Koramangala. The tutor was Arun Jagannathan , a GMAT expert himself having mentored more than 4000 students over more than 10 years, and the subject was everyone’s favourite- yes, Sentence Correction. What I liked most about the class was the student teacher ratio. The class was a decent size, which would automatically permit more individual attention and enhance the teaching quality in those 3 hours. The seating and ambience were comfortable so no external factors affecting concentration. I liked Arun’s way of teaching and his subject matter knowledge. Hence I decided to enrol for the Verbal course as it needed the most attention, thought would enrol for Quant subsequently
The course spanned over six weeks of intensive and comprehensive study, with many doubt clearing sessions and covered RC, CR and SC. Jaideep Chowdhury was the faculty who taught me RC and SC and Arun took CR. Jaideep’s way of teaching was pretty awesome as it made something like a RC class really interesting. It was an interactive class and hence fun to be. I really would look forward to each weekend as these classes were not just study but fun and laughter too. To sum it up, I would rate it 10/10 . Having completed the course and religiously adhering to home work and assignment schedules, I did realise that I had a stronger hold on Verbal and with the correct direction, my hard work would pay eventually. It is when you start having that inner feeling of confidence(not over confidence) that you can . I managed to finish OG 12
, 13 and Verbal Review and moved on to attack the advanced CV verbal materials. I made sure I studied 2 hours on weekdays(no matter what) with no distractions and 4-6 hours on weekends. I split the time between Verbal and Quant in a 60-40 manner. With a month to go for the exam, I started giving full length tests and eventually working on small bits which of course included fine tuning.
I gave the same free tests as before(as I didn’t remember the questions or answers) and MCATs , along with around 6-7 tests provided by CV. My scores averaged between 670-730. I had to touch the magical 7 figure, hence I worked on mistakes, consulted CV faculty for doubts and queries, which they were very helpful with. Another thing I really liked about CV is the test environment they provided, very close simulation of the actual test, unlike sitting at home and giving the test. Because I gave so many mocks at the CV centre, giving the exam on the actual day seemed like a routine activity to me- very important as it took care of anxiety, stress and other factors on day of the exam. With around three weeks to go for the actual exam, I started fine-tuning my quant, and at this point religiously followed gmat club forum as I didn’t have time to complete a quant course at CV(I attended a mock Quant class and yes it was amazing). I guess the best anyone can ever get out of Gmat club forum is Bunuel’s fabulous concepts to solve the toughest of problems quickly. I must admit I learned a lot during those two weeks, including short cuts, straight application formulae and do’s and don’ts for Quants. Bunuel was very helpful in resolving any queries whatsoever. My advice here for candidates would be to go through Bunuel’s signatures which includes – “All you need for Quant” concepts and then tough problems later on. Pretty much GMAT quant combined in a nutshell.
So the D- day was pretty near. Arun advised me not to give my mock test after the 20th May as 23rd was my exam. Hence the last mock I gave was on 19th May and I scored a 710, without repeats. This time I was pretty cautious not to be carried away by inflated scores because of repeats, a learning from the past. By now I was pretty confident and in a good positive mood to beat the beast. I stopped studying one day before, relaxed a bit, watched a movie and managed to get a sound 7 hour sleep the night before. My exam was at 1 pm , I reached the centre around 12 and started the test around 12:30 as the computer was free. As I mentioned before, all this was pretty habitual for me by now, thanks to the mocks at CV centre. AWA and IR straight forward as always, managed time much better in Quant and Verbal this time and clicked on report scores. And 710 it was, the same as in my last mock, proof of the close simulation the GMAT prep softwares provides. Happy and elated as I was , I thanked god and all my well-wishers/family, including Arun and Jaideep.
To sum it up, I learned from my past experience that –
1. I wasn’t putting the hard work in the right direction, which is a must. I improvised on this using guidance and help from CV
2. I was bad at time management in my first attempt as I was not being honest to myself during practice sessions and giving myself the luxury of additional 1 min or so while practicing. BAD idea! I improved on this using a set timer while solving questions with a no compromise policy on allocated time on each question. Also not to give more than 3 mins to any question whatsoever as if you do, its highly likely that you will get it wrong anyway, so might as well save that time for other questions
3. The first 10 questions are important in both sections and a good accuracy rate initially increases the probability for a high score by manifold. Please do not try to extra smart and devote all time to the first 25 questions and guess the rest, that is a disaster strategy. Also avoid looking at the clock again and again, best split the whole section into three parts of lets say 14 mins each( for verbal)
4. On the day of the exam, dress well, look and feel good and be relaxed, as anyway stressing will screw your score which is exactly what your stressing for, so don’t!
5. Do not get carried away by too much study material or too many continuous studying hours. OG and CV material was enough for me . No need for CR Bibles and Power CR and what not
6. Answers to all past GMAT prep and exam questions are available on GMAT club forum , please google and search for the respective question
7. Last but not the least, learn to relax and chill out during the preparation, to maintain that balance between studying and other activities such as exercising, watching movies, socialising or drinking if it maybe. GMAT is a test of application, not knowledge, and it needs good focus and attention, for which your brain must be active and relaxed, not exhausted.
What also really helped me was to maintain a document of all my mistakes and of good questions, along with summary of verbal and quant rules and formulae, all in one (Thanks to CV and Bunuel from GMAT club forum). I am attaching the master excel here which is a one stop for pretty much everything you need for your Q and V preparation. Hope this helps and all the best in your preparations
File comment: GMAT all in one
GMAT(Q+V).xls [1.44 MiB]
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