I had taken GMAT in 2007 with an idea of someday applying to MBA programs and got 700. Back then 700 seemed good enough and I was satisfied. In 2008, I applied to some of the top 15 MBA programs in the U.S. and did not get any offers to join a class starting in 2009. I knew that that I had to improve my profile and applications significantly to have a more successful run at the applications for entry in 2010. GMAT seemed to be the area I could improve in the shortest time....best ROI!The Goal
I wanted to achieve or surpass both avg and median GMAT scores at the top 15 U.S. MBA programs. I aimed to reach 740+.The Plan
I didn't have much time during the weekdays so I planned a 4-week study plan (with 4 dedicated weekends to GMAT) after reading about experiences on this forum. I want to thank the vibrant GMAT Club community for sharing your experiences and insight!
Step 1: Know where I am
It had been almost 2 years since I last took the GMAT (my first take) so I wasn't sure what I had to improve on. I had two books from 2007: Kaplan GMAT Premier Program
(2006 Edition) and Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook
(3rd Edition). In order to refresh myself on what's actually on GMAT and the basic strategies to attack questions, I read through the strategies in these books really quickly without trying any of the practice questions. Then, I took a CAT test in the Premier Program's CD-ROM. I scored 650, and I was surprised that I got pretty much the same score as I had back in 2007. But, when I took another CAT test in the same CD-ROM (CAT #2), I only got 560!!!
The results of the two Kaplan
CAT tests led me to focus on Sentence Correction, and that's when GMAT Club became handy. (http://gmatclub.com/forum/best-gmat-verbal-prep-books-reviews-recommendations-78094.html?view-post=584239#p584239
) I got myself Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction
Step 2: Attack my weaknesses
I loved MGMAT SC
book! It was so thorough and I liked how it linked the sub-topics to questions in OG12
. I did all questions suggested in MGMAT SC
, and then attempted at GMATPrep #1 and got 720 (quant 49, verbal 40). I was happy to a higher score than my two-year-old 700, but I didn't feel ready for the real thing.
Step 3: Practice, practice and practice
I started working on OG12
's non-Sentence Correction questions. I felt that the quant problem solving questions and Critical Reasoning questions were too easy to help me to go beyond 700 so I stopped after doing about half the questions. I tried all of Data Sufficiency and Reading Comprehension questions.
In parallel, whenever I got a logical break I tried GMATPrep.
TestPrep #2 (try 1): 720 (quant 49, verbal 38)
TestPrep #1 (try 2): 710 (quant 49, verbal 38)
TestPrep #2 (try 2): 760 (quant 50, verbal 42) --> I was excited to see this high score!
TestPrep #2 (try 3): 700 (quant 49, verbal 36) --> this really bummed me out. Almost made want to give up.The Test Day
I took the GMAT recently and got 740 (quant 48, verbal 42, AWA TBD). Although I am very happy about the overall score, I am disappointed that I got a quant score lower than anything I've seen in GMATPrep. I was aiming for 50 in quant, but the questions were very difficult compared to the ones I've seen in Kaplan Premier
Program CAT or GMATPrep. The quant questions were so difficult that I ran out of time and guessed at about 4 questions. As someone in this forum suggested before, GMAT might be getting more difficult!!! In terms of the verbal section, I felt sufficiently prepared by MGMAT SC
, and I am very happy about the score.
Some test day recommendations:
1) be sufficiently hydrated before the test but don't drink too much. You only get 8 minute break between sections.
2) Take more than 1 erasable booklet and 1 pen from the proctor. You might run out.
3) Take ear plugs. Some people cough/sneeze/make other noises, and some bang on keyboards.
4) Move keyboard away after AWA section. You don't need it and you get more space for your erasable booklet to write on.
5) bring light snack that can be consumed and digested within 8 minutes. It's a long day and you will get hungry.
Sorry, this is a long post. Thanks to all those who've shared their stories, opinions and guidance - they are all valuable to those who will walk through a similar GMAT journey in the future.
[update: partially thanks to the improved GMAT score, I was accepted at one of MBA programs I applied. Got off the waitlist!]