I took the GMAT on 17th January , 2014 and scored a 680 ( Q 48 V 36 IR 6 AWA 5.5 ).
It's a significant improvement from my first attempt in April 2013 , 620 ( Q 48 V 27 IR 6 AWA 4.5 ) and my very first mock test way back in October 2012, 510.
I began my GMAT journey in October 2012.
I enrolled myself in a local test prep company and got myself the OG 13
Since I had not come across the GMAT Club forum , I made the huge mistake of directly solving problems from the OG 13
during the starting of my preparation.
I have a rigorous 50 to 60 hour work week so I studied an hour everyday before work. I attended classes during the weekends.
I had a low 510 in my first mock but with practice I could improve to about 650.
During the middle of my preparation , I came to know about GMAT Club.I got important information about the right materials to use from GMAT Club.
In addition to the notes from the local test prep company,I used the Manhattan GMAT Guides
to improve my Quant Concepts.
MGMAT Quant Guides are the best in the market for Quant.
For Verbal , I used MGMAT SC
and the materials from the local test prep company.
I was doing ok in SC and CR but RC was a mess.
I made a blunder by focusing on Quant and SC alone and ignoring my area of weakness ( RC ) thinking it won't hurt my score a lot on test day.
After the classes from the test prep company were over , I took a month to revise the concepts taught before booking my exam date.
I took a two week break from work before the exam and during this period I took MGMAT & GMAT prep mocks.I was scoring in the mid 600s.
However, I made the mistake of not doing AWA during my mock tests so my scores were a bit inflated.
I was naive enough to assume that with a fortnight of practice my score would improve to the late 600s.
I took the GMAT on 10th April,2013 and got a 620 (Q 48 V 27 ). It was a slap on my face.
6 months of work for a below average score. I was disappointed & depressed with myself.
After a two and half month break I decided to resume my preparation for the GMAT.
Although I was dejected , I did not want to be labelled as a 620 for the rest of my life and decided to give my best shot once again.
I did not want to hurry up and give the exam again thinking that I had a bad day.
I analyzed what went wrong and noticed that in order to get a high score I needed to improve my verbal skills.
Thus, I decided to focus my attention mostly on Verbal since I messed it up during my first attempt.
While browsing through the course reviews in the GMAT CLUB forum , I came across e-GMAT
. I read some glowing reviews from non natives like me.
I decided to sign up for the entire verbal online course.
verbal online course really helped me to understand my areas of weakness.
I used to invest a hour and a half before office everyday to go through the various SC,CR and RC concepts.
I took personalized notes after every concept and referred to them during my lunch break in office to have a thorough understanding of the concepts.
Conceptual clarity is extremely important to get a good verbal score.
There wasn't a sudden increase in my Verbal solving ability but with persistence and practice I could see a gradual improvement.
RC was my major area of concern. I used to get about 40 % answers correct but after going through the e-gmat
RC course my accuracy improved to 80 %.
In the mean time , I revised all the quant concepts again from the MGMAT guides
The GMAT Club workbook provided sufficient difficult examples to practice.
The GMAT Club also provided a score as per performance in the recent questions solved. It helps a lot in gauging one's level although I must say I found certain quant questions extremely hard.
After I was happy with my conceptual clarity and problem solving skills, I redid OG 13
, OG VR 2 and OG QR 2. I also purchased and solved the GMAT Prep Question pack 1.
I kept aside Sunday for giving mock tests. The Manhattan GMAT
mock tests helped me improve my score.
MGMAT mock tests are an awesome source for test practice. Full length exams were mentally draining and I gradually got better with my stamina for the last half an hour of the exam.
When my score improved to the late 600s , I took the GMAT prep and GMAT prep 1 mock tests.
I was averaging between 690 to 710. After getting a 690 , 710 and 700 in my gmat prep mock tests , I decided to register for the GMAT.
Test Day Experience : My appointment was at 9 am. I reached 45 minutes early. There was a park nearby the test center, I went for a short walk to calm down my nerves.
After the short walk ,I ate a bar of chocolate and entered the test center hoping and praying for the best this time around.The test center staff and the proctor were helpful and courteous.
After finishing the test center formalities , I was escorted to my desk and one of the most important exams in my life began.
AWA : I got a one familiar on the lines of one of the essays I practiced before. I was happy with this stroke of fortune and started to gather my thoughts.
I structured the essay in my mind and then started writing it.Finished the essay with 4 minutes remaining on the clock. It gave me sufficient time for revision.
Revised it and was pretty happy with it.
IR : IR was very fast paced so I can't remember what hit me or what was it like.I had strategised to solve 7 to 8 full questions rather than go for all 12 and I stuck to my strategy.
Before I could realized the section was done. I wasn't sure of how I fared but as per suggestions by many test takers, I forgot about it and started to concentrate for Quant.
Quant : Quant went well.I was able to solve most of the questions and I was going as per my set timeline. I got some nasty questions in the end.
Although I knew I was doing well, I didnt have answers for the last few questions.
Rather than getting dejected I decided to focus on Verbal ( The Real Beast ).
Verbal : I got a tricky SC first up. It took me a while to solve but I wanted to be sure I got it right. I was very cautious with the first 6 or 7 questions.The questions were SCs or CRs.
Although I was sure I got most right using the e-GMAT
process,I took up quite some time and I was way behind my set timelines.I decided not to panic as I had crossed the first hurdle of 6 to 7 questions.
I got two back to back RCs next.I was very comfortable with RC now after e-GMAT
and I could solve them quickly.Rest of the section went pretty smooth until the 35th question.
Since I was over cautious in the beginning I had 6 questions left and 10 minutes to go. I started getting difficult bold faced CR and very tricky meaning based SC questions.
I think I did justice to SC but I was weak in bold faced CR and hence was sure that two of those questions in the end would dent my score.I finished the section just in time.
I knew I did much better than my first attempt. Even though I thought I did well , I was extremely nervous.I was praying for a 690 or 700.
Then a 680 popped up on the screen. V 36 yes! ( 9 point improvement!!! ) Q 48 ( again!! after all the effort..urgh! ) IR 6 ( not bad! ).
I was satisfied but a bit disappointed as well to miss the coveted 700 by a small margin.
Contemplating later,after a miserable 620 , I would take a 680 any day.
I got the official score card in a week and it had a 5.5 in AWA. Chinese Burned in the GMAT Club Forum should be credited for all his tips regarding AWA.
Although 680 is not a really great score, I am glad that atleast I could improve to a respectable score and I was able to do justice to those long study hours.
Material Used :
Official Resources :-OG 13OG Verbal
review 2OG Quant
GMAT Prep Question Pack 1
GMAT Prep 1 Tests
Verbal Course :-e-GMAT
Verbal Online Course
Other Valuable Resources :-
GMAT Club Workbook
GMAT Club ForumsManhattan GMAT GuidesManhattan GMAT
GMAT Premier 2013Kaplan 800
Certain points I learned from my long GMAT experience :-
1. Don't take the GMAT until you are well prepared for it.Chances are you will end up below your target score.However, one should also not procrastinate and keep delaying the exam date.Do not make the GMAT a larger than life phenomena.
Don't obsess over it or be scared of it.
2. Make a routine which suits you and stick to the routine. Normally a 20 hour study week is what one should aim to achieve.
Also plan to study quant and verbal everyday rather than splitting the 20 hours into big chunks for some days of the week.
3. Focus on your weak areas but do not neglect your strengths. ( I loved solving Quant & SC but loathed RC.However with rigorous practice I started enjoying RC and it boosted my score on test day).
4. DO NOT start your preparation directly from the OG 13
. Official questions have their weight worth in gold. Do not use them up before thorough knowledge of the different quant and verbal concepts.
5. Take personalized notes which will help you in revisions later ( I used my e-gmat
verbal notes to quickly revise the concepts a day before every mock ).
6. Take full length practice tests including AWA and time your breaks. ( Maintaining focus in the last half an hour of Verbal is extremely crucial ).
7. Focus on MEANING in Sentence Correction. ( The e-GMAT
3 step process for SC worked wonders for me ).
8. Practice RC on the computer screen with a timer.
Solving RC on the computer screen under pressure ( real exam scenario ) is a different ball game than doing it on paper.Getting 2 or 3 questions in a row wrong in RC will dent your verbal score.
9. Focus on solving official questions.
10. Stay calm on test day. Stick to your strategies and keep an eye on the time. First 10 questions are important but you can't spend too much time solely on them.
I hope my debrief helps future GMAT aspirants to prepare better for the GMAT and not make the same mistakes which I did during my long preparation period.
I would like to thank the e-GMAT
team ( Rajat , Payal and the whole team ) & GMAT Club for helping me immensely in my preparation.
I would also like to thank my parents and my friends for their constant support during the tough preparation phase.
I wish the GMAT club and all future GMAT aspirants all the best