Wrote the GMAT on August 14 and scored 700 (Q 48, V 40). Quite disappointed with my score becasue I was aiming for a 730+, but hoping that the MBA gods favor my applications , and I manage to score a seat with the 700!!
I prepared for a good 3 months, spending around 2-4 hours in the first two months and 4 hours consistently in the last month. After covering the theory/basics of quant and verbal in the first two months I gave a GMAT prep to see where I stand. Motivated with the 730, I practiced for yet another two weeks before giving the Manhattan free exam on which I scored a 710. By this time I knew to some extent where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I booked the exam date on July 18. With only 1 month left for my exam I came up with a detailed plan , with specific details on what I would cover every single day. In the last one month i gave 4 more practice exams , one every week and spent some amount analyzing my scores and the tests. Below I have detailed the materials that I used and the do's and dont's that I believe were relevant to my prep.Quant-
1. Manhattan Strategy guides- these are an absolute must have , especially if you struggle with the basics of quant (like I did). The exam to a large extent tests if you know the concept and the basics rather than complicated lengthy calculations, and Manhattan does brilliantly well to drive those concepts to your head.
2. OG 11
, 12 , 13 - I used OG only after having covered the basics and the concepts. Use OG for practice only.
3. Princeton- Used princeton only to get more practice. I would not really reccommend princeton because I felt the problems were way too easy (even for someone like me, who generally struggles with math)Verbal-
1. Manhattan SC - I love this book, and i thought it was the absolute best for my SC prep. Having said that I was able to improve my SC mainly through practice. The more you practice, you tend to get a hang of what exactly GMAT requires you to know.
2. LSAT powerscore - This book is great as well . A bulky book that requires some amount of commitment, but it is definitely time well spent.
3. Aristotle RC 99 - This book is great for RC practice. I diligently did all the 99 passages.
4. OG 11
, 12 , 13 - Again, I used OG only once I covered the basics and concepts and had given my first GMAT prep.Do's-
1. Use OG only towards the end of your prep. OG is the only material officially sourced from GMAC, so don't waste it by practicing from it when you have no idea of the basics or the exam itself.
2. Give a GMAT prep after going through the basics and concepts. I know some people say give an exam as soon as you start your prep, but I feel like that would be a waste of the practice test. It's better to go through the exam format, timings, rules, what the exam tests and some basics and concepts of quant and math before giving the exam.
3. Give lots of practice exams- this helps relieve the tension . I gave 7 practice tests, you may not need so many, but it helped me get used to the format and relax. Also, give every exam with AWA and IR. It might sound tedious but it positively helps improve stamina.
4. Group study- this is one thing i realised very late in my prep. since i would study alone, i had a tendency to do the same mistakes over and over again. There was minimal learning from my mistakes. Having a third person's perspective helps you gain an insight on where exactly you're going wrong. I wish I could have utilized this more in my prep.
5. Keep a snack/ gatorade for the breaks during the exam. I did this even during the practice tests! It helps you relax and release the tension.Dont's -
1. Don't let the nerves get the best of you- I let this happen on test day , unfortunately I started getting very distracted in the verbal section. just relax and enjoy the exam, it's just an exam , worst case scenario you can always give it again!! (I know it's easy to say this, but dificult to follow)
2. Don't give a second practice exam before analyzing what exactly went wrong in the first one. Analyze not only what you got wrong , but the questions you got right as well! Ensure there's a learning from every practice exam, every question that you do.
3. Don't practice anything without timing yourself. I could solve any quant problem given ample amount of time, but you don't have the luxury of time on the exam. So, cover the concepts and basics, and while practicing ensure you time yourself, this will help you get used to the pressure and build the educated guessing technique (which can sometimes be important during the exam, when you're short of time- so instead of wasting too much time on one question, panicking and messing up the entire section, it's better to guess on one you would have taken too much time to work out anyway). I used to practice sets of 20 questions on quant and SC in 30 minutes, 25 questions of CR in 35 minutes and 3 RC passages in 30 minutes.My Test scores-
GMAT prep 1 - 730
GMAt prep 2 (3 days before actual exam) - 710
Manhattan 1- 710
Manhattan 2 - 710
Manhatan 3- 740
Manhattan 4- 680
Manhattan 5- 690
Actual Test- 700
So you can see, my scores did go down towards the end of my prep, I think I let the nerves get to me! But don't let that bog you down, 1 or two bad scores may mean nothing, it's better to be confident and just enjoy the exam!!
I have benefitted tremendously from reading others' exam experience which is why I decided to take some time off to write this! Hope this is of some help!!