Hi everybody! I tried to write a report a while back but was busy so didn't spend the proper time to edit it so here I am writing a more in depth review of what I went through and hopefully it will help out and provide motivation to people who are down after receiving a less than satisfactory score! My official score report spread was(Q49, V46, 5.0AWA, 8.0 IR) percentile spread was 83%, 99%, 57%, 92%
respectively. My AWA went down by 0.5, not too worried about it I got a rather hard passage to dissect lol. My background
: Non-native speaker from China, been in the States for around 10 years, didn't speak English at first so I wasn't able to get into a good high school. Got into a good public university in NYC majored in accounting with a 3.5ish GPA, finishing my MSA degree soon which is why i decided to take the Gmat so I can apply to a top 10 MBA program, hopefully NYU or Columbia as I would rather stay in the city.Preparation for Gmat first try:
I think I bought every Gmat prep material on the market for the roughly a month and half I prepared for the first Gmat except Mgmat material if i remember correctly: Kaplan
, you name it, I've got it. I didn't really have a focus on any particular section of the exam, just went with the flow, I didn't take math section too seriously as I am more than adequate to score around 50 on most practice exams so naturally I paid more attention the the mistakes I made on the verbal section. Sentence correction was my weakness I would say, but after this whole experience I would say it is probably one of the easiest sections to improve your score as sentence correction is just a process of elimination and applying certain grammar rules and structures you have learned throughout the preparation, not much critical reasoning although it helps.
So anyway, I don't think I've touched any practice exams aside from the initial diagnostics I took to gauge my level, I believe I got a 630 or 620, it definitely gave me the confidence to achieve 700+ score. I mostly studied the materials during school breaks at the school library and at night if I have time after finishing whatever school work that needed to be done on that day, studied pretty much all day on the weekend cave man style using mostly veritas
material. One thing I've liked about veritas
is that It came with i believe 11 Cats and another 5 or 6 free from 800score (very inaccurate in my opinion, quant section is above real gmat level and takes too long to solve on harder problems).
A week or so prior to the real thing, I started tackling Cats one by one, so here are my spreads: cat 1: 680 cat 2: 720 cat3: 660 cat 4: 680, cat 5 750 cat 6 720 cat 7 690 cat 8 700 cat 9 680 cat 10 720 cat 11 680 ( all of them are from veritas)
Those eleven are all from veritas
, I also took the practice exams from 800score, scores were all over the place, anywhere from 40-48 on quant and 32-45 on verbal.
I was pretty nervous about my ability to hit the 700+ score as most of my scores are below 700, I don't think I took the verbal section as seriously as I could have on the practices though so that might have skewed my verbal scores a little bit. Real test :
Test was at noon, I didn't do anything on the day before, just chilled and watched some movies, pretty confident and relaxed as I can be. Got to the center early, checked in, everything went through smoothly, AWA and IR was pretty easy I thought, got a really easy passage to dissect about car industry which I'm pretty familiar with. I only opted for one optional break between quant and verbal which was a HUGE mistake on my part, I was already a little under the weather that day, after finishing quant which was pretty easy as well I felt a little dizzy throughout the verbal section, end up finishing it 5 minutes early, selected answers way too quickly for many questions on the verbal section. I still felt pretty good about getting the 700+ score in the end, when I saw the score 660 I was stunned for a while as I expected a little higher, that's only 40 points higher than my first diagnostic so naturally I felt all the time I had spent studying for the test was wasted. I thought to myself, here goes your top MBA dream X_X.
My mom picked me up after the exam, I tried to act normal but she saw right through it lol, I told her it's still a decent score and that I wasn't going to retake it. She was ok with it as long as I'm happy with the score, which I wasn't, I know I could've done much better on verbal which I got a dismal 31 and 49 on quant which is what I had expected.
It's kinda funny because prior to the exam I had told one of my friend who had scored 99 percentile on both LSAT and GMAT with little to no studying that I would take treat him to any meal he wanted if I get above 750 lol. At least I didn't have to shell out the money for food haha. After a few days, this 660 score was still bothering me, especially the 31 on verbal which is way lower than any of my practice cats. So I immediately signed up for next possible Gmat which is a month after the first one and paid another 250 dollars X_X. Preparation for the second round
: This time I decided to try out different materials, and I also had more focus as the first exam served as a good gauge of where I needed to get better at. I went on amazon and purchased the Mgmat series
for Quant, specifically the advanced quant and verbal workbook from kaplan
. In hindsight, I probably could've spent less time on the advanced quant as it did not improve my quant score, but you never know, it at least prevented me from regressing and critical reasoning part of quant also helped me on the verbal part as well in my opinion. I timed my second exam right after spring break so i had ample time to studying throughout the break while my friends and other people were out partying and vacationing lol. I would strongly recommend going through sentence correction mgmat book
page by page to get familar with all the types of questions on the real thing. Many people from this forum suggest not doing too many practice exams or problems but I would strongly advise against that, while it may seem like a bad idea to go through countless problems if you are not studying correctly, ultimately something do stick no matter what, and if you are studying correctly, which is by making mental notes of short cuts you have learned, find out what you did wrong and what you did right and how you did them. "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" you know the saying. Test day 2:
Here we go, second time, I told myself that this was going to be the last one no matter what score I get, I think that put more pressure on me, but I'm the kind of person that does better under pressure and I was never nervous for any tests throughout my academic career. Same test center, familiar faces, they remember me from last time too. First comes the AWA
, not a good start to say the least, I spent way more time than what was recommended to formulate the three to four flaws in the logics of the arguments, had maybe 30 secs left before I hauled ass to click the submit button lol. IR section
, started really rough, had about 3-4 questions straight filled with information tabs and data tables, also went way over time on those so I had to rush through the rest of the questions which luckily were short graph problems and a few algebra questions which were also fairly easy, had maybe 1 min left before I submitted it too. I took every optional break this time, stretched, took a piss, drank some water which definitely helped to keep up my stamina and focus throughout the exam. Quant
was fairly straight forward, I had a feeling I would get about the same score which I did, took the full 8mins break before moving onto the verbal section
. I thought to myself, here it is, all or nothing! Let me tell ya, it did not start well at all, I spent about 5minutes on the very first sentence correction problem, but followed by a few much easier ones so I was still on schedule, on tip for people who are worried about timing is, don't worry about it too much as long as you are only a few minutes behind the recommended 2 minutes per question as you will more than likely make it back on the reading comprehension part, I'm speaking from my almost 20 cat exams experience prior to the real thing btw. DO NOT, DO NOT rush
through a problem or jump the gun before you read through every answer choices as Gmat tend to be tricky sometimes and hide the correct answer on the last choice or double negative phrasing. I gotta admit though, I got pretty lucky with the reading comprehension passages as I did not get any technical, scientific journal type like I did on my first exams which screwed me over royally probably. I finished this section with a about 5 minutes to spare, the funny thing is I thought I didn't to that great on it because I felt most of the questions were too easy to be considered 700-800 range questions on the gmat, maybe my preparation paid off, who knows? After filling out the post test questionnaires and stuff I was just overwhelmed with apprehension, when I saw the 770 score my jaw literally dropped, I was absolutely stunned! Had to check numerous times to make sure I did not accidentally click the do not submit score button in the end lol. I couldn't wait to tell everybody after I got out the room, I think the lady at the front desk saw my score because she had a huge smile as I was approaching her to get my unofficial report. I called everybody I could reach after I got out, including the friend I promised to take out to a restaurant of his choice, we went to a korean bbq place, he was nice enough to not pick out the most expensive items on the menu. Additional advise on preparation
1. If you have just started studying and in your junior or senior year, I would strongly advise you to take some philosophy, economics courses as they helped me tremendously as far as critical reasoning goes and analytical abilities, not to mention reading skill level as many of the philosophy texts are full of jargon and erudite phrasings, logic, similar to that you will see on the Gmat.
2. I also subscribed to the Economist
in the short one month prior to my second test, I would have liked to have done this earlier but I never heard about it until I saw someone mention it in this forum, so props to Gmatclub.com!
3. Watch and read as many scientific, technical articles as you can, but find stuff you are interested in or else you are just going to get bored after a whileFinal thought::
To people who are like me, who did not start from the same playing field as other native English speakers, do not give up, think of it as an advantage as you are not as affected by the everyday incorrect usage of the English language as native speakers are hehe. You do not have to be a wordsmith, or English major, or even a grammar expert to do well on the Gmat, it is simply a test of critical reasoning, leverage of information and process of elimination. Savor the small victories, stay positive, never make the same mistake twice, and you will succeed in achieving your ideal score! And remember, the Gmat isnot an IQ test
, as long as you put your time into it and study smart and effectively, you will do well.
Now I can focus on other things on my app, good luck to anyone who will be taking their first gmat or retaking it! I bid you farewell!