Alright, just had some friends over for poker, and ended up 2nd place (went all in with KKs and he flipped over AAs! Talk about bad luck! Not that I"m complaining after my GMAT today!
I'm so excited that I'll try to post my debrief here tonight. If I leave out anything, please ask and I'll try to answer.
First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE here at GMATClub! All your good wishes, congrats, support, and advice! This group has been so kind to me the past week when I was a nevous wreck, enduring all my repetitive questions about "should I study more? should I do the math challenges
? etc...". Without all y'all, I would not have gotten the score today. This one's for all of you out there! =)
With that said, here's my entire study history. I want to put out a WARNING about following my process, as I'm the type of guy that doesn't like to study much for tests and usually work better under pressure and panic. It's how I always took my midterms and finals in college, study the night before. Don't worry though, I'll be working on my essays a lot earlier (I usually write them 10pm the night before they're due, and still get an A, haha =P) this time, since B-school means so much more to me.
Anyway, here it goes:
Books I used:
Crack the GMAT 2007 (only read the strategies and tips)
Manhattan SC (saved my life!)
class notes (from a good buddy of mine) for Quant
My GMAT Practice Test Scores:
Test Name Date Score S% Quant Q% Verbal V%
GMAT Prep 7/12/07 770 99 50 95 44 97
Manhattan 7/15/07 720 96 47 81 41 93
Princeton 7/22/07 670 87 50 95 33 68
Manhattan 7/22/07 680 88 47 81 36 80
PowerPrep 7/24/07 710 93 50 95 35 75
PowerPrep 7/27/07 750 98 49 89 44 97
GMATPrep 7/29/07 710 93 49 89 38 84
GMAT! 8/3/07 760 99 51 99 41 93
I started pretty much on July 4th, with the OG11
Diagnostic test. Two weeks before July 4th, I started reading the PR Crack the GMAT strategies and learn what GMAT is all about. But it was only on July 4th that I sat down and took the diagnostic test. It took me a week to finish all 5 sections (a few friends were visiting, so I never had a chance to really do all the questions in one sitting) I got above average (at the border of Excellent) for PS, DS, SC (at the lower end) and Excellent for RC and CR. On 7/12, I finally got the chance to sit down and take GMATPrep1. I had to do the Quant section the night of 7/11, and finish the verbal on 7/12. As you can see, I got 770, and was quite surprised. I was thinking, "no sweat at all!"
But, I didn't take it lightly, and since I missed 6 out of 8 of my Verbal on SC, I ordered Manhattan SC as everyone suggested. Over the next 2 weeks, I worked on that book, every exercise, and every OG question in OG11
. My hit rate ranged from 60-80%, and roughly 75-80% in the end for hard questions (the hard 1/3 of the book). Meanwhile, I started doing the hard 1/3 of PS/DS and CR/RC. I was getting 80-90% on them, occassionally dipping down to 70% in 10-20 question sets. Then I decided to take the Manhattan GMAT
CAT, and scored a 720. The math was so hard it freaked me out, and my verbal dropped too. Therefore I started forcusing mostly on verbal from 7/15 until 7/22, and then I took the PR CAT. That devestated me. 670 was a far cry from 770, and my verbal dropped to 33?! Anyway, that was when I had my flood of "panic" posts on GMAT Club regarding how accurate PR CATs were. I made the mistake of taking the MGMAT CAT2 *right after* PR CAT, and by the middle of the Verbal section, my brain was dead and I couldn't understand even the simplest of RC passages. That is definitely something I recommend AGAINST doing!
Alright, then I found PowerPrep, and then began my 3 last successive tests, with more OG11
problems in between. As you can see, my scores were hovering around 710 (the 750 on PowerPrep2 was a fluke, because many verbal questions were the same as OG11
), and my heart sunk. I began to believe that 710 is my true ability, and the 770 I got on GMATPrep1 was a distant dream. After a fewdays, I was able to convince myself that anything over 700+ is good, and I shouldn't worry so much about it (thanks to all you GMATClubbers again!), and my mood improved.
I followed GMATClubbers' recommendations of
- Not taking any more full CATS a week before the test (I stopped the Sunday before my test)
- Do a full CAT with AWA (my 7/29 GMATPrep2)
- Do not do any problems the day before, and get lots of sleep and exercise
So Monday, Tuesday, and Wenesday before the test (7/30-8/1), I finished the entire OG11
SC, hard 1/3 of CR and RC, 1/2 of Verbal Review's SC (the hard section), hard 1/3 of PS and DS for Quant. I also skimmed through Veritas
workbooks on Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Probability/Combinations, and the most useful of them all, their "Number Properties Extra Handout". I highly recommend this one if you have it or if a friend of yours took a Veritas
class. It's a small 20+ page pamphlet that helps you with some of the toughest math questions about number properties.
On Thursday (8/2), I didn't do much. I reviewed all my mistakes in all sections, and re-read the Manhattan SC book. I also read the PR and OG11
AWA section just to see how I should write my AWAs. Other than that, I had dinner with a friend and watched the Simpson's Movie (wasn't as funny as I hoped).
On Friday, 8/3, I took 2 sleeping pills and slept till 11am. Woke up, did 6-8 questions for each section, the medium-hard sections. re-read the PR/OG11
AWA instructions again, re-read Manhattan SC, and then went for a light jog for 20 minutes. Left for the testing center 45 min in advance (I only live 10-15 min away), and thank goodness I did, because the traffic on the 101 was horrible! Good thing I plopped in some Mozart CD and that calmed me down and kept me from being frustrated. I always listened to some Mozart before a test in college, so I did it this time too. It definitely helps keep you calm.
I made it still 20+ minutes ahead of time, and the nice Russian lady that was there last week when I visited Pearson Vue (oh yeah, I checked it out a week in advance to get used to the drive and the area, highly recommended!) was there again, and she checked me in. Chatted with a girl who was also taking the GMAT, and we worried about our chances and how random our practice scores were.
Went in to take the test. The earplugs are AMAZING! I felt the world shut out and at some points I thougth I could hear myself think... or maybe I was just going crazy... haha! Anyway, i was very relaxed, and the Analysis of an Argument went well. I kinda stumbled on Analysis of an Issue (usually easier for me) because my three supporting reasons were kinda overlapping, and I felt that I repeated myself in my 3 separate paragraphs. I think my AWA will probably be a 5 on the Argument and a 4 on the Issue.. Let's see how accurate I am.
Took the full 10 minute break. Did the cold water splashing face thing some GMATClubber recommended. Stretched, did some calisthenics (is that what they're called?) and ate a granola bar.
Went in for the Quant. All the questions were SO EASY I began to worry. I had so much time near the end (roughly 4 minutes per problem) that I was doing each question twice just to double check and see if I forgot something. I finished with 5 minutes left and took my 2nd break. did the water, stretch, exercise, food thing again, and went in for my verbal.
Verbal was tough. I don't know why, but I usually have 5 minutes left in the end, and this time I barely finished. Some of the RC and CR I couldn't decide between two or THREE answers, and all the SC I learned from Manhattan SC just didn't apply to any of the questions for some reason! I kept on breathing in deeply and telling myself not to panic. I know I can do this. And finally, IT WAS OVER!
Most people say that the survey part is the most cruel because it makes you wait before you see your score, but I needed the time to let my adrenaline rush calm down, and actually enjoyed the survey. Finally, when I clicked "show the score", the computer took what seemed like hours to come up with the screen.
***760*** HOLY CRAP!!! I couldn't beleive my eyes! It was a wonderful moment and I had to really restrain myself from screaming outloud. I stared at the score for a few minutes before I raised my hand to be let out. The ladies were really nice and the Russian lady printed me my score and told me good luck on the application.
I gathered my stuff, went in my car, and screamed for a few minutes at the top of my lungs to release all the nervous energy I had. I was so psyched about it! Whether it's the exercise, the relaxation, the sleep, the studying, or the Mozart, I DID IT! And that's all that mattered.
Anyway, rushed home for a nice poker night with the guys, and almost won the tournament. It was a good night all in all.
So my final tips and takeaways:
- Do your last GMATPrep at least 5 days before the test
- Do all the OG problems you can do, they're the most reflective of the test and will prepare you very well
- OG Verbal
Review is great for extra problems if you need help on Verbal. I don't know how the Math Review is.
- Manhattan SC ROCKS! Get it if you have SC problems.
- My CR and RC were always good (since SATs and GREs), so I didn't study for them at all, other than do the OG questions. I would recommend you do as many RC and CR questions as you can, and notice how the answers are explained if you got them wrong. That's the best advice I can give for those sections. Sorry I couldn't say more.
- Quant was very easy for me, and it was all about learning all the "types" of questions they had. Everything else is just a variation. This you can get by doing all the hard questions in the OG, and reading some good math overview book like the PR Math
Review, the OG Math Review, and the Veritas
Math Review. If you get Number Properties down, you can answer some of the toughest questions!
- I would recommend the GMAT Challenges or Manhattan GMAT
CAT math sections if you need mroe math practice, but DO NOT let those deflate your confidence. It's just to teach you how to do questions faster and smarter, so the OG will be super easy if you go back to them. I didn't do the GMAT Challenges, but I've seen a few problems and they are definitely tough but worth it if you have time.
- ALWAYS take the GMATPrep1 first after you familiarize yourself with the GMAT format. This will tell you how much time you need to spend studying. I was reading all the posts about people spending 3 months non-stop studying, and was worried that my less than 1 month of haphazard studying wasn't enough. But GMATPrep1 helped me gauge where I was and where I wanted to be. I definitely WOULDN'T recommend my method for everyone, but if that's how you work, then give it a try.
- All in all, I spent 3-4 hours a night for 3 nights before the test doing OG problems. I spent two Sundays roughly 6-8 hours doing CATs and OG problems, and probably 1-2 hours a night from 7/12 to 7/29 on weeknights doing Manhattan SC and other OG stuff.
I think I covered everything, and if you read this far, I commend you for not falling asleep! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I'll try my best to answer. Now I will spend more time in the B-school App section, as the journey has just begun (unfortunately). PM me if you need me to respond and I haven't in a while. Sometimes I don't get the notifications.
Thank you all again at GMATClub! You guys have been wonderful to me! Woohoo!