Yesterday, achieved a score of 770. Thought would share a debrief..My preparation
I started with a diagnostic score of 690 on GMAT prep. After a long time procrastinating, I finally began studying 2.5 months back. I used Manhattan guides for building a foundation, OG for practice, Kaplan
for practice tests, and MGMAT for simulation of real GMAT. My comments on some resources I used:MGMAT Guides:
Wonderful for Quant, and SC. They seem to be written by someone who is a very good teacher, because the books present concepts in a very approachable and interesting way- and yes, the coverage is quite thorough. This has to be where you start, if you like me need to really know your stuff before jumping into the field. The Question Banks which come with the books are great too – very useful practice. MGMAT theory, Question Banks and Practice OG questions are enough to drill a concept right through you as far as GMAT is concerned.OG and QR/VR:
Well, the more the practice for official questions, the better, isn’t it! Though I found my GMAT questions were tougher than OG average, but then, logically if you are doing better, there would be more questions similar to questions at higher end of difficulty in these two books. GMAT Focus:
Though good tests, and quite like GMAT, I wonder if they were worth the money, especially at the stage I took them. They predicted my Q score to be 48-51, which it was, but once you are reaching that score, there will not be much to learn from GMAT Focus. The ‘diagnostic’ element of the test therefore is beneficial only when you are in earlier stages of preparation, or when you have issues with quant and you want to pinpoint which area – DS vs. PS or topic-wise breakdown.GMAT Club Quant Tests:
By far, the best non-official Prep material! I strongly recommend taking these, they are worth every penny! I could manage to take only 10 of the 25, and I know that the last 3-4 points improvement was only because of these. These tests are very well designed – difficult not in use of ultra-tough topics or concepts, but in application and tricks- just the way real GMAT is.Manhattan- Thursdays with Ron Purewal Videos:
Brilliant stuff, really. (Made me doubt the adage- nothing good comes for free!!
) If you have the time, watch all. I watched the ones for topics I was not feeling comfortable about – Probability, Combinations, Absolute Values, Some SC topics. It really helped. Ron is a brilliant teacher, and the way he breaks down a GMAT Prep problem in front of you sure teaches you a lot more than plain theory can.Kaplan Premier:
Can’t comment about the book, as I didn’t even open it, but used the access to tests that came with it. TestsKaplan:
Quant too easy (when compared to real GMAT), Verbal approximates the difficulty level better than Quant. However, take these before you take other practice tests. They are good for practice, but you can surely not depend only on Kaplan
Tests to provide you a genuine simulation of GMAT exam. I did them before any other tests, and used them more to get into habit of test-taking. Also, don’t give too much importance to the scores, especially the breakup.MGMAT Tests
: Simulate GMAT very well, in terms of difficulty of concepts, need for time management, challenging stamina and limits of mental exhaustion. I remember the first one I took completely shook me up – could hardly finish Quant! But then that’s the whole point- MGMAT Tests can help you ensure that that doesn’t happen during the real GMAT!GMAT Prep
: Best indicator of your score. Take one as diagnostic (don’t worry, you will not waste it, by the time you will be done with preparation and ready to take this again, you wouldn’t really remember the few repeats you might see)
My test scores ranged from 760 to 800, averaged around what I got. In fact GMAT Prep gave me exactly that, twice!My experience
Wasn’t well and was on a heavy dose of antibiotic (Try and avoid falling ill if you can, for instance – don’t get caught in heavenly showers three days before your test!).
Centre was comfortable, though neighboring keyboards were very noisy, and ear plugs didn’t work (do they, ever!). Was freaked out initially, but when my own keying in started, the noises from others didn’t bother me so much. Essays do tend to calm you down. (Edit: AWA score of 6.0 just received; thank god for chinese burned's guide
Quant started out with a question far trickier than I had expected (or so it seemed to my mind then). Was given a few easy ones by 10th so got calmer, combinations (easy one) appeared around middle. Overall, I though Quant was tricky, definitely not easy, but not calculation or working intensive. The key seemed more to figure out what to do, than the actual doing. Some questions were (as was forewarned) way different from anything I had seen in any material… Kept a tab on time throughout, never overshot because I was too scared of not finishing on time. Finished with a couple of minutes remaining on the clock
Small break, ate a chocolate muffin
Before beginning Verbal I thought I have to relax and not be too hard on time front. That was a mistake, because combined with the fact I never have to rush in verbal in mock exams, I took my own time to handle some initial SCs (And yes, they were tough till you found out that one little hidden flaw which made the wrong option wrong). Finally, I had to rush in Verbal towards the end, and it could have cost me some questions for sure. Overall, I found SCs manageable, RCs easy (passages were not too convoluted) and CRs tough (Very often correct option came to be one of those I’d eliminated in first glance!) Finished with a minute on the clock. Submitted.
Score didn’t sink in for a while (has it, even now?!) Wanted to see a 780 (damn the greed of human nature!) But well, as I said, was relieved, and amused by the look the proctor gave me :D My two cents
- Maintain SC notes. I think my SC notes were my biggest cushion, I had tried to sum up the gigantic Manhattan SC guide in my own words, included some examples from GMAT Prep, and other learnings from here and there. I could fall back on them, and revising them was easier than going through the book again. For SC, there is so much to learn that this makes sense.
- Don’t be too bogged down by advanced topics in Quant – even when they appear, the level of difficulty is not very high. (What I will do differently if I had to)
-Not do questions without learning from them. I did maintain an error log
, but didn’t revise it often. I think rather than doing new questions, you need to master the old ones
- Do all GMAT Club Tests
, and repeat them.
- Do LSAT CR
. I found the CR to be the most difficult part of my GMAT, and if I had to, I will do more practice in that area.
- Buy GMAT Focus earlier, or not buy it at all.
- Do tests with more gap in between, so as to review them more comprehensively. Some wisdom from the pros that helped me –
advice that somehow clicked at some crucial point
In a video on time management, Ron Purewal says – ‘You have to quit and move if you are not able to answer a question within the upper time limit. And if you are someone who scored more than 650 on your diagnostic, someone who generally is good at such stuff- believe me, that is the TOUGHEST thing you have to do on GMAT.’ Wow – that rang a bell! Exactly that was what happened on the test I blew in the past.. exactly that was happening on mock tests I was taking which I was rushing to complete by the end! And what he said made me change my approach – I had, for so long, misunderstood the challenge itself! The challenge was not to master all concepts, or to do all problems rightly; the challenge was to maximize my score – and that definitely includes knowing when to let go. If you are a perfectionist, you have to face this, and you have to find a way to work around it.
Day before the test I wrote to BB, random stuff about being nervous. He replied: “Remember to take each question by itself. Don't worry about the grand scheme, just one question at a time” And well that was exactly what I did during my GMAT. While taking it, I made myself believe the question in front of me was all that was there to it. Nothing more, nothing less. That helps you in the real test. He also did say, “GMAT is not everything. Your life does not depend on it and you don't need to worry about it beyond being careful and alert when answering questions” and that did soothe my frayed nerves. I must have read this 10 time in those crazy 24 hours before the test And finally, the Thank You’s:
BB- From last minute replies to frantic SOS PMs to the entire virtual world you have put together, my whole preparation depended so much on GMAT Club that I wonder if I could have done without it. You made what felt like a monster seem like a game. For that and for multitude of ways in which you and the Club helped me, Thanks a lot, really.
Ron Purewal: The best teacher I have ever had.
Fluke, Bunnel : Your explanations to queries were very enlightening, so was the GMAT Club Maths Book.
Chineseburned: What would mortals do without your guide to AWA!
And the club: gained a lot from reviews, debriefs, discussions. Thanks to everyone, and good luck to the future takers
For me, time to move to the next step..PS: Have attached the notes I made (Mostly summary of various study materials, GMAT Club Book, Powerscore CR, and Ron’s videos among numerous other such resources – The SC ones are quite comprehensive, I never faced a question which was outside the concepts I summarized there. Hope these help. Let me know if any queries.)
Verbal.zip [1.44 MiB]
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