I came back for a final post to thank the gmatclub community for all of the great posts, support, and advice that helped me get to where I wanted to be. There are simply too many people to name, but you were all part of my path to 750. Maybe I didn't post as much as other people, but I certainly read all the posts I could get to!
But you're probably more interested in the test and how I got there. Bascially, three months ago I knew I had to take a crack at B school. So, the only thing I had to get done was the GMAT. I'm the type that prepares like crazy for everything, so the first thing I did was go out and buy the Kaplan
GMAT/GRE/etc. testing software. I started into it, but definitely wanted more prep. Then I found gmatclub, and with all the great reviews on here, I went and picked up Kaplan 800
and the OG. So these were my big three study guides. Oh yes, and powerprep.
So i studied, studied, studied, (kaplan
software & 800) and felt ready for my first CAT, so I took the Kaplan
CAT 1 and scored what I thought to be an atrocious 540 -- all because I had 5 questions that I didn't get to. I was scared to death, so I studied and timed myself to get a better rhythm down, and a week later, tried CAT 2. I did even worse -- 530. Again, did not finish all the questions. So the pattern was obvious, and my strategies changed. [Don't try to solve everything perfectly. If you've spent 2-3 minutes on a hard problem, guess and move on. You'll hurt more if you have 5 questions to do in 1 minute at the end.]
So, anyways, I studied some more (kaplan
/800) and worked on my timing and took the first powerprep test (before even cracking the OG) and got 750! I was elated that I was seeing results. So then came the long push through the entire OG. I did every problem in that book, and it was probably the best decision I made in the study process (more on that later.) Took the second powerprep test several weeks later, and scored a 780 -- mainly because I had seen the questions before
I didn't really factor this result into my study plans at all.
Feeling that I had made significant progress, I took the kaplan
CAT 3 and scored better -- 610. And back to the books I went.
So time was winding down and a week before the test, I took the final kaplan
CAT and scored my best kaplan
score -- 630. Because kaplan
gives superlow scores, I estimated a 730.
The week before, I just did as many questions as I could find -- gmatclub, OG, anywhere. Took the night off before the test, to clear the mind and be in the best mental state I could.
So, the test. I had to schedule the test for the late afternoon on a friday, as all the saturdays were all taken. This resulted in about 5 hours of me pacing and trying to keep my nerves calm, so I just decided to pick up and show up early. It took a while to drive there, but I used the car ride to pump my ego up. Once I got to the testing center, they had room, so they let me start the test early. After signing in and sitting down, my heart was pounding, so I took the intro (picking schools and such) very slowly, slowing my breathing. After picking my schools, it was on.
First essay -- opinion. Piece of cake. Punched out my opinions on the matter, did some formatting and used the last couple of minutes to proofread and edit a bit. No problem.
Second essay -- obviously, the argument. Took me a bit longer to get the essay out since the argument had so many flaws, I needed to name them all. I wasn't entirely happy with the arrangement of paragraphs and some of my wording, but nothing to worry about.
Then a break. I took this break, splashed water on my face, jammed some skittles and soda in my mouth and refocused. Fortunately, the essays give you a long time to calm your nerves and get your focus. Had I started the test right with Quant., I wouldn't have done as well.
So then I started the quantitative. First, easy. Second, ok, a little harder, but still easy. So on and so forth. I had one problem drag out at 9, and realized I was hitting the hard-problem wall (and early! a good sign). Spent some extra time making sure it was right, and continued on. Then they got easier and easier. I was very surprised, as they were all much easier than I was expecting. Had some extra time left over on the last problem, so I sat and made sure I had it right, and used the time to calm my nerves.
Another break. More water, more skittles, more soda. All good ideas.
Then verbal. A few easy SCs to start. A few CRs. Then, bam. A super hard set of RCs on a non-science passage. After slogging through those,
the rest just got easier. I knew the right answer to the CRs before I saw the answer choices. All the SCs were straightforward. Then, near the end, bam. A super duper long RC, again, non-science. There was no choice but to put the time in (I was 10 minutes ahead of time-schedule) and do it right. In the end, around question 35 or so, my heart just started firing, because I knew it would be all over soon. I had to spend a few extra seconds calming myself, and pushed through #41.
I was done. I was expecting two big buttons to come up -- keep scores/trash scores, but no. They make you wade through their survey deal while your heart is racing at a thousand miles an hour. Regardless, I took my scores and saw my 750, and felt liberated.
My advice for someone taking the GMAT for the first time (of course, some things will work better for others):
1. You live and die by the clock. If you aren't finishing questions in 2 minutes, you need to get faster. Spending more than 4-5 minutes on one problem will kill your score.
2. The OG is the only reliable source for the types of questions you'll see on the GMAT. Sure, Kaplan
's super mega hard quant problems "toughened me up" or whatever, but the questions in the OG and powerprep are the kind you're going to see on the test. GMAT 800
is a good resource for hard problems, if you're looking to get tough.
's CAT difficulty, or scoring is broken, and you can ignore the scores it gives. Powerprep (if you havent done the OG) will give you an accurate estimate. The highest score I ever got on a kaplan
cat was 630. (a week before the real test) Wow, way to nail my real 750 there, kaplan
4. Do the whole OG. Even (and especially) the ones others call 'easy'. A majority of the test is going to be those 'easy' types of questions. Moreover, don't be spooked by easy questions you get in the test. It doesn't mean you got the last one wrong! It means ETS doesn't want to give away all their hard questions.
5. Know why you got a question right or wrong. Once you understand the theory, it's then about execution, and at that point, all the errors you make will be errors of concentration and focus, not lack of knowledge.
Sorry for the longest post ever, but this was my story. Thanks to everyone here at GMAT club for the help, advice, explanations, support, and camraderie. Best of luck to you all, and I hope to see some of you at school next year.
--The IT guy