• Test date – June 3, 2013
• GMAT Score – 750 = Q49, V42
• Professional Background – Engineer, Indian, 8 years work ex
• Personal Background – Married, Proud father of 10 month old princess
• The GMAT MANTRA – Plan well and Execute
• GMAT Aspirant since Aug 2011 (almost 2 years)
Today with immense happiness I am proud to announce my GMAT score of 750. During these past 2 years I have stumbled a lot, fallen multiple times, gotten disheartened, given up, but ultimately with my proper planning, I am at a stage where I can give a few pieces of advice to my fellow GMAT aspirants. I am truly thankful to the community here and this post is a token of my gratitude towards all of you.
LESSON 1 – PREPARING FOR GMAT IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
Preparation for GMAT is truly some serious business. Make sure when you take this on you are fully committed to it. DO NOT consider it one of several things that you can do. It requires careful planning and should be given its due importance.
HOW I LEARNED IT THE HARD WAY
I thought of preparing for GMAT in August 2011. But frankly, for the next 1 year till August 2012, everything happened except GMAT prep. I had numerous overseas trips for business since I got promoted at work. God blessed me with a baby girl in August 2012. Even though so many beautiful things happened to me in this one year, something kept bugging me – I could not prepare for GMAT, something that I had set as a target.
HOW DID I DO RIGHT?
At this point, I consciously suspended my plans for GMAT since I did not want myself chasing multiple deadlines and not being able to focus on anything properly. I decided to take this on from Jan 2013 onwards.
LESSON 2 – PLAN IT LIKE YOU WOULD PLAN ANY OF YOUR WORK PROJECTS
GMAT prep is a project of its own. I am a program manager by profession and I can say that with confidence that one must plan how to prepare for GMAT before actually starting to study. By planning, I mean serious planning like spending 1-2 days in planning.
HOW I LEARNED IT THE HARD WAY
When I started preparing in Jan this year, I immediately purchased the books and started reading from cover to cover without actually having a goal in mind for all that reading effort. I had goals as “complete MGMAT Number Properties
Book in 1 week”, “read Powerscore CR
book in 15 days”. While at the time, these seemed like reasonable goals, now I look back and laugh at myself. My goal should have gotten me closer to my target score but these goals served only as checkmarks.
HOW DID I DO RIGHT?
In March 2013, after taking a mock test and scoring a mere 27 in verbal, I realized that I need to take a serious look at my technique of preparation. This is when I attended e-GMAT
strategy session. This is when I set up real goals for my GMAT prep. Here is what my milestones were:
• March 15 – Get Quant score of 49. I was at 47 and given my aptitude for quant, I knew I could take it up to 49. I did not set up a lofty goal of 50 or 51 since I realized my limitation.
• March 31 – Get SC accuracy above 80% for OG13 difficult questions.
• April 15 – Get CR accuracy above 80% for OG13 difficult questions.
• April 30 – Get RC accuracy above 80% for OG13 difficult questions.
• May – Fine-tune preparation by taking mocks and working on weak areas.
Now with an aim to accomplish these milestones, I then devised by study plan with the right study resources.
CERTAIN BEST PRACTICES
These two lessons were a key to my success. The manner in which I prepared for GMAT was governed by these two lessons. In the next section of my post here, I will highlight some of the key best practices that I employed.
1. Learn from your mistakes
a. When you attempt questions, do not consider the question done if you answered it correctly. Know exactly why the wrong choices are wrong and why the correct answers are correct. If you do the same, you will be much more confident in the exam. I did not do the same initially and this impacted my performance in the exam. I got in the habit of doing such thorough analysis after I attended the eGMAT
live sessions. In these sessions, the instructors Shraddha and Rajat do not reward us just for answering questions correctly. They make sure we answered the question correctly for the right reasons. They discuss every answer choice and pin point the reason why it’s incorrect. Doing so is absolutely vital both during your practice and in mocks. While practicing, ask yourself – why do you think choice A is incorrect etc. It will help boost your accuracy.
2. Spend Dedicated Time every day
a. With a small baby at home and a more than full-time job, I knew I had to take some serious steps if I were to prepare for GMAT the right way. So with complete buy-in from my better half (make sure you have your partner’s buy in; believe me it saves a number of fights and headaches!!), I put aside 2 hours in the morning for my GMAT prep. I did not have to think whether to study or not. It also forced me to sleep on time. I did have to miss out on a few sitcoms. There were days when I could not put my daughter to sleep (because she was not sleepy). But believe me- it was worth it in the end.
3. Test Taking Strategies –a. No need to do ALL questions
i. I must thank Bunnel for his magnificent analysis. This was a real eye opener for me. I realized that I did not need to attempt ALL questions to get a high score on the test; I could get 49 in quant even with 10+ incorrect questions. When you know that you only need to get ~27 questions correct, you can focus your energy on fewer questions. Believe me – it helps.b. Recognize Takt Time for common question types
i. The second strategy session from e-GMAT
introduced the idea of Takt time for a question type. For example, I take more than 2 minutes for Evaluate questions whereas I take less than 1.5 minutes for an inference or assumption question type. Knowing that I need this time to solve a particular question type otherwise my accuracy will go down was very useful. Thanks to e-GMAT
for introducing such a revolutionary idea and to Grockit and MGMAT reports to help me calculate my Takt Time. c. Before taking test, know which questions to skip
i. So combining the above two strategies, before taking any mock and before taking the GMAT, I knew when to skip certain questions. These were the questions that were from my weak areas. I would take an educated guess instead of wasting more than 2 minutes on each of these questions.
1. Bold Face in CR – If I am running behind time and the argument is reasonably long one. Bold face answer choices are really tricky and these questions were a hit or miss for me.
2. P&C and Probability – If I do not understand the scenario in the question in the first 30 seconds. This section is too broad to study. At the same time, you get very few questions from this section.
3. Inference question in RC – If it is a broad inference; i.e. inference from multiple placed in the passage rather than from one section and if I cannot eliminate 3 choices in first 30 seconds. I had a real difficult time on these ones.
ii. This helped me focus on my strengths and allowed me to spend more time on questions I could confidently handle.
Before I end this never ending post, I would like to give my two cents on the various study resources that I used
– Do not treat SC as grammar rule set. SC is as logical as it gets. Once you start to focus on the meaning and structure of the sentence, SC truly becomes a joyful experience. Do not try to get rules from each and every question. Instead think of the broad based rule set that GMAT tests you on and see how those apply to the official questions. It’s truly how you approach SC. For me Payal’s Meaning Session was the eye opener. The e-GMAT
SC course is what drilled the meaning approach in my mind and this approach with the appropriate analysis approach was further drilled in the live sessions. Thanks Shraddha for your patience in the sessions.
– Powerscore CR
is a great book. I read it cover to cover. I learned the intricacies of the arguments. I learned that we should pre-think. At the end of the book, I felt great as I had had a great theory lesson but something was lacking. I actually craved for how to apply all that theory. This is where e-GMAT
CR course in. It was in this course and the associated live sessions that I learned how to pre-think. After going through the course, I was able to prethink in 70% of the questions. Selecting the correct answer became a cake walk once the prethinking was done. Prethinking really helped boost my confidence and score.
– This was one section that I used to dread primarily because I am not that good with computations. I scored in 45-47 range in MGMAT mocks and was repeatedly disappointed. But when I took GMAT Prep I realized was that DS was more logical than computational. So for all you folks out there - believe me Q47 in MGMAT mocks is a good score because MGMAT tests are a lot more computationally intensive. I was actually demotivated when I got this score but in the end it all worked out fine.
– Needless to say that e-GMAT
IR course is the best that is out there. It provides a very good refresher and a great source of practice. I spent 2 days with the course and did well on GMAT Prep software. I did not prepare using anything else. Lets see what I score.
I know I said that the last section was the last one, but I have to write a note about the mock tests as well. I have touched upon the mocks in the other parts of my posts, but I believe that it is such an important aspect of preparation that it requires its own heading
As I mentioned earlier, I kept last one month for taking mocks and fine tuning my preparation. In the process I took a total of 8 mocks as after each fine tuning session I wanted to see if I had improved or not. In essence my mock tests went from 590 (Q42, V25) to 730 (Q49, V41). Taking mocks is very important for the following reasons:
1. Timing - you have to nail the timing. This is the single biggest thing that can help or spoil your score. 3 mocks are enough to nail the timing.
2. Stamina - Another biggie. Need 3-4 mocks to make sure that you are not fatigued. Make sure that you try out different snacks and choose what works. Do not change the snack from mocks to the real GMAT. It’s a very small thing but really important. For me an orange worked out very well. I know it was a bit of a hassle since I had to wash my hands after eating it but somehow it gave me that instant pure burst of energy!!
3. Competence - this is clear.
4. Confidence - if you score well in one mock it could be fluke. But if the success repeats, you probably are good to go.
Attempt at least 6 mocks. I used MGMAT for initial mocks and GMAT Prep for later mocks.
All said and done, I am happy. With my long message, I just wanted to communicate how thankful I am to this community. I used to read the debriefs and I used to silently thing – will I ever be able to write it and today I just finished writing mine.