I just thought I would share my experience about the GMAT. I gave my second attempt yesterday and scored a 720 ( Quant 47 and Verbal 42). I was hoping for a lot more, but I will settle down with these scores as I believe they are quite reasonable for targetting the schools that I am applying to in conjunction with other application factors.
I started studying for the GMAT around June in full earnest ( did purchase the books in March and did some on and off basics studying before June). Coming from a Quant and Engineering background, I took the first Kaplan
free test in March and scored a 690 in diagnostic. I was elated because most people on various forums said that I could expect a 50-100 point improvement. I purchased the Manhattan GMAT
286 $ set and went through most of the Strategy guides with reasonable rigour
Most of my initial focus was driven towards Verbal and Sentence Correction and CR in specific. I started off with solving OG 12
and OG 13
as the forums pointed out that it was as close to GMAT questions I could hope for. I took my first Manhattan CAT 1 on June 22nd and got a 620. I was close to completely shattered as I felt my weeks of studying were a waste. P.S I hold a very demanding job as a Country Manager and along with this I was battling some worrying personal issues with my health which almost made me want to quit on the GMAT. Bearing in mind that I am applying to only some of the elite schools, H/W,LBS, Insead and ISB and this being my second MBA it wasnt an easy thought to poush out at times. However I pulled myself back and studied even more intently.
Scores started to show an improvement. The second MGMAT CAT in the first week of July was a 710, followed by a 730, 720 and again a 740. The only worrying point was I could never finish my Quant in the practice tests. The GMAT Preps taken in July were 750 and 740. I was reasonably confident and pepped up about my first attempt on August 5th. However closer to the exam day I kept revising the tougher chapters in Manhattan's books and was gasping for memory on all the concepts. The tests kept proving to me that my CR and RC were in top shape and DS and SC were weaker areas.
August 5th, I took my first GMAT. My timing was at 8:45 am and I reached the center in time. Started cracking on the AWA and for the first time I could get a good grip on IR ( IR on the GMAT is much easier than on test preps practice tests). Quant was reasonably OK. I had to guess on a few and move on but I made sure that I finished on time. Being a little happy, I started off being a little extra cautious on Verbal. And boy was I wrong !. On the practice tests, I usually kept a center time frame of half the number of questions around by half the time, which for verbal translates between the 20th and 21st question with a variance of being at no less than the 18th question by the 38th minute or so. Being slow on SC (Manhattan tests usually start with the CR and I am reasonably fast on that. This kept boosting me on timing in the practice tests), left me at around the 13th question at the half way mark and that kind of messed up everything. For the last 10-12 questions, I had to just glance once and tick answers. That restricted me from maximising on my strength in CR. In particular one RC passage I could not even read it coherently. The way verbal went I thought I would be lucky to get a 35. However, I got a 39 in V and 47 in Q and ended up with a 700.
I took a brief vacation and went to India and the Far East with conflicting thoughts on should I give it again. Came back and spoke to a couple of friends and professionals. Most people thought a 700 was good enough. However, because I knew I could do better and probably push to 740, I made my mind up around mid of September and started with my books again. Went through all the concepts again and since the preparation was thorough the first time around, I found it much more easier. Reset the Manhattan tests and found that their scoring had become much more stringent. Got a 730 on the first one ( thought it was not accurate cause I seem to have a faint idea on the questions from the Past), hence purchase 800 Score, got a 760 ( however would not recommend these Tests, they are far too easy), gave the Manhattan test 2 and got a 690, the two GMAT Preps got a 740 and 720 again.
Compared to the August 5th attempt, I kept myself really calm. In fact I did go to work yesterday morning and drove to the test center as normal. Got cracking on the AWA. The only worrying part is I typed my response but did not click a next on it. My center admin told me it was OK. IR was good as well.
Quant started well and I cracked the first 10-12 questions in a breeze. Started feeling elated. Questions 12 and 14 knocked the winds out of my sail. They were not tough but were cumbersome Geometry problems. I then moved on and whilst I kept getting a reasonable amount right, kept having to guess to move on as well. All in all, it was the same like GMAT 1.
Felt a little let down during the break but realised I can still pull back things on the Verbal. Said a short prayer and zoned back in. Verbal started like a breeze agian. Got the first few questions well within time. Had an RC passage in the first few questions. Could crack that easily as well. And I was spot on time. In fact a little fast as well. Half way stage I was on question 23 which means I was about 4 minutes ahead. I really kept enjoying verbal and I thought I was in for a good score. The reasoning behind that is that I was not struggling between choices and most of the questions seemed reasonably easy ( You know how you normally struggle when you are stuck between two choices). However I kept reminding myself that things could go wrong with a couple of wrong answers I reached the last five questions with 20 minutes at hand. I used these minutes to really read every answer and hence I finished verbal on a reasonable high. On clicking the last question, I thought I might be a 44 in Verbal and should reach a 740. On seeeing the 720 I had mixed feelings. I allways thought that my second attempt would be worth it if it was a 730 +.
My recommendations for studying:
Study hard. Nothing substitutes practice practice and more practice. Moreover nothing substitutes smart practice from a number of sources.
Do a lot of practice tests. Focus and emphasize on your timing. More importantly do a thorough analysis of where you are going wrong. What questions are taking your time. Way too slow questions, way too fast questions. ( There is an excellent blog written by Stacey of Manhattan GMAT
on the BTG site. Was a ton of help).
Stay calm during the test. The GMAT plays on your nerves. I still feel better if I had knocked those two Geometry questions out of my mind I could have been a 48 or 49 in Quant.
Books for study: Manhattan GMAT
is fantastic. I used the CR bible for CR ( one of the best books). Practice some LSAT questions for the CR. It will get your thinking much sharper.
SC: Keep going through Manhattan and read a lot of posts, blogs, difficult questions. OG 12
RC: is more of a function of practice. I disagree with pundits who recommend skimming and note taking. I allways spent time understanding what the author was trying to tell me and it paid well. In almost all of my later tests I never got more than 2 questions wrong on 14 in RC. Practice from the OG's etc
My big mistake was the Quant. Being a engg graduate with honours, my first MBA quant scores being good and confidence in my quant ability could have been a little of my undoing. One of my other mistakes in Quant was overreliance on Manhattan GMAT books
. Manhattan GMAT books
for Quant are tough and very conceptual. These are good books, dont get me wrong. However the GMAT tests much on application based Maths. for e,g Manhattan GMAt books
focus a lot on inequalities and more concept based topics. However the actual GMAT tests Geometry, rates, sequences, etc much more heavily. These are not given that much weightage on the MGMAT books
All in all, as I wake up the morning after I am glad and relieved because besides the exam itself, I have rediscovered my inner strengths of persistence of completing something well despite the odds.
Good luck to you all and do Beat the GMAT