I am planning to apply for Fall 2015 intake, but since I am already sure I want an MBA, I start the GMAT preparation early.
I am currently working in Jakarta, Indonesia. Here in Jakarta, there are only a few options of GMAT prep course, the ones that I know are:
Puri Kencana, West Jakarta
Price is 25 million IDR (about 2300 USD) for 40 hour private lesson, no class unless you can find your own classmates. I did a test drive with them and talked with the teacher, but I was not convinced since when I met the teacher, he could not even remember the structure of GMAT test! He said he had not taught GMAT for some time and would have to reread the material before starting classes with me. I talked with the front desk and that person was the only teacher for GMAT.
2. Pascal Edu
I have heard good things about Nick Pascale and was recommended to get courses from him.
I called him before doing any kind of GMAT Test/Drill, he refused my request to get a private class. I called him back after getting Kaplan
Test Drive result and asked for a private class since the class he offered was aiming for 500-600 score and I was already getting 560, he refused my request again.
So then I decided to study by myself using books and online sources. Here is what I did:Some time in September 2013:
When I first considered taking MBA, I bought Princeton Review
New GMAT book from Gramedia (local bookstore) as it was the only GMAT book available there. Personally, I felt that the book did not help me at all other than for getting to know the IR part. Once I got serious with getting an MBA, I started looking for better sources and never used this book afterwards.November 17, 2013:
Did a test drive from Kaplan
. Result: 560 (Q 42, V 34)
Paper based test, not CAT, not timed, I finished about 15 minutes later than it should be. Quite low score on verbal, mediocre score on quantitative, so I decided to improve my verbal.First week of December:
Browsed for GMAT forum to get books recommendation & learning materials, I found GMAT Club’s style best suited me and it provided all info and materials I needed.
Read Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible
(finished it in about 10 days) and MGMAT Sentence Correction
(started this on December but did not finish it until late January). Bought both books from Amazon Kindle.Second week of December:
Printed out 700-800 level verbal questions from GMAT Club forum and practiced whenever I had free time (waiting in line, eating lunch, etc).
I went on vacation for the last 2 weeks of December and did not touch GMAT materials at all.First week of January:
I continued practicing the 700-800 level verbal questions and this was when I got lazy, so I signed up for a GMAT test on March 24, 2014 to motivate myself.Second week of January:
I decided that I needed more resources to learn from. I browsed online courses reviews in GMAT Club and finally decided to join Magoosh
. I chose Magoosh
for the price and the flexibility it offers.
I watched CR and SC videos and drilled on the practice test (Magoosh
lets you choose the question difficulty level, I always chose hard or very hard).January 19, 2014:
Did a practice test from GMATPrep. Result: 590 (Q 36, V 35)
I believe the improvement was more than just 30 scaled score since the first test I took was not a CAT and was not timed. I felt a significant improve on verbal, but I did not have enough time to finish the quantitative, I probably only did 25 out of 37 questions. I had been neglecting this section because I thought math was always easy for me. That was a bad move, I was too confident, I might be able to do the problems, but I could not do it fast enough, so I decided to improve my quantitative.Fourth week of January – Second week of February:
I did 'hard' & 'very hard' quantitative problems on Magoosh
and always checked whenever I got something wrong and watched the explanation video & all related lessons. I also checked for simpler way to solve problems if I spent more than 2 minutes.
I identified my weakness points (Data Sufficiency, Probability, Std Dev) and I drilled myself on these more. In the end I finally learned to know when to give up, make educated guess, and move on. Sometimes, you just have to do this to save time.Third week of February:
I watched videos for Verbal Reading Comprehension, this was the part that I hated the most in the Verbal, I tried to do some practice test but could not do more than 2 passages at one sitting.Fourth week of February – First week of March:
I started feeling lazy again and did not do much during this time, I really hoped I did more practice on Quantitative.Second week of March:
It dawned upon me that my test date was getting nearer and nearer, so I started picking myself up. I customized Magoosh
practice test for a burst of 30 minute Verbal and Quantitative question set everyday. March 22, 2014:
Did my last practice test from GMATPrep. Result: 710 (Q 49, V 38)
I could not finish my quantitative and guessed the last 3-4 problems, but had enough time for verbal. I was happy with the result and felt confident.March 23, 2014:
I read AWA guide from Chineseburned in gmatclub.com and did 3-4 essays, picking topics randomly from GMAT official website.March 24, 2014:
Official GMAT Test
When I signed up for the test, there were two available time, 9 AM and 12 PM. The 12 PM slot was not always available everyday. I signed up for Monday 12 PM Test so that I could have a good rest on weekend and could take my time to get ready in the morning of the test.
On my test date, I wore t-shirt, cardigan, jeans, and crocs to the test center and made sure I was comfortable in them. This might sound stupid, but I actually prepared the outfit the night before. I read that it was best to dress in layers just in case the AC was too cold, and if you felt too hot, you could always take the outer layer off.
I arrived almost 2 hours too early, but Jakarta traffic was never predictable, better be safe than sorry. The Jakarta test center was in University of Indonesia in Salemba Raya, the test place was quite hidden, I had to ask around to get there. I took taxi so I did not have to worry about parking my car.
I waited in the next building for 1 hour (making some phone calls for my work) and then went in 1 hour before the test. I registered and got sent to the waiting room, water and light snack were provided here. On this day, I did not touch any material anymore other than skimming Chineseburned’s AWA guide on the waiting room.
I popped some gum before getting into the room. I read before that this was not allowed but I was not stopped by the officer, so I assumed every test center was different. I felt that chewing gum gave me some kind of calming effect.AWA Section (Result: 6.0)
I read the argument and jot down 3 points that weakened the argument and started typing my essay. I did not have enough time to write 500+ word essay like suggested in the AWA guide, but still got 6.0 AWA Score, that AWA guide was a charm. Really, I owed you, Chineseburned.Integrated Reasoning Section (Result: 8)
I did not remember much about this part, it was ok for me and I did not sweat this section since the schools do not pay much attention to Integrated Reasoning yet.Break I
I went to the restroom and had some water. I did not use all break time since sitting down and doing nothing made me feel anxious. I popped some more gum and asked to start the test earlier.Quantitative Section (Result: 49)
This was just like my last practice test. I was calm at the beginning but then when the question got harder, I started sweating the time and worried if I could not finish everything. I had to guess the last 3-4 questions.Break II
I went to the restroom and started feeling low because I could not finish the Quantitative. I paced the restroom back and forth cursing myself for not practicing the math more. But then it got into me that I needed to regain my composure since I still had Verbal and panicking would not do anything to my Quant score anyway. I took a deep breath and went to the waiting room to get some water. I also did not use all my break time and asked to start early. I popped some gum, but this time the officer told me to finish it before getting back into the test room, so I just threw the gum away.Verbal Section (Result: 42)
I have calmed myself down by this point and I had full concentration for my verbal. I was ahead of the time so I slowed down for the last few questions. I felt quite confident in the end of this section.The Reveal of 740
I took a deep breath before submitting my score and literally dropped my jaw when I saw the score. I was super happy and felt like heavy burden had been lifted.TIPS:
1. Know yourself and know what strategy works best for you. If you can not concentrate for 3 hours straight, then break down your study into ½ - 1 hour session, and if you are good at multitasking, it does not have to be a dedicated session.I watched Magoosh videos while getting ready in the morning; I did some problems while waiting in line, I read the book while eating my lunch.
2. Make sure you have a strategy and master plan when studying for GMAT, you don’t have to have it from the very beginning, but you can build it overtime.
3. Make an error log
to document your mistakes (or if this is too much, at least make sure you check what topics you got wrong often and make a mental note of that).For me, this helped a lot in deciding which topics to focus on. I tried to improve myself from the topics I was weakest, as I learned more, my weakest points changed. Topics that I was mediocre at start would one day be my weakest points; this was how I made sure I studied the right topics, rather than having to cover everything.
Good luck with your GMAT Prep and MBA Prep Journey!