GMATClub forum has enormously contributed towards my development, and I wish to share some insights from my GMAT journey. I will try and keep the debrief objectiveBackground
Indian, studied Biotechnology in London and worked with a NGO in development sector for 1 year. Currently in Bahrain after an unsuccessful online venture, Craftila
in Bangalore.Pre-GMAT Level
I started my GMAT prep in the month of September 2012. Prior to that, I had not studied mathematics for 7 years and being a non native speaker, my English was not commendable. GMAT scoreline
I performed all CATs with IR and AWA sectionsGMAT 1st Attempt
: Bangalore, 5th May 2013 : 640 (Quant 49, Verbal 24, IR 6, AWA 5.5)One month BreakGMAT 2nd Attempt:
Bahrain, 9th July 2013: 720 (Quant 49, Verbal 40)Preparations materialQuantitative Reasoning section
Although I was able to score in the low 40s, in order to raise my score to high 40s or even 50, I concentrated on timing and accuracy rather than solving extremely hard questions. You have to understand that GMAT quant section is more about mental strength and consistency.
What worked for me
Solved 20 timed questions in each sitting.Verbal Section
Reviewed even right answers and tried to find multiple ways to solve the same question.
Identified common DS & PS traps.
Developed the mentality to pull out from a question.
Developed a few guessing techniques.
Maintained a book for error log, common formulas, number properties, etc. and reviewed the same each weekend.
This section almost felt like moving a mountain, however I now believe that it is possible. I struggled in literally each type of verbal question. As adviced by a number of instructors, practice as much as possible from the official questions. Although official questions are limited, if studied carefully they bring forth enormous learnings.Sentence Correction (SC)
Manhattan SC guide along with RON's
explanations of the GMATPrep questions is the real deal. I believe that I must have read the Manhattan SC guide thrice before I got a good hang of the rules and was able to naturally apply them in the official questions.
What worked for me
Practiced Practiced Practiced and maintained an error log.Critical Reasoning (CR)
Scanning answer choices vertically.
Initially focussed on finding and understanding errors in all answer choices.
Later, did not get bogged down in small errors such as idioms, pronoun ambiguity or rare exceptions.
Prior to reading the Powerscore CR
bible, I did not have a strategy to attack CR questions. The Powerscore CR
bible in my opinion is one of the best books as it completely alteredt my thinking when faced with a CR prompt and equipped me with a number of tools to attack such questions. Also, I believe there are insufficient 700+ official questions and hence practiced relevant CR questions from LSAT papers
, particularly assumptions questions.
What worked for me
Faithfully followed the Powerscore CR bible and trusted that with practice, I will be able to solve tough CR questions in under 2 minutes.Reading Comprehension (RC)
Went through wrong options to understand how they affect the argument.
Identified common CR traps and wrong answers such as opposite, out of scope, percent, etc.
This section again demanded a lot of patience and handwork. I don't even remember the number of passages I must have read to get comfortable with alien and boring matter. A number of GMAT prep companies advice students to read reputed journals and magazines, however I focussed on getting as many RC articles under my belt from different sources such as OG, LSAT, mocks, etc.
What worked for me
I focussed heavily on the passage and less on note taking, mostly writing only initials of complex term or name, and years.Test Day
Initially in my prep took time to understand the passage.
Pre-thinking the purpose of the passage before answering the questions. Mostly I ask myself, why did the author bother to write this passage.
Learnt to move on in case of tough RC inference question.
Attempt 1 (640 Q49 V24): Although I was confident about my preparations, I did experience anxiety on the test day. My AWA, IR and Quant went fine, but I experienced restlessness in the verbal section. It is difficult to replicate the test day emotions.
I normally write a small timing table for each quant and verbal section that serves as benchmark, however on the test day, I twice misread the verbal timing table and was completely off time. My body went in panic mode and all questions seemed difficult and never ending.Lesson learnt: Stay Calm!
Attempt 2 (720 Q49 V40): This time I learnt by heart the timings table. I did 3 weeks of prep, mainly taking all the available free CATs in-order to build my mental strength. I also purchased the GMATPrep question pack 1 and performed timed mixed question set. Highlights from attempt 2;
Having gone though the emotions before, I was very calm during the entire exam
Got couple of very difficult word problem at the end of the quant section, which might have lowed by quant score.
Number properties dominated my quant section, faced only 1 question each from Geometry and Combinations.
Took all my breaks.
Did not get any bold face questions in my verbal section. PS note, do not judge your performance while performing the test.
CR was dominated with inference, assumptions and evaluate.
Being a biotech graduate helped because I got two science passages, including one about some biology species.
Parallelism helped me solve lot of SC questions, however I did face few one worded questions.
I will be writing my feedback on individual CATs and the prep sources mentioned above in a later post. I would like to thank all the instructors and students on the forums for selflessly contributing to the community.
I would love to answer any queries. Wish you all good luck for your prep.