1) GMAT is Not a Big Deal
2) Reality Check
3) Study Habits
4) Do Practice Exams
5) Score History and Mini-Debriefs
12) Do a Debrief After Each Exam
13) Advice for GMAT Club
I am an African native English-speaker engineer working at a technology company. I want to pursue an MBA to help transform Africa (especially Sub-Saharan African) into the economic titan that I envision it to be. I mention the fact that I am an African to encourage other Africans that with hardwork and dedication, they too can score highly on the GMAT without
cutting corners or even worse cheating on the exam.
1) GMAT is Not a Big Deal
I'm sure that the following point won't be heeded by many here especially those who have worked very hard on the GMAT but have not seen results commensurate with their hard work.
The point is that the GMAT does not matter as much as people think it does unless one's GPA is not that stellar. The whole point of the GMAT is to segregate people into distinct groups based on their scores and to show that one can perform at a certain academic level in school; it has little to do with being a business leader at an organization. In my humble opinion, the only sections that seem to be relevant to being a business leader are IR, CR, AWA, and RC decreasing in relevancy in that order. We have professional editors for SC and computer programs for Quant. Strengthen other parts of your application if your GMAT score is not that great (720+).
2) Reality Check
The following may make some of you upset, but it is only for the best, and has worked for me.
Unless you have been blessed with natural talents for performing well on the GMAT, you need to work hard
to own this exam and must make sacrifices
. This means eliminating all
potential distractions such as Facebook, TV, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine. I have found that all of these things especially TV are just pure time wasters. You won't be less "informed" not knowing what frivolous act Kim Kardashian engaged in, what jokes Obama made, or what exotic place your friend visited for the nth time. On the contrary, you will find out that your life will be more productive as a result. Be honest
with yourself and understand that as a future CEO, executive, or world leader, you won't and shouldn't have time for these things.
Trust me, I know about the hard work part, and the many small things that one misses while studying for the GMAT. As a Christian, I deal with my problems through prayer in addition to hard work. Because I wasn't seeing much progress, I chose to fast 7 hours one Saturday each month for several months before I saw improvement in Quant and CR. The eureka moments came frustratingly slowly, but I am grateful that they came. I had to delay spending time with my friends and family, because of the GMAT. I also had to cut down my time working out at the gym and thus frustratingly gained fat and lost the hard-earned muscle that I built. In total, I did 1783 Verbal questions, 604 LSAT LR Questions, 561 LSAT RC Questions, and 1343 Quant questions. Note that these don't include questions I did when I wasn't home. This is not to brag
, but to show you how committed
I was to the GMAT.
Of course in order to prevent burnout
, you should also schedule weekends for playing hard (watching a movie, going out with friends, etc.), but don't overdo it and have the discipline to get right back to GMAT the minute
that weekend is over.
If you don't want to work hard for this exam, it most likely means that you either don't really want an MBA
or dislike standardized exams. If you don't mind standardized exams, at this point, you should ask yourself the tough questions
such as why do I want an MBA? Is it to allow my parents to continue living vicariously through me? Is it just because my friends are pushing me to do it? Is it just because it's another box to check? If the answer to any
of these questions is "yes", you most likely don't
want an MBA and should stop your journey now, because you will most likely be miserable doing the MBA and will not work hard if you are admitted to a program. If the answer to all
of these questions is "no" and you dislike standardized tests, you need to swallow this dislike and muster up the will to work hard anyway. You must understand that some things on the path to one's passions and dreams may not be glamorous and must get done.
Reference: https://lawschooli.com/harsh-truths-tha ... -the-lsat/
3) Study Habits
Build good habits when taking real questions (timing and strategy such as scanning through SC choices and knowing when to give up on questions). This is very important, because when you take the real exam, your mind will switch to auto-pilot, and however you've answered practice questions will be exactly
the same way you will answer real exam questions. With that being said, find the study habit that works for you
; there is no one right way to study. You are a unique being and things that work for someone else might not work for you.
4) Do Practice Exams
You need to do practice exams to build stamina for your actual exam, and to harden your study skills. I suggest that you take at least 4 practice exams each weekend before the weekend of your actual exam. These exams need to be done under the same
conditions as the GMAT exam. This means having an 8-minute break and penalizing yourself for exceeding the break time. I thought that time over the break would be deducted from time used for reading the directions first and then time used for answering questions in the section, but it is deducted from time on the section only (typical of GMAC). You would also be wise to take the exam on the pad that is given on the GMAT. MGMAT sells both the pad and pen as a unit on Amazon. Unfortunately, the pen can't be ordered separately once it runs out, so you will have to order both the pad and
pen even if you want just the pen.
5) Score History and Mini-Debriefs
620 (Q44, V31, AWA 4.5)
I was interested in management consulting and wanted to take the GMAT to augment my poor SAT scores and poor GPA. I studied half-heartedly for 2.5 months and really had no idea what I was doing. I only found out about GMATClub about 1 month towards the end of my prep. I struggled with a lot of Quant concepts such as remainders, probability and combinatorics, and inequalities. For SC, I only eliminated answer choices based on SVA rules. Interestingly, I foolishly still expected a Q50+, V40+.
690 (Q47, V37, IR3)
I was still mentally tired after taking a practice exam 3 days ago. This really hurt me in Verbal, and I could not even read the last question, because of fatigue. Quant owned me, because I sacrificed accuracy for speed and could not answer questions about remainders or absolute value. I had no idea how to handle SC, because I did not see splits available; the questions seemed fundamentally different from those in GMATPrep. Even though I thought that I was an RC master at this point, I forgot how to answer INFER questions. I was completely blindsided by this exam.
610 (Q47, V28, IR7)
I took my time during this exam in Quant and assumed that I did well, and was shocked at the score. In Verbal, I spent too much time on an RC question that I had to rush through the remainder of the section, but didn't expect so low of a Verbal score.
700 (Q50, V34, IR5)
I was tired before this exam and woke up at 04:30 even after taking Benadryl and NyQuil to knock me out. I really didn't feel that I performed that well in Quant, but I was ahead of time, so I was surprised at the Quant score. I'm thankful to God that I had a lot of time left in the section, because I ran out of room on my pad and it took 45 seconds for the Pearson employee to see me trying to get her attention. It was after this exam that I believed that I could actually score a Q50 and aimed to do so on subsequent exams. In Verbal, I struggled a lot in CR especially with ASU questions, I couldn't really understand RC passages, and I didn't really know how to tackle SC questions. Needless to say, I bombed the section.
700 (Q49, V36, IR6)
I had a lot of insomnia before this exam and because of that, I could not understand Quant word problems, CR, or RC at all. I basically had to guess on such questions. I expected a lower score given my mental condition.
690 (Q48, V35, IR5)
I figured out that SC was pulling my score down and spent the next 20 days reviewing it. I took this around Friday afternoon right after taking a half-day of work. I suggest that you don't do this, because I was tired midway in Quant and thus was tired for the rest of Verbal. Again, I did not understand how to tackle SC questions and flopped as a result. However, interestingly, CR was the section that pulled my score down.
750 (Q49, V42, IR2)
Before taking this exam, I resolved to owning Verbal by creating strategies for each subsection. After months of laziness, I invested time in vertically scanning answer choices and focusing on the meaning rather than reading each answer choice left to right and focusing on grammar. I don't know whether that actually paid off given the circumstances surrounding my exam.
This literally was a miracle test. I went to bed at 22:00 and woke up at 02:17 and couldn't go back to bed again no matter how hard I tried. When I arrived at the test center, I suddenly had diarrhea and had to take about 15 minutes getting rid of it. When I felt better, I decided to start my exam. Needless to say, I was tired when doing the AWA and wrote 5 weak paragraphs. I then began IR, but the diarrhea returned. I rushed through the section to get enough time to use the restroom, so that my performance on Quant wouldn't be impacted. I clicked submit on IR with 10 minutes remaining, assuming that I would have 10 minutes plus the break time to use the restroom, but after clicking submit, I only had the break time. I dashed to the restroom for my last chance to empty my bowels. It finally worked, and I was able to do Quant diarrhea free!
Verbal was a different animal; RC was very difficult but SC was manageable, so I thought that I was performing poorly. Because of my frustration with the insomnia and the fact that I had to take the exam many times, I just answered wildly on RC. I was extremely shocked at the score, because of how I took the exam. I bought the ESR and saw that Verbal was CR 51, RC 34, and SC 46. I have never seen anything like it. I clicked accept scores and walked out in complete shock and thanks to God for allowing me to reach my target score.
730 (Q50, V39, IR2)
Even though I reached my target score in my last sitting, I decided to retake the exam because of the extremely low IR score.
This was the only exam that I took in which I was well-rested. IR was the hardest section, and because I had foolishly spent 5 minutes on the first question and a lot of time on other questions, I was forced to skip 3 questions in a row. I was told that IR was not an adaptive section, so skipping questions like this was not a problem. I focused on owning the last 3 questions on the IR section and did so, so I was surprised at the low IR score. Quant was a breeze. I knew that I was faring well, because I owned each question that came to me. I was beating the clock and banked time to address hard questions. I foolishly repeated the mistake I made in IR in Verbal and thus spent too much time on SC questions in which I could not figure out the answer for the life of me. Because of this, I had to rush through questions that I knew that I would have owned given time.
After this exam, I contacted the GSB, HBS, and Sloan admissions offices in order to task them about the effect of a low IR score. HBS gave me a vague response, but GSB and Sloan told me that it really does not matter compared to the overall GMAT score, and that they look at the entire package. At this point, I realized that my GMAT journey had finally come to an end. Thank God for His faithfulness and grace over the last 28 months.
OG 2012, 2015 (electronic version), 2016
* This is needed especially for SC to build a recognition of GMAT's voice for correct and incorrect answers. As many people have harped on, there are not that many 700+ questions in this book, so you need to look at other sources such as GMATPrep and MGMAT Tests.
* Explanations for SC and for some Quant questions especially for the hard questions are hit or miss, because you need to remember that GMAC's main goal for the GMAT is to order people based on their scores. People who see the true errors (the 700+ scorers) will figure it out and will be able to solve similar problems on test day and those that don't (the non-700+ scorers) will not and will most likely miss it on test day. You'll definitely see this in SC when answer choices with comparison or modifier errors have explanations that say "awkward or wordy". See https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/foru ... tml#p71580
* If you want to perform well in Quant, you need to get to the point where you can solve 95% of these questions in 115s or fewer, because most of them are in the low 600s.
GMATPrep 2 Free Tests
* These exams except for SC resemble what one would see on the actual exam.
GMATPrep Exam Pack 1
* These exams most resemble the GMAT. Some of the Quant questions are easy though.
GMATPrep Question Pack 1
* Resembles what one would experience on the GMAT; answer explanations for SC and some Quant questions are hit or miss.
GMATClub Verbal Tests
* These are terrible and can hurt your score! I scored a V28 on one, which was far from most of my scores on any of my actual GMAT exams or GMATPrep exams.
GMATClub Quant Tests
* These are too hard and are not needed for scoring a Q50 on the exam. The best I scored while taking these is a Q43.
MGMAT Verbal and Quant Guides
* Good for foundational knowledge; if you want to own Verbal especially SC, you need to be familiar with obscure rules, which you gain an understand of by doing hard problems and reviewing explanations by experts such as Ron Purewal and Stacey Koprince.
* Quant is too hard and Verbal is easy; other than that, these tests allow you to simulate an exam experience.VeritasPrep
* I bought these, because I had taken the MGMAT exams several times and didn't want to continue seeing inflated scores.
* IR is horrible; it is more like an extension of Quant.
* Quant is decent but several questions test the exact same concept, an event that is rare on the exam.
* Verbal especially SC is not that good.
The Next 10 Actual Official LSAT PREPTESTS (29-38) and 10 New Actual, Official LSAT PREPTESTS (52-61)
* These were gold for CR and RC practice. The questions are written in the same language as the GMAT and are useful if you need extra practice for CR and RC. The LSAT is a tougher exam than the GMAT, so don't worry if you don't perform at a high level for a big chunk of the questions. You should take each relevant LR or RC question under GMAT time limits (average of 2 minutes). You should also ignore LR questions that are not tested in CR such as Sufficient Assumption, Principle, Least Likely to Be True. Also, ignore questions that have arguments that depend on Conditional Logic. Please keep in mind that the LR arguments are typically shorter than the GMAT arguments, but are usually more complex than them.
* Explanations for PrepTests 29-38
(Know that the response time on these forums can be months or years, but most common questions have already been answered)
* Explanations for PrepTests 52-61
* https://www.manhattanprep.com/lsat/forums/Powerscore CR
* This gives you a good foundation for answering CR questions, but you must know that it is a very-watered down version of the same book for the LSAT. It seems as if the authors were too lazy to remove conditional logic and the extensive list of flaws (for the flaw question type) from the book, items that were absolutely not
essential to CR.
The LSAT Trainer: A remarkable self-study guide for the self-driven student
* In hindsight, I would have purchased this book in order to perform well on CR and RC over Powerscore CR
Bible. Of course, one should ignore the items not related to the GMAT such as Sufficient Assumption, Principle, Match The Flaw, and Logic Games (weirdly enough, Logic Games are sometimes tested in IR).
Thursdays with Ron
* I watched about 10 of these videos (mostly for CR and SC), but didn't find any of them useful.
* GMATClub (awesome for Quant; weak in Verbal)
* MGMAT Forums (awesome for Verbal and for Quant)
* BeatTheGMAT (good for Verbal questions not discussed in MGMAT Forums)
* Only useful for learning basic sentence correction rules.
* I found the 700+ Quant questions too easy.
* This didn't help me for CR whatsoever.
* Some lessons have mistakes.
* As far as SC goes, the OG explanations from Magoosh
the same as those in the OG. I can't remember how many times the "expert" stated how an SC choice is "so awkward that it should be shot", mirroring what the GMAT explanation stated albeit with more emotion.GMAT Pill
* The Verbal Pill is a complete waste of money and the app stinks big time. Zeke stated that you don't have to remember rules for SC and for a while I believed that until I realized that you actually do
have to memorize rules for SC. The only useful piece of information that I gained from this course is how to tackle RC questions.
* The SC Pill is a complete waste of money and Zeke basically renames grammatical elements such as modifiers to descriptors. His treatment of parallelism and comparisons is so elementary that it can't be used to tackle hard SC problems in those categories.e-GMAT
* This course is designed for non-natives.
* I do commend e-GMAT
's emphasis on understanding the meaning of a sentence on first read.
You must focus on understanding core concepts before touching official GMAT questions and definitely before touching GMATPrep exams. This is especially true for the Quant and SC sections. This is where the MGMAT strategy guides and PowerScore CR
Bible come handy. Do the practice questions in those books and redo them until you master the concepts. Specifically for Quant, go to Wikipedia, Khan Academy, and other sites on the web to understand fundamental
properties of basic geometric figures, combinations, probabilities, and statistics. For SC, you have much less leeway, because the GMAT's rules on a grammatical property generally disagree with other sources.
You have to time yourself when doing these problems, so that you can develop an internal timer when doing questions. This way, you will feel
when you are spending too much time on a problem.
Know that some questions will take much longer than the average time to solve and some will take less than the average time to solve. That means that some Quant questions will take 3 minutes and some will take 90 seconds and some Verbal questions will take 3 minutes and others will take 60 seconds.
In order to perform well in this section, you need to do many
you solidify the concepts. Focus less on whether you solved a problem correctly than on whether you understood all concepts tested. If you solved a hard question correctly but had no idea how, you missed it! If it took you too long to solve a question correctly, you also missed it, because it implies that you did not master the concepts tested.
It also pays to learn how other people solved problems. This requires some humility, so swallow your pride and adapt their methods. I had to do this for questions asking how many zeros are in a large number and those asking the unit's digit of a large number, and I can't tell you how much time I saved
or how much I learned
when I did so.
If you are aiming for a high score, you need to know which types of problems are best suited for solving using algebra, those that are best suited for solving using number picking, and those that are best suited for solving using your knowledge of mathematical properties. You really cannot own Quant unless you have a good grasp of knowing which tool to use. From experience, I have found that a large number of percentage and inequality questions lend themselves to number picking. However, I strongly
recommend that you focus on scoring a Q50 rather than a Q51, because a Q51 is not worth the time investment especially if you don't have a V40+ score. Time spent on achieving a Q51 can be spent increasing one's Verbal score, which matters more to one's overall score than Quant.
You need to understand that 99.9% of the time, all the information in the stimulus is needed to solve the problem. This is especially true in DS and for Geometry. I can't tell you how many questions I wasn't able to solve quickly or at all because I neglected information in the stimulus. If the problem contains a circle, square, triangle, or other figure with special properties, it must mean that properties of that figure will be relevant to solving the problem. If a problem says that x is nonnegative, it must mean that 0 cannot be used for determining whether a statement is sufficient or insufficient.
For DS, I have found in hindsight that looking at the statements before
rephrasing the problem, is helpful to know how to rephrase the problem.
Don't be obsessed with probability and combinatorics section, but still have a strong understanding of it. On the real exam, you will see questions from many categories, so at max, you might see 3 problems of this type. Interestingly enough, this is one of the few sections in which the same
concept is tested in different ways.
Once you get a high Quant score (Q49+), focus on maximizing your Verbal score, since a higher Verbal score weighs more than a higher Quant score.
master the basic grammar rules to perform well in SC. Any company that tells you that you don't have to do so is cheating you. Also, understand why
an SC question is wrong; if you eliminate an answer choice, because of some vague reason such as awkwardness or wordiness, you don't understand the true grammatical error and you are cheating yourself.
* The Comparison question type is just a special case of the Parallelism question type. Other than the fact that answers can be eliminated because of an illogical comparison (comparing an ecosystem of an organism to an organism), most answers can be eliminated because of bad Parallelism or ambiguous Parallelism. This means that there are no such hard and fast rules as "as many X as Y" or "more X than Y". This also means that as weird as it sounds, you can compare verbs to verbs. For example, the following sentence is completely parallel and grammatically correct: More people in Nairobi bike
to work. The verb "bike" is compared to the verb "drive".
VTVF (Verb Tense Verb Form)
* This is one of the most difficult concepts to master. You should know the basics of the simple tenses, perfect tenses, conditional tenses, and subjunctive tenses. However, you should almost never
use VTVF as the primary reason for eliminating answers, because you could eliminate a correct answer. You should use it as a last resort.
* Meaning-Based questions comprise a greater and more noticeable percentage of GMAT questions more so than any released GMATPrep source would like you to believe. The best way to tackle these questions is to understand the intended meaning on a first read, to eliminate answers based on any easy grammatical issues that you find, so that you have a higher probability of getting the question right, and finally to pick the choice that best conveys the intended meaning of the sentence.
Attached are all of the obscure rules that helped me answer tough SC questions.
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This was my Achilles' heel when it came to performing well in Verbal. I couldn't hack the arguments and failed to successfully get questions correct that contained answers that seemed all correct. Because of this, I exhausted all of the official CR material. I generally only got official questions correct, because I remembered the answers to the questions. I was not in a good situation, so to get more practice with CR, I followed the advice at the following site http://poetsandquants.com/2014/10/05/us ... l-mastery/
and used the LSAT LR questions. I not only had an endless supply of LR questions but also had lots of expert answers to past LSAT questions stored in LSAT forums. This was also useful for my nemesis in CR: necessary assumption questions. I needed lots of practice for this, so I was grateful for the large number of questions available to answer.
Read and understand the passage before
looking at the questions. Reading the passage first will give you a map of the information located in the passage and
it will give you confidence eliminating choices that were not mentioned in the passage. In fact, RC answer choices are generally wrong because they are not supported
by information in the passage. That's it! No special rules or formulas to remember.
You must also be able to have a decent grasp of the following before you dive into the questions: Purpose, Organization, and Tone.
The purpose is the primary reason that the author wrote the passage. Understanding this will help you answer main idea and organization questions within a minute.
The organization is about how the passage the is structured. An example of this is: the first paragraph provides background information about a problem, the next two paragraphs talk about two different solutions, and the last paragraph talks about how one solution is preferred. Knowing the organization will help answer organization and main idea questions and provide you with a map of where important details are located.
The tone is about how the author feels about the main point or about his or her critics. This can easily be seen through the author's word choice such as "critic A falsely assumes", "critic B fails to consider", "critic C's position is weakly supported". Knowing the tone will help answer questions about the tone of the passage and of what the author thinks about certain entities mentioned in the passage such as his opponents, adherents, or a certain idea.
A guide for doing well on RC on GMATClub encourages you to read books or articles to prepare for RC, but I didn't find any of that
helpful. You best prepare for RC by reading RC passages in GMAT or LSAT material, since they are very different from non-GMAT or non-LSAT passages.
Follow ChineseBurned's guide (how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
) and you will excel.
This section doesn't really matter for admission, however I've heard that consulting companies are starting to require high scores for this section, and you really can't practice for it. The best you can do is review LSAT Logic Games in case you get an ordering problem, and ensure that you don't spend too much time on any one question. I wish I had learned the latter lesson in hindsight.
12) Do a Debrief After Each Exam
You should do a debrief after any practice exam you take and especially after real GMAT exams. You should pay attention to which concepts (inequalities, absolute values, meaning-based questions, comparisons, assumptions, CR-like questions in RC, etc.) you had trouble with. Then, you should review them thoroughly.
13) Advice for GMATClub
13.1) GMATClub needs a Verbal Bunuel
needs to hire a Verbal counterpart to Bunuel, because it seems that most members of this site struggle with Verbal yet perform extremely well in Quant. However, interestingly enough, this site is too Quant-focused. Performing well in Verbal in addition to Quant will ensure a high score. Whoever is hired needs to explain Verbal questions (especially tough Verbal questions) at their fundamentals. This is especially important for tough SC and CR questions in which all answer choices look correct.
13.2) GMATClub needs to Purge All Questions from Non-Reputable Sources
We need to stick to Official GMAT or at least reputable unofficial questions such as MGMAT; we need to remove all unofficial questions especially for Verbal from the site, because they do more harm than good. I can't stress enough the importance of studying from official sources. One's performance on Verbal especially SC depends on one's understanding of GMAT's voice, so that one can discern a right answer from 4 wrong ones. Using questions from non-reputable sources distorts that voice.
I would like to thank Jesus for His grace in granting me understanding on how to tackle tough Quant topics such as COMB/PROB, Absolute Value, and Remainders and the entire Critical Reasoning section.
I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their prayers, support, and endless supply of home-cooked food throughout this long journey.
I would like to thank Bunuel for his extensive Quant explanations, VeritasPrepKarishma for her witty Quant explanations, Ron Purewal for all of his ingenious Verbal and even Quant explanations, StaceyKoprince for all of her clever Verbal explanations, and bb for creating this awesome free resource that is GMATClub.