I gave my GMAT a month back but didn’t get a chance to write down my experience due to various other engagements I was involved in. However, I had gained a lot by reading these forums and think its time I gave something back. I’m going to try and summarize my experience and learning in wrestling with the beast.
Brief Profile – non-native speaker, 8-yrs of work ex (translates to => 8 yrs since I picked up Maths or English as a subject).
I started preparing for GMAT around 3 months back, started tentatively & completely lost due to the various books/materials that are available, but was completely focused in my last one month of study.
On an average I spend 2-3 hours everyday after I got back from work and spend around 8-10 hours on the weekends (atleast for the last one month).
OG – 10th Edition – Solved only medium/hard Qs hereMGMAT SC
– My main SC prep bookKaplan
Pocket Reference Book – Used while traveling to kill time Kaplan 800
– Must say I found this book extremely over-rated
Arco’s AWA – Used to make the AWA templates
Misc - I did look at a host of other books but I don't think they added any value to my prep
Practice Test Scores:
PowerPrep1 660 Q44 V36
PowerPrep2 650 Q44 V36
PowerPrep3 750 Q49 V44 (got a lot of repeats in verbal)
MGMAT1 630 Q42 V34
MGMAT2 690 Q45 V38
MGMAT3 670 Q47 V34
GMATPrep1 710 Q48 V40
GMATPrep2 710 Q49 V38
For the first blog, I want to restrict to writing about the test day and mentioning few points which I learned along the way.
Day of the test – tried a few medium complexity questions from each section, didn’t bother to look at whether I got them right. Tried to relax and stay positive as much as I could. Actually, found that I was not as nervous as I thought I would be (which as you will see in a moment did me in). AWA was a breeze, nothing that was unexpected although I think I did not do that great in analysis of an issue, I guess I did alright in analysis of argument. I opted for my first break, and in trying to relax, going to the restroom, eating my energy bar etc. etc. lost track of the time. Believe it or not, after all the preparation, I got a bit cocky and actually ENTERED LATE FOR QUANT :O. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that two minutes had already passed by on the test when I entered. From then on I went from one panic state to another without really applying all that I had learned. I did manage to complete all the questions but knew immediately that I had goofed-up.
I took my second break and spend the time psyching myself out, I had to leave the Quant experience behind me and concentrate on the verbal or I was doomed for sure. This time I made sure that I did not spend all of my break time but came back early enough to get settled before the start. I think I did a fairly good job of getting in the groove after my earlier goof-up and was able to focus well on Verbal. At the end of Verbal, I knew I had done a much better job here but was still not sure whether I had done enough. However, I did not hesitate to check the score and the moment I saw a 700 I breathed a sign of relief. 40 in Verbal was my personal best in any of the mock tests and given the circumstances I was fairly happy that I got there.
So even though I felt like a stupid ass for being late for my quant, I atleast was able to redeem myself to some extent.
Although, there are a lot of 750+ guys out there who may have much better advice, here are my humble 2 cents –
Main Mantra –
Gameplan – This is as critical as anything else. You should have a overall gameplan (say, I’m going to take 6 mock tests before the actual test and aim for so and so). But you also need to have a fine-grained week-wise gameplan, the plan should be a stretch plan so that you are able to push yourself. So, that you have know exactly what you’ll be doing in a given week. The week-wise plan can be made as you go, since it would definitely need some tweaking based on the ground reality.
Review – Make sure that you don’t just take the tests but also maintain a review log. I don’t remember the number of times I’ve seen people say this in this forum, but I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.
Mock Tests – Take as many full (including AWA) tests as possible, but not more than 2 a week. I was not wasted even at the end of my exam and the main reason for that was the multiple times that I had taken a full mock tests.
Well, this one turned out to much longer than I had anticipated, but hopefully it will help someone. I'll try to pen in some details about my preparation the next time.
So all you future GMATTers, you can take heart from my experience and know that 700 is not that tough to get even though it may not seem so at first