I just completed my first attempt at the GMAT and ended up getting a 750 (Q-48, V-44). Pretty happy with myself.UPDATED:
Just got my score report. 6.0 on the AWA. Thank you GMAT Club!!
Complete Strategy Guide Set (Except I didn't use the Critical Reasoning book)
-The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
-The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition
-The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, 2nd Edition
-The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review, 2nd Edition
-GMAT Club Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA GMAT Score
Practice Test Scores (in the order they were taken):
-Manhattan CAT: 730 (Q-49, V-41)
-GMAT Prep Software Cat: 730
-Manhattan CAT: 730 (Q-48, V-41)
-Manhattan CAT: 730 (Q-48, V-40)
(since I'm sure not everybody wants to read everything):
-Go through all the MGMAT books
(except CR). Do recommended problems from OG 12 only
-Go through PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible
. Do CR questions in OG 12 only
-Go back through books where I was weak. Work through questions in OG Verbal
-Last 6 days: Do a CAT each day. Review CAT thoroughly
, then focus on weaknesses
-Also in Last 6 days: Spend an hour or so each day reviewing AWA strategy.Details:
I originally purchased the study materials for the GMAT nearly a year ago. Since they are changing the test, I decided that I needed to take it before the changes to make use of my materials. I started studying about 7 weeks before my test. I spent 6 of the 7 weekends studying for the exam, some more productive than others, 14 days after work studying for a couple hours, 10 days during lunch studying for an hour, and took 5 days off from work prior to the test for review.
I went through each of the Manhattan guides once and at the end of each guide answered the questions in the OG that were recommended. I did not do the questions in the OG Verbal
/Quant guides that were recommended because I wanted to identify my weaknesses and then come back to them. After completing the guides it was clear that my weaknesses were Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency in general. Sentence Correction was by far my biggest weakness so I went back through the entire Manhattan guide again. This is when I worked on questions in the OG Verbal
guide, but I only did Sentence Correction questions. I used the gmat club
iPad app throughout and it really helped keep track of my progress.
Six days before my test is when I first started reviewing for the AWA and took my first CAT. I used the Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA on gmat club and wrote sample essays based on the prompts found at mba(dot)com. After a bit of review, I decided to take a Manhattan CAT
since I got 5 by purchasing their guides. I did well (730) and felt pretty confident. My biggest weaknesses again were Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency.
The next day (5 days before my exam), I spent about 90 minutes reviewing and took the Kaplan CAT
. It was A LOT
harder. I ended up getting a 650. I also feel it didn't represent the type of questions I ended up getting on the actual exam, but more on that in a minute. Nearly 70% of my questions on the math section of Kaplan
CAT were Rates, Ratios, Combinatorics, Statistics, and Probability. I thought I had these topics down, but clearly I did not. (I started to get down on myself a bit, but this wasn't warranted)
Four days before my exam, I decided I needed to review math especially the topics I didn't do well on in the Kaplan
CAT. I spent 12 hours reviewing a lot of content and answering questions including reviewing most of the Word Translations guide
and bits and pieces of all of the other math guides. This is why I saved the OG Quant
guide questions, so I could come back once I had identified my weaknesses. Again, I used the gmat club
iPad app to keep track of my answers and progress.
Three days before the exam, I reviewed for an hour in the morning and took another CAT. I decided to use the GMAT Prep Software
. I did well (730), but I feel the questions never really got hard. They seemed easier than both the Manhattan and Kaplan
CATs, and were definitely easier than the questions I got on the actual exam. I spent the rest of the day focusing on Sentence Correction problems.
Two days before the exam, I reviewed for an hour or two and then took another CAT. I went back to a Manhattan CAT
because I feel they were harder than the GMAT Prep software and I had 4 more I could take. Again I got a 730. Still Data Sufficiency and Sentence Correction seemed to be weak spots. Made a quick study guide with geometry, combinatorics, statistics, and probability formulas. Also included in my guide was my strategy for tackling rate and average questions.
The day before the exam I pretty much took it easy besides the CAT. Again I went with a Manhattan CAT
and again I got a 730. Reviewed the AWA guide and my study guide.
The morning of the exam I did a few of the hardest problems from the Quant guide just to get my mind thinking in the right direction and then reviewed the AWA guide and my study guide. Going in to the exam it was looking like I was going to get a 730.
How I Felt About The Materials:
Complete Strategy Guide - this is a great set of books. The Number Properties and Sentence Correction seem to be second to none. The Word Translations book was good as well, but like I'll explain later I did not see many of these questions. The Geometry book is ok. Not very much content, but the content is helpful if you haven't done geometry in a while. By Just buying a single book you get their 5 CATs. This I feel was the best part about the Manhattan guides. Also the books come with online question banks, but I never once used these. You get a lot for your money with this set. The strategy I picked up from the Reading Comprehension guide really helped.
-The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible - better than the Manhattan guide and a really great guide. I was already pretty strong in Critical Reasoning but this book helped me come up with a consistent strategy to tackle these questions.
-The Official Guide for GMAT Review (all of them) - these are pretty much a must. Not really for their review, but mostly for the questions. The questions come from past exams, so this gives you a clear idea of the types of questions you will get.
-GMAT Club Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA GMAT Score - I got a 6.0 following this guideline so it must be pretty solid. You can find prompts on mba(dot)com to practice this guideline with.
I used this time to write down the structure to my essays. I had already read all the GMAC and Pearson information online so I did not need to re-read it.
Since I reviewed the AWA guide and I had my structures already down on the dry erase pad, this was pretty straight forward. I fumbled for a few minutes, but found my ground and I was able to complete some solid essays. On the issue essay my second and third points were very similar (essentially the same) but I used different reasoning and examples. I worried about this a little, but then I remembered IF YOU ARE WITHIN 5 MINUTES DO NOT MAKE MAJOR CHANGES
such as deleting multiple lines or an entire paragraph. I left it how it was.
Went to the bathroom and got some water. Didn't realize as soon as you re-enter the room they type their password in and your time begins. You do have 60 seconds to review the instructions before the 75 minutes start, but I just didn't realize the break just ended.
So many things to say here. First off, I missed the first question. I remember the question and what I answered and I know it was incorrect. Plus my second questions was a 300 level question. Looking back, the first question was really easy and I am not sure what happened. I choked. Although, I felt like I choked on a lot of the math section.
This is where I have to discuss the relation of the CATs to my actual exam. Like I said, Kaplan
focused on ratios, combinatorics, statistics, and probability, and even Manhattan had a solid amount of these types of questions (around 12 per test). On my exam I got 3 questions of these types. Three.
I also got around 4 rate problems. Most of my exam was multi-variable algebra, inequalities, absolute values, or some combination of those 3. I though I was strong in these topics, but throughout the exam I fumbled because during my prep I didn't spend enough time on them. Not sure how consistent this is though, because the questions in the OGs don't follow this pattern
The entire Quant section I felt like I was missing a lot of questions and just not doing well. The questions never seemed to get very hard.
I never felt too pressured for time, but I did finish with about 30 seconds remaining.
On my second break I had just felt like I blew my GMAT. However, I remembered that a really strong Verbal score can carry a test. So I went to the bathroom, took a deep breath, and let it go. It wasn't going to help to hold on to it.
Now we are talking. I came out of the break focused and ready to go. I never have had problems with time on Verbal so I took my time, doubled checked my answers, and never got stressed. I could tell I was doing well because I ended up getting 4 Reading Comprehension passages and the last two were long and hard. The third was really
long. About 50% longer than anything I had seen on any of the CATs. The forth was shorter but more technical and harder to comprehend (that's a good sign though). The passages are where the strategy
I picked up in the Manhattan Reading Comprehension
guide really helped. Another sign I was doing well was that the Sentence Correction questions were getting very hard towards the end. My third to last question was a Sentence Correction question where each answer was a complete rewrite of the original sentence, each with a different structure, and each testing different grammar rules. There was no grouping to be done on this question. None. Again, that is a good sign. I feel this was my 99 percentile question, so I think I missed it haha. The next two questions were critical reasoning and I had about 7 minutes remaining. I made sure to take my time as I was in no rush.
Quant: 48 (80th Percentile)
Verbal: 44 (97th Percentile)
Total: 750 (98th Percentile)
Interpreting My Scores:
So although I felt that I fumbled in math, if you look at the Quant scores on ALL
of my practice CATs, I actually remained consistent. Verbal is where I really shined. I did better in Verbal than on all of my CATs. During my exam, this is how I felt too. I really focused and it really shows in my score. Oh yeah, I definitely had a huge smile on my face when leaving.
I guess the guide to the perfect AWA wasn't lying. That worked out well.
WORDS OF ADVICE
-Identify your weaknesses and focus on them. Don't abandon everything else, but your weaknesses will stick out on the exam.
-Save some questions in the OGs until after you have reviewed all topics. Once you have identified your weaknesses you are going to want to have questions to go back and focus on. This is what I saved the OG Verbal
/Quant guides for.
-Time yourself when doing practice questions. Use the gmatclub iPad app if you have an iPad. Trust me. It is worth every penny.
-Make sure to take several practice CATs. This will not only help you get an idea of where you stand, but it will help you become familiar with how the questions will come when you take the test. Also, pace is huge, so you are going to want to get it down.
-Don't let the Kaplan
CAT score scare you. I got a little down, but don't.
While Taking The Test:
-Use the instruction time in the beginning to write down the structure for your essays. Don't wait until the essay timer starts to do this.
-Don't just focus on the first 10 questions. Manhattan tells you over and over again that spending too much time on the first 10 questions is a recipe for disaster. The GMAT is smarter than the first 10 questions and will be able to identify irregularities. I missed my first question and still did well. (And I fumbled throughout). If you take the Manhattan CATs you will get an idea of the scoring, but obviously the real algorithm is secret. Having said that, try not to miss two questions in a row on the first 10. Two misses in a row will hurt.
If you didn't do as well on a question/section as you wanted to, brush it off an move on
-Raise your hand for a new dry erase pad before
you get to the end of yours.
-Take a deep breath, relax, and go.
During The Exam:
-During the Quant part of my exam, I raised my hand for a new dry erase pad and the proctor brought me one that was not cleaned. I quickly turned back around and said something and she grabbed it back from me. The only problem is, she didn't give me back my original pad so I had to go a minute or so with no pad. o__O This was a bit distracting.
-When my break started, I raised my hand, but the proctor was busy explaining the rules to somebody who was going to take a different test. By the time the proctor got to me, more than 3 minutes of my break had expired.