Firstly I have to say a big BIG thank you to this forum, the moderators and all the members who post in it. Its most definitely the best resource you can find. Well I thought so anyway. I bought a lot of books â€“ Princeton and Kaplan
(the main books and verbal and maths workbooks from both publishers) and of course Official Guide. But nothing helped me more than this website. But more on that later.
Just thought Iâ€™d go over some of the stuff I didâ€¦donâ€™t know how helpful it will be though.
Started studying 3 and a half months ago. First rule is to treat the GMAT as a challenge rather than a test. Because that really makes it more fun. Initially when I started studying I used to find it quite a drag because I kept thinking about how it was such a pain to work 8-9 hours a day then come home and do more work. But once I started to realise that the questions were like puzzles and everybody loves solving puzzles right?
Well hereâ€™s how I did my prep. I started with the Maths workbooks of Kaplan
and Princeton because though I was fairly confident with my maths (Iâ€™m a biomedical engineer) I thought doing questions that I could do fast would bring up my confidence about the whole test. After getting through a fair part of these two workbooks, I started on the Verbal workbooks. I found these quite helpful though very similar in their tips (I found this a bit mystifyingâ€¦but oh well). So I canâ€™t really recommend one verbal workbook over the other. After completing most of all four workbooks I was browsing the internet one day when I came across Gmatclub.com. I was hooked! I know I sound silly but its true. The whole process of trying to solve questions and reading peopleâ€™s explanations about why certain answers are better than others was the single most helpful thing in my preparation. I learnt more on this forum than I did in any of the books. Please note that Iâ€™m not trying to say donâ€™t buy any books. The kaplan
and princeton books are both very good because they are well organised and give a list of important techniques to learn.
Anyway back to my story. After spending 3 weeks using my entire study time on the forum, I did the first Powerprep test. Got 730 and was very happy. Used the next few weeks going through the Kaplan
and Princeton study guides. They are both useful in terms of the questions they contain but since they have very similar tips, you can probably skip that part of one of the books (I only did the questions from kaplan
but read princeton verbal entirely). Back on the forum people kept stressing about the importance of official guide and with only a month and a half to go I figured that I better get to it soon. Before that I did the second Power Prep test and got 710 (not bad I guessâ€¦but annoying to get lower on the 2nd one than the 1st). Once I started the official guide I regretted having left it till so late in my prep. It has a LOT of questions and thus takes a lot of time. Took me nearly a month to get through all the questions but I did it and I canâ€™t stress the value of the book enough. It really makes you judge whether you are applying all the various tips you get from places correctly. I kept a list of the questions I got wrong and just looked through them again in the end.
While going through the official guide, I did the first two Princeton tests and got 720 and 730. Wasnâ€™t disappointed but really had hoped for more (particularly since people on the forum say that Princeton may be a bit easier than the actual Gmat). After getting through the OG I did a Kaplan
test. Got 670 and was heartbroken! Yeah I know everyone says that kaplan
is harder than the gmat but it was still depressing to the see the number â€˜670â€™ on the screen 2 weeks before the test. Still I kept at it and did a test from 800score.com. 690 and more disappointment. At this point I thought I really needed a break and took two days off studying, following which I did another 800score.com test. 750 and I was thrilled! I knew that the most important part to remember in the Gmat was to keep a positive frame of mind. I wanted to be left with the number â€˜750â€™ in my memory and thus decided to do no more tests. I spent the next 2 days going through a few tips for the analytical section. I used the writing workbook from kaplan
which really is quite good, though I donâ€™t know how I actually did. The one thing I can say however is that the Kaplan
writing workbook gives quite an elaborate method of planning your essay, but I did not have time to do all of that. I only had enough time to jot down a few ideas and start typing. One lesson I would pass on to others is to practice doing a few essays. I did none and that wasnâ€™t such a good idea. (There are two other very important lessons but Iâ€™ll talk about them later). Anyway after spending 2 days on analytical, I decided that I had had enough study and knew that a few more hours would not help me prepare any better. Thus, the last 5 days before my exam, my only preparation involved spending an hour or so a day on the forum. Basically I did no study in the last few days and I think it was the best thing I could do for myself. Had I done any more tests I risked getting depressed. Not sure if it was a good strategy, but its what I did.
Anywayâ€¦(hope I havenâ€™t bored people to death by now)â€¦coming to the actual test.
I live in Auckland where there is no ETS testing center so I had to fly to sydney the night before the test. Thus I did absolutely nothing on the day before the test. I got to the test center really early because I hadnâ€™t seen the place before and to avoid peak hour traffic. Since the test center wasnâ€™t open yet I just made a call to a friend back home to try to relieve myself of the tension. Once I was in there I knew there was no turning back so just told myself that I had to give it my best shot and that it wasnâ€™t a matter of life or death. Its PMP season since the format is changing so there were about 10 people doing that exam. The lady at the Prometric center wanted to get them all started first because itâ€™s a 4 hour exam. The wait was excruciating, but I just read the guidelines that she gave me very slowly to pass time! Lol!
Once I was in front of the computer, I had to choose the 5 schools to send my score to. In a hurry I only selected one because I thought the â€˜Nextâ€™ button would allow me to choose the 2nd school. So thatâ€™s a word of warning to others who may make the same mistake. After that I got my analysis of an issue question. It was something that I could think of a few points about so I quickly jotted down something and started typing. However, I didnâ€™t have enough time in the end to review my essay. Thus, I repeat my statement hereâ€¦please practice a couple of essays before you get in there.
Took a 2-3 minute break after the two essays. Was too anxious to get back in there. The maths section started off well. I had to keep reminding myself to recheck my first few answers. I was going well and I had only come across one question where I hadnâ€™t been sure of the answer. At this point I had about 15 questions left and was less than half way through my time. Added to this, I got two questions which seemed very easy. That really freaked me out and I thought that perhaps I had made major mistakes at the beginning because I hadnâ€™t paced myself right. Here comes my second piece of adviceâ€¦.a lot of people have said it on the forum and though I read it before, I didnâ€™t follow itâ€¦DONâ€™T STRESS ABOUT HOW EASY OR HARD THE QUESTION ISâ€¦it caused me a few moments of real distress. But decided that I had to get on with it. Finished the Quant section with nearly 25 minutes to spare. Took a full five minute break this time cause I was a bit depressed.
The verbal section started off well and I got through the first 10 or so questions pretty ok and my confidence level was ok again. However with about 15 questions left I started to feel very tired. Added to that I was once again stressing about how the questions didnâ€™t seem to be increasing in difficulty. Now the third piece of advice (which I wish I had taken more seriously) is do DO A FULL TEST AT LEAST ONCE. Every time I did a test I only did the quant and verbal sections. Got a bit complacent about practicing the analytical section and because of that I was exhausted about 3/4th way into my verbal section. I assumed that having done 6 years of university with lots of 3-hour exams Iâ€™d be fine for 3.5 hours. But its not true. It does drain you. So try it at least once. But if you do get the feeling that youâ€™ve had enough just take it one question at a time. I kept telling myself â€˜only 8 questions to goâ€™â€¦â€™only 6 to goâ€™ and so on. Finally finished the verbal section with 10 minutes left. At this point I was really tired and was sure that the exam hadnâ€™t gone well. Wondered whether I should cancel my score. However, the one great gift that ETS gave me was to do the survey before asking me about whether I want to see my score. While filling up the survey my mind cleared out a bit and I decided I did want to see my score. Thus when the pop-up came up to ask me I pressed â€˜reportâ€™. I thought I would have to go to the test center lady to pick up my score so I was pretty surprised to see the score come up on screen. Had to look at it a few times to confirm cause I was in shock. And this is my final piece of adviceâ€¦.DONâ€™T TRY TO JUDGE HOW YOU HAVE DONE BECAUSE YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE VERY CRITICAL OF YOURSELF. So unless you thought it went really bad, report your score.
That was the end of my test. Before I stop just a few tips for people:
If sentence correction is a weakness, Princeton Reviewâ€™s â€˜Grammar Smartâ€™ is quite a good book.
For critical reasoning looking through some Lsat questions really helps.
For reading comprehensionâ€¦it always helps to read the passage properly first rather than skim. Also, if u seem totally lost and have time it doesnâ€™t hurt to skim a second time. (During one of my reading comp passages, I realised while doing the 3rd question that I had read a sentence of the passage incorrectly and thus answered the 2 previous questions wrongâ€¦so be careful when reading!).
And of course once againâ€¦thereâ€™s absolutely no better way to prepare than trying to do lots of questions on this forum while studying. Thank you once again to everyone on this forum. You guys rock!!