I took the GMAT yesterday, 30th March at the Yusuf Sarai Pearson centre in Delhi. I haven't posted much at gmatclub but have definitely benefited from it and I'd like to share my experience with you guys in the hope that it might benefit some of the members here
First off a little background info on me. I'm 21 and I graduated from Delhi University last year. My intention behind taking the GMAT was to set myself to target high quality work ex and then apply to a good business school in 2014 or 2015, the latter being more likely in my opinion. I have pretty much zero work ex at this point and will be looking for suggestions from you guys on what to do from here.
Study materials used:
OG12th edition (all PS and DS questions) (Hardest CR, SC and RC questions) - extremely useful. Would do them all over again. In fact, I think I should have done all the CR, SC and RC questions or at least all the medium to hard ones.
GMAT math Workbook: I think I completed over 90% of the questions in this book leaving out only those were far too easy. Did go through all the theory. I don't consider this an advanced level book for GMAT quant prep. Did not touch it more than once after I was through with it.
Manhattan guides (all 8): Went through all of them. Some of them twice. Referred back to them many times. Very useful.
ARCO: Answers to real gmat essay questions : I was scared of the AWAs and I'm not afraid to admit it. I was not very confident about my organizational skills when it came to writing the AWAs.Powerscore CR
bible: pretty fun book. Actually went through all or most of it even before I started serious prep. Recommended for practice.
MGMAT 6 test
GMATPrep v2.0 2 tests
GMATPrep v1.0 1 testKaplan
Manhattan GMAT test simulation booklet
with marker: Not really study material but I thought I'd mention it her anyway. This is not an essential buy for GMAT preparation by any stretch of the imagination. I bought it because I knew there was a good chance I would be a nervous wreck on test day and wanted to remove all uncertainty from the equation.
On to the story, I say
On around 10th december 2011, I set 30th Jan 2012 as my GMAT date. It was finally bought and paid for so I had to get to studying but I didn't, I lazed about, went through only what I like CR and SC and ignored the rest ie quant which is definitely my weaker section. Additional background info here: I gave some Indian MBA entrances in my final year of graduation and was always in the high 90's when it came to verbal percentiles. In Jan this year, it slowly started hitting me that I hadn't prepared for the GMAT at all. Around the 10th, I realised that I'd need to postpone my GMAT. on the 21st of Jan, I rescheduled for 30th march, giving myself a couple of months time to prepare seriously.
Side note: Costs $50 to reschedule if you reschedule more than 7 days before your GMAT date. Less than 7 days and you'll have to pay another $250, so basically not worth rescheduling it in that case unless you are really and truly woefully under-prepared.
I really started studying for the GMAT in feb and on the 17th of Feb I took my first Manhattan GMAT
MGMAT CAT Free test: 720 (Q46, V42). In hindsight this was the score that really pushed me to start working hard. It told me that I could achieve much more with practice. This is when I decided to buy the set of MGMAT CATS and really start focusing on my prep. I also ordered the simulation booklet around this time so I could use it for most of my mock tests. As generally happens with me, I was buzzing knowing where I already stood and with thoughts of where I could be with a month and a bit of prep. Kaplan
Free test: 640. Disappointment number 1: Faced with the tough quant section, I crumbled. After a while, I got so disheartened that I stopped even trying to answer questions that I didn't get immediately. I went through the verbal section in a hurry just to get it over with. Don't even remember my sectional scores. From this I'll give you my opinion on Kaplan
which is based on the very limited experience of just one test. If your weakness is Math, do not, I repeat do not give this test before you have worked for a reasonable amount on improving your quant skills.
I was very disappointed by this score, so much so that the pessimist in me almost decided that my previous assessment of where I stood (720) was surely incorrect.
GMAT Prep 1 maybe 25th Feb: 740 (q49,v42) ? . Not very sure on these sectional scores. It is quite ridiculous that GMAT prep can store all of your answers to questions but cant store your score. Anyhow, my reasons for taking this test were pretty obvious. I wanted a reasonable honest baseline on where I stood. I took this as a base and started working.
From this point onward I was putting in around 2.5 to 3 hours of serious studying per day. Mind you, I was not at all organized in my study habits. I was going by instinct and trying to absorb anything that I thought would help me improve my score. My first thought was to go through the Manhattan GMAT books
which I did. I started going through them one by one, reading theory which I already knew and doing all the questions. I did not do the questions each book recommended doing from OG12
From 10th March I stated taking mocks again with a view to build momentum towards D-day.
Finished Kaplan Math workbook
before next mock.
10th march, MGMAT CAT #2: 740(q47,v45). felt fine. Continue prep. Focus on math
15th march, MGMAT CAT #3: 730(q50,v40). Mixed emotions but more positive. My quant had improved significantly but my verbal dropped drastically. My verbal score didn't worry me as much as anger me because I knew the reason behind it was the noise in my house during that section. I ploughed through it in anger and got done with 10 minutes to spare. Q50 inspired me really that I could get a high score. I could see the potential I had based on my highest Verbal and Quant scores. Became a little lax with my prep. My sister came home for a short while, and I did not study much at all for 2-3 days. Was thinking in terms of how to improve on my strength IE verbal. Did a lot of OG PS and DS questions from this point onwards. Finished all PS questions.
19th march, MGMAT CAT #4: 740: (q46,v45) Disappointed. Focussed on quant again. This was the time I started analysing my performances. I found that a lot of the errors I made were those made carelessly and not because I did not know how to tackle the question. Also I found that I was giving up too quickly on some tough questions.
Finished all DS questions in OG12
before next mock.
23rd March, MGMAT CAT #5 740: (q47,v45) This was a big disappointments to me. With my exam just a week away I had expected to finally break the 740 barrier on this one. But when I analysed it, I found that careless errors and giving up too quickly had gotten me again. I decided to go back to basics. Did a quick rundown of the MG book on inequalities and word translations which I saw as my weakness. Also tried a lot of math questions I saw on here.
25th march, MGMAT CAT #6 780 (Q51,v45) Magic. I was on cloud 9. I was very fresh when I took this mock. felt great all through it. I spent most of the rest of the day dreaming of an 800. Thought that maybe I should focus more of my work on verbal from then on.
Bad Idea. Remember your weaknesses even if you seem to have overcome them. I still wasn't nearly as confident going into math as I was going into verbal
I wasn't completely crazy though. I took 2 GMAT club quant tests and saw I had been careless again. Didn't pay much heed to them because of the tough reputation they seem to carry.
28th March Supposed to be final mock. GMAT Prep #2 : 740 (q47,v42) both scores had gone down drastically. I was pretty devastated. took another gmat club math test. And then finally decided to download and take one of the GMAT prep v1.0 tests: Took it. Saw some repeats from OG or somewhere else but got a 770 (Q49,v47 I think). This is when I drew a line and decided to not take any more whole tests. During the last few tests I found that my quant speed had increased during this process. I was finishing quant with 7-8 comfortable minutes to spare. I needed to modify my test taking strategy. I needed to be calm and take more time to check if I had done everything right.
29th I studied, practiced the hardest questions in CR,SC and RC and realised that again I had time to spare even when doing the hardest of questions. It was all about holding my nerve on the day. I just needed to control my speed and check myself from going too fast. My appointment was for 1:00 pm in the afternoon so I wanted to be asleep by 2:00 am latest and wake by 11:00 am. That was not to be. I got to bed at 1:00 am and struggled with sleeping past 3:30, all the while worrying about what a lack of enough or any sleep could mean for my exam. It was torture.
Woke up at 11:00, a little while before my alarm went off. Was reasonably rested but could feel not fully rested. I was not going to think about that. took a shower, had a light breakfast of some nutri-bar and a couple of slices of toast and went off for the GMAT. Listened to some Chopin on the way with a view to calm myself. Not a classical music buff or anything like that but I like one specific composition, if that's what you call them.
Got in, the entire process was very smooth. It was very professionally administered.
My first AWA went well. Second one, not so much. My issue essay was not that good at all - poorly organized and not pleasing to read. I took the break on offer to calm down in preparation for the real task at hand. I threw water on my face, ate a banana and took a seat.
Asked the proctor how much time I had left and he told me I had less that 3 minutes left. went back in and started. The first question itself had me rattled. It was simple algebra but I couldn't get it right even after 2.5 minutes.I got rattled. I calmed myself then and there and did it again. figured it out. This happened for 2-3 of the first 6-7 questions but I pushed through and didn't give up on any of the early ones. I built up a decent controlled momentum after that and got ahead of the time IE I had more than 2 min per question left for the remaining questions. I faced and took down some tough ones so I was upbeat. Had around 2 min per question for my last 10. Did not manage this time well because I didn't even realise when I submitted the last question that it was the last one. I had 3 minutes left at least.
I Took the break on offer. Same process as before. wash face, eat banana and sit. Also forced a bite of a power bar because I was a little fatigued. Went in with 3 minutes to spare.
Verbal was relatively less stressful. I was in my comfort zone. Gave full attention to each question. I'm pretty sure I could have only gotten SCs wrong.
Filled in the annoying demographic info. I was very careful on the show or cancel scores screen. Didn't want to screw everything up. Weird that if you don't choose in 2 minutes they cancel your score. First reaction on seeing my score was relief. My work had paid off. The proctor came to get me and I was beaming as I left the testing room. I got my unofficial score report as soon as I got my things from the locker. Me gusta ^_^The following is a list of tips that I'd like to share:
1) For first time takers of the test. Do not worry about anything. Pearson's people know what they are doing and do it well. Your testing environment will not be an issue. Relax.
2) Create a dynamic testing strategy. Let it evolve as you go along in the prep process. Don't get stuck on one analysis. When I started off, I was barely finishing quant, by the end of my prep process, I usually had 5-8 minutes to spare.
3) For those of you who have strong verbal and weak quant: Don't give up. A high quant is very attainable. Take it from me. Math makes me nervous. Just don't give in to your own low expectations. You can get a 51.
4) Be an ass about verbal. If you have the time in your prep, annoy the crap out of your close family and friend about the right way to say things. They can take it and it will help you hold onto the SC rules you've learned. Make it an annoying habit. I started of with strong verbal skills because I like the English language and I'm not afraid of annoying my family. What are they going to do?? Throw me out of the house?? totally worth it
By the way, I'm sure I made a lot of errors in this write-up. Feel free to point those out to me.
5) RC and CR skills are acquired over time, I think. Be an active reader. Coax yourself into questioning people and lines of thought. It's just a good habit to have.
6) Check you DS answer and check it again. Sometimes you see a DS and feel you have it immediately. Check your values, especially for yes, no questions. Check for 0, negative and fractional values.
7) Stay clam. You will have enough time. If you have practiced and take the right approach, 75 minutes is more than enough for both sections. I think I guess on 1 or maybe 2 question in quant because I couldn't, for the life of me figure out what to do.
8) Don't give up on the early ones. You can make up for it in the middle. I think if I had given up on the first question, I could very well have crashed and burned in quant.
9) Build up your stamina. Be conscious of the fact that the GMAT needs 4 hours of your full attention. Train your brain to be able to handle it. You need a high level of focus all through and you can't have your score dropping in the last verbal RC and CR questions.
10) Focus your efforts where they will help. In my case, working on quant was always going to be a better investment than working on verbal. Also I believe that if you are at about the same level on both say a q48,v39, I would suggest you work on getting your quant to 50/51 before you work on getting your verbal up to a similar level simply because I believe the quant part of the GMAT will offer you far greater returns than verbal.
And that's it. Best of luck everyone. I'll add to this If I think of anything else. Just wanted to share my happiness with the people who have knowingly or unknowingly helped me a lot
Thank you everyone. Gmatclub rocks! Please feel free to ask if you have any questions
EDITED. Added a couple of points. Received official score report. AWA: 5.5