This is a long post but if it helps even one person, I would have given back to this wonderful forum!
There are some great people - walker,x2suresh, dwivedys, Paul, icandy, etc - with great explanations.
Also be aware not to get confused , so master the rules before even looking into the forum. Also check the rules in the forum, but learn how the expert analyzed the problem.
Just my honest opinions of my experience in preparing for the GMAT. There are some great debriefs out there in great detail on how to study, so will try to be as short as possible and explain my 8-12 week plan at the end.
I believe stretching the plan to 12 weeks and going 20-30hrs/week longer is better.The Test
GMAT is a test not of intellect but of method and logic to solve problems. It does not test any skills in depth (though these might help the test taker to nail a few questions) but expects the candidates to solve the problems logically. We must believe that the test is NOT HARD; all questions are solvable in less than 4 minutes. Take away: Approach each question with confidence; it is solvable in 2-3 minutes if it’s a real GMAT question.
Other myths and facts: I believe that the myth of the test being tailored to some systems of education more so than that of others is true since students in some education systems learn reading comprehension from third grade. But this does not mean anyone not in that system cannot practice and learn to handle the test.
In the same way, quantitative is much easier to those from a science/engineering background. So the scales are tilted but do not worry about all this. It’s a test of logic, method and reasoning. Again if beautiful blondes can get 700+, you can too. (No I am not being a male chauvinist here, just trying to help).QUANTITATIVE
Number properties seem to be the most important section of the GMAT. Spend time here to master it. Give emphasis to trick questions and answers. While learning each concept, check if there’s a special rule or special question. Example: While learning stats or attacking, check what happens if integers are consecutive, etc? Do a google search! On special properties of consecutive integers, or median of a triangle, etc. Most seemingly difficult problems on the GMAT is based on a special rule or special case. (Especially true in geometry, statistics).
Practice data sufficiency well.
Best material: Official Guide -11
, GMATclub tests
and forum, gmatfocus
GMATclub ,tests : Timing, Tricks, theory.
Forum : Helps to get those tricky cases. The inequality approach is awesome. Probability list is good
. There should be a walker’s collection course VERBAL
Sentence Correction: This is a critical portion and the most exciting part to learn, so no excuse not to master it. Even a non-native speaker should be able to master this skill. Worst case, take it as fun to learn correct English (or must I say GMAT English).Skills:
: Official Guide
, MGMAT-SC book
, GMATprep qns
Official Guide, MGMAT-SC
: Use this to make sure your grammar is solid.
SC1000: Use this for above and timing drills as well.Brutal SC
/Forum: Helps to learn various ways to analyze.
Note: I honestly do not believe doing brutal sc etc is necessary, knowing the GMAT rules and approaching the problem confidently is most important. Reading Comprehension
: Easiest of the verbal sections. This section has two components to it. One is to comprehend what the author says. The second is to have a good vocabulary. Again, one thing to note is that the GMAT has almost ZERO INFERENCE and the author is saying something only if mentioned in the passage. Do not let your imagination run wild. This is a section where you know that you can get >90% right so practice at least 5 passages.
Vocabulary : If you are weak in this section, you need to build a good vocabulary.
Reading skills: We all have reading skills! In the GMAT it tests a quick comprehending of the passage. Imagine having to read and explain the passage to your wife/boss/son/etc in 4 sentences in 3 or 4 minutes. This is what the first read must cover, the rest is all detail questions.
Tip: Read on the computer and scan for details!Critical Reasoning
: I believe this is a section becoming tougher in the GMAT compared to GMATprep. Again the good thing is in most questions only one or two answers need to be evaluated.
Best material:CR: Detailed overview
(just learn how each question is different the graphs and strategies from here – don’t need to study whole book).
OG-11: Practice basics
CR1000: Timing drills.The plan
: Took diagnostic and one paper test, and some free CAT link from gmatclub site not really sure which one. Think it was Princeton review or Kaplan
. Made a plan to focus on verbal mainly based on diagnostic.Week 1-2(20-30h
): Focused exclusively on sentence correction rules and math rules. Read Manhattan sc, exercises. Completed OG-11.
MISTAKE: Unfortunately did not analyze in detail until the later weeks, !!! This helps a lot more mastery, look at why each answer is wrong. Week 3-4(20-30h
): Decided that I need to improve in all areas. Started doing 10-15 questions of CR, 20-30 questions of SC , 1 hour of math. Started creating error log
. I did GMATclub tests
once in three or four days.
MISTAKE: Still did not analyze questions.Week5-6(20-30hrs)
: Here I started analyzing the mistakes in detail especially in SC why each answer was wrong. Started noting down my SC mistakes and the rules at this point! This was the most beneficial for me as I would never make the same mistake again once I typed it up.
Not so much in CR since the logic in CR is harder to justify and you just have to think differently. In CR, I looked at the answers and said oh that’s another way to blow the conclusion apart, ok. Or hey that’s a great assumption.
Marked errors in math section and wrote reason of error i.e if I missed formula or silly mistake.CATS
Took CATS one each sat/sun same time as real exam. GMAT club tests
almost daily at night.
Did research on cats.
GMATprep1 730 (Q49 V41)
GMATprep2 680 ( Q49/V34) <- Could not review
GMATprep2 (retake) 720 (Q50/V36) <- 5 or 6 repeats
GMATprep1 (retake) 760 (Q50/V44) <- 5 or 6 repeats
GMATprep1 (retake) 750 (Q49/V42) <- 10 to 12 repeats
GMATprep2 (retake) 730 (Q50/V38) <-10 to 12 repeats but I used time for repeats and tried to identify why each answer of repeat was wrong.
MGMAT1 660 (Q32, V40)
MGMAT3 690 (Q48 V36)
MGMAT5 710 (Q49 V38)
MGMAT6 700 (Q49, V37)GMAT club tests:
25-30 on most. I got a 9 percentile on one on a bad day!
Research on cats: Never use CATS to judge your score. ONLY way to judge score is to take GMATprep one week before taking the test but again, you want to take it earlier to get the experience of a real test. Use it for timing.Week7-8(30-40hrs)
: I stepped it up a notch and was really pushing myself at this stage. Method was the same. Daily drill of verbal increased to double 30SC/20CR + continued 1 hour of math now. Focused on MGMAT/GMATclub tests
which really helped me. Continued CAT tests for timing strategy too- tried different approaches to complete on time. Week9(20hrs)
: More CATS (GMATpreps again). Reviewed all incorrect questions in verbal and math again. Went over GMATprep qns and Brutal SC in last 2 days. I read RC only in the last week – 2 passage/day. Total of 10-12 passages.
Misc: Note I practiced almost 3-4 hours every weekday, ~2hrs in morning, ~2 in the night and about 6 hours in the weekends. I live in the hills, so almost every weekend, I would take a break and go to a vista point and relax for 15 minutes in the middle of study. I did the same thing in the morning before the test and collected my thoughts – this really helped me relax.
Last day: Stopped learning at 6pm, watched sports which is what I love watching and helped me relax and sleep well. Test was next day at noon was nervous in the morning but relaxed by the time I was at the center. .Actual Test:
Math felt too easy for first 20 questions, had a slight thought that I am missing some. Took a deep breath after 20 and decided to focus more. From 25-33 , I got some real bouncers =>2 tough geometry, 1 stat, 1 probability, I inequality. I guessed on 4 or 5. I could not complete the last question in math.
Verbal started with 2SC, 1 tough CR before the RC. By question 18 I got a really long RC – I felt that I was doing well. Was behind the clock by 3-4 minutes. I could not judge the SC difficulty but most had 2 errors – so assumed I was doing well. I ran out of time and guessed the last 3 blindly.
The screen with score, I assumed math 46, V40 =>690 or 700. Prayed for a 700+ score and clicked the yes button. I was delighted to see 710 though a bit disappointed with V38. I believe I had some luck in math to hit Q49 with 4/5 guesses. Again a 680-720 depends on a few questions, so I believe that that range of scores should be ok with schools but I hear they are becoming tougher on the GMAT score these days….
Good luck and Conquer the GMAT!
PM me for any questions as the experience has led me to believe that this process of learning improves one for the better. So whether you do it in two months or a year, enjoy the journey and savor the success.