WARNING: The post is extremely long. I summarized my tips at the bottom for those of you who are strapped for time.
Went from a 640 (Q49, V28) to 710 (Q47, V40) in just over two months time. This is the happiest day of my life so far in my b-school quest. I shed a few tears when I found out my score.
First of all, I really want to thank the GMATCLUB community for helping me to get through this hurdle. This journey turned out to be a lot tougher than what I had expected.
Not sure if you are reading this, but a big THANK YOU to GMATTOKYO for the verbal practice questions.
I started prepping for the exam back in September of 2009, wrote my test in December of the same year, got a really dismal result, 640. I also posted a summary of my first time GMAT experience.took-my-gmat-got-640-need-some-advice-88535.html
When I got my first score, I was devastated; I just couldn’t believe how low of a verbal score I got (V28). I knew this score was not a true reflection of my abilities and decided to retake the exam again. I started prepping again just a few days after I had taken my exam. In terms of the length of my preparation second time around, it was roughly 10 weeks. I was planning on writing it in mid February initially but decided to delay my test so that I could fully prepare for it second time around. The way I see it is that this is probably my one and only last chance of writing this exam, since I still need to work on my application and all. So might as well be really prepared when I go retake the exam.
Materials I’ve used are as follows
MGMAT and GMATCLUB tests
SC – MGMAT, 1000SC, SC questions posted on GMATTOKYO`s GMAT experience review640-700-4-weeks-of-blood-sweat-and-tears-88493.html?sid=dd42c3b6089ee59ba0aac6ddc18e1b42#p668084
CR – MGMAT, PowerScore CR
RC - MGMAT
I spent the first 4 weeks just rebuilding my foundation again, making sure that I fully understood the different concepts covered in the test. So every week, I would spend 3 week nights on verbal and 1 or 2 on quant, so studied for both on the weekend.
After I have mastered the skills, I then started start practicing writing my exam, given that it is hard to write a full exam, including AWA during the week, I would write just the Quant and Verbal section, and write one full exam on the weekend. By the time my exam approached, I had written the test 15 times (8 times were full exams). For the exams I wrote without the AWA, I used GMATCLUB tests
. I pretty much practiced simulating the practice exam experience for about 5 weeks before I wrote my exam.
Refine your techniques. As you are taking your practice exam, really understand the area that you need to further horn your skill in. I kept a note of all the different concepts that need to be revisted and during the days when I`m not writing my practice exam, I would review and practice them.
I had taken the MGMAT class
back in September when I started to prep for my test, one of the biggest mistake I made during my first time around was that I did not fully utilize the CAT tests like they should be used. I never really time my exams, because I found the quant section to be so diffcult that I had trouble finishing it, so I really used the CAT more for practicing problems rather than simulating the test writing experience. In hindsight, this was not a good idea and probably one of the reasons why I did not do so far the first time. I also suffered from extreme figure when I did my first test, since i`ve only practiced writing the fully exam once prior to taking the test.
So this time around, I decided to fully simulate the test writing experience as it would condition my body to prepare for this exam mode, so that by the time I write my exam, I am fully ready. Please note that the score below may be some what inflated since I`ve taken the practice test last year when I prepared for the exam. However, I did not remember most of the questions. Just to be conservative, shave off 20-30 points off of these scores to reflect my true ability.
MGMAT 1:680 (seems like an outlier compared to all the other scores, maybe a bad day)
MGMAT 1:750 ( I feel this score is inflated as not that many 700-800 level questions came up)Kaplan
PR:640 ( I personally did not really trust this score as the test only gave me a V28, after I had been prepping for the exam for over 2 months! The quant score is also inflated, other members have made the same comments too)
SO you can see, my actual test score was somewhat reflected by my CAT scores.
On the day of the exam
I got up at 8:30, my exam was at noon.
Read some notes, maybe for an hour, drank one cup of coffee, home brewed. Then decided that I needed to be fully awaken, so went out and bought a cup of Starbucks, as I found their coffee to be stronger, so I would be sharper. Might just be a placebos affect, but hey, whatever works! On the way to the exam, I listened to music that really pumped me up.
Got to the test center, signed up and started to write my exam. One word of advice I would give to the test takers is that DON`T kill yourself over the AWA section. I think for my first exam, I really really got into the AWA section and tried to make my essay perfect, DON`T! This takes a lot of energy out of you and not necessarily the best way to use your energy. Granted I got a 6 for AWA the first time around, but if I had conserved my energy for the later sections, I might have done better on my exam. Getting an averaged for the AWA is sufficient, so I heard from others, even for the top b-schools you are looking to apply.
The first question always seems difficult, even when I wrote it last December, the quant took me over three minutes to solve. I told myself not to worry, it is only the beginning, I can make it up later even if I get it wrong. The types of questions are typical GMAT questions, just one probability question, I was happy, thought this meant that my quant score would be great. However, this may not be the case, as reflective of my quant score (Q47). I thought I did fine during the quant and thought that I would get a 49 for sure. I think also for myself that this second time around I knew I needed to improve my verbal drastically so I focused maybe 60% of my effort on verbal. So my quant slacked off a little.
Again, the first SC was really difficult too. It took me over two minutes to solve it. I found that the SC and CR were both harder than the material I used for preparation. Even though the material I used were suppose to be pretty challenging. I guess this is when having a good foundation would really help. Another thing I noticed was that I did not get any Bold Face questions for CR, however, I still did decent on verbal. So don`t be discouraged if you do not see bold face questions. For RC, one way to get better is to practice a lot. There are a lot of good passages on Gmatclub website, just use them. Don’t worry about your timing initially. You just want to make sure you get used to it first. Then worry about your timing. One key think I noticed that helped me is really to read the passage carefully, try to fully absorb what you are reading, become an active reader, so you understand what the passage is really trying to say. I find this technique helped me a lot in my comprehension. F
So when the exam ended, I was not happy initially because I really felt I did poorly on the verbal section, the question just seemed a lot harder than anticipated. But do not let that discourage from getting your score. The way I see it is that if you get the score, especially if you are taking the test for the first time, it gives you some guideline and reference for future rewrites. Otherwise, you would have no idea which section to focus more on. For me, it was the verbal and it is reflected in my new score. So I saw my score, I was so happy and excited. Because I really killed myself to prepare for this exam and it is good to know that my hard work really paid off.
Ten tips for future GMAT takers
1. Have confidence in yourself, do not be too distressed, I learned this from my first test
2. Don’t kill yourself over the AWA section.
3. Practice RC by reading passages frequently and answering questions. Really try to understand what you are reading
4. Take a lot of CAT exams, including the AWA section, to condition your body and mind into the exam writing mode.
5. Have a solid study schedule and stick to it. You really need to instil discipline into your study habits.
6. Re-build your foundation (especially for second time writers), focus on your area of weakness and keep on refining them during out your preparation.
7. Make notes about things that you believe are important, go back and review them periodically because sometime you forget them when you are trying to study a million other things.
8. Unless you think you really really did poorly, DO NOT cancel your score.
9. Try not to guess more than 2 questions in a row, I think it really impacts your socre
10. oh man, I can`t think of anything else, I just wanted to say ten tips, cuz it sounds good Good luck everyone!