Hello everyone. I've been working in engineering for about 2.5 years and I'm planning to start business school in Fall 2014. My target program is Duke, but there are several others I would strongly consider. My target GMAT score is 720.
I'm going to go through my GMAT study process, and I'm more than open to suggestions on how to improve...I took the test once and did not receive a score I'm satisfied with.
-OG version 12
-Manhattan GMAT OG
Archer (well worth the money for the explanations alone, the OG explanations aren't very good sometimes)
I started studying approximately two months before the test. I have personally found that I learn best when I process information in several different ways - reading it, writing it, and retyping it. I went through each of the books in order and took fairly detailed written notes, marking anything that I felt was a key item to know for the test. This process took a while, maybe 3 weeks at the pace I was doing (12 hours per week or so). I typed these notes up into a fairly comprehensive study guide.
After that I took my first Manhattan GMAT
test to see where I was (score shown below). I spent about 5 weeks going through OG problems, taking practice tests and reviewing the practice test missed answers...somewhere around 16-18 hours per week. I spent the bulk of my time in PS, DS and SC - I always do pretty well on CR, and I don't think the return on investment is worth much study time on RC. Maybe that's a mistake, who knows.
My practice test breakdowns:
Manhattan CAT 1 (3/16): 660 (44Q/36V)
Manhattan CAT 2 (3/29): 660 (44Q/36V)
Manhattan CAT 3 (4/06): 690 (44Q/39V)
Manhattan CAT 4 (4/07): 630 (40Q/36V) - Yikes, I don't recommend taking practice tests on back-to-back days. This one was rough.
GMATPrep CAT 1 (4/13): 720 (I don't remember the breakdown, I'm pretty sure it was 49Q/41V)
ACTUAL TEST (4/20): 660 (I think it was 44Q/38V)
With the exception of that fourth practice test, which I think was an anomaly, I was making fairly steady improvement in quant; despite being an engineer, I feel that quant is my weak area. I think most of my quant improvement came in the last couple weeks - I did targeted reviews where I ran through all of the OG problems in a certain problem type to try to get the concepts down. I did pretty well on the GMATPrep test and went into the test with confidence.
My test was at 8 AM, so I got up at 6. I showered, ate some food and did 12 quick, easy warmup problems (8 PS, 2 DS and 2 SC). I drank a full energy drink to try to get myself wired and focused. I got to the test center early. The whole registration process went very smoothly.
I have not received my essay score yet, but I feel like I did fine. I don't expect a 6, but I don't expect a terrible score either. Finding flaws in the argument was fairly easy to spot, but I struggled slightly with how to organize all the information since I didn't spend any time on essay practice (except for practice tests). Either way, I think it was fine.
Integrated reasoning went smoothly, I expect a very high score. I don't think it's necessary to spend much time reviewing for this. It's also worth noting that the Manhattan IR sections are WAY harder than the actual GMAT, so don't get stressed out if you aren't getting decent scores.
During my break I had half a protein bar and half of another energy drink. I think this was too much caffeine for me, but I don't believe it negatively affected my test either. I returned to the room to start quant, and my nerves started to kick in.
I didn't know how to do the first question. This was a terrible way to start the test. I knew it was conceptually easy, but my calculations just weren't working out. I probably spent 4 minutes on it just to guess wrong. I think I got 3-4 questions right in a row after that, then got a difficult question where I went straight to plugging in answers to find the right choice - this was also time consuming. About halfway through the section I realized I needed to make up 4 or 5 minutes, so I found myself rushing through questions and simply guessing on a few at the end.
I'm perplexed. I took five practice exams and had zero problems with timing - I always finished the section with 2-3 minutes to spare and didn't have to rush any questions. Maybe it was just nerves that got to me, I wasn't willing to bail on the first question. The question types were no big surprise...I got two on combinatorics, one probability, one on remainders and two rate questions. The rest were pretty standard (divisibility, inequalities, triangles, etc etc).
Anyway, took the second break, and went through verbal. I could just tell that I bombed the quant section, and I think this brought my verbal score down. I felt like the RC passages were pretty easy. The sentence correction was on par with the GMATPrep. I found myself narrowing it down to two answers a few times and not knowing which one was correct. I think I need to improve my knowledge of idioms.
So, that's my story. I need to take the test again, probably in mid-June (if that seems like enough time to review). I feel like I should take it while the information is still relatively fresh in my mind.
I am hoping you have suggestions on how to improve my quant score! Looking at my scores it's obvious my study habits weren't very effective until the last couple weeks. I think it's critical for me to score at least a 48 or 49 in quant, regardless of my overall GMAT score.
I could also benefit from getting my verbal up over 40. I think I just need to spend more time on the OG practice problems. I don't really write any information down or use any methods when solving verbal problems, I just eliminate answers in my head and pick what I think is best.
In the mean time, I'm going to spend a week or two completely away from the GMAT, then jump right back in! Thanks for reading.