Dear fellow gmatters,
I’m just back from Kiev, where I had my GMAT. Got 750(49, 42).
*** DEBRIEF ADDED:
Thank you all for your words of support!
So, here is my story (beware: a long reading ahead!)
I decided to do MBA last August. Back then, it was a rather vague intention (I didn’t understand well what kind of programs would be good for me, which schools to choose etc.) But I knew for sure that I need to take GMAT. So I did GMAT prep two times and scored smth. like 710-730, with about 49-50 in quant and about 38 in verbal. To say the truth, this score would be enough for me – if only I could have written at least half-decent essays in AWA. But I just couldn’t produce anything longer than two paragraphs with very convoluted sentence structure – which would correspond to the mark of 2, no more
So I decided to dedicate several months entirely to studying English. It was not earlier than March that I began real GMAT preparation.
By that moment, I knew that I would need not just a ‘good’ score, but a ‘balanced’ score. Well, formally, the latter could be achieved by two means: 1. By improving verbal; 2. By spoiling quant
. I ended up doing both – the second unwillingly, though - see below.Test experience:Test Center
(for those who will take GMAT in Ukraine).
There’s only one in Ukraine, in Kiev (Techexpert) , so not much of a choice here. For me, the conditions there were very good, I’d even say luxurious. Two PCs are installed in a very small room. The room has air conditioning which the participants may turn off or on, and is overall very quiet. During my test, I was alone. Even the test manager does not sit there – you need to press the button to speak with her. The entire registration procedure is pretty much as anywhere else – with picture and fingerprints taken etc. What may be different, however, is that you are permitted to change yur booklet only during the breaks. So I was told. Another thing: if you bring some food, you will need to take it from the bag before the test – because the bag will be locked and no access allowed. Also, if the weather is hot, don’t bring chocolate – it will melt. Mine did.AWA
Well, this was the area that scared me the most – and the main reason why I didn’t take GMAT last year. I really hope that I did manage to get 4. Because otherwise, I’ll need to take it all again…
Just got the results – AWA 6.0!!!
Unbelievable! I’m in heaven!!! Jumping like mad!
I know, for many people here AWA is not important at all, but it was not so for me. I spent a lot of time preparing for it, because it was my weakest area. I found Peterson’s Writing skills for GRE/GMAT
most useful for the in-depth preparation.
BTW, the final report is dated by Aug 7th. Just two days after my exam. Those people at GMAC are really fast! Math
Well... The sad truth is that I totally bombed math section – I just can’t say otherwise.
I have never considered myself bad in quant – I have MSc in Math, with 4.9/5.0 diploma average. But I knew that I tend to do careless mistakes – in simple computations, or, say, may forget to reverse the fraction or overlook some additional condition in DS etc. Aside from that, I had some areas in which I was not sure, namely, probability/combinations and tables/vienn diagrams. Also, I’m not very fast thinker – i.e., I can’t solve the problem in 30s, unlike some other people here. But over the last three months, I brushed up my weak areas and managed to reduce the percentage of stupid mistakes to a considerably low level. Last month, I scored consistently at 50-51 level in quant. And, during my practice tests, it never happened to me (even once) that I encountered the problem that I knew I cannot solve. I always saw the approach – perhaps, not the optimal one (and sometimes even not the correct one), but still, it was never like hitting a solid wall. I think, this fact had contributed to what had happened with me in quant.
The first half was perfect. The test began with easy computational questions, then difficulty grew (though not as fast as I sometimes saw on GMATPrep). In the beginning the problems were rather simple, but sometimes with a trick. Thanks to the gmatclub, I was able to spot those tricks. Then some ‘unpleasant’ for me questions appeared – I’ve got 2 on statistics, 2 on probability\combinations (one of them of medium-high difficulty), and one on vienn diagrams. But I was ready for that. Also, there were a couple of DS with inequalities, also with a trick. And I got 2 problems on series, both very nice (required some thinking, not just using the formula). Overall, it all was well till the question, I think,19 or 20.
And then it came. It was data interpretation/estimation question with very long and convoluted wording. And I just couldn’t translate it. Yes, that’s it. Even couldn’t get what was asked. Even after two minutes of reading the problem. Perhaps, I should have better just guessed on it and moved along. But the situation was so unusual to me that I refused to give up, because I believed that I could solve it, eventually. Well, I did so in the end. But I spent 7 minutes on this problem, and still not sure whether I got it right.
And yet, it was not this problem per se that killed me: I used to spend 5-6 minutes on some questions on GMATPrep and Challenges, and still was able to catch up. But I just couldn’t throw it away from my head. I still kept thinking about it. And, as a result, could not concentrate properly on other problems, which were still rather hard – I was on 50-51 level then. I believe I did one or two careless mistakes during the next 9-10 problems, and I definitely spent much more time on each of these problems that I would have done otherwise, if my mind had been clear. And you can pretty much guess what happened then. By question 30, I have only 6 minutes left. At that point, I could have chosen to do ‘educated guessing’ on the rest, or to try to solve two or three problems properly and just guess on the remaining ones during the last 30 seconds. I chose the second option – and guessed (very much un-educatedly) on the last five problems. Now I believe I did the right thing, because this tactic prevented my score from falling further. I noticed that among those last qs were problems about coordinate geometry and mixtures – typical ones, something at the level of 45.
So, I was sure that my quant would be smth like 44-45. One could not expect more after blind guessing on the last 5 questions and, most probably, a couple of stupid mistakes during qqs 20-32. Verbal
Luckily, I managed to calm down during the break and postponed my self-blaming till the end of the exam.
And – strange thing – I had the impression that verbal was overall easier than on GMATPrep. Not consistently easier, of course: e.g., I had several SC with very obvious mistakes and a split 4:1, and then I had some with complex structure and non-evident parallelism. BTW, I’m sure that I encountered one SC from either OG or GMATPrep (not similar one, but the very same). I know other people had similar experiences too, and I don’t know how to explain it. Perhaps this ‘oldies’ are used for verifying the score? Also, I think I’ve got no more that 2 or 3 hard SC’s – I mean, the ones where the rule that was broken was not evident for me, and thus I was not sure in the choice. Now I think that I got those hardies wrong – perhaps, that’s why I haven’t seen any hard CRs at all.
Yes, as I’ve said, CRs were easy or moderate at best. Nothing like ‘beetle pausing’ or ‘tall stools for Hollywood restaurant’, if you know what I’m talking about. Some answer choices were close, but, IMO, the right answer was almost always evident. Oh, and I didn’t get any bold face CR.
RCs, however, weren’t all easy (and that’s good, because otherwise it would mean that I was doing pretty bad). I hoped that I would get something on science – but no luck here. Still, first two RC’s were easy or moderate. Third was not hard by itself, but it was longer and had some interesting questions (e.g., with two highlighted portions of the text and you are asked to say how they relate – looked like ‘bold face’ to me, only in RC). Overall, I came to the last RC with an extra time… And I was glad that I had it, because this last one was hard: sentences twisted, vocabulary complicated, and the logical structure not clear. Questions weren’t better, too. So I spend my extra time on this RC, answering qs – I needed to reread the passage three times. After that, I had a few SC and one CR and just enough time to finish.
Then, after a questionnaire, the great moment came – The Score
I was pretty sure that I did horribly in quant, but still, didn’t even think about canceling the score. And then it came: 49 in quant (wow! GMAT was very kind to me, after all I’ve done), 42 in verbal (good one), and overall of 750.
What can I say? I’m very pleased with my score. It is just as I hoped: good and balanced. But I’m not pleased with my performance at all. It’s not that I was not adequately prepared (I was), but that I let my anxiety take over me. Well, just one more reminder that GMAT in fact is not about your math skills or you language abilities…
Anyway, I’m very happy with the results and I'm not going to re-take.
Some general tips:1. Recommended resources:
a. Overall: anything official - OG, GMATPrep, Paper Tests (for verbal).
b. for math (47+): Challenges and participation in math forum
c. for SC – MGMAT SC
Overall, do not use any of the alternative resources as the source of verbal qs. Only official ones. Not only the other ones will not help, they will ‘spoil’ your perception of GMAT verbal questions. These qs have their flair, which only official sources reflect adequately.
For math, you could use anything you like. At least, it will do you no harm.2. Test difficulty in quant compared with that of Challenges and GMATPrep.
I did only Challenges 1-6, with percentiles ranging from 93 to 100. I’d say that if you are going for 50-51, your GMAT experience won’t be easier, and probably even harder. The same is true for GMAT when compared with GMATPrep – the former will seem harder. One of the reasons for that is that there are no ‘breaks’ in difficulty in real GMAT – if you solve q for 50 or 51, it will give you another of the same level. With GMATPrep this is not always true: I sometimes met very easy questions given right out of the blue. The Challenges are not CAT’s, and the inconsistency in difficulty is present there as well. So, do not think on the real GMAT ‘well, the next q will be easy and I will be able so have some rest/save some time’. From my experience, it won’t happen.3. Deceptiveness of verbal score:
I see the increasing number of posts when people are unpleasantly surprised with their verbal scores. I have the hypothesis that verbal is scored in somewhat other way than quant – I mean, if in quant a greater weight is put on the level of questions you consistently get right, in verbal, more emphasis is put not on the level of questions, but on the amount of rights/wrongs. For example, I once got v49 in GMATPrep, and it was with only one incorrect answer - clearly not enough to estimate the probability of a correct answer to a question on a given level - while in quant, you might have many wrongs and still receive 51 or 50.
Consequently, the verbal score is more vulnerable to the factor of chance. +/- 2-3 right SCs could result in a difference between, say, 38 and 43. Perhaps, these cases when people didn’t get the scores they expected was namely due to this ‘lottery’.4. Your state of mind is the key!
Well, after reading my debrief you perhaps already know what I mean.
I really like ‘fight for each question’- approach to which walker
refers in his GMAT debrief. (BTW, walker, if you are reading this – many thanks to you; you are my greatest source of inspiration!) This is what I myself was trying to do. However, what I believe is no less important is the ability to ‘let it go’ when necessary. No matter how much questions you did wrong or right before this one, treat this one as the one and only – as if nothing was before it. I failed to do so in quant, and it cost me dearly.
Thank you all, once again! There are so many great people in this community, from whose posts I learned a lot and whose experience was priceless. I’m really happy to be the part of it…
Good luck to you all! If you’d like to ask some questions about my GMAT – I’ll be glad to answer.