I have just finished with my GMAT experience about three days back (when I started writing this post). Since this forum has given so much to me, and I have more or less been a silent spectator, I thought I would give it my share of gratitude. The experience was amazing and I was content with the outcome since this is exactly the score that I had predicted through GMATPREP. I had planned and prepared meticulously for about three months and had put office work at a lesser(as I wrote this, I recollected whether the noun is countable or uncountable,such is GMAT !) priority, so I had to do well
To top all this, there was a regular impediment to my studies, the love for Cricket and Nadal, and they both planned ominously or maybe spectacularly to affect my GMAT. The world Cup literally ate my time, but India won... The IPL slurped more of my time, but CSK won ... And then the French Open, but Nadal won ... So all in all it was distracting and motivating at the same time.Background :
I am a Computer Engineer from India. I have had 2 years of experience in the Software Industry. I was pretty confident with my Quant abilities, so did not want to spend much time on it (but I had to, later...). Verbal was reasonable for me, but the GMAT is so typical in its Verbal questions that even the best cannot simply rest.
It all started with a test GMATPREP exam, at which point of time I did not even know the format of the test, which is why I feel that I wasted the first GMATPREP. The questions just kept coming and I had to read instructions multiple times and ended up with a 640 (Q50 V27). Reviewed the errors, and realised that sentence correction which had seemed to be easy in the test, was going to take a lot of effort.Materials Referred :Verbal :
1) Manhattan SC guide
2) Manhattan RC
3) Manhattan CR
4) Official Guide 12
5) The Official Verbal Review 2nd Edition
6) Online resources included, GMATPREP SC's doc, GMATPREP CR's doc, Manhattan GMAT
1) Manhattan Guides (although GMATCLUB Quant Guide is more than enough)
2) Official Guide 12
3) Official Quantitative Review 1st Edition
4) Online resources included, GMATCLUB Guide, 700+ Level Questions.And how did I miss this : Ipod/Iphone App from GmatClub, my only friend wherever I went.http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-toolkit-iphone-ipod-ipad-application-82830.html
This app single handedly can help you be more focused and at the same time give you some valuable practise that you need. Whenever I used to lie down to sleep, I made it a point to attempt at least 10 questions of the sections I was weak in, and it helped tremendously. See if you can get hold of it, its really helpful in the long run, coz you feel connected to the test wherever you go
1) GMATPREP (latest only)
2) MGMAT 6 TESTS (Paid)
3) All free tests, including Knewton, Kaplan
, Princeton Review, GMATClubHow to start :
Well for someone who just thought of taking the test, I started by searching for GMAT on Google, and thankfully pressed on the link to this forum. The first post that I read was a systematic study plan, and since it looked fairly decent, I thought of sticking to it. (http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-study-plan-start-your-gmat-journey-80727.html
One point to note, whatever I used to read on these forums, whether it be test taking tips or question analysis, I used to write it down in my notes, so that I had a summary in a few lines, of what was mentioned in long paras in the forums. You also tend to understand much better and the ease of reviewing it anytime is always there. So I made a study plan and saw that most people recommended the Manhattan Guides, and promptly purchased them.
Just decide on some stretchable deadlines, such as when will Quant finish, when will Verbal finish, when will test taking start. Also make notes of what all material you will refer and what all needs to be done primarily from them. I started with Quant as mentioned in the study plan, more so because I was comfortable with it, and thought of getting done with it in no time.Quantitative :
I went through the GMAT Club forum and found this amazing resource on Quant, that is the essence of the Quant section. There is nothing more and nothing less to it. (http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-math-book-87417.html
). I was able to complete it in sometime, but was not very comfortable with Combinatorics, so read the Manhattan Guides also. I later realised, they are more of quantity and less of quality (over the GMATClub Math Book-which is self sufficient), especially for people who do not need to work very hard on Quant. Sticking to just the Gmat Club Math book is more than sufficient. Special mention of Bunuel, he is Lord and God of Quant (Dont know him???-> Go to the Quant section).
The DS part is the trickier of the two, and I would advise all to spend sufficient time practising some good questions from all the resources that you choose to refer. Once I had practised some Quant from MGMAT, I was pretty confident about it and so moved on to Verbal.Verbal :
This was always going to be both tricky and time consuming. I had about two and a half months for the test, with the world cup in full swing. I decided to start with SC.Sentence Correction :
I thought of just sticking to the MGMAT SC
. Although I did think of going through the Aristotle Guide also, but I later realised, it is not the quantity of material that will help you improve this section, but systematic attempts at questions and reviewing and noting down your errors.
Word of caution here : The Idioms list in MGMAT SC
is huge and most of them would strike you as, yeah I know that, but in reality when you attempt these questions, you will most usually fall for the wrong choices. Make it a point to write in your own handwriting beside that particular idiom what you got wrong. Will help tremendously in revision and you will know which idioms are the ones that really went wrong.
I made complete notes of the book and started to revise them. Till then this section looked the easiest. I did the exercises at the end of each chapter, and once done with the book, I decided to take on CR, since now I had about 1 and a half months left (Yes the World Cup took its toll).Critical Reasoning :
This section always proved to be my forte. It was just so simple. Except for the GMATprep Doc of CR questions, there werent many quality CR's that really seemed too tough to me. But still I decided to go though the Manhattan CR
guide. There were some strategies mentioned, but the process was described seemed too systematic and time consuming to me, for something that I found easy, so I though of simply sticking to my plan. Read the question with concentration, understand ir properly and attempt. You have lost half the battle if you read the question twice, there is not so much data in a small paragraph that it needs re-reads. It is only when choices seem to be eating into each other that one needs to be careful.
The GMATPREP question collection is really good and should suffice for practise (apart from the OG, which I will come to later).Reading Comprehension :
I was pretty scared of this section initially. Not just because it scares most of us, but simply because It had royally screwed my GRE, three years back
. I read through Rhymes strategies (http://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal-rc-help-30247.html
). There are all kinds of tricks mentioned including making notes, mental maps, linking paras and what not. IMO, if one concentrates on the passage in the first read, one can simply answer the questions, with a little bit of review in each question.
What one needs to do is to understand the authors point of view, the passages direction and the general topic in the RC. Once you are familiar with it, and have the facts right, it should not be tough. I zipped through Manhattan RC
in like 2 hours, since I realised that one would have to practise rather than read material on it. Seriously speaking, though the most dreaded, this is quite an easy section (I dare say easiest), since all the facts are right there in front of you and there are questions that derive their answers from what you see. Be positive and it should not be an issue at all. Personal Suggestion :
I stopped listening to music and other things that distract me, since while reading a passage they would keep running at the back of my mind. FB was a strict no. It helped me clear my head and concentrate on the passage so that I could assimilate most of the passage in my first read and saved a lot of time. Try it, there is nothing like the human brain, if you can capitalise on it, no amount of writing and revising and re-reading and paragraphing can equate the time saved.Now comes the practise part :
So I had attempted OG in parts (first 50 questions) in all sections while preparing from the material above, and had rest of the book to myself. I had also bought the Verbal Review Part 2. I had a month to go for the test now. I carefully planned this month since this was going to be the deciding factor on the past two months of effort. Things to do :
1) Make note of all the resources you would want to practise, for me it was OG 12
, Quant Part 1, Verbal Part 2, GMATPREP SC List, GMATPREP CR List.
2) Make note of all the tests that you want to take. For me (mentioned above already).
3) Decide on what all needs to be revised and updated regularly, for me it was the Quant notes and the SC notes, each days practise would give me some more points to add to my notes that would help later.
My test scores : Test : (Total Score/Quant %/Verbal%) - When
[highlight]1)GMATPREP Test 1[/highlight] (640/50/27) - 3 months to go
[highlight]2)MGMAT 1[/highlight] (680/48/34) - 35 days to go. Disappointed with Quant and Verbal. Had to talk myself out from postponing the test
[highlight]3)MGMAT 2[/highlight] (690/45/39) - 30 days to go. Realised Quant was slipping from my grasp. Started reading quant forums, re-read my notes, Did all the practise questions I had. Attempted the 700+ questions, and could answer only 60% the first time. But I motivated myself, telling that this was the easier part and was in no way going to bring down my score, especially since I saw my Verbal had improved.)
[highlight]4)Princeton Review[/highlight] (610/44/30) - 26 days to go. Pathetic scoring pattern. Got two questions wrong in Quant and this score. Didnt take too much from this.
[highlight]5)MGMAT 3[/highlight] (730/49/40) - 22 days to go. Felt happier
[highlight]6)Knewton[/highlight] (710/47/39) - 15 days to go.
[/highlight] (700/49/39) - 15 days to go. Special mention, that Kaplan
CATS are pretty tough and unnecessarily give low scores, that can make you feel bad. Attempt at your own risk. There are many more quality tests available, so my suggestion is to steer clear.
[highlight]MGMAT 4[/highlight] (Got 51 in Quant) - 13 days to go. Unknowingly quit the test, few $$ down the drain
. Happy with Quant.
[highlight]MGMAT 5[/highlight] (750/51/41) - 13 days to go. Took another test that day since I had to know my status. Quite content, although another word of caution, MGMAT has resticted Qbank of tough questions, so in case you have been getting high Q scores in previous tests, Test 5/6 will have most 600-700 questions. So its still not a good time to celebrate.
[highlight]MGMAT 6[/highlight] (760/51/42). - 7 days before the test.This score was a balanced score and what I had aimed for right from the beginning. Maximise Quant and score decently in Verbal. I was happy since I had hit a kind of tipping point at the right time.
[highlight]GMATPREP 2nd Test[/highlight] (760/50/41). Was sad with my Quant mistakes, 2-3 questions repeated in Verbal from my practise question banks, but all in all glad that I made an improvement of 120 points from my first attempt at GMATPREP.Test Taking and Practise Strategy
For pratise, I used to attempt one kind of questions at a time. I used to start a timer in my ipod and tried to stick to max 2 mins per queston. The ones that I took longer I used to mark on my scratch sheet. Also the ones that I was doubtful about especially while using POE, I used to mark them too, for review later. Questions from the OG, have no better explanation than the OE so try not to waste too much time searching for it on forums. For other questions, try to go through MGMAT forums, and read only Ron Purewals/Stacey Koprinces posts. With all due respect to the forum moderators and posters here, its just that they are actual instructors, and somehow reading their explanations used to give me the confidence that it WAS right. Also, please dont waste too much time, reading other peoples doubts/quesries/posts. Stick to the instructors explanations and that should be sufficient and keep you clear in your head. Please do take down notes from their explanations. A wise man once said, if you dont review/jot-down mistakes, you are going to make them again, no matter how many times you read the OA.
Aside : Link to how you can add your own search engines to the Firefox Search Bar. Using this, I added the gmat club search bar and the MGMAT search bar to that search bar on top right in Firefox and simply had to type in a few words to get to the post. Saved quite some time. Try it !(http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Custom-Search-Engine-to-Firefox%27s-Search-Bar-%28Windows-Version%29
For test taking, I timed all of them and gave them under test taking conditions,at the same time in the day when my actual GMAT was schedueled. Special thanks to my room-mates for understanding. Most importantly, after every test, I used to take a screenshot of the questions I got wrong and used to save them in order of the tests, in seperate folders, so that I could review them later. This is the most critical part of test taking, since you want to revisit your mistakes just before the test and also dont want to spend so much time going through all the tests to review the incorrect questions. Best part you dont need an internet connection to review the mistakes then ... This was my implementation of the highly talked about error logs that people mention.
. All quant calculations I did in a register, so that while reviewing I could see whether I had made a silly mistake, or whether I had got a concept all wrong. Also, all through the tests I had used earplugs, since I did not want to get distracted for even a moment. So in case you plan to use earplugs on the Test Day, try using them in one or two mock tests, since there are quite a few sounds that your body can make, when you just yourself to listen to.
I am attaching a sample scratch sheet also in which I used to practise. It is very basic but you need to keep it simple !
While reviewing OG, try to read through all the choices, and see what is the OE for explaining their fault. This would really really help you I am positive. I took two attempts at the OG and the Verbal Part 2, since I had to be completely confident with the bibles of GMAT.
During the last 3-4 days of my preparation, I went through all my mistakes (refrained from attempting new questions) and went through MGMAT forums for SCs that I thought I wasnt clear with. I spent the most part of my time reviewing since for me the review has always been more important than fresh practise. I reviewed all my test mistakes also properly, and realised that now I wasnt making the same mistakes again especially in Quant and SC. Quant can be tricky but at some point of time you just have to have that confidence in you and move on from contemplating to implementing.
Day before the Test I was pretty nervous. Though I had thought of reading a novel, I just couldnt stop myself from studying my SC notes and the Idioms list one last time. Settled to a calm in the evening and went for a 3 hr ride on my bike. Saw the test centre, and felt comforted. Shaved my face, since I would have easily not been allowed to enter the test centre with the kind of beard I had grown in these days.D-Day
My exam was on Tuesday, and I had purposely slept late on Sunday and woken up early on Monday. So by the time it was 10 on monday night, I was feeling drowsy, good signs! A little tossing and twisting, and I was fast asleep.
I had booked a cab to pick me up at 7, since in my city rain is as unpredictable as your score on the GMAT
. The cab did not come, can you believe it? I have a test, am already tense and this guy just doesnt show up. Luckily it wasnt raining and I took out my Enfield and rode to the test centre (a good 45 min ride). I saw a Harley cross me on my way, and decided silently that I had to do this for owning her, if not for anything else. Had taken light breakfast but not much liquid, since I have this annoying habit of taking loo breaks too often
Did the formalities, and started with the test. I had practised AWA primarily from the strategies here (http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
). There is nothing more to it than this. Since I had got a 5.5 on my GRE, I was pretty confident on this and timed myself properly on this.
Word of caution : They give a plastic kind of thing to write on and marker pens with that. It is a little tough especially since the ink starts to dry if you keep the cap open for long, so dont get too irritated with this. Also sometimes if you want to write on top of something, you wont be able to, the ink just doesnt write on itself
Took the break, had two biscuits and a mouthful of water. Started with Quant. I was extra careful with the calculations since I was prone to silly mistakes. Kept answering questions and realised that this was easier than I had thought and I had practised way too hard for this. There were about 3 questions in the later part of the test that I had to guess, since I did not want to get my last question wrong. Timed myself properly and completed this section. Advice is to not get bogged down by a question. There will a few questions that you will think as really easy but they will take time and turn out to be tricky. Keep a mental note of the time you have spent on each question, and just pick an answer rather than get irritated on not being able to crack an easy question. Timing is by far the most important part of the Quant section, for people who are reasonably good at solving these questions.
Took the next break, went to the loo, ate another biscuit and came back for the last battle. Came back at my seat early, and made a list of 45 A-B-C-D-E for faster attempt at questions and to aid in POE.
It started with some SC's thought I got them right, then some CRs and a RC. Luckily none of the RCs were from some vague subject that I hated, and I was able to comprehend and answer most easily. My nemesis I think was questions 33-36, where I suddenly thought I was out of time and tried to rush on a couple of CRs, and most probably got them wrong. Finally I had about 10 mins for the last 6 questions and it went on peacefully after that.
The last page to be clicked appeared and I felt my heart working at thrice its prescribed limit. Anyway, I had to take the score, although I was not content with my Verbal, but zipped through the questions to get to the final screen. Prayed to God, thought of my parents and pressed Yes. Was welcomed by a decent 760. I put my hands on my grumbling stomach (which has recently grown to a monstrous proportion), and realised I already had my next task in my hands (Lose weight !) . In the end I was happy by how it all went. Another important thing : The colleges that you have to select come at the start of the test, and for a someone outside the USofA, it can be tough to locate colleges. Learn the states in which those colleges are, this will help you a lot and keep you calm while choosing them (especially since this exercise is to be done before the questions start).Quick Review of Materials :
1) MGMAT Books
- As mentioned, in case you are confident with Quant and are done with the GMATClub Math Book, you do not need to spend a lot of time on the MGMAT Quant books. Just zip through them and concentrate only on the areas that you still think are weak.
2) Official Guide 12
- Bible/Quran/Gita of GMAT. Read the OE's completely and thoroughly. Attempt it again, in case you are not confident with the weaker areas of your test prep (in my case SC). Take the Diagnostic Paper Test also if possible, although quite a few questions may seem to be repeated. You can also refer to OG 10
, if you want to, I would have referred to its SC section for sure, if I had time
3) Verbal Guide 2nd Ed. - Another very good official resource for practising the Verbal part. No overlapping questions between this and OG 12
and each complements the other. Handy practise in the last month, must have for non-native test takers.
4) Quant Guide 1st Ed. - Can avoid it if you are good at Quant. I had to buy and attempt it, since I was so bogged down by my Quant results in the initial MGMAT tests, that I was starting to loose a little bit of confidence.
5) MGMAT tests - By far the best when it comes to question relevance, scoring and experience altogether. They allow you to pause the exam, which in a way is helpful sometimes (although you should avoid it obviously), since it might happen that you have to attend a phone call/attend to someone, during the mock test time. A working man / father cannot be cut off from civilization for four hours at a stretch, however much he may try
. Although I would mention here, that the Quant sections are way tougher than the actual GMAT, so as usual do not get bogged down by them. If you are sure you can crack it, you will.
6) GMATPREP SC's.doc - Good resource if you want to practise on SC's specifically. It can happen that some questions repeat later in GMATPREP so beware. Be sure to go through the mistakes on MGMAT forums as mentioned above. Same with GMATPREP CR.doc (Both of them are available on GMat Club forums, let me know in case you want links to them).
7) 700+ level Quant questions.doc - Another good document from gmat club forums for practise, but this was a little tough for me at my first attempt. Good for someone who wants to practise some really tough and good questions on DS just before the test.
8) GMATPREP tests
- They are just two in number so spend them wisely. Another word of advice, I did not know that the answers you write to the AWA in GmatPrep cannot be retrieved, easily. I had planned to send them to some of my friends for review, so in case you intend to do that, take that section on a Wordpad instead, under timed conditions of course.
- Would generally advise against it. Period. There are better materials/test taking resources available.
Last words to an agonisingly long post : Its all a battle of the mind. In case you are confident you will be able to crack a section and the test as a whole, you have won it even before you picked up the pen. And do not waste too much time (look who's talking), since you will regret it later, in case you feel you are still not done with your prep, just before the test. First attempt (like first love) is always the best.
P.S. I have a collection of some SC's and CR's with explanations that I copied from various resources. Let me know in case I can post it here. They are questions from some MGMAT tests/online forums/other resources, so I want to be sure if its all right before posting. Feel free to ask anything else. I generally dont like to include smileys in my posts, so the post can be a little monotonous. Let me know and I will work on improving it.
Lastly, consider Kudos ....
File comment: Scratch Sheet that I used. Take 10-20 copies. Mark questions that you arent sure of while attempting/get wrong after checking and make it a point to refer to these scratch sheets. Take notes pertaining to that review behind that scratch sheet so that you can review it easily and relate to it properly.
scratch sheet.doc [22 KiB]
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