I am an engineer turned business analyst by profession seeking to become a consultant. I took the GMAT three times and scored 550, 600 (Q49, V23) and finally 760 (Q51, V41)
. My first attempt was cold while my second attempt is where I put in the most time. The resources used are:
1. OG 13
, Verbal review 2nd edition (very useful)
2. GMAT PREP question bank (super useful, most representative)
3. GMAT Prep exam pack 1 (super useful, most representative)
4. MGMAT books
5. Local GMAT institute (not worth it)
course (very useful, probably the best resource for non-natives)
7. GMAT Club quant questions – Mostly DS ( very useful if you are good in quant)
8. Gmatprep Verbal RC/CR/SC Questions collection by Souvik101990
9. GC forum questionsSecond Time
Studied from books + a local coaching center. While the quant was quite good, Verbal was so-so. They taught Verbal right out of Manhattan books
with heavy emphasis on terminology. For once, I felt as if I was back in my Biology class in 11th where I was asked to mug all the theory (for the record - I left bio half way in 11th for Economics).
Overall, I put 250+ hours of effort in my prep the second time, did MGMAT books
at least twice, attended the prep course and completed 12 mock test, yet I was not confident. My mock scores, even in MGMAT mocks were up to 710, with Verbal imrpoving to 37, however I was never confident about verbal.
As a result, I was very anxious the night before the exam and could not sleep- a recipe for disaster. The test was schedule in the morning and my anxiety grew as the test progressed. By the time I reached the Verbal section, I had little desire to continue. After a SC and CR question, I got a completely underlined question and I had no clue how to approach the same. From that point, after spending 3 minutes on it, I lost the plot. It was all downhill from there and I ended up with
V23 and a 600. Frankly, even after spending 300+ hours on the Verbal Section, I felt that I did not know the
beast at all. What I studied and what I was tested on were completely different. I was extremely disheartened and Right on the day of the exam, I came back and decided to go for the e-GMAT
I started studying for the third attempt 3 months after my purchase. I sent an email to Rajat - the founder of egmat
narrating him my story and asking him to personalize the my study plan for me. He mentioned two things:
1. Forget the previous two attempts. He cited data where folks has gotten into top b schools with multiple attempts.
2. Study the verbal section over completely. It did not make sense to personalize my study plan given that my verbal score was less than 40 percentile.
Initially #2 seemed harsh (especially given the time I had spent studying Verbal) but I soon realized how true it was. After attending SC1 - importance of meaning, I realized how elegantly could one solve GMAT SC questions by focusing just on meaning. While the local institute and the MGMAT mentioned meaning, none came close to teaching how to apply the same. That one session helped me realize my shortfalls in my verbal strategy. I fully attribute my success to the teachers at e-GMAT
(Shraddha, Payal, Rajat and Chiranjeev). The course gave me the right tools to apply what I had learned.
Similar to SC, the Prethinking approach in CR was equally helpful. I was quite good in CR during my second attempt, however there were questions that would confuse me and simply accepted that selecting the correct answer was not as much of a science as one would expect. However, e-GMAT
's CR sessions changed all the above. The endless debate and the impromptu examples helped me understand why the correct answer is the correct one. Their article on Alternate Cause - A weakener or not addressed a key issue. The concept of Author-it was super helpful in Assumption, Str, WK and Evaluate questions and the method to distinguish IC from MC was extremely helpful in Bold face problems. Fundamentally, right answers started jumping out with the prethinking approach. I solved some questions in less than 90 seconds on my test.Score Improvement Stages
I had absolutely no mocks left after my second attempt. I did not trust the 800 score tests so I tried out the Edvento mocks. The Edvento ability prediction was at V37 in the diagnostic that I took - a good improvement from V23. Whats more - I was confident this time. This is definitely a helpful platform.The last leg of improvement
My last leg of improvement came from the GMAT Verbal workshop conducted by e-GMAT
. This is one killer webinar that simulates the real test. Killer because it contains really good questions and they give you really good feedback. I scored 65 (70 percentile) in the workshop. What was shocking for me was that I needed to improve further on SC (55 percent scaled score) and RC (63 percent scaled score). This is something that did not show up on any of the mocks. This allowed me to direct my efforts on these two areas on the last two weeks which led to my verbal score crossing 40. My Key take aways for Verbal
When it comes to SC, focus on meaning first and then move to POE. For most 700+ level questions, you probably need to spend half the time in analyzing the original choice. Avoid rushing through this step (trust me - you will have a tendency) as the SC section can make or break your overall score.
CR is all about conclusion. As questions get more challenging, the conclusion becomes all the more twisted. Spend time on Analyzing the conclusion and then the argument structure. Spend time on analyzing the argument more closely. Use the ABCDE approach in rejecting the answer choices. Its key to read and forget the incorrect answer choices. This ensures that the answer choices do not cross-contaminate the argument.
RC is often the most dreaded section. I discovered something interesting about RC. Passages from Humanities though difficult to read are easier to answer once you get somewhat a hang of them. The key is to understand the transitions well. Slow down where you start to lose the passage. Re-read again. You need just two things in RC - good comprehension and a systematic approach in Main point, Inference and detail questions. Improvement in Quant
I was quite good in Quant. I realized that to score Q51, I needed to do better in DS. I mainly looked to do three things:
1. Reduce my time to answer 3+ minute questions
: Being good in quant is a sin. You don't worry about time spent on a question. Trust me, if you spend 3 minutes on certain question, it is because you don't know optimum approaches. figure out the optimum approaches. This helps in two ways - it gives you more time, which is always good. It also ensures that you do not make a mistake when facing a similar problem
2. Made myself comfortable in uncomfortable areas
: I knew that I was able to solve questions in number properties and Coordinate geometry, yet my gut always told me that I could do better. So I revised these areas again and I think it helped. Bottom line - if you heart tells you that you need to improve in a certain area - then you do.
3. Did as many difficult DS questions
: PS was not a problem for me, DS was. So I solved as many DS questions as I could. I focussed on getting as many DS questions right. From every difficult DS question, I would have a take away that I would write down in the form I have learned that if X then Y. I even spent extra time on some questions and experimented with multiple approaches. I think it really helped. When studying quant, my goal was to solve 20 questions and get 18 right. I would miss half of my dinner if I got 3 wrong, all of it if I answered 4 incorrectly. This and a few nights sleeping empty stomach instilled a sense of discipline.One thing that worked in my favor
was that I could sleep well this time. This could be partly due to the fact that I was quite satisfied with my preparation. I was confident of scoring 700, which is all that I hoped for. I had not hoped for 760 but who am I to complain.
A few final tips
1. Make sure that you have a good sleep before the exam. You need a calm mind to tame this moster.
2. Don't take the exam if you are not sure of your preparation. Trust me, you need to restart your preparation after a failed attempt.
3. GMAT SC is not about grammar it is about logic.
4. GMAT is beatable. You dont need to be super smart to score 700.