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I will try my hand at the GMAT in exactly 5 weeks (8/4 is test date) and figure I should start a journal of my experience leading up to the GMAT. Hopefully this will be helpful for others as well as a form of accountability for myself. I will try to keep this up to date as I spend time studying everyday, and will likely use it as a place to comment, offer advice, or just vent with my own frustrations!

Some background: I am currently an older full-time student (31 this year) in a mediocre state school business undergrad program. I am studying Real Estate Finance and I will be graduating Spring 2013 with the goal of going to an MBA program in Fall 2013. I have a strong entrepreneurial background, having started three businesses since 2002, one of which I was able to sell for a good profit. I spent six years from 2002 to 2008 in China, first teaching English, then studying Mandarin, and finally starting and running a business. In 2008 I sold my business in China and came back to America with the purpose of getting an education. I am currently the IT manager at a medium sized retailer, a full-time husband and parent of a one-year old, and a full-time student.

Goals: I intend to work somewhere in Asia, hopefully in a country that I can use my Chinese language skills. Because of this it is my goal to go to a school with an international focus such as INSEAD or LBS and to eventually go into international management consulting.

GMAT Goal: 720+ GMAT score. I need to hit a decently high GMAT score because my current Undergrad school is not well known and my GPA is very average (currently a 3.2, though it could increase). Though I have a good story and quite a few unique experiences to leverage in my applications I have to prove that I have the mental capabilities that a top MBA program requires.

Until last week I was working full-time at my current company and my GMAT study had been squeezed in whenever I had time. I even took a Manhattan CAT back in April but received a very mediocre score (570, 34 Quant, 34 Verbal). I feel that my verbal is actually stronger than I catted at, and that my Quant is worse so I am focusing on Quant first. Before this week I mostly spent time brushing up on my basic math skills, and I am now halfway through the Manhattan Foundations of GMAT Math book. Beginning this week I will be part-time at my company and will start tackling my GMAT studies with as much time as I can spare.

Well I guess that is all for now, I have a huge amount of work ahead if I want to reach a 720!

I was able to get from page 199 to page 300 in Manhattan Foundations of GMAT Math book today. I feel that this book does a pretty good job refreshing the basic math concepts that I will need to use for the GMAT, but I wish that the drill questions were in GMAT form. I guess the point is to get you to use the math in the book, and not to just figure out the answer based on the choices available to you. Let's see if I can get another forty pages or so done tonight!

I have not been able to get much done today due to classes and work. I have been mostly working on drills on everything I studied yesterday. Found my first error, which is actually kind of surprising since I'm more than halfway through the book. I actually expected more errors because the Amazon rating for the Foundations of GMAT Math book is poor due mostly to errors, but it was still frustrating to waste fifteen minutes trying to figure out what I had done wrong only to plug in my answers and find out that they did solve both equations perfectly. At least I know I'm "getting it" again, and that I'm not (completely) crazy!

After spending quite a bit of time studying up on my math I wanted to see if the basic math concepts were helping my progress for my GMAT so I decided I would do a Manhattan CAT test today. I also wanted to see what the IR section was all about since the first time I catted back in April it was not part of the test. I ended with a 620, IR 2.96, Q39, and V36! Though this is nowhere close to the score I need to get for my actual GMAT, I still feel decent about it. My Quant improved by 5 points, and I actually felt much more confident doing many of the math problems. I ended the section with a little over 4 minutes left, which means I need to work on my timing. I was really afraid that I was going to run short on time so I just guessed on a few difficult ones and ended up with extra time! My verbal increased by 2 points, but I'm still going way too fast. I still had 18 minutes left at the end of the verbal section, and I should have spent more time with a lot of the questions. The IR section was frustrating for me, though I feel it shouldn't have been. I spent way too much time on the first six questions and had to speed through the last six, which meant I was doing a lot of guessing. IR is so similar to the real life type of data sorting and analysis I have to do at work, but I'm used to doing things slowly, making sure all of my results are correct. I think I will have to work on that section more.

Overall, I feel confident that if I start going through the Manhattan guide books for each of the GMAT sections I should be able to drastically improve my scores. I really need some strategies and help on using my time more efficiently in the Verbal section (which really should be a strength of mine since I am a native speaker).

I hope by next Monday to be done with the Foundations of GMAT math book and starting on the other Manhattan GMAT books. Will keep everyone updated!

Nice updates Luke, Im following a similar plan. Im halfway through with the foundations of GMAT Math, and plan to go through Kaplan Premier for strategies next, and then onto the Manahttan books for the hardcore stuff.
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Joseph82 thanks for the response! It is great to know that others are going through the same process (which is why this forum rocks!). Hopefully your study is coming along well. When is your test?

Anyways, sorry about the lack of updates. I took a crazy 3 week intensive Mandarin course that just finished last Friday, so my time has been extremely stretched. I had thought it would be easy for me since I am fairly fluent in Mandarin speaking and listening, but I found that my Mandarin reading and writing has deteriorated badly. Anyways, I have not done much studying in the last two weeks, having only gone through Equations, Quadratic Equations, and some of the Word Problems chapter. It is my goal to finish the Word Problems chapter tonight, and maybe even the Geometry chapter if I can keep my brain going that long. I'll post later tonight with an update!

Luke! I guess after mastering Mandarin, the GMAT out to be a breeze for you!! Considering that the Pinyin in mandarin is challenging enough, the fact that you can write mandarin is impressive! I am planning to take a shot at the GMAT in October. Still have a long way to go in terms of material to cover. Personally, I didn’t find the word problems chapter as helpful as the algebra, divisibility and geometry chapters. My advice would be to breeze through that chapter and focus on completing the geometry chapter instead. Good luck with your prep! Hope to read more updates from you soon.
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I wish I had "mastered" Mandarin! it is actually quite frustrating, as I can use Chinese to do business, give speech, or watch Chinese news but cannot read a second grade Chinese textbook! My Chinese professor thought I was the strangest student she had ever met, as most students have the opposite problem, able to read and write but unable o speak at all!

Joseph82, you were right about the word problem section, it is mostly common sense. I have not quite finished it though, I actually forgot that I had skipped the "Beyond Equations:Inequalities and Absolute Values" section in the book. Both inequalities and absolute values are pretty easy for me but I decided that 18 years since I did them might call for a refresher. After going through that chapter and almost all of the word problem chapter I'm not sure how I feel. Both seem like kind of a waste of time, but at the same time it has been a good basic refresher in a couple of areas. At least I shouldn't ever miss one of these questions on the GMAT (fingers crossed )

October means you have a good amount of time to prepare! Sounds like you are ahead of the game right now, or maybe that I am way behind! Oh well, I have set aside five hours tomorrow to finish the word problem section and to go over the Geometry section and run through all of the problems. Unlike algebra, I haven't used geometry since seventh grade, so I cannot remember any of the basic calculations. I'm dreading this section, but I know I need it (I haven't gotten any GMAT geometry questions right in any of my CATS ). Tonight I'm going to run an assessment report on my Manhattan CATS and see which strategy guide I should focus on next.

Asax, It may further away than initially thought, but I also can't wait till I can give a recap. Hopefully it will be a good recap!

Sorry about not posting for a while! Between school, work, family visiting, and GMAT study I haven't had any time to update this thread. Over the weekend I finished the Manhattan Foundations of GMAT Book and then on Monday I took another Manhattan CAT test. I was slightly disappointed with my result, but I still saw some improvement. My Quant score dropped by one point to a Q38 and my verbal improved to V38 for a total score of 640. I was actually hoping that my practice with Quant and this being my third test would help me to increase my scores above 660, but it was not to be.

After testing so poorly I have decided to move my GMAT test out to September 7th. This gives me an additional 34 days to prepare, so now I have 44 days instead of nine to bring the scores up to the low 700s. I shouldn't be too disappointed as I did improve on some big areas of weakness in this third test, specifically my geometry and my sentence correction. I actually got worse in many areas though, and I have not improved on data sufficiency at all. My quant section was timed well, but I still did not spend enough time on the questions in my verbal section and I ended up with 12 minutes left on the clock. I think that I need to dive into the strategy guides as well as my missed questions and really push myself. If others can get a 720, so can I, right?

Last edited by LukeBlodgett on 26 Jul 2012, 23:27, edited 1 time in total.

I forgot that I wanted to put up a quick little review of the Manhattan Foundations of GMAT Math book. Overall I would give it high marks for those who have not had to use their math skills in while. The equations, quadratic equations, and geometry sections were excellent and all helped me improve how fast I could do these types of questions. I especially loved how simple the geometry section made things, if only my middle school geometry teacher had been so clear with his explanations! The book was also relatively error free, to my surprise. I guess my biggest disappointment was that there was extremely few strategies that specifically applied to doing this type of math on the GMAT (With the word problem chapter being the only notable exception). I also wish that the practice questions would have been in GMAT format rather than just being like any other math book. I'm guessing they don't include that type of info so that people would have to buy their strategy guides!

I think my final score would be a B: pretty good, but could have been better.

It is now just 15 days to GMAT time. I have been studying pretty much non-stop for the last few weeks, but am still making slower progress than I want. I have managed to go through the first three Manhattan GMAT guides and I will post about those later this week. I will also be taking a couple of practice tests this weekend and next week, so I should soon be able to see if all of this study has helped at all!

Anyways, just wanted to pop in and let everyone who was following along know that things are still moving along, and that I will update when I get some free time.

Taking a quick break from studying today and thought I would post a quick review of the two Manhattan GMAT Guides which I have finished so far.

The first guide, Number Properties, was excellent. It is a great reminder of some of the basic things about numbers that you may have forgotten if you haven't done mathematical testing for a couple of years. This book has a lot of test strategy, and reminded me of many "shortcuts" in math. This book also has a very useful guide on data sufficiency, which is a must read if you are bad at DS questions (I'm officially horrible at DS problems). In fact the DS strategy was worth the price of admission on its own, as it helped me to think about how to rephrase every DS question in the proper ways. I have yet to go through the advanced section of the book (I probably won't have time for the advanced sections before my test date) so I cannot speak to it.

The second guide, Fractions, Decimals, & Percents, has helped much less than the previous guide. In fact, I feel like if you have read the Foundations of GMAT Math book that Manhattan puts out then this book offers very little. There is barely any strategy that is not common sense, and anyone who uses numbers in business should not have any problems with the decimals and percents part of this book.

I'm currently working through the third Manhattan strategy book, and I will let everyone know how it is after I'm done with it. I will also be doing a practice GMAT test tomorrow morning, so I will have more to write about tomorrow.

I hate data sufficiency questions!!!!!! I find myself getting a lot of them wrong on stupid little flaws in my logic. Just have me solve the problems already!!!

I just finished a Manhattan CAT test, the first that I have done in exactly a month. The rust definitely showed. I ended with a 39Q, 39V, for a 650 overall. Though I have been studying non-stop for the last month I let some basic problems destroy my score. First was my constant nemesis, time management. I ended up having only 2 minutes to answer the last 5 Quant questions, and so I basically guessed most of them. I had 20 extra minutes for the verbal section, time which could have been better spent verifying my answers. And I was still confounded with time on the IR section, leaving 3 questions unanswered while guessing on the last two (I don't even want to admit that I got a 3.1 on IR). I got destroyed by algebra and geometry again, doing quite well in all other types of quant questions. I also have not shown any improvement in my problem solving or data sufficiency questions on the verbal part of the test either. I guess the bright side is that my DFP questions have all improved since I went through that study guide and that my number properties questions are up slightly after finishing that book. The strategies are working, I just need to bring it all together.

Oh well. I think I will take some time off from math to work on my verbal skills (since that portion of the test is worth more)..........