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Joined: Sep 04, 2017
730 Q48 V42
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I started my preparations about 6 weeks before my GMAT exam, beginning with Wiley's Verbal and Quant guides over the first two weeks. I was expecting speedbumps with Quants, but I was stumped when I saw that I wasn't really performing well in the Verbal section either. I scored a 540 on my first mock. For someone coming from a convent school, who hardly ever prepared before his English papers and yet scored really well, this was nothing short of a massive blow to the face.
I really wanted to make my first attempt count and make the most out of it. My first step was a quick Google search for "Best GMAT coaching" and I came across e-GMAT, Mangoosh, Byjus, etc. I read a few articles on GMAT Club on how people have improved their GMAT scores. Most of them mentioned going through Manhattan and Kaplan and various other sources to improve their verbal scores. But most of them also had one common saving grace, e-GMAT. So I had my search results and my reviews to help me zero down to e-GMAT. However, since one man's strategy may not always work for another man, I decided to go through the free course material provided by e-GMAT as well as a couple of others. In the end, I found myself most comfortable with e-GMAT than any other. Ergo, I ended up purchasing their online package. I must say, I crammed through the concept files, verbal as well as quant, for two weeks at a stretch, doing 12 hours a day. While this worked for me, I won't recommend this unless you are comfortable with cramming. I did have my moments of zoning out and getting distracted, especially due to the festive season going on in India at that time. So in order to stay focused, I'd bribe myself with incentives. I'd study for 2 or 3 hours, then I'd listen to some good music for about 15-20 minutes, or watch a part of a movie, or play a mission or two of one of my favorite PC games. Non-stop cramming will only be counter-productive. The brain needs to cool off every now and then.
The overall focus of e-GMAT on pre-thinking, summarizing and simplifying even the most complex of RC passages was a game changer for me. Apart from certain highlighted text based questions, I never had to revisit the passages to answer the pertaining questions. For CR, reading the question (whether it is asking for assumption or strengthener or weakener) before going through the presented argument only made the pre-thinking way quicker. After verbal, I moved on to quant, which was also simplified by e-GMAT in a way that I could never imagine. Then I moved on to Scholaranium practice sessions. The questions here are tougher than official GMAT questions, but they are essential to make sure you are prepared to handle even the worst. So approach your Scholaranium scores with a positive perspective and analyse where you went wrong. Finally, I spent two weeks practicing 40 questions from each section of the 2018 Official Guide, followed by a deep analysis of all the wrong answers, introspecting to find gaps and bridge them. First, my focus was on improving my score, even if I took 90 minutes for each section. Then with constant practice, I came down to 60 minutes per section, improving my scores as well with each attempt. I spent one day practicing IR and probably an hour understanding how to and how not to approach AWA.
My test was scheduled at 1 PM. I had a good 8 hours of sleep the night before, I didn't go through any study material that day, I had a light lunch and I went for my test. It is very important to approach the final test with a cool head. Do not let anxiety or panic cloud your judgement. Understand the logic behind each question, be aware of specific details mentioned in the question, and accordingly select the most accurate option (and eliminate others on solid grounds as well). I made sure I attempted all questions and didn't spend too much time on questions that I couldn't interpret at all. Finally, at the end of 4 long hours, I was delighted to see a score of 730 (V42, Q48) with an IR score of 7. For AWA, I read through the argument presented, wrote down a few points that could weaken the argument, built a short paragraph around each point, threw in a couple of real-life examples, gave it a short and to-the-point summary (the reverse of e-GMAT's RC strategy) and built an essay that earned a perfect 6. So Practice, Introspection and Persistence, with e-GMAT as a catalyst, was my winning formula to ace the GMAT.