Posts Tagged ‘GMAT’

I took the GMAT a couple weeks ago and the following describes my preparation and experience:

I took my first GMATPrep in Sept 08 in order to see where I would stood. I got a 720 (Q48,V41), spent a little bit of time looking at problems, and then dropped the whole thing for a reason that must have made perfect sense at the time. I think my new and interesting role at work put a temporary damper on those escapist fantasies, or something. Then, two months ago, during a morning of existential crisis, I said WTF, pulled out my credit card, and booked the test. The point-of-no-return helped motivate me for a day or two, after which I slacked off a bit more. Then I wrote the test cost on the wall above my desk, realizing that my stingy self would be throwing money out the window if I didn’t prepare properly. That gave me a healthy kick in the butt.

The ‘diagnostic’ GMATPrep informed my study approach. I used to be good at math but I was very rusty on some concepts, particularly anything with primes and divisibility. The majority of my verbal mistakes were in sentence correction. My approach was a bit haphazard – I didn’t make a plan until there were three weeks remaining. Here’s the breakdown:

Verbal

  • I finished 90% of the MGMAT SC book about 5-6 weeks before the test. This was very helpful, though by the time I took the test some of the concepts weren’t quite so fresh.
  • I did 50 each RC and CR in the OG about 3-4 weeks before the test, wanting to make sure I did some of each question type. I decided that the payoff for studying more of them would not be worth it given my timeframe.

Quant

  • I ordered the MGMAT Number Properties guide a bit late and only did two chapters or so. That in itself helped a bit and I definitely liked the book, only wish I had more time for it.
  • After doing my second GMATPrep about 3 weeks before the exam I noticed that my timekeeping in the math section was awful. My brain thinks it can solve every math question but it’s too dense to grasp when to let go and just click next. According to the MGMAT CATs I spent 4-5 minutes on several problems, so I decided to take MGMAT CAT Math for the last 2-3 weeks, not having time to do both sections in the evenings.
  • MGMAT Flash Cards: http://www.manhattangmat.com/gmat-flashcards.cfm
    Highly recommended for commuters. I did maybe 15-20 math questions each day. This helped me keep my brain in the right mode and helped me remember a few concepts that I otherwise wouldn’t have come across. I did everything but SC and Word Translations.

Practice CATs

Reading some other debriefs I noticed that some people were particularly fond of doing a lot of practice tests. I believe that if you have the basics down then this is very good for timing and familiarity. I had to go away for the weekend two weeks before the test, so I could only study a bit on the plane / train. I was very tempted to attend the INSEAD open day the weekend before the test but decided to stay and get an extra GMATPrep in. I’ll to visit as soon as makes sense!

Here is my practice CAT breakdown with time before test:

GMATPrep 1 – 720 (Q48,V41) – 10 months
MGMAT CAT 1 – 680 (Q44,V38) – 6 weeks
GMATPrep 2 – 750 (Q47,V47) – 3 weeks
MGMAT CAT 2 Math – Q43 – 2 weeks
MGMAT CAT 3 Math – Q46 – 1 week
MGMAT CAT 4 Math – Q48 – 1 week
GMATPrep 1 retake – 740 (Q48,V42) – few days
GMATPrep 2 retake – 770 (Q49,V49) – few days

I compiled the missed questions from all four of my GMATPrep attempts a few days before the test and reviewed these during the last days. This was as essentially my ‘error log,’ though a more organized person might have included lots of other material.

Test Day

Actually, the day before I got a back/neck massage. I never had a professional one before but decided I would get it to help me relax. It was great and I’m tempted to make a habit of this before important dates 🙂

The test center is annoyingly anal about security – I’ll leave it at that. The AWA went alright, the Argument part was so thin that I couldn’t find much to write and the Issue part had me a bit indecisive. The Quant section went relatively well, with the last few questions a bit rushed and one total guess on a long, complicated looking word problem.

I went for a break before the Verbal section. Between waiting for an instructor to get me after raising my hand, checking out, taking a pee, having some food and drink, waiting on a queue to get back into the room and then checking back in I went over my 10 minute time limit. This was not taken from the instructions screen, but it was taken from the verbal section timer. Fortunately it took less than 2 minutes off, which flustered me less than expected.

The verbal went fine, but halfway through the instructor came over to tell me that I either “shouldn’t” or “didn’t have to” erase my board. I felt like snapping her head off for disturbing me, but decided that was probably against one of the rules. I didn’t have time for that anyways so I just ignored her, but it still threw me off mentally a bit. I also started getting quite thirsty at this point and kept having to clear my throat – should have had more water. I need a cup of water when I sit and work at a computer for a lengthy period of time and it’s ridiculous for Pearson not to permit this. Anyways, there were a few questions of each type (RC, CR, SC) that I wasn’t 100% about and in the end I only had about a minute each for the last 5-6 questions.

I skipped filling in all the demographic mumbojumbo because and waited for my score, which made me quite happy. Since that matched my best GMATPrep (which had a LOT of repeated verbal) I was quite happy.

Recommendations

  • BOOK THE TEST!! This sounds silly, but it’s really very important to just book the test. Don’t wait ages until everything is perfect or until you’ve studied everything. If you are anything like me then studying without a date is a waste of time. JUST BOOK IT! 🙂
  • Customize your study approach! Do what YOU need and what works for YOU! Take a diagnostic test and see where you need to improve and what you can realistically do about it.
  • Squeeze in little problems. The MGMAT free flash cards were great for me to get some studying done during my commute.
  • Be healthy. I’ve been sure to do all the ‘right’ things I can’t always be bothered to do for the last few weeks. This includes eating properly with lots of fruit and veg, exercising at least a little bit each day, visualizing success, and telling yourself that you’re gonna kick ass.
  • Be relaxed. Get a massage. I’m not joking. I was quite panicky during my GMATPreps over the weekend. Being relaxed helps tremendously.
Advertisements