Trying to make mom and pop proud
- Rep Power
Q51 V44 = 770 .... done
In the past couple months, I periodically have enjoyed reading this board and wanted to share my recent experience. Before now I have never taken the GMAT-CAT, but decided to give it a try.
- 51Q - 99%
- 44V - 97%
- 770 - 99%
- Exactly equal to my best GMATPrep attempts
- Study time = 3 months
- Very controlled environment…impressively strict rules were imposed.
- They took my figure print 7 times!!
- Would not let me use my own ear plugs…they gave their cheap foam version instead.
- The test room itself was a rectangular room with about 15 PC placed on tables around 3 walls. On the forth wall was the control center with a glass window.
- I could not leave my chair unless I raised my hand… even during breaks, you need to raise you hand and be escorted from the testing room.
- I requested to have 2 of the erasable pads from the start of test. They refused my request, and I did have to exchange my pad once during the quant section. The actual erasable pad and markers themselves worked well. Do not worry about this aspect.
- During each break, I went to my locker and drank some orange juice and a few bites of a power bar. Make sure you do not take too long, since they need to take your figure print again, before entering the test room.
- I spent very little time preping for the essays (probably less than 3 hours total). I focused mostly on structure and memorizing several generic catch phrases. As soon as the test started, I typed a few of the prime pre-memorized catch phrases. I felt it was important to start typing something as quickly as possible.
- My greatest fear was “freezing” during the essay and that impacting my mental state for the remainder of the test. Fortunately, this did not happen…instead I got a mental boost from the essays. This section gave me time to feel comfortable with the workstation environment.
- The end result was not Shakespeare, but I think it meets minimum standards.
- Overall the questions were very close in difficultly to GMATPrep….but perhaps the DS questions were a little easier than the worst ones on GMATPrep. The “tricks” seemed a little more obvious, but perhaps I was just very alert on test day.
- Many number properties and number line questions
- Got semi-stuck on quant #5... surprised me, since typically I feel the difficult problems typically start at about #8. This spooked me. At about problem #12 I noticed I was going a little too slow, and had to speed up.
- I finished last half of quant very strong. The last 20 questions were very smooth, and my confidence was high.
- Completed quant with only 2 minutes to spare (NOTE: I always had MORE time remaining on my GMATPrep quant attempts)
- Sentence Correction: easier than GMATPrep, most sentences had single obvious problem
- Argument: same difficultly as GMATPrep
- Reading Comp: more difficult than GMATPrep
- Had one extremely difficult reading comp passage. It was almost funny how unreadable the passage really was. This passage was much harder than anything in PowerPrep, and harder than anything in OG11.
- It is ironic, I spent almost all my verbal review study time on Sentence Correction (where I had a serious lack of skill), but in the end Reading Comp probably hurt my score more. I spent almost no time studying Reading Comp, and honestly believe this cost me in the final score.
- Completed verbal with 4 minutes to spare (NOTE: I always had LESS time remaining on my GMATPrep verbal attempts)
- Accept the idea that you probably need to actually learn something (even if you hate a particular subject). There are no “tricks” and no real substitute for understanding the core concepts. For example, if you do not truly understand prime numbers, you have some mental work to do…just accept the fact before you start a study program. No silver bullets for the basics.
- Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Areas of strength need to be studied less than areas of weakness. My area of natural strength was math…so I needed to force myself to work in area of grammar (sentence correction was my initial big weakness). Studying items that you already have high skill may feel great, but may not improve your total score that much.
- Keep in mind that everybody starts with different initial skills. If something is difficult for you, it does not matter if it is considered “easy” by others. Conversely, if something is easy for you and considered difficult by others, just consider yourself lucky !
- Only use real GMAT provided problems to study (OG11, Quant Review, Verbal Review, GMATPrep). I think using non-official problems is really a waste of time, and may damage your perceptions. I never did single problem from the major test prep vendors or popular books, although I review the techniques in some of the Manhattan books.
- I also reject the idea of doing 1000 sentence correction problems from the web. Better to fully understand 200, than to partially understand 1000.
- Also memorizing hundreds of English idioms seems like waste of time. It is much more important to understand how to spot the places where in the sentence that may contain an “idiom trap“. I probably semi-memorized 15-20 common idioms, and even that was overkill.
- For specific problem solving techniques (not problems themselves), I personally used the Manhattan GMAT books. I am sure there other are good vendors, but really this should not matter much. When you boil the concepts down, they basically teach the same thing. In fact, you might even be better off actually developing many of techniques yourself (although it would take more time). Bottom line: do not start collecting every GMAT every book !!
- Try and study a little every day. I did a least 1 hour, but never more than 3 hours per day. After 3 hours you simply stop learning.
- First step is master all the problems in the official guides (OG11, Quant Review, Verbal Review). This is the biggest variable in a study schedule. In my case, this took about 2 months to master all the problems. The only area that I did not take this approach was Reading Comp, and this cost me during the test.
- Keep highly accurate records. Record whether you get a problem correct or incorrect EVERY TIME. This goes for the printed problems, as well as the GMATPrep questions. Also record if you found the concept challenging or unfamiliar.
- Separate out the questions you find “easy” and discard them. Do not waste time reviewing items you already consider easy and are able to do reliably. If you miss a problem (even for a dumb mistake), then DO NOT PLACE in the discard pile. Conversely, do not discard a difficult problem just because you “got it right” the first time you attempted it.
- Repeat the same questions many times….especially the ones you find challenging. You should be get to a point that you can do any problem selected at random from the books. Some challenging problems, I did 15 times…long after I had memorized the answers.
- When you fully understand all the official published problems (OG11, Quant Review, Verbal Review), ONLY THEN start with the GMATPrep software. Do not be disappointed if you first attempt is lower than you expected. My low score with the software was Q49 V38. Treat these problems just like the printed problems. Copy down the one you missed (or stumbled on), and do them until you understand the underlying concepts.
- Take several full GMATPrep tests, even if you get many repeated problems. Force yourself to do the problems again, even if you remember the answers.
- GMATPrep is really great for developing your timing. You need to reach a point where you are confident spending more time on difficult (high value) problems.
- Lastly, it is probably a mistake to get obsessed with reading these silly posts every day. Just have fun, stay relaxed and you will be fine.
- Rep Power
Great debriefing. And an even better score!
Besides the official material that you used, what would be the next best source for practice questions in your opinion? Which of the prep companies do you think came closest to having questions most similar to real questions?
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