Great post and an excellent score
A weight, heavier than anything I've felt in a long time, was lifted off my shoulders this afternoon. I am very pleased with my 720(96 percentile).
Quant: 78 percentile, Verbal: 97 percentile.
Leading up to G-Day & G-Day...
My story started towards the end of last year. Wasn't sure about whether I wanted to go for an MBA or not, but peer pressure (all my accomplished friends were doing it) forced me to go pick up a Princeton Review book at the local Barnes & Noble. I read it a little every now and then, but a socially busy winter didn't get me very far with studying. I opened the book again around March, and this time, being a little more serious, I ordered the Kaplan 2006, Kaplan 800 and the Official Guide 11th.
I spent the next several months trying to be diligent about studying. Some weeks were good and I would get in 2-3 hours a a day after work, and a few/several hours on weekends. But some were not so good - no studying after work nor on the weekend.
But as time progressed, the diligence generally improved. Around the middle of July, I scheduled the Aug14th test date and with just 4 weeks till G-day, the studying ramped up accordingly. The last 2 weeks were intense - I'd leave work at around 6 everyday (from downtown Manhattan) and go straight to another office (midtown Manhattan) to study there for 4-5 hours a night. The office environment worked well as I'd have internet access (wanted Test Magic at my side) and minimal distraction. I studied all day everyday on the last couple of weekends.
I toned down the studying on the day before, but still put in 5-7 hours - I did not want to be disgusted at having to work out 78 more problems the next day, yet I still wanted to utilize valuable preperation time. I studied this morning for 1 hour, about 3 hours before the test.
I wasn't nervous up till the test day. This morning, I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, and though it wasn't a severe case of anxiety by any means, it was enough for me to wish I didn't have to do this test.
I did the standard visit to the center two days before the test. I asked if I could see the noteboard and pen, and the testing environment, but the lady at Pearson didn't let me, and I didn't care enough to fight it.
I went in today to find a very smooth and quick check-in procedure awaiting me. The ID check, fingerprint, photograph took about 2-3 minutes. I had arrived about 45 minutes early - they asked if I wanted to start right away - and I agreed to. I put my bottle of water, can of RedBull and Snickers bar in the locker and proceeded to the test room. The headphones they provide blocked out sound really well. People walking in and out, coughing and typing were never even slightly bothersome. The notepad, which I was quite apprehensive about, was not bad either - I don't see why so many people were having trouble with it.
In choosing 5 schools to have my score sent, I picked only 4 back-up/tier 2 schools, so that in case I didn't score well, my top choice admission committees would be blind to it.
The essays were ok - not as completely easy a ride as I hoped. I ended up taking a full 30 minutes for the first one (did a lot of rephrasing, and had to go back and make many corrections). I was shooting to complete the second one early, so i'd have plenty of time to clear my mind and rest-up before quant, but that didn't happen. Just as with the first, my writing was messy. I had taken 25 minutes to write most of the essay, and then realized I was missing a key point. I had to insert an unimpressive paragraph at the last minute. Finished this essay with several seconds to spare.
Not a start to write home about. I took the break, went outside - bathroom - had some water and a bite of the Snickers. Went back in and sat in front of my computer till the 10 minutes were up.
Math was ok. Got a few easy questions at the beginning which I had no problem with. Then got an easy question that I did have trouble solving. I knew there was a careless error somewhere, but after spending a lot of time trying to find it, i panicked, guessed and moved on. At this point I started telling myself 'it's fine, I can take the GMAT approoximately this time next month'. Kept going - saw a lot of problems I could deal with - also saw a lot of problems that I knew most probably contained landmines (i.e. DS, as you may have guessed) and that i'm probably getting wrong - but never felt like I saw really cryptic/difficult stuff, so wasn't sure how well I was doing. I kept thinking how many of my friends had to take the GMAT twice, and that it'd be cool if I had to as well. I finished this section with a few minutes to spare, something I had never managed to do on a GMAT Prep test or most other test thus far.
After quant, took the break, opened my can of redbull (I was a little tired at this point) and chugged about half of it. Had some Snickers and water and went back in.
Verbal was a good section for me. Everything that came at me was very doable. No cryptic CR's, no mile long RC's (only one where I had to scroll), no extremely quirky SC's. But during the test, I wasn't sure if these questions were of medium difficulty and that I was only doing average...or whether these were the difficult questions, that they seemed easy to me because I was good at them, and that I was doing well. My stamina had generally been pretty good during practice tests, but I was definitely tired towards the middle of Verbal. I had to reread the text 2 or 3 times in several cases.
It was all extremely similar to a GMATPrep experience. The scores popped-up on the screen and I released a very thankful grin.
Started with Princeton Review: Good introduction to the GMAT exam, good fundamental information, good basic techniques, good way to get started. Read through the whole thing, and worked out the problems inside the book. Covered this book from cover-to-cover back in March/April.
Only took one Princeton Review Practice Test, at the initial stages of my studying. The timer, which I had no prior experience with, flustered me significantly - I score a 590.
Opened up Kaplan in May, i think. Started working through the book. I did not find personal statement/DS/RC/SC/CR strategies that helped me as well as Princeton did. But there were practice problems and that's what I needed. I worked through the Kaplan book over 2-3 weeks. Then I popped the CD in.
May - Kaplan Diagnostic: 650
May/June Kaplan Test 1: 540
July Kaplan Test 2: 560
August Kaplan Test 3: 590
Yesterday Kaplan Test 4: 550 (but was using this as a pacing exercise, finished Math 15-20 minutes early, finished Verbal 10-15 minutes early -astonished myself).
May/June Kaplan Problem Sets: practiced all of them
As you'll notice, my scores were not astounding. I never broke 600 in any of the real Kaplan tests as I saw many of the GMAT high scorers do -this worried me.
TestMagic: I ran into the following website accidentally, off Google - http://home.comcast.net/~dave.kim/GM...y_Strategy.htm
This site led me to another site with Ursula's post. That site led me to TM and I was very lucky to have made this encounter.
Like so many other people have claimed in the past - I owe a lot to TM. It gave me invaluable information on people's experiences with the GMAT (loved reading the 'Just Finished...' section), different view points and hence better ways to solving problems, and just general insight into how to analyze GMAT questions. Though I spent much time on TM, I only put up about 20 posts - I wish I could've posted more, but I just wasn't smart enough to solve problems the way iisan, GMATHelp or some of the other people do. Nor was I quick enough to provide a fresh answer/analysis to Verbal questions - someone usually beat me to it.
(I am trying to make up my lack of posting/contribution to TM with this one epic post)
Opened up the Official Guide in June. Everyone says this is a must...and it's basically true - 800 problems as similar as you can get to the GMAT. I worked through all of them, even the easy inital problems. I went back and read the explanations for all that I got wrong. My accuracy for each section was between 85% and 92% but this doesn't mean much as so many of the initial problems are easy. Note: To do very well on GMAT quant, you will need to practice problems tougher than what is on Official Guide quant - you'll find these tougher problems through TestMagic and ScoreTop. Verbal on Official Guide is more challenging and realistic, than its Quant counterpart.
Kaplan 800 I opened and went through (not thoroughly) in a couple of nights, 10 days before the test. It isn't bad. Contains strategies that Princeton already covered for me. But in addition, has some other content that will sharpen you up a bit. Would be good to go through this, but it is not critical by any means.
GMATPrep - I postponed these as long as I could, as I knew it was a real indicator of what your score may be, and I was afraid to see my score in case it didn't turn out to be what I was hoping for.
GMAPPrep1 - 2 weeks before the test - 690
GMATPrep2 - 2 days before the test - 690
The first score didn't bother me - the goal was to break 700, and 690 was close enough. I expected to pull past 690 with the next couple of weeks of preperation.
The second score worried me. After two weeks of intense preperation, I didn't improve on my previous score. I realized there wasn't too much I could do except to attempt to give it a better shot during the real thing.
For SC, I used Spidey's SC notes, PSahils SC notes. These were absolutely crucial in attaining my verbal score.
Read through several sample Issues and Arguments from the AWA Sample that is available on TM.
I have a huge amount of material that I left untouched - 1000everything's, GMAT Plus Sets, and countless Megabytes of random downloads from TM and ScoreTop.
My study habits:
* Never timed myself while working out practice problems. For each and every problem I worked, I felt it important to take my time and grasp concepts/required strategies. I left all the timing practice to the Practice tests.
* Worked problems in paper notebooks. Always went back and looked at wrong answers and their associated explanations.
* Jotted down notes that I needed to remember - about why I made a mistake, a rule/formula I need to remember, or how I need to approach a problem in future. Wish I had done a better job of consolidating these into one place, instead of leaving it scattered through several notebooks.
* Made sure to regularly visit and spend time on TM in parrallel with whichever book I was currently working through.
* Oh, and similar to a former member of this forum, I naturally began to use SC techniques to correct sentences in emails, and whatever other written text I came across.
* Only wrote essays during 4 of the practice tests. Did not really use a template.
As you may have noticed, all my practice test scores were mediocre...but there was steady improvement, and I guess I finally peaked at the right time.
[It was only during the last week I realized that Quant was an area of relative weakness for me. Why did I only come to this realization only in the last week, 3/4 months after beginning preparation?:
* My undergraduate major was engineering, and I have always thought myself to be good at math, even from my early schooling days. This turned out to be an invalid assumption. There are many many people who are significantly more quantitatively adept than me. And that's what counts - the GMAT is scored on percentiles.
* Official Guide Quant was not challening enough. It never unraveled this weakness.
* Kaplan was so challenging in both quant and verbal, that it also did not help me uncover this relative weakness.
At the end of the day, I never paid enough attention to mastering GMAT quant concepts. When I saw huge numbers of incorrect quant answers in my last GMATPrep and Kaplan tests, I focused on quant only in my last week of studying, and this I believe helped me redeem myself to a certain extent on the real test. Careless errors and tiny oversights plague me - I may have dodged some of these bullets this morning]
Quant: 78 percentile. Verbal: 97 percentile.
I am quite confident that I can repeat my performance in Verbal. If I work on quant over the next month, and improve sufficiently enough to hit 85-90 percentile, I think I can get another 20 points out of the GMAT monster. A 740 would put me in range of schools that a year ago, I would not have even considered applying to.
Should I raise the bar, challenge myself, and go for it? Or should I not waste the next month on unnecessary points that I may not even get, and instead concentrate on essays? Advice anyone?
I realize this is a long post, and may never be read in its entirety, but I just had to write it all down. It has been a long and arduous journey, and knowing that it has gone on record and won't be easily forgotten, I feel at ease in putting the chapter behind me.
Last edited by phaedrus; 08-15-2006 at 03:50 AM.
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