Giving GMAT was on my radar since I failed to make the cut in CAT 2011. But I postponed it for few months when I was trying my hands on a startup idea. After wasting (& learning a lot in the process) 4 months, I was back to square one and giving GMAT asap was my top priority this time. Dejected after the startup failure, I ordered MGMAT GMAT books
on the day I came back (it included 8 books covering everything about Verbal & Quant). I started my preparation around 10th -11th May, 2012 and finally gave GMAT on 13th July, 2012. Preparation paid off and I scored 770 (Q 50, V 44). Here is my preparation journey along with few tips that might be useful.My very brief background:
I graduated from IIT Kharagpur in May, 2010 and since then have been working as a Technology Analyst at JP Morgan at Mumbai.
So here is how I did it:
I didn’t start with giving a mock GMATPrep test as most people usually do to identify their weak area. Instead of demoralizing myself before I started, I wanted to prepare a bit before taking a mock.
The only book I referred for SC is the MGMAT Sentence Correction Book
. It is not comprehensive, but it will give you a very good start. I revised it twice and made small notes along with, which helped a lot in hard-coding things inside.
OG - 12th edition – I did it along with MGMAT SC book. After every chapter of MGMAT SC, relevant Qn from OG-12 are given as exercise. I didn’t get time to do it again. But re-doing it after completing MGAMT SC will definitely help a lot.
OG - 10th - It has around 200 qn each for SC, CR and RC. The questions are arranged in increasing level of difficulty. I started from Qn 100 of SC and CR and did them till the end. Using it with practice grid
helped me identify the concepts I had not mastered.
Before I move forward, let me tell you how amazing a tool practice grid
NOTE: I would suggest you should start using this once you are somewhat ‘into’ your preparation:
Just draw 5 columns on any sheet.
Start Time || Qn No || Your Answer || Feeling (slow / guess) || Error (Concept, Haste, Oversight)
It will help you identify your weak areas every time and you can rapidly work on the concepts you lack. Moreover, it will help you identify questions which you got correct by guessing, so that you can work on the concepts and attempt similar questions with confidence next time.
This method helped me amazingly. Another minor point: if you are practicing 10 or 20 questions at a time, keep writing the time intermittently against the question numbers. It will help you speeden up and also will help you identify which questions suck your time the most. I used this strategy while practicing 20-30 qn at a time from OG-10.
--------------------------------------------------------------------Full Length tests:
The purchased the 6 full length test pack by MGMAT and it was indeed a good decision. You can access the first test for free at their website. The remaining five come for $49. These are immensely useful. Especially the explanation given for every question is very very helpful. The scores they give is also quite close to the real score you get on the exam. KAPLAN test series are unnecessarily hard, and will affect your confidence (this is what i learnt from gmat forums, hence didnt opt for it). CR Tip:
I went through MGMAT CR book once. The only thing which helped me in CR is practice and analysis of questions I guessed or got wrong.
Also, almost all the standard questions available of any type are very well discussed across the major gmat forums (gmatclub.com, beatthegmat.com). Going through these discussions for questions you did wrong/guessed will help you a lot.Minor tip for hard CRs
Some CR questions have double negatives in them or are a bit convoluted. Sometimes, when dealing with such CRs, you won't be able to go through the answer options with that convoluted point in the background of your mind. I adopted this strategy late: Whenever, a complicated CR question came, I used to write in 7-8 words what i need to identify in answer options, and then used to check answer options against what i have written. It saved me time, and improved my accuracy in hard CR questions.
Bold Faced CRs are the easiest, but they do consume a bit more time. Practice bold faced CRs and do try to understand the answer explanation given for them. RC Tip:
Slowing down helped me, but RCs are individual thing. So no tip here.
MGMAT Test RCs are tough, so don’t lose confidence if you get most of the MGMAT Test RCs wrong. I got more than 50% of them wrong all the time.
MGMAT RC book is quite good, and its important to just skim through it once. But, I never followed the 'summary making strategy' they have mentioned. Other tips:
There are few SC notes shared on gmat forums. The single most useful SC notes is one by Sahil. Other popular notes are those by Spidey and Rajat_nda. I didn’t find Spidey notes that good, but Rajat_nda notes have some good points.
Try practicing questions from standard sources. Don't worry if you couldn’t understand a random SC qn. It might involve some obscure non-standard concepts which will not be asked on GMAT.
You can find plenty of free and timed Verbal tests on this url: http://litesee.com/gmat.htm
Most of them are taken from 1000 SCs or 1000 CRs, but the worst drawback of referring to these practice questions is that there is no explanation given for the answers. So every time you guessed or got any question wrong, you would need to search for explanation on gmat forums, which sucked lot of time. AWA Tip:
The one and only guide you need for AWA is this link: http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6- ... 64327.html
This is relevant as well: http://www.platinumgmat.com/about_gmat/ ... y_template
You can also refer the 50 page guide “800ScoreAWAGuide.pdf” I found through googling. You can just skim through it once if you have time. Important:
DO practice typing at least 3 essays. It will help you tremendously. Don't leave essay preparation for the last. It will tarnish your 700+ score if you got 3 or 4 in essay. Just devote 10 hours in total for AWA and you can get at least a 5 - 5.5 very easily. My strategy:
I was desperate to wrap things asap so I mugged up the lines from the link above, used it blindly and could manage to write a 5 paragraph argument analysis in just 25 minutes. :). My official essay scores came yesterday and I managed a 5.5 but a measly 5 in IR.Math Tips:
Math was my forte, and I didn’t require much preparation for it. But there are few very very good organised hard questions by Bunuel on gmatclub.com. These are must do questions, and it will help you a lot. But don't fret much about probability and Permutations & Combination questions. Some are quite hard, and you won't see such level questions on gmat. Most important thing:
Manage your time well, and don't do random guesses towards the end of any section. Since the exam is computer adaptive, series of wrong answers towards the end of the exam will screw your score unimaginably.
But another loop hole is this: GMAT imposes higher penalty on you, if you fail to complete the section on time. IR Tip:
It is important to use your num-pad while using the calculator. It saves you a lot of time. Also, don't worry much about this section. I never could complete this section on time in practice tests, and the general level of difficulty too was higher on the practice tests. The real exam IR section was easier and it was the only the second time that I could complete it on time.
I was too desperate to get over with GMAT at the earliest. At one time, I was planning to schedule my test around 20thJune, but after few bad days, I finally scheduled a date on 3rd July. But another bad week forced me to rethink and I postponed it to 17th July. But a startup idea was troubling me and I preponed my exam to 13th July to save 4 precious day. :)
These were my practice test scores:
GMATPrep Test 1: 710 (Couldn’t finish it on time, did some random guesses towards the end)
MGMAT Test 1: 740 (finished VA with 5 mins in hand. Finished QA 10 mins ahead)
MGAMT Test 2: 770 (again managed to finish before time)
MGMAT Test 3: 730 (again managed time well enough)
I didn’t give other MGMAT full length tests, but did go through VA section of couple of the remaining tests.
So that completes my GMAT preparation account. I hope it helped.
Best of luck,