My struggle with the GMAT started back in March 2010. That was the time I made the decision to get a Business degree. What started as a dissapointment remained a dissapointment for a long time, until all the hard work finally paid off.
I started preparing for the GMAT and instantly realized that being out of touch with Math for almost 6 years since my Engineering, was a great disadvantage. I took a Mock GMAT test, and scored a dismal 540. It was then that I found, Manhattan Gmat during one of my frantic google searches. I immediately registered and bought the 6 practice tests and the sentence correction guide
. I also went ahead and purchased the Official Guide
. I also booked my GMAT for the 27th of May 2010. Having only 3 months preparation time, I started with Quants and paid little to no attention to English, because I believed that English was easy. It turned out to work against me.
I had booked the morning slot (9 AM) at Pearson VUE, on the 27th of May. I went there extremely scared and pressured, because all through my practice tests I had scored a max of only 650. And then disaster struck. I was told that I wouldnt be allowed to take the test, because I had registered with my name, and that didnt match with the name on my Passport. I came back home, having lost 250 USD, dejected. Although I have to admit I was feeling strangely, relieved, that I didnt have to take the test!
I then booked my test date, this time with the right name, for the 18th of June 2010. This time around, I went to the test, slightly more confident. The test started off smooth, as I am pretty comfortable with essay writing. Then came the real test - Quantitative section. I was messy, spent several minutes dwelling on tough questions and my strategy was completely off. I finished the section having had to guess the last 5 questions in 20 seconds. The Verbal section was slightly better, and I finished having had to guess the last 2 questions. The score was obviously dissapointing - 650 (Q 45, V 34).
I was totally dejected and I thought of quitting GMAT and my MBA effort altogether. Then followed a long period of stalemate. I did not do anything for the next 1.5 years, except for preparing for the GMAT every now and then. Finally in 2012, I gathered up the courage to give GMAT a second shot. I booked for the test in May once again and this time, I concentrated on both GMAT Verbal and Math. However, my timing was still off. I was still not able to finish the test on time. I took the test, and as usual the essays went fine. I finished both the Math and the Verbal sections after guessing on the last 3 questions. The score was slightly better, but again disapointing. I scored a 660 (Q 44, V 35).
I then decided to take the GMAT a third time, and decided that this would be the last time I would take the GMAT. This time I started keeping error logs. I took lots of tests, (1 test every 3 days). I did not touch my Official guide or any other guide or practice questions. The entire time was dedicated to taking tests in order to pace myself and to learn concepts that I did not understand or was weak in. My practice test scores on the Manhattan Gmat were - 640,640,690,630,670,680. On the GMAT Prep test it was - 690,740,760,760. I was confident this time around, but was a little bit scared, because this time it was the Next Generation GMAT. There was a new section - Integrated reasoning. I did not devote much time to IR, and went ahead and took the test on the 2nd August 2012. The test started off great, I wrote a great Essay (AWA: 6), I did the IR section pretty well. Then once again, disaster struck. For some reason, I forgot everything that I had trained in after my 2nd attempt and I started wasting lots of time on tough questions. Eventually, I ended up not keeping an eye on the timer, and I had to SKIP 7 questions on the Quant section. I was extremely dejected. I took the Verbal section, and I almost rushed through it. I ended up scoring even lower - 640 (Q 41, V38).
This time however, the score actually motivated me. I knew I could do better, and I saw that I had scored a 41, even after having had to skip 7 questions (without answering - the time ran out). I knew I had improved on Verbals, and because I had almost 16 minutes to go when I finished the Verbal section and still scored a 38, I now knew that 700 was not far away.
The next month, I did not prepare for the GMAT at all. I booked my test for the 7th September 2012. Yes, A FOURTH Time!! I only took 3 practice tests. I avoided the Manhattan GMAT as it was too tough and was a confidence killer for me. I only stuck with the GMAT Prep software. The test that I took prior to test day, I scored a 740. On test day, I went in confident, light headed and I didnt really care what score I got. I had been through everything already, and nothing worse could really happen. I was taking it for the 4th time (the maximum number of times you can take without raising a red flag in most cases)., I had been sent home and made to forfeit my test fee, I had skipped questions and consistently scored low. I now knew nothing worse could happen. The test started off great once again, with me writing a great essay that rambled on for 7 paragraphs. Then the IR section went just fine, with me having to guess the last 2 questions. I started off the Quants section, and whenever I encountered questions that I couldnt answer, this time around , I didnt dwell on them. I made an educated guess and moved on. The verbal section also went just fine. I finished with a minute remaining. And THEN my score - A 710!! (Q 48, V 40) WOW!! After 2 long years, numerous failures, I had finally did it! The Magic 700!. Now looking back at my experience, here are a few takeaways. These are strictly from my perspective, but you may relate with a few of them at one point or another.Takeaways:
1. NEVER GIVE UP!! - When it comes to the GMAT, never give up. It can be demotivating, a huge burden and a hurdle. But dont give up if you have a low score just yet.
2. Keep Error Logs - Always keep error logs. This will help you identify, which section, what question type, what area you make the most mistakes in. It will also help you correct yourself.
3. Pacing - Learn to pace yourself throughout the test. I dont typically recommend timing each question (2 mins). I frankly find that a ridiculous idea, given the fact that you DO need to spend more time on certain questions if needed. But make up for it in other easier questions. But learn to pace yourself and use your judgement so you finish the test in the given time. For this - practice tests, practice tests and practice tests!
4. Do not overthink: Dont overthink things on the test. Self doubt is the biggest enemy of the GMAT. If you start doubting your choices for every question, you will end up dwelling and spending more time than necessary, EVEN after having arrived at the right answer choice. Rather take the question for what it is, and remember, the GMAT is not about tough complicated problems. Its just about your aptitude and your judgement.
5. Do not overwork your weakest areas: During the course of preparation you might find that you are weak in some areas. For example, I am weak in probability. I am STILL weak in probability. But I did not devote extra time to understanding probability. The reason for this is because, you are not gonna get 10 probability questions out of 37, on the GMAT. You will get 1 or max 2. WHATEVER you prepare, you will get a few questions wrong and you WILL have to guess on a few questions and move on. The most important thing is to learn concepts, and learn to use them properly AND I cannot stress this enough, PACE yourself.Before taking the test:
These are just my personal choices - to each his own.
1. I normally do not prefer to eat a lot. Eating heavy makes me feel drowsy, so all I had was an Omelette an hour before the test. I like having an empty stomach and that helps me think better. I wasnt starving either.
2. I did not drink too much of water, I didnt want my body over working DURING the test. I wasnt thirsty either.
3. Go in and be confident and light headed. Take a few deep breaths and strech yourself every now and then. Confidence goes a long way in affecting your judgements during the test. Do not get frustrated if you have to guess a few questions. That is how the GMAT is.
4. Time of day: Personally I prefer the afternoons. Morning time is not for me. I feel too sleepy at 9 AM !
So this is my long GMAT story. Hope this is of some help to you GMAT Aspirants! Good luck and best wishes!