Page 1 of 1

My journey of the GMAT - 630 to 700!!

Posted: June 1st, 2012, 4:02 pm
by neeravks
At an early stage in my IT Career I had decided I didn't want to remain in IT. A lot of IT folks in India think like me. So in 2005 after just 1.5 yrs experience I started evaluating exit options. I had given CET and GRE before and was quite familiar with the Standardized tests (or so I thought!!). But I had given my GRE long time back in 2002. When one of my friend started prepping for the GMAT, I said lets do it.

GMAT 1 : I prepped for around 2 months. Visited some forums here and there to download stuff like 1000 RC, 1000 SC etc...Just had these questions and the OG.Gave about 2-3 CAT's (don't remember the score).
Was researching the univs in parallel and was targeting schools like Cambridge , Sauder , Bradford, Manchester and RSM. US schools were not considered due to cost concerns. Was overconfident on GMAT day. Flunked it big time.
630 - V 31 / 58% , Q 45 / 74%

GMAT 2 : I didn't even consider applying with this score. But I was demoralized. I mean how can I get 45 in Quant's. I am an INDIAN Engineer. I should be A-W-E-S-O-M-E in Quant but GMAT has a great way of bringing you down from your chane ka jhaad. Now I wanted to avenge GMAT. But this was just my EGO. After looking at my score, I thought I did very poor in Quant and this time just focused on this. Took a date after one month, prepped hard, mostly in Math.
Score this time.650 - V 31 / 58% , Q 48 / 83%.
I increased my Quant Score by 3 raw points. But overall score was still poor according to me.
With 650 and just 2 yrs of work ex, I decided against applying anywhere else but British Columbia - Sauder School of Business. They accepted me but I didn't go.

GMAT 3 : Fast forward to 2009: I was older, wiser and much more determined.
I analyzed some problems in my approach from 2005. My goals were not clear. I was more enamored by the hype of an MBA than the actual process. (on that note...go and grab a copy of Beyond The MBA Hype! - I have read it and it certainly forces you to think beyond all the hype that MBA has become these days. You will be wiser.)
This time around I was focused on the process and not the outcome. I broke it down into following things :
2) Career Goals
3) Self Reflection on who I am, what are my strengths and weaknesses
4) College Research that fits me and my career goals (beyond the rankings)

So the GMAT came first. Didn't do any college research this time around. Just some names to which to send scores to.
I started with analyzing what had gone wrong last time. My Quant had reached its upper limit but Verbal was still weak. V31 was never going to give me a good overall score, no matter how strong my Quant. So this time I attacked Verbal first.
I drew up a plan for myself(based on suggestions given on various forums).
a) Gave myself 2 months. Printed out calendar sheets and posted it near my study area.
b) Posted progress sheet on my study area. Stuck to the plan. Solved all problems in OG. Kept Logs of each set of questions. Timed each one of them.
c) Bought Kaplan 800. Good practice Questions. Not very tough but tougher by normal standards.
d) Re-Solved all the questions that I had got wrong the first time from OG again. Paid special attention to why I made a particular mistake. Ensured I tackle each problem area. Went back to basics if I needed too.
Always did number of questions in one go as I would receive on the actual GMAT.

Material :
OG/KAPLAN Online/Manhattan Guides/GMAT Club resources and anything I could get my hands onto. Was tempted to take a course by Knewton but decided against it.

Verbal :
a) Started reading fiction/non-fiction, watching movies of all kinds.
b) Learnt the basics of Grammar for few days. But got too boring and moved on to GMAT Verbal
c) Went through Manhattan guides for SC/RC/CR.
d) Did at least 600 problems from 1000 SC / 1000 CR. But they have some errors so stopped after a while.
e) Read through hundreds of problems and analysis posted at different forums to pick better strategies.
f) Worked really hard on SC. Almost by-hearted Spidey's Notes (gmatclub) , made my own notes, flashcards et all.

Quant :
Nothing special here, just the usual. Did OG , and solved some tough problems in Probability / Combinations.

CAT's :
Last couple of weeks focused on giving full length CAT's and re-solving what I had got wrong the first time in these CAT's and other sets of exercises. Gave all 6 MGMAT CAT, GMAT Prep,Kaplan Online (Very tough to even complete!! Gave only one - got 650.)
Don't exactly remember my other scores but they were in the range of 680-720.
2 weeks before the day ,I panicked. Was not in the right frame of mind due to some work stuff and hence I shifted my GMAT further by 2 weeks.

A day before my scheduled test, I burnt my finger while cooking. Wifey was out of town and I had to do cook stuff on my own.
Mentally was much more relaxed that previous times. Took a cab to the centre, freshened up and started my test. Took the scheduled breaks . Finger was troubling me but was much more confident this time. Quant was easy. Realized that I had selected the wrong answer on a couple of questions after I clicked next.
Verbal was surprisingly easy and I wondered whether I was getting everything wrong.
Finished all sections and clicked submit. Crossed my fingers and closed my eyes. After a few seconds saw the score.
700 - Q 48 (83%0 / V 38 (83%).
Was extremely happy!! Finally I had crossed (not quite crossed but reached :)) the magic 700 figure.
All my hard work in Verbal had paid off. I knew those 2 -3 questions in Quant held back my score by maybe 2 raw points but I was still ecstatic.
But this was not end to 2009 season. I applied to a couple of schools in Asia. Pathetic essays. No wonder was dinged without interview. But I knew that the GMAT hurdle was gone. I just had to focus on my work, story and goals.

Advice to people who are looking for 50+ point jump.
a) Know yourself Focus on your biggest weakness. Attack it as if you would attack a cockroach who comes near your food.
b) Be online. Visit the forums. There are fantastic people out there willing to help.
c) GMAT books :
Kaplan Online - good but since I was giving the 3rd time, just solved the questions
Kaplan 800 : Good tough questions
OG - solve every question and pay special attention to ones you guessed/got wrong and OG's analysis of it. Keep logs of each exercise you do. Time it and go through all your wrong and ones where you guessed at least 2-3 times before the test.
d) Verbal : Manhattan GMAT guides. More than worth it.
Helps develop your strategy especially if verbal is your weak point.
Get a hold of tips by other people on forums : for example : Gin's RC Tips, info to nail GMAT verbal (compiled by dreamz & tictacktoe/piyusht) , Spideys notes.
Take all of the material in and develop your own notes. You will recognize your voice better than others.
e) Quant : Not much special prep if you are an Indian engineer, it will be your innate ability to solve numerical problems that will drive you to 48-50 raw score, because I feel GMAT Math can't be taught. But again if Math is your weakness, go attack it right from the basics. Nowadays hear a lot about "toughest" math problems or toughest sets on forums.
f) CATs : MGMAT 1-6 : These are online which come free with their books.
Kaplan CAT -
g) Day of the test : Be relaxed, be yourself. It's not the end. There is always one more time.
And finally Work hard. Solve as many problems till YOU are not satisfied. There is no substitute for it.
It's been 2.5 yrs since I have give my GMAT now and I have restarted my MBA Journey again. Hoping to get a seat in a school of my choice in class of 2013. To all the applicants of the next season ..all the best!!