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Crossed the river!

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mailneelk Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
12 May 2016
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Crossed the river!

Post Thu May 12, 2016 8:06 am
I just felt like posting my GMAT experience just to give back to the beatthegmat community for all the wisdom, guidance and scaring off over the last couple of months! I gave my GMAT a couple of days back (May 10) and got a score of 710 (Q50/V35).

I am currently working full-time as R&D and software engineer for an engineering automation company in the USA. I went to a top-10 school in India for my bachelors, got my graduate engg degree in the US and have been working full time for the past 6 years. Also have almost 2 years work ex in India, just to give my background.

I started my preparations for my GMAT sometime early this year (around Feb). However, with a full time 50 hrs/week job it definitely was not easy. I was also out of school for a while and I just realized how much of a difference that made. I still remember the days I got 800 in GRE quant some 8-9 years back with just 2-3 week self preparation. Man, this time it was tough. I had to even work for simple things such as computing (18*16) or (what exactly is a predicate or present participle?) which you tend to remember or at least be super quick when you are relatively fresh out of school. Even though I was in a engg job, being sharp and swift in GMAT math is different than being intelligent or solving a differential equation at work! Am just mentioning this to comfort those who are in a similar situation. Just make sure you get enough practice with these basics before you embark on your actual GMAT journey. Trust me, those 5-10 seconds that we can save on each question with strong basics makes a huge difference when you are forced to answer 37 questions. That's almost 3-5 mins savings overall!! Just get multiple easy (500 and 600 level) problems sets for GMAT or GRE and work them for couple of weeks. Use free online resources such as Khan academy or get a high school english grammar book if that works Smile That is just to prime your brain to bring you on par with others. This would also work for those with a non-quant or non-verbal background who want to prop up their basics. I realized this late and the first two mock tests I took were a disaster and I was hardly able to complete 80% of the questions, let alone get them right. So I swallowed my ego and went back to easier problem sets for a few weeks. And a full-time job and personal commitments meant less prep time and more interruptions.

I then started my actual prep with Kaplan for a general overview and 3 of the manhattan guides (SC, CR and NumberProps) for specific topics and used the official OG as a problem set. Initially I started giving a test every other weekend, but I was just hovering around the 630-650 range. Then I doubled down on practice and completed the whole problem sets in OG and the MGMAT question bank for a month. Boy, how much difference did that make. I realized that I was getting much better at predicting the pattern of questions and answers as I worked through the problem sets and learning the answer explanations. Time your practice runs too! The next test I took, I got a 690 and I had another 3-4 Weeks for the exam. I realized that I was not accounting/compensating/thinking about certain cases/scenarios early on in my practice. (ex: not considering zero as a test case). Gradually that became overcompensating/overthinking these cases (ex: being too rigid on usage of which/that in SC) and finally settling down at the right level!

The last 3 weeks was just about practice practice and practice. I now realize that I really studied for the exam only in the last 2 months and should have known better than wasting time early on! I got the official question pack for solving more problems towards the end and completed that and the remaining sets I had in the next few weeks. And I was consistently hovering in the 680-720 range. I got a 750 in the final GMAT prep mock. Considering that, I still think that I did not do well in the actual exam, but 710 was good enough for my target schools (I am also considering PT-mba in some of the Ivy's). I had a really non linear growth towards the end and that made me more confident in my approach. I definitely know a few areas in which I was weak (hello verbal!) which I would have worked on better if I had enough time. But it depends on what your requirements/ambitions are. I thought the verbal part was tricky in the actual GMAT and I did not see any passage or SC or CR that was sounded similar to my practice tests/problems.

To summarize what I learnt and to help others in the same boat:

1. Practice, practice and practice. DO NOT overlook easy problems early on in the preparation and think that you are too good for that. Speed and pattern recognition is an important aspect of GMAT!
2. Give 2-3 practice tests early on from different sources(1 from kaplan, mgmat, GMATprep each). That will give a good varied sample of where you are good/bad. (ex: getting 35-36 in MGMAT quant is not something to worry, but you can still improve. But a 33 in kaplan quant means you need to strengthen your quant)
3. Then spend a few weeks learning concepts and strategies and working problems in each of the types. (ex: modifiers, SV agreement, overlapping sets, inequalities etc). Write quick reference notes in your own words.
4. Give some tests, once in a while. that will keep one aware of the progress. Do not get disheartened. The tests from MGMGAT, Veritas, Kaplan etc all have their strengths and weaknesses. What matters is you get the feel for the tests, practice to swallow your ego to let go of hard questions, and learn from answer explanations.
5. After you are thorough with the concepts/strategies, practice the good problem sets. Give it a good 3-4 weeks of intense timed practice. My suggestion would be to not give any exams in these 3-4 weeks. Just solve problems hour after hour. you will be amazed at the progress after this step!
6. Reserve the final 2-3 weeks for more tests, revision of notes and fine tuning. You will start having fun!

These are just opinions that I can suggest from my personal experience. Happy if someone can relate to even one or two points I mentioned!

Hope this helps!

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veigapa16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
22 Feb 2013
Posted:
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Post Wed May 18, 2016 6:54 am
Congrats on a great score and thank you for the detailed review!
Where do you plan on applying this year?

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prada Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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08 Dec 2010
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Post Mon May 16, 2016 11:13 am
Congrats and good luck with your endeavours. Smile

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