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Getting started

This topic has 4 expert replies and 1 member reply
tittoo Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
17 Mar 2017
5 messages

Getting started

Post Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:38 am
Hi everyone,

I am new here, just starting on my journey with the GMAT.

I don't have a business background (science degrees and work in R&D).
I would like to sit for the GMAT in about 3 months (haven't booked a seat yet), goal score 700+.

I want to self study for this test.I have the OG, 5th edition Manhattan and practice tests from mba.com.
Is there a good study plan I can use along with the books and materials I have? Should I get any other books etc?

I also learn better with watching videos - is there a free resource with video lectures and explanations to practice questions?

Is it possible to get a GMAT test fee waiver? I have been looking into this but now sure how to go about it - do I need to contact the schools that I intend to apply to?


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Post Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:28 pm
Hi tittoo,

Since it sounds like you're just beginning your studies, then it would be a good idea to take a FULL-LENGTH practice CAT Test; you can use one of the two that you downloaded from www.mba.com. If you want to do a little studying first, so that you can familiarize yourself with the basic content and question types, then that's okay - but you shouldn't wait too long to take that initial CAT. That score will give us a good sense of your natural strengths and weaknesses and will help provide a basis for comparison as you continue to study. A FULL CAT takes about 4 hours to complete, so make sure that you've set aside enough time to take it in one sitting. Once you have those scores, you should report back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

From what you've described, it sounds like you're trying to approach this process by spending as little money as possible. Scoring at a high-enough level on the GMAT is an essential part of the Business School application process. With the right GMAT score, you might have an opportunity to receive a scholarship (in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars). Having the MBA will likely improve your career, open up opportunities, help you make more money, etc. Thus, the long-term benefits of really scoring well on this Test FAR OUTWEIGH the 'relatively small' amount of money that you might be trying to save right now. As such, you might want to start looking at this whole process as an investment in yourself and your future (and not as a series of expenses to be avoided).

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,

Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Thanked by: tittoo
tittoo Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
17 Mar 2017
5 messages
Post Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:09 am
Thanks Rich!

I am aiming to apply for PhD programs in US and Canada. Most deadlines are in the Fall and January so I am aiming to give myself enough time to do well on this test.

I understand that this is an investment in myself - I am open to getting other resources (books, courses etc) to help me prepare. Is there anything else you would suggest that I should look into?

I am hoping to familiarize myself with the test first and will take a CAT in a week or two. I will report back with my practice test score soon.

Post Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:19 am
Hi tittoo,

You've given yourself plenty of lead-time to study, take the GMAT and work on your applications - which is good. There are a variety of ways in which you can 'dabble' in the GMAT before you take that first practice CAT, but taking that initial CAT (and doing so in a realistic fashion) is an essential part of the overall training process. This is all meant to reiterate that you shouldn't take too long before you take that CAT.

Beyond those points, it's also important to note that PhD Programs tend to be really competitive to apply to - since the pool of applicants is almost always highly qualified and the number of available 'spots' is small. As such, you can expect that every aspect of your application will be 'nit-picked' and you have to be sure to properly 'market yourself' to each individual Program that you plan to apply to.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,

Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Post Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:30 am
If you have the Manhattan Prep books and the OGs, that's more than enough to work with!

Here's your study plan:

1. Take an adaptive Practice Exam (CAT). If you bought the Mprep books, you'll have access to our entire suite of practice exams. Don't prep first - just dive in and take the test, accurately timed. Feel free to skip the IR and essay and just do the quant and verbal.

2. Analyze the practice test you've taken in a lot of depth. Which areas were you weakest? Strongest? Fastest? Slowest? Decide which topics and question types need more of your time and attention. Be very aware of timing issues as well.

3. Study topic-by-topic, going chapter by chapter in the Mprep guides, then practice each topic with OG problems. For example, read the chapter on SC subject/verb agreement, then go do a set of 8-10 problems in the OGs that relate to that subject. You can find problems by topic using Mprep's GMAT Navigator: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/store/online-resources/gmat-navigator/
Do this for each chapter in the Quant and Verbal strategy guides. Aim to do this in 8-10 weeks.

4. Make sure you are tracking all of the OG questions you do, and timing yourself while you practice. Hold yourself to strict 2-min time limits per question! (I highly recommend using Navigator to track your OG problems)

5. Alternate between Quant and Verbal. Don't just focus all on quant! A lot of students make this mistake. You can't get a top score by only focusing on quant. You might think your quant score from the 1st CAT is lower based on percentiles, but this is probably a misinterpretation: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2016/02/11/heres-why-you-may-be-misinterpreting-your-gmat-score/

6. Keep a detailed record of the mistakes you make in addition to just tracking right and wrong answers, so you can locate patterns in your errors: http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2013/01/18/the-worst-mistake-you-can-make-in-gmat-studying/

7. Take practice tests after 4 weeks, then every 2 weeks after that. Increase to a test every week for the last 2 weeks before your real exam.

8. Practice your skills with random timed sets out of the OGs once you've covered all of the content in the strategy guides . Set the timer for 20 minutes, for example, and do questions 1-10. The OG problems generally get harder as the question # increases (within a given question type), so questions 1-10 will be easier on average than 101-110. Start in the middle of the section if you want more challenging questions.

9. Analyze your data from the random sets and practice tests, and go back to any topics that need extra work.

10. Take GMATPrep CATs. Download the software from mba.com and take these tests as the last few before the real test. They won't have answer explanations or metrics, so we recommend using Mprep CATs for most of your study time, and saving these for last. (They're less helpful for analysis, but arguably most predictive of your real score, since they're written by the actual test-makers).

Good luck!


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

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Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:50 am
Rich and Manhattan Prep have provided great advice.

Once you take a diagnostic test you'll have a better idea of what you need to do and what kind of self study program you can embark on.

I caution you to be careful of the sources that are out there. Some contradict others and they might not fully meet your needs.

Also, as Rich said, investing in yourself and prep is a drop in the bucket with the costs of graduate and business school. The whole, penny wise, pound foolish. Scoring your best will provide the optimal chance for you to get into the best school, so your application and test score are super important. As the CEO You, Inc, consider where you want to put your resources, especially with a goal of getting 700+.

Good Luck!

Bara Sapir, MA, CHt, CNLP
Founder/CEO & GMAT Badass Test Prep New York/Test Prep San Francisco
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