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GMAT 730: My prep, resources and test strategy

tagged by: mohitmj

This topic has 1 expert reply and 12 member replies
mohitmj Just gettin' started!
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GMAT 730: My prep, resources and test strategy Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:17 pm
My prep was spread over almost a year and I shifted the exam date 3 times. So, I cannot comment on what would be the ideal path for prep but I believe I can comment on resources which I used and scores that I got in mock exams.

First, my GMAT score: I got 730 (48Q,42V) and 6.0 in AWA.
I scored somewhat less than expected in quant but that was mainly because I got a bit nervous at the start.

The resources which I used were:

AWA

Just go through structure which you will find on beatthegmat or similar forums (I used this: http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html). I believe most important thing is to keep the overall structure of the essay correct so that it conveys the idea properly. Generally, I would note down 3-4 point quickly and then start writing immediately, explaining each point in a separate paragraph (Firstly, Secondly, Finally, To conclude... etc.).
On last day I also briefly looked at common spelling mistakes: http://www.commonlymisspelledwords.org/

I made sure to write down essay (both argument and issue) while giving mock tests. This is very important as it helps you practice for these essays and also helps you create proper exam like environment (without writing essays you may be artificially inflating your score as you are sitting down for less time and GMAT is as much about exam stamina as anything else).

Quant

Though I am from engineering background, I was very bad with calculations (calculation only and not general mathematics theory). So I first fixed this. I practiced calculation shortcuts (see attachment).
Second, I memorized important numbers like tables, percentages, primes etc (see attachment, Tables). It is extremely important to memorize these if you don't want to waste your time calculating in exam.
Finally, my actual prep material was MGMAT books. Though theory is quite easy (esp for those from similar background), it is still important to go through these books as GMAT twists and turns simple theory. I also did all questions in OG12 and Math Review (2nd edition). I also practiced from Nova's GMAT Math Bible, which is bit advanced and for those looking for 700+ score only.

It is a good idea to maintain an error log to keep track of mistakes that you make and devise a method to avoid those (especially silly ones).

I have attached the notes that I had prepared.

Verbal

For verbal in general, biggest strategy is elimination. That is the best way to reach the correct answer, so make sure you practice accordingly.

SC -

For SC, theory I did from MGMAT. It is simply the best source. I think SC is the easiest part in GMAT. It takes some time to master it but it is something that can really boost your score. However, it is not just about learning the rules, I guess that is the biggest trap. Make sure that once you have memorized rules you practice a lot of questions based on modifiers and meaning. Meaning is what GMAT really tests in lot of questions and if you get the knack for it then SC is very easy. Idioms can be memorized so they are not a challenge. Tenses are rarely tested alone, generally there are other ways to eliminate. Parallelism is important, but parallelism is also about meaning. Again I did OG12 and Verbal Review 2nd edition. MGMAT question bank has also got some good questions (you get access to that when you purchase the book - you must purchase at least one MGMAT book as you'll also get access to 6 mock tests).

CR -

The best book for CR is Powerscore's GMAT CR Bible. It may have some lengthy (and unnecessary) explanations but it is still quite good to start with. Another important source especially for CR is Kaplan 800. I did not find it that important for other areas but it is good for CR (again, only if looking for 700+). Important skill to develop in CR is how to distinguish between answers which are correct and which are almost correct. The wrong answers may be in any of such categories as - could be true but not necessarily true, has some elements of premise but have been deceptively changed (eg more/most added), reverse of the premise is stated, premise is stated while question asks for conclusion (main point question type). Powerscore book explains these wrong answers properly and I found that useful.
Bold faced questions - rare on GMAT, plenty on mocks. These may be scary at first but are actually quite easy. Just learn to understand what the structure is and what part bold face plays in it (evidence, conclusion, etc). Then first eliminate checking answer choices for one first bold face only. What is left, eliminate for second bold face. Do not try elimination for 2 bold face simultaneously unless absolutely necessary.
Apart from this, understanding cause/effect and necessary/sufficient is important. I have got some notes (though not exhaustive in any way) attached. Again did all OG12 and Verbal review questions.

RC -

I think RC is one area where you should not practice from anything other than OG and verbal review. Reason is that most prep material and question banks simply have got this all wrong (my feeling at least). I did horrible whenever I practiced from any material other than official guides (and I did quite well on actual GMAT). I think in order to make questions difficult they have made these incorrect or at least not similar to GMAT. What needs to be practiced is reading speed (read Economist and New York times) and in answer choices avoid generic choices and choices that deceptively change what is being said. You'll learn selecting correct answer choices when you practice for CR. Read passage to understand structure, main point and purpose. Any specific questions can be answered by looking back in the passage.

Additional Resources

Apart from resources mentioned above, another very important one that I found is GROCKIT. It is quite cheap (700 INR for Indians) and it contains loads of questions to practice. Plus it helps you develop your 2 minute sense. Also, because it is more of a game (you can play in multiplayer mode) you actually enjoy studying. Try it out, it has few days of free trial also.

Test Strategy

As you must already know, important thing while preparing is to study your wrong answers and spend time in learning why you did a question wrong and what alternate ways there are to solve a problem (in 2 mins). I found MGMAT archer (for OG and review questions) and Grockit helpful in developing 2 min sense.
Once you have completed your prep (generally 2-3 weeks before G-Day), important thing to practice is pacing. Think about it like this, if you have prepared for 700 level then there are only 3 things that will probably stop you from getting there:
1. You do not finish the test - Rest assured, if you do not finish the test, penalty is so high that you will never get the score you expect.
2. You do many consecutive questions wrong - this generally happens when you spend more than 2 min on questions. Just don't. Guess (educated ones of course) and move on, do not get emotionally attached to any question (I have made that mistake many times during mock). Be very sure which type of questions you can do right by spending extra time (not more than 3 mins in worst case and in not more than 3 questions overall) - eg I would have done that on ratio questions because I know I can get those right. Also the area which you are good at, practice to finish those questions in less than 2 min if possible (for me such an area was SC, actually you should not take more than 1.5 min on SC).
3. Test pressure gets to you - There may be not be a general way to avoid this. It is up to you. I messed up quant a bit because of this but you should know that you should go on no matter what. Also do not try to guess your score (or experimental questions) on exam. Just keep solving to best of your ability and within 2 mins. Just assure yourself that if you complete the test, you'll get the score you prepared for. That should be the only focus. Also prepare for test stamina, by writing full length mocks, so that you brain does not stop processing information by the time you reach verbal (happened with me during initial mocks).

Finally, here are my mock test scores:
MGMAT 1 - 640
MGMAT 2 - 690
MGMAT 3 - 710
MGMAT 4 - 700
MGMAT 5 - 730
GMATprep 1 - 690
GMATprep 2 - 750

I gave MGMAT 1 and GMATprep 1 early during my prep. I gave MGMAT 2-5 and GMATprep 2 during the last week. I know some people advise against it, but I thought being in practice before exam will be more helpful. I just stopped all preparation 2 days before exam.

Also make sure that you analyze your mistakes in mocks properly and use these to determine which types of questions you can answer in 2 mins and which ones you must guess.

So that's it guys, if you have any questions I'll be happy to help.

Thanks,
Mohit
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Last edited by mohitmj on Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:37 am; edited 1 time in total

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kaps786 Rising GMAT Star
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Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:02 am
Hi Mohitmj

You mention NOVA as a good resource for improving quant ...I hadnt heard about it much but recently somebody else on forum also mentioned it for improving data sufficiency

So I wanted to check, did you refer to NOVA DS guide or NOVA General GMAT guide ?, and did you find it to be helpful in improving DS

Any other books/tips you think you found useful for improving Data Sufficiency in quant

Thanks
Kaps

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mohitmj Just gettin' started!
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Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:34 am
I referred NOVA's GMAT Math Bible (ISBN 1-889057-50-9) by Jeff Kolby and Derrick Vaughn. Yes, I think it was helpful for DS. Apart from it I did all questions from OG12, Quant Review, Kaplan 800. Also MGMAT mock questions are good. I believe important thing in DS (for tough questions) is to learn what kinds of traps GMAT generally lays and double check your answer choice accordingly.
I recently saw this article (post exam) and I think it explains this double checking strategy nicely (see DS section)
http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/2011/08/the-5-strategies-that-helped-me-score-780-on-the-gmat/

a1helios Just gettin' started!
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Tue May 01, 2012 2:57 pm
Congrats Mohit. I am about to start off my prep and this post is really gonna push me into the right groove I believe.

manoj.bro@rediffmail.com Just gettin' started!
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Wed May 02, 2012 4:04 am
hi mohit,
your post and attachments are very helpful for me. my test date is 31st may, and i am still not very sure with DS and CR.
please advise.....

manoj

mohitmj Just gettin' started!
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Wed May 02, 2012 10:59 am
@a1helios - Thank you and all the best for your exam.

@Manoj - You can try GROCKIT, it has loads of questions. There is always an option of shifting exam date if you are not sure

kandukuri Just gettin' started!
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Wed May 02, 2012 4:56 pm
Hi mohit ji,

Congratulations on your score
i already member of Beat the GMAT,you said you attached few files but iam not getting.
If you dont mind can you send them to my mail Id radhika.abm@gmail.com

Thank you,
RSRK

manoj.bro@rediffmail.com Just gettin' started!
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Thu May 03, 2012 3:40 am
thanks mohit,
I do not want to postpone my date. the reason being that the future GMAT exams involve a new portion IR.
how should I prepare for AWA? i have posted some essays on BTG.
manoj

mohitmj Just gettin' started!
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Thu May 03, 2012 6:48 am
Hi Manoj, I did nothing more for AWA than what I have mentioned above. Practice during mocks turned out to be enough. Also, I made sure that I have last five minutes for spell check. Important thing is structure, so put down your points clearly as Firstly, Secondly, etc (or something similar that makes presentation clear). Similarly, use connectors like Moreover, However, For example, Indeed etc. Write in simple language. Do not worry if you do not have a great idea to present (any 3-4 basic thoughts will do). Instead, whatever you are presenting should get across.
Lastly, try not to write less than 500 words.

Mozhi87 Just gettin' started!
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Thu May 03, 2012 8:04 am
Awesome score Mohit! Congrats! thanks for the attachment

mohitmj Just gettin' started!
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Thu May 03, 2012 8:44 am
I am attaching the AWA essays that I wrote during MGMAT mocks. As you will see, there is nothing great about these but I believe these will fetch 5+.
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gmatwar13 Rising GMAT Star
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Thu May 03, 2012 9:59 pm
Congrats mohit...

I find your preparation research in line with me on RC. My accuracy on GMAT RC is b/w 70-80%. But not so great on other prep material. I don't find any RC material close to GMAT OG. Can you suggest some good stuff for RC.

vineetsha Just gettin' started!
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Mon May 07, 2012 2:31 am
Great post Mohit! Thank you.

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Jim@StratusPrep MBA Admissions Consultant
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Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:01 pm
Thanks for the great resources. Always like to curate quality content.

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