NGUFO = (Never Give Up - Fight On)
I just scored a 720 in my GMat last tuesday. I screamed in the exam center with sheer disbelief and excitement. People may have thought
I am a complete gone case - but I can tell you, I believe I got the best score I possibly can, I couldnt have asked for more. I am writing this blog because I believe that my story can and will help other average people out there, sum up the courage to livetheir deams. If I can do it - ANYONE CAN. I am a very average student, whose only strength is that I am willing to work hard.
I also believe that with the right study plan chalked out, and going with your target with determination - ANYONE can score a 700 and above. The path is not easy, but who said anything is impossible - it just takes that little much longer.
It took me 6 months......
I am an asian indian female who did her masters in computer science from RPI, who has hatedmaths all her life. Surprisingly my whole life has involved studying maths and sciences since day 1. I have been meaning to write the GMAT for the last three years. But just the thought of Maths, had the motivation peter down... I finally decided to write my GMAT this year - I knew this would be my last chance. I aslo work full time, and have a stressful job in a small startup in the bay area. This was going to be hard...
Someone once told me that whatever happens in life happens two times - once in your mind, once in reality. I started with the dream of acing my GMAT and going to Harvard - "If you can see it, you can be it, if you JUST BELIEVE IT, there is nothing to it.....I believed I was going to Harvard"....
My preparation started May 15th, 2007 - I first came to this web site, and read Eric's blog,then I read Ursula's blog (https://beatthegmat.blocked/2005/08 ... efing.html) ,and I also read "Twinslplitters blog. I felt a little intimidated -these guys sounded sharp smart and well smart again. Then started the most important part of my preparation, the planning. Iknew that I was very weak, both in Maths and Verbal,
and neither came naturally to me. I didnt remember any of the maths forumlas, and even a simple ratio and proportion problem was stumping me - I needed to start bottoms up. By reading the blogs, and asking around I created a very extensive study schedule for me.
Step 1: Understand concepts, and formulas
Time frame: May 15 - July 1st.
A. Princeton Maths (https://www.amazon.com/GMAT-Math-Workout ... 092&sr=8-7)
B. Princeton Verbal (https://www.amazon.com/Verbal-Workout-GM ... 145&sr=1-3 )
C. Princeton GMAT 2005 (the Maths and Verbal book) (https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Sample-T ... =books&qid)
D. Download the Flash Cards link that Eric has provided -its a big big help.
https://www.beatthegmat.com/download-my ... s-t32.html
Study pattern: I would put in two hours every day from 5 -7 in the evenings on weekdays, and would put in 4 hours each on a Saturday as well as Sunday over the weekend. Sundays for me were for writing my practice GMATs. Saturday for making sure I completed anythign I may have missed over the weekdays (revising things before my practise test on sunday)
Princeton was the key for me. I read every single line of the book, made notes. I spent all of May 15th, to end of June
ensuring that I had gone thru the Maths and Verbal of princeton, and understood the basics of both. I was so bad in maths
and verbal, that I held off on writing the diagnostic test, until I had read a little from the books.
Diagnostic Test: GMAT Prep 1 (didnt do the essays) - Score 460 (It didnt suprise me, it didnt de-motivate me, I just knew. I had to study harder).
The key part of my studies was making sure of the following:
-That any mistake I made any time, I made sure I would not make it again. I also followed Ursula's recommendation, when you make a mistake, dont read the answer immediately. Try to solve it on your own
how much ever time it takes, only when you are really stumped look at the answer. It will help you more.
- Another thing that helped me is, in all the books read the answer to every question. The author provides cool new ways to answer questions (techniques that can help you solve questions better. Sometimes when you answer a question rigth and dont read the explanation, you can miss some cool techniques that could help you do the question faster
- I timed every question I did. Would have a watch next to me. My goal was to do every maths question within 2 minutes, and every verbal within 1.8 mts. I did this timing for every question in OG. It helped me pace myself.
- Note answering all questiosn on the exam is very very important, even if it means guessing some of the quesitons. By being able to time myself by what I said above, it helped better my speed a lot.
- Make sure for both maths and Verbal you make flash cards earlier on. In maths for the important formulae, in verbal I mostly did it for Sentence Correction for any good question, ofr questions with idiosm, or any question I got wrong. The way I made my verbal flash cards were the following
Write the questions
where question came from say Princeton Verbal: Page x: question x: Difficulty (HARD, Very hard, medium okay)
Hint - Idiom, parallel, anything else that helps get answer
The above format form y flash cards helped me a lot. By the end of my exam prep I had 3 full boxes of flash cards, which I read and went before the exam. I believe flash cards are one part of my prep that made a tremendous difference. The above is a tedious effort, and I would get tired of writing flash cards (considering the number of questiosn I was getting wrong - but really do the best you can, this is important)
Princeton Exams Scores:
Princeton CAT 1 (July 1st, 2007): 640
Princeton CAT 2: (July 15th, 2007): 660
Princeton CAT 3: (Aug 11th, 2007): 670
Note I didnt write essays on either of these exams. I was too overwhelmed and just wanted to focus on the Maths/Verbal.
For Princeton I followed Ursulas recommendation of creating detailed spreadsheets showing what I was weak in, what took more time etc.
I am not sure how much this helped me, because I never got a chance to review these again before the exam. It helped me at that time, as it ensuredthat every quesiton I had done wrong, I had analyzed the same, made flash cards, and could answer them if they came again.
I've attached a sample of what I created, but again not sure how useful
Step 2: Studies Taken further (Kaplan)
Time Frame: July 1st - August 1st
A. Kaplan GRE & GMAT Math Workbook (https://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-GMAT-Exams ... 286&sr=1-2)
B. Kaplan Verbal (https://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-GMAT-Verba ... 333&sr=1-1)
C. Kaplan GMAT 2005 with CD (https://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-GMAT-2005- ... 366&sr=1-1)
Kaplan Exam Scores:
Kaplan CAT 1: July 29th, 550 (was really devastated ).
Kaplan CAT 2: August 15, 560 (devastation continues)
I donthave my Kaplan 3, 4 scores with me right now, but I remember they were all in the 500 range...
Was pretty disappointed with my Kaplan scores. The exams were very tough. I had read that what you get is generally 50-60 points
below your actual score, but that didnt help me much. I was way behind.
Step 3: Gmat Official Guide: Verbal/Maths
Time frame: August 1st - September end.
1. Maths Offical Guide workbook (https://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-GM ... 21_rsrssi0)
2. Verbal Official Guide workbook (https://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-GM ... 20_rsrssi0)
Step 4: GMAT Official guide Main book
Time Frame: October 1st - November 26th
1. Official guide 10th Edition (https://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-GM ... ch_tsr_rtr)
2. Sentence Correction (Manhattan GMAT) -(https://www.amazon.com/Sentence-Correcti ... 436&sr=1-1) really good book, that helped me hone my SC skills. Studied it in between with my OG prep.
3. Kaplan 800 - (https://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-GMAT-800-2 ... 366&sr=1-2)I bought this book (but it was too tough, and given that
I was focusing on finishing my OG, I never got to do this)
While studying from the Official guides I re-took all my Princeton tests again - I wanted to see if I had improved at all. Also I wanted to write all the exams with essays this time to ensure I had the stamina. I didnt prepare for my essays at this point . I was still overwhelmed with the Maths/Verbal studies.
Princeton Test 1: 09/30/2007 - 720 (my first 700 and above)
Princeton Test 2: 10/07/2007 - 720
Princeton Test 3: 10/14/2007 - 640
princeton Test 4: 10/20/2007 - 640
Note I wrote essays for all the above tests (and the essays were really bull shitty). I hadnt prepared for essays at this time, was just trying to build my stamina.
I just remember being very depressed and down at this time. I was getting erratic results, and couldnt for the life of me figure out whta the hell I was doing wrong. I just decided I didnt have a choice any more. I would focus on my OG, and then write the GMAT CAT 1, 2, Power Prep 1, 2 all four test are available for free - and would give me a final evaluation of what my score woudl be. I was trying my best what more could I do?
Note the Official Guide has a huge number of questions. To be able to complete them, and still build up my stamina I would get up at 5 in the monring, and would do 20 Questions from Problem solving
20- from Data Sufficiency, 20 from RC, 20 from CR adn 20 from SC, every single day. It would take me around 3 hours to get this done every day. I would make sure whenever I got time I go thru my mistakes.
I CANNOT stress how importnat going thru your mistakes and making flash cards is!!! I never left a single question that I had done wrong, unrevised.
Book: Arco:GMAT Answers to the Real Essay Questions.
https://www.buy.com/prod/gmat-answers-to ... 81426.html
I started worrying about my essays mid October. I knew I sucked at essays, and hadnt written a single one for the initial tests. I bought the Arco Essay book and read the instructions for Analysis of the Argument/Issue. I followed instructions that helped me outline my essays much better. I just received my AWA scores and it was a 5.5 - all thanks to this book.
Final Exam Prep
Finally the date for the final exam Nov 27th. It was the thanksgiving weekend, Thursday Friday Saturday sunday.
I wrote my practise prep tests all in that week (my timing was way off), should have writtne them earlier, but there had been
too much of work in the office, and I had been strugglign with finish OG 10th edition 3 hours every day. was tired.
GMAT CAT 1: Nov 22nd (720)
GMAT CAT 2: Nov 23rd (690)
https://www.mba.com/mba/TaketheGMAT/Tool ... ftware.htm
I believe what I got on the above two tests were the best reflection of my capabilities. When I try to see the quant/verbal breakdown
in the GMAT CAT tests now it doesnt show me. But I have always averaged between 38 - 40 in verbal and 47 - 49 in maths.
Power PREP 1: Nov 24rd (750): Q49V44
Power Prep 2: Nov 25th(710): Q48/40
I wasnt that excited about the Power prep scores. A lotof the verbal questions were repeats from the OG guide. Hence they were not reflective of my true score I felt.
I also believe that OG is god. Doing maths OG,verbal OG and finally the master of them all OG 10th edition, helped me get better. At the end I had becomevery very good at Data Sufficiency. From a complete duffer to someone who would not make silly mistakes, and do the questions well in time. it really helped me.
Day of the Exam - Drama continues.
I had bled for 6 months on this. It was excruciating. My exam was on Tuesday, on Monday I fell very badly sick. I am not sure if it was psychosomatic, or what the problem was. I had soar throad, cold, cough, and fever. I slept all of monday, got up at 8 in the night feeling like shit, adn very very unhappy wth life in general I could not believe what god was doing to me. How could he - it was so unfair, all this effort, all the determination for what? I called up to see if I could postpone
the exam, they said i was calling too late, I would forfeit the money, unless I could produce medical records. At the back of mind, I jsut wantedto write the damn exam, I wanted to get it over with ......
my husband doubled me up with lots of medicine, and lots of food. I remember crying to my folks about how unfair it was on Monday night. And then something just clicked in my brain. Its happened to me before - when I am beat down, some part of me fight backs. I wasnt going down that easy. I sat down from 8 - 12 in the night, and finished the last few questions from OG data sufficiency and OG Critical reasoning. I wanted to make sure my OG was all doen and complete before I went to the
exam. (I dont recommend this to anyone - a proper night sleep before the exam is essential - unless you have bad luck like me .... )
I went to sleep at 12. I could not sleep the whole bloody night. I was awake - just didnt know how to fall asleep. At 5 with eyes wide open, I just couldnt believe my bad lluck. Got up at 6 in the morning had 2 crocins, a bath. I prayed to god for 5 minutes, asking him to give me strength to go thru whatever comes my way and then went to the exam (it was at eight in the morning). There I find out as I dont have a green card yet, I needed to
get my passport (I had walked in just with my driver's licence - SHIT!!!. My husband went and got me the passport). I entered the room at 8.30.
But at this time with all the stress since the previous night, I was so pissed/frustrated, that I literally started talkign to god telling him that if I didnt get a 700 this time, I would write the exam every single year 3 times for the next n years, until I hit the damn score. I WASNT GIVING UP......
I sat down for the exam, it prompted me to write down which school I wanted my score reported (6 months, crazy effort, fever, soar throat, feeling sick .....) I took a deep breath, took a gulp, and with shaking hands, wrote down Harvard business school. I can tell you this, when the exam started, you could have shot me, and I would hve answered the question with everything I had. Every question had 300% of me when I asnwered. I didnt have time to finish all the maths questions. But I rememberd that answering all was more important - I had to randomly select answers for the last 4 quesitons (selected all D's as the last four were problem solving questions, adn I had read, that the probability of it being a D is high). Verbal was better for me, I finished it in time.
4 hours later, when the exam prompted me if I wanted to see my score. I closed my eyes, gave a prayer to god, asked him to help me pull up my score to 700 - and then pressed on the button.
720 showed up on screen - I acutally gave a scream of delight and tears started streaming thru my eyes. It had been so hard, so painful, so WONDERFUL.....
i sit at home today unable to believe I did it. I feel happy, delighted, but apprehensive - there is still a long way between me and my dream, but the first boulder is out of the way. I have applicaitons to write, lot of work to do, but its amazing what you can accomplish once you set your mind to something, and believethat you will go thru with it, not matter what is thrown your way.
I really hope the details I've written above help others get thru this exam too - all the information I read up on this web site and others really helped me get myself ready, I am just t
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