So I would like to preface this post by stating this simple fact, I an idiot. I do things that are obviously not in my best interest and some would probably consider them retarded. I'm also not a great speller. If it hadn't had been for my mac, I would have spelled retarded as retarted. In fact, other than a few other things, the GMAT is pretty much all I have going for myself.
If you're still reading this post I can only imagine that either you enjoy reading about people being retarded or you are hoping that somewhere, somehow, there is a nugget of useful information in this post. Well, there is, and to give you the incentive to keep reading, on Monday, June 16th I scored a 760. My score breakdown is as follows:
Essays 5.5 (as though it matters)
Okay, so the two objectives of this post are to convince you that it is possible to improve your score and to tell you how I improved mine.
So, the first objective should be relatively easy to accomplish. Here goes. My first practice test, in January 2008, was a 580. As I mentioned above I just scored a 760 on Monday the 16th of June, 2008. Did that do it? I thought it might.
Okay, so now that we're all of the opinion that one can improve their score on the GMAT, I'm going to move on to the second objective and tell you how I improved mine.
When I first starting studying for the GMAT I looked at the prep course prices and decided that, as a student of Economics, I simply could not justify paying that much. Because I am very disciplined when it comes to studying I chose instead to purchase and work through just about every book out there instead, which is still much cheaper. Here is a list of all the books I used to study.
Official Guide 11th edition
Official Guide Verbal
Official Guide Quantitative
Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction
Manhattan GMAT Reading Comprehension
Manhattan GMAT Geometry
Manhattan GMAT Equations Inequalities and VIC's
Manhattan GMAT Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
Manhattan GMAT Number Properties
The Sentence Correction Bible
The Critical Reasoning Bible
Kaplan Math Workbook
Cracking the GMAT (Princeton Review)
Kaplan Premier Program 2008
Total price on Amazon, as of 22 June 2008, $283.33. An online course with Manhattan GMAT is $990.
On a side note, if you are not disciplined and decide that a prep course is the way to go, I suggest Manhattan GMAT. Do your own research, but if yo were to ask my advice, that would be it.
Okay, back to studying. In early January, I started studying with the intention of taking the GMAT on the 28th I worked my way through the Princeton Reviews, Cracking the GMAT. After I was finished with the princeton review, I took my first practice test and got a very unimpressive 580. I worked my way through the Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Guide and took another practice test, this time I scored a 650. I worked through some of the manhattan GMAT math books, but it quickly became apparent to me that I was not going to be ready to take the GMAT at the end of January. So, I canceled the test that I had scheduled for the 28th.
I was upset at not being prepared for the test. However, I decided to continue studying and take it shortly after Spring Semester was over. Did I forget to mention that Im a student?
I mapped out a study plan for the 138 days I had before my GMAT date. Because of my class schedule, I could only schedule to study for 3 hours before school, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I planned to study other times throughout the week and weekends, whenever time allowed. This, for the most part, did not happen. I also planned to take a practice test every other week on Tuesday and to go over my errors on the following Thursday. Although I did take the practice tests, I did not go over the wrong answers until the summer.
Just for fun, to see what I would have gotten had I taken the test, on the 30th of January, I took a practice test. I got a 720.
In retrospect I think this was a fluke, my quant was 46, which makes sense, but my verbal was 42, which is was too high for me at the time. After scoring a 720, I figured I had it made and would score even higher than that on the real test, just by the sheer number of hours that I would put into studying during the coming months.
My next test was a 650 on the 23rd of February. Which was a significant drop, but I chalked that up to the fact that I took it at 8:00 PM at night.
I took another test on the 6th of March. I scored a 660. Because I couldn't blame my low score on the time I was taking the test, I had no choice but to admit that I had just wasted not only the month of February, but also all the studying I had done in January. I began to panic.
I began studying again and my score improved. On the 29th of March I took another practice test and scored a 700. 47 in Quant and 39 in Verbal. By this time everything I had learned by reading through and working the associated problems in the Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Guide was lost. I figured that my Quant had gotten better by doing lots of practice problems so it followed that my verbal would eventually do the same. Also, I had to start gearing up for final exams. As such, that was the last Practice test I took before I started studying in Earnest.
I did practice problems regularly, but for the most part I stopped studying GMAT at this point. Final Exams ended on the 20th of May. This left me 25 days to study before the exam, provided I didn't do any studying the day before the test.
This is where I feel that I actually started to study. I knew that I needed to get through a lot of material very quickly and to do this I needed to be alone. What better place to be alone than the woods? So, on the 24th of May a friend of mine drove me up to the Appalachian Trail with all my GMAT books, a chair, a tent, a table mat, 18 MRE's, and a whole bunch of other crap that I didn't need. Side note, when packing for a trip like this, don't bring stuff that you don't absolutely need. For example, a night vision monocular.
On the 25th of May I set to work. I went through the 4 Manhattan GMAT math books and most of the Sentence Correction book in 2 days. Taking notes and highlighting as I went. I had already gone through them once before during the semester, so it was pretty much review. On my fourth day in the woods I began doing problems. Here is where I ran into trouble. I don't know if it was because I had been working so hard and needed a break or if it was the MRE's, but when I started doing practice problems I found that I couldn't do simple math. I was making simple mistakes such as 3*4 = 7. As I was running out of time, this really freaked me out. I decided to abandon the woods and get back to normal studying, in my room.
A day later, Wednesday the 28th I was back at home. With only 17 days left before the GMAT I began to panic, again. I developed a new study plan, one that I felt would keep me on track. The following day, the 29th, I took my final practice test. I scored a 690 and promptly began panicking even more. My quant had fallen back to 44 and my verbal was still stuck at 39.
The plan I developed, which worked by the way, was to do a set amount of practice problems every morning, pretty much immediately after waking up and then study using my books. I did:
20 Problem solving
20 Data Sufficiency
2 Reading Comprehension Passages and the associated problems (10-16)
10 Critical Reasoning
20 Sentence Correction
I used the practice problems in the official guide for this as they are put out by the test makers and are the best representation of the problems you will see on the test. Even though I didn't do anymore practice tests, mostly because I didn't have the time, with the amount of practice problems I was doing every morning I was essentially doing a practice test once a day.
After correcting the mistakes I made on the practice problems I would look over the associated material and try to understand why I had made the mistake. Most of the time it was because I didn't read the problem closely enough. When I was done correcting I would begin studying other material. On Friday the 30th of May I began working on the Critical Reasoning Bible. By Monday the 2nd of June I had completed the Critical Reasoning bible and on Tuesday I began working on the GMAT 800.
Keep in mind that during this time I was still doing the 80 or so practice problems every morning.
When I finished with the Quant Sections of the GMAT 800, I began working through the GMAT workbook. I did this because I was looking for practice problems, I didn't care whether they were hard or easy, I just wanted to do problems, problems, and more problems. There are 600 problems in the GMAT workbook.
I think it was 6th of May when the Sentence correction bible arrived. I tore through it and finished both the work book and the sentence correction bible by the 10th of June.
On the 11th of June my sister and brother in Law arrived from California. By this point I had essentially worked through all the problems in all the books I had. So, since my brother in law is a statistics teacher, we went over all the problems I had missed on the quantitative sections of the official guides. This was especially helpful because it's often easy to convince yourself that you understand something, even though you don't really understand it.
Anyway, they left on Friday the 13th of June. I had Saturday and Sunday left to study. And I had promised myself as well as the people close to me who were interested in me getting a good score that I would not study on the day before the test. I lied to both groups.
On Saturday, I re-read Chapters 3 and 4 of the Sentence Correction Bible and on Sunday I read Chapter 5. I also met with a friend of mine to work on sentence correction, she's is especially good at stuff like this. Finally, I practiced a few essays on Sunday evening. This was the extent of my studying for the essays. I Read a few examples, analyzed what the author did in the examples and didn't sweat it.
I tried and failed to get a good night sleep on Sunday. Monday Morning I woke up at 5:00 AM and went for a bike ride, my test was at 8:00 AM.
At this point I was seriously convinced that I would get somewhere between a 680 and a 720. I was having some serious confidence issues.
The bike ride took care of that. Eye of the tiger, need I say more.
Test was a lot easier than I expected. I didn't even think I had done very well. I kept thinking, "I know I got that one right, but this question is easier than the last."
And in the end, I clicked report my scores and a 760 popped up. Hurray!
If you actually read this far, thank you. It was my GMAT story and I wanted to tell it. Now for your reward. Here are my suggestions for studying each section.
Read one book on Reading Comprehension, it doesn't matter which one. After you are done reading, divide up the number of official guide passages by the number of days you have until you're going to take the GMAT. For example, there are 41 official passages. If you are taking the test in 20 days, do 2 per day and one extra at some point.
When you get a question wrong, find out why. This is by far the most important aspect of reading comprehension. If you do this, Reading Comprehension Should be fine.
Read the Critical Reasoning Bible and do the exercises. I had done critical reasoning practice problems before and I was fairly good at them, but after working through the Critical Reasoning Bible, I worked through all the Critical Reasoning questions in the Official Verbal Guide without getting a single one wrong.
I recommend you do the same thing for critical reasoning practice problems as you did with dividing up the practice problems for Reading Comprehension
Sentence Correction is by far my worst area. As such, I spent the most time on it. I recommend that if you are having trouble with it, work through both the Manhattan GMAT book as well as the Sentence Correction Bible. Redundancy never hurt anybody.
I recommend you do the same thing for sentence correction practice problems as you did with dividing up the practice problems for Reading Comprehension
I recommend that you read all Four of the Manhattan GMAT math books. They are content based. Meaning that they teach you the math, rather than teaching you guessing techniques like kaplan and the Princeton Review.
After you read, take notes on, and understand the all four of the math books... Read them again.
I recommend you do all the problems in both the Kaplan 800 book and the Kaplan Math Workbook.
I also recommend you do all the problem solving problems in the official guides. I did them twice. And don't skimp on correcting your mistakes.
Finally, I do recommend doing either the princeton review or the Kaplan premier program. It's good to understand how to do the problems, but in a pinch, it's best to have a good strategy for guessing. In the end, your score represents how well you did, not how much you know.
I used the three-step Kaplan Method. But really, you just need practice. Do as many Practice problems as you can and when you make a mistake, figure out why. The only way to get good at data sufficiency problems is to get tricked by them so many times that you can anticipate the way in which they are going to trick you.
Again, practice, practice, practice. And while we're on the subject, practice tests.
I did 8 practice tests. 6 Manhattan GMAT and both Official Tests. I didn't include one of my official tests scores because I don't remember it. I had planned to take all four kaplan practice tests, but I just didn't have the time. I have read good things about them though. I think that at some point you get used to format and you can't really benefit from taking more practice tests. My final practice test score was 690. I studied my butt of for another 17 days, much more than I had studied prior to that and I ended up with a 760, you can too. Don't forget to correct your mistakes.
I hope this has been a helpful, if not extremely, long post.
Good luck guys and gals.
My Strategy (760)
Find out how Beat The GMAT members tackled GMAT test prep with positive results. Get tips on GMAT test prep materials, online courses, study tips, and more.
This topic has expert replies
- Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts
- Posts: 35
- Joined: 21 May 2008
- Location: Chicago
- Thanked: 3 times
- GMAT Score:700
Dude, congratulations and great debrief! I'm taking it tomorrow, but haven't been studying as hard prior to the test as you were (work and all gets in the way after college). Congrats again!
- Legendary Member
- Posts: 2469
- Joined: 20 Apr 2006
- Location: BtG Underground
- Thanked: 85 times
- Followed by:14 members
hi chris.. congrats for that awesome score..!!i am from India and somehow its just to difficult to get Manhattan material overhere( Book stores havent even heard the name)..Can u suggest me some alternate book for verbal (especially RC and CR) and math...I am looking for past few months to get the manhattan series but not able to ..also i dont have enough time left to place an order online(its way out of my budget also).. cud u suggest me an equivalent replacement for them...
thanks a lot..i genuinely appreciate your help..
pls pls advice...
thanks a lot..i genuinely appreciate your help..
pls pls advice...
i am from mumbai...leading bookstores like crosswords and landmark dont even know what manhattan gmat is..if u know neone who has it and would like to sell it...do let me know,,,,i desperately need them..