Why I Didn't Need Coaching for GMAT!

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Why I Didn't Need Coaching for GMAT!

by aayushik95 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:34 am
I got a 720 (Q50, V38, IR 7) and so can you!

Preparing for the GMAT - from knowing what it stands for to witnessing the results flash on screen after the exam - has been quite a long journey. I was hooked to the preparations - the adrenaline rush resulting from the clock ticking on the upper right corner of the screen got me going! GMAT tests (much) more than just one's verbal and quantitative aptitude. I believe, only once I realized this, I began my REAL preparation. I learnt a lot while preparing for it and I've jot them down here for your reading.

Let me begin by discarding some myths about the GMAT EXAM:

One needs to join a Coaching Class to score 700+
Why did I feel the need to join a coaching?

Firstly - to practice regularly.

Once I had an exam date and target score in mind, I didn't need an external voice to push me.

To familiarize myself with the material I had to put in a few hours every day. I knew there was no shorter route to my target score. Once I accepted this, I was good to go! (You don't need someone to reiterate things you already know, GMAT is no rocket science!)

Secondly, to brush up my concepts and get my doubts cleared.

Going through a few strategy guides such as Manhattan's, I found that they contain enough material to help me brush up the concepts - easy to read and layman friendly!

Once I browsed through the internet I saw that it is filled with reliable forums to help one clear one's doubts with many experts ready to help.

GMAT is all about solving the questions presented on the screen.
An absolute NO! While preparing I realized GMAT is less about the questions and more about time management skills. Once I learnt to weigh the difficulty of the question against the time, I began taking an educated guess for questions I took longer and moved on. As a result, my scores did improve. Initially, I took it on my ego to solve a question and sometimes took more than 4 to 5 minutes to solve a relatively easier one - it was a crime, I realized with time!

To score well in Quants, one needs to be comfortable with difficult calculations.
I did not have to do a single difficult calculation in my exam. If my solution led me to one, I took it as an indication of solving it the wrong way.

If one gets a question right, one has solved it the right way.
Usually when I cross checked my solution for any question, I encountered a better and an easier way to solve the same. Thus, I suggest going through the solution provided in the material or cross checking it with a friend because you might have the right answer, but you still might be able to solve it in less time.

Below I've mentioned the tips and tricks that worked for me along with the ones I wish I knew before taking the exam.

TO DO's before jumping on to the specific sections!

Take a diagnostic test, understand where you stand and then take a date. You don't want to prepare lethargically without proper focus. Taking a date and having a target score gives you right amount of push (worked for me big time!).
Buy, borrow or download the Official Guide. This is your GMAT bible, you don't want to miss out on any question before appearing for the exam!
Join GMATCLUB right away! Answer to any doubt in absolutely any question in the GMAT universe lies in the GMATCLUB forum. If not, you can ask without any hesitation. I missed the GMAT timer present at the top of every post; use that while solving the questions on the forum. It has comprehensive statistics showing how many people got the question right, the difficulty level based on responses and the works.
Buy a test series. I would suggest Manhattan (Quants -Found it tad bit difficult than the OG, Verbal - found it easier). If not, you have a number of free tests available online - GMATCLUB, Veritas, Economis, Princeton Review and others (just google them). I gave 7 mocks before the final - this helped me improve my concentration span and stretch it to the duration of the exam.
Your scores also indicate your progress.

Get hold of the Manhattan Strategy Guide (or others, Manhattan worked for me) to get your basics clear. I fell in love with the material - easy to read and layman friendly.
Download the Veritas App (along with others). They have a good pool of questions. You can create customized tests and solve them any time during the day, as many times as you prefer. (Whenever you find some time, be it only 5 minutes).
Finally, DO NOT COMPARE YOUR PROGRESS WITH THAT OF OTHERS. Everyone has a different pace. Comparing would do no good but accepting where you stand and how hard you need to work to reach your target (and finally working that hard) is the key. Make a STUDY PLAN which takes into consideration areas you need improvement, the time available and your target.
QUANTS (Q 50) -

Having a strong base in Mathematics, I had majority of the concepts clear. Though, I regret not refreshing my concepts before going to the questions. I would suggest going through the basics first.

Understand that every question is designed to be solved in less than 2 minutes. Whenever I took longer, I took time to figure out a shorter method and get a grip of the tricks that can be used for similar pattern. Once I was felt confident, I began with Manhattan Advanced Quants - it has detailed many strategies that could be used to solve highly difficult questions. It also has a good pool in at the end to drill your brain!

Further TIPS -

Always recheck your answer before confirming it, especially in DS (Data Sufficiency). In every second DS question I ended up changing my answer after revisiting them.
Don't get overwhelmed by quants, there a limited concepts and every question can be solved under 2 minutes. Be patient and keep refreshing your basics.
VERBAL (V 38) -

If you are not much of a reader, I suggest getting yourself comfortable with heavy material. Subscribe to a few journals online (For example - New York Times, Economis) and read for about half to one hour regularly. Well, not reading but ACTIVE READING is important - you have to avoid zoning out every few minutes (I had a tough time)! Even if you don't enjoy reading, you have got no choice! The sooner you begin the better. Along with that, be open to unlearning what you have learnt all these years, it took some getting used to but once I did, results followed.

Critical Reasoning - Powerscore's Critical Reasoning Bible worked the best for me. Applying the strategies mentioned in detail for each type of question definitely helped me improve my accuracy.

Sentence Correction - I used Manhattan SC to get familiar with the rules and idioms. I used flashcards to familiarize myself with the idioms. Further tip - if you have doubts regarding a specific rule, just google. There are a lot of experts out there who have already answered your queries (though please confirm the source of the information provided!). Do not underestimate the power of the internet.

Reading Comprehension - I had to get comfortable with the difficult material provided in RC (I wish I was much of a reader). This not only helped me comprehend the passages but also improve my reading speed. Coupling the above with the strategies mentioned in Manhattan helped me get past the RC section.

Further Tips -

Even though vocabulary is not tested directly on GMAT, I tried to get familiarized with new words. This helped me get a better understanding of hard passages which used difficult/new words.
There is a 20% chance the sentence is already correct in the SC questions. Do not rule them out instantly.
Practice is the key! There is no shorter way of getting comfortable with the pattern. I managed to accumulate a good bank of questions with the help of GMATCLUB, Manhattan, Kaplan and Veritas and solved them under time constraint.

Integrated Reasoning (7 on 8)

I did not put much effort in Integrated Reasoning. I got comfortable with the question types by solving the OG questions and mock tests. At times while giving mocks I forgot there was a calculator provided and thus took longer to solve a question. Please keep this in mind!

In conclusion, be patient, understand where you stand and build a realistic study plan to reflect the progress you need to reach your target score. You might read a million posts on how to reach your target score, but in the end, it is only your determination coupled with a detailed study plan that can help you achieve that!

(Would take the opportunity to mention that I faced technical issues at the center which includes the computer shutting four times and continuous noise disturbances. Have registered a complain, hoping for a positive response from GMAC. Fingers crossed!)

All the very best!!


Aayushi Kapadia


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by ceilidh.erickson » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:35 am
Congratulations! That's a fantastic score. I'm so glad that you found the Manhattan Prep materials helpful.

Best of luck with the application process!
Ceilidh Erickson
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

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by nipungupta14 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:20 pm
Hi, how much time you took for the preparation ? And did you go through the whole manhattan prep bundle ? And what are the best mock tests available online?