My First time GMAT experience 760 50Q 42V
Just wanted to add a quick write up on my GMAT process and the exam experience from last week. Hopefully this helps a few of you who are planning to the take the GMAT in the next month or so.
I started about 3 months ago when I attended a Score Booster workshop conducted by Arun. I came in without really knowing what the GMAT was and had to ask Arun what this OG thing was that he kept referring to constantly. But I came away impressed and signed up the Verbal Class. I was quite busy with work during this time, and did not have much time to spend on doing daily homework, so really most of what I learnt and practiced happened during class hours. Towards the end of the classes, I realized that the only way i can push myself to prepare in full seriousness was to set a date for the exam first. I picked a date in early july since I wanted an afternoon 1pm exam – early morning adds stress around waking up and getting to the exam hall while evening exams – you are too tired already.
A lot of my studying happened during the two weeks before the exam, I was regularly spending 4-5 hours every evening doing problems from the OG, and reading up on forums on strategies around both test taking as well as approaching problems. The first GMAT Prep Test that I took about two weeks before the exam – I scored 690, and I did not finish the quant section in time. About a week later I took the second test and scored 690 again and this time I did finish all the quant problems. This was quite demotivating since it appeared that all my studying during that week was for naught and i wondered if I had hit my level. But with only a week to go, I decided I’d amp up my studying, took a few days off work and concentrated on fixing the spots that I was having difficulties in. Retaking both tests got me 750 on each, but with about 30% of the questions repeated it was not a good yardstick since the repeated questions allowed me to spend a lot more time on the harder problems, and skewing the overall time graph.
The day of the exam, I solved a few problems before I left home, so that I get my mind in the quant solving mindset. I had a light breakfast and got to the exam center by 12. I was expecting to sit and relax for an hour, but they told me start the exam immediately since there were a few spots open. Half a red bull later, I started on the essay – which was easy and and the IR section – which was a lot harder than I expected. A single passages/table/graph question was quite confusing, with a lot of data that was irrelevant and I was asked a total 3 X 4, 12 questions on that same data set, of which I had to guess on about 6. Feeling a bit demotivated, I started on the Quant section. The questions started out easy and got hard very fast. I was stuck by the fifth question for about 3 minutes and I decided to guess and keep going. Then the questions were moderately easy till I had about 4 minutes left for the last five questions and ended up guessing on a few of them, including blindly guessing on a chart type question since just trying to read the chart would have taken 2 minutes. Within the DS Questions, there were very few Cs and Ds. Mostly As, Bs and Es – so almost every question needed to be solved for both data points. I did not get even a single question on probability, and there was just one on combinations, so I would suggest not to waste too much time on this section if you guys find it hard. A majority of the harder questions were based on the number line, and I had to plug in values for quite a few since I could figure out the pattern fast enough.
During the Verbal section, the exam was front loaded with RC and CR – I got only 2 SC questions during the first twenty. The unfortunately part about this was that the second half, which had the harder questions were mostly SC, where trying to pick between the last two almost always involved guessing since they would both “sound right”. There was only one SC question that was fully underlined, but quite a few that had only 1-2 words underlined.I found the RC and CR questions quite straightforward, with only one or two guesses.
My key takeaways:
1. As Arun keeps saying, GMAT is all about time management and Pattern Recognition. If you can figure out instantly what type of question it is, then you save almost 30-40 seconds, so its important to practice all type of questions. The one thing that helped me was I practiced OG with the solution pages instead of the question pages so that I read the explanation for each choice, even the ones i got correct. This way I learnt the technique that gmat expects you to know and was able to apply it on similar questions.
2. OG is more than enough. I started on some manhattan tests, but i gave up after a few questions because they were too ambiguous and the answer key did not provide satisfactory explanations. I only practiced from the OG and GMAT prep software, and that too I only had time to do about 80 percent of OG questions.
3. During the exam, its extremely important to be alert and awake and in a good mood. I think this made a huge difference that I was relaxed and not nervous and I was able to give every question full attention. Towards the end of the verbal, all the SC options started to sound right and since I had plenty of time left, I took a quick unscheduled break, washed my face and basically traded 10% of time left for 10% more freshness.I do not recommend this unless you have more than five minutes on top of the 2mins X questions left. But yes, I washed my face and sipped redbull during every break 🙂 As far as redbull is concerned – I made me very hyper at times, but I followed a similar consumption pattern as I had practiced during my prep tests so I knew what to expect.
4. Given the adaptive nature, its very hard to know whether you are doing well or not – so dont get caught up if you are getting questions wrong. Most likely they are the harder ones! I definitely did not expect the score I got given the number of questions I answered incorrectly – but that was just the software throwing questions at me till it found a set that I could not answer.
5. The score on the actual exam was higher than anything i got my practice tests – so dont keep pushing your exam date – just make sure you go in with a clear mind.
I can say without a doubt that Crackverbal and Arun were a big part of why I was able to succeed on the GMAT and most of what Arun said during class came back to me during the exam to help pick the right choice many times.
Thank you Arun.