[Summary at bottom]
I wrote the GMAT a while ago but being deeply committed to gmatclub, never shared my experience on Reddit. Here it is – I hope this helps someone in some way!
– Official Guide for GMAT Review
– GMAT Quantitative Review, 2nd ed.
– Manhattan GMAT (Foundations of GMAT Math, Quantitative Strategy Guide Set, Advanced Quant, Sentence Correction)
Practice Test Scores
1. 2015/01/11 MGMAT 630 (Q39 V37)
10. 2015/03/26 GMAC 750 (Q48 V44)
2015/03/28 GMAT 770 (Q50 V45 IR 7 AWA 5)
I wrote my first practice exam in January but since I knew that I could barely count to 10 (kidding), I read though MGMAT’s Foundations of GMAT Math prior to that. If you’re weak in math like I was/am, I highly recommend this step. I kind of just casually skimmed through it while doing the problems (most important) to refresh some very basic quant skills. It took me about a week and a half to finish. If I had taken a practice exam without doing this, I think I would have just wasted my time/a test.
Next, I spent a week or two finishing each of the Manhattan Quant Strategy guides. I finished the last of those guides in mid-February so I only wrote one practice exam in between my diagnostic and when I really started hitting those practice exams hard. I thought this was a good strategy because I wanted to learn everything before testing myself.
I wrote a lot of practice exams the month before my GMAT. Some of the scores were promising, some not so much. If there is anything to take away from my experience, it’s this: scores from practice tests by test prep companies don’t matter. You’ll read about how the Manhattan math is way harder (true) but the verbal is easier (I disagree, I think it’s just different) but honestly, just use those exams to learn how to pace yourself and keep up stamina. Those scores are not indicative of what you’ll get on the GMAT at all for a variety of reasons. The math is much more challenging and because it’s more challenging, you’ll lose confidence and in turn, this will affect your verbal score. The questions are also just so different. Every GMAT question I encountered was easily solvable within 2 minutes (although I probably didn’t hit the hardest questions in quant) while I wouldn’t say the same for the test prep companies tests.
During the last month, I mostly focused on sentence correction. Although I am a native English speaker and had no issues with critical reasoning and reading comprehension, sentence correction was still a challenge for me. In addition to the Manhattan GMAT guide, I will also recommend the Veritas youtube videos (first one here!). I watched the whole series while folding laundry and it really gave me a good grasp on how to approach the problems.
I read a lot about the importance of an error log and although I started one, I didn’t keep it up. What I found far more effective (and satisfying) is checking the answer of every question that I solve immediately after I do them. This served two purposes. First, I could immediately see where my mistakes were whereas if I waited until I finished 200 problems and then checked the answers, I would have probably forgotten what the question was asking, what my approach was, where I went wrong, etc. Second, it (mostly) prevented me from making the same mistake over and over again. Once I found out where I went wrong, the next time that concept came up, I knew how to approach it, thereby reinforcing the correct approach.
I’m also just a very impatient person and wanted to know immediately whether I got something right or wrong.
If you find checking the answer after every question too cumbersome and/or time-consuming, try doing it every 5 or 10 problems.
Score increase: 630 (Manhattan GMAT) to a 770 (official)
Time spent: 2.5 months, many hours
Materials used: Official Guide (OG) for the GMAT, ManhattanPrep books
Key takeaways: for quant: watch your timing and don’t worry about super difficult questions. for verbal: eliminate answer choices and practice reading quickly
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