The wait is over with 700 (Q49, V36, AWA 6.0)

So finally I was able to touch the 700 mark. Last two months were really torturous for me and I am sooo happy with the 700. However, I do think that if nerves had not taken better of me in Verbal, I could have managed a 720, but I am happy its over. Now I can think about other important things. In all I have given GMAT thrice to arrive to a 700:

1. September 2011 : 680 (Q46, V37, AWA 6.0) : I was fairly confident during my first attempt and a 700 looked possible. However, I screwed up in quants, could not manage my time well and had to guess last 5-6 questions. So after the exam I thought my quants is not that bad and I can easily manage a 49 so I should retake. I took a week’s break and booked the test for October.

2. October 2011: 620 (Q49, V27, AWA- dint even care to look at AWA) : It was a nightmare and specially when my mock tests were telling a different story. You guys know about it right!! So I went fairly confident for my test this time and was pretty sure of getting something around 720. The AWA went fine and then the quants was ok and I was very calm for verbal as well. I did verbal with patience and on time. Did not rush through any question and somewhere in the middle I even felt that the level of questions were increasing. I completed the test and was expecting to see a 700+, and was shocked to see a 620. A 27 in verbal was unexpected. I was shattered. I had not scored less than 35 in verbal even in the diagnostic test I gave before starting any prep. I was also unable to comprehend the reason for this dismal score. I was really disappointed with myself after this take. It was after my husband counselled me and made me realise that 27 in Verbal is not at all my true potential, I decided to retake.

3. November 2011 : 700 (Q49, V36, got AWA recently:6.0): After my second attempt I was little sceptical of my strategies for Verbal so I revisited the basics. Read the Manhattan SC and Powerscore CR bible again and analyzed all my mistakes during the practise sessions thoroughly. btw…I studied only for 10 days for this attempt as I went on a vacation immediately after the October attempt. Gave two mock tests one Manhattan (750: Q48, V44) and Gprep (710: Q48, V38) and was again confident that the preparation is fine. However, after the second attempt I was little scared of the unexpected. But went to the test centre with complete faith in my abilities.
Test experience: I gave this test in New Delhi, India. AWA went fine, I followed the chineseburned template and trust me it works (I did get a 6.0 in my first attempt using that template only). Started quants fine. The first question was very easy number properties question and was able to solve that in 30 seconds and I am pretty sure that I did the next 5 questions also correct since the difficulty level kept on increasing. But somewhere around 9th question I got a very basic geometry question. So basic that for a minute or so I tried to find the hidden trick in the question. But the question was indeed very basic and I realized that I have done something wrong in the last couple of questions. I gathered myself up and decided not to make any further mistakes. Time was on my side so I double checked every question and I am pretty sure I did not commit any mistake as the difficulty level of questions kept on increasing and I got some real difficult questions on Standard Deviation and some real lengthy word translations. I was however struggling with time in the last 5 questions but managed to crack them all. Verbal went fine and I think I did fine. However I do think that my score was hampered by an incomprehensible RC on some political issue. I also think that if I was little more calm during verbal I may have scored a 38 or 39 but what the hell…I am glad its over.

Study material used:

Manhattan SC – a must read
1000s for SC – however this document had some doubt able questions, it still is a good practice
Powerscore CR bible
LSAT test papers for CR
RC 99

Manhattan strategy guides – again a must read to build up basics
Gmatclub forums – I practiced quants form the forums only.

I am happy with the score and happier that its over. As a final note to fellow test takers, GMAT is not at all about your IQ, its more about your preparation, perseverance and hard work.
All the best!!


Its tomorrow…and then…

The exam is tomorrow and I am feeling pretty confident this time. I am relaxed and not really studying much. Just gave Veritas’ free test t get in the exam mode. Scored a 710 (Q51, V41). I particularly did not like Veritas’s exam because quants was too easy. Very straight forward questions in line with first 100 questions of OG. Verbal was better but SCs were more idiom based and RCs were excruciatingly loooooong. Also, a breakup of Q51 and V 41 will add up to something like a 740-750 on the real exam. I guess they (Veritas) are discounting the fact that the test is easy and are giving a lower score.

I am waiting for GMAT to get over so that I can focus on so many other important things which I have held for this exam. Before coming to that, I am giving exam on the best possible day. Immediately after the test, the fun begins. How? Read on:

  • Immediately after the test, I am going for a “teen patti”, which is a version of poker, night.
  • Next day, which is Sunday, I am leaving for 4 weeks vacation to back home – India.
  • And then the festive season begins – its Diwali – my first as a married woman.
  • And when I come back from the vacation, the next day is my first wedding anniversary.
What else could I have asked for. I just need an amazing start tomorrow. The score I have been dreaming about, the score I have been working so hard for.
Now to that part where I will talk about things I would do in the time I will have once GMAT is over. I will:
  • Learn Mandarin.
  • Read books and write more often here and on my other blog.
  • Practice yoga more often.
  • Research about the b schools. So far I was very focused on INSEAD, LBS and Oxford but now a days I have started thinking about US schools also.
  • Spend more time at Aidha – a not for profit organization I have been associated with.
Wish me luck guys!!

Gprep 1

All I have been writing these days is about my mock tests…but with just 2 more days to go for the G day, what else do you expect :P. I gave Gprep 1 today and got a 770 (Q50,V44). Sounds great..isn’t it?? But there is a catch, I think the score are little inflated because I knew 2 questions in Quants and 3-4 in Verbal. And when I get known questions, it not only helps me in getting those questions correct for sure but also gives me benefit of more time on hand to solve other problems. So I will like to discount this score a bit and would say that maybe a 730 (Q49, V40) is the right representation.

What I am happy about this test is that I was very focused and consistent. I did not tick any question just because I was tired of reading or solving problems (sounds weird…but I tend to do so) and I did manage my time well. I did both sections with 9-10 minutes on the clock on each test.  However, time has not been a major issue with me but sometime I tend to get stuck on a question or two in Quants and that eats up lot of valuable time. I did not do so this time. So my confidence levels are high and I think I may not take Gprep 2. With 2 days to go, all I want to do it revisit the problems I did wrong and read notes.

Regarding AWA, since I got a 6 in my first attempt (I followed chineseburned template), I am pretty confident on that part. I will just revise the template and maybe practice writing just one argument to get into the mode.

The countdown has begun!

P.S. forgot to mention my score in Gprep 1 during my prep for first attempt. It was 670. Don’t remember the breakdown though.

Third mock and lessons learnt..

Guys, I gave my third mock yesterday (Manhattan) and got a 730 (Q46, V44) and man was Quant tough. It was so difficult that I had to practically guess6-7 questions and got them all wrong :(. I hope and wish and pray that this doesn’t happen to me in the real exam which is just 3 days away (shivers). I am however surprised by my performance in verbal. Did not get even any 2 questions in a row wrong. Got the second question wrong, which pulled my percentile down to 75% (Manhattan does punish you badly if you get initial 10 questions wrong) but then did next 10 or so correct and maintained the percentile.

Since I always compare my score with the corresponding score while I was preparing for the first attempt, I will do that in this post as well. My score in the corresponding MGMAT was 680 (Q49, V34). 

The lessons I have learnt from all of the tests so far are these:

  1. DONOT get a question wrong in first 10 questions. Yes, its very important.
  2. Even if you do get a question wrong in first 10, make sure you get atleast next 10 correct.
  3. DONOT get 2 or more questions in a row incorrect. It pulls the percentile down drastically.
  4. Manage the time very effectively. The questions on which you apend more then 2 minutes should be very few and that should be compensated by time management on other easier questions. Its better to guess one question in middle, get it wrong but save valuable 4 minutes than having to guess 5-6 questions in the end and getting them all wrong.
  5. Keep it in mind that if you are guessing a question, the chances are it will be wrong so do the next question well. Remember point 3 above.
  6. RCs are very important  in verbal. Understand the passage well and try to get them correct. I normally read the passage twice  (since I am blessed with good reading speed, I can afford to do that) but do whatever you can within the constraints to read the passage thoroughly. Again, reiterating point 3, if you don’t understand the passage, the chances are you will get 3-4 questions in a row incorrect and the percentile will be damaged beyond repairs.
I hope to remember these things in my exam and this time I really want to crack it. I will be giving GPreps in next 2 days and then hit the test centre.
Pray for me people!

Importance of number properties & inequalities

Getting problems on number properties correct is verrrrry important to get a score above 49 on quants. During my practice, I have observed that maximum tricks can be incorporated in questions from number properties and the human mind (specially mine) tends to forget to take care of those small yet significant tricks under time constraints. To reinforce in my brain and in all of your brains, always remember the following while doing number properties and inequalities:

  1. ALWAYS consider zero a value of variable. For example, If a*b*a = a, we CANNOT simply divide both sides by a to get ab=1 because a could be zero and we can not divide by zero. Rather it should be worked as: a*b*a-a=0. It implies a(ab-1) =0 —> either a=0 or ab =1.
  2. NEVER assume that any variable is integer unless clearly mentioned.
  3. You can only ADD inequalities when their signs are in the SAME direction. If a>b and c>d, then (a+c )> (b+d)
  4. You can only SUBTRACT inequalities when their signs are in the OPPOSITE direction. If a>b and c <d, then (a-c) > (b-d). Take the sign of inequality you subtract from.
  5. Whenever there is a square of a variable involved, ALWAYS consider that the variable may be an irrational number which becomes integer when its squared. For example, if its given that n^2 is an integer, it does not necessarily mean that n will be an integer. n could be 2^1/2 as well.
  6. In modulus problems, ALWAYS put back the values derived in the equation to validate.
  7. In inequalities, NEVER divide or multiply both sides of an equation with unknown variable (whose sign is not known) because in case the variable has a negative value, the sign of inequality shifts.
I will update this list as and when I make more errors and learn lessons from them. I hope this list will be of help to someone out there.

Second Mock Test (for retake prep) – MGMAT

Today I gave the second mock test for my retake prep. It was CAT 1A from MGMAT – 1 A because I had taken all the 6 MGMATs during my prep for the first take – and I got a 710 (Q49, V37). I am not so happy with my performance here because I remembered 2 questions in Quants and I did some real silly mistakes such as not reading the question properly. I did that in atleast 4 questions in quants and got them wrong :(. So my focus is going to be on getting every damn question RIGHT. These are not difficult questions and I can get them right. I seriously and honestly believe that I could have got a 50 on this test. Anyways, no point cribbing and getting frustrated, I should take care of this in the next test.

Comparison with Kaplan test: The quants was obviously more difficult at MGMAT but verbal was comparable. And I did focus on verbal in this test.

Comparison with my first MGMAT mock for the first take: I had scored a 630 (Q40, V36) on this one. I have consistently scored around 37 in Verbal in my mock tests and I think its not good. I should not hit the roof already. I need a score of at least 40 to reach my target score.

Overall, not very happy with this performance. A 730 would have been better.

Btw…Are you thinking that I am whining a lot about my mock test results, then you may be right but its important. Its do or die. Don’t tell me GMAT is just one part of the application, it will be so when I apply. Right now its the only part of my application. Lets kick ass!!

First Mock (for the retake prep) – Kaplan

I gave my first mock test today. It was Kaplan free test and I got a 750. I must mention here that I had got a 630 in the same test when I was prepping for the first attempt and mind you I did not find any repetitions (or I don’t remember the questions). However, I found Quant relatively easy and was able to finish with 20 mins remaining. Now, I do not know what do I do about this. Even last time, I was able to finish quant in every mock test with 15-20 mins remaining and was short of time on the real exam day.

Verbal was ok. I was not so focused in verbal because I was getting too impatient to finish the test and see how I fared in Quants :). Finished the section with 14 minutes remaining and almost skipped one RC.

Since Kaplan does not provide section scores, here are the percentiles and no. of correct questions in each segment and sub segment :

Quants: 95%ile

DS:  14 out of 15 correct

PS: 21 out of 22 correct

Verbal: 66%ile

CR: 9 out of 14 correct

SC: 10 out of 13 correct

RC: 8 out of 14 correct

I am yet to analyse the test but looking superficially, I think I need to pay more focus on CR. It was my key area to focus last time as well. RC normally is above average for me so I will attribute the poor performance in RC in this test to lack of focus.  Shall post my analysis and learnings when I am done with it.