三次搞定710,提高180分,老外都可以,难道你不行吗?

6已有 896 次阅读  2011-09-23 05:34
I first started to look towards B-school in 2009 at a time when deadlines were very close and found out about the GMAT. I shrugged my shoulders, thought how hard can it be and registered with 2 weeks to go. I had never realized that GMAT would become the sticky piece of gum under my shoe that I can't seem to get rid of.

1st attempt (530):

My first attempt was an unfortunate series of events.

a) Prep involved 2 general books. Princeton Review and Barrons (the most commonly peddled by the bookstores). Needless to say, they only taught shortcuts and guessing techniques.

b) Often people say 'survey the test centre', and that is what I did not do. The moment i was led into a cubicle i was dismayed. The screen was a flickering 14" CRT placed well above eye level. Somebody with regular eyesight might have fared through the ordeal but since I have keratoconus in both eyes (I see light 3 times as much as a regular person does), it was torture even to be just sitting there. I typed out the AWA with my eyes closed and edited out the mistakes later. Half-way through the quant, i had already developed a headache. The rest was just about surviving.
530 was still a shocking score.

2nd Attempt (630):

a) My preparation involved a few more books and notes, NOVA's GMAT and Princeton Review's Verbal Guide. Quant was about researching individual topics and making notes. Memorized lists of idioms and reviewed grammar. The preparation did go quite well. Attempted GmatPrep once and scored 680.

b) I changed my testing centre to a city 400km away. I called up the centre and confirmed the presence of LCD monitors beforehand. The test centre conditions were perfect.

c) I had my ducks in a row, but I guess one of them was sleepy and disrupted the whole line. I requested a week off from work, and it was denied. Next, I tried to have the day before the test off. I was told I could leave early, but sadly that did not happen. I got off from a tiring day at work, travelled 7 hours to an unfamiliar city the night before the test, arrived there at 4am, checked into a hotel, slept for a few hours (broken sleep) and had the audacity to show up at the test centre. :)
I could feel my weary body take its toll on the eager mind as i started the test. The state just went from lemons to lemonade as the test progressed.

d) The strategy was straightforward. Get every question right. It bogged me down. I had not understood what people meant when they said 'Smart test takers know where to cut their losses' (more on this later). I ended up being rushed on questions towards the end on both sections, that i would otherwise have easily gotten correct.

After i clicked the screen and saw my score, i felt 630 was something that did not belong to me. I was so low as I walked out of the test centre, a part of me felt like walking into the oncoming traffic. Even when down, i kept thinking this is doable and that wasn't me back there.

3rd Attempt(710):

I planned on leaving no stone unturned. 3-4 months of intensive prep lay ahead. I did not want an unexpected circumstance to bog me down, yet again.

a) I started from scratch. After analyzing my test scores, (the way our parents have with our report cards since grade 1) i realized the way forward was to increase my Quant from 43 to 50 and Verbal from 28 to 40. 7 and 12 points respectively. Went through NOVA's book for revising basics, then MGMAT's series of 8 books for details, Powerscore's CR etc. Consulted every book i had lying around to clear concepts e.g. Probability and permutations were best explained in NOVA's GRE book. Undertook numerous and extensive internet searches, extended and edited my notes; developing lists of number properties, geometry rules, sequences etc. Every second day i would go through them and see if each point was distinctly absorbed. Read every strategy available for CR and formed my own. SC from Manhattan Review and self made notes with tons of examples for each intricacy and color coded for easy revision. I worked on my prep 6-8 hours a day 12+ on weekends. I divided my sleep into two sessions (4 hour and 2 hour stretches) to keep myself fresh. This constituted 50 days of military grade prep.

b) Experience is golden. I read most test day stories, strategies and made strategy notes as well. One week before the test, I gave two GMATprep tests (one day apart) and scored 690 and 710. On analysis I realized that there was an issue of pacing and I was missing out on do-able questions towards the end. On quantitative, my strategy was to not spend time at all on questions that looked difficult in the first 15 seconds. I would eliminate, follow a hunch and move on. On verbal, i decided I would not spend time on the third reading passage (usually the longest). This would give me time on SC and CR questions that I had a better chance of scoring on, cutting losses and moving on.

c) I had it worked out. Great test centre, a comfortable place to stay (i was lucky that a friend of mine moved to that city).

Finally D day.

I was sitting with my friend the night before the test when he threw a probability question at me. Something easily solved by permutations but I wanted to clear how it could be done with probability. We spent half an hour discussing two probability questions. I felt confident after i had figured how to do them both with either prob or perm. and headed to bed.

The next morning I wasn't entirely fresh. :P This was my final shot at ivy and the pressure mounted. We drove to the test centre and kept talking about architecture, politics, women and anything but GMAT. That relaxed my nerves.

Test Experience

Quant: I can easily say that one fourth of the questions involved number properties, some very ugly ones at that. A few on ratios, percentages, geometry and sequences. One on probability, mixtures, statistics and 3D geometry each. Paced myself well. I was done with half the questions around the halfway mark and I decided to further speed up things. It worked out. I had 1 minute for the last question and solved with 10 seconds to go.

Verbal: Started off with SC and CR and hit the first short passage on the 5th. It did not scroll beyond the screen and It was comforting. I did not pace myself and just went through questions as fast as was necessary. I had counted on 3-4 reading passages. I hit the fourth and thought of myself as unlucky but skimmed through it, reading the questions first. Nearing the 34th question I had 12 minutes to spare. I knew I was almost home and would only see SC or CR questions, when a fifth reading passage, that scrolled and scrolled to no end, hit me. As i skimmed it and gave answers I expected no more than 3 questions from it and was eager to give as much as possible of the remaining time to CR and SC towards the end. After answering three questions I was surprised to get a fourth and even more so receive a fifth question from the passage. I did not stop to think at that moment and finished off the CR and SC towards the end. In retrospect, I might have damaged my score with skimming too fast on the final passage.

I had no expectations as i reach the score reporting screen, only fears of being left stranded under 700. An ivy dream on the precipice of a steep cliff. I sat silent for a moment as the two minutes for score cancellation ticked down. Said a silent prayer and clicked.

I was completely numb as the score appeared. Somewhere in my heart I knew I could do better, even as a sense of relief clouded my every thought. I was thankful for what i had received and being a perfectionist, i felt i was not justifying what i am capable of. Hehe, i don't want to sound too macho, specially not when coming from 530 to 710. I am as critical of myself as I am optimistic of others. :)

I called up my parents and a few close friends. Everybody was ecstatic. It was several hours later as I sat in a deep comfortable chair sipping lime on a satisfied tummy that the numbness dissipated and I felt I was past a phase.

This forum has been a Godsend. I intend to upload whatever notes I have made soon. (I need to fix colors, language and formatting so it can be understood by others) Hopefully help at least someone in some way. :)
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  • robert 2011-09-23 05:44
    sum up一下老外的经验:第一.数学难题不做。第二.语文第三篇阅读快做,留时间做SC和CR。第三.不停的练,不停的练,眼里心里手里只有学习.第四.也是最最重要的,考试中往往感觉很差,但分数比预想的好。——无他,唯手熟尔!
  • thrid 2011-09-24 22:22
    I had my ducks in a row, but I guess one of them was sleepy and disrupted the whole line.
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