- A highly-opinionated delineation of situations encountered in India, USA, China, UK and wherever my life takes me...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


My GMAT preparation started in the 3rd week of January and went on till July-end, sometimes on full throttle, some times just idling and making no progress. I bought a laptop and ordered the Official Guide 2006 online in Amazon. I already had a Barons GMAT guide, bought only for its cheap $, to familiarize with the different sections, scores and timelines. I also bought a Kaplan 2006 edition in India to utilize my wait time before I flew to Chicago. Amazon took its own sweet time to deliver the books and I was forced to go online for GMAT tips and tricks even before I learned ropes. I read and reread lots of ‘My GMAT’ stories like this one in gmatclub.com, pagalguy.com and similar websites. I made a mental note of the books, methodology, preparation time and exam tips from the 100s of confessions that I read and decide to carve my own customized plan for I believed what clicks for one person may not even be within scope for another. I also jotted down my strengths and weakness to come out with a balanced plan. To my horror, I found out that the weakness section was overpopulated like India and the strengths section was like Death Valley-CA.

Most of February was spent in dreaming about scoring 800 and getting admitted to Stanford, Harvard etc with a free ride and didn’t accomplish much in terms of preparation. But, I read lots of magazines and blogs online. I also referred a basic English grammar book and kept drawing detailed plans of taking GMAT in Mid-April. I was sick of waiting for my Official Guide and began preparation with Kaplan 2006, of course punctuated with a lot of dreams about getting that $200K-job post-MBA, Triumph Rocket III, Open-top Roadster etc. I was also annoying my roommate with all the phrases that I came across in my prep. Then, a hefty parcel arrived from Amazon.

It was in March that I took a GMAT sampling test and realized that I need to keep myself awake for the full 4hour test duration to even go past 700, let alone 800. I was shuffling preparation between Kaplan and the Official Guides [called OG]. I maintained metrics for the percentage correct in each section and prayed that it improves quickly. But, I missed an important point of understanding each and every answer and why not the other answers. This proved very troublesome later on and I had to put in a titanic effort in the later stages to arrest this shortcoming, I was regularly solving problems for about 3 to 4 hours every weekday and about 5hours interspersed with TV, eating, sleeping on weekends. I found early mornings to be the best time for preparation and allotted the 2am to 6am time zone for the same. Initially, it was difficult, but later on got used to it.

A few more months of similar pointless preparation ended in me trying out mock test thinking that I will score 750+, but I didn’t even touch 600. I was kissing the earth, feet firmly on the ground, and at my humblest. I even had thoughts of not doing an MBA, becoming an entrepreneur [a successful one?] and do MBA-bashing. But reality struck me hard and fast and I redrew my preparation plan and postponed the likely test date by a month, which I ended up repeating often. I was good in Problem Solving [PS] and Critical Reasoning [CR], but had a few problems and made silly-mistakes in Reading Comprehension [RC] and Data Sufficiency [DS]. But I was totally rubbish in Sentence Correction [SC]. To stem this down flow of marks, I bought Manhattan SC guide and started again from the basics and felt confident about systematically solving SC problems. For the other sections, I didn’t follow such detailed techniques as I was fairly familiar with such problems for a long time and solved them instinctively.

I also had to hoard lots of mock GMAT tests for the last few weeks and made a list of tests available with me GMAT Prep, Kaplan, Manhattan GMAT, some free tests. I also took some tests to know where exactly I stand- I was outside the competitive zone with scores beginning with 5s and 6s. I was unhappy with my performance for I felt competent enough when analyzing the test answers. I generally made mistakes in the last few eliminations and made a bulk of mistakes in SC. With distractions like long weekends, Chicago summer daylight, Auto racing season, movies etc I booked a test date for July-end through mba.com and drafted a last mile plan. Whether I followed it or not is a different issue. I also bought Kaplan 800 to aid my high ambitions.

Having survived this schedule for nearly 5months, I was ready for the last month drag with full focus on the test. I even gave up cooking and ate in restaurants to eke time from my daily grind and invest in my preparation. It was frustrating, demanding and exhausting me for every friend I knew was enjoying the summer sun and hitting New York, Niagara, Oregon, Virginia and was only distracting me. But I remained steadfast and even cancelled my plans to go to Indianapolis to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix and Monterey CA to watch the MotoGP and I didn’t even know whether I will get a second chance to watch Grand Prix races in my life. For a self-confessed auto-maniac, it was a tough call for I knew that was the closest I would ever get to a Grand Prix venue and season. But nothing could stop me, I had banished all such temptations from my mind and picking up valuable experience from the many mock tests and was hurtling towards GMAT.

On THAT day, I completed the test and walked out of the test centre, not an unhappy man, and decided to go ahead with the application process.

The material, preparation methodology and online resources are available in heaps for any person targeting GMAT. But this write-up will be useless if I don’t give my plan for GMAT as if I were to take it up again. So here it goes
- Order the latest GMAT Official Guides
- Buy Kaplan premier and start solving problems
- Solve sectional problems in Kaplan
- Take the mock tests in Kaplan
- Introspect on the scores and draw up the strength and weakness chart
- Buy Manhattan SC guide, learn only the types of SC questions tested in GMAT and use a good grammar book for help
- Join a GMAT prep group, online or physical, and share inputs
- Join online forums like GMATClub, Pagalguy and ScoreTop, solve questions online and discuss results
- Solve questions in OGs and pay attention to every question and answer. Maintain metrics.
- Take GMAT prep mock tests and concentrate the next stage prep on all areas
- Buy Kaplan 800 and solve difficult problems
- Take Manhattan GMAT mock tests
- You are ready for GMAT

My estimated preparation time should be 4months with 4hours preparation per day [4x4]. Make good use of weekends, chill out frequently and read a lot. Be prepared to turn around and attack when the first attempt yields an unsatisfactory score.
Relax, it is just a test after all!

1 comment:

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