Sunday, October 4, 2009

GMAT Prep (Remaining Part..)

I am not sure from where to start this. But let's try to breakup the details into individual sections. I would focus on Verbal mostly because this is the bleeding area for many of us.

Sentence Correction :
This is an ideal section to start your preparations with because Critical Reasoning(CR) and Reading Comprehension(RC) require a slightly higher level of abstraction. An added advantage of starting the prep with SC is that with so many rules and Idioms of the section ,the transition to preparation mode is made easier.You instantly get a feel that you are learning something while in CR and RC ,it may not be so.Keeping the structure of GMAT verbal section in mind,this is the section you can improve the most in a given time. Speed and accuracy in SC will help you save time for RC and CR.For my preparations,I devoted more than 50% of time on SC. A major difference between CAT(for IIMs) and GMAT is that the SC section of GMAT is quite organised and you'll have concrete reasons while eliminating a particular option.

The Manhattan SC Guide has got all the things organised extremely well and you should not hesitate reading and re-reading it many a times. One should remember all the rules given in this book on his fingertips. Regarding Idioms, the new version has a huge list of Idioms and I got hold of this version only 10 days before the G-day. Hence,I had to skip that part.But its always helpful to remember the Idioms especially for us i.e. non-native english speakers.After you are done with Manhattan SC guide once,go through the sentence correction of Kaplan GMAT 800 book, look into the explanation thoroughly, even for those question you have answered correctly.

A regular reading habit comes very handy when it comes to Idioms.Initially focus on accuracy in verbal and speed will come automatically later on. In SC, by the time you reach the peak of your prep,you should take approx 75 seconds per question as you need to save time for RC and CR section.

Critical Reasoning :

The powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible is a very good guide for CR preparation. However,Manhattan CR guide is a good alternative if the former is not available.
Go through the book once very thoroughly and then when needed at any later time you can refer to review section of each chapter in the book.When done with the book, its time to attack the Official Guide questions of CR. As mentioned earlier,look for the explanations very deeply. However,for sitter questions,you may like to skip the explanations. Once done with OG, you can go ahead with Kaplan GMAT 800.

Reading Comprehension :

This is the section abt which I was not sure as to how to approach till the very last day. Kaplan and Manhattan both stress on the importance of jotting down the gist of paragraph while reading the passage. Manhattan advises a little different strategy than Kaplan,however ,the underlying theme is same which is Keep noting down the theme of each paragraph of the passage as you read.
Most of us tend to loose track of the flow of passage when reading it.In GMAT this is more important than memorizing the specific details in the paragraph. I would say,its not at all necessary to remember the specific details mentioned in the can always come back to the passage to look for those details if needed for a particular question.Just keep track of the flow of the passage. Jotting down the main points of the individual paragraph helps you do this.
Initially, I also did it almost religiously. Later in the preparation,I realised that jotting down took me 1-2 minutes for a single passage. In GMAT ,there are four passages,so straightway the time taken is anything between 5-6 minutes. That means four additonal questions considering you spend 90 seconds on each question. That was too much for me because initially in the mocks,I always found myself short of time and hence was looking to save time on a few things.
So my advice about this section is, initially you can jot down ,but later on with practice, you can avoid loosing track of the passage even without noting down.

Quantitative :

I underestimated the section right from the begining and later paid the price in the actual GMAT scoring just 49 (which is 87 percentile..shame, I call myself an engineer!!!). I didnt even care to look at the OG questions. For my entire preparation ,I devoted not more than four hours on Maths,which was a big mistake.
Dont do this ,no matter how strong your quant section is. Atleast ,finish the OG completely(remember,it should be your bible).
Six CATs of manhattan have very good maths questions, and those were the ones who saved me from further humiliation(though I could take only three CATs due to lack of time)

Miscellaneous :

Keep taking practice tests in between your praparation . You can start with one diagnostic test given in the OG to start with.Normally you can take one practice test each week irrespective of where you are in your preparation. The torrent I have shared in the previous post has got ample of practice tests,so dont worry about lack of them.
As mentioned earlier,two CATs of GMAT prep and six of Manhattan are good ones and hence us them judicously.The analysis of each test, I maintained in a notebook ,which was very helpful.Also,while solving OG questions,maintain a track of which one you got right and which one wrong. Try attempting the wrong questions in the final stages of your preparation.

Regarding the scores you get in the mock,dont worry..really. My scores would give you an idea of what I am talking about :

(1) GMAT Prep 1 - 680
(2) Manhattan CAT(free online) - 590(a true disaster)
(3)Kaplan 1 -640(Kaplans are notorious for low scores)
(4) Kaplan 2-630
(5)Manhattan CAT 1 - 740(Many repeated questions hence a bloated score)
(6)Princeton 1- 690
(7) manhattan CAT 2-690 (Quant was proving to be a achilles heel)
(8) Manhattan CAT 3-690 (2 week before G-day)
(9) GMAT Prep 2-730 (was a big relief :),One week before the G-day )

The message,I want to convey is, even if you dont get much scores in the mocks,dont loose heart. Just look for what mistakes you did and then work on them. You need to have faith in yourself.

And finally, start cooling down a week before the G-day. I started meditation( neways,I loved meditation :) GMAT was a good excuse to begin it again ).
Though its easy to say,but very hard not be anxious on the evening before G-day.
I could sleep just for 4.5 hours.My normal sleeping hours in that week were 7-8 hours and hence you can gauge the anxiety level.In the morning ,I clearly was not feeling fresh enough.Tried to meditate and it helped.Do whatever that makes you feel good on that day and you'll nail the GMAT.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Some Resources for GMAT Prep

Last week I appeared on GMAT and scored a decent 760(q 49, V 44).As suggested by some of my friends,in the below paragraphs, I would be sharing my experiences and the materials I used for preparation.

I would try to breakup this article into some frequently asked questions.

How Much Time do One need for GMAT preparation :

Though it depends on person to person,an average person who has got decent reading habits(if you love spending time amidst this information jungle called Internet,I am talking about you only :)) needs anything between one and half months to three months depending upon how much time one can take out from his daily schedule.Normally 2-3 hrs a day for 2 Months should be enough. This much time I spent on my preparations.

Best way to assess the time required for GMAT prep is to get yourself involved into it. one week into this and you'll get an idea of the time required. Now is the time you should book a GMAT date based on your assessment. Yeah,you heard it right,book a date first,it helps you avoid procrastination. If you dont book a date,then you are not serious about the preparations.

Which materials should one have in his kitty before embarking on this journey :

Well,on internet you'll find too many resources and most of the time its very confusing as to which one to use. Based on my experiences,these should be enough :

Books :

(1) GMAT Official Guide -12th Edition:
This should be your Geeta,Ramayan,kuran or Bible, whatever you would like to call it.
Most authentic source of retired GMAT questions with the explanations by none other
than the writers of the test.Can be purchased with any book store. I bought it only on the landmark website .

(2) GMAT official Verbal Review :
When you fall short of practice questions,additional questions can be found in
this book.However,if you are pressed for time,you may like to skip this.

(3) Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Guide :
The quintessential GMAT sc guide. Can't overstress its importance. Go get it,that's all I have to say. For an older version of the book click here. However,for newer improved version you can always order it on the ManhattanGmat official website. On the purchase of this book you get 6 CAT(Computer Adaptive Tests) which will prove to be an invaluable tool in this journey. They have added some advanced chapters in the new edition which I found very useful. Plus the new edition is in synch with the 12th edition of OG (Official Guide) whereas the older one refers to the 10th Edition OG.

(4) Powerscore GMAT critical reasoning bible :
One of the few good books available in the market on critical reasoning. Though
critical reasoning questions are based on common sense but when you ascend higher levels of difficulty in the CR preparation,you need additional resources and then this books comes into picture. A little voluminous than its competitors (eg Manhattan CR guide) its worth its length. The book may seem boring and stressing on very trivial things initially but in later chapters one realises the importance
of this triviality.Be patient with this book.Can be downloaded from here .

(5) Kaplan GMAT 800 :
A very good book for those aspiring higher percentiles. But a word of caution,dont jump into the book at the start of preparation.This book is more helpful when you are aware of the structure and nuances of the GMAT questions. I did the mistake of starting my prep with this book only and hence had to reread it later.The verbal part of this book can be downloaded here.However,you can always purchase the full book from any book store on online.

GMAT CAT softwares :

Its very important to keep judging your preparation from time to time with the help of various tests. These are the ones I found useful -

(1) Official GMAT prep Software :
By none other than the GMAC,the owners of GMAT. This contains two free tests available for free download from These are the two best tests in the market and hence use them judiciously. Dont waste them just for diagnostic purposes.

(2) Manhattan CATs :
On the purchase of any book from Manhattan these tests are available for free. Closer to the real GMAT than any other CATs available in the market.

(3) Kaplan Tests :
Whenever,you feel you have got you preparation under controle,just take one of them and you'll soon hit the ground :) . Best tool available to keep you on your toes. But stop taking them atleast 15 days before the actual GMAT as its notorious low scores can hamper your confidence badly.

(4) Some GMAT practice Sets :
I got them from a friend of mine.Since these are not adaptive sets,better take them as sprint tests when you need to assess individual verbal sections,. Can be downloaded from here.

(5) princeton and 800 Score tests : If you need further testing material,use these .

The above all tests can be downloaded from the torrent I have shared in this esnips folder.Its a bulky thing (4.4 gb),so download only the ones you think is necessary.

When armed with these ,you are all set and prepared for a battle called GMAT :). In the next part I shall try to enlist how I approached the preparation. But as I believe,everyone is unique in his abilities and hence the strategies adopted may be different from person to person. So if you wish to,you can start your preparation with this much only.
(To be Contd..)