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.

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