GMAT 780 (q51, v46)

Hi Forum, I took GMAT about a fortnight ago and cracked 780. My sincerest apologies for not posting this long post before … mea culpa. well, not really. i am a techie in this big product company, and there was a crisis. all those who have wor…

Hi Forum,
I took GMAT about a fortnight ago and cracked 780. My sincerest apologies for not posting this long post before .... mea culpa. well, not really. i am a techie in this big product company, and there was a crisis. all those who have worked in IT and have prepared for GMAT would proabably resonate with me here. A few days before the GMAT are really crucial, and the consequence is, work suffers. but in the end I am more than happy to slog and make up for the lost hours on work .... 780 is will keep me alive (eagles).
In this post, I would like to describe my preparation, strategy and all. i think this is the least that I can do for this wonderful community that has helped me immensely.
I started my GMAT prep around March end this year. I am a 2003 engineering graduate from a leading engineering institute in india. I had prepared for IIM-CAT along with college and missed calls just by whiskers (got interview calls from NITIE, SPJAIN ... these names will reverberate with Indian MBA aspirants, for those caught unaware, these are the names of extremely good management schools in india, after the IIMs), but anyways. I had planned that I will take the GMAT after about 3 months of preparation, that is around June/July. But, I found the pace of my preparation excruciatingly slow, the primary cause was work pressure. I also found out that as most of the engineers, I was good at short dashes (a whole lot of engineers in Indian colleges perpare the night before the exam, and pass with flying colors), but when it came to long and dedicated preparation, I was out of practice. The last time I had done such an effort was towards the IIT-JEE (the joint entrance examination of the Indian Institute of Technology, for people who haven't heard of this, this exam is Really Really Tough!!). It took me about two months of on and off preparation to realize that GMAT needs a dedicated effort like the JEE and not the last minute crampings, which i was accustomed to do. I was in a very uncomfortable situation. It was here that various success stories on these forums came to my rescue. Any one who is preparing for GMAT, should, in my opinion, go through as many success stories as possible and then chalk a plan of his own. I did the same.
These are the forums i freqnted: (now
By June I had gone through OG and was all in the groove. I knew what was asked and where I was weak. For me, Sentence Correction was the Achilles Heel. I was good at Quant, thanks to my JEE preparation (no I won't say that I am good because I am an engineer. I am good at quant because I prepared for (and cleared!) the JEE, cause and effect, lol). I had been an avid reader, and hence RC was not that much of a problem for me. I used to make a few mistakes, but the number was within tolerance limit. I also found the CR's pretty easy (till then I had not seen the big-hairy-scary Bold Face questions!). So I decided to go full guns blazing for SC. SC was where I made maximum mistakes. When I had started with my preparation, I used to commit as many as 35-40% mistakes. After looking at the kind of discussions going on in these online forums, I decided that the best thing that can come to my rescus in SC is this is an amazing forum, thanks to people like Erin. Their wonderful explanations make things looks fairly trivial! This brings me to my second point. Although these discussions were trivial, they were laden with heavy grammatical constructs, which, although interesting and informative to know, I felt, will not help me when I am trying to decide between a right and a wrong choice in the exam, where time is generally a scarce resource. So, even though I would make notes will all the complex grammatical constructs etc, while attempting the questions, I tried to judge the correctness of an option by "its sound". Peopel often say that they can sense whether a sentence "sounded" right or not. I tried to do exactly the same thing. Human mind is an excellent machine and can be trained to do almost anything. Anything, then why not train mind to find out right/wring choices in SC. Now this is sort of dangerous strategy in the sense that you need to give your mind adequate time and adequate practice before your neural network gets trained and starts responding. I know this is a controversial strategy I am proposing, but to each his own. Please take my words with a grain of salt.
In my SC preparation, I devoured GMAT+, which i found to be a really good resource, except for some wrong answer keys. I used to search questions from GMAT+ in online forums, and make notes in the PDF. (some people will grin here, I am not gonna disclose the reason why!, but I absolutely had to mention this here :P). In the end, these notes that I had accumulated duing my journey proved quite helpful. I had also made my own list of idioms (which was one place where i erred a lot). I had taken print outs of spideys SC notes, and believe me they are absolutely great! I used to spend time over them whenever I was doing nothing (while brushing, idling, snacking ... lol I can make so many of these gerunds like that ...). In the last week, I tried to consolidate my list with spidey's, and they were quite similar. But it pays to have a personal error/idiom list because they are customized. Your errors are your errors, and you need to correct them.

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All was going on fine. I reduced my errors from 1/3rd to 1/5th or 1/6th of questions attempted. But things were not going anywhere. I would wake up in the morning (8-9am), study for a couple of hours, reach office, get back, study for a couple of hours again and goto sleep. This routine started bugging me. It was then i found out whats wrong. I had lost my goal. I became so obsessed with SC and my errors there that I had forgotten about GMAT and other sections. It was then I decided that I must book a date. So, around August, I booked a date in the penultimate week of september. The consequence was disastrous. I suddenly realized that although I was doing considerably better in SC, i had started to commit various odd (and mostly stupid) mistakes in RC and CR too. Red Flag. The lesson I learnt here is that one must always judge his capability for a couple of months, and then book a date. A date keeps you right on track and you dont start chasing that always elusive horizon! Anyways, I woke up early, and that was good. I started paying attention to other sections too. It was around this time that I started keeping track of what all errors I had committed in SC, which again was a part of my training the brain exercise. An excel file is a helpful tool. I wouldn't say that I was meticulous here, but in the end I was able to make an excel file with my list of "wrong" questions in OG and 5 GMAT+ out of 6. This was a herculean task, as there are not less than 200 questions on an average in each of these books. In office, I would spend time to look for discussions on these questions and add my comments in the PDF file. A practice I would recommend to people preparing should follow "only" if they have readily available computer at their workplace and home. If not, a plain paper is the best resource.
In the last month, I alos took a number of full length tests. I found kaplan dismal. both in terms of their questions/explanationa and my scores :D
However, looking at these online forums gave me solace as I could see people scoring 750/760 with rather mediocre scores in kaplan. But I would suggest everyone to go through Kaplan material, it keeps you on your toes.
Kaplan Diag: 710
Kaplan tests: 630, 700, 640, 610
Princeton: 720, 690
Powerprep: 760, 740
Gmatprep: 720
Paper based GMAT: 710
The Gmat score predictor on predicted: 725.3846
Someone suggested that 1000sc is a better resource for SC as it has relatively fewer errors in answer compared to what GMAT+ has. I dont know much about 1000SC, but i would suggest a person to pick up one material and devour it completely. doing multiple materials all at the same time is not a good strategy. But again, do what works best for you....!
I think I have talked a lot about my prep, now is the time to talk about the test experience.
I visited the center one day earlier, just to ease my mind regarding uncertainities at the center. Every center has some idiosyncrasy of its own and its better to know them before, rather than on the test day. I took the test in New Delhi, and people were generally friendly here.
On the test day, I reached the center well in time. I took care of taking a full box of Threptin Biscuits (high calory biscuits that I really like very much) and 3 bars of dark chocolates. I had not eaten anything heavy before the test, and believe me, that helps. WHen you are going out to take a test, your brain needs the maximum O2 and Sugar, not your stomach. But your stomach shouldnt starve either, thats where threptin comes in. i kept munching to the very minute before the test admin called me in.
Oh I forgot to mention about my AWA perp. actually i had done almost nothing. I found this book from arco (i guess) which had all the essay (both issues and argument) neatly written. Although they were not great, but they are a good place to start. I used to give them reading before i dozed of in the night and that really helped. I scribbled some issue and then some argument. I didnt find it very hard, but I am yet t receive my grades, and they will tell the truth :P
essays are a nice way to get comfortable with the test, the computer and your surroundings. Believe me, I had never thought that surroundings could hamper my performance, but they actually do. Now isnt that a controversial statemet that i have made! let me crearify. Surroundings dont hamper my test results to some extent was my belief. Ofc ourse you dont expect me to come out with flying colors while sitting in a battle grouns, with bullets flying above my head. But, in general, exams are conducted in a very ridiculous manner in India. I will again cite example of IIT-JEE. I took my IIT-JEE in the month of May, with almost 45*C temp, no electricity in the room. yes there were fans, lol ... 😃 Having taken tests like that, I used to think that I have become rather immune to surroundings, but its not like that. I mentioned this especially because I know there will be several other engineers thinking the way I do, please discard this belief immediately. You and your mind needs to be comfortable before you can ace an exam.
Anyways, my quant was cool. I could double and triple check every answer. Questions were not very difficult, but they required some thinking. There were lots and lots of DS questions for me. So much so that in the end I actually bacame happy when I saw a problem solving question. Also, there was quite a bit probability, though easy.
In verbal, my first question was a SC. I encountered two boldface, one within first 12-13 questions and one near about the 35th question. I found RC to be moderately difficult. There were many questions of "EXCEPT" type, which are one of the most difficult to answer. The boldfaces were easy, in the sense that I could figure out answer in a single reading of the passage. My timing strategy was rather simple. I always tried to maintain a figure of more than 2 mins per question. However towards the end, I encountered a RC, and it was there that this ratio touched the exact value of 2, but there were a few easy CR and I could make up the time. Again, I would like to impress upon the advantage of spending more time per question in the beginning of the test. If you err there, it becomes pretty difficult to pull up your scores.
I also utilized to every second the two 5 mins break that gmat provides. I would stuff myself with the biscuits and a full bar of chocolate. not only does it give a pleasant after taste, it keeps up your sugar levels too.
I think now i have ranted a lot. Hope these rants will be helpful to people out there.
Good Luck Guys.
I am off to conquer the bigger goliath, the apping process ... please wish me luck

Good GOd 780!!! Thats awesome man..
Congratulations and best of luck for all your endeavours now.

Congrats man.. and thanks for such a good post and sharing the gyaan


hey congrats man... an awesome score and an awesome post

most people dont give as much attention to gmat as they give to cat, even though it might be as tough as cat. ur post shows how a structured and organised preparation can pull off a great score....

ATB for ur application


Hey Pal,

Thanks a ton for the strategy and wish u all the very best.
I need one suggestion,I want to apply to ISB before Jan 7th and I am taking CAT this time.
I am hopeful that the CAT preparation followed by another one month preparation wud be ok to get a score of around 700.
Please let me know that is it advisable to book a date for Jan 2nd now and then take cat.Once it is done take GMAT with that base.


Congrats man,,
what schools are you opting now??

Hey! Congrats!! That's a real great show!

What plans on apps? Are you targetting Fall'06? Do update us.



awesome stuff dude , have read your post in 3 places dude , awesome stuff ,

best of luck for you applications.

I guess one should not take the powerprep after going thru the OG. All questions in powerprep are covered in OG.

chandler Says
I guess one should not take the powerprep after going thru the OG. All questions in powerprep are covered in OG.

are you saying there is overlap between the pr* n og!

ps: great show put by you(qaatil)..excellent score..cheers..!

i dont know what made me refer powerprep to pr--->princeton review..sorry, excuse me for the same.

yeah i know that og n powerprep do have some overlap.

Yeah, the questions in powerprep are the same ones that appear in OG. You can still take the powerprep to check on your preparation. But the score you get willl not be a good estimate of your actual test score for obvious reasons.

hi all,
can anyone please send me the link from where i can get the powerprep software. i registerd on the site and after that when i tried to download it merely shows 'CAN NOT FIND PAGE'.
so please send me the link. if there are some other links for the preperation do send them also.

First of all... Let me congratulate on your acheivement. Could you please help me in sending me some prep. materials for GMAT.

o chandler bhaaji...kindly send me the link to poweprep software or the OG10th edition if u have..i will be very thankful 2 u...

Thats a killer score! You should try Harvard! Well done, genious.

FUNDOO SCORE DUDE.... & not to mention your post is equally awesome.

i thnk he has already applied this year. just that that he is very busy. please see that dates on the previous posts.

Great score dude! :snipersm:You hit the bulls eye!