Journey from 610 to 710 (49,38)

Hi guys, Just coming back from test center. Finally I managed to cross that golden line of 700. I have craved for this day on every single day of past 1.5 years. I’m sorry for such a long posting but I really want everyone to learn from my mista…

Hi guys,
Just coming back from test center. Finally I managed to cross that golden line of 700. I have craved for this day on every single day of past 1.5 years. I'm sorry for such a long posting but I really want everyone to learn from my mistakes rather than (or instead of? :-)) committing their own. The post is long because I don't want to paint a rosy picture of GMAT preparation and also because it accounts for my 3 attempts at GMAT. Please bear with me.
This was my third attempt after a 610(48,27) and a 640(48,29). At the first attempt I probably did not understand the true nature of the beast. Earlier I had managed a reasonable percentile in CAT so I imagined GMAT to be relatively less severe. But in reality these two exams are two totally different animals. Anyway, so the next time when I wrote the exam, I felt I did reasonably well in Maths, in fact better than the previous time, but the scores reflected the same story. In verbal I was a split-second short of pressing "Next" on the 41st question but my luck had run out before the clock. In any case, I'm not sure how much more I'd have scored had I been a bit faster. On hindsight it does not matter, but I could never forgive myself for that. These are things that we take for granted will not happen to us.
During my preparation for second attempt, I kind of ran out of practice tests and study materials. I'd used Kaplan in my first attempt and vowed never to touch it again. It did more damage to my morale than teaching me tricks in verbal. No doubts the questions were of very high quality, but my suggestion would be to touch that book/test only after you get a good grasp on verbal from some "softer" preparation materials. I'd also studied OG 10, although never completed it fully. Most of the times the questions were so easy that I felt I was wasting my time, but because it is considered the Bible of GMAT preparation I didn't want to ignore it alltogether. I probably did 80% of SC, 60% of RC and 70% of CR. This is the time when I realized that Manhattan SC was the holy grail of GMAT SC preparation. I ordered one from and did all of it. It boosted my morale and I felt more comfortable with SCs. Even though I was, and still am, not very comfortable in explaining the precise grammatical error in a sentence, I had better gut feel for the error and consequently my accuracy improved. I think as far as SCs are concerned, except some very basic grammer rules, there is hardly any thumb rule. I could never go about a problem in a systematic manner as per the 9 rules as given in the books. If you can follow the rules, nothing like it, but if you are someone like me, don't panic. Your aim is to crack the question and as long as you are able to do so its fine. End justifies the means, remember?
Idioms play pivotal role in sentence correction and one should try and remember them as much as possible. I am pretty bad in mugging up things and I used flash cards as a last resort. Write all idioms given at the end of Manhattan with their examples and go through them as and when time permits. Do not part from them until your exam is over. Perseverence is the key !
On a related note, during the second attempt I think I started losing my cool when I got a very convoluted AWA. I had practiced AWAs during all my practice tests but all were about criticizing the assumptions, finding faults, etc. as is normally the case. But here was a topic which did not have any flaw. In fact it was a very reasonable argument and I could not think of a single negative point to criticize. I raked my brains for long but then time was running out and panic started gripping me. That was starting point for the disaster which was to follow. My advice to those who take AWA lightly is, even though it doesn't create a huge difference in your application, unless ofcourse it is less than 4, do practice couple of AWAs where you need to write positively.
I've always felt that GMATPrep tests do not give a true indication of the complexity of the actual test, though its debatable. I was quite surprised when I faced tough questions in real GMAT and it did lower my morale during the exam in my second attempt. I gave 4 tests during my preparation and my scores were as follows.
Princeton review 1 - 690
GMATPrep 1 - 680
Princeton review 2 - 750
GMATPrep 2 - 710
It would be an understatement to say that I was surprised on seeing a 640 in the actual exam ! It was nowhere even the least of my scores during preparation. The only reason I attributed to my lower score was that I never got a good feel for actual test from GMATPrep and other tests.
Since I'd done most of the hard work already during my previous attempts for getting the fundamentals right, this time my strategy hinged upon giving as many tests as possible, especially from sources that are considered to have much higher standard than actual GMAT. I gave 5 full length online tests from Manhattan, the ones that you get upon buying the book, and two from GMATPrep and my scores were as follows:
GMATPrep 1 - 670
Manhattan 1 - 640
Manhattan 2 - 710
GMATPrep 2 - 710
Manhattan 3 - 690
Manhattan 4 - 680
Manhattan 5 - 660
It is the same old formula but it certainly works. Practice harder questions at home and you'll find GMAT questions a lot easier ! Its a relative world right? My advice is always take a disciplined approach when giving these tests. No unscheduled breaks and no skipping AWA. GMAT also wants to test how you perform after more than 3 hours of grilling. Giving the tests in a disciplined manner will increase your mental stamina and will prepare you well for the exam. Be prepared to be disappointed by the scores that you get, but don't read too much into them and move on. Just give it your best shot and push yourself as hard as you can. Its better to face disappointment at home than facing it at test centre !
I practised tests also that are available in so many forums on the net. These tests also have pretty good questions, both in verbal and quants, and are much above GMAT standard. I also kept an eye on these wonderful forums on At first I subscribed to all the forums but got overwhelmed by the number of emails, especially because I'm full time employed and have only limited time to pursue GMAT related activities. Later I prioritized and focused only on forums for SC and DS, which I considered my achilles heel.
So, this was my short story long.
At times you might feel that you are not going anywhere with your preparation, but somewhere all this effort gets accumulated and pays off in unfathomable ways. Don't give up ! It is not just about how many hours you spend on the study table, but having to get up early in the mornings when you want those 10 more minutes of precious sleep, feeling huge amount of guilt for not studying because you are deadly tired after a long day at office, getting up at 7 in the morning to get ready for office despite of having slept at 2 the previous night, etc etc etc, the list goes on and on with the kind of compromises we all make for the sake of GMAT.
Believe me, its all worth it at the end of it!
All the best guys, and I'm again very sorry for taking so much of your precious time when you should be preparing for the exam.
Good luck !

congo dude for the 710 !

you targetting fall 2008 or wat?

Thats right. Just now feeling too lazy and relieved so no enthu to pursue it for sometime. I think I'll relax for a couple of weeks and then will slowly start my research for the most suitable schools of my profile.

inspirational dude

An inspirational post indeed. Congrats!

Good luck!!!

Hey...thats a nice score...congrats...!
I guess most of the people on the forum are full time employed and in a similar situation like you--- cannot dedicate more time to GMAT...may be you could share some gyan on how you overcame that...especially since you have been at it for 1.5 years...

HI guys,

I'm a potential GMAT candidate , infact I have been one for the last year and half. I have given GMAT thrice (latest score - 650) and was just wondering in case I can create a seperate profile on

Any idea as to how can this help ? if at all this is possible ?

I understand the fact that plenty of authentication points are taken care of my GMAC. But I guess they barely check the fingerprints and stuff.What do you guys have to say ?

Do I apply to B schools with all my scores or create a seperate profile to have a fresh GMAT score ?

Looking forward to your cooperation.