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Thursday, July 20, 2006

GMAT recap

I wrote the GMAT some time ago and did pretty well, scoring 750+. I found many resources on the web that helped me a lot in my preparations, especially Beat the GMAT. I want to summarize my GMAT prep, so that others who are going to take the GMAT soon can benefit from my experience.

Number of days between deciding to write GMAT and actually writing GMAT - 39
Estimated number of hours of preparation (not including mock tests) - 40
Number of prep tests - 13 CAT plus one paper based test (another 40 hours)
Study materials used -

1. Kaplan 800 book - I started off with this book. I highly recommend this to anyone aiming for a 700+ score.

2. Kaplan 2006 GMAT book + CD - I didn't read the book. I got this only for the CD containing 4 CATs.

3. GMAT OG 11 - needless to say, this one is a *must* for every test taker. I completed all SC questions, and most of RC and CR questions.

4. Princeton review GMAT 2006 book + CD - I got this one too only for the CD. PR gives you 4 additional online CATs at no extra cost if you get the book. I ended up doing one test from the CD and three online.

5. GMAT Prep tests - downloaded from Like the OG, these are also absolutely essential.

6. An AWA essays book (I forgot the title) - I spent only about half an hour the day before my GMAT going through the "tips and tricks" section and a couple of sample essays.


I had an advantage in quant because of my background (I am an engineer) and I never bothered to prepare seriously for it. My only math preparation was as a part of the mock tests that I took. My time management strategy was as follows: divide the 75 minutes into 5 segments of 15 minutes each and answer 7 to 8 questions in each segment. I tried to be more cautious at the begining, double checking my answers.


My grammar is not perfect, and initially I struggled to cope with sentence correction. Fortunately the GMAT tests only a very limited variety of grammatical errors and with practice I was able to get the hang of it. I spent about 90% of my prep time on SC.

Here are my prep scores in chronological order:

Peterson 1 : 670 (Q : 50 (+ 30, - 7), V : 32 (+ 25, - 17))
Peterson 2 : 740 (Q : 50 (+ 31, - 6), V : 40 (+ 32, - 9))
Peterson 3 : 730 (Q : 60 (+ 35, - 2), V : 38 (+ 33, - 8))
Kaplan 1 : 740 (Q : 50 (+ 32, - 5), V : 41 (+ 33, - 8))
GMATPrep 1 : 760 (Q 50 (+ 31, - 6) , V 42 (+ 31, - 10))
Kaplan 2 : 660 (Q 50 (+ 32, - 5) , V 36 (+ 29, - 12 ))
Kaplan 3 : 640 (Q 50 (+ 33, - 4), V 34 (+ 28, - 13))
Kaplan 4 : insufficient questions in the bin - score not accurate! (BTW I scored 680)
PR 1 : 760 (Q 51 (+ 35, - 2), V 44 (+ 32, - 9))
PR 2 : 750 (Q 51 (+ 34, - 3), V 43 (+ 35, - 6))
PR 3 : 760 (Q 50 (+ 34, - 3), V 46 (+ 37, - 4))
PR 4 : 780 (Q 51 (+ 35, - 2), V 47 (+ 36, - 5))
GMATPrep 2 : 770 (Q 51 (+ 34, - 3) , V 44 (+ 34, - 7))

The difference between my GMAT Prep 1 and 2 scores is only 10 points but there was a HUGE improvement in my "comfort factor". I attribute that mostly to my increased mental stamina. I had a very simple strategy - keep taking mock tests - and it worked for me!

I booked the test only after I was confident of my preparation. I didn't want to prepare under a deadline (I have plenty of deadlines at work :-)). I definitely wanted to finish my GMAT by July, but I would have postponed it had I needed to.

A very important caveat - what worked well for me may not work for you; it may even prove to be counter-productive. You should judge for yourself what strategies work best for you. All the best!!


Anonymous Nat said...

Wow, FSM, you are a GMAT star :) And your blog is definitely in my favourites. Now, keep us posted about your progress with recommendations and essays, will you? :)

4:35 AM  
Blogger guymba said...

Dude, That's a nice post. Glkad you shared your experience.

9:22 AM  
Blogger mba_salsera said...

That's a lot of practice tests. I don't undsertand why our Princeton Review quant scores differed so much? on my Quant section I missed only 2 questions, #28 and #33 and they gave me a score of 43? I don't understand why your Quant score was so much higher when you missed the same amount? That's a bit strange? Regardless, I am finally feeling pretty good about the GMAT! Which is great since I only have about 2 weeks of studying left! Good luck on the apps process!

2:09 PM  
Blogger FSM said...

Salsera, you are right - don't worry too much about about the PR scoring algorithm. On the GMAT that would surely have been a 51.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Giant Panda said...

FSM, I would elevate you to the status of God. 40 hours and you cracked it!

I seriousy needed some motivation in my Preps. And your blog is a good source of it. Will keep visiting it often. keep up the good work.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Ramkumar said...

I have planned my prep without kap800 featuring in it.
Now, a successful ppl like u say MUST for 700+ aspirants.
i am confused. BTW, i am 800 aspirant. :)

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your website has a useful information for beginners like me.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm I love the idea behind this website, very unique.

8:45 PM  
Blogger prepfortests said...

What a great score, congratulations.

Thanks for sharing your experience of studying for the GMAT.

I hope you don't mind but I have added a link to this post to Tips from successful GMAT takers.

2:13 AM  
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