Sunday, July 31, 2011

Veritas Test & GMAT Prep 2; A bit more about timing; 4 Days to go !

I took the Veritas free test yesterday:

30/07 Veritas 1; 700 (Q51, V38)

And a GMAT Prep test this morning:

31/07 GMAT Prep 2; 770 (Q50, V45)

Veritas Test
The Quant section was really easy. Straightforward questions. I was able to breeze through with 30 minutes left on the clock!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why not Europe?

I am on a roll today eh?

Well, given my background and current business (which involves a lot of Europe), I am asked often - Why not European schools?

In the beginning of this process, I was heavily inclined towards LBS and Insead. LBS because it is in a big-big city and a great school and in Europe. INSEAD, because I hear the alumni network is amazing and the short experience surprisingly satisfactory. I dropped both of them from my R1 selection. Why?

School Selection - Updated

I have decided to apply to 4 schools in the 1st round:

1) Harvard
Pros: Strong GM program; Harvard !; Best minds
Cons: Undue reliance on case method; An aura of arrogance surrounding the school and alumni; Alumni fragmented.

Kaplan / MGMAT Practice Tests; 5 Days to go !

So, I have just 5 days to go before I take the GMAT on 4th of August. Although, I am fairly confident about a good score, my strategy for the next 5 days has gone off track.

MGMAT:
I had planned to take MGMAT practice tests a second time around along with GMAT Prep giving me a total of 7 tests to work on. I took a MGMAT test (1st retake) on 28/07 and the score was:

28/07 MGMAT 7; 770 (Q50, V45)

MGMAT 6 and some weirdness

I am little late in putting this up.

Took my last MGMAT test on 27/07 and scores were:
27/07 MGMAT 6; 740 (Q51, V40)

Even though this is not a score I was expecting I am really happy with the effort. In the Quant section, I got just 2 questions wrong out of 37 ! In the verbal section, I was a bit perplexed by the low score because of this:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some tips on test taking

Some points on test-taking strategies:

1. Scratch-pad
I have been dividing the "scratch-pad" into two equally spaced columns. When using it without columns, I was wasting a lot of space. In the method with two columns, I am able to use space efficiently and have been able to contain all my Quant workings within 5 sides. I consider this important since exceeding 6 sides would mean requesting for another pad and this would waste valuable time.

[I read about this on someone's blog and I forget whose, so if anyone knows, please put it in the comment box so I can give credit where due.]

2. Verbal Grid
For verbal I have been drawing a Nx5 grid to strike off wrong answers.

A B C D E
X X X O X
X X O X X

This really helps in eliminating confusing choices, and focuses the efforts. I have found this to be especially useful in the SC section.

3. The 1.5/3 minute rule
I don't believe in the 2 minute rule. If it was upto me, I would follow a 1.5 (1 min 30 sec) rule for the first 2/3 of the questions. This does not mean, of course, that you unnecessarily hurry up but just that you keep yourself "tight" during the first 2/3 in terms of time. In my case, I struggle during the first few questions so I waste more time than intended but I pick up in questions down the line.

I advise this because I think it is vital to perform well in the last 10 questions. They make all the difference. Even if you have correctly answered 34 questions correctly out of 37 in Quant but incorrectly answer last 3 questions due to lack of time, you are done in. Also, in the actual GMAT, the level of questions get tougher and tougher so better to reserve 2.5-3 minutes per question for the last few questions. This will also help in getting the pressure off and fighting fatigue.

I do have a theory about the best prep strategy but I will put that down once my score has justified the validity of my lectures!

Another Test - More Discoveries

Gave another test this morning and a result of overconfidence was this:

23/07 MGMAT 5; 730 (Q49, V41) !

The reason for the poor score on Quant was disregard for time in the first 25 questions. My first 25 questions, were all correct [99% till then] but after the 25th when I realized I was running out of time, I hurried on some questions and got some easy ones wrong and the last one went unattempted ! However I am glad that I was not frazzled by any question and was able to handle them pretty easily. I just have to manage my time a bit more and follow my own advise (see next post).

Now, on the verbal section it was a completely different story. I got 9 out of 14 CR questions wrong ! This is even more ironic considering that I have been studying for CR from MGMAT the past 3 days. I read in some forums that MGMAT CR questions are especially tough and the answers differ in a very subtle manner. I really feel that this is the case and the CR questions on MGMAT are not similar to the ones appearing on the actual gmat at all. Further proof of this is gleaned from my 93% strike rate on CR questions in the GMAT verbal section. So I am not especially worried. However, I put this up so future test takers can keep this in mind during their preps. [See screenshot of my verbal below; My percentile was down to 1 by the 4th questions!!]

Thankfully my SC has improved drastically; I answered only one SC question wrong. So my big weakness during the start of the prep has become my strong point; go figure!




Saturday, July 16, 2011

New MGMAT Scores

1I had taken another MGMAT test on 12/07 but didn't get the time to put up the scores. I took a test today too and therefore here are the two results:

12/07 MGMAT 3: 720 (Q49, V39)
16/07 MGMAT 4: 770 (Q51, V44)

You may notice that within a gap of 4 days the score has jumped by 50 points. Well, the jump vindicates my theory about knowing your quant fundamentals inside out and going into the verbal section with a positive frame of mind. Since taking the test on 12/07, I bought 3 MGMAT guides - Geometry, Equations and Word translations. I managed to finish all 3 guides by last night. The guides really helped in driving a lot of the fundamentals and corollaries.

I took the test with a very confident mindset. The quant section was tough as usual and I did struggle in a couple of questions but I largely came away satisfied. Later analysis showed that I got almost 8 questions wrong but it still left me with a Q51. However the larger effect of coming away satisfied with the quant section was that I was relaxed and positive about the verbal section. This resulted in the highest score I have receive till now in Verbal - V44. Analysis showed that I got many questions wrong (equally spread in the 3 subsections) but the happy news is that I still have more than 2 weeks to my test, so there is plenty of time to improve my verbal even further.

I have reset my target score to 780-790; Maybe even 800 ;). Let's see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Manhattan GMAT

I felt MGMAT deserved a post for itself.

I just finished the "Number Properties" guide from Manhattan. Their guides are divided such that the first 8-9 chapters cover all the basics and the last 3-4 chapters cover advanced concepts. When I started out with aforementioned guide, I was not too excited about the initial chapters as they were not adding anything; However, once I started on the advanced chapters, I realized why everyone talks so highly of the MGMAT guides.

I can confidently say that MGMAT guides are the singular most important resource for anyone who wants to ace the GMAT and get a super high score. They explain the concepts very well in a simple clean manner; Also, their coverage of each topic is totally GMAT centric and it never deviates from that. For example, in number properties most of us know what GCF and LCM is but the trick is not knowing these concepts straight up; It is knowing them from front, back, top, down, inside and outside. What I mean is that you need to know every possible permutation and combination of the concepts themselves and their corollaries. You may be a math whiz but you must know all corollaries also if you want to finish the sums in well under 2 minutes.

I consider myself pretty good in maths; I have always aced maths. However, I have been very unhappy with my performance on the gmat quants, especially mgmat quants. I know my concepts well but not the corollaries. This means that I have to derive a necessary corollary during the exam and only then attack the problem; This results in precious time wasted. The wasted time in turn puts me under pressure to hurry up leading to silly mistakes in other problems. In the end when I have not done well in my quants section, I am pissed with myself for messing up and therefore go into the verbal section with a bad frame of mind which is the last thing you need when attacking your weak side.

Therefore, I highly recommend that you brush up not only your basic but become strong in related theory too in order to take on the quants section in a superconfident manner. This will also improve your verbal score.

The best tool to do the above is the mgmat guides in my opinion. Therefore, if you have decided to take the gmat, just go out and buy all their guides including the ones for verbal [No, I am not being paid by them for this]. I am planning to get the rest of the quant guides today.

Would appreciate some feedback on the post.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another practice test and GMAT rescheduled

Retook GMATPrep Test 1 on Sunday.

760 (Q50, V42)

Though still not a great score, it made me decide a reschedule of my GMAT appointment from 19th Aug to an earlier date. I figured 6 weeks was too much time left from 760 to a final great score and that fatigue might set in leading to mess up on the test. After maniacal checking of the mba.com website for 2 days I managed to get an earlier appointment on the 4th of August albeit at a test center further away than the one before.

Of course making the decision was not easy as it is taking some risk but I feel I made the right decision as it has made me more focused on the test itself. Earlier I was going back and forth between the test and research on schools, essay strategies, etc. This left me in a position where I was neither studying in a focused way nor researching schools properly. Now I am fully focused n the GMAT and schools can wait till after 4th of August. I will have almost 2 months after the test to write my essays et al.

Here we go!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

MGMAT CAT 2

Gave my MGMAT Test 2 on 6/7/2011.

730(Q51, V38)

Quant - Though I am happy I did better on the Quant, I still got many questions wrong. DS is still the culprit. I think what is needed is a little more patience on DS questions and more thorough workings. More often than not,  I get them wrong because of silly mistakes.

Verbal - My score has declined consistently since the past 3 tests - V41, V40 and V38. This time SC was the culprit; So it is back to the drawing board with SC.

The common refrain that GMAT is also a lot about your staying power is now dawning on me. I got a low score on the verbal section because I didn't focus too well in the end. Go figure!

Although, MGMAT tests seem to be quite tough in both sections and, in my opinion, more so in the verbal section. I am mapping this score to a 750/760 on the actual GMAT. Planning to give a test from GMATPrep this sunday. If I get a 760/770, then I might advance my GMAT date by about 10 days so I can get more time after the test to prepare my essays et al.

For me, the essays hold the key to my dream school ! Wish me best of luck.

Till later !

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GMAT and the Khan Academy

I have browsed through many blogs and forums in the past few weeks and one of the objectives of this exercise was to gather information on the best material available to study and prepare for GMAT.

I found that there was a lot of emphasis on the OGs, Kaplans and MGMATs but I found that these books touch concepts very briefly and were not really helpful in really preparing for the GMAT. E.g., in the practice tests, there was a question on Rhombus; a question on incribed triangles in a circle; I could not answer these questions based on study of the guides only. I needed a "real" resource. Of course, you can go back to your textbooks and hunt down the knowledge but that it would be time consuming and GMAT doesn't really require depth in the concepts.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Profile and My Choice of Schools

Thought I will present my profile so you guys can comment on it:

Indian Male 28 Yrs Old
Exp. GMAT 750+
B.Tech in Electronics and Communication - GPA 3.95
M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Michigan - GPA 3.7
Work Experience - 4 years (this year) in Agribusiness in India. 7 Months of internship in a tech company in US.

My profile is a little weird because after my electrical engineering I came to India to my family business of floriculture/horticulture. I don't know if this will give me an advantage or put me at a disadvantage. Any thoughts?

I am also married with a 7 month old baby! :)

The schools I plan to apply to are:

Harvard - Good but the average age seems very low
Stanford - Dream school. Again avg. age is very low.
Wharton - Avg. age is high and it is a solid program.
London Business School - Just because it is good and close to home.
Kellogg - No reason.

I am going to be applying in R1 to above and hope not to encounter R2.

I am unlucky in not being able to visit above school and also missing out on info sessions of all since I decided to plunge myself only 3 weeks back. You folks have any ideas?

a. Education should be sound
b. It should challenge me intellectually
c. Located in big city
d. Program should actively support partners
e. Wife should get a job easily (she is a CA)
f. I should get a job (preferably consulting) easily post-MBA

GMAT Percentiles

So. As promised, I am putting up another post about the GMAT percentiles. I have posted an image of my results from my 2nd test taken on MGMAT website. The reporting structure of MGMAT is pretty impressive. I don't really know if others provide this. But here's my take on the results.

My GMAT Strategy


As I said in my first post, my gmat date is set for August – August 19 to be precise. This means I have about 7 weeks left from today and I have been studying for 3 weeks already. I have taken 3 tests so far and the results have been:

Wk 0 – 690                       [GMAT Prep 1]
Wk 2 – 740 (Q50, V41)    [GMAT Prep 2]
Wk 3 – 720 (Q48, V40)    [Manhattan GMAT 1]

The books I have been using:
1.       OG 12th Edition
2.       Kaplan Premier Online
3.       Manhattan GMAT SC Guide
4.       OG Quantitative Guide [Added yesterday]
5.       OG Verbal Guide [Added yesterday]

I did not record the individual scaled scores for the first test! But the test made it evident that I was very weak in SC (aren’t we all) and in DS. This meant that there was ample scope of improvement. I went through the SC strategy guide of Kaplan then that of MGMAT. I have to agree with all the people who recommend MGMAT SC guide that it is the bible SC strategy. It is very very detailed and you need to spend considerable time studying it.

In the past 3 weeks, I have gone through one round of studying all 5 sections; Spent almost 1 week on SC and 0.5 weeks on other sections. Practiced most of the questions in OG and Kaplan. After the 2nd week (when I completed my SC) I gave my 2nd test and my score immediately jumped to 740! But there was still a lot of room for improvement. My target score is 780-790.

After another week of RC and CR, I gave my 3rd test and the score was 720. However this was a MGMAT test and both the verbal and quant section were seemingly tougher than on GMAT Prep. I also ran out of time in the quant section and had to guess the last 3 sections. This pulled my score down the most. However a thorough analysis told me that my SC is quite good now (11/14 correct) and CR and RC have to be worked upon. However, this was very surprising. I had assumed that the weak performance on the verbal was due to SC but a deeper analysis told me that I had done very well in SC and it was CR and RC which brought me down. This is good news ! This means my hard work on SC has paid off and I have to focus more on RC and CR which should not be so tough.

My learnings so far:
1.       It is a must to take the diagnostic test before starting the prep. Make sure you record the scaled scores on Q and V. This will help in analyzing performance later. If possible also record, the number of correct answers against total for each section.
2.       After analyzing the weak sections, target them systematically. Give more time to practicing problems and studying concepts.
3.       Make sure you give tests at regular intervals to monitor progress. Make sure you find out success rate in each section and don’t make assumptions without analysis.
4.       One very important learning which needs a post by itself – On percentiles.

My strategy over the next few weeks is to go through two rounds of studying; Making sure I practice a lot of questions and that I weed out silly mistakes (reason for poor performance in the Quant section).

Wish me best of luck!

My First Post

Everyone,

Hello. I decided to pursue my MBA dream about 3 weeks back and have been studying for my GMAT test which is scheduled for August. I have also been doing intensive research on GMAT, Schools and Programs since the past 3 weeks. I came across numerous blogs which give great advice on all related issues. This has inspired me to start my own blog so I can pass on the benefits to other aspirants along with my own insights.

Hope it helps and wish me best of luck !