Thursday, March 29, 2007


I have not really touched upon the GMAT too much in this blog, mostly because I find discussions of standardized tests quickly induce comatose feelings. However, as I did well, I'll outline how I did it. I'll also attempt to quantify the quality of the product/ book and its usefulness to my overall study scheme (1 = low 5=high).

1) Bought the general Kaplan book around November 2005 to introduce myself to the test. I didn't really look at it that often and did not feel the paper practice tests were very useful. The quantity of practice problems was good.
Quality: 3
Usefulness: 2.5

2) Dabbled for a few months using Kaplan's QBank starting in February 2006. You buy into a database of questions and make your own quizzes. You choose the level of difficulty and types of questions. It was $200 for three (?) months of access.
Quality: 4
Usefulness: 4

3) Took a free diagnostic test at Kaplan center. It was on paper and pretty short. It did confirm what I already knew- I needed to remember how to multiply and divide.
Quality: 3
Usefulness: 3

4) Bought the general Princeton Review book at the beginning of the summer when I really buckled down to study. I liked this book much better than the Kaplan book. I thought the computer adaptive tests were true to form, if not score. I also liked the feature where I could buy essay grading for a few dollars for my online practice tests. The computer adaptive practice tests made this a worthwhile purchase.
Quality: 4
Usefulness: 4

5) Kaplan 800. I found this book very useful for challenging me with tough questions. I carried this book (and book #6) with me wherever I went and read strategies and did practice problems during lunch, on the T, at the gym, etc.
Quality: 5
Usefulness: 4 (specific to tough problems)
6) Official quantitative review. I did not need any verbal help, so I mostly worked on maximizing my quantitative score. This book was great as I found that the stylistic formation of the questions in the official review books most closely matches the actual test.
Quality: 5
Usefulness: 5

7) Essay prep. I did not do any essay prep other than completing the essay section during every practice test. As I previously mentioned, I also took advantage of Princeton Review's scoring service. After writing two essays, your mental state will be affected a bit. It is important to have a thorough understanding of precisely what toll the essays take on you. I decided that as a strong writer, I was going to use the essays as a warm up. I think I really lucked out with my questions. One was basically "Money can't buy happiness. Discuss." For that question I subheaded my arguments using quotes from classic rock songs. "Money can't buy me love..." and "You can't always get what you want..." and "I can't get no satisfaction." It truly doesn't matter what the heck you write about, as long as you write and argue your point well.

The key to a great score for me was nailing my pacing strategy and increasing my testing endurance. To this effect, I took a LOT of practice tests, often in less than ideal testing conditions such as at the point of exhaustion after work, without eating in an un-air conditioned kitchen, and ridiculously hungover. I actually got my best practice test score hungover. Go figure. On the actual test day I stuck to my pacing plan, keeping a close but not obsessive watch over the time and did not have to rush through the last questions. I successfully maximized my accuracy by taking the appropriate amount of time I needed for the earlier questions. Result- 740, 6.0.


asiangal said...

That's a great score! And it doesn't really seem like you went overboard with the review materials (which I sort of did).

Achilles said...

thats a great post for someone like me who has to give his GMAT this year....lets see how it goes....the onlt thing is i have to concentrate more on verbal rather than Quant

Forrest Gump said...

that's a pretty great score and a neat post at the same time. thanks for your comment.