How I pushed my GMAT score from 590 to 700?

After completing last question with only 20 secs remaining, I clicked next button. At this moment I knew it’s over, score is calculated, and there’s nothing I can do about it anymore. Wearing noise cancelling headphones provided at the exam center, I could hear my heartbeats playing in the background. I could see in flashback all the hard work and sleep deprived days for past few months that were at stake now. While all this was rushing through my mind, a confirmation page was shown, I clicked next again. There it is! My breathing stopped or slowed to a point I couldn’t feel it, heart started to pound, and mind started to race. I got 700! There it is! A 7 in hundred’s place. I checked again, and again, to confirm that this is final score. Still being seated in exam chair, I silently rejoiced and felt the happiness that an athlete experiences after achieving his or her target in Olympics. I raised my hand to give an indication to invigilator for my exit. When I received unofficial score report, I checked yet again to confirm that it’s not a dream.

Disclaimer

Before you read further, I’d like to offer a disclaimer. I don’t have an expertise in teaching GMAT, or mentoring students. Any tips or strategy that I mention in this post may not work for all. Given the global variety of test takers, there is no one strategy that suits everyone. It’s wise to devise localized strategy according to YOUR strengths and weaknesses, not of those from the other side of the world.Therefore, reader’s discretion is advised.

Assessment Exam

Before you decide whether you need to enroll in GMAT classes, which are offered by plethora of institutes around the world, it is recommended to take GMAT mock exam to assess your knowledge of Math and English concepts. This will help to determine areas where you are relatively strong and areas where more attention is required. If you can muster a score of above 540, you don’t need to spend hefty amount for coaching fees rather it would be wise to buy online test packages and official GMAT books (more on this later). But if you are on the other side of the spectrum, the score indicates that you need to improve basics in Quant and Verbal. It depends on your rate of learning and how weak your Math fundamentals are, but in general instructor lead coaching helps to revise and strengthen concepts of Quant and Verbal. Of course, in order to make correct judgement whether to join classes or not, write your first GMAT mock exam with due seriousness and leave the rest to test engine.

(Links for free Mock Exam )

Practice

How much practice do you need for GMAT? All standardized tests are curated to examine few dimensions of brain that evaluate the candidate’s ability depending on the objective of the test. In the case of GMAT, a candidate is essentially tested on the skills of decision-making, reasoning, critical thinking, aptitude, and numerical concepts; these skills are required for success in MBA program and beyond MBA. GMAT is NOT to test English and Math.

To excel in GMAT you need to train your brain to think like test-maker. Regular practice will help you escape common traps that are hidden in options. Consistency in practice sessions is more important than amount of practice.

In Verbal section, there are three type of questions; Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension. For Sentence Correction, it’s important to know about sentence structure, parts of speech, idioms, and basic grammar. In addition to rules of writing, often used sentence constructs or phrases, which one learns through a habit of reading, are helpful in deciding correctness of a sentence.

For Reading Comprehension, it’s recommended to follow a structured approach that reduces time taken per passage. Every passage will have a combination of following components; main point, background, support for main point, and criticism for main point. It’s important to identify each of these components while reading passage and take a mental note of its location in the overall passage. Don’t try to memorize details, you will have to skimp through again while answering questions.

In mock exams, my overall score tanked many times due to Critical Reasoning mistakes. There are high chances of falling into trap in this type of questions. I had to study each type of question under this section, more importantly assumption, strengthen, and weaken type, to have decent mastery over this area. You’d need to learn how to break an argument into blocks and analyze which option is affecting the block related to question stem.

Quantitative section consists of two types of questions; Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency. The former consists of few simple and application based questions whereas the latter consists of simple yet tricky questions. This section requires thorough knowledge of basic Math concepts such as percentages, ratio, proportion, probability, equations, geometry, and numbers.

Check point

GMAT and MBA Applications require planning well in advance to avoid last minute hassle. You should target your probable admission calendar and accordingly decide by when you need to have GMAT score. I wanted to get over with GMAT by July so that I can focus on my applications in next three months. I have placed multiple checkpoints before July to check my progress and readiness for main exam. Having checkpoints will help you to track your performance and analyze weak areas.

When to book your exam slot

When you register in mba.com, the official site of GMAT, you will be given two mock GMAT exams for free. Reserve these exams until you are in best preparation and take those by simulating actual test environment. The standard of these mock exams is very close to that of actual test. Many use this as score predictor, because the difference between the actual and this mock test score usually ranges from 10 to 20. After giving this mock exam if you get a score that is closer to what you want to achieve, book test day as soon as possible, else continue preparation.

Helpful Resources

Reading material:

  1. Manhattan GMAT books
  2. http://www.beatthegmat.com/
  3. http://www.gmathacks.com/main/category-contents.html
  4. http://magoosh.com/gmat/
  5. http://www.topmba.com/admissions/gmatgre/9-gmat-blogs

Mobile Applications:

  1. Prep4GMAT
  2. Magoosh Idioms Flashcards

Videos

  1. Veritas Prep GMAT

Practice material

  1. Official guide book
  2. Verbal Review book
  3. Quant Review book

 

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Vision Correction Initiative: How it all started?


It’s an amazing feeling to start something of your own that has potential to make society a better place. Few months ago while in flight to Switzerland, I was reading Think Like a Freak, by Stephen J Dubner and Steven Levitt. Out of many interesting ideas, I was hooked on to one particular idea that later became my Social Mission. Whenever you face a big, complex, intertwined, and fuzzy problem and you have to tackle that, then it makes more sense to dissect that problem into pieces and take small steps that solve these pieces in a quantifiable way.

I could relate this with solving a jigsaw puzzle when I was a kid. Joining all the pieces to make a picture is a complicated process. I focused on small parts of picture first, trying to join pieces that resemble objects. Then by connecting these objects, puzzle starts taking shape and transforms into a complete picture.

Similarly, Education Sector is ailing with complex problems; dropouts, poor infrastructure, domestic instability, few inspiration inducing teachers, and lack of sufficient nutrition in children’s diet. It’s naive to think that these complex socio-economic issues can be solved by one strategy or solution and we can achieve perfect Education system which churns out scholars every year.

Out of many issues that hamper student’s performance, poor vision is the one that is easy to correct and doesn’t require much money, yet in underdeveloped areas this issue is widespread among students. In order to find correlation between poor eyesight and academic performance, I am doing a socio-economic research study in schools located in relatively poor localities. The objective of this study is to find students who have poor vision, correct their vision by providing spectacles, and monitor changes in their academic performance.

Hopefully, even if one student out of hundreds is able to perform better after getting his or her vision corrected, I’d consider that as biggest achievement.