Before preparing GMAT, I was actually chasing CAT for two years. After giving CAT in vain two times, I decided to go for GMAT. Having a background in CAT, I was confident about math but was very scared of verbal. Last September, I decided to take some personal coaching in verbal & heard about Kalyan through pagalguy.com. I met him but could not join his classes because of having less than 2 years of experience. This July, I met Kalyan again & decided to join ScoreLeap as I felt I can get a personal attention as well as a perfect regularity required for my preparation here. Luckily, I had a small batch of 5 of us too, which helped in good learning & an extra attention from Kalyan.
My score of diagnostic test was moral boosting 730(M49 V40) but proved to be dangerous as it took me in a little comfort zone. Further, high work pressure in my job didn't allow me to give sufficient time to prepare. Here, I must give my sincere thanks to my batch mate Rajesh who consistently inspired me to work harder and to find time out of my work busy schedule. This was Rajesh only because of whose motivation we use to sit together to study 2-3 hours everyday consistently to prepare after our classes were over. That period of one & half month gave a real boost for my preparation and that is when I gained the required confidence. We did the 10th OG together once & discussing the questions together helped a lot in understanding the questions & different approaches to answer them.
Finally in all, from preparation point of view, I did 11th OG once, 10th OG twice, practised few more old GMAT question papers which I got from a friend and took 6 GMATPrep software exams with following
- 730(M49 V40) (diagnostic on July 20th, 2007)
- 690(M50 V30) (took this one in between the course to check my progress, didn't tell this to any one. ;). This was an eye opener for me.
- 730(M50 V38) (after the course)
- 740(M51 V38) (one month before the test)
- 770(M51 V43) (2 weeks before the test. Many questions were already seen)
- 710(M51 V34) (just 1 week before the exam)
I was pretty confident before the d-day because of the consistency of 700+ I was having in last few prep exams. I really had put in all that I could but was worried for inconsistent verbal scores in prep exams. The day before exam day, I watched the two Hindi comedy movies DHOL & DHAMAAL & the India-Pakistan one day cricket match to cool off the building exam tension.
On D-day, got up at 5:30 in morning, revised SC idioms for 15-20 mins, got ready & left for the test around 7:00 to avoid the morning traffic chaos of city. Reached at centre at 7:30, So, I passed one hour by chatting with other candidates. Finally check in & other things began at 8:30.Adminstration staff was very supportive & I didn't have any problem at all during the whole exam. Test environment was very calm & relaxing.
D - Day
In analysis of argument, I was asked to discuss on implementation of advanced IT softwares is good or bad for an advertising company. Being a B.Tech. in IT, it reminded me of the basic course in our graduation IIT in businesses" and the question which was asked again & again, "pros & cons of IT" . So, a cakewalk. Followed the template & put 3-4 argument. Confidence level went one up. The issue question was: "People have a duty to disobey the laws which they feel are unjust". Not much problem. Followed the template.
A point here that the breaks in exam after AWA & Maths sections are now of 10 min instead of 5 min! So good news.
Math also went coolly. My experience was that the questions were actually easier than the ones in prep software. Got 2-3 seen questions. In fact, I got a bit worried in middle whether I am answering them correctly because I got only 2-3 questions which seemed hard while in prep software I used to get so many hard questions. So, in between, I slowed my pace & be bit cautious. Nothing surprising, went smoothly, finished the section with 10 mins remaining.
I was bit worried for it because of my inconsistency in prep software scores. The best thing I did was that I could hold my nerve here & didn't worry much about how the test was going. I just kept on answering every question with my best effort & didn't let the tension build in mind. With this I progressed well keeping an eye on time and I think the thing which was important that I did not messed up things towards the end because of shortage of time. Took nearly full 75 mins to finish the section. This too was smooth with nothing surprising as such.
Few points which I think were differentiators in my preparation:
About the scope of preparation, other than classroom sessions, I will strongly suggest to stick to 11th & 10th OGs only. While 11th OG is easier than 10th OG and good to start with, 10th OG reflects the actual level of difficulty in GMAT exam. These two are more than sufficient to get a good score. Level of difficulty as well as design of questions in actual exam is completely similar to the two OGs. So, practice them well.
DO NOT refer to any XYZ coaching's material because the difficulty level & design of questions in them are completely misleading & may hurt your preparation. If you feel the need of some more preparation, then I will suggest referring to some old GMAT papers. These papers can be found over internet in the form of old prep softwares and some pdf files. Analyze very well whatever you practice, note down the mistakes you are making and correct them. Also, Practice sufficiently on a computer screen because most of us have never taken any of our exams on computer screen before; this can cause a little discomfort in the actual exam if you don't make yourself use to of it & your time taken per question will be more.
2. Plan your preparation according to your strengths & weaknesses. Every individual has different background & time which he or she can devote for preparation. So, my strong suggestion is to plan accordingly. Check your preparation levels regularly & once you feel that you are confident to take the exam, only then take it whether it is in 2 months or in 6 months. Don't just rush for exam if you get one or two good scores in prep software. Consistently getting good score is very important.
3- GMAT is not an exam of tough questions; it is just a very well planned exam. So, focus on your strategy. Keep your mind cool & understand the tricks & traps in OG questions.
4- For those who are good in math (as most of we Indians are), I will suggest to be bit careful. As Rashmi rightly says, there are well planned traps put in math questions in which you can easily fall if you take math preparation lightly. So, do practice math well. I think, with a relatively little effort than required in verbal, it is easy to get a 50-51 in math which can boost your final score greatly.
5- For verbal:
RC: FIRE is a very good strategy to approach RCs, especially in the last RC in exam which tends to be more difficult & the brain at that time is completely exhausted, so, understanding is very low. Make sure that you practice it very well. As each one of us has a unique background & our own ways to approach RC, my personal opinion is that a little customized version of FIRE to suit your needs can do wonders, do consult Kalyan at different levels of your preparation & I am sure you can hit RC perfectly.
SC: Follow 100% what is told in class & that is perfectly sufficient to break SC questions in 45 seconds each. No more & no less preparation is needed.
CR: Practice a lot to understand the design patterns of questions in OGs. You will get similar patterns in exam such as Country X's plan on issue Y; Governor of city X said something....Etc.
Finally, Thanks a lot to Scoreleap team for their support & sincere efforts, without them touching the magic number 750 was impossible. Best of luck to everyone for your preparations.