I decided to get a MBA degree somewhere around the middle of May. I took the first Princeton GMAT Diagnostic Test on 16th May, and scored a pathetic 580 on it. However, since I had decided to go down the MBA path, I went ahead and booked my GMAT on June 10 for August 6th, which was the closest available date to the 2 month time required to prepare for it.
I knew from the diagnostic test that I sucked at the verbal, and was rusty at quant. Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning were the toughest.
The preparations began slowly in June. I was swamped with work in office and also had no habit of sitting down to ghot. I was doing mostly 30-40 min sessions some 3-4 times every week. The first round was a quick review of the Official Guide, 11th Edition. Its a great companion for GMAT. All kinds of questions are reviwed with multiple examples. A must do (and redo) for all GMAT aspirants as mentioned here and here.
Anyways, after the first round of OG, took a test from the GMATPrep software and scored a decent 680. This was the mid of July. After a quick trip to Hyd, and some time wasted at office, I was back at prep. This time it was practice using the Kaplan Comprehensive Program. Another GMATPrep Test and scored a good 720. I knew I was doing better and then started focussing on the rough edges. I was already hitting 48-50 on the quant and regularly doing 35+ on the verbal.
Next came the Kaplan GMAT 800. This nearly shattered all the confidence and I felt like a noob!! So bad I was at it that I almost gave up all hope. However, some friends wisely advised that this was not the easiest of the tests and I should not give in to despair. I now entered the last week before the actual day and started working on OG GMAT Verbal Review. I must confess that this was the wisest decision ever made by me. And all credit goes to Dharmesh for this. I was able to up my scoring on the verbal part and reached 40 a couple of times.
The last 5 days before the actual date were spent taking additional tests. I scored 690 and 710 on two Kaplan tests and 750 on a Princeton Review test. I also did some general sentence correction exercises (thanks to Akanksha and GTalk for that.)
Finally, the I flew to Kolkata on August 5th and spent the night at my brothers place. I woke up early the next day and started for my test centre a couple of hours before the scheduled time of 10AM. Since the test center was not open yet, I spent the time at the Haldiram shop opposite the center drinking iced tea. When the center opened I went there and waited for the test to start, doing some Sudoku (and failing miserable at it.)
The test started after the standard photo and passport check. A novelty was the finger print scan. Anyways, sailed through the AWA essays. Took a break and started the Quant. The first question totally stumped me and I spent a good 5 minutes on it. I started off very slowly and did only about 10 questions in the first 25 mins. However, I was very careful and did well on it. The next set of questions were easier and I strolled through them and completed the section with around 7-8 mins of spare. Took a quick break and started the verbal section. First question was easy. But right next up was the RC. Damn it!! Ate up a lot of time and again I took a lot of time in the first 8-10 questions. I upped my speed after that and was able to complete the section with some time to spare. Went through the formalities then till it came to the point where I could submit or cancel. The last leg of the quant was too damn easy and for once I thought that I had screwed up and might have cancelled. However, I thought better and submitted the test. After some agonizing wait the score showed up and they were so good that I nearly fell off my seat.
Verbal – 50, Quant – 42, Total – 760. AWA (reported later) – 5.5
I think that the last week before the test was crucial and taking all those tests at the same time as the original test helped me quite a lot. First, it gave me the patience to sit down for those long hours. And second, it conditioned my brain to function effectively during that part of the day. Thanks to a lot of people – Akanksha, Misra, Bansal, Ankur, and all you great bloggers (Necromonger in particular).
So that was the GMAT Story. Now to choosing the schools and writing essays.