Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recent additions to my resource list...

I recently came across these resources and I have added them to the list of my study materials. One is GMATFocus. This is a Diagnostic test (quant only, NO verbal) consisting of 24 questions in quant. The question set is assembled by the best source of GMAT questions - GMAC, the people who conduct the real thing... It costs $25 dollars for one test and you could buy a set of 3 tests for $65. I agree is expensive but i decided to get the set of 3. In case you are debating on whether to buy it, then here is my reasoning.. Think of it as an investment. Your are going to spend around $50k to $70k on your business school, loose 1-2yrs of pay, and spend a lot in living costs while doing your MBA. If you are determined to spend this amount to obtain your mba then i think $65 would be like a drop in the ocean but it would be well worth the money spent. You get 72 new original GMAT questions to work on. Moreover, GMATFocus, unlike GMATPrep, gives you an indepth analysis at the end of each diagnostic test and tells you your exact weakness so that you can concentrate on that part. Now enough of my review and here are some review on it by some experts - Manhattan GMAT review and Jeff Sackmann's review.

The second one is the Manhattan GMAT's flash card set. Amazing set of flash cards covering various sections of quant such as Number properties, eqns, decimals, percentages, geometry, word problems etc., and Secntence correction. There are a total of 202 flash cards and the best part is its Free!!!!!!!! Here is the link - Manhattan GMAT flash cards.

I'm planning to take one diagnostic test from GMATFocus today. I will update this post with my views after taking the test.

Update: I just took the first GMATFocus test and here is my review - The first thing that comes to my mind is that it was tougher than the GMATPrep, and definitely tougher than most problems in OG11. The problems that i encountered today needed a lot of calculations. GMAT questions are supposed to be solved in less than 3 steps, but the answer explanations of some of the questions in GMATFocus involved 5 to 10 steps. For eg. one problem required to form 2 different equations, then apply a condition to one and then solve the equations to get the value for a variable and then substitute that in the eqn. to get the other value. It was easy but took me almost 160-180 secs. I got a question on Permutation and i had not reviewed this section at all.

The result is presented in a detailed fashion showing you your estimated scaled GMAT quant score, section-wise and topic-wise strike rate, time taken to solve right answers and wrong answers, number of them guessed etc etc. What i didn't like was their overall scaled score prediction. They predicted my score to be within 40 - 47 with 80% confidence. Well, i guess after completing all the three tests may be i'll get some insight to where i stand!!!

So overall the experience was good, and it was a very good practice of some new questions.

Verdict - Recommended.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kaplan Onsite Online Test Drive

I had registered for the Kaplan Online test drive at their facility in New York city. Its was a free event. The test was scheduled at 1pm and started by around 1:30pm. For somebody who is planning to take this test, let me tell you one thing upfront. Its the same test that is found on their website. But i would strongly recommend anybody to go to their facility and take the test. Till yesterday, i had been taking all my practice tests in the comfort of my bedroom. But this test was a very good experience to me. Taking a test at a new place along with lots of people, with the sounds of others clicking and all those distractions makes it similar to the real test day experience which definitely is not going to be in my bedroom!!!

So more about the test now.. The questions in quant were pretty much similar to the one that you encounter in the OG11. But the verbal was really tough. I got 4 monsterous RCs, each atleast 6 paragraphs long. I felt confident while i was doing the quant, and scored a 42, which i think is not at all a good estimate of my score... I got 31/37 right and still scored a 42??? No idea why? But since some of my friends from various forums had told me not to bother about the Kaplan test score as they are scored very low, i didn't care much about the score..

As i said earlier, the Verbal was tough. After the quant section (completed the section with 14 mins remaining) i took a break. Washed my face and came back to tackle the Verbal. The gatorade that i had taken gave me the electrolytes ;) to concentrate on the verbal.. I faced the first RC after about 6-7 questions. It was huge but i did well and got all of them correct. I got 2 wrong answers in the first 15 questions and then it was a downfall from there... I ended up getting only 25 correct out of 41!!!! I knew exactly where i had lost my focus. After the 3rd RC which was the most frustrating of all the passages, i completely lost focus and got 5 consecutive questions wrong. Then a couple right and then again 2-3 wrong. This continued and i ended up with a 32 in verbal, ouch!!!!

But anyways the experience helped me get an idea of taking the test in an external environment. Also i think i can crack the quant section, I've been getting less than 10 mistakes in the past 2 tests and i'm feeling more confident. Verbal is really pulling my score down and I need to overcome this weakness of mine. I've almost completed the MGMAT SC guide with a few Idioms from the list to go. I think i'll revist the Modifiers and the parallelism chapters and review them again since they are the most commonly tested portion in SC. I'll also go throught the kaplan800 SC section to get my self familiar with the tougher sentences. Moreover they have practice sets catagorized into sections. Hopefully this will help me in the SC sections.

So like always here are my goals for this week.
1. Review Modifiers and Parallelism chapter from the MGMAT SC guide.
2. Practice 41 questions in the SC, CR and RC sections from OG11.
3. Review Kaplan800's SC section and do the practice sets.

I'm planning to take the MGMAT CAT this Sunday. Hopefully my verbal would show some improvement!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finally i see some light, a ray of Hope.

Yesterday, i started off with the Manhattan GMAT CAT2. After doing 35 problems in quant and spending 74 minutes, i messed up with the browser and the test reset itself and the whole test became void. I got frustrated and went out of my house to get some fresh air to cool my heels and think of an alternative. I was determined to know where i stood after a week of Verbal grind. Thank God it was not cold outside. One cup of coffee, and the idea struck me. "Why not retake the GMATPrep1", i thought loud. So i opened the GMATPrep software and clicked on GMAT cat 1. I dont know what i did with it last time, the software never recorded my last test. So i went ahead with the CAT1. I did not want to touch the CAT2 and i was saving this for the last week of prep.

Surprisingly, i could not see any repetitions from the last time. I expected atleast 30% of the test to contain questions that i had already come across during my last attempt. But no. Atleast i didn't remember a single question, and i had to manually solve them. I was a bit tired to be honest as i had wasted 75 minutes concentrating on every quant question before voiding my MGMAT cat test. So i took some extra time with the questions which resulted in me not being able to complete the quant section. My time expired with 3 more quant questions to go. I did not worry much because what i really wanted to test was my Verbal status after studying verbal for a whole week and honestly, i worked hard.

I had a good start with verbal and was surprised to see 4 relatively short passages in RC. The SC and CR questions were not as difficult as it was to me last time. I finished with 1 minute to go, and i saw a 640 score this time. What made me happy was that my verbal score had jumped from 28 (last time) to 36 which was in the 80 percentile range. Quant was still stuck on to 41. I cant complain, i never touched the quant part whole of last week other than going through the flash cards that i had prepared.

I reviewed and found that my guessing ability by eliminating the wrong answers were much better now. Even in the quant questions this proved to be useful when i stumbled upon some toughies.. I would say that this week my weakness would be Quant, especially the percenteges, probability and number properties area!!!

So this is my plan of action for this week - Finish the Kaplan Math workbook. Practice 41 verbal questions (timed) everyday from the OG Verbal review book. Practice as many quant problem in the number properties and percentage section and learn the probability basics.

I have scheduled an onsite GMAT CAT test with Kaplan for this saturday. Although ppl consider Kaplan's test as more difficult than the G, I'd get some practice with the tougher questions.

Monday, March 9, 2009

MGMAT CAT 1 - Time to reflect on my plan

After a week of prep, combining both Quant and Verbal and practicing the questions by timing them (using the practice grid), i gave my Manhattan GMAT CAT1. One improvement that i found with my preparation, was my timing. I could finish the quant and the verbal section in the allotted 75 mins. Eventhough MGMAT test questions are more calculation oriented i had enough time, and when i finished my verbal section i had 3 mins to go!!! One point to my timing methodology.... yeahhhhh..

But not all was great!!! My score was again down, huh. Although i had expected to see my scores in the 600 range, i managed only a 580!!! I blame this on my Verbal ability. I scored a 42 in my quant and could have scored more if i had used the correct method for 4 of the questions. So these being concept errors i'm happy that i had a chance to learn more. I learned the table matrix method for solving over-lapping set problems and understood one princple that a number can be either +ve or -ve or even Zero for DS questions. I never thought about the Zero part!!! Two good entries into my flash cards. Careless errors are less this time revealing my concentration in the problem. Thats good.

Verbal is my weakness, Period. I understand that if my verbal score, which was 28 :(, was as good as my quant score (42) then my score would have atleast lingered in the upper 600 range if not 700!! The solution is simple. I'll focus on Verbal for the entire week.

Thanks to the beatthegmat forum again for providing me the most valuable resources on verbal. I managed to download various study notes and flash cards from various people (thank you so much and sorry i'm not good with names, to credit). I have planned to complete the SC prep this week using the Manhattan SC guide and all the notes/strategies that i've downloaded.

Short term goal (this week):
* Finish Manhattan GMAT SC guide
* Review all the study aides downloaded
* Practice (timed of course) 41 questions everyday (15 SC, 13-14 CR and 4 RC passages) and review all answers.

Long term Goals:
* Improve on Verbal section - A score of 30-35 in the next MGMAT CAT would reflect improvement.

So thats my plan for the week. Please comment or email me in case you have any suggestions/advice/question/comment.

Hopefully my next CAT would lead me into the 600 range, where i would feel more comfortable.

Monday, March 2, 2009

First GMAT CAT - Not a good start but i'll catch up!!

So, i've given my first GMAT CAT. I took the GMATPrep 1 yesterday, I skipped the Essays but did the Quant and Verbal back to back without taking any breaks. And this was the first timed test that i've taken. Contrary to my game plan, which was to take the test untimed, GMATPrep tests cannot be taken untimed. I'm actually happy that i did it this way coz now i know where i should pool-in my efforts..

I scored a dismissive 580 in the test - 36 in Quant and 26 in verbal. I could not complete the 41 questions in verbal in the allotted time. I managed to complete only 38. So i guess the software penalized me for not completing. Quant section was actually easier than i thought. Without the time breathing behind my neck, i would have probably gotten somewhere between 25 to 30 questions correct. Because of the time restriction i had to hurry up which led to some silly mistakes that i commited. There were some questions, maybe 2 or 3, that i stumbled and which i would classify as "no idea" types. But i took a calculated guess and turned out to be right. So the wrong ones were due to my own lack of practice!!! Verbal section was ok. It was a bit tough, and there were times when i failed to eliminate more than 3 answer choices. Also, I think i had difficulty in focussing on the passage for the RC questions.. Obviously i need more preparation on the SC and CR parts, to gain speed and improve my hit rate. I reviewed all the answers in both the sections and i think i'm sure of all the concepts that were asked in the test and the way to approach now.

What did i learn - For starters, i need to time myself during practices. I need to gain speed on questions that are easy. I have downloaded a "GMAT practice grid" file from my fav. beatthegmat forum!! I think this would help me time myself when i'm practicing. Second, I definitely need to solve a lot of problems in DS. When i saw a question in the test, i know that i know the concept and how to solve it, but since i had not solved a similar question, its takes some time to find the right approach.. I would get this skill by more and more practice.
In the verbal section, the issue was with timing. So my strategy would be more timed practice.

Short term goal (This week) - Introduce a mixed workout section. 10 questions each from PS, DS, SC and CR. Use the Practice grid, time the practice and review all answers.

Long term goal (this month) - Complete Kaplan Math Workbook and MGMAT SC guide. Complete atleast 50 questions with review in each section from the OG11.

I hope the approach would provide me with some good practice and help me manage my time better. Now since I'm taking a GMAT CAT every Sunday, I'll be able to gain much insight from my studies.

So this week since i haven't quiet figured out one exact weakness its going to be a mixed workout of my various muscles!!!! Hopefully after this sunday (when i'll be taking the MGMAT 1) i'll be able to pin point on one weakness and be able to focus on that muscle!!!