Indians applying to the US business schools are very competitive within their cohort. However, a good Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score can give you an edge over others.
When I was preparing for GMAT I was already working as a project manager handling a product engineering team. Joining a coaching class and working, I felt, would not be a smart idea. So I decided to study on my own. I assumed that with some amount of self-discipline and regular practice, cracking the exam would not be tough.
After studying or one month, I got 680 in my first attempt. I knew something was terribly wrong with my study strategy. I was good with quantitative and reading comprehension sections largely because I had taken Common Admission Test five times. However, in GMAT, all sections are equally important if you want the perfect score. So, when you’re practising on your own, without coaching help, make sure, in an effort to improve in one particular section, you don’t end up spending too much time over it and ignore the other sections.
After my first attempt, I decided to pull up my socks and study harder. I purchased all preparation material from mba.com, the official GMAT site, and started solving them. For six months, I solved all the questions and analysed them all. On weekdays, I made it a point to study for at least two hours. I dedicated all my weekends to practising and taking mocks. Trust me, sacrificing fun for few weekends isn’t a bad idea at all, when your efforts pay off.
I used to invest a good amount of time in analysing mocks to find out where I was going wrong. I realised that initial questions in the GMAT exam were very important and set the level of the score. Even if you commit mistakes in the first 10 questions, you can still get a score of 770-780 in the exam. Mistakes made consecutively in your answers result in a drastic drop in scores. If you answer difficult questions correctly, GMAT then throws easier questions at you, to check if you can solve them too. I also realised that concepts in sentence correction in GMAT’s verbal section are tested repeatedly.
GMAT is quite a standardised test. It has questions that test similar concepts again and again. So, when I understood the patterns of the exam, I could see what had to be done to tackle those problems.
In the critical reasoning section, the arguments are similar but the context in which these arguments are made is different. I made a note of those arguments which I was not able to solve while practising official questions.
Maintaining error logs is also critical. Log the questions that you get wrong. I revised those questions for one day before taking a mock. Find out where you are going wrong and correct your mistakes. Error logs are applicable for all the sections of the test – quant and verbal section.
The logs can be made subsection wise and for critical reasoning or sentence correction or reading comprehension. Relying on your strengths gives you the confidence to study on your own.
The author is currently pursuing an MBA at Carnegie Mellon University - Tepper School of Business