I gave my GMAT in 2017 and got a score of 730. In this article, I will try to provide insight into how I prepared for each section of GMAT and what resources I used.
I started my GMAT preparation 3 months prior to the exam which gave me sufficient time to prepare. For those of you looking to apply to business schools, I would suggest checking deadlines and making sure that you have sufficient time to prepare your application for your GMAT attempt. The recommended time is 3-4 months but it can take longer, depending on your comfort level with Quant and Verbal sections. The GMAC offers two free mocks with the software. I gave the first mock in the early stage of my preparation to assess my current knowledge and know my weak areas. I saved one mock for the end because the GMAC mocks are the closest to the real GMAT exam.
How To Study For GMAT
- AWA- Analytical Writing Assessment
In the Analytical writing section, you are given a 4-5 line argument that you have to comment on. The introduction and conclusion are standard and you have to find out the fallacies in the argument and what can be done to correct/improve it. It is important to not make any spelling mistakes and use keywords as this section is also checked by software. I read various high scored essays on the GMAT club forum a day or two before my exam to attempt this section. I finished writing my essay in around 20 minutes and spent 10 minutes reviewing it. The various essays given in the Official guide can also be read to understand how to structure the argument.
- Integrated Reasoning
The integrated reasoning section on the GMAT is scored separately and is the only section on GMAT where calculators are allowed. Each question has 2-3 subparts to it and you have to get all the parts of the question right. Questions here are based on logic and observation. The only issue with this section is the limited practice resources available. I practised the questions that came with the online GMAT question bank and purchased the IR prep tool from the official website. This is a relatively easy section and full-length mocks are sufficient to practice for IR. I also practised IR questions from the free Veritas Question bank.
- Quantitative Ability
For Quant, I used the Official GMAT Guide and practised a lot of questions from the free Veritas Question bank available offline. Quant questions are asked in two forms, that is, Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. I studied the concepts from the Manhattan Books and Jamboree institute books. Once I was well-versed with the concepts, I practised all questions that I could find from various question banks online. I also joined the GMAT club and attempted the 700 plus level questions available in different practice forums. In my opinion, your GMAT Quant score is a function of the number of questions you have practised. I kept varying my source of questions for variety. GMAT Quant tests your speed more than anything else and it becomes difficult to keep your cool as the clock ticks away in front of you, so I suggest practising Quant questions with a timer to improve your speed and accuracy.
For non-native English speakers, the Verbal section can be quite tough. GMAT doesn’t test your vocabulary. It only tests grammar and word usage, so you don’t have to worry about memorising word lists. After I was done with the Official guide questions, I used the Manhattan Sentence Correction guide and Kaplan 800 Level Verbal guide. The Manhattan Sentence correction guide was of immense help in solving Sentence Correction problems and the rules were outlined pretty clearly. For the Critical reasoning section, I used the PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible. For me, the elimination strategy worked best while solving Critical reasoning problems. Again, the key is to practice as many questions as you can.
If you are targeting a score above 700, I would recommend giving as many mocks as possible in a real testing environment. I kept an error log to keep track of my weak areas and gave around 10 mocks before my actual exam. Don’t worry too much about the score, as different companies have different scoring algorithms. So you might score a 500 on one mock and a 700 on another.
In my opinion, scoring over 700 in GMAT isn’t rocket science. Even coaching isn’t required if you have the Quant Basics right. Just prepare consistently over a period of 3-6 months and give your mocks diligently.
And remember: Your GMAT score is a function of the number of questions you practice.