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Marc William - GMAT 740 (Q99%/V85%)

How did you prepare for the GMAT?

I recently appeared for the GMAT and scored 740 (Quantitative: 99 percentile, Verbal: 85 percentile). I would like to share my experiences with you. I used the following books/sources:

  • ETS Official GMAT book 10th edition (Good for practice - has many questions and is quite close to the real (mid-level difficulty) questions on the GMAT)
  • GMAT 800 (Has the toughest questions you can find anywhere. If you are targeting a score of more then 700, then this book will be quite helpful. I liked the detailed explanations and the question variety. Sentence Correction has many patterns that I have not seen elsewhere)
  • Kaplan Quiz Bank 1000 (Costs you about $200 but most of the questions can be found in GMAT 800, Kaplan Software and ETS Official GMAT book. You can create your own tests and identify your weak areas. It has a test simulation mode and can help you build up your speed)
  • For AWA, I downloaded the list of essays from ETS web site and wrote an essay everyday (using MS Word). After I had written 15-20 essays, I got so used to it that it took me about 25 minutes to write a 450 word essay.
  • Kaplan Verbal Textbook (The strategies in Reading comprehension helped me improve my RC skills dramatically. The appendix in the book about grammar, idioms, etc was quite useful).
  • 800 Score tests (They have good questions and it simulates a good testing environment)
  • For advanced questions on probability, statistics and counting methods, delta course was very helpful. The questions in the database of Daily Quantitative Email were also insightful.
  • GMAT PLUS (I am not sure if this will be available in book-stores. I bought it on ebay. Is a good question bank)

Would you change anything about the way you prepared? What advice would you give to someone about to take the GMAT?

I started preparing for GMAT in Nov 2002. I had thought that I would just prepare for it and when I think that I am ready, I will go give the test. But that was not a very good idea. Without a fixed deadline, I could not focus very well. In January first week, I decided to pick a date in Jan end. Only after this did I get serious and did some meaningful work. So my advice is do not spend a lot of time preparing for it. Give yourself 2-3 months, pick a date, and go for it!

Make a note of all the mistakes that you do when you practice the tests. I kept a record of all questions that I had done wrong. After I was done with one round of practicing, I re-visited those questions. And guess what - I did the same mistakes again! So by closely studying those questions, I identified my weak areas and tried to improve them by practicing more questions in that topic. For example - I was having trouble with inequalities. I picked up a book on inequalities from a library and practiced a lot of questions in that.

Do not waste your time doing the easy questions. If you think you are comfortable with one area, move on.

The forum for BusinessWeek was quite informative. It is a good place to share ideas/seek opinion.

How much time did you spend preparing?

About 3 months

Did you use any problem or pacing strategies?

Only the ones in Kaplan and Princeton Review books

Did you encounter any surprises on the GMAT?

I got a question from complex numbers.