Tuesday, June 16, 2009

GMAT General Tips

I thought I might cover the GMAT general tips at the end of GMAT verbal tips and GMAT quant tips. But I have decided to go over it sooner as I feel these general tips are very valuable. They could make the a difference of 30 to 40 points easily.

1. Relax: We don't realize how stressed we are and I cannot stress enough how important it is to control our stress. As you all know my first GMAT attempt was a dismal 640. I decided to prepare again for my second attempt. On the day before the exam I take a test from the GMAT Prep software and scored 660. I could not believe it. After all this preparation and scoring in mid 700s on the 800score.com, I had scored 660 on the GMAT Prep. I took a deep breath and a break for an hour. I knew that I was very stressed. I relaxed myself and took the test again and scored 700. I realized that I just need to relax and thats exactly what I did the next day. I scored a 730 on the actual GMAT.

2. Use time wisely: Many of you would wonder what is so unique about this tip. The GMAT tests you on a variety of topics in verbal and quants. You may be very strong in some areas and weak in some areas. For e.g. you are strong in work distribution, distance, speed and time kind of problems and weak in probablity. There may be 800 level problems in each area. If you get a probability problem that seems like a 800 level problem, which means it is very tough, you may want to make sure you are not spending like 4 - 5minutes on it. After 2 minutes, just pick an answer using POE and move on. You may then get a slightly easier problem which you will get right and then you may back at 800 level again, only this time it is in an area that is your strenght. Use this technique in the GMAT Prep tests and see if it works for you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Univeristy of Chicago - Booth School of Business Admission Offer

I received a phone call today from the office of admissions from University of Chicago - Booth School of Business with an acceptance offer. Hooray! I am so happy. My efforts have paid off.

I used quite a few books to prepare for my essays and my interviews. The most recent book that I read and liked is the book, How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk. I also read the book, How To Get Into the Top Law Schools by Richard Montauk. I have heard of JD/MBA and would like to know more about it. I have heard some people say that a Law degree is a great degree to have in the current business community.

This was just a quick update. In my next blog, we will continue with basics of GMAT. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

GMAT Prep: GMAT Verbal Basics - Sentence Correction

When I went back to tackling the basics, I knew I had to work hard and improve my GMAT verbal. I started attacking the senetence correction. I knew that the following grammar are checked in the sentence correction.

1. Pronoun errors
2. Misplaced modifiers
3. Subject-verb agreement.
4. Verb Tense
5. Parallelism
6. Comparisons
7. Idioms

But I also needed to look out for the following
A) Active voice is preferred over passive voice
B) A concise sentence is preferred over a wordy sentence
C) The orginal meaning is not altered

The best material to prepare for sentence correction is the Manhattan Sentence Correction Guide. I would highly recommend it. It helped me identify faulty parallelisms.

Sentence Correction Strategy

1) I came up with a strategy to handle the sentence correction questions. The first time I read the sentence, I make sure I understand the meaning of the sentence. My secondary objective is to see if there are any glaringly obvious mistake. I need to make sure that I understand the original meaning of the sentence so that I do not pick up a sentence that is grammatically correct but it has lost the original meaning. This happens to me sometimes because I am so lost in making sure that the sentence is grammatically correct that I have lost sight of the original meaning. Sometimes the original sentence is so messed up that it is hard to follow. A quick scan of the answers choices will help you get the original meaning. At this time, you can eliminate any answer choices that have altered the original meaning as they are always wrong.
2) The next thing I do is apply the grammar check given above. I initially use 1 through 6. After applying the initial grammar check, I am usually down to 2 choices.
3) I then apply check 7. If both sentence pass check 7, I then chose one that is concise and uses an active voice.

Sentence Correction Idioms

To apply check 7, you need to know the frequently used idioms on GMAT. Here is a list of idioms I found on the web.


I hope you guys find this list useful.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

GMAT Prep: What went wrong?

As many of you following my blog would know that on May 06, 2009, I decided to take my GMAT again. The first question that came to my mind was, what went wrong? I wanted to make sure that I knew exactly what went wrong and that I needed to fix it. I just cannot go and take the exam again. I knew it would not work. Here are the main points of my analysis.

I feel that I did not show GMAT the respect it deserves. This may not apply to some of you but it does apply to me. Since I had a perfect score in Quants, 800, in my GRE and only my Verbal was lacking, 480, I thought that with sufficient preparation, I should be all set. Unfortunately for me, the list of books mentioned in the previous blog did not constitute sufficient preparation. The books have been listed once again.

The Princeton Review
Kaplan Premier 2009
Kaplan 800
The Official Guide 11th Edition - Review
The Official Guide 11th - Verbal Review

The books are a great start but the preparation does not end here. Especially, The Princeton Review is a good book to get a good idea about the GMAT exam. The Kaplan books, Premier and 800, would challenge you further. The Official Guide gives you a taste of what the actual GMAT questions are going to look like. These books along with the GMAT Prep exams are sufficient for some people to score a 700+, but for the rest of us like me, we need to go beyond this.

There are only a selected few topics that the GMAT tests. I realized that I need to master these topics, if I need to score high. When I say that I need to master these topics, I mean that I need to be perfect. There is no margin for error. We need to be perfect at these topics because GMAT tries to trick you. Your perfection would minimize the chance of falling for their trick.

I realized that I need to take notes while preparing for my GMAT. I then need to use these notes on a daily basis to make sure I remember them very well. By not taking notes, your preparation will lack the focus it needs. I lot of you may already be doing this. You can either take your on notes, or you can use the notes prepared by others and posted on the web. I will be providing the notes I got of the web as well as the notes prepared by me. These notes form the summary and highlight of your preparation.

The last topic is practice. By practice, I do not mean the usual practice. The usual practice is good. I solved a lot of questions from all the books above. I also went through the 1000 SC and 1000 CR on the web. But you also need a lot of timed practice. You need to make sure that you have accuracy under speed. I will let you know in more detail in the following blogs.

To summarize, we need the following three things, notes, basics and practice to improve our focus. We will go through each one of them in the next blogs. Please stay tuned and thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

GMAT Prep: My First GMAT Preparation

I started preparing for GMAT in early January 2009. I wanted to prepare for 3 months which is what most people agree upon. I wanted to take my GMAT exam in the first or second week of April. Between my full time job and my GMAT preparation, I could see the challenges that lay ahead of me. I had been thinking about taking my GMAT and applying to Business Schools for quite some time and hence I had done some home work about the GMAT. After talking to some friends of mine, I had decide to use the following books.

The Princeton Review
Kaplan Premier 2009
Kaplan 800
The Official Guide 11th Edition - Review
The Official Guide 11th - Verbal Review

With these books, I felt I had all the right material I needed to crack the GMAT.

January 2009
I started with Princeton Review. I went through the introduction and math section fairly quickly. I spent more time towards the end on the data sufficiency part as I felt that section I little bit challenging. I then moved on to the verbal section which took me some time. I was done with Princeton Review in three weeks. I took the warm up test and scored 34 out 40 questions. I solved the questions in Bin 1, 2 and 3 and decided to take the practice tests later.

February 2009
I moved onto Kaplan Premier toward the end of January and worked on it for the next 5 weeks. It was almost towards the end of February when I finished Kaplan Premier. I took my first Kaplan exam and scored a 580. I asked a few friends of mine and they said not to worry as Kaplan is usually difficult to score high. I started working on the Kaplan 800 and focused mostly on the verbal. I took the second Kaplan exam and score 590. I later took the third one and scored 595. I was getting a little worried.

March 2009
I started working on the The Official Guide - GMAT Review. I only went through the Math section. I then went through The Official Guide - GMAT Verbal Review which took me like a week. I was now getting close to my GMAT exam date.

April 2009
I had already registered on the mba.com site. I scheduled my GMAT exam on Monday, April 13, 2009. I downloaded the GMAT prep software and became faimiliar with the software. I was going though Kaplan 800 to go through some tough problems. On Friday, April 10, 2009, I took the first GMAT prep exam and scored a 660. I was haapy to see a score higher than 650. I decide to work some more and took the my second GMAT Prep exam on Sunday morning, April 12, 2009 and scored a 640. I now panicked as I had hope to see something closer to 700. I went through the answers and noticed a lot of silly mistakes. I felt if I could minimize these then I would do well. But this result had totally shaken me.

April 13, 2009
My GMAT exam was schedule at 8:00 am. I reached the testing center at 7:00 am. The testing center did not open until 7:30 am. I went upstairs at 7:45 am. I started my exam roughly at 8:10 am. I went through the AWAs as usual. I took I break and ate half a protein bar. I went in the exam room and took the Quants. I felt I had performed well. I took a break and came out and finished the remaning protein bar. I went in the exam room and took the verbal. I finished the GMAT exam and now I was on the screen that asked me if I wanted it to report my scores. I took a deep breath and selected the report scores and clicked continue. 640! Oh my god! I was devastated. I could not believe it. I was crestfallen. I came out and took the print out from the lady at the front desk. I came downstairs and called my wife. I told her my score. She told me not to worry too much. But I knew I could do better.

May 2009
As you know from my earlier blog, the Chicago chat session and the open house session, made me realize that I should take my GMAT again. In my next blog, we will discuss what went wrong. So stay tuned and thanks for visiting.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

GMAT Prep: From 640 To 730 in less than 20 days

My blog is named GMAT Beeline after the phrase make a beeline for, which means to go directly towards. The origin of the phrase is described well at The Phrase Finder site, http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/make-a-beeline-for.html. Let me rephrase the origin from this site.

The phrase derives from the behaviour of bees. When a forager bee finds a source of nectar it returns to the hive and communicates its location to the other bees, using a display called the Waggle Dance. The other bees are then able to fly directly to the source of the nectar, i.e. 'make a beeline' for it.

Similarly, I am going to try and draw a beeline for GMAT preparation. I took my GMAT twice. The first time I took my GMAT on April 13, 2009. I scored a dismal 640 with 46 in Quants and 33 in Verbal. I scored 5.5 on my AWA. I call it a dismal performance because I knew that I could do better than that. Much better than that! I had not felt so bad after I had scored 1980 in GRE on October 12, 1996 because I had scored 800 in Quants. My break up back then was Quants 800, Analytical 700 and Verbal 480. But the GMAT result was extremely disappointing.

I attended a Chicago-Booth online chat session on April 21, 2009 and learnt that they are looking for 690+ in GMAT. My heart sank. On May 1, 2009, I went to the Chicago-Booth to attend an Open House session. I came back extremely motivated. I started thinking about taking the GMAT again. As I live in Michigan, I was considering Ross School of Business, Ann Arbor and Booth School of Business, Chicago. I contacted the admissions office of both schools before deciding to take the GMAT again. Here is a critical reasoning question for you guys. Why did Shashi contact the admission office before taking the GMAT again?
a) He wanted to know if the B-schools prefer candidates taking GMAT multiple times.
b) He wanted to know if B-Schools prefer candidates don't waste their time and money by taking GMAT mutliple times.
c) It is customory to let B-schools know that you are taking GMAT multiple times.
d) He wanted to know if B-school would consider the high score or the average as he was wondering what if he scores less on his second attempt than what he scored on his first attempt.
e) At this point every one knows the answer and this option is not needed.

You can notice that my confidence had gone so down that I was wondering what if I take the GMAT again and score less than 640. Both, Chicago and Michigan told me that they would consider my high score and not average. I deliberated for a few more days and on May 06, 2009 I decided to appear GMAT once again. I started preparaing again. I learnt from my mistakes. We will go into the details of my first time preparation and my second time preparation in my coming blogs. I appeared GMAT again on May 26, 2009. The AWA section was a breeze. I took my 10 minutes break and came out to the locker room and had half of the protein bar. I kept the remaining half for the next break. I went in the examination room for the next round. It was time for Quants. During the Quants my pen ran out. I tried the other pen. The other pen ran out too. I waived the pen in the air. The administrator came with a new pen, gave it to me and left. This one was not working either. Now, I was getting frustrated and afraid. I waived the pen again. The administrator came and gave me another one and this time took the three away. This one worked fine. By this time I may have lost like a minute or a minute and a half. More so, my concentration had all shaken up. I kept calm and continued. I guess I messed up the permutation-combination problem I was working on. I finished the Quants and took my next break. I came to the locker room for the remaining half of my protein bar. I was thinking about my Quants section. I just shook my head and decided to focus on the upcoming verbal section. I went in the examination for the last round, the verbal section. Once I am done with this section, I am done. I started working meticulously at the verbal section as I felt more pressured due to the mishap in my Quants section. I still managed to keep my cool. I finished the verbal section without any more mishaps. Now, I was on the screen that was asking me if I want to report my scores or cancel my scores. I had the usual 10 minutes to decide. I prayed to Lord Ganesha, selected to report my scores and clicked next. My heart was beating so fast and loud that maybe others in the examination room could hear it. The next screen took a few seconds to come up. I looked at the screen. 730! I jumped up with joy. My determination and hard work had paid off. My break up is Quants 48, and Verbal 42. My total score is 730 with a 96 percentile. I am still waiting for my official scores to know my AWA. In my next blog, I will discuss my first preparation and what I feel went wrong.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experience and help my fellow GMATers with their GMAT preparation. This blog is for those who scored low because of the mistakes we do when preparing and taking the exam and not because we deserved that score. This blog should also guide those who have not yet taken the GMAT. I would be very happy if this blog can help you guys achieve the 700+ score that you are looking for. The MBA dream at the top Business schools around the world. Thank you for reading this blog. I truly hope that this blog helps you.