Mes: julio 2010

GMAT is done… but not over

Hi guys,

Today I’ve taken the GMAT but unfortunately I will retake it. Why that? because I’ve performed much worse than expected.

I ended with a 690. You might think that it is not a bad score, but considering that during the last week I’ve taken several mock tests and in all of them I scored above 700, then I consider it a failure.

It is likely that the main reason of my under-performance today is the fact that I had big trouble yesterday night to fall sleep and I ended sleeping 2 hours. As a result, I wasn’t in the best physical conditions during the exam.

Well, I have written a long debrief of this GMAT experience. During my preparation, I read many other people’s debriefs and they helped me a lot, so now it is my turn to contribute.


My preparation started more than a year ago, when I bought OG11 (Official Guide 11th Edition) and Kaplan Premier books. At that time, my English and my motivation regarding GMAT weren’t too high and after a month reading the Kaplan’s book my scores in the Kaplan CATs were pretty low. As I didn’t plan to apply to an MBA that year, I made a break in my GMAT preparation and focused on improving English.

Then, beginning this year I did some research about what preparation books were a must and I bought some MGMAT (Manhattan GMAT) guides and a friend let me OG12 and some other material.

My preparation started reading MGMAT books one by one, and doing many of their exercises. At the same time, I was doing the exercises of the OG11. In general, I studied Maths and Verbal alternatively.

While I was studying/practicing, I maintained a small notebook with Math concepts that I wanted to learn by heart. For example things such as:
11*11= 121, 12*12 = 144… 18*18=324, etc.
180(n-2) = Sum angles of polygon.
Number of zeros of 30! = 30/5 + 30/(5^2) = 6 + 1 = 7

a^n – b^n is always divisible by a-b, and only by a+b if n even
a^n + b^n is divisible by a+b if n is odd, and never if n is even

For this notebook I found extremely useful the Bunuel’s Math Fundation. At the end, my notebook had many pages with key things.
During the last month of preparation (May) I checked the MGMAT comparison between OG11 and OG12 to select the new exercises in OG12 and I did all of them (by the way, I found much harder the Quant exercises from OG12 than from the OG11).

CAT results from May to July in order:

[*] Two months to go
MGMAT1 630 (Q44, V32)

[*] One month to go
Princeton 730 (Q46, V45)
MGMAT2 650(Q40, V38)
MGMAT3 680 (Q47, V35)
MGMAT4 770 (Q50, V45) —- untimed
Kaplan free test: 700 (Q45, V43)
PowerPrep1 710 (Q48, V38)
GMATPrep1 730 (Q50, V40) — 1st time
GMATPrep2 740 (Q49, V41) — 1st time

[*]Last week:
GMATPrep1 760 (Q51, V42) – 2nd time
GMATPrep2 730 (Q50, V38) – 2nd time
MGMAT free test: 730 (Q48, V42)

Exam day

Things started very badly the night before. Even if I didn’t open a book during the afternoon (tough I did a CAT in the morning), I started to feel nervous and anxious, a very bad combination.
As a result, when I went to bed I couldn’t stop thinking about the exam, consequences and all sort of crappy things. The night was a nightmare for me because I knew the importance of sleeping well the night before, but everybody knows that “when one MUST fall asleep, then everything can happen EXCEPT falling asleep”. At the end, the last time I watched the clock was 5:30 AM, and my alarm clock rang at 7:15. Thus, I slept less than 2 hours.

When I woke up, I took a coffee, a good breakfast and before leaving home I drank a redbull to wake me up. In the way to the test center I tried to forget about what happened during the night but it was difficult as I felt soooo tired. However, I wanted to take the test without a doubt and tough some thoughts about rescheduling crossed my mind, I was convinced that I could score 700 even tough my physical condition.


The test started well. I managed to write acceptable AWA essays. I used the Chinese burned template with some little modification. In the first 5 minutes I wrote the full template without even looking at the prompt (this is how I had practiced). For me this worked much better than writing the template at the same time that completing the sentences, because doing so I used to forget parts of the template or to spend more time thinking about the template than if I did otherwise.
So when I finished writing the full template I had about 25 minutes to complete the template with my own ideas. Another 5′ were enough to find good arguments and examples so I spent 20 minutes writing each essay and reviewing them.

* Quant

I was happy with the AWA and my confidence was high even if I would have loved to do a 4-hours nap.

However, in Quant things started in the worst way. In fact, I didn’t know how to solve the first question! I didn’t believe it. It seemed a root straightforward question but none of the answers matched mine. I started to panic and after 4 minutes I decided to make a guess and continue….
Then in the second question I tried to stop thinking about the first one: “You failed the first but it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t… CRAP WHAT THE **** YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO ANSWER A ***** ROOT QUESTION, ****** MORON!!! ?!!”.
I don’t know what I did in the next 4 or 5 questions but I struggled in the third and fifth. By the time I was calmed I was about the 10th.

I knew that my super-star debut had hurt a lot because between 10th and 20th I received the easiest questions I had ever seen during my preparation time. Between 20th and 30th things started to be more complicated but I wasn’t feeling very well. By question 30th, I was about 15 minutes ahead of time and then I received the first real tough question. It was the 34th or so. I thought, “Oh god… finally I’m going to use my brain! last time I used it was in the first question, a 550 level roots question that by the way I missed….crap how the hell I could have missed it?… ok come on, shut up! and lets answer this well so you might fix this”.

After thinking peacefully about the reasoning I was sure that it was correct, so then I started solving the question (I had even time to go to the restroom and come back if I wanted). By the time I got the result (something like 4565) I was completely sure that it was correct. Then a quick look at the 5 answers… but…. “what? where are you? Pearsons forgot to put the correct answer or what?!!” “OK OK lets try again, review your calculations…” 2 minutes after… 4565. “I can believe it!” Well, I have a lot of time, in fact I’m how many minutes ahead…… .?.. WHAT!!? NO WAY! 2 minutes behind the clock!!!! I have spent like a century solving this question again and again and 4565 still doesn’t appear in the answers!!! Well, lets click C and continue”.

By the way, after the exam my wife, who received that same ‘tough’ question, told me about the part in the prompt saying (X inches…. Y centimeters). Oh come on!!! I had not only missed that, but also the whole last sentence where it was indicated the conversion (1 inch = 2,54 cm).

In conclusion, my Quant part was a pain and I should have missed many many questions because I wasn’t in good condition, I was nervous and I wasn’t concentrated.

* Break
Half redbull, half banana, chocolate bar.
I tried to find some good thoughts: “I can crack verbal” “first root question was experimental”, “Vamos!! I can do it, lets go!”, “Spain will win the World Cup!”

* Verbal
I don’t have much to say about Verbal, only that it seemed much harder than GMAT Preps and I wasn’t able to find the answers to CR questions or understanding well the RCs. Usually, I was very strong in CR and most of the times I knew the answers of the questions even before looking at the answers. However, in this case every answer of the questions seemed confusing and I had to guess between two answers a lot of times (very bad sign). The RC passages were unbearable and during the exam I was constantly looking at the question number “oh come on! still 10 to go? I only want to finish this pain and have a beer with my friends, or two, or ten”.

By the time I ended I knew that my score wasn’t going to be as high as I expected before taking the test. However, I would never cancel a score so I had no doubts in the screen “Do you want to report this score?” Of course I want to know my score, even if it is a 500.

Then I saw 690 (Q47, V38). One of my worst Quant score in all my preparation time, and a Verbal score worse than any of my last practice tests.
Even if I knew during the exam that I was doing very bad, I always had the hope to score 700 (I’m an optimistic guy…).

Well, that’s it. This is a not a very successful story about GMAT, but I hope it can help some others. I feel disappointed right now but I will retake it 99%. Anyway, I’m sure that in a few days I would feel better…. most of all because Spain is going to win the WORLD CUP!!!!! 😀