Alok scored a GMAT 690 (Q50 V33) in his first attempt and was waitlisted at Universities of Washington and Boston. He decided to retake the test to make sure he gets admits from the schools of his choice. In this video and article, he talks about how precise planning helped him get a 50-point score improvement to reach a score of GMAT 740 (Q50 V40). With an effective GMAT verbal study plan, he improved by 7 points in Verbal (V33 to V40) from a 68 percentile to 90 percentile! Let’s see what Alok has to say about his GMAT journey.
Best Way to prepare for GMAT – Alok’s 50 point improvement
|First Attempt||Second Attempt|
|GMAT Preparation Time||3 months||1 month|
|Preparation Source||MGMAT books||e-GMAT’s Verbal Live Prep Course
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Rajat: Tell us about your GMAT journey. How did you prepare for your first attempt and what made you retake the test?
Alok: I realized right in the beginning that GMAT Quant was not very difficult for me. Even in my first mock test without much preparation, I was able to score a Q47, so I was not very worried about Quant. I put in a lot of effort while studying for the test using all the study material I had. I took the GMAT on 13th January 2017 after preparing for almost 3 months and scored 690 (Q50 V33). I instantly knew that this score would not be enough for someone with my background and profile. However, I still applied to Business Schools around the world to test the waters and got waitlisted in 2 of them – Washington University and Boston University.
Honestly, I was not sure why I didn’t get a better score despite studying a lot. On joining e-GMAT, I heard the word ‘ability’ in context with GMAT preparation, and I guess that’s what I lacked in my first attempt. Anyway, it was clear that I had to improve my score to get admission into the top Business Schools, so I decided to retake the test.
Rajat: So, how was your second attempt different from the first one? What was your new strategy?
Alok: While my first attempt was all about studying, my second attempt was all about planning. From my score, it was evident to me that the best way to prepare for GMAT would be by using a GMAT Verbal study plan. I could manage a Q50 in Quant. I knew improving from Q50 to Q51 would require a lot of effort and still it would not improve my GMAT score. Hence, I decided to spend that time to improve my Verbal ability. Since I had decided to shift my focus to Verbal in the second attempt, I studied at least 30 hours per week for the Verbal section and rest 10-12 hours for the Quant Section.
I planned to start studying again in June but could not do so as I had to move to the UK for work, and with added responsibilities that came being at the client location, it was difficult for me to start the full-fledged study. I started properly from July by taking GMAT prep mocks to evaluate my preparedness, but since I had already seen some of the questions earlier, the score in that test was not a true indicator of my abilities.
Rajat: How did you go about preparing Verbal for your second attempt?
Alok: I started with the study material that I already had but found myself stuck on a score of V33. A friend of mine had used e-GMAT courses and managed to get admission in Kenan Flagler University with an 85% scholarship. Hence, I was already inclined towards taking the e-GMAT course for Verbal. I bought the ‘Verbal Live Prep’ course in September and started preparing seriously by trusting and following every suggestion provided in the course.
Want to learn more about MBA Scholarships and how a good score can help you get one? Read the article.
I used GMAT Planner to set my target scores and realized an important thing while setting my target scores. It was that I did not have to score well in all the sub-sections of Verbal to reach a score of V40. That turned out to be a very important factor.
I always knew that I am a slow reader and it took me some time to comprehend a sentence. Therefore, I started with the ‘Master Comprehension’ course. This course would, later on, help me save crucial time during the test. I also leveraged my strength in SC and CR to reduce the burden on my weak RC section. I planned to reach 95% ability in SC and CR and 70% in RC.
Alok’s strategy in 7 steps | Best way to prepare for GMAT
- Registered for e-GMAT’s Verbal Live Prep Course and focussed on devising an effective GMAT Verbal Study Plan
- Started with Master comprehension to improve reading speed
- Used GMAT Planner to decide target SC, CR, and RC percentiles
- Planned 95%ile in SC and CR, and 70%ile in RC (his weak section)
- Used Scholaranium to find out his weak topics/sections
- Devised ‘Skipping Strategy’ based on his weak topics
- Attended ‘Score Booster Webinar’ to put finishing touch to his preparation
Being a slow reader, I also knew that completing the entire Verbal section would be a challenge for me. I contacted the e-GMAT team for suggestions on working around this weakness of mine. I got some great advice on how to use skipping strategy in the test. It was an eye-opener for me on how the various data points in the course could be used to plan something as little as which questions to skip in the test.
During the last part of my preparation, I attended the score booster webinar. I also had access to its recording. So, whenever I felt self-doubt looming over me, I would watch the score booster webinar’s recording to analyze my strategy and every time it made me confident about my preparation.
Rajat: How did you use the skipping strategy in the actual test?
Alok: Yeah. As I said before, my second attempt was more about planning and ensuring that I reach my target score in the limited time I had. In fact, the shortage of time made it crucial that I plan well. Coming to the skipping strategy part – after solving multiple GMAT simulations, I realized I could comfortably solve only 37-38 questions with high accuracy. So, I decided to skip 4-5 questions in the test. I used the data points in Scholaranium, my takt time and my error log to identify the kind of questions I am more likely to get wrong and decided to skip those in the test if need be. I had also written to the e-GMAT team about my other concerns with RC and religiously followed their suggestions.
Confused about your time management strategy? Read this article on Time Management Strategies in the GMAT
Rajat: What would be your advice to other GMAT test takers?
Alok: Based on my experience in the two tests, I’d like to provide the following suggestions:
- Have faith in yourself. Only if you believe that you can, will you be able to achieve your target score.
- Consistency is important. Make sure you solve at least a few questions every day no matter how busy you are.
- e-GMAT’s Scholaranium and Score booster Webinar gives you useful data points to help craft a rock-solid strategy.
- Try your best but don’t forget to prepare for the worst. I did so by ensuring I knew how to use skipping strategy.
- Don’t follow any plan blindly, get advice from good people and make your own plan.
- Don’t relax but don’t stress too much either. It is important to maintain consistency without being overwhelmed.
Alok used a great GMAT verbal study plan to his advantage. If you feel, you lag behind in the planning part of your preparation, we invite you for a free webinar on GMAT Strategy. He aced the GMAT because he knew which questions to skip. Learn the best way to prepare for GMAT by taking a free trial of our online GMAT preparation resource.
You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any planning related advice. Do make sure you read the article mentioned above and send us your plan along with any queries that you have.
P.S. This article has been compiled using Alok’s video and text de-briefs. You can watch the video above and read his GMAT Club de-brief here on what’s the best way to prepare for GMAT.