I used this time to write down the structure to my essays. I had already read all the GMAC and Pearson information online so I did not need to re-read it. Use this time wisely. If they are going to give you the time, do not just throw it away.
Since I reviewed the AWA guide and I had my structures already down on the dry erase pad, this was pretty straight forward. I fumbled for a few minutes, but found my ground and I was able to complete some solid essays. On the issue essay my second and third points were very similar (essentially the same) but I used slightly different reasoning and different examples. I worried about this a little, but then I remembered IF YOU ARE WITHIN 5 MINUTES DO NOT MAKE MAJOR CHANGES such as deleting multiple lines or an entire paragraph. I left it how it was.
Went to the bathroom and got some water. I did not realize as soon as you re-enter the room they type their password in and your time begins. You do have 60 seconds to review the instructions before the 75 minutes start, but I just did not realize the break just ended.
So many things to say here. First off, I missed the first question. I remember the question and what I answered and I know it was incorrect. Plus my second question was a 300 level question. Looking back, the first question was really easy and I am not sure what happened. I choked. Although, I felt like I choked on a lot of the math section.
Kaplan vs Manhattan vs Actual Exam
This is where I have to discuss the relation of the CATs to my actual exam. Like I said, Kaplan focused on ratios, combinatorics, statistics, and probability, and even Manhattan had a solid amount of these types of questions (around 12 per test). On my exam I got 3 questions of these types. Three! I also got around 4 rate problems. Most of my exam was multi-variable algebra, inequalities, absolute values, or some combination of those 3. I thought I was strong in these topics, but throughout the exam I fumbled because during my prep I did not spend enough time on them. Not sure how consistent this is though, because the questions in the OGs do not follow this pattern
The entire Quant section I felt like I was missing a lot of questions and just not doing well. I could not tell if the questions were getting hard or I was just not prepared. I never felt too pressured for time, but I did finish with about 30 seconds remaining.
On my second break I had just felt like I blew my GMAT. However, I remembered that a really strong Verbal score can carry a test. So I went to the bathroom, took a deep breath, and let it go. It was not going to help to hold on to it.
Now we are talking. I came out of the break focused and ready to go. I never have had problems with time on Verbal so I took my time, doubled checked my answers, and never got stressed. I could tell I was doing well because I ended up getting 4 Reading Comprehension passages and the last two were long and hard. The third was really long. About 50% longer than anything I had seen on any of the CATs. The forth was shorter but more technical and harder to comprehend (that is a great sign though). These passages are where the strategy I picked up in the Manhattan Reading Comprehension guide really helped.
Another sign I was doing well was that the Sentence Correction questions were getting very hard towards the end. My third to last question was a Sentence Correction question where each answer was a complete rewrite of the original sentence, each with a different structure, and each testing different grammar rules. There was no grouping to be done on this question. None. Again, that is a great sign. I feel this was my 99 percentile question, so I think I missed it haha. The next two questions were critical reasoning and I had about 7 minutes remaining. I made sure to take my time as I was in no rush.
Quant: 48 (80th Percentile)
Verbal: 44 (97th Percentile)
Total: 750 (98th Percentile)
Interpreting My Scores
So although I felt that I fumbled in math, if you look at the Quant scores on ALL of my practice CATs, I actually remained consistent. Verbal is where I really shined. I did better in Verbal than on all of my CATs. During my exam, this is how I felt too. I really focused and it really shows in my score. Oh yeah, I definitely had a huge smile on my face when leaving.
I guess the guide to the perfect AWA was not lying. That worked out well.
1) Use the instruction time in the beginning to write down the structure for your essays. Do not wait until the essay timer starts to do this.
2) Do not just focus on the first 10 questions. Manhattan tells you over and over again that spending too much time on the first 10 questions is a recipe for disaster. The GMAT is smarter than the first 10 questions and will be able to identify irregularities. I missed my first question and still did well. (And I fumbled throughout). If you take the Manhattan CATs you will get an idea of the scoring, but obviously the real algorithm is secret. Having said that, try not to miss two questions in a row on the first ten. Two misses in a row will hurt.
3) Do not sulk! If you did not do as well on a question/section as you wanted to, brush it off and move on.
4) Raise your hand for a new dry erase pad before you get to the end of yours.
5) Take a deep breath, relax, and go.
During The Exam
During the Quant part of my exam, I raised my hand for a new dry erase pad and the proctor brought me one that was not cleaned. I quickly turned back around and said something and she grabbed it back from me. The only problem is, she did not give me back my original pad so I had to go a minute or so with no pad. o__O This was a bit distracting.
When my break started, I raised my hand, but the proctor was busy explaining the rules to somebody who was going to take a different test. By the time the proctor got to me, more than 3 minutes of my break had expired.
About the GMAT Expert
Louis Dudley Scored 750 on his GMAT. He completed his undergrad major in Computer Engineering from San Diego University with 3.8 GPA and is currently working as a Software Engineer.
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