Guest Post: How I scored 770 on the GMAT in 5 weeks

Today’s guest post comes from Samuel, who scored a 770 on his first GMAT attempt with the help of the Prep4GMAT app and other resources.

As many readers likely know, the GMAT can be the most stressful piece of the business school application process. In my case, the GMAT served as a key roadblock between me and my future MBA aspirations. My original plan was to apply next year, and prepare to take the GMAT over the summer. However, life circumstances developed that changed this plan in mid-November, which put me up against the January Round 2 deadlines for most MBA programs.

This meant that I had 6 weeks to prepare my applications and essays, while at the same time preparing to take the GMAT exam in 5 weeks. While I certainly do not recommend working on such a tight schedule (I can personally attest to the fact that it is quite stressful and hectic), my advice is specifically tailored to those of you operating on a short timeframe.

When operating on a short timeline, the most important thing you can do is focus on the areas that need the most attention. In order to figure this out, you need to do a diagnostic test of your abilities. GMAC offers free practice tests that can help serve as a diagnostic, and there are also free tests offered by MGMAT. After taking these three practice tests, my diagnostics were showing a split of about 50 on math and 39 on verbal. Upon further inspection, I learned that almost all of the questions that I missed on the verbal section came specifically from sentence correction. As a result, I chose to dedicate almost all of my prep time to improving this weakness.

From my personal experience with the verbal section, I would recommend purchasing the GMAT Verbal Bible by Powerscore. I have had prior experience with Powerscore on the LSAT (I used to be an LSAT instructor) and I can definitively say that Powerscore explains critical reasoning in a way that is incredibly easy to understand and that can improve scores dramatically. With that being said, however, I felt that their sentence correction resources (although useful) left a bit to be desired. I would actually recommend MGMAT’s sentence correction books for improvement in this area.

I would also highly recommend downloading the Prep4GMAT app as well. In my experience, I found that the app was a very useful tool in supplementing the other resources that I had at my disposal. During my 5 weeks of prep I would often find myself riding in a car, sitting in a waiting room, etc. It’s times like these where it is really convenient to be able to pull out the app and do a few practice questions. I wouldn’t be too concerned with the projected score that the app gives you. In my case it predicted that I would get a 410, but my sense is that this is because I simply didn’t use the app all that extensively. I only used it on sentence correction, and didn’t really use it on anything else, so I wasn’t supplying it with much information to go off of. Within verbal and sentence correction, however, I’d say that it gauged my performance fairly accurately, as it had me oscillating between 650 and 780 on any particular piece of sentence correction.

The app provided me with a way to do as many or as few practice questions as I wanted, and in the specific areas where I needed the most help. It allowed me to diagnose what areas I still needed to work on, and also let me see the progress that I was making. Most importantly for me, however, was that it was a very convenient way to prep for 15 minutes at a time, especially when you don’t want to haul books with you everywhere you go. When you’re on a tight timeline, even a few minutes here and there can add up quite quickly.

My second to last tip is about the day before the actual test. I’ve taken my fair share of standardized tests and this was actually the first time I was able to get more than 2 hours of sleep the night before, which I think helped considerably. This was the first time where the night before I simply spent hanging out with friends and being active. There is nothing worse than stressing out in bed thinking about the test, and I assure you that you’ll get more points from extra sleep than you will by staying up all night studying or stressing. Have a fun, action-packed day so that by the time you’re ready to go to bed, you fall asleep easily!

Lastly, I encourage you to use every free moment (aside from the advice I mention above about the day before the test) to pull up the Prep4GMAT app. I actually had someone drive me to the testing center the day of the test, and on the way I brushed up on a little bit of math. No more than 5 minutes from the testing center I had a question about combinatorics in probability, and learned the formula from the Prep4GMAT app. As it turns out, my final question on the quantitative section required that very formula! You never know when that last little bit of prep will make the difference!

In the end I scored a 770, with a V46 and Q49.

Remember, when prepping on a tight timeline:

1. Diagnose your weaknesses

2. Focus your prep on those weak areas

3. Turn small periods of downtime into prep time with the Prep4GMAT app.

4. Have an action packed, fun night the day before the test to help you get your adequate sleep

5. If someone’s driving you to the testing center, do some last minute prep on the way!

To everyone reading this, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you get the GMAT score you’re aiming for!