Category Archives: Best of the best

Download free GMAT 1000 series documents.

1000 series documents for verbal studies, are free study materials with literally tons of practise problems.
The documents were made by, the premium online GMAT forums that is now sued by GMAC.  If you’re curious about “When, why and how GMAC banned it?” you should visit site itself. It is history now and people, especially other GMAT forum administrators learned the lesson from the case. We at Beat The GMAT been following story. This thread cautioning users not to post Scoretop material or even visit the site will shed more light on the matter.
History apart there’s no doubt that 1000 series document used to be popular among GMAT students. I receive several requests for these documents each month, so I’m making these available to all fellow MBA aspirants. According to the source, these documents are actually the compilation of GMAT type questions, taken from several sources, including OG, official guides for GMAT review, which has retired, real GMAT  questions. The Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension (CR & RC) sets have questions borrowed from LSAT & GRE as well, making it very huge list of problems.
Did you know that 1000 RC doc has 3000 problems not 1000!! Follow my 1000 SC/ series related articles and you’ll find more info about these also you’ll notice that I do not actually recommend these materials. Nevertheless, they’re good if you dont wanna spend any money and want loads of practise problems.
Check following posts to download respective files.

Note: I do not encourage you to use live GMAT questions for you GMAT preparation. (Live questions are those which are recently tested in GMAT exam, which are still float on GMAT question bank. ) I’ve removed password protection from these files. Now they are easy to download. Enjoy!

Why to buy GMAT OG12? & how GMAT works?

This is second part of the article. Part-I can be viewed here: When is the right time to take GMAT.

Before I explain the importance of OG12 I need to tell you how GMAT test works.

How GMAT adds new questions to their question bank & removes old questions, periodically.

Have you heard of experimental questions in GMAT? Around one quarter of GMAT questions you tackle in the test are experimental & they never get counted in your real GMAT score. They are present in both sections, verbal & quantitative and are placed randomly throughout the test. Yeah, but this is not important to us right now; our main concern is “why GMAC have them in the test when they are irreverent to the final score?

Well! As they call it, they are experimental questions; they are untested and are brand new. To figure out the difficulty level of each of these questions, they experiment with them by adding them in current GMAT question pool. Based on response collected from GMAT test takers all across the world, questions are “tagged” with certain difficulty level. Once the difficulty level is identified these questions come in test as ‘real’ questions. (which then no more remain ‘experimental’).

The point is, questions in GMAT keep on changing but majority of questions remain in question bank for certain period. (In our checmical engineering terminology we call it space time 😉 ) Now you might realise the reason why you’re not allowed to retake the test immediately after your first (former) attempt. [hint! get the hint!!] (FYI, You need to wait for at least 30/31 days or something to retake it.)

In past when 11th edition just launched, I learned, test takers found quite a few questions from OG 11 in their real GMAT test …. same or similar set of questions. Although GMAT students can’t reveal the live questions they were certainly forunate to take the test during the period when OG was fresh and new. As time passed, test takers reported less questions or less similar questions in their real GMAT to official guide. It is therefore obvious to expect more similar questions in real GMAT these days when OG-12th edition is fresh-n-new.

So, what are you waiting for? Get the Official Guide 12th Edition now!

I must confess, this is series article & I drafted it in April 2009. But due to my erratic blogging frequency I didn’t publish it. I am fully aware that I should have posted it on OG-12th launch period but :sigh!: … anyways.

One more update is, official guide for verbal review & math review the two supplimentary books are about to be on stores in couple of months. Though I dont take them seriously, I just thought to inform you about it.

More about OG-12 & its review in next article <maybe> 😀


GMAT promo codes, voucher. Whats the fuss?

There’s been a lot of discussion about GMAT vouchers & promotional codes. Everyone seems to be clueless, no one exactly knows what’s this all about, nor they’re getting proper information from the internet. But if it’s on official GMAT website then codes has to be there (somewhere floating around or only for some exclusive bunch of people). The reason for lack of information around the world wide web is this is a recent phenomena. It was not present earlier. Hence the post. 🙂

What is GMAT promotional code & gift voucher?

and where can I get it? How can I get it?
While registering a GMAT date at, when you check payment options you’d find two boxes at the bottom of the screen appear for GMAT promotional code & GMAT voucher.
1.] GMAT gift voucher can be obtained from your university’s financial aid office. You need to express your financial need & provide relevant documents to support what you claim. It’s your financial aid office that decides whether to avail the voucher for you or not. hmm did you mean GMAT fee waiver? [download GMAT Fee waiver programme doc. for more info click ref. GMAC]
GMAT voucher code is available & valid for selected nations or regions. (I’m not sure whether it’s available outside United States…but definitely not valid in EU & Japan) d
Update: You can buy GMAT gift voucher for someone (or for yourself). Once bought, it’ll be valid for 5 years. You cannot claim a refund if you’ve already booked a date and paid exam fees. Please note the published date of the article. (April 2009).
2.] Secondly about GMAT promo code (promotional codes) these are nowhere to be seen. In my theory, if a certain company has partnered with GMAC to offer GMAT promotional code or discount, it should promote the promotional codes well; it should advertise the promotional codes in order to leverage the benefits of the partnership (or whatever.) So, to conclude I dont think there are any promotional codes out there (you do study Critical reasoning, dont you 😉 ). It’s may be the feature added (by web designer) they never used. (I vaguely remember that Kaplan might have such promo codes for their GMAT classes which costs thousands of dollars.)
But it’s a great feature to introduce. If GMAC hasn’t thought of use it yet, they should seriously think about it.

We, at Beat The GMAT, perhaps can use this promo codes for GMAT scholarship winners. I think it’s lot more safer, convenient and direct option to offer GMAT exam fees to winners than giving them ‘e-cash’ through paypal.

PS: [update]  & guess what? I’ve figured out way to avail the GMAT voucher! Yes, apply for BeatTheGMAT scholarship and get GMAT gift voucher for free!

Reliance Stanford GSB scholarship for MBA program

And I have returned to day dreaming. Return to aim WSC (cough! Wharton Stanford Columbia). I had said earlier and mentioned in my description line of the blog as well that I am no more aiming for Stanford GSB. Well! and I had my reasons for that. I know it’s unusual & who doesn’t want to have MBA degree from such prestigious and one of the best b-schools in the world? I assessed myself and realized that I am not a good fit for Stanford GSB culture. I think I don’t deserve it.
But recent news made me think about my decision again. I know again this time I may not be one the firsts who knew about this scholarships’ (/ fellowship ) announcement. So I ask, & who doesn’t want a full-ride for Stanford anyways.
Reliance Industries has announced and The Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship. It’s a FULL RIDE scholarship, meaning your tuition fees will be waived INCLUDING all your other expenses such as living at Stanford university, schooling, boarding, books etc; virtually all expenses associated to applying and attending stanford MBA (so, does that include GMAT fees as well??).
The scholarship is need-based & academics of the applicant will be considered in scrutinizing candidates. But the most emphasis will be given to the applicant’s interest in India and her willingness to work in India post-MBA. The conditions for Reliance Stanford scholarship are: Applicants if given the scholarship have to come to India in 2/3 year post-MBA for at least 2/3 years.
The selection process involves two phases. At first phase 50 candidates will be shortlisted & will be allowed to apply to Stanford University for traditional two year MBA program. Stanford will select at the most five candidates from fifty by their .
There has never been such a huge scholarship for any international applicants earlier. It is obvious to think that it would lead to more applications from Indian origin and hence selection process at Stanford would be tough still. But I think it would not be the case. First of all, Reliance candidates are entirely different pool and Stanford made it sure that they will not allocate more than five seats for fifty selected applicants. And even for Reliance Stanford scholarship applicants’ gang, I think it’s difficult to get through in first fifty. As mentioned in official website the candidates will be short-listed on need-base. It is the kind of bread which is difficult to get in India these days. With all India-shining and raining jobs, the average income of person from 20/30 age group has raised tremendously in a decade. Incidentally these very people want career upgradation, want to excel and hence want to join MBA programs of international stature. And the pool of youth who’s actually financially poor is not even aware of such MBA programs.
Still I hope Reliance will be successful in finding the best candidates in all the terms they demand. The last question stuck in my mind is whether this scholarship is genuine? I mean why should I be happy & so all prospective India MBA aspirants if the scholarship is not for those who genuinely qualify for it? I hope and pray it should all be white and transparent. But wouldn’t it be the scheme of Reliance with hidden interest? …the scheme: to make Indian ministers and bureaucrats happy by offering their sons/daughters an MBA degree from Stanford?
I hope & pray my speculation is absolutely wrong.
To apply for Reliance Dhirubhai fellowship for stanford MBA click here :

Strategy for GMAT : study under a month.

The general answer for EVERYBODY :
PREPARATION for GMAT: STRATEGY for 30 days schedule:

[Here’s quick-n-dirty article about ‘study under a month’. Many people have aced the test by just 3 to 4 weeks of study. If you’re in time crunch, dont worry! by using right approach/ method you too can ace it.]
I presume you have sound knowledge of: all areas that GMAT tests; how GMAT works; what is its structure etc…
I assumed this because you generally register a date at least one month before. (if you’ve not, you should. …at least this is what I recommend! The early you book a date, easier it will be for you to plan a killing strategy). Lastly, of course, I assume you do get acquainted with GMAT before sending them your credit card number!
So you’ve thirty days. or let’s say, just four weeks!
Since it is much short period than ideal period to study for the test, you might need to compromise on few study materials which are not significant to you.
e.g. If you’re weak in verbal and Math is your strength you should devote more time for verbal (obviously! )
Coming to materials:
GMAT official guide 11th Edition is must:
Purchase the book immediately if you haven’t already!
As they suggested in the OG (official guide), ‘start with the diagnostic test’. Know your weak areas and know your strengths.
Repeat diagnostic test next day to see how awfully you score. Do meticulous analysis (let’s call it MA here onwards; I’ll come to it in next paragraph.) about your test/answers.
OG 11 has labeled/classified each question (which is great!). Use these tags in the future prep too….know which question belong to which category.
My definition of MA (meticulous analysis) and when & how to apply it:
While practicing GMAT problems I advise to solve at least 35-60 questions in one stretch. GMAT is more about mental stamina and patience! The real test is FOUR hours long and it tests your endurance like no other online test. 40-60 questions assures that you can sit at least for an hour at one go.
Make a table, on spreadsheet (on your computer) or on paper, of no. of rows you’ll be taking questions. And write details about how you feel about each question. This should be done while you’re doing the questions. So dont spend more than 2-3 seconds on filling the table (you can tick on pre-defined columns that will save your time). It can be used as a future reference for your study: the table should enable you to quickly realise your problem areas and which type of questions you require maximum amount of time. One session of this sitting should at least be of 35-40 questions; be it from any section: PS, SC, CR, RC or DS.
(…maybe I’ll put snapshots of table if you’re still confused, please remind me at my blog )
Same amount of time you should spend in reading explanation and analyzing each answers as the amount of time you spent in answering these questions. If you got many questions wrong, increase the analysing time.
Coming back to books and materials:
You can refer basic math books, college algebra or high school grammar books to brush up your verbal and quant skills if you really wanted. But with given time constrains like “GMAT in a month” I think I would instead stick to GMAT materials. If you study smart you, over the time, would know that GMAT asks particular type of questions; and they just love to ask them that way 😉 You’ll be familiar with GMAT style if you solve more OG problems.
Refer to Official guide 11.
Check the math section of the book. Read it (~10 hours?) and re-read all its theory to know the syllabus of GMAT right. Don’t end up studying subjects that are not tested in GMAT.
Download GMAT Prep software for simulated CAT from It’s free!
There are many other sim CATs (simulated Computer Adaptive Tests)� that you should purchase.
Check out the article to know more about these sim C A Ts
You can finish OG11 in 5-6 days (Yes you can! but you shouldn’t). Many folks I know finished it in a week (I too did it once-just for fun); but that is not the right strategy. Since the time is short you surely can compromise on other books but not on OG11.
The problems in OG 11 are arranged in ascending order of difficulty. That means, you get harder (/upper range) questions at the end of the problem sets in each section. However problem types (categories) are mixed throughout the sets. This makes many things easy in setting a study schedule. You know your level and can begin the OG accordingly 😉
They say OG11 is a bible of GMAT! Solve as many as problems you can; examine the answers carefully do the ‘MA’ as suggested above. Make Analysis chart.
Try to go through OG 11 twice in the month. (Since I’m not suggesting any other book along with OG, I think its possible to do this.) Check your progress regularly. Once you finish OG for first time you’ll get idea of how many day it’ll take to you to study one more time! If you think you have more time left you should check with other two official guides
OG Verbal guide
and the OG Quant guide.

These new two official guides, (also known as purple and green guides,) are
published when GMAC stopped the production of OG 10th edition. While new
problems are in OG 11; purple and green guides give you lot of repeats from OG
10th edition. Therefore it is wise not to buy these two books iff you already have OG 10.

Three official guides (along with the sim CATs ) are enough for a month study!
Usually, I suggest to take as many simulated CATs as possible. Practice them periodically; say, one in three-four days.
Practice tests play very significant role in your preparation. You’ll need four hours to solve each of them and two more hours to analyze them.
Since they are Computer Adaptive tests you get only one question at a time and at times, you become curious to know your score and you hurriedly complete the test. (just to know where you stand and see the answers) Needless to say: dont do that 😐 While these CATs are especially created to gauge your performance for actual GMAT, I see practice tests purely for practice. These tests hone your endurance, mental stamina to face four hour long real GMAT test! The tests are time consuming and drains your energy and hence you should keep special period for these CATs in your schedule. Be ready to spend ~6 hours for a test. Keep your cell phone on silent mode. Don’t start the test at 10.30 in the night: I know most of you out there are owls 😀 but it really not going to help in your real test. (You cant take the real-McCoy in the night, right? 😉 In fact, once you know your test times be sure to take these practice tests on the same time of the day… say: start your test everytime on 1.30 pm if your real test is scheduled on 1.30 pm of the G-Day!
I think this much is enough!
If I receive any comment I might add something you wanted.
To sum up the article I can say:

  • Eat OG 11.
  • if time permits study OG verbal and quant
  • Eat OG 11 one more time
  • GMAT Prep : the official computer adaptive practise test for GMAT
  • Plus other CATs

Note that I have not set any particular order in this you should all of it simultaneously.
Hope that helps everyone who is in time crunch.

1000 SC, CR are they worth your time?

They are very famous documents. Yes they are famous and there are lots of reasons for it.
But being famous doenst make them nice.
All right, so lets see whats these documents are upto!
If you are checking my blog regularly, you must be knowing that some months back I made an announcement that I’ll exhaust 1000 SC document & I’ll provide the explanation of their questions. Yes! I tried that but while I was in process of eating 1000 SC document I observed many things about the document that I’d like to share here.
But before that, what’s the fuss? What’s 1000 SC & 1000 CR all about?
1000 SC is a compilation of thousand sentence correction problems related to GMAT exam. Similarly 1000 CR is a word document of thousand critical reasoning problem related to GMAT and LSAT tests. They were produced by very renowned company called scoretop ( you can see the link of the scoretop forums on right hand column of my blog, )
They are easily on internet on sharing/ uploading sites such as esnip or megaupload or rapidshare well you might find some copyrighted documents on such sites but these documents are even available on various (almost every ) GMAT related forums the reason for this is they’re meant to share it across the world wide web.
I am sure you’ll find them anywhere.
So, they are popular. And have so many problems to practice, that GMAT aspirants download them and use them.
Well even I did the same.
[Now before I go ahead I must thank score top for compiling such huge documents. These documents, since available for free on internet, helped and are helping many people who can’t otherwise affort to buy premium GMAT study material.]

But the problem with 1000 SC is that it doesn’t give you the explanations to the answers. That end us up in wondering why given particular answer is correct.
As I started solving 1000 SC problems more & more I realized that the problems are not that ^GMAT like^.
If you compare the 1000SC problems with problems from Official guides or Power Prep or GMAT prep you’ll realize that they do not follow the same trend, or similar style or what they call GMAT like.
Many constructions are bad awkward and they simply arent worth your time studying.
Morever I started a special thread on one of the forum encouraging people to post the problems from 1000 SC that have wrong answers.
Take one, for example, Problem #985 discussed in one of the forums where I am active member.
So there are some problems like these where the answer given in the document is actually wrong!
I am looking for some more such problems. but then I think is it worth the time?
The answer come : NO. You have other good materials that you can refer.
SO the bottomline is refer to OG 11th edition; exhaust it, you have GMAT-Prep, solve every problem also there are similar official materials such as Power Prep & other books Purple and green official guide (refer to How to Approach GMAT & GMAT strategy for more details )
& still if you think that you need some more material to practise then refer them back exhaust OG 11 twice.
& then you’ll be able to know which are GMAT like problem then you can safely start 1000 SC
PS: I think special article for 1000 CR is not worth, same can be said about 1000 CR or 3000 RC. However good (or a bad) thing about these other documents is: they’ve included LSAT type problems which are good for practise as they’re considered more difficult than GMAT types. So one last tip before wraping up: go for LSAT problems for higher level 🙂
Thank you.
You can download these documents from here.

How to Approach the GMAT

A beginner’s guide to GMAT Materials:

The first thing any MBA aspirant should do is visit official MBA/GMAT site …spend some 2-3 hours there. (or even 2-3 days!) & read as much as you can. The information published there is unbiased, genuine, authentic, eye-opener & myth-breaker.

Then you should download a sim CAT GMAT test available there: name is GMAT Prep; it’s of ~25MB size.

The site will help you understand: what’s GMAT in general terms, its significance, its structure and the way company conducts the test worldwide.

(I will not go into GMAT structure in detail since that’s not the purpose of this article. Let’s focus on resources/study materials for GMAT! )

You’ll obviously need some books to prepare for GMAT. GMAC, the organisation that sets GMAT test, published three books recently, known as official guides.

They are:  (Follow the link to read reviews about these books)

  1. The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11th Edition
  2. The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review
  3. The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review

they are nicknamed as orange, purple and green guides respectively. (Note that the article first published in early 2007/late 2006; today OG 12th edition & 2nd edition of Verbal & Math guides are available You can check the detailed review in my GMAT books review page.)
Official guide 11th edition is THE book you should start with and end your preparation.

You should trust these guides along with GMATPrep software (mentioned in 2nd para).

Although these guides and a simulation software for CAT (computer adaptive test) are fantastic for the practice problems, they don’t provide study strategies…

In short: when it comes to problems solving in practice sessions, nothing beats above mentioned materials. But for strategies and tactics (read shortcuts! ) you need to look for some extra materials.

Other books I would recommend:

(I’ll write an article exclusively for recommended books some time soon.) By the way, these books offer good strategies to attack GMAT; they’ll show you how to approach each section and each problem individually.

But then for taking the test in one go you need to have a patience, faith and stamina. & for that, you need to take as many GMAT simulation tests/ CATs as possible.

[Note: Do not rush and sign up for just any sim CATs available on would wide web.]

Following are the GMAT prep companies you should trust: Reason : they have done enough research to come near to the real GMAT test… (still they are not as near as GMAT Prep or POWER Prep)

[Note that I am not talking about GMAT coaching institutes but the online resources for practice tests ]

  • (nearest possible)
  • (?near? quant tough)
  • (easier)
  • (tough)
  • (neutral)

They offer good Sim GMAT tests.

Note that I have not mentioned about other books or other sites for practice tests which simplymeans they are NOT worth your time & money. Caution: This has exception of Veritas Prep. I haven’t had chance to review their products.

Now let’s have some non-brand materials,

Materials those are freely available on cyberspace and have no copyright issues.

BeattheGMAT’s flashcard (best flashcards you could get )

Grammar Notes:

Sahil’s Grammar Notes
Spidey’s Sentence Correction Notes & some more docs such as Rajat-nda’s notes.

You will get above documents anywhere online, just search around on GMAT related forums. The reason why I am so selective in mentioning about the resources is, people just take any darn test or soft copies of books available on internet just to end up in pracitsing non-GMAT questions.

Therefore I am with trusted and reputable resources. I insist…


…still if you want more practice problems then download thousand series by scoretop

  • 1000 SC
  • 1000 CR
  • 3000 RC

Again, these documents are available freely everywhere on internet. Note that documents do not have explanations to the problems. You will have to join some GMAT realated online forums to discuss those problems. I am not pro-1000 series doc as such but I feel these documents are one of a kind. You’ll never get such a great no. of questions compiled in a single document and that too absolutely free!

[OK! After some time getting into GMAT prepeparation/studying environment, you should start realising the easy methods to solve the problems, you should be able to discover some shortcuts. Key is you should examine the strategies that are discussed in prep books and use them according to your needs & study-style.] If you see these signs you know that you’re going in the right direction. All the best 🙂

Post GMAT course for getting admission into MBA programs

While prepping for GMAT you should also be aware of the b-schools you want to apply. You must have a long term plan & You should do some research on the b-schools that suits your long term goal.

For such informations you have b-schools’ own web-sites which give all information about MBA programs you desire/along with plenty of other good sites:

Dave’s MBA Journey

Hjort’s b-school corner from GMAT Club Forums :

There are MBA admission consultants, ready to give you free advice & assessment. Check them out!


Stacy Blackman Co. blog

Above blogs update several times a week; keep tab on all these site & be informed. I think that’s enough for now. Feel free to comment. & yes, subscribe, spread the word! for world peace!
PS: If you like this article, you might like to take a look at this one too: GMAT in a month: strategy.

What it takes to be the best B-school

dear b-schools, DO YOU HAVE IT IN YOU? (lolz :p)
Check this out!!

I have a question. People normally talk about “Top Business Schools”. My question is which exactly are the top business schools around the globe ? What qualifies a school to fall in this category ?

Baccardisprite answers:

It’s a good question.
My answer / definition, both arguable and debatable is – A top business school (below in no particular order):

  • is almost immediately recognized and recalled (instant oohs… and aahs…) i.e a well-known university or legacy brand that has built itself over many years of the success enjoyed by its alumni (both of the university and the business school)
  • offers it’s students a superior allround academic, social and cultural experience
  • (in a stable/good economy) opens professional doors for the students in the form of strong access to its closest job market with less regard to a students back-ground, origin, or citizenship or in some cases even pre-MBA experience – in other words the opportunity to change elements of one’s career (industry, function and geography). Example – a Top US school to the US job market. An INSEAD all over Europe and the UK. An LBS in London.
  • has a strong, legacy network of alumni who are known for their willingness to help current graduates
  • has career services that possesses the street-credibility to bring top companies from various industries to campus; therefore the oppportunity for MBAs to meet, network and interview with; and offers the right king of training, advice and guidance for students to confidently go off-campus to find their jobs
  • offers you the ability to experience a program with smart (or smarter), ambitious, knowledgeable and wise peers.

These are the things I wanted from my school. Below are the schools that largely fulfil these criteria. These regularly turn up in the rankings NOT because the magazines think so but because they have built themselves over years of success and investment of time, money, and effort to the criteria stated above:

USA – Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, MIT-Sloan, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, Michigan, Tuck, Duke, Darden, Haas, Yale and a few others I might have missed.

Canada – Richard Ivey, Rotman, Queens and York – good because they’re good schools and I understand that Canada has recently started offering MBAs the opportunity to work in Canada for 2 years after graduation (this needs to be confirmed).

EU – INSEAD, London Business School, IMD + more recently the European schools that made it to the UK Government’s HSMP list of school’s whose MBA graduates are eligible for a work-permit (NOT tied to employer) in the UK.

Asia Pacific – IIM (A/B/C) – now with the PGPX which is likely to be a success, ISB, INSEAD (Singapore), U-Chicago (Singapore EMBA for more experienced people in the region), Ivey (Part time in Hong Kong), CEIBS (Shanghai).

Notice that I would NOT rank the top 2 Australian Schools here until /unless Australia offers a good opportunity for Internationals to work in Australia after the MBA. Currently not the case as Australia is generally unwelcoming to non-Aussies or non-permanent residents. Unless the country offers an automatic opening to work there or at least a short term chance to work without having to be sponsored, this is NOT a good place to study.

If someone has recent updates that show an improvement to this, please share.

Given their weak career services I would also NOT rank NUS & NTU (Singapore) and CUHK and HKUST (both in Hong Kong).

Hope this helps everyone.


Taken from B-schools-Assistance desk thread of (very heavy and informative thread by the way!

the thread is mostly controlled by the big-guy.

This guy, (calls himself baccardisprite) lives in Switzerland (spelling check :p).
Whaterver he writes is pure gold, product extracted from is wide work-experience (more than hundred months of international work-experience.) and twelve months of heavy duty MBA from one of the top b-schools in the world. JohnyCAGE recommends to go through all articles he posted.
I have extracted some of his thoughts on what it takes to be the best business school.
(reference link)

[case study] Jack's GMAT story

Jack’s GMAT Story is a cautionary tale of a typical MBA aspirant, ‘Jack’ who plans his GMAT prep and MBA application journey. It’s a multi-page article converted from series of posts for ease of browsing.

  1. Index Page
  2. Preface
  3. Jack’s Story : Wrong approach
  4. Solution to the dilemma
  5. What went wrong
  6. The right approach

I’ve konwn thousands of GMAT students and many relate to Jack’s story. I might add couple of more posts about the survey/poll I conducted on various GMAT  forums for this article.

Beat the GMAT debriefing

OHK! here comes the heavy post by our very own Eric.
first of all I must provide the reference link to this debriefing. Thanks Eric for such a wonderful debriefing. Or his original post at his own blog.
Should I have a comment on this looong post of his?
maybe not. may be some other time.
I dont know why he has not disclosed his sectional scores… 90 and 85 percentile in V & Q respectively. but how much they actually scaled up?.
Anyway one line I liked most about this debriefing comes at the final advice of the story… (when you are completely pissed off) Eric writes,”if you are still reading it, I am amazed”
On Tuesday, August 16, 2005, I took the GMAT and scored a 720 (90th percentile quant/85th percentile verbal/96th percentile overall). The result was slightly lower than what I had anticipated, but I am still satisfied. I worked very hard over the last few months to obtain this score.
I am a recent non-engineering graduate from a top university in the United States. I will soon be starting my first full-time job out of school at a major software company, and I plan to work for several years before applying to business schools. Since I had some leisure time between my graduation and my first day of work, I decided to take this opportunity to get the GMAT out of the way. In hindsight, I should have spent my summer drinking more and traveling around the world–oh well.
I was born and raised in the United States.
Overview of How I Studied
My first step in this process was doing a search on and determining which books seemed worthwhile for my preparation. After reading some reviews on Amazon as well as doing some significant Googling, I decided to buy the following texts:
– Official Guide for GMAT Review, 10th Edition
– Kaplan GMAT 2005 with CD
– Kaplan GMAT & GRE Math Workbook
– Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT 2004 (I bought this one a while ago)
As I got into my prep, I added the following:
– The Delta Course (an online math review)
– Kaplan GMAT 800
I was initially confused about how I would design my study plan, but fortunately I discovered two incredible TestMagic posts by two incredible people: Ursula and TwinnSplitter. Both were high scorers themselves, and each had an excellent methodology for attacking the GMAT. I urge all future GMAT test prep folk to check out their posts.
I devised the following study plan for myself:
First, I familiarized myself with the GMAT as a whole. Before I started studying, I had no knowledge of the GMAT. Period. I didn’t know what subjects were tested, how many questions each section had, etc. I initially learned about the GMAT and its subtleties by reading through Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT, Kaplan GMAT 2005, Kaplan Math Workbook, and Delta Course (since I assumed I was weak in math) cover-to-cover in that order. I spent the first half of my studies just reading through these books linearly and not emphasizing any single topic, just to get a general feel for the test.
After thoroughly reviewing the aforementioned texts, as well as the problem sets featured in those texts, I systematically attacked each section/problem type on the GMAT–reading comprehension, sentence correction, critical reasoning, data sufficiency, and problem solving–by practicing with Official Guide (OG) and Kaplan 800. Here, I employed TwinnSplitter’s approach for tackling each section: for a given section I would rigorously practice problems of that type from OG and Kap800. I would do about 40 problems a day and would carefully review all explanations and analyze all errors. To help me analyze my errors, I recorded all my answers onto an Excel grid originally created by Ursula. This grid greatly aided me in determining where my weaknesses were in each section. Usually after about a week or a week and a half, I would feel like I had gained sufficient proficiency in the given section and would move on to another section, applying the same methodology but also doing 10 review questions from the previous section(s). I was able to finish all of Kap800 and most of OG through this strategy.
Finally, in my prep strategy I made it a point to take as many practice tests in front of the computer as possible. I tried to take a practice test every week using tests from PowerPrep, Princeton Review, Kaplan, and GMATPrep. These practice tests were crucial for helping me build the stamina I needed to sit through a 3.5-hour test.
Also, throughout my prep I handwrote close to 300 flashcards. Whenever I encountered some piece of information that I thought was critical to my GMAT success, I wrote it down on a flashcard. I tried to make it a point to review my flashcards everyday. Doing so helped me stay fresh on topics that I had covered well in the past.
I normally studied about 2-4 hours per day, but during my prep I took several long vacations that disrupted the consistency of my schedule. I usually did not work during the weekends.
Thoughts on Each Section of the GMAT
On my test day, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the quant questions I saw on the real GMAT were virtually identical to those found in Official Guide, 10th Edition. I’m referring specifically to the medium/hard bin questions in OG. While I took my GMAT, I arrived at the conclusion that ETS was lazy. So many of the same question patterns I had seen in OG were tested on the actual test. Even the language of certain questions was the same, except for some slight changes in numbers used. It was really great!
Therefore, I believe that the best way to prepare for the quantitative section of the GMAT is to practice with OG, practice with OG, practice with OG! Be sure to pay special attention to the medium/hard bin questions in this book. If you are using 10th Edition, you can identify the difficulty level of each question using this grid. If you have time, try to do all the questions in OG. If you are pressed for time, do the last 100 questions of the problem solving and data sufficiency sections–they are the most representative of the real test because they come from the most recently retired GMAT exams.
Data Sufficiency
Data sufficiency (DS) caused me a lot of problems early into my studies. Like many GMAT takers, I hadn’t seen this question type before and I was initially confused about figuring out the best ways to attack these questions. Eventually, I was able to master DS by: (1) practicing as many DS questions as possible and reviewing my errors; and (2) systematically approaching each question:
Here’s the DS strategy
I wrote about in my Day 52 blog entry:
1. First, I read the question prompt very carefully, making sure I understand the information being presented. A common error I make is in misreading.
2. Next, I determine the question type-whether it is a “YES/NO” or “Asking for Value” question. WRITE DOWN the question type on your scrap paper. I’ve discovered that writing down the question type has been the most important factor in improving my DS proficiency. It keeps me on track for determining what kind of sufficiency I am seeking in a given problem.
3. Finally, keep the statements separate when solving. Very standard and important advice. One thing that pissed me off about the books I read was that I couldn’t find a single book that addressed DS strategy well. I had to figure out my own methodology. But trust me, once you have had a lot of practice with these question types, they become easy. Future GMAT test takers: be sure to review plenty of number property DS questions before you take your real exam (questions like, is “x>y?” or “is integer N odd?”).
Sentence Correction
As I mentioned before, I am a native English speaker, a fact that gave me a huge advantage in sentence correction over non-native speakers. The GMAT tests a lot of idioms and subtle American English grammar that, in my opinion, cannot be easily learned unless you practice American English on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong-it’s still possible for any person to master these question types on the GMAT!
The great thing about the GMAT is that it tests only a limited set of rules. Princeton Review and Kaplan 800 provide a good overview of the various SC question patterns. Two free guides that I found critical to my study of SC were Spidey’s Sentence Correction Notes, and Sahil’s Sentence Correction Notes. These guides, created by two really generous guys, contain incredible information and no bullshit. Everyone should download them.
Even though I am an American native and had plenty of OG practice, SC was by far my greatest weakness on the GMAT. I never did get a complete grasp on the various question patterns to be found on the test. If I could do it all over again, I would have purchased the Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Guide. I’ve heard only phenomenal reviews about this book. This is especially a must have for non-native English speakers.
Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension (RC) was probably my strongest section on the GMAT. I had a very reading-intensive major in college so I was all ready used to breaking down passages like those found on the GMAT. The best advice I can give to someone about mastering RC is not to follow anyone’s advice too closely.
I believe that RC is particularly hard to advise people on because a person’s approach to these types of questions is very personal. Princeton Review and Kaplan say that skimming is the best method for tackling RC-which may be true for some people. However, I’ve found that reading carefully works best for me (but quickly–reading each passage in under 5 minutes), while simultaneously taking notes. Thus, different strategies for RC work for different people, so it will be up to you to experiment and determine what works best for you.
In any event, here’s the strategy I used for attacking RCs. The following can be found in my Day 44 blog posting:
1. Immediately write down the topic and scope after reading the first paragraph of a given passage. Doing so will help you think about questions relating to the main point or main purpose.
2. Try to go into an RC passage with an attitude that you are excited to learn about the information it contains. It takes some practice, but this strategy helps you maintain your focus while you read.
3. Read linearly. That is, try not to read sentences or parts of passages over and over again–doing so will slow you down dramatically and actually confuse you because the ideas in the passage are not being read in logical order.
4. Do not skim, but read quickly. This is a personal strategy. I find that I digest information better when I don’t gloss over too much detail.
I also cycled the following questions in my mind while reading an RC passage:
1. Why is the author writing?
2. What is being said?
3. How does the author accomplish her goal?
This strategy worked for me, but it may not for you. Once again, it’s all about experimentation and a ton of practice.
Critical Reasoning
I developed a fairly systematic approach for critical reasoning (CR). Usually CR didn’t cause me that much problems, but I did tend to make a lot of careless errors because of lapses in concentration. This is the big challenge when it comes to CR: staying focused! I think that my verbal score suffered on the real GMAT because I started getting sloppy with these types of questions–I guess I’ll never really know for sure.
Here’s the method I came to rely on for CR–an excerpt from my Day 66 blog entry:
1. Read the question prompt first and WRITE DOWN the question type (weaken, assumption, etc.)
2. Read the CR passage actively, noting the location of the conclusion and premises.
3. Look at answer choices and immediately eliminate choices that are out of scope, moving top to bottom. Remember, the CR passage provides a limited set of information. There tends to be a lot of answer choices with out-of-scope information.
4. Review answer choices that are left and pick the one that best answers the question.
As for anything related to the GMAT, practice makes perfect when it comes to CR. After you do a lot of problems you well get a feel for the patterns and question types that ETS loves to test. In my actual exam, I found that ETS was particularly fond of strengthen/weaken questions.
Be sure to be familiar with boldface question patterns. None of the textbooks I reviewed addressed boldface questions, which are a new format for CR. Official Guide only had one boldface practice question in the entire book. I encountered two of such questions on my actual GMAT, and I was stumped for both. The only resource I have seen for tackling these types of questions was a post from TestMagic Forum. OG 11th Edition may address boldface questions better, but I haven’t had the opportunity to check out this new text. In any case, be sure to do your research on these types of questions!
I found preparing for the essays to be the easiest aspect of my entire GMAT prep. The first thing I did was download the official list of AWA topics. GMAC is nice enough to publish this list of topics that can be tested on the GMAT. Next, I tried to figure out what it takes to score a ‘5’ or a ‘6’ on these essays. I came across the 800Score AWA Guide, which provides some helpful templates for organizing a high-scoring essay, as well as a few good examples of essays.
After skimming through the 800Score guide, I did several practice essays under timed conditions using topics from the official list. In total, I did 5 analysis of issue practice essays and 5 analysis of argument practice essays. This is how I would typically spend my time for each 30 minute essay:
– 5 minutes for brainstorming, creating an outline.
– 20 minutes for writing.
– 5 minutes for proofreading and editing.
I recommend that you all do a few practice essays before your GMAT, just so you can get a sense of how to organize your time and ideas. Also, check out TwinnSplitter’s discussion of AWAs–he lists some useful additional resources. My Review of the Materials I Used Official Guide for GMAT Review, 10th Edition
Many people refer to OG as the Bible of GMAT prep. But it’s so much more than that. Official Guide is the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and the Gita of GMAT prep. Every person should buy this book.
If you have time, do all the problems in OG. If you are under time constraints, emphasize the last 100 or so questions from each section, as they contain the most recently retired GMAT questions and also tend to be the hardest questions of each section.
Be sure to carefully analyze your mistakes and to read the explanations to ALL the problems. ETS likes to test the same patterns over and over again in their tests. Be keen on learning these patterns–this can only be done through rigorous practice. Like I said, on my actual GMAT many of the quant problems were virtual replicas of problems I saw in OG.
A few weeks ago, a new Official Guide 11th Edition was released. I have yet to review this latest edition, but I would advise future test prep folk to invest in this book because it is always best to practice with the most recently retired GMAT questions.
Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT 2004 with CD
A lot of people bad mouth this book because they complain that PR’s practice questions are too easy, and that the book in general isn’t too helpful for people who wish to score 700+ on the GMAT. In my opinion, many of their complaints are valid. The problems do seem a bit basic. Additionally, it’s true that PR is designed specifically for people who wish to score in the 500s or 600s.
However, if you are starting off your GMAT studies without any prior knowledge of the GMAT (like I did), of all the books I have reviewed, PR offers the best introduction to the test. What makes this book terrific is that it is an easy read. The authors of PR have a great sense of humor and they organize their material well.
I liked the practice tests that were featured on the PR CD. Do them all if you have the time. Watch out for practice CAT 2 though–I found a bug in the scoring algorithm.
I highly recommend people to read the PR book first in their prep. From this book you’ll get a good sense of what this test is all about as well as pick up some handy general test-taking strategies.
Kaplan GMAT 2005 with CD
This book also offers a good introduction to the GMAT. It is not as readable as the PR book, but the Kaplan book is certainly more thorough and features rigorous practice problems.
A special caveat to those people unfamiliar with Kaplan: Do not worry too much if you have difficulty solving Kaplan’s practice problems. They are very hard–much harder than what you will see on the actual GMAT–and many of the problems are also poorly written.
Do not fret about your Kaplan practice test scores. The scores tend to be skewed down dramatically–from 70-120 points below what you should actually expect on your real exam. This is just a ploy by Kaplan to scare people into buying their expensive classroom test prep services. Nevertheless, it’s still worth practicing the tests on the Kaplan CD because you should have as much GMAT simulation as possible before your real exam.
Kaplan GRE & GMAT Math Workbook
I’m lukewarm about this book. I didn’t find it too useful in my preparation. At first, I thought I was going to like this book because it seemed to comprehensively cover the fundamentals of GMAT math–which it does in fact do adequately. However, by the time I finished I felt like this book was too basic and didn’t offer much strategy.
This book may be well suited for people who have been out of college for a long time or have not touched math in a long time. But the regular Kaplan and Princeton Review books are probably sufficient to cover the fundamentals. Save your money.
Kaplan 800, 2005-2006
I bought this book on a spontaneous shopping spree. What surprised me about this book is that it does not offer that many practice problems, in comparison with the aforementioned books. However, it does feature very thorough and very clear explanations to each problem. This is a great book to buy if you are looking for decent strategies to obtain a 700+.
Kaplan 800’s math review is simply fabulous.
The math review alone is reason enough to buy this book. Purchase this book and review it slowly, if you have the time.
The Delta Course
I feel like I wasted my money and time investing in the Delta Course. Don’t get me wrong–this online advanced math review will teach you a lot of great tips for solving probability, permutation, and combination problems.
Nevertheless, the reality is that people overemphasize the necessity of preparing for these kinds of questions. In my actual GMAT, I only encountered one permutation/combination problem. It was so easy that I didn’t even need to apply my fancy Delta Course knowledge.
To do well on the quant section of the GMAT, you are best served by thoroughly practicing arithmetic and algebra. Don’t waste your money by buying this service like I did.
PowerPrep and GMATPrep
The great thing about these software programs is that they are free, so definitely download them.
PowerPrep is a great resource. Be sure to look through the quantitative review. It is very comprehensive and also contains some good strategies for solving some hard problems. The look and feel of the practice tests on this software are exactly the same as what I saw on my actual GMAT. The only bad thing about this software is that the questions employed in the practice tests are drawn directly from Official Guide 10th Edition. Do one practice test at the beginning of your prep, before you touch OG, and one after your prep, after you reviewed OG. The two scores have traditionally served as an accurate predictor of the range of your real GMAT score. One complaint that a lot of people have had about PowerPrep is that its tests’ quant sections are too easy in comparison with the real GMAT. In my actual test experience, I didn’t find this to be the case.
GMATPrep is the new software that is supposed to replace PowerPrep. In the near future, all GMAT tests will have the same look and feel as the tests found in GMATPrep. The makers of this software claim that these practice tests do not overlap with questions found in OG 10th Edition; unfortunately I found some overlap, but not too much. GMATPrep also features tests with more difficult quant sections than can be found on PowerPrep. Consequently, I think that GMATPrep is presently the most accurate representation of an actual, typical GMAT exam.
Practice Tests
I took a ton of practice tests. Do as many as you can during your own prep. Here’s a breakdown of my scores:
4/7/05 – PowerPrep 1 – 690 (45Q, 39V)
4/20/05 – Princeton Review CAT 1 – 690 (46Q, 40V)
4/29/05 – Kaplan Diag CAT – 670 (42Q, 41V)
5/6/05 – Princeton Review CAT 2 – 690 (43Q, 42V) [Skewed down from a bug]
5/16/05 – Kaplan CAT 1 – 610 (39Q, 35V)
5/25/05 – Princeton Review CAT 3 – 720 (45Q, 45V)
6/2/05 – Kaplan CAT 2 – 590 (38Q, 33V)
6/17/05 – Kaplan CAT 3 – 620 (38Q, 36V)
6/24/05 – Kaplan CAT 4 – 590 (37Q, 35V)
7/15/05 – Princeton Review CAT 4 – 720 (45Q, 45V)
8/1/05 – GMATPrep 1 – 720 (47Q, 41V)
8/8/05 – GMATPrep 2 – 740 (49Q, 42V)
8/15/05 – PowerPrep 2 – 760 (51Q, 41V)
8/16/05 – ACTUAL GMAT – 720 (96th Percentile)

Final Advice
My apologies for this post being so long. If you are still reading–I am amazed. Here are some concluding thoughts I have about preparing for the GMAT:
– To Recent Grads: If you are a recent college graduate thinking about business school down the road, consider taking the GMAT in the near future. This test will probably be a lot easer to study for as a student or a recent graduate because your study habits will still be fresh. Your GMAT scores are good for 5 years, so get the test out of the way early if you can.
– Flashcards: Record all your critical notes about the GMAT onto blank flashcards and make it a point to review your flashcards frequently. This is such an effective method for drilling strategy points and knowledge into your head. Start making flashcards from the first day of your studies. By the time I took the test, I had close to 300 cards–I was really glad I made the effort because they made my last-minute review a breeze.
– Online Forums: I wish I had done this more myself, but participate on online fora like TestMagic and ScoreTop. These fora foster excellent discussion on all things GMAT, from general strategy to answers to specific questions. Participate a lot and solve the problems that are posted–it’s an excellent way of mastering the test. Careful though: these fora can be addictive!
– Keep it short: I did about 12 weeks worth of prep over the span of four and a half months. In hindsight, I wish that I had maintained a tighter schedule so that I could have taken my test earlier. Try to keep your test prep within 2-3 months. Extending your prep too much can lead to burnout as well as forgetfulness.
– Read about others’ successes: If you find yourself slumping in your studies or becoming jaded, read about the successes of other test takers on the online fora mentioned above. These people have a lot to share in their happy posts. It’s a surefire way of gaining insight about the exam and boosting your own morale.
– Confidence: You must walk into your test with a leave-no-prisoner-behind attitude. No matter what happens during your prep or during your test, NEVER lose faith in yourself. Prepare well for your test, expect to score high, and reach your target. Shaky confidence will lead to disaster.
– Blog it: Consider blogging your own test prep experience. It’s a great way of staying on track with your studies, and you will be helping future generations of GMAT prep people through your documentation. E-mail me your blog address and I will create a link to it on Beat The GMAT. Let’s create a new online community of people who have successfully studied for the GMAT on their own! Set up your free blog at Blogger.
– Finally, Enjoy!: Don’t forget to enjoy what you are doing. Don’t you remember a time when math problems were kinda fun? Don’t you sometimes think that the reading comprehension passages you read contain some interesting information? Find a way to have some fun with your GMAT preparation. It’s probably something very different from what you do on a normal basis, so appreciate the experience for what it is. Once you can convince yourself that what you are doing is fun, the process becomes a whole lot easier.
That’s all I got. I apologize if I left out some details or if I made some grammar/spelling mistakes.
I’d like to send out my sincerest thanks to all of you who have read my blog and supported me throughout my GMAT preparation. Beat The GMAT! has received visitors from every continent in the world (except Antarctica-maybe soon). It has been so satisfying for me to know that my blog serves such a large and diverse community. I hope to continually show my thanks and commitment to you all by maintaining my website for the future.
Remember: You can Beat The GMAT too! Best of luck!