I found the following video as I was randomly spending time at work browsing through blogspot. Yes, you might argue that I should spend the time reviewing my GMAT, but there's only so much you can do before you take a break. Get Lite posted this BBC video of baby animals, and it cheered me up to no end. So if you're stressed/depressed/just not having the best of days, check this out:
Sunday, 25 September 2011
I've been terribly ill since yesterday, having a horrible cough and full body cramps. It sucks. I spent almost the whole day yesterday in bed, hugging my hot water bottle for dear life.
This morning, I felt fresh after 12 hours of sleep, and sat down (with my hot water bottle!) to take another GMAT practice test. For those who don't remember, my last two tests scores were as follows:
GMATPrep 1 (before starting my prep): 600 (Q42,V27).
VeritasPrep Free Practice Test 1: 620 (Q45,V31).
And today, I took Manhattan GMAT Practice CAT 1: 690 (Q47,V37).
So although 690 is well below my target score, I was mighty pleased with my result. I was steadily improving, in fact, my verbal score has drastically improved in the last 2-3 months, and I'm thrilled about that. While not much should be made about scores from companies apart from GMAC, I'm going to take it as a sign that I'm definitely getting better and better, as I try to crack that 700-score barrier.
One thing I really like about Manhattan GMAT's practice test is the review they provide at the end of the test. From what I briefly saw for each question, they not only provide you with the question type, the topic focus, and the time taken to solve it, but also the difficulty level and the estimated percentage of students who have answered the question correctly. I think this is a great tool to gauge your level - all my mistakes were in questions with a difficulty level of 700 to 800, thereby showing just why I scored a 690.
Exactly 2 weeks left till the big day.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
I haven’t been here in a while.
It’s ridiculous just how hectic my life is, just when I need as much free time as I can get for the GMAT. I’ve spent the last few weeks visiting Cologne, Siegen, and Switzerland, each time meeting up with high school friends whom I haven’t seen for at least three years. It was amazing to know that the distance didn’t change a thing – no awkward silences, no feelings of let-down, it was all just wonderful and ended far too quickly in my opinion.
I was going to post last weekend, but then Liverpool lost to Tottenham in a 4-0 humiliation, and to make matters worse, Novak Djokovic suffered from a partial muscle rupture on his back, and had to retire from his match after writhing on the court in agony. Not a pretty sight. I then managed to break a wineglass in the kitchen, made a chicken curry without a key ingredient as I’d forgotten to buy it, and checked my email to find an unnecessarily rude message from a Professor at University giving me stick about my late arrival. All this gave me a major headache and I just couldn’t do anything else really.
This is officially my last week in Berlin. Next week I’m off to Paris, and will spend the weekend there before heading home. Sadly, my European adventures have come to an end. But I’ve had a brilliant 13 months, almost irreplaceable really, and I know I’ve met some people and seen some places that I’ll never forget in the years to come.
How can I concentrate on the GMAT when my time in Europe is coming to an end? It’s awful to have such expectations really. But I do try. I have finished all my strategy books, and it’s all OG from now on – practice, practice, and more practice. My scores are alright in the practice problems (as expected, RC being my least scoring section of the test, and SC the highest), but when it comes to taking a full length test, I tend to rush through, subconsciously panicking about the thought that I wont finish the test in time. I therefore end up with some very foolish errors, errors I would have never made had I more time. And I do have more time – when I took a test last weekend, I finished the quant section with 20 minutes to spare, and the verbal section with 16 minutes to spare. That’s crazy; ideally I shouldn’t have more than five minutes left at the end of each section.
Dad’s coming to visit me this weekend (to take some of my luggage back more than anything else really, I really don’t know how I’ve managed to accumulate so many things over the past year), but I still hope to take another test. This time, I shall treat it as a sequence of practice problems so that I don’t panic. Fingers crossed my scores improve!
Friday, 19 August 2011
So Novak Djokovic created history and became the only player to win five Masters Tournaments in a single season by winning in Montreal. I have absolutely no expectations from him now for this week’s tournament at Cincinnati. Hope he saves himself for the US Open that starts in a fortnight.
Liverpool drew with Sunderland. I am bummed – and that’s putting it mildly. The first half was so brilliant, and the second half so awful. It’s only been one game though, 37 more to go!
As far as the GMAT is concerned, i haven’t been able to do much this week. My mind has unfortunately been occupied by other stressful issues, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve therefore neglected the GMAT. I’ve finished part 1 of the book, which contains general strategies as well as an introduction to Data Sufficiency problems, and I’ve begun part 2, the advanced portion of the book. I’m finding it harder and harder as I progress, which makes sense as I’m now in the advanced bit. There are just so many numbers being thrown about that I find myself taking a deep breath, going back and reading the explanations again.
I should be done with this by the end of next week at the very latest; I’m spending a three-day weekend in Cologne with one of my high school friends. I’m so looking forward to it. But that obviously means I won’t have time to work on the GMAT. I’m considering packing the book though; perhaps I could read through at the airport?
Rather short update this week unfortunately!
Saturday, 13 August 2011
First of all, omigawd, I’m in week 6?! I opened my blog to see what week I was on, so that I would be able to title this post accordingly, and had a mini heart attack when I realized I was on week 6. Six weeks have passed since I began studying the GMAT. To put it another way, it took me six weeks to finish revising verbal strategies.
I immediately opened the calendar tool on my computer (and waited for an agonizingly long minute before it finally popped up, I seriously need a new laptop) and counted the number of weeks remaining until 14th October – my big day. (No, I didn’t use my head to calculate the number of weeks; I physically counted them using the calendar. That’s what panic does to you.) I then breathed a sigh of relief; I still had nine weeks. All was well again.
So anyway, to recap my sixth week of prep, I’m officially halfway through Manhattan GMAT’s Number Properties. As an engineer (or should I say, as an engineering student), I have done math way more complicated that what is asked on the GMAT, and at this point I haven’t been seriously tested by any information. My PowerPoint on quant contains just three slides so far. And that’s including the title page.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the quant section is going to be a walkover for me. In fact, it’ll be hard for me to get above 45. Not because I don’t know math, but because what is tested is so basic that I don’t know it and don’t bother learning it. (Does that make sense or am I coming off as a douche?) What I’m trying to say is that, the math in the GMAT doesn’t test your ability to work out complicated equations; it tests your ability to analyze the problem and find a solution without too many calculations. There’s a reason why a calculator is not provided – it’s because you’re not meant to need one.
One thing I feel this book is lacking is a page of all important formulae; for example, a formula to find the area of a triangle that has three unequal sides. I studied this in eighth grade, but just can’t recall anything about such problems (and I don’t particularly want to buy a book on geometry to find out either). So if anyone knows of a website where such important must-know pieces of math knowledge can be found, please do share!
Plans for the weekend? Plenty of sporting action for me, with Novak Djokovic cruising in Montreal and the start of the EPL. But I’ll do my best to squeeze some work in, perhaps more practice problems. Really got to work on that reading comprehension.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
Finishing the verbal section was definitely the best thing about this week. I was getting so sick of the MGMAT SC book, and I’m glad that it’s finally done and dusted. The GMAT is far from over though; I started Number Properties, Manhattan GMAT’s first quant guide. It feels so good to finally be getting to the quant section!
I spent Saturday evening doing 20 problems each for SC and CR, and 15 problems of RC.
(Yes, this is how my weekends have become; no social life whatsoever. I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in two and a half months’ time. However, I’m totally taking a break and going out tomorrow to see some of Berlin’s lovely sights.)
On average, one is expected to spend roughly 1 min 45 seconds per question in the verbal section, in order to finish the test on time. My average time per question was as follows:
CR: 1 min 27 seconds
RC: 1 min 57 seconds
SC: 50 seconds!
Clearly I was finding RC a bit of a problem – and I knew this while tackling the problems. My mind would just drift, focusing on other aspects of my life, and it would take a lot of effort (and hence time) to bring the focus back. It doesn’t help that the passages are just so incredibly boring. It’ll definitely be something I will have to work on.
And as for the answers, I got three wrong for both CR and RC, but my SC was perfectly accurate!
Monday, 1 August 2011
I decided to take a little break from my GMAT today and work on my applications. I will be graduating next year and thought I should get a start on the essays required for both job applications as well as admission into top business schools. The great thing about job applications is that no essays are necessary. Academic records, test records, previous experience, and your CV – these are the documents that do the convincing. And because of this, job applications take a lot less time and energy than a school application.
I worked on my CV and cover letter in the morning, and after dinner, I sat down to face an school application essay; the first out of seven essays that I must write and complete by beginning of January. And after staring at the blank page for more than 20 minutes without a single idea forming in my head, I realized that January is just not too far away anymore.
What do I write?!?!? These schools are kind to you, in the sense that they give you the topic as well as a word count, but that’s as far as they are willing to go. There’s just no more information regarding what they’re expecting to see. We want to know the real you – that’s what their website states. Eh?
The topics themselves aren’t very difficult, which makes my task somewhat harder in a way, as the easier the task, the harder it is for you to stand out. For you to show you’re better than anyone else applying, and for you to convince the admissions committee that you’re worth accepting. You want to impress them. You want to intrigue them. But how do you do that?
Well I need to figure it out. And fast. Time’s running out.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
There’s been quite a gap between Week 3 and Week 4 of my studies. I’ve finally moved to Germany, and I must say it’s lovely here. I can totally see myself settling down here in the future, and the language is not too hard to learn either; I’ve already started ordering Pepsi and asking for directions in Deutsch! I can't wait to start visiting all the tourist places.
So with things getting quite hectic with the moving and travelling, I’ve barely had time to get those books out. All that changed this week though; I’ve unpacked, started work, and settled into my routine for the next two months.
I continued where I’d left off, with SC. I’m reaching the end of the book now – I’ve finished part one, the basic strategy bit of the book, and have now progressed to part two, which is the advanced portion of the book. To be very honest though, I’m not too thrilled about this book. Yes, it’s great; yes it contains everything you need to know to ace SC, but it just feels too much. I’m starting to lose patience with it, wondering when on earth I would get to the end. Now that I’ve started work, I’m not able to put in more than an hour of study per day on weekdays (I actually put in an hour and a half, but only an hour of that is useful). So weekends are going to be very important, I’m going to try and stay away from distractions as much as possible. Easier said than done I supposed, given that I’m in a new country.
With SC out of the way, I would’ve fully completed the verbal section of the GMAT, which is quite an accomplishment, I feel. Now I just have Quant, which is supposed to be what I’m good at.
I’m planning on taking a practice test this weekend, to see if there’s any improvement from my previous test score after studying verbal. Or maybe I should wait and do some problems from the Official Guides first, before tackling a practice test. Or maybe I’ll do both. Yep, I’m over-ambitious sometimes.
Monday, 11 July 2011
I started off my third week of prep by practicing the aspects of verbal that I’d already learnt. I did around 10-15 questions for RC and CR. But I found it really hard to try and use the strategies I’d read – not because the strategies weren’t good, but because once I saw a question, I just couldn’t remember what I’d learnt about approaching such problems, and went back to my old way of answering questions.
I got most of my RC questions correct, the ones from the Veritas book. In fact, I think I only made one mistake. But with CR, I made quite a few. That was a huge setback for me, and I realized I needed to go over my notes again and again to get those strategies fixed in my head. I will now start going through my notes for both RC and CR once a week (maybe more often, if I find once a week is not working either).
I then began MGMAT’s Sentence Correction Guide. At this point, I’ve gotta say, I randomly flipped through the book and had a slight panic attack when I saw just how much information was included in the book. I took a deep breath, and started reading. After going through just the first page, I realized that this was a fantastic book, a SC bible really. Not only that, but I also think it’s an excellent grammar book, teaching you all the rules of standard written English, with correct and incorrect examples included for better understanding of the grammar concepts.
At the end of the week, I’ve managed to go through about half of the book. I’m not a native English speaker, but living abroad has definitely helped me with my English, so I feel I’m at an advantage compared to a lot of non-native speakers. I didn’t find the book to be very difficult, but it did have a lot of information. I made notes as I went along, for all the little bits I didn’t know. I already have more slides for SC than I do for RC or CR, and I’m only halfway through!
I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do next week, given that I’m finally moving to Berlin, and I haven’t even started packing. It’s gonna be a busy week for sure.
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
My second week of prep started off quite slowly, I must admit. I think the thrill of completing quite a bit in my first week gave me the impression I can afford to slow it down, which caused me to take my prep a little more casually this week. However, I attribute it mostly to Wimbledon – if Djokovic hadn’t made it to the final I doubt I would have had such a lack of concentration!
Halfway through the week, I finished the CR Bible. I was thrilled about this; I’d go through all the worked problems as I read through the chapters, and I’d gotten around 95% of all problems correct. The flip side to this is that all those problems were quite easy, and were only included in the book in order to properly teach a certain concept/strategy.
I then took some time to create notes from the book; important points that I need to keep reminding me of. Such flashcards are available for download from the BTG website, but I felt I would benefit more if I actually wrote them myself. I used PowerPoint to make my notes, and color coded important words. I’m confident that this will make last minute revision a lot easier for me. Maybe it was a mistake to make notes at the end of the book, but I think this way I was able to identify what was important enough to be noted and what wasn’t. I probably would’ve written a lot more had I started my note making from the start.
The day I finished the book, I didn’t want to start RC, so I went to the BTG forum and answered around 8-10 problems in the CR section. I messed up the first couple of them, but got the rest correct, and took that as a good sign.
The next day I began Veritas Prep Reading Comprehension. My first impression was that the layout of the book was awful. The print was so tiny, and with me already having poor eyes, I was reading the book with my face literally just a hand span away. The book however, does discuss strategies (even if for only around 55 pages), and contains tons of practice problems as well, so I do think it was a good buy. So far, at least. I was able to answer the first 8 questions all correctly, which is a big step for me considering how awful I am when it comes to RC.
I then managed to finish this book, in terms of reading their strategies. There's not much you can 'teach' on reading comprehension. I now have to tackle their remaining 86 questions, along with the ones in the OG Review and OG Verbal.
I then managed to finish this book, in terms of reading their strategies. There's not much you can 'teach' on reading comprehension. I now have to tackle their remaining 86 questions, along with the ones in the OG Review and OG Verbal.
Next week’s target: to start sentence correction.
Saturday, 2 July 2011
As a rabid tennis fan, there’s no tournament more exclusive than Wimbledon. Maybe because it’s the oldest grand slam, maybe because it’s on grass, or maybe because traditionally all players wear white, Wimbledon just oozes class. Not only that, but the crowd are probably the most well behaved out of all tennis spectators. One can only compare them to the ones at Roland Garros, for example, with the unruly crowd, some half drunk, booing certain players for challenging a line call. *shudders*
Being a Djokovic fan since he burst into the scene in 2007, I’ve been more inclined towards hard courts, perhaps because that’s his favorite surface. Plus, he never used to be very good on grass – he’s reached a couple of finals in smaller tournaments, but never had much success in Wimbledon. His style of play never suited the grass courts. Until this year, of course.
Six months into the season, and he’s lost just one match. Yes, he’s won a whopping 47 matches out of 48, his only loss of the year coming in the semifinals of Roland Garros by none other than Roger Federer. Eight tournaments entered, seven won. We all thought this incredible run would end when the grass season began, but that was far from the truth – he’s now in the finals of Wimbledon, and by doing so, has successfully snatched the World #1 ranking from Rafael Nadal. Does it get any better than this?
Yes it would – if he were to win on Sunday. He would then officially have his first major title as the World #1. A first ever Wimbledon title. Additionally, he would be one of only five or six people to have won their first grass court tournament in Wimbledon. But who stands in his way? Yep, you guessed it. Nadal hasn’t lost in Wimbledon since 2007. And one can’t help but feel that Djokovic has already reached an emotional high after just making the final.
Except for last year, Wimbledon finals since 2006 have all gone to five sets. But how do you pick between these two? I would say Nadal’s the favorite, but it’s too close to call. All I know is, no matter who wins, it’s going to be a thriller. No matter who wins, I’m not going to have any nails left. No matter who wins, this is a Wimbledon I’ll never forget.
Being a Djokovic fan is finally paying off.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
After the ridiculously unsuccessful attempt at scoring well on the first practice test (you can read about that here), I decided not to wait until July, and started on my prep right away. Some might argue here that I have three full months, in fact three and a half really, given my GMAT exam is not until 14th October. But from mid July to the end of September, I will be on an internship, and hence this is probably the maximum free time I’ll have to get some reading out of the way. I have absolutely nothing to do until the internship starts (except for watching Wimbledon of course). And in October it will be back to University life.
The ‘week’ here began on Wednesday, when I opened the Official Guide (hereby OG) Review. I spent my time familiarizing myself with the test, the number of questions in each section, etc. I read through each and every section, what each section consists of, and what you’re expected to do. I then did the same for the OG Quant and the OG Verbal book.
I next started off with Powerscore’s CR Bible. I read on the BTG forum (the 3-month study plan) that you should start with your weakest area. CR wasn’t my weakest, RC was. But I dislike that section so much that I decided to start with CR.
First impression: I LOVE THIS BOOK. As I read page after page, I actually felt that I was gaining a lot of information, a lot of useful information, with every word I was reading, which is not something you can say about every book.
I took Sunday off, as my concentration was lacking. It was good that I didn’t try and force myself to go on; on Monday I was fresh and managed to cover a lot more. I now know that I need a break every four days or so to recuperate!
The plan for next week is to finish with the CR Bible and start doing around 5 CR problems every day from the OG Guides. And I guess I’ll start with RC. Sigh.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Saying goodbye is never easy. It’s a definitive; it’s like acknowledging the sad truth that you may never see these people again. It’s different with members of your family though, you know you will meet them somewhere down the line, so you know that the goodbye is purely short term. But your friends, well there is no guarantee, especially when you all meet abroad in a foreign country, and then have to leave to go back to your own.
Being in the UK on an exchange program no doubt has its benefits; I for one, am extremely glad I took the opportunity to study outside Asia for a year, and I truly believe that this has affected me for the better. I have absolutely no regrets, and I’ve settled in so well here that except for one time in April when my grandfather passed away, I have never felt homesick, lonely or miserable, like so many international students do. And the credit goes to all the lovely people I’ve met here in Nottingham.
Out of all the people I’ve met, out of all the students whose company I’ve enjoyed this past one year, two people stand out the most. An intelligent, studious and modest girl from Sri Lanka, who also happens to be the best cook I know out of anyone our age, and a highly enthusiastic, entertaining and cheeky young man from Egypt, with a laugh so contagious that it’s impossible not to like him.
I can’t pinpoint a reason as to why we became so close. Perhaps because they were a direct entry this year, and hence we were all ‘new’ to the University. Perhaps because they had also never been to the UK before, and were therefore ideal travelling companions. Or perhaps because, cheesiness aside, it was meant to be.
They have another year here, but I don’t. We had a lovely time on our last night together, with some delicious dinner, lots of chit-chatting, lots of Cluedo (they loved this game!), and a lot of laughs mingled here and there with a tinge of sadness.
My friend and I (okay so it was my friend’s idea, but I was involved too!) prepared the following video, as a sort of parting gift. Our only mistake was perhaps playing it a little early into the night, as it started off a little nostalgia that couldn’t be stopped. Here is it:
Plans were made of us meeting up next year. I don’t expect them to actually take place; as students, we don’t have unlimited budgets, especially with all the Zara shopping we do! But if not next year, I’m confident we’ll definitely see each other again – did I mention she will be married in the next couple of years?! A grand event to celebrate, not just her wedding, but our reunion as well.
Love you both so much!
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Everyone’s been saying I should take a practice test, just to gauge my level. To determine my strengths and weaknesses. To know what areas to work on in the coming weeks. So I went ahead and took a test this morning.
The result was disastrous. I scored a 600.
I read on the BTG forum numerous threads on people losing track of time and hence rushing in the last few minutes to get all their answers in. Hence I slightly panicked; every time I spent a little too long on a question, I would just give up and select an answer at random, thinking at least the next question would be easier. Looking back, that’s probably the worst approach, given that I finished each section about 20 minutes early, meaning that I finished my test almost 45 minutes before time!
I reviewed my answers just an hour ago, and I was shocked to see that only a few questions were answered wrongly due to a lack of knowledge. The rest of the questions were incorrect due to nothing more than pure carelessness.
The bright side? Well, I’ve not started any studying for the test yet, so things can only get better. Plus I have time on my side – the next three months to properly focus and give this a go. I’ve got the resources too, plenty of books that contain plenty of practice questions to keep me going. Additionally, knowing that negligence and inattention to key words is what separates me from a decent score is definitely encouraging.
Time to start learning then.
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Saturday was a very important day for me. I knew I’d taken a big step in my life. A step that is going either take me forward, or make me rue the day I made this decision.
I’d decided to pursue an MBA.
I didn’t make this decision on Saturday though; this was decided by my family ages ago. Probably when I was doing my O Levels. But unlike most stories you hear about families deciding their children’s futures, I’m not against it. (Well I’m not against the actual decision, is what I mean. I really should try and be clearer). Not just that, but it’s a prospect that’s actually particularly appealing to me. I’ve always wanted to pursue management – why settle for an MSc when you can have an MBA?
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Before I can even dream of starting this new journey (in Harvard maybe? It could happen!) I have to face (and ace) the GMAT. And from past experience (SATs, what else?), I knew that this was not going to be easy.
The problem is, I’m hopeless when it comes to English. I can speak the language (good enough for people to make sense of what I’m saying anyway), but actual grammar is something I’ve never properly studied. I happened to look at a sample piece of Reading Comprehension (hereby RC) on www.beatthegmat.com (hereby BTG), and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t even get to the end; my brain just stopped understanding, and hence my mind just stopped reading.
Thankfully my math is a little bit better. Engineering probably helps there.
About six months ago though, I took a sample test from an unofficial site, since I was a newbie at this GMAT thing and knew nothing about BTG. I scored a 740. Ever since then, my target has been 750+. Guess I won’t know if that’s a reasonable target until I take a practice test from an official source.
So why was Saturday important? Well, it was the day my books arrived. My faithful companions for the next three and a half months, as I try my best to master the test (I rhymed! Too bad that isn't going to fetch me a 800). Ordering the books itself required a huge deal of mind work; after reading countless reviews by both students and experts, I finally own the following:
The Official Guide for GMAT Review
GMAT quantitative (math):
GMAT Quantitative Review
Manhattan GMAT Preparation Guide: Number Properties
Manhattan GMAT Preparation Guide: Word Translations
GMAT Verbal Review
Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible
Veritas Prep GMAT Reading Comprehension
Manhattan GMAT Preparation Guide: Sentence Correction
I’m going to take a lovely break and tour Europe for the next 15 days. But when I come back, that’s when it’ll all begin for me.
Wish me luck!
Sunday, 27 February 2011
On our way back from Wales, we decided to take a little detour and stay over in Liverpool. With my friends being big fans of Liverpool FC, Anfield was definitely on the agenda. Then it was time for the docks, the pier, and the wonderful city centre. I must say that, of all the places I've seen so far, Liverpool is absolutely the best. The stunning views, the vibrant city, the active nightlife...yep, Liverpool's got it all.
Here are the pictures!
The Beatles! The most famous group of people who weren't footballers to ever emerge from Liverpool
Of course I had to get myself a shirt!
Saturday, 19 February 2011
I came across this God-awful piece of news as I was researching for a presentation topic. A three-year old boy spent the days around Christmas next to the dead body of his mother, whom he believed to be asleep and would wake up any minute.
Here's a snippet:
"A three-year-old boy is believed to have spent days over Christmas sitting alone by the dead body of his ‘sleeping’ mother in the hope that she might "wake up".
At one point, his grandfather telephoned but the young child calmly told him 'mummy’s asleep’.
Work colleagues in the nearby town of Lens presumed the single mother was off ill and unable to call in. Instead an aneurysm, or weak bulge in an artery wall, had ruptured close to her brain, causing the office worker to die suddenly."
Read the whole article here.
It's absolutely heart-breaking. There seems to be no father, and no one else in the home. I just hope this poor kid has some place nice to stay, and wont have any more traumatic experiences like this ever again.
And people ask me why I never read the news. Why on earth would I want to know something like this?
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Since I'm not doing that travelogue thing, why don't I just put up some random pictures from my trips? The following are from Wales - Cardiff, Bangor, and Llanberris, which is the home of the wonderful Snowdonia National Park.
Snowdonia! It's breathtaking-ly gorgeous.
Next time, Liverpool.