Tuesday, 28 June 2011

GMAT Update: Week 1 - Powerscore CR Bible

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..

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

Diagnostic Test Disaster

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

Cracking the GMAT

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:

GMAT review:
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:
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!