My GMAT Story

My GMAT Experience

I scored a 750 (98thpercentile) with only 6 weeks of study so I am just giving my feedback.   A little bit about myself, my name is Rajiv and I took my GMAT exam in New Delhi.   I scored a 50 in quant (93%), a 41 in verbal (92%), and a 6.0 out of 6 (91%) on my AWA essays*.

I self-studied for 6 weeks while working part-time.    I took my first practice exam through GMAT Prep, my next 6 through Manhattan GMAT, and the last one through GMAT Prep again.   To be honest, I wouldn’t really recommend taking more tests as 8 tests should be sufficient.

In general, I think to do well it helps to be kind of hyper on the exam.   You need to know which method to use depending on the problem.   Sometimes direct algebra helps the most while another time plugging in the answer choices or picking numbers will work better.    It helps to look at the question from a distance and figure what they are really asking (you can often do this by rephrasing the question).   In other words, don’t be too robotic, be sure to Think!   Also, when you get a question wrong or when it takes you a long time to answer a question, be sure to master that question and any related concepts.

*I retook the GMAT exam and scored a 760 (Q50, V42) in Rolla, Missouri.

My Opinion on GMAT Resources

The following is my opinion on available GMAT Resources.  In general, my advice will probably be most useful for those aiming for a 700+ score.

Official Guide 12thEdition – This book is a must but use this book for practice problems only.   The review of math and English is pretty bad (there isn’t even an idiom list for Sentence Corrections) and some of the quant explanations are atrocious.

The Princeton Review – Only good for introducing you to GMAT.   Enough with the Joe Bloggs examples that seem copied from other Princeton Review books!   Joe Bloggs, who is basically a big idiot, really won’t help you that much on GMAT.  Overall, this book isn’t that helpful though it does have a good section on the AWA.

Manhattan GMAT – Probably the best GMAT resource all around.  I highly recommend Manhattan GMAT.   The people at Manhattan have really produced excellent books.  These are probably the most expensive but I think they are worth it.   All 8 guides are pretty good and on the back is a code where you get a question bank and get access to 6 GMAT CAT (computer adaptive test) exams.   You can also generate assessment reports but don’t over analyze them.    I would also recommend their Official Guide Companion as the Official Guide Explanations can be pretty bad.    The only faults I find with Manhattan GMAT are that they waste too much paper, they make analyzing your performance a little too complicated, and they are better resources for AWA essays.       Note:  Manhattan GMAT is different from Manhattan Review.

Most of the above books can be purchased at the Midland bookshop in Aurbindo Market (near Hauz Khas in South Delhi) among other bookshops.

Powerscore Critical Reasoning & Powerscore Sentence Completion – These books are pretty good but I didn’t use them that much as I was already pretty strong in these areas.  If you are weak in these areas, you might find these books pretty useful.   Note: I could not find any of these books in India.

Kaplan/Veritas/EZ Solutions/Other Sources – Might be good but I didn’t use them.

Writing Skills for the GMAT/GRE – This is a great resource for the AWA.  They have sample essays written based on the topics from the Official Guide.  I also could not find this book in India.

I would recommend going on, typing in the name of a book, and reading the reviews to see if the book is right for you.  (Obviously user submitted reviews are not flawless and more reviews are better than fewer reviews but overall, amazon reviews are pretty reliable and reading the comments can be insightful).

Practice Tests:

GMATPrep Software – These are the official GMAT Practice Test available for download.   These are good but they are only 2 and there are no explanations.   I would take one of these near the beginning of your preparation and one near the end.   Also, when you exit, don’t hit “NO” unless you want to erase your test score record.       Available Here

Manhattan GMAT – These are really good and have really good questions.   I would say that the math on these is slightly harder while the verbal is slightly easier.  One reason for the math being harder is that there are no experimental questions on Manhattan GMAT.  (i.e. a high scorer would get an occasional easy/medium question every now and then)  There are 6 exams with great explanations.   You can also see your strength and weaknesses both by accuracy and time.

Other Sources – Didn’t use them so I don’t know.

GMAT Study Strategy

Obviously, you have to do what works best for you!  I would not recommend only doing practice questions or exams; be sure to review and master concepts.   If you are working and have 6-10 weeks to prepare, then I would recommend taking a practice exam every Saturday/Sunday.

About this website – Home Page

Note the website is here to just share my experiences and give some general pointers.   By no means is it comprehensive.   As always, I appreciate feedback and if you have comment, study tips, know of other GMAT resources, etc. feel free to use the comment box below or send an email at

Best wishes on your GMAT and your future endeavors.

GMAT Scoring (with Score Chart) - GMAT on Test Day

25 Responses to My GMAT Story

  1. rajat says:

    Hi there!
    Nice debrief. I followed this website here from Pagalguy.
    Was wondering about the best way to tackle AWA. I have about 25 days remaining before I write my exam.
    How good is the book you mentioned above Writing Skills for the GMAT/GRE?
    Any other pointers… please share. I am targeting 750+
    I have completed my Quant review. Also have MGMAT’s SC Guide.

    • Admin (Rajiv) says:

      To tackle the AWA: I would recommend the following structure

      For the analysis of the issue essay I would structure it like this:

      Introduction paragraph: (i) Acknowledge that the issue is complex/interesting/debatable/etc. (ii) Acknowledge that there are two sides to the issue (iii) State which side you pick
      Body paragraphs (2-3 paragraphs): (i) State your main points (ii) back up with evidence
      Conclusion Paragraph: (i) Restate position (ii) Summarize main points

      For the analysis of argument essay, I would structure it like this:

      Introduction paragraph: (i) State the author’s argument is weak. (ii) State what the author assumes does not constitute a valid argument
      Body paragraphs (2-3) (i) state what specifically is wrong with author’s reasons (ii) consider different scenarios
      Conclusion: (i) restate that the argument is weak because of faulty assumptions. (ii) suggest what you would need to make the argument convincing.


  2. Jaijit Singh says:

    1) What’s the best way to tackle Sentence Correction?
    2) Which books can I use to understand all the rules that are tested?

  3. Paul Dobbs says:

    Your link for the two GMATPREP tests doesnt work

    its says available here but nothing happens.

    Please fix immediately a I am preparing to take test next week

  4. Subhash uncle says:

    Hi Jivi. This is Subhash uncle, how can we look young again. Thanks

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  7. Mat says:

    Hi Rajiv,

    You said Manhattan GMAT is different from Manahttan Reviews. In what are these different? Manhattan Reviews seems to be more widespread but you were recommending Manhattan GMAT?
    Many thanks!

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  10. Chris says:

    Do you have any test prep materials for re-sale? I am trying to find the most economic way to acquire new material. I am especially interested in online test banks, as I feel these are analagous to the real test experience. Correct me if I am wrong.

    By the way, having seen that yours is an old post, I wonder what you have been doing with your life. Scoring big as you did is the first step, of course, but I am curious as to what you did with your fine score once you achieved (or exceeded) your goal.

    Finally, do you think it is possible for anyone with six weeks on hand to achieve GMAT success at your level? I have taken my prep to the extreme, and feel quite ready. I am more at the point of tweaking things over anything else. I wonder what you think is an effective strategy for someone in my shoes with six weeks left. Should I only focus on practice tests, and getting my timing down pat? Or should I pour over more theory? If so, who is the definitive resource for theory?

    Cheers mate.


  11. Tara SNF says:

    Hello there, You’ve done an incredible job. I?ll definitely digg it and in my view suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

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  13. Mudit Mathur says:

    Very helpful post Rajiv. Thanks.

  14. Kauser says:

    Hi Rajiv,
    Thank you so much for your feedback. I too am in the same position (6 weeks left to prepare and working part time).
    The whole process seems daunting and I have just ordered the Manhattan series.
    My question is, how exactly did you go through the books, one at a time, or a little of all each day? How long did you study each day?
    Thanks in advance!!

  15. akenato says:

    How many hours did you spend on the gmat prepation? I mean 3h/day 4h/day, etc. ?


  16. akenato says:

    How many hours per day did you spend on The GMAT preparation? I mean 3h/day or 4h etc.


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