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Monday, March 31, 2008

The GMAT Tutor

I have received calls from no less than eight future test takers who want advice on how to prepare. One, it is very flattering and two, I honestly think I can help. Hence this post.
How long a time is most appropriate for preparation?
A. Three months. Less than that, you might end up feeling unprepared and insecure; more than that-you might burn out. Studying for GMAT is fun, but there can be too much of a good thing.
Should I join a prep course?
A. It depends entirely on the kind of person you are. If you like competing, go for it . On the plus side, it gives you a chance to be part of a charged up environment where you'll meet other like minded people who will encourage you to study. On the minus side, you might meet a self effacing bunch that aims to "score a 600 and be happy in that" . If competition can shake your confidence, go ahead and do it on your own. I know a lot of people who scored a 770 without any outside help. There are plenty of books and sites that make it possible.

Suggestions on how to begin:First, buy or borrow these books and start plodding through them -
Princeton's Crack the GMAT
Kaplan Premier Program For GMAT
Official Guide to GMAT, 11th edition
Arco Essay Book
Buying them is better because you get CDs that way, AND you get codes to enter their respective sites which have plenty of prep material.

Second,spend a weekend going through these websites:
www.mba.com. This one has two free tests. Download them and do them BEFORE you start doing questions from the Official Guide(OG) because some questions are common. The fantastic bit of news is that these two tests can actually be thought of as SIX tests- because the question bank keeps changing every time you take the test. So I suggest that you take the first test two or three times in the beginning of your prep and save the other test to maybe the middle of your prep; it would serve as a measurement device for the level of your preparation.
www.gmattutor.com. Another very helpful site. Spend at least two hours reading this one.Once, in the beginning , then towards the end. It gives excellent prep tips. But the best thing in this site is a list of study plans. Take a very sincere look at them, select the one that suits you best, then take a printout and try and stick to it as much as possible.

Some More Suggestions:
1. Early in your preparation, you will figure out your respective Achilles' Heels. These are the ones you need to conquer. If sentence correction is what is bringing your score down, search for the toughest Sent Corrections on the net and do them until you're correcting the conversation of people around you.If Data Sufficiency questions are ones you get wrong most often, work at doing 40 data sufficiency questions a day for a week. There absolutely is no substitute for hard work.
2. While solving questions, spend a significant amount of time reading the explanations. The questions are not important ; the explanations are. And in the above mentioned books, the explanations need to be read more than once. In a few days' time, the authors of Princeton, Kaplan and the OG start to feel like old friends. They definitely reminded me of MY friends - they're reliable and they have pathetic senses of humor.
3. Make notes. Whether or not you decide to join a prep course, making notes is very important. Making a list of math formulas, idioms, etc may seem unnecessary but trust me, it comes very handy in the fag end of the study months.
4.
Aim for 800. Remember, if you aim for a 600, you might end up with 500. So, think positive, and talk positive.

Will write some more later. Watch out for GMAT Tutor Two. I will gather my scattered collection of free tests, useful links and podcasts and post them here soon.

Thank God for Librivox

It’s a beautiful, beautiful world.
Mine is a family that belongs to that exotic genus – The Voracious Reader. Books, magazines, eBooks, novels, nonfiction, self help, newspapers, the newsprint from paper bags - we move through it all like hardworking termites. 
When I was growing up, the most fascinating thing in the house was that big box full of books that my father had collected over the years. It had seemed to me then that I would probably read them through life, slowly, one book at a time. But as it turned out, I had chewed my way through that lot before I finished high school. Visitors to our house always ask that inevitable question-“Have you actually READ all these books?” No, we keep them on the advice of our decorator. 

This posting at Daman has contributed in a big way to my own collection. One of my friends here says that there are only two libraries in the city and the larger one is in the doc’s room. And here too, yesterday, “Auntie, have you read ALL these books?”

I recently volunteered to tidy up my brother’s bookshelf and to catalog it. Considering that it contained, at a vague estimate, some five hundred books, it wasn’t a mean offer. About an hour later, the poor guy walked into his room to see me perched on a table and reading The Times Guide to Everything. After that I read Now Put Those Strengths To Work. And then, five hours later, I went and convinced him that his bookshelf didn't really need tidying up.

I was convinced that I knew all about the joys that the printed word can give. And then, last month I discovered audiobooks. I love the internet. I love this new world that makes it so easy to share stories. Every night, I download a chapter and transfer it to my phone. And then I go to sleep with someone telling me my favorite stories, night after night. Haven’t explored nonfiction yet but have listened all my favorite authors one by one- Agatha Christie, P G Wodehouse, Dorothy L Sayers, G.K. Chesterton- they’re all there, at the reach of my fingertips. There is only one problem. I sometimes go to sleep in the middle of an chapter and can’t remember where to start it the next day! So I listen to the whole thing all over again. But not complaining, no. Even as I'm writing this, I'm downloading chapter two of 'Psmith in The City'(P G Wodehouse). I've read the print version about seventeen times.
Here are my recommendations for the best audiobooks available. Oh, and did I mention that they’re free?
www.librivox.org. This one is absolutely the best of the lot. A seemingly limitless supply.
www.audiobooksforfree.com Especially for Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton fans
www.freeclassicaudiobooks.com Check this one out for a wonderful reading of Alice in Wonderland.
www.audiobooks.net Some books here are in the wma or the wmd format so use some software like switch to turn them into mp3 files
www.simplyaudiobooks.com This one has one free audiobook every month. So bookmark it and visit it once a month. This month it’s Sherlock Holmes’ “Priory School”
www.audiobookscorner.com Look at this one for the two BBC radiobooks - one comedy and the other a mystery.


I'm curious about one thing though. How come I sleep better when a man is reading the story than when a woman is ?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

End of the GMAT Quarter

I have scored 710 in the GMAT. It's not earth shattering but it’s a decent score and it’s “an accurate estimation of my ability” (this phrase comes from one of my prep books). It was a fantastic battle of wits and though I miss the adrenaline charged prep days, I’m very happy and want to thank some people here:

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