I promised to share my experience so here it goes (SORRY FOR THE LENGTH!!)...
**Personal Info Deleted as Advised**
THE PREPPING BEGINS:
I got online and ordered the first book I found from a company that I have heard of in the past, Kaplan
. I bought the Kaplan Live Online
Premiere book. This book was great for learning all the ins and outs of the exam itself as well as most of the basic concepts in both Quant and Verbal. However, because of the broad scope of coverage, I really did not learn any of the more technical concepts that would help me later on. Anyways, I would recommend doing this book and all online material including 2 linear tests and 4 CATs. My first diagnosis was a 570. I have always been in the top of my math classes, but, I hadn't looked at basic math concepts in over 10 years. My quant was a 28!!! I knew that with some refreshing I would be okay in that area. My verbal was surprisingly good. I believe it was around a 40. I have been in law school for 2 and 1/2 years so analyzing every word in a sentence to make sure it is proper is sort of second nature. I am a native speaker so that helps as well. However, I still regret that I failed to break down the basic grammar concepts when I started studying. I basically took verbal by just reading the answers and then feeling out which sounded the best to me. Anyways, 2 days before the test, I watched a free archived lesson by Knewton
on basic verbal and it was great. I learned a lot and I wished that I had seen that video 3 weeks before. Finally, I took my test on Oct. 10, 2009 and it was brutal but before I go into test day I will go over my basic study plan.
MY BASIC STUDY PLAN:
1.) Entire Kaplan Live Online
Premiere and all problems during week 1. I only did 4/6 full length tests.
2.) Ordered OG 12
and began going through that.
3.) I took 11 full length tests. I took 6 Kaplan
tests, 3 GMATPrep (GMATPrep 1 in week 1 and then GMATPrep2 in week 3 and redo of GMATPrep 1 2 days before test), Free Manhattan CAT, & free CAT. My scores ranged from 700-760 for all tests besides my first two Kaplan
paper tests 570 & 620.
4.) KEEP AN ERROR LOG
- Although I never reviewed my log until 3 days before the test, it really helps you to think about your mistake and discover why you made it. Also, after full length tests, I look at my missed problems without viewing the correct choice, and attempted to choose the correct answer and wrote down why.
5.) Study every second you have. I studied about 5 hours per day on average through my 3 weeks. Week one was a refresher, week 2 was practice test / practice problem mania, and week 3 was review and focus learning to any problem areas.
6.) 3 weeks was not enough. I would have to say that 5-6 would have been perfect for me but it all depends on the person.
A SIDE NOTE ON 700+ STUDYING:
I tried to do the GMAT 700+ problems but they were very discouraging. I missed over half of the Brutal SC test. If you have the basic 500-700 level problems down pat, then go for it... challenge yourself to learn all the 700+ concepts out there. But if you don't, I would argue that the better ROI is polishing basics than learning shot-in-the-dark quant logic that will probably not be on tested on game day. I also found that hard Verb questions were usually exceptions to the more general format or rule and after focusing on difficult verbal questions, my overall verbal actually went down. I was trying to overcomplicate simple grammar. Anyways, this is just on studying difficult problems.
Moving on to... THE TEST:
On the day before the test, I listened to everyone's advice and I put the books down. I slept a lot and recharged the brain juices. I did play on GMATClub forums and vented my anxiety a bit but that doesn't really count. Anyways, the day of the test, I couldn't get that damn "" song out of my head because someone had posted a about that song the day before in response to my fretting.
First mistake that I made was that I scheduled my test for 8 AM which was a MISTAKE. I am not an early riser and my brain was hating me. Next mistake, I went to Denny's with a friend and had a huge gross breakfast. This came back to bite me during my first AWA essay. I ran to the bathroom during first break (8 minutes now down from 10) and made it back with only 1 second to spare. When I started Quant, I was doing fine until #7. I completely did not know how to do the problem. I guess and moved on but I was really discouraged. This happened about 3-4 times in the first 20 problems. I had that feeling that I had failed the test. Nonetheless, I told myself to keep trying as if I hadn't missed any. It is very discouraging to think that you are missing too many and it is hard not to give up. I was asked a question about a regular octogon... and I didn't even know what "regular" meant.. haha!! Anyways, my advice is to press on even if you think you are bombing. The verbal was extremely dry and (it may have been the nerves) but for the first time ever I had questions that I didn't not have a clue which answer was right. , I have missed a ton... but I always at least think that I know the answer. Test day came and my brain went to crap. After the test was over, you go through those dumb questionaires... and THEY ARE TIMED TOO!!! I was filling out my interests section and on the last question of which industry I wanted to go into, I was clicking randomly and the timer ran out. All my schools are going to think that I am interested into getting into agriculture!!!!
Anyways... after the surveys, I finally got to the "report or cancel scores" screen. I clicked report after some careful reading (the way they present those buttons is confusing). It pauses for a few eternities and then shows the score. I couldn't believe the score of 730 Q49 V40. I was excited for about 3 seconds and then I started the "I could have done better if..." thoughts. My attitude was bitter sweet and it kind of ruined the potential celebration afterwards. Upon reflection, I have realized that 730 puts me in the mix and, with top 20 schools, once you are in the mix, the score becomes a non-factor compared to the person behind the score. My advice is to accept your score. If it's too low, start prepping to retake. If it is good but you think that you should have done better, quit crying and be happy with what you got. Also, on a side note, every application on the test asks whether you have taken the GMAT more than once. They may say that this doesn't matter but, if that's the case, why do they ask???
I am only applying to 4 schools and the paper work is INTENSE!! Just get ready for the job after the job. I am glad that the test is all over with but the Applications may actually be (as forewarned) worse than the test.
In conclusion (I know this is cliche), I really appreciate this club for what it stands for and what it provides for all those worried over-thinkers out there like me. Thanks, GMAT Clubbers and good luck to all you future GMAT takers!