Just took the test today, I was surprised by the score, I wasn't expecting to do this well.
I studied for a total of about three months, approximately 150 study-hours.
I used the Princeton Review Cracking..... which was good for getting some basic ideas about the test, and some basic strategies together.
I also used the Kaplan 800
which I thought was horrible, the verbal is challenging but mainly because it is poorly written and confusing.
I also used the Official Guide, 10th edition I believe.
I took a few GMATClub challenges
as well which were great practice.
I also have a friend who is a high school math teacher, she lent me a couple of books to practice permutations and algebra which was great.
What worked best for me was to spend the first 8 or 9 weeks practicing as many problems as possible (working through the Official Guide) and then spending the last few weeks taking as many practice tests as possible.
The first phase of studying, where you're just churning through a huge volume of questions seems to help you identify patterns in questions, you'll be doing a math problem and suddenly you'll think, "Wait a minute, I bet they're using the trick they used on that other problem...." You start to see shortcuts. If I had to do one thing over I would do a lot more difficult math, like the GMAT club challenges
, and I would try to be more disciplined about going over questions I get wrong, I had a tendency to be like, "What, I was wrong? Whatever, on to the next one."
The second phase, where you spend a few weeks doing practice tests gives you a feel for timing, and really gets you prepared for the actual test.
It seems to me that there are certain skills that only stick in your head for so long. For instance, I did a lot of studying on permutations about a month ago. After a couple weeks I completely forgot how to do those types of problems. They're not hard, but for some reason the ability to do permutation problems only stays in my head for so long if I'm not practicing. So I just decided to wait until the night before the test to study problem areas that are simple, but have that sort of short "half-life" in my memory. So last night I re-learned permutations, re-memorized 3-4-5 triangles etc...
I took a sleeping pill before I went to bed. I knew it might leave me slightly groggy today but I figured it would be better to be a little groggy from the pill than from tossing and turning all night. Again, this is just a personal preference, I happen to not think very well without a lot of sleep. I had a big cup of coffee and the grogginess went away.
I also extra healthy the last week, lots of vegetables, lots of water, didn't overeat, got plenty of exercise. I'd like to say that this made me relaxed and energetic going into the test, but I think it's more realistic to say it made me LESS stressed about the whole thing.
Oh yeah, my practice test scores:
GMAT Prep 730
GMAT Prep 710
I'm puzzled by getting a really high score on the Kaplan
and a really low score on the MGMAT. I guess the MGMAT isn't a CAT, and it was pretty horribly written.