so, i've been a silent lurker on the forums and thought i would finally contribute
I just took my gmat today (first time)! somewhat happy with the results.
I first took a mgmat test (with zero prep) to gauge where I stood. Needless to say I had a lot of work to do. Below are the scores on all my practice exams (yes, i took an excessive number of them... I can be a bit impatient and wanted to see quantifiable results ASAP
After my horrendous first attempt, I set my goal at 750; I believe in aiming high
. I began with focusing on quant, then verbal, then sort of alternated between the two after I got them each up to a semi-decent level. I definitely did not start intensively studying until about one month prior to the test date btw. There were a couple of points where I kind of plateaued, but for the most part, I had fairly consistent improvement. Though I had a lot of retakes, I dont think the scores were skewed toooo much since I didn't seem to get very many repeat questions (except for the RC passages in GMATPrep), and when I did, I didn't usually remember the answer anyway.
10/21/09 MGMAT CAT I (Q33 V32) 540
11/15/09 PR CAT I (Q37 V34) 590
11/17/09 MGMAT CAT II (Q42 V33) 620
12/28/09 GMATPrep (Q44 V35) 640
1/9/10 MGMAT CAT III (Q44 V35) 650
1/16/10 MGMAT CAT IV (Q45 V34) 650
1/19/10 MGMAT CAT V (Q47 V37) 690
1/24/10 MGMAT CAT VI (Q46 V44) 730
1/28/10 GMATPrep (Q47 V40) 710
1/30/10 MGMAT CAT I retake (Q45 V38) 690
1/31/10 MGMAT CAT II retake (Q45 V39) 690
2/1/10 GMATPrep retake (Q47 V39) 700
2/3/10 MGMAT CAT III retake (Q46 V37) 680
2/4/10 GMATPrep retake (Q41 V41) 670 (wasted too much time on one question and ran out of time on quant)
2/5/10 GMATPrep (Q49 42) 740
2/6/10 MGMAT CAT IV retake (Q45 V40) 700
2/7/10 GMATPrep w/ AWA (Q50 V42) 760
One problem that I had throughout all my practice exams was timing: I was usually very tight on time with quant and finishing 15-20 mins early on verbal. Math just gets faster once you learn all the little shortcuts and strategies and with verbal, I just needed to pace myself, not to skim, and slow down to avoid "stupid" mistakes (most of my mistakes were these kind of errors rather than from lack of understanding of a concept).
I also didn't even touch AWA until the day before my exam. I just briefly read though chineseburned's AWA guide, and took my final practice exam with the AWA (skipped it on all other practices). I would only recommend this if you are comfortable with writing in general and are doing well on CR questions. I feel that if you are doing well on CR, you will be fine on the essays since they are both logic based.
Here are the books I used and brief notes on each:
Exam Cram - Not very useful but covers the basics. I mostly bought this because the book was small and easy to carry around so I could study during my long commute to/from work.OG 12th
ed - I didn't go through the entire thing. Took the diagnostic and then mainly just focused on the areas I needed the most improvement. OG quant
2nd ed - I actually didn't touch this at all... but I'm sure it would be good for extra practiceKaplan Advanced
- It didn't seem very "advanced" to me, but there were a few strategies/points that I found helpful and it was fairly quick to get through so I went through the majority of this.MGMAT SC
- Very helpful. I just read through it and did the problems in the book itself (didnt do the OG questions after each chapter as suggested. I did some of the OG questions at other points in my study, but I mean that I didn't do topic/concept specific questions as a group)
MGMAT Word Problems - pretty helpful (")MGMAT Number Properties
- very helpful (")
Overall I think mgmat is pretty good, especially their reports that help you target specific problem areas/topics, but at times they focus too much attention on topics that rarely show up in the actual gmat such as probability, combinatorics and permutations- both the books and the CATs. Towards the end, I started to get really irritated with the mgmat CATs, especially the math because I was getting so many of these types of problems and also in general, their questions seemed too time consuming (compared to gmatprep/og questions). Difficult questions are good to practice, but when they are too far out of the scope of the real gmat, it just becomes a waste of time in my opinion.
I'm sure many people will discourage me from doing so, but i kind of want to retake it. 710 is below average for many of the schools I want to apply to. and my quant was low, which may raise concerns in apps (i work in accounting, but i didnt take any math courses in college- long story
). also, my gpa in college was barely above a 3.0. I think i will be good in terms of essays and recommendations, but i was hoping a high gmat would help balance the low gpa... and i have a lot of time to retake it, if i so choose. i guess i'll sleep on it.
* updated w AWA score