First off, thank you for your posts and comments. These forums have been very helpful. Took my first test this Saturday after 7 weeks of study and got a 640. Not very happy, but I understand that I need to focus my study better.
I’ve been working in architecture for 5 years and haven’t had a math class since freshman year in college back in 2002. Initially I intended to apply Round 1 with applications starting October 1st, so I rushed and booked two test dates before the deadlines which put me at Sept 15th & Aug 11th. I was inspired by RuggedIdealist's “My GMAT experience | A Self-Guided Study Approach” given a similar time frame.
Manhattan 9 week self-study course w/ syllabus & OG Guide 13th edition. I didn't think I needed all of the math guides, but I found them to be very useful, and they dig into nuances that I never learned in high school. (I used to be a Mathlete back in the day, so I know I'm capable of better scores.) For AWA Chineseburned “How to get 6.0 AWA…my guide”
I would go through 1-2 weeks’ worth of material each week. I found the work load not too bad, getting to work an hour early to study in the morning (around the same time I would be taking the test), and on lunch breaks. I left evenings open to study if I could, but I have also been busy with informational interviews. Weekends I would take a practice test at my office mimicking test day as much as possible (time, food eaten, MGMAT test simulation booklet, with AWA & IR) followed by reviewing incorrect answers. I quickly learned that I had to cut back my caffeine, having to take too many bathroom breaks on practice tests. In my last week I discovered Vitamin Water's "Attention" it’s a mix of caffeine & glucose, great for that 'decision fatigue', and only drank in moderation before test and at breaks with a granola bar.
Manhattan has a really good session on Integrated Reasoning, the moderator made the dry material interesting enough to pay attention to and very helpful with attitude approaching problems. I watched this session twice for prep.
The final 10 days before the test, I worked on timing and really stuck with the Official Guide. I took some 5 X 7 index cards and mapped out 20 Problem Solving and 17 Data Sufficiency problems (37 Questions) for 75 minutes, creating 7 sets from the Official Guide, sequentially so each set was slightly more difficult than the previous. I marked my answers on those cards and I would take notes the cards where I messed up. This helped me get into the grove of timing and keep record of what I got wrong for review before I started the next set (Examples of notes: should have estimated, miss-read the question, root properties, rules for triangles, etc). So before I started set #5, I would review what I did wrong on sets #1-4, reinforcing lessons learned and what to be careful with, etc.
6/10 GMAC Test 500 (no prior study)
6/23 MGMAT #1 530 (30Q, 34V)
7/7 MGMAT #2 620 (39Q, 36V)
7/15 MGMAT #3 580 (38Q, 32V)
8/2 MGMAT #4 590 (29Q, 45V)**taken in the evening after work, such a difference when you're tired!
8/5 MGMAT #5 640 (43Q, 35V)
8/11 GMAT 640 (44Q, 35V)
I felt good during the test. The Integrated Reasoning seemed much easier than the Manhattan practice tests. I ended just in time where Manhattan I was never able to get though all the problems. I'm not too concerned about this part given many people will have scores prior to the IR implementation. But if you're applying in Fall of 2013, I would take this part more seriously.
The quant questions seemed much shorter in length than Manhattan as well. This made it easier to get to the bottom of what the question was asking for. Verbal felt easier than my practice tests, but it could have been luck not getting reading comprehension passages with abstract scientific language.
Prep approach for Test #2 in 5 weeks -- Advice Welcome!!
I'm hoping that given only 7 weeks of prep, a 640 is reasonable and a higher score is attainable with more time. I'll be re-reading Manhattan's Number Properties focusing on Divisibility, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction; and I'll be back to more of my practice sets from the OG 2nd Edition books. I didn't like Manhattan’s Critical Reasoning diagraming method, but hope a re-read will help reinforce the question format concepts. I've considered getting the Powerscore CR
Thank you again for your posts, I couldn't have gotten this far w/o the forum!