Ok folks, I will give a run through of how things went. Hopefully noone will be too dismayed by this as my attitude was somewhat different to many.
Firstly - texts. Before I even saw this website, I sat and looked at a big bookcase in Borders down by Trinity Church in NY. I looked through a variety of Kaplan
and others, and ended up just prefering the layout of McGraw Hill. So I bought it - at $20, it seemed best value out of them, and most of all liked it.
That was July.
I have been sitting other exams which I took in October (Treasury exams - Law and Risk Management were the call of the day) so no consideration of GMAT. November I took off from study because the Treasury exams are pretty demanding, and my girlfriend really actually wanted to spend time with me not looking into a book.
I booked a GMAT for December. Work picked up, and I hadn't really done anything other that a cursory read. I postponed, and booked a few days off work before to study.
They fell through. To get R2 ready, I needed to sit before 10 January. The only appointments were 8 January. I booked some days off (two + exam day), had a weekend to really study and that was that.
I read a bit of the books over Christmas, but not really. I carried the books on the tube a lot, but couldn't get motivated. OG11
arrived in the post shortly before due to all the chat on here.
The two days off proved my problem solving was weaker than it should be, so I worked on that. I work in risk in a bank, so it was just getting that tidied up - I still hated exponentials and roots, and had a bit of a problem with set theory but otherwise OK. OG11
was my base, theory was from McGraw and OG.
My Verbal seemed OK. I highlighted a few areas and worked on them a little but couldn't really see where I would be able to get a lift from my mark. My OG diagnostics were good / excellent, which was alright. I was working through practice questions in OG.
Sunday 7th I set up GMATPrep and did a test. 700 (44,41). I got the first four Quant wrong, so brushed up on those. The verbal went really well, but I ran out of time (partly I believe due to having to go and sort out the DVD player for my girlfriend half way through!). I didn't have the time to practice AWA - I write papers at work, so my essay writing is pretty sound.
GMATPrep, as so many say here, is absolutely spot on for how the exam is.
So, I had done one prep test and about a four days proper study. I sat the test. I was surprised I didn't have to be stripped to go in given the amount of security into the test (Holborn, London - the NYC bit at the top was a bit misleading, just american bookstores actually have GMAT books, and I was there).
Verbal - a whole new type of question started to arrive with finishing sentences. Nothing too bad, but I hadn't encountered them before. The verbal clearly tripped me up a bit - the 41 in prep really surprised me as I expected lower.
So, 680. Twenty below what I really wanted for being bang middle for the schools I am applying to (NYU, Chicago, Columbia). Well within the range to be in the game though. I guess I can take some comfort in that they will be able to judge that this was a one sit, when it had to be done. And also, for Chicago to get a mean of 700, for every rhyme they admit they have to let one of me in to offset his gmat!
Time to finalise (read start in some cases!) some of the essays. 680 will have to do - it is only part of my application, and isn't enough to take me out of the running. I have a 1st in my degree (god only knows how this ever turns into a GPA) and my history in banking is strong. And how many of you have spent a summer cleaning WW2 war graves...?!?
People, be careful not to obsess so much about the GMAT. If you need to work hard at elements, do. But really, is committing months of work to one number on a ten page application the best use of time? Try not to get intimidated by the amount of study some people tell you they have done - your own perspective and needs are what is most important here.
Obviously, my evangelical approach may see me rejected from all three schools...