Well, I'm incredibly excited to finally be done with the GMAT! I'm not sure how much I'll be able to add, but below are some thoughts.
I took a diagnostic GMAT back in May and scored somewhere around 550. Thus began the search for how to study for the GMAT. That's when I found this site.
I browsed a number of different topics on the forum and found a bunch of GMAT study tips and GMAT experience topics. I highly recommend browsing the forum as it contains a lot of good information.THE BOOKS
The Kaplan Premier
book is good for basics, but I am almost positive that I would not have been able to get the score I did by only using this book. I read the whole book and did all the problems.
The OG quant
narratives are ok, but the verbal narratives are pretty much worthless.
The Manhattan GMAT series
is worth its weight in gold. It's been said over and over on this forum and for good reason - if you want to score in the 700s on this test, buy all the books. It's expensive, but cheaper than paying to take the GMAT twice. I noticed a SIGNIFICANT improvement after going through all the MGMAT books
. I did almost all the problems in the books and almost all the problems in the OG, OG Quant
, and OG Verbal
books (I ran out of time near the end).PRACTICE TESTS
I only took one full-length test, one of the GMAT prep tests, 3 days before the test (not the recommended approach). I scored a 720 with a high verbal score and a low quant score. This test was a good example of what the real exam was like; I highly recommend downloading and using these exams.
I also took a couple of the GMAT Club math tests, which were excellent. Unfortunately, I didn't plan my time well enough to take all of them.FLASH CARDS
One thing that I think helped me tremendously was creating flash cards. This was mainly for quant - I wrote a number of concepts and formulas on these cards that were recommended by the books or that seemed important. I kept these in my work bag and on my way to work I would flip through the flash cards. This helped get some concepts and formulas into my head that I otherwise wouldn't have had time to learn as well.DAY BEFORE TEST
I luckily had the day before the test off work. I studied in the morning, until about noon; went over some stuff about which I wasn't entirely comfortable. And then I took the rest of the afternoon/evening off. I read, watched TV, went out to lunch, cooked myself a simple dinner, and got everything ready for the next day. Most importantly, I went to bed early.TEST DAY
I woke up with plenty of time to spare for my morning routine. Breakfast was a banana, egg and cheese on a bagel, and an Odwalla fruit juice. I highly recommend protein the morning of the test. I brought trail mix and water with me for during the breaks. My test was at 8 am; I got to the center at 7:30 am. I'm very glad I did because there were a lot of people there and I think I would have been nervous had I showed up late and seen all the people waiting.
A recommendation for the breaks: there's a pop-up window that comes up and asks if you want to take your break. Raise your hand first and don't click on the Yes button until the attendant comes over to you. Time starts as soon as you click the button, but sometimes it takes up to a minute for the attendant to let you out of the room.
In general, time was my biggest issue for my practice tests and the actual exam. I did all of my studying and practice problems completely untimed, which I think was fine, but I do wish I would have spent a little more time working problems faster. This was only an issue for quant.BOTTOM LINE RECOMMENDATIONS
- If you're unfamiliar with the GMAT and unsure of your skill level, start with the Kaplan Premier
book. It's a good foundation.
- Use the MGMAT books
. All of them. If you only have time for some, pick your weakest topics. But seriously, these books are amazing.
- Flash cards. They're a great way to pass the time and to learn concepts and formulas.
- You know how you study. Don't take everybody's advice; rather tailor people's advice to what works best for you.SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS
When I wasn't able to or just didn't have it in me to study, I always had a book, crossword puzzle, or sudoku puzzle to work on. It kept my mind fresh and thinking.
The Manhattan GMAT
sells the GMAT test simulation booklet
. I only used it for the practice tests, but it was good practice and ensured that I wasn't completely caught off guard the day of the test.
Eat well, sleep well, and maintain a small semblance of a life while you're studying. Yes, of course it's important to devote a good chunk of your time to studying. And I'm not advising to go out every night. But give yourself one night a week to go to dinner with friends or go dancing or play volleyball, or something to maintain your sanity.
Alright, that was a bit longer than I would have hoped, sorry for the length of the post. I hope that some of my thoughts above can help some of you who are still studying.