I have not been a very active member on this site in terms of posting, however I spent a lot of time reading all of the valuable information available here. I particularly found the GMAT experiences of others to be very helpful to read as I progressed through my studying to see where I stood and to give me motivation. Hopefully others will find my experience helpful.
I am currently in my undergrad and will be graduating in May. In August I decided that I wanted to attend business school in my future (after a few years of working). I spent some time on here looking at different study plans and books to buy. I ended up buying a handful of books that others found helpful.
For the quant I felt fairly confindent but knew I was going to have to review and remember a lot of material from years prior. I purchased the GMAT Official guide 12th
edition, the GMAT quant review 2nd edition, and the Manhattan Geometry. Many people say the Manhattan numbers and properties review is extremely helpful, I never purchased it but wish I had.
For the verbal section I bought the GMAT verbal review 2nd edition, the Manhattan Critical Reasoning strategy guide, and the Manhattan Sentence Correction
I downloaded the 2 prep tests from GMAT and took the first CAT to see where I stood. I scored a 650. I was fairly happy with this score but knew I had a lot of work to do to reach my goal of 700 plus. I spent a couple months going through the books mentioned above, trying to familiarize myself with the concepts. For the verbal section I spent a lot of time on the sentence correction. The Manhattan sentence correction
guide was probably the most useful book out of any prep book I used for the exam. It gave me a strategy to answer the questions rather than choosing the answer which sounded best to me.
By the time I had been through most of the review books I was about 3 months into studying. I didnt have a set number of hours I would study per day as I had to make time around my usual course work. I then had a week off for thanksgiving break. I took out a GMAT review book from the local library (by ARCO published in 2006). This book was helpful for the reading comprehension and sentence correction practice but the math was extremely easy and not very helpful. This book did have practice exams in the back which I took all within that week. My scores were 640,630,680,650,670,720. I dont think these scores correlate strongly with true GMAT performance but the practice was good to build stamina .
At this point I scheduled my exam for the beginning of January. I had three weeks off between semesters so I knew I would have a large block of time available to study. I also knew that once my exam was scheduled I would be under a time constraint and be much more motivated to study.
The next week I spent at school studying for and taking finals so I spent no time looking at anything related to the GMAT. After finals, I went home and entered my final three weeks of preparation. During this time I spent at least five hours a day studying, usually taking a test first in the morning, thouroughly reviewing the test later that day, and reviewing hard questions at night. I find that when I study I prefer short sessions with breaks in between. This allows me to put full concentration on the material, rather than waste a lot of time jsut staring at the book.
The CAT tests which I took during these three weeks were the Manhattan GMAT
CAT tests which can be found online. There are six exams, all of which are beneficial. Reviewing each test allowed me to learn from my mistakes. Here are my scores:
MGMAT 1: 650 (Q43 V36)
MGMAT 2: 680 (Q46 V37)
MGMAT 3: 700 (Q47 V39)
MGMAT 4: 700 (Q45 V40)
MGMAT 5: 670 (Q45 V36)
MGMAT 6: 670 (Q43 V38)
I wasnt to worried that my last to scores dropped because the review showed that most of my mistakes were simple errors and I took the exams late at night when I was tired. I also retook the first GMAT CAT a couple times to try and find any new questions. Since I remembered some of the questions my score increased from the original 650 to a 690 to a 730.
At this point I was about a week out from my test date. I decided to take the second GMAT CAT to try and get a better idea of where I stood. I scored a 750 (Q49 V42). I was very suprised with my score here. At this point I realized that the quant section in the real GMAT was much easier than the Manhattan tests. The real GMAT also tests on slighlty different concepts.
To finish my review I went back over the official guide and the GMAT quant guide and only worked through the hard problems and each of the problems I had gotten incorrect on my original attempts. I tried to get a better feel for the concepts that the real GMAT was looking for.
I was not really concerned with the writing portions of the exam. The last two days before the test I briefly looked over a few sample questions and responses. I felt as though a great deal of preparation for this section beyond a general format and template review was not going to be very helpful to me.
On test day I went to the center early and checked in. They let me start about 10 minutes early. The writing sections appeared to go well, I finished with about 4 minutes left in each section. I didnt want to take a break but felt as though I should so I went to my locker quick and ate a granola bar. The quant section went well, I could tell I was getting some fairly difficult questions. I took my break after the quant and drank a gatorade and another granola bar and then started the verbal section. The verbal section seemed average I didnt feel as though I was getting real difficult questions so I didnt know what to think.
After I had finished I saw my score. I got a 720 (49Q 39V). I was happy with the score. I thought my quant was on par with what I expected. My verbal could have been a bit higher but all in all I am very happy with my score. I am looking to work for a few years and then go to get my MBA. I would love to go to a top school, and am hoping my GMAT will be high enough. I have heard people warn about retaking the exam after a 700 score because it may seem as though you are only worried about a high score. I dont know if there is any truth to this statement. Anyways, I don't plan on retaking it right now.
I probably forgot a lot of information. If you have any questions let me know and I will try to answer as best I can.