I have been lurking around this forum for a while. Would like to share my experience.
I have been preparing for around 3 months. I think the key to a good GMAT score is lots of practice. It's definitely not something that can't be achieved. With loads of commitment, positivism and practice one can definitely crack the GMAT. This is actually my second attempt at GMAT, having scored 620 the first time. I tried to put in around 5 hours everyday (weekdays and weekends alike). I think a regular routine helps one get in the groove.
I am good at Quants thanks to my engineering background. I think the OG Problem Solving problems are a cakewalk. It's good
to have your quant fundas straight before diving into PS (although i did otherwise). I'd definitely recommend going through all Manhattan Strategy guides. They are quite good. I even went through sections on which I am comfortable to make sure i don't miss out on any hints that might help me on data sufficiency problems. I solved questions from all 3 OG's - 10,11 & 12 (for all the sections, not just PS). There are some excellent resources on the forums such as the compilation of all difficult GMAT Prep problems, 50 Difficult DS & PS problems. I solved all these questions. The GMAT Prep questions document is a god send. I went through explanations posted by instructors/others on forums for the problems i did not get right, and then marked them off for the second iteration. In all, practice as much as you can.
This is a section where loads of practice will help. I used the AD/BCE method. I think its a very methodical approach to data sufficiency especially since reading the 2 statements together might play with your mind. Read just one statement at a time. Try considering all possibilities. Plugging in numbers helps a lot in DS. Remember to use all possibilities - integers, fractions, negative numbers, zero. Make sure you read the question correctly. I made a lot of silly mistakes just be ignoring smaller things in the question stem such as positives/integers/non negatives etc. Again, practice !!!
Treat this as the 'quants' section for verbal. Its scoring !! Get your rules right. Being a non native speaker I struggled a bit initially. Although I practiced immensely for SC, knowing this is the only section on verbal where i might be able to score. Manhattan SC guide is a must read! I also used Aristotle SC Grail. It's quite crisp and to the point. Besides, its the best for the day before last revision (more on that below). I solved all 3 OG's twice to make sure i was making progress. The document with the compilation of all tough questions on GMAT Prep is also an extremely important resource. When i started solving that document, i got like 1 in 6 questions wrong. I followed the explanations on the manhattan verbal forums. They are absolutely amazing and helped me a lot! Again, practice.
I referred to the PowerScore CR
bible for CR. Although, I think there are not too many strategies you can apply for CR. Get the concepts of causal flaws right. They appear on most strengthn/weaken questions and the S/W questions make up around 60% of the questions on CR. I cannot emphasize on how important practice is to crack CR questions. Once you solve a lot of questions, you start think the way the test writers think and that makes all the difference.
I practiced RC from all the 3 OG's. I tried taking notes. Although I didnt go back to the notes very often. All in all, I did not have any specific strategy in mind for RC and I did not practice RC all that much.
The following is the split up of the tests I took:
GMAT Prep 1 - 610 (before starting preparation)
GMAT Prep 2 - 650 (1 month down)
GMAT Prep 3 - 710 (2.5 months down)
MGMAT free CAT _ 650 (almost 3 months down)
GMAT Prep 4 - 700 (1 week before the exam)
GMAT Prep 5 - 730 (2 days before the exam)
I suggest taking GMAT prep exams is more than enough. I did not solve Kaplan
, Princeton or Knewton tests. The questions on the actual test are pretty similar to the ones that appear on GMAT Prep and I think its better to not worry onself over other tests. Their scoring patterns are different and that might mess up with your head !!!
Last week revision:
I did not study/practice too much in the last week. Rather I just started doing some revision. Solved a couple of paper sets. For SC I read through the Manhattan guide once again. For CR, I read through the key points on the powerscore bible.
There is lot of revision material available for quants. Basically revised the formulae and tried practicing questions I was weak at.
I was pretty calm on the test day. My test was scheduled at 1 pm. Reached the centre at 12. Got the formalities done and started the test early at 12:30 pm. AWA was ok. I had carried energy bars but i decided not to have them since I was too concerned about crossing the 8 minute time limit. Just had a glass of water and strolled around. The quants section was ok. I figured the first 5 questions were ok. The next 5 were slightly difficult and I spent a lot of time on them. I decided to hurry up to avoid losing out on time later in the test. Had to guess on 1-2 DS questions. Some questions were quite lengthy. The last 5 questions were too shockingly simple. I was worried I screwed up, but then didn't let it get in my head. I finished quants with 8 minutes to go. Took the next break, had a glass of water and strolled around the test centre. I knew I was good at SC, so I spent a lot of time solving SC questions. I did not get any idiom related questions.
CR was ok. One of the RC passages was really long - 5 paragraphs. With 12 minutes to go, I had 10 questions and 1 RC passage. I tried to hurry and managed to finish on time. I was really anxious when I pressed the report scores button. But I almost jumped at seeing the 730.
I know this has been really long, but I hope it helps someone else !!!