My score on Monday was 740 (99th percentile overall; 98-V, 82-Q). My story might be helpful for anyone who is strong in verbal but weak in math, as I had not studied math for nearly a decade.
My last score in October was 640 (96-V, 48-Q). A 48th percentile in math would certainly have killed my applications to top schools. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts; I studied very, very hard for about two months, and frankly, I've come to rather enjoy word problems! Below is my advice. I will summarize my study plan in the end, for those who donтАЩt want to bother reading it all.
There are two distinct elements to success: (1) Knowing the concepts, and (2) practice taking the tests.
(1) To learn the concepts, I would suggest picking up an old high school pre-calculus textbook, which should have one or two chapters reviewing geometry and algebra, as well as a chapter on probability/permutations. There were at least three or four questions on my GMAT on permutations or probability; knowing the formulas, these questions were a cinch. I do not think any of the GMAT-prep books are sufficient to teach probability; only recently have such problems started to regularly and frequently appear on the GMAT. The math in a pre-calculus book will in fact be harder than that which appears on the GMAT, but approach will help you master the skills and concepts rather than formulas and shortcuts.
Of course, I did all of the GMAT prep books anyway. If you are starting from scratch, ARCOтАЩs GRE-GMAT math review is a comprehensive, basic review, but the math on the GMAT is much, much harder. Then, there are two essential books:
KaplanтАЩs GRE-GMAT math workbook, and
KaplanтАЩs GMAT 2004 general edition, which contains about three chapters of math review/problems. Additionally, I found the study guides from
http://www.crack-gmat.com to be helpful. These math problems are more difficult than those on the GMAT, so if you can master them, you are on the right track! I reviewed each chapter of crack-GMAT at least two times.
Finally, do all of the problems in the Official Guide. Generally, these problems are listed from easy to hard. If you have limited time, start with last few problems, and work backwards. Now, itтАЩs not just enough to do these problems. Carefully keep track of which problems you get wrong. Take a two-week break, keep studying the concepts, and then return to these problems. If you still are getting any single problem wrong, review and review and review! There are only about three or four problems total in the
GMAT Official Guide that I still donтАЩt understandтАж including problem #434 on page 134.
Finally, there are some good sources of additional problems on the links section of this websiteтАж
In general, you have to master the тАЬskillтАЭ of math. It is more than memorizing formulas. It is an ability to see a problem, understand its language, translate it into a formula, and approach it in various ways. Really, itтАЩs a matter of overcoming your intimidation. I am not a math person, and basically dropped out of calculus in high school. Nevertheless, although we might not all have an innate mathematical talent, I believe than any human mind is equipped to understand and apply quantitative fundamentals; it might (initially) require more effort for some of us тАУ like me тАФ but it is possible!
(2) Now, equally important to learning the concepts are the practice tests. Always take computerized tests with the тАЬCATтАЭ format; donтАЩt waste your time on paper tests. One reason I bombed the first test was a lack of sufficient test preparation. I spent way too much time on the first ten problems, and then basically panicked when I saw the clockтАж I probably got most of the remaining 27 problems wrong. Granted, it is essential to correctly answer the first 5-7 questions, but make sure you practice taking tests to learn the timing! You have to learn how to pace yourself; I think this will be different for everyone. You will learn to recognize problems that you probably cannot answer; for these, it pays to just guess and move on! I did this once on my GMAT, somewhere between questions 25/30. Skipping a problem (near the end) buys you an extra two minutes, which is about what each problem should take.
The Princeton Review tests are much easier than the real GMAT, but this can be a good starting point as a тАЬwarm-upтАЭ; the Princeton Review GMAT 2004 comes with a CD with four tests.
The
Kaplan tests are a decent approximation of the real GMAT, although your score on the real GMAT should be about 50/100 points higher than your score from the
Kaplan practice tests. (
Kaplan GMAT 2004 has four practice tests on CD.) The
Kaplan tests are also great because they tell you your timing for individual questions.
Also, I purchased PetersonтАЩs GMAT CAT Success, which has an additional four practice tests on CD; these tests are also a very decent approximation of the GMAT, although the real GMAT will have a wider range of problems.
If you buy the $29 crack-gmat package (
http://www.crack-gmat.com), it comes with five practice tests. These tests are more difficult than the real GMAT, but it makes for great practice; master these, and you are set!
Finally, and obviously, do the Official GuideтАЩs two tests, which should very closely correlate to your final score. In fact, my last OG test was 740, which was my exact GMAT score. I did both of these tests in the beginning of my studies, and then again at the end of my studies.
When I took all of these tests, I never bothered with the verbal. However, it is important to practice writing the essays for an hour before taking the quantitative test. Do this at least one or two times. Part of the problem on the real GMAT is by the time the math section comes, you are already drained from writing two essays on idiotic topics.
This is important: Always return to the tests and review the problems that you got wrong! This is just as important as taking the test itself.
Summary:
(1) Skills
1. A high school algebra and/or pre-calculus book. Do the word problems, also!
2. ARCOтАЩs GRE-GMAT math reviewтАФ skip this if you already know the basics.
3.
KaplanтАЩs GRE-GMAT math review. I did all of the problems 2x.
4.
KaplanтАЩs GMAT 2004 (chapters 6 to 10)
5. Crack-Gmat math review (
http://www.crack-gmat.com), which has twenty-six chapters with practice problems.
6. Official Guide 10th Edition: All problem solving and data sufficiency questions. Make sure to review thoroughly the oneтАЩs you get wrongтАж
(2) Practice Tests
1. Princeton Review GMAT 2004: Four practice testsтАФ as a warm-up only!
2. PetersonтАЩs GMAT CAT Success: Four practice tests.
3.
KaplanтАЩs GMAT 2004: Four practice tests.
4. Crack-Gmat: Five practice tests
5. Official Guide: Two practice tests
I focused on the practice tests the final two/three weeks of study, after I had already mastered the concepts. I did one quantitative practice test each day, taking at least a day or two off so I did not get burned out.
Good luck! Any additional questions, let me know.