My studying went essentially like this (about 7 weeks altogether):
1) Read through entire Kaplan
2005 book, did all the problems (didn't sit down and write the essays). This really familiarizes you with the format.
2) Went through the entire Kaplan
CD. I was banging my head against the table but I was trying to learn through osmosis and pace myself.
3) Did two of the three (my CD ran out of questions and wouldn't run my fourth) CAT tests on the Kaplan
CD. Got about 680 each time. Knew from this forum that Kaplan
's test were harder, wanted to walk through the fire upfront and see what my weaknesses were.
4) Went through the entire GMAT 800
book (this one is supposedly made up of all hard questions - unfortunately, many of them also appear in reviews and tests on the Kaplan
CD, which they need to exorcise).
5) Downloaded the PowerPrep software, did ALL the problems on it, then took both test, got 740 & 750.
6) Took the last Kaplan
test, got a 750. At that point I stopped worrying.
I booked the test on Feb 3rd in the middle of this routine, couldn't get a workable slot till the 22nd. I ran out of useful practice material with over two weeks to go. So, I started reading The Bedford Handbook from freshman composition to really nail down grammar and sentence structure, and let the math go.
I should note that I got a 1550 on the SAT, 800 in the math section (these tests are NOT proxies for intelligence or professional ability, but I am good at standardized tests). So I was a bit lulled into complacency on the math even though the practice tests told me that I was more along on the verbal. I ended up in the 99th% for verbal, 86th% in math (well enough into the verbal to squeak into the 99th% overall).
Anyway, I think the regiment I went through, for someone with 2-4 months to prepare (someone who is going to take a year to prepare or make a full-time job of this can afford to study more), should work for the most people and would be a good substitute for a prep course, unless your personality is such that you need alot of structure. If I could do it again, I would have split the last couple of days between the grammar review I did (it actually helped and everyone interested in an MBA should be able to write well anyway) and some math questions from the Official Guide (I bought it, pretty much didn't use it at all). If you're not a strong test-taker, budget a month or so after all this to do questions in your weaker area, at a slow pace.
Good luck everyone![/i]