I took the GMAT today for the first time and scored a 770 (Q49, V47), overall 99th percentile.
In case anyone is interested, I will briefly recap my study plan and the resources I used. I'm about a few years out of college, so my math was a bit rusty, and I knew my sentence correction wasn't the best. Pre-Study Considerations
1) Scheduled my test in late November (about 2 months ago).
2) Was willing to study at least 2 hours each weekday (I work during the day), and about 4 hours each weekend day. I took a few days off around New Years.
3) Studied on my own -- did not take any course.
4) Relied on the book review threads, especially under "Self Prep, Best GMAT Books"
5) Took a practice test cold using GMAT Prep #1 -- scored 670 in November. My target was 700+
6) Settled (roughly) on the "Ultimate Plan" from the book review thread. I spent about $225 for books online. I bought the Manhattan 8 guide set (significant discount when purchased together), Kaplan Premier
and Kaplan 800
, and the 3 Official Guides. I did not buy the pad/pen combination.Study Plan
1) 8 Manhattan Guides -- I wanted to have a complete Quant review and at least SC review. But since I bought all the MGs, I wanted to review them all -- this would also allow me to complete all of the OG questions. I spent 4-5 days on average on each Manhattan Guide, including the practice questions in the MGs as well as the corresponding OGs. I kept a simple error log
of all the OG questions I answered. I reviewed the answer and marked any question I got wrong and any question I got right in a spreadsheet -- to review again later. I finished the MGs/OGs by New Years. I took a few days off from studying and welcomed 2011. This took the bulk of my prep time (~60%), but was well worth it. For this part of my preparation, I generally worked without a clock. I really wanted to get the fundamentals down before worrying about timing.
2) 6 Manhattan Practice Tests (First & Second week in January) -- scores ranged from 680 to 740, average about 720. Things began to "click" -- this is where I picked up the sense of timing and how to solve the problems QUICKLY. I mostly took these tests in one sitting, but I did not take the AWA.
3) Kaplan 800
-- did this book (except RC and CR) on two long plane rides in mid January, along with the Manhattan Quizzes for all books except RC and CR.
4) 4 Kaplan
CATs (week prior to exam)-- scores ranged from 680 to 800, average around 740. I didnt take these tests all in one sitting. I mostly took these in separate sittings (Quant one night, Verbal next night), skipped the AWA.
5) 2 GMAT Prep CATs (days before) -- 760 on CAT 1, 750 on CAT 2. I did the AWA on CAT 1, but CAT 1 was a repeat from my "cold" test in November. I couldn't remember the questions or answers from November, so I felt the scores were legitimate.
6) OG Tracker Review - Reviewed all my "wrong" and "correct, but need to review" question from the OGs over the few days prior to the test. I did not review RC or CR.
7) Day prior to the test, basically do nothing. Book ReviewManhattan Guides
-- solid "A"; a must have. Pros - Great depth of material, excellent, clear explanations (especially the 5 Quant Guides), you will really know the math after completing the guides and the corresponding OG questions. Cons - more expensive than Kaplan
's books, did not find the RC book very helpful, CR only moderately helpful, SC potentially helpful, but it seemed very dense. Maybe SC just really isn't my thing. I wish the MGs would more frequently comment on the likelihood of a particular concept appearing on the test. This would help focus studying a bit.Kaplan Premier
-- mid "C"... the book seemed like a basic/intermediate review. I bought this book for the CD/online materials. I read a few sections on some tricky math topics (combinations/probability)... it was better than not reading it, but overall seemed to lack alot of the depth of the MGs (not surprising considering the difference in cost and the sheer number of pages in the MGs)Kaplan 800
-- solid "B" I thought this book was good. It was helpful. In retrospect, the problems were similar in complexity and wording to GMAT Prep. Maybe I should have spent more time on this book.Official Guides
-- solid "A" -- goes without saying you need all 3.Online/Electronic ReviewManhattan CATs
-- "A-"; great practice; 6 DIFFICULT tests, great explanations.. Downside is that the quant questions seemed very complex... I found that my timing was off in the Quant sections. On most tests I would up skipping 2-3 questions in the middle of the exam to stay on pace. I'm glad I did these tests first, before Kaplan
and GMAT Prep tests, since the math was more complex. Verbal seemed about the same as Kaplan
/GMAT Prep. Also, the online tests are not very similar in terms of screen layout and format as the GMAT Preps.Manhattan Quizzes
-- "B" - good additional practice. Not adaptive. Difficult questions. Great explanations. Would prioritize these behind the CATs.Kaplan CATs
-- "A"; great practice, 4 tests that I felt strongly resemble GMAT Prep questions, good explanations. Screen layout and format more similar to GMAT Preps. I did these tests after Manhattan. It was nice to get a bump on Quant Scores. Pacing felt better. Not skipping nearly as many questions in the middle of the exams. Note - I did these online not using the CD, since I heard the CD algorithm wasn't necessarily up to date.Kaplan Quizzes
-- "C"; did not seem helpful. Basic questions. I only did a few of these quizzes.GMAT Prep CATs
-- "A"; nothing beats these in terms of question similarity and computer layout/screen format. Was good to do these two immediately before the test. Doing these last perfected my timing (on both Q and V). Downside is no explanations.
Hope this info is helpful to others.
Thanks to all on GMAT Club for the book reviews, and the question/answer explanations throughout the forum.