I have given the GMAT thrice and managed to crack the exam in my third attempt.My inital scores were 590 and 620. I will quickly let know what all materials I used and what was different in my third attemot compared to the earlier attempts:
The Golden Rule: Dont mess up on the intial 15 questions in any section. It is good to compromise on the later questions than the earlier questions. So a little extra time on the initial questions would be worth it.
Quant: MGMAT books
are good. I did not have to spend much of my time on quant as I had managed a 49 in the first 2 attempts so I just revised the concepts and gave a few more tests the third time.
This was the gmae changer. I enrolled for the e GMAT
course. Their SC is truly good and the audiovisual learning is far better than learning from a book.Also they have a good question bank for SC with all the question types. Found them to kind decent for CR and not ideal for RC. For RC and CR, found the aristotle books better. I used the MGMAT SC
book also. It is by far the most comprehensive and accurate SC book.So it would be ideal to combine the two for SC.Apart from that the Aristotle SC book(latest edition) is also worth the price. So the new aristotle books are a strong buy in my opinion. The Kaplan 800
is a good book but only after enough practice and the materials have got exhausted. Practice practice practice. I will list down the other very important materials. I used that in my third attempt.They have tons of questions.
For RC and CR, I used the Aristotle books. They are better than any other available material.
and MGMAT. I had exhausted the MGMAT tests in my earlier attempts taking them 3-4 times. So took the Kaplan
tests for the third attempt. Manhattan tests are good but the marking is flawed. Kaplan
tests are somewhat inferior in quality but their marking system is close to that of the actual GMAT. So dont turn complacent by high scores in verbal in MGMAT as they are likely to be inflated. MGMAT does not heavily penalize for the intial wrong questions but actual GMAT does.
During my third attempt I managed to score consistently between 700-760 in Kaplan
tets. But as I said earlier, some of their questions are weird. MGMAT has good questions but their marking is just not correct. So again make good use of both Kaplan
Other very important practice materials:
1000 SC: very good to practice. Touches on all the concepts. Has error in sentences but then one can ignore the error and look at the learning imparted by the sentence, as in what it is testing, which concept etc. Highly recommended.
1000 CR: A good one. Practise as many as you can. But I could manage to finish the entire thing.
GMAT prep CR's: This is a compilation of earlier GMAT prep CR's. Truly reflective of the actual CR questions on GMAT and an authentic practice pool. Highly recommended.
RCs: I practised only the Aristotle RC's(highly recommended). They are a good practice and an ample number of passages. Please be sure to look for what the question is asking and whether the answer really answers the question. More often than not, the correct answer choice will not only answer the question but will be a rephrased version of the info in the passage.
Intergrated reasoning and AWA:
Not very important sections but then a high score would do only better. MGMAT online integrated practice questions are good (come with the purchase of the book from MGMAT). AWA again is the same book. so I had purchased that book from Manhattan.
Real test experience:
AWA was easy. Be sure to write more and not to make mistakes. Then a score of above 4 shouldnt be a problem. Integrated reasoning is not computer adaptive so if one makes mistakes in the earlier questions no heavy penalty. This is the key. I skipped the 2nd,3rd and 4th question in IR as they were case type questions+kind of confusing. So dont waste time and energy on a few questions. Easier questions may follow and it was difficult for me to answer all 12 questions so no harm in skipping on 2-3 questions. Infact I would say you should skip some questions so that accuracy is maintained.
Quant started with some 6-7 easy questions. Then a little caluclation intensive and difficult questions started appearing. But then intial questions are important so I spent that extra time and made sure to get the question right. In between there some easy questions also. Started rushing after the 28th question as little time left. Infact I answered just 2 -3 questions correctly from 30-37. But thats okay. Have to compromise somewhere as time is the constraint.
Now the devil verbal. I just relaxed. Inital questions were SC some 2-3. Made sure to eliminate incorrect answer choices by spotting errors in them. Then 2 CR questions. In CR the 1st thing is the evidence and conclusion . So figure out that first. Then see weaken or strengthen or assumption. Try eliminating incorrect answer choices. The 8th question was a RC. I read the passage first. Just to know what is where and where to look for the answer. Again tried eliminating incorrect choices. Then the pattern continued SC, CR etc. I went slowly till the 20th question infact. Buckled up thereafter. In fact in the questions 30-41 blindly marked some6-7 questions. No time .Also I never attempt the 4th RC as a strategy as the time is too less and adrenaline levels are high and the 4th RC always features somewhere between questions 30-41. Clicked on the score reporting screen and was thrilled to see a whooping 740. Had expected somewhere between 680-700.
So sum it all, practice is everything. Some people may be really quick at cracking it. But I took some 8-9 months and 3 attempts for the same. Also people may advise that everyone has his or her own calibre. But if you believe you have the potential take their advice with a pinch of salt. You and only you are the best decision maker. Also plan well in advance.I had scored a good score in my GRE and had grown complacent that I would be able to nail the GMAT. But things never worked out the way I thought. So just believe in yourself and give it the best shot. Good luck !!!