Took GMAT (680, Q44 V38) after getting 640 680 (MGMAT) and 730 (GMATPrep) and barely 2 weeks of study. Obviously not enough. Felt terrible and knew I could do better.
Second time around
Materials: I had nothing before but after reading GMATClub I knew I had to get the OG for the second test, which was good, but not nearly as good as the MGMAT guides
. Sentence correction really helped my Vscore but the key was the word problems and percents guides. Excellent, well thought out material. But finally, what truly helped me:
That dude, with his explanations on virtually all the tough problems out there, really showed me how to tackle the tough ones, which are the only way you can get Q48 and higher. I went through so many of the problems he detailed and got a really great feel for how the GMAT tricks you. For example, they will frequently give info for both A and B but because they are not properly aligned in the equation it's insufficient, or small changes in wording to convert from minutes to hours, or (CRITICAL) using hidden restrictions to make even innocuous info "Pigs are >12" sufficient. Seeing how easily and clearly he made it look inspired me that if one works at it they can solve anything.
This was hugely important because a mere 2 days before the GMAT I was still getting q44s and 43s! Since my verbal was consistently 45 due to my sentence correction brushup, I became obsessed with quant and Bunuel's problem sets and commentary helped immensely. So thank you.
Concepts: The key for me was consistent study. If you want to do well on the GMAT, you must either 1) know every formula and know your way out of any Math jam or 2) learn to think like the GMAT. And this means immersing yourself in it. Literally lose yourself in the questions and techniques until you begin dreaming about whether x>0 and y<0 are sufficient. When you hear people talk you break down in your head whether what they say makes logical sense and whether it's grammatical and whether you needed that extra bit of info in the question stem about Carlos and his bike. When you begin to live in that world, you're in a good place, at least in GMAT terms. Because then the exams, practice and real become like your territory. And you don't freak out about initially difficult problems.
Which brings me to test day.
The first time I took the test I had major jitters, everyone does. But a lot of it came from the fact that while I scored a 730 on GMATPrep the night before I felt if they asked me the wrong stuff I was screwed. That fear, combined with "If I don't ace this my dreams are dashed" anxiety made me really tight mentally. Some people handle this sort of pressure super well and are robots, doing their job and moving on. I'm a bit more in my head, so if anyone else is like that and wants to know how to kick it, here's what I did the second time:
The key thing was to accept that you may screw the test up. Accept that it's not the end of the world and that you can always retake etc. And don't just tell yourself this, you must truly believe it, so that you can loosen up. If you don't accept this, you WILL be too nervous and you WILL forget basic things, which is what happened to me the first time when the first question was a "1970 pop. was 70% of year 1980" and I couldn't even figure out how to designate the year 1970 as a variable. Shit happens.
So for a guy like me the most important this is staying loose, especially in the quant section. You need to be flexible and explore other ways of solving a problem if the first one doesn't work. Practice helps this but also a "can-do", relaxed attitude. STAY LOOSE.
Best of luck to all of you out there, a great score is definitely possible.