I haven't been posting here but I have been lurking, and have learned much from many of you - thank you.
Wrote the GMAT today, got 640 (Q37 (53rd) and V41 (93rd)). Was a little disappointed as I got 710 and 730 yesterday on my PowerPrep practice tests, but I'll have to live with 640.
In terms of preparation, I went through ARCO math as I was rusty (graduated from undergrad in 1995). Then I went through Princeton Crack the GMAT, Kaplan Premier
, Kaplan Verbal
and Quant, and the Official Guide (main edition only). I had bought more books, but "my eyes were bigger than my stomach", so to speak, so this is what I got through. To qualify this, I have three-year old twins. For any of you that have children, you know that's enough said. Just trying to console myself.
In retrospect, my advice would be:
1. If you have children, isolate yourself somehow. Go to the library when your significant other comes home, get some babysitting, or find some other way of getting distraction free-time, especially if you are their primary caregiver. Catching study time while they're napping is sketchy at best. The GMAT experience has made me thankful I have arranged for FT childcare in the fall when (and if) I start the MBA. Or better yet, attempt this before you have children - my pre-kid brain would have smoked the GMAT
2. Don't set an indefinite study period - pick a date 3 months in the future and study towards it. Itâ€™s too easy to procrastinate if you don't have a firm commitment to write the test by a certain date.
3. This has been said a million times, but don't get bogged down with one question while you are writing the GMAT. I can pretty much trace my crappy quant performance to ONE question where I just took way too much time. And this surprised me - I had never had any time problems in my timed practice CATS and as a student I always finished my exams in nearly 1/3 of the time given. So I was surprised that it came down to time - but that one slip up really cost me. I had to do some almost blind guessing on about six questions at the end to get through which is unfortunate, as my quant practice scores were always quite high... gggrrrr....
4. Practice the AWA if it counts for your particular school, and/or writing under time constraints is something that makes you very uncomfortable. Personally I didn't practice the essays, but I'm a pretty good formal essay writer who was used to doing that kind of writing for work (it's also is not considered as part of the admission's decision for my program, so I allocated my time accordingly). I don't have my scores on that yet, but I think they're probably decent. But if it does count for you, don't just skip the AWA's in practice CAT's.
I won't be writing it again - for the program I'm interested in a 640 GMAT will do. If I don't get in, it won't be because of the GMAT. If I did do it again, the main thing I would do is be more careful not to get hung up on one question - I don't think studying any more or longer would really have helped much.
So I guess 640 meets my needs, but not my expectations, but I can live with that. Sorry I couldn't have posted more - I thank you all profusely as reading this site has been very helpful for me. Good luck to everyone!