Took the real test this morning and got a 710 (44V 43Q) after about 2 months of prep. I've been a long-time "lurker" here - using a new username today for my first post as my original login contained my full last name.
I registered for the test on 12/1/2011, with the thought that I needed to register for the test to get serious about studying for it. Currently my thought is to apply this fall for matriculation in Fall 2013, though this is tentative - either way, I wanted to get it done and out of the way as I do not have much else going on right now outside of work. I should add that I have a low (sub-2.5) GPA, albeit from a top-50 undergrad. I have legitimate [medical] explanations for the GPA for the apps, but it's still really low. My goal was/is 750-760 with 80%ile+ in quant) - from what I've read, "Rockstar" performance will be necessary to mitigate the GPA if I want to get into a top-30ish program.
Within a few days, I signed-up for the 60-Day plan e-mails from Beat the GMAT. I took the GMAT Prep 1 test on 12/6/2011 and scored 710 (45V 43Q). Frankly, this led me to believe I was in good shape and didn't have that far to go. I figured I could hold my verbal within the 95th %ile+ range and only needed to jump 16%ile points to get to 80%+ on quant. I got cocky and fell off the 60-Day Plan, pretty much putting it off until after the holidays.
After the holidays (about 5 weeks ago), I kicked it back into gear. I went through the MGMAT quant guides diligently, going through the content and practicing the corresponding questions from the OG (which is essentially what the 60-Day plan dictates). I probably did a chapter or two every other night or so and on the weekends as well, typically grouping the chapters with their corresponding "Advanced" Chapter in the back of the book.
Throughout this time, I also took two other practice tests - Kaplan
1 (590) about 3 weeks ago and Knewton
1 (560) about 2 weeks ago - I don't remember the exact breakdown off-hand, but it was 85%+ on verbal and low quant. I was a bit devastated with the results - I was putting in some serious hours prepping for the quant and taking it more seriously than my initial GMATPrep.
I knew I had two major obstacles to overcome - timing and fear of DS. I think I only got literally two or three DS correct on the Knewton
test. I sat down one day shortly thereafter and forced myself through the DS questions in the OG Quant
Supplement (the green one) with a timer and developed a method per MGMAT (rephrasing, then splitting 1 and 2 into different areas of the scrap paper). This helped my thinking immensely, as I had previously been paralyzed like a deer in the headlights when seeing these and tried to eyeball them - clearly ineffective. This was key in boosting my confidence.
I spend the last week and a half or so going through the MGMAT Advanced Quant
guide - this was very helpful in developing thought patterns. By the time I started this, with most of the "Try-It" problems, I had developed the "chops" from the 5 guides to know what concepts needed to be applied. It was reassuring to see that my thought process in working through the questions was in the right direction.
I took off work yesterday to clear my mind, and watched a movie last night before bed to keep myself from thinking too much and stressing out. Reviewed Slingfox's Quant sheet a few times over the last few days and felt very comfortable with everything on there - did not find any surprise gaps in my knowledge.
Got up early enough this morning to drive to the testing center. Had not previously practiced the AWAs but was not worried about these and figured they would help wake my brain up - I am not typically a morning person and would have preferred taking the test later in the day, but as far as I know, 8 am is the only availability at my local testing center. Ate a small snack (greek yogurt so I had some protein to prevent hunger pangs during the test) before leaving.
AWAs were not difficult for me and I did not feel drained after completing them. I went to my locker and walked around outside the Pearson office (without leaving the building of course) drinking a sugar free Red Bull. Took a bathroom break and went back in for quant.
Got rolling, hid the timer with plan to check after every 5 questions to see that I was landing at or around a x5:00. Felt it getting harder, figured I was doing something right. Saw some tricky questions that I figured were pretty advanced and based on my MGMAT adv. quant prep, I knew how to solve them and was feeling good. I only flat-out guessed on two, maybe three questions, in an effort to keep my pace if they looked too difficult. Even then, I felt they were fairly educated guesses. From what I recall, I think I got the last two wrong after I had the chance to think about them on the break, so that may have pulled me down a bit. Either way, I felt good and figured I'd be above where I landed at 64%ile.
Not much to say about verbal - I have been comfortable with parallel structure since freshman year of HS - comes pretty naturally to me by now.
Overall, I am content. I am neither ecstatic nor upset. I am very glad to be done with it, and I am going to indulge in some minor celebration tonight. However, my visions of getting a 760 and partying hard and buying rounds for all my friends did not come to fruition.
My tentative plan from here (though I'm only 3 hours out and will need to think about it some more) is to retake, probably within the next 2 months since the quant content is still fresh in my head. Speed and endurance will be the focus, with more timed practice. I am tempted to sign-up for Knewton
with the 50+ pt improvement guarantee. I would gladly shell out $350 for a guaranteed 760.