Finally I am done with the GMAT tests atleast. Now hopefully I can look forward to working with other more important aspects of the MBA applications.
I started my preparation in July end. Because of family, an attention seeking daughter and job, I could study only at night from ~11 pm- 2 pm but i made good use of this time for these two months. I Started with OG 13
and finished all the problems with time restrictions (like finishing every 10 ques in 20 mins and then evaluating result/seeking explanations). This way timing was never an issue for me during any tests. Other than OG, I referred to the standard books as suggested in most of the forums here (Manhattan SC, Powerscore Bible for CR) and subscribed for the Manhattan test series.
GMATClub's forum have been real helpful in that whenever I couldnt get a satisfactory answer to a question, I would simply copy paste it here and search for the relevant thread and more often than not, I was able to find a convincing explanation.
The most critical part of my preparation was the rigorous tests of Manhattan. Although the scores that I got in the tests were not very close to my actual gmat score, but the extra time spent on analyzing my practice test performances helped me avoid repeating same errors. I think the IR part in Manhattan tests is actually quite tougher than the GMAT prep's. I also tried all free tests listed in GMATClub here. The key is to learn as much as you can from the tests and move on.
Apart from Manhattan SC, I referred to other theory books only on the basis of my performances in particular sections like CR inference questions or RC main point questions. I referred to Kaplan Verbal
question banks which i found really useful. I will suggest to anyone that Dont delve too much into theory before analyzing your performance. It might happen that you dont need any theory in particular sections like QA PS, DS, RC etc. I never had to work too much with QA as I was fairly satisfied with my section score in the tests. Also try to do as many questions as you can from multiple resources.
My scores in Manhattan tests and GMAT prep are as below:
CAT EXAM #1 (FREE) Completed 08/15/2012 : 700 (Q51, V35)
CAT EXAM #2 Completed 08/26/2012 : 690 (50, 34)
CAT EXAM #3 Completed 09/09/2012 : 710 (46, 37)
CAT EXAM #4 Completed 09/22/2012 : 710 (48, 39)
CAT EXAM #5 Completed 09/25/2012 : 700 (51, 35)
CAT EXAM #6 Completed 09/27/2012 : 680 (48, 35)
GMAT prep 1 ( 21 Sep'12): 710 (Q50, V 35), IR 7/8
GMAT prep 2 ( 1 Oct'12): 680 (Q50, V 31), IR 7/8Actual GMAT (3 Oct' 12): 730 (Q50, V40)
Awaiting AWA and IR score. Though I think I have pretty much made mess of IR in actual test but lets see.
Tip: I think Keeping myself calm and taking proper rest as the test came closer was the key to my score. Also you must use ear plugs during the actual GMAT test as the pin-drop silence makes you concentrate ten times more. As for the practice tests, one can never exxagerate its importance. One should time the tests at appropriate intervals leading up to the D day and try to learn as much as possible from mistakes. All the best guys