I believe this is my first time post, I have lurked here for a while but have never participated in any discussions.
Here is, among other things, a breakdown of my preps before the test, opinions of prep materials, and my day-of-test preps.
25 yrs old, Degree in Electrical Engineering, 3 years work experience at a startup company in San Diego. I do mostly R&D work, but interact a lot with customers and would like to broaden my horizons ( I enjoy lab work, but don't want to be stuck in a lab forever). I had a 1460 SAT score without seriously studying, but that was years ago and I knew that the GMAT would be a different animal.
I started studying about 6 months before the test with Kaplan
materials, but I found these to be quite easy. If you are shooting for 700+, stay away from Kaplan
. I didn't have the test scheduled at this time, so I wasn't studying hardcore yet, I was mainly just reading some GMAT prep books while working out on an exercise bike. Kaplan 800
was okay, but still not top notch.
I then signed up for the Manhattan materials online- I bought the 6 practice tests, all the quant/verbal study material, and this helped tremendously. I only got through 4 of the practice tests, but these were a great help. Keep in mind that the Manhattan Quant stuff is MUCH harder than the actual GMAT... this is a good thing. I'm very impressed with the Manhattan stuff.
I studied 1-2 hrs every morning, for about a month. Also, my weekends were devoted to the GMAT. Don't burn yourself out, make sure you study in optimal mental conditions - and make sure you take the test in optimal mental conditions.
For the essay part, I had a "GMAT Answers" book which contained a bunch of essays. I only spent 30 minutes reading the thing, formulated some basic skeletons for essays in my head, and I'm certain I nailed the essays (will post the scores when I get them).
Day before test:
I took the dogs for two walks around the neighborhood, went to an art fair, watched a movie - basically mentally recharged. I did not do a single GMAT related thing. Went to bed early ~10pm, didn't get to sleep until 11.
Day of test:
I scheduled my test for 2:00 on a Monday. I took the day off from work.
Breakfast - 8:00 bit of salmon from frozen package, mixed vegetables, orange juice, black tea, did not stuff myself. Watched the news.
Snack - 10:30 Hard boiled egg, juice, chips and some guacamole that my wife made the night before. Read a magazine.
12:00 - Before I left the house, a little bit of chicken and some brocolli (microwaved)
12:45 - Arrived at test center, walked around, hit the bathroom, and went back to my car to listen to the radio.
1:15 - Drank some juice and ate a protein bar in the car
1:30 - Checked in, took the test, during each break I ate 1/2 protein bar and had 1/2 a container of juice (Odwalla)
Test: Sat down, immediately before the test I had some anxiety about completely bombing, but realized that I was the one in complete control of the test outcome and this calmed me.
Quant went well, I feel like I answered every question correctly, although that apparently was not the case. I didn't have to guess on any question, what I did get wrong must have been stupid mistakes. I finished the verbal section 30 minutes early, it was a breeze.
Finally, when I hit "next" and a 770 appeared on the screen, my first thought was "Damn, why not an 800?" Well, why not an 800? Because I got some questions wrong, that's why. Oh well.
Quant should have been easier for me, I have an engineering background and I do math all day, but circuits problems and differential equations are not the sorts of things that you find on the GMAT.
I'm going to have a cigar and look at the stars tonight, since I don't have to get up early to study!