First of all, I would like to thank GMATClub for all the help and guidance. It is a great source of information and at times, motivation. I took GMAT two times and would like to share my experiences.
First time GMAT (660; 45Q, 36V)
I primarily used OG and Manhattan SC. OG was indespensible and for me, so was Manhattan SC. I prepared on and off for about two and half months (which included moving between countries and unscheduled travels.)
GMATPrep Exam#1: 680 (with AWA, a week before the exam)
GMATPrep Exam#2: 690 (with AWA, two days before the exam)
I was not expecting any miracles, and was just hoping to get 680-690 or touch 700 on the exam day.
On the exam day, after finishing the AWA section, I got stuck on the first question in the Quant section. I spent approximately 7 minutes on that and it was all down-hill from there. May be I was too nervous from the start. After finishing the quant section, I didn't even I want to attempt the verbal. I did, and was sure my score would be in low 600s, but to my surprise, it was 660 (though it did not bring any joy).
I decided to take the exam again. I was running out of time for meeting the R2 deadlines, so I scheduled the exam exactly after 31 days.
Second time GMAT (700; 49Q, 36V)
In addition to the books mentioned above, I also used PowerPrep CR and Total GMAT Math
. I also took all six Manhattan exams. PowerPrep CR was of great help (and although I ended up getting same verbal score), I was much more confident with the CR questions. I did put in a lot of effort to improve primarily my quant (my strong suit) and to improve verbal by a couple of points.
My practice test scores:
Manhattan Exam 1# 650 (Q46, V33)
Manhattan Exam 2# 680 (Q45, V37)
Manhattan Exam 3# 710 (Q45, V41)
Manhattan Exam 4# 700 (Q46, V39)
GMATPrep Exam 1# 690
Manhattan Exam 5# 700 (Q47, V39)
Manhattan Exam 6# 720 (Q48, V40)
GMATPrep Exam 2# 680
I was extremely frustrated after getting a 680 on my GMATPrep Exam#2. (I knew my Manhanttan tests scores could be a little inflated because, I took (had to) a few breaks during the exams). Nonetheless, I went to the exam centre for the second time, more confident and relaxed. During my quant section, I knew I was doing well, because by the end, the computer had started throwing ridiculous math questions with figures (one had a tower and a lady). I thought, I did better on my verbal too, but the score did not refelct that.
But when I saw a 700 on the screen, I was satisfied.
Note: I personally found Manhattan verbal way easier than the real GMAT exam. Their quant is harder, but I learnt to manage the clock well in the quant section with their exams.
Nothing is more important than preparing well for the exam, but the state of mind during the exam could significantly affect the scores. I was very nervous and almost gave up just after the first question in the quant section (first attempt). Second exam, I was much more relaxed and more confident (stems also from the fact that I took several more practice exams). Just prepare hard and beileve in yourself, and there is no reason you would not do well in the GMAT. Good Luck!