So I finally got it over with yesterday.
My GMAT ordeal started about 4 weeks ago. I had signed up for Knewton in August, but due to work related pressures could not start prep-ing for the GMAT till early December.
I dedicated about 2-3 hrs every weeknight and 4-6 hours on weekends towards GMAT prep.
Knewton is good but not great. While the instructors and videos are helpful, the practice test scoring seems all over the place.
I started with a 610 and then scored 640, 680 and 650 all within the 4 week window. To be fair I was "winging" it a little in the verbal sections which might have affected the scores somewhat.
The weekend before my GMAT I gave the two GMATPrep practice tests scoring 700 (49Q, 35V) and 720(49Q, 38V). These tests gave me the neccessary confidence to do well on D-Day.
As for the real thing, trust me when I say this, it is nothing like doing practice tests at home. I don't mean this from a question make-up standpoint. I mean that the environment is different...the seats are funny, the placing of the mouse/keyboard is awkward, the room feels a little warmer etc. This was my biggest challenge - performing well in an unknown environment. At any rate, the AWA went swimmingly. The IR was bit of a tougher cookie, but I think I will manage OK when then final scores come back to me. I took the 8 min break to wash my face and stretch. This might seem like a small thing, but just a little bit of physical movement helps re-focusing and re-engaging with the GMAT monster.
Quantitative started of well enough. I was tentative at first, taking a full minute for even the simple 20-30 second questions. I think its important to get some points on the board (atleast in your mind) and build confidence so you can tackle the tougher problems that will surely raise their ugly heads in the middle of the exam. I kept check of time making sure I didn't run down rabbit holes chasing my engineer's ego. A couple of DS questions looked like 3-4 min candidates so I made educated guesses and moved on. I can not stress this enough : THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO PROVE YOU ARE AWESOME TO THE INANIMATE OBJECT IN FRONT OF YOU. At the end of Quant I felt I had done well but didn't know how well.
I then took my final 8 min break and then started my final battle against Verbal. I hadn't done extensive practice on CR/SC/RC. I would say I did 200-250 SC from Knewton/OG combined and remembered about 80-90% of the rules. For CR I probably practiced 80-100 questions and for RC in the range of 20-30 passages (These numbers do not include the practice tests). Anyway, the Verbal section stated off with 2-3 SCs which I knocked out with ease. These were chased by couple of CRs and then a passage. I felt like I was doing better than my practice tests (where I typically scored between 35-38). Again, I kept good time guessing where I had to.
Finally the exam got over and my score was:
Q: 50 (90%)
V: 39 (88%)
Total: 720 (94%)