Hopefully this can offer a little inspiration to those worried about their first try at the GMAT.
FWIW, I studied for the first try, although I didn't have a very focused plan and didn't do very many practice tests. . At the time I was getting around 600 on Kaplan
tests and got a 720 and a 740 on the PowerPrep tests. I got a 650 (43Q/38V), which was well below what I thought I was capable of.
That was three weeks ago.
Over the last three weeks, I haven't killed myself, I even took off most of the weekends from studying. I put in about 2 hrs per day. I only worked on the quant and data sufficiency problems. The only verbal stuff I worked on was what I saw during 4 practice exams.
I did the last 150 problems of the quant and data sufficiency sections in the Official Guide to GMAT book, working them in 20 question blocks. I timed these "quizzes" to work on my time management, which was definitely a problem during the first test. I kept track of which one I got right/wrong and which ones I had guessed on. I also reviewed all the basic math stuff in the regular Kaplan
GMAT book, to review obscure equations, etc. I made sure I understood all the mistakes I had made when I got something wrong. I also took 4 practice exams during this period, three Kaplan
(580/590/650) and one Princeton Review (710).
I took last weekend completely off from studying Thursday night thru Sunday. I did some refresher problems during the week, but nothing too heavy. Work was crazy this week, so I just didn't have the time. I might have done more if I had had the time.
Today I got a 780, which is waaaay beyond what I thought I could do. My absolute best case scenario was 720-740 and I would have been happy with anything over 700.
I felt a little better once the test got rollin', but to be honest I was a nervous wreck. There is still some element of luck, as I know for a fact that I had to guess on at least 3-4 math problems and a several verbal questions.
The biggest difference I noticed was that my time management was spot on. If I caught myself spending too much time, I forced myself to make a decent guess and then move on. As a result, I had plenty of time to really give a good effort to the last 5 or 6 problems on each section.
I also noticed that I caught several little "oolies" that I would not have otherwise. You know the type of problem where it just seems way too easy. There were a couple that I saw like that where I almost submitted my answer before I "got it". I think the only reason that this happened was because I had seen so many of those types of problems working thru the Official Guide.
Hopes this helps all you guys. If you think you can do better, re-take the test. Just do the grunt work on those problems and you'll be in like Flynn!