i promised myself id post in case it helped someone else. ill try to keep this brief. feel free to send me questions.
relevant background: economics major, top 30 public uni, summa cum laude grad, +5 years out of school, reads a tremendous amount, former trader (despite the math scores!)
FIRST ROUND (ie, what NOT to do)
materials used initially: OG11
, old gmat paper tests, crack the gmat princeton review, 800 score quant software, power prep software
study schedule: 4 hours every week day two weeks - gap of three weeks - then 8 hours every day for two weeks until a day before dday.
crack gmat - 580 (Q34, V35)....first week of studying
six 800 score gmat quant tests - 50th - 65th percentile
-----------------gap in studying ------------------------
- i always thoroughly reviewed the answers i got wrong and those i took too long to answer in between tests
- i redid the ones i got wrong, then of those, i redid those i got wrong, until i was consistently scoring >75% on any 37 questions
- i always timed my tests and timed most of the practice questions
- it was clear to me that i needed to focus on math
pp1 - 650 (Q38, V41)....first week of studying after the gap
- 800 score gmat quant redos - 65th - 76th on redos
pp2 - 680 (Q40, V43)...but felt that i missed on a couple of easy math questions
pp1 redo - 690 (Q43, V40)....seemed like my math was peaking and i just needed to concentrate when taking the Vsection
- thot id at least make above 650 and if i was firing on all cylinders just get 700 (pressure doesnt usu phase me)
gmat1: 620 (Q35, V39) - absolutely dismal...lowest score after practing yet in every aspect
SECOND ROUND (what to do, IN ADDITION to first round, and well BEFORE dday):
i went home w/ my tail between my legs and reviewed everything again in the space of two weeks then took a PP test again.
pp2 redo: 730 (Q42, V45)
more materials: mgmat number properties
book, kaplan math workbook
: (based on gmat club recs), gmatclub forums, gmat club tests
study schedule: four hours a day for 3 weeks, and 6 hours a day for 1 week (during which i also took the following full timed tests)
mgmat1 - 500 (Q26, V33) - devastating...it was hard to write this off. in hindsight, it looks like i was just a little rusty on timing
mgmat2 - 640 (Q44, V34) - ok...this allowed me to mostly ignore mgmat 1, but certainly didnt show much improvement over gmat1
mgmat3 - 670 (Q46, V35) - my math seemed improved now, but i couldnt figure out mgmat verbal; my Vscore is usu above 40
mgmat4 - 660 (Q45, V35) - math ok, still no luck cracking mgmat verbal; starting to worry (dday + 4)
mgmat5 - 740 (Q46, V45) - awesome. feeling stable in math at this point; finally got the hang of mgmat verbal (dday + 2)
- but at this point i was starting to worry about my verbal score, i usually dont pay as much attention to it (v math) because ive been consistently above 40, but how could i really ignore it when i was banking on the math score being accurate??? poor reasoning right? i had no choice tho. at this point i only had a two days. i concentrated on reviewing my math notes and praticing math under the gun. verbal was just going to have to fend for itself.
gmat redo: 710 (Q47, V41)....and i had to rush the last 10 Vquestions due to poor timing
my opinions (not in any order):
1. mgmat materials are the best to shore up your deficiencies if you have time (make time) and your brain works like mine, where you need to know all the rules of how something works to be able to manipulate it in different forms - not just the tricks. this is for math AND verbal. and the way mgmat parses its tests results is the best ive seen yet. it really lets you hone in on where you need to work. pay for the six exams or buy a book and get them as a bonus. its worth it.
2. mgmat math is definitely harder than gmat math. while i was sitting the gmat, i was thinking the math section was going just ok, not great. mgmat math always put me at my wits end. but notice that my score didnt necessarily improve by much. not sure what to think there. it is what it is. dont think i really would have done much better.
3. mgmat verbal - is vague and more subtle than gmat verbal. i had a lot of trouble even just narrowing down their answers until something clicked on mgmat 5. dont get too down if your score isnt fantastic. its good practice for gmat tho. it helps you learn how to eliminate wrong answers more efficiently. i did find the gmat Vsection clearer, but not necessarily easier (hence my timing issue).
4. beware - the real gmat is slightly harder than PP leads you to believe.
5. make sure you leave ample time to test yourself while being timed. its good to focus on fundamentals if you really need to, but draw the line soon. you really need to work on forcing your brain to do all the questions in under two minutes - time yourself!
6. i recommend about 200 hours of studying for GMAT, if your baseline score is around 600 and youre like me. and pace yourself over about three months. so that you are constantly reinforcing the material until its second nature. longer term memory will serve you better.
7. study every day, even if its only for an hour, even if you only review. just get it done.
8. dont neglect your strengths...although i focused mainly on math, i always looked for ways to improve my verbal (technique, eliminating answers, detailed notes, etc) and i practiced it enough so that i didnt get rusty...even tho i still messed up on the Vsection on dday, this is good advice i think.
so much for keeping it brief, but thats my 2cents. let me know if there are any questions.