Thank you all. Though I'm still a little sore with my performance, I'm slowly accepting my fate; a little since its not that bad after all and a little since I don't think I can put another month for the exam.
The test - I managed time pretty well and had to guess in only one quant question for which my answer did not match any given one. Dividing the test in three equal parts, timing wise, helped immensely. In verbal, first 3-4 questions were SCs followed by a couple CRs and a RC. I got 4 RCs and none of them were super long (max was 60 lines).
My preparation strategy - even though I was addicted to "Share your gmat experience" forum, I mostly used the analysis done by Dave to prepare a strategy (http://home.comcast.net/~dave.kim/GMAT_Study_Strategy.htm
I chalked out a week-by-week plan for around 8 weeks (which got extended to 12 eventually); I used to regularly update it to track my progress. It was more of a marathon than a sprint for me, as I spent about 2-3 hours every week for first 4 weeks, 5-6 hours next 6 weeks and then 20-25 hours in the last couple weeks (I took last few days off).
I mainly used Princeton (to start with), Kaplan
, Kaplan 800
and OG (in last weeks) which is a good strategy as pointed by many others. There are not too many new insights that I can present which is not already there in the sticky posts above. But I have to stress the importance of registering early for the exam. I did the classic mistake of registering just 10 days earlier and hence my study time got stretched to 12 weeks for no reason! I can partly blame Prometric for this delay, as you can not get anything other than morning slot (8:30 - 12:30) unless somebody else has booked that slot. So I had to wait for somebody to take the first slot and then I registered for 1 - 5 slot. I'm not really a morning person and based in California; it may be otherwise in other locations.
My hit rate was about 90-95% in all sections of OG.
My practice scores were:
(Before any preparation)
Kaplan Diagnostic (700)
(After going through Kaplan
and PR sections)
Kaplan1 - 640
Kaplan 2 - 580
(Bad day - I almost gave up in middle!)
PowerPrep1 - 740
(After going through OG, could be tainted)
PP1 - 770
PP2 - 790
Real GMAT - 710
If I have to do it again, I'll remember these takeaways:
1. Register at least a month earlier. The earlier the better.
2. It is good to be aggressive but double check your first 15 answers, however certain you are about your choice.
3. Try to solve harder questions under time constraints for quant. The real gmat is a bit harder than OG and PR, but close to Kaplan
4. Practice as many SC questions as I can so that I can be certain that I can ace them in a minute (its possible since there are not too many types).
5. Focus a bit less on practice scores but rather on getting the basics right.
6. Practice different kinds of CR questions from various sources such as LSAT papers (I think I got over confident in this section).
7. Not panic in the last questions of Verbal (the final score is 5 minues away blew me!).
8. Practice more RC on computer (Initially my RC suffered but then I figured taking notes vastly improved my hit rate; perhaps it forced me to think).
9. To not fret over esoteric questions occasionally floating on these forums but concentrate on, again, getting the basics right.
10. Not tell everyone and their dogs that I'm taking GMAT as the pressure gets immense.