I wrote GMAT on 16th July 2010. While my score is not great, I would like to share my experience through a lot of material I used and my opinions on them. Also, I definitely owe this forum a debrief for I read so many debriefs and gave direction to my own prep.
My preparation lasted for about 10 weeks, which included 1 week off due to my illness and an unfortunate family incident. However, I'm more or less happy with my score. I started with a target of 780 and ended at 750. Demoralised by Kaplan
CAT scores I had change my target to "anything above 700" in mid-June.Started with Kaplan Premier: (CRAP!)
This material did not teach me any tricks and its English sections were way off-topic (especially RCs, which were largely philosophical or medical or some vague topics). Actual GMAT English was more manageable. In Kaplan
CATs I never scored above 33 in Verbal (mostly below 30), actual GMAT 40. Overall CAT scores 620-640, unbelievably low and demoralising. I'm sure there scoring log is broken. There Quant was easy (51 in all CATs).OG 12/Verbal/Quant (Just OK!)
After half way through my Kaplan
material I took the Prep CAT (610, not sure but as far as I remember). Then took the diagnostics and then gradually rest of the material. Quant avg. score about 95% and Verbal about 83%. Quant is very basic, in the whole of OG Quant
book I got just 13 questions wrong. Believe me, if this is the only material you are relying on for Quant, you'll struggle to get past 44. My first quant shock was MGMAT CAT 1. Verbal was good (depends on your own level). I found this good because Verbal was my weakness and I was apprehensive of relying on any other material. However, struggling through SCs and reading through this forum, I bought the MGMAT SC
guide. This is the best $ 20 spent in my life so far (even outside the scope of GMAT). This book and the CATs get 95% credit for my score (forgive me if this idiom is wrong, those idioms are now flushed out of my system).MGMAT Sentence Correction Guide
I was very confused before buying this book as had very limited time for prep (am married with 60hrs work week and had committed games of baddy and squash to my wife through my prep, but dropped after the week i fell ill). When I bought this book I had expected 6 CATs for Sentence Correction, not full length CATs. Please do not laugh. This made my life very difficult as was already crunched with extra material (some downloaded from wherever found, mostly horrible). Please do not use just anything, especially for Verbal. After reading through this once, I though I did not gain much, my SC scores still did not improve drastically, but my pace improved (helping with CRs and RCs).
Accessed free material on 4th July (did all SCs), missed on 31st May. Had subscription to a question a day (Q+V). I liked the material but found it difficult to read through explanations through posts. Quant was ususally not tough but tricky, where you do silly mistakes. Definitely a great place to pick-up some good tricks (I picked a few on co-ord geometry, time-and-work and sets theory).
End May'10: GPrep CAT1 = 610Kaplan
CATs through June avg. 620 (guess you can add 100 to their crappy log score)
1 was paper test, 3 CATs, 4th CAT Kaplan
said "use this for practise, not scoring"
Never found the 6th test claimed on the cover of the book and their ads
material very early in your prep, as material level no way above 650
01 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 680 (Quant was a shock after Kaplan
and OG standard)
03 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 710 (My first score above 700, had a big smile)
05 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 770 (surprised myself, started dreaming of 780 again)
07 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 700 (disappointed, feet back to ground)
09 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 730
11 July 10: MGMAT 1 = 730
Warning: MGMAT CRs are vague and answers depend on some small information. I started following their pattern and lost the CR strength (my accuracy was above 90% in CR earlier). I started ignoring the obvious answer and picked up the "next best answer" believing that should be correct on MGMAT. It became a vicious cycle. Finally, just before the GMAT, re-worked a lot of CRs through the OG 12th
and Verbal, got my confidence back, again hit 90% in G-Prep CATs. However, to my surprise, actual GMAT CRs were quite tough, though not vague like MGMAT. Just that they needed lot more attention than that required for the OG/Verbal (used to get them mostly right even through the world-cup matches).
12 July 10: GPrep 2 = 730 (Q-49,V-40)
13 July 10: GPrep 1 = 740 (Q-50,V-40) (repeat, just 2-3 question same in each section)
16 July 10: GMAT = 750 (Q-51,V-40)
very early, I did not even refer back to the material once. MGMAT a must for people struggling with SC, it's the Bible. I re-read the MGMAT SC
book after reading a debrief on GMAT-Club. That was very very very helpful. Trust me, go through this book twice to strengthen foundation significantly. Second time should be closer to the exam, like within last 2-3 weeks (was very helpful for me). Even if you are God at Verbal, buy some MGMAT book
to get the 6 CATs, they are just amazingly close to the actual GMAT. Must take GMAT Prep towards the end of the prep.
non-native (i guess would be already clear from my writing above)
studied about 2hrs in the first month before leaving for office (work hrs: 10AM to 10PM), then 3hrs before office and 1hr after office (had to crunch through as lost 1 whole week in illness about 4 weeks before exam), wanted to get over it before i lost focus/flow and want to apply this time itself. Weekends were always a CAT and/or some light stuff, not more than 4-5hrs a day.
took last 3 with AWA and read some posts on this forum
Hope this helps!
Good-luck to all!