Thanks for the notes ... to answer some of the questions1) Could you describe in greater detail your preparation and study routine?
When I first decided to study for the GMAT I planned on studying on my own. I went through a few sites and made up a game plan, but life kind of got in the way and limited my planning (I have my normal career as a manager of business analysis, a martial arts school, a wife and an infant). If I started studying when I was 26, instead of 31, I probably would have had the time to do it that way but not this time. I then amended my planning and signed up for the Manhattan Online course. I then planned my studying with the Manhattan class (wednesday nights) as the pivot and structured the rest of my studying around that.
I generally studied 2-3hrs per day Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My Manhattan class was on Wednesdays and I used Thursdays as a break day. I say generally studied for 2-3 hours because the studying was usually broken up throughout the day/night. I didn't want to do too much on any one day (5 hour cram sessions or anything like that) because I felt that I would get more out of studying at a fairly consistent pace for a longer amount of time.
I followed Manhattan's study schedule in general, but focused on the places that were giving me the most trouble. After finishing the Manhattan guides and the OG/Quant/Verbal Guides I felt like I needed a little bit extra to work on some things and I found this place. I really do wish I found this forum about 3 weeks earlier than I did ... the Quant tests in particular were a tremendous help. Either way, I used this forum and the tests as a primer for the actual test to build stamina and to work out some of the nagging issues.
I was really hitting my stride about 2 weeks before the test and then my son got really sick. I lost all focus and was basically unable to put any time in from that point forward. My son did get better after about a week, but I lost what momentum I did have. I didn't think that I was going to learn much in that 2 week span, but I was going to use that time to refine. Oh well, there are more important things to worry about. The basic lesson from this is always be prepared beforehand. If I didn't put the time in and just waited to cram, I would have done terribly.
When I left the testing center I thought about taking the test again (pride/machismo). I thought that with another couple weeks of studying and what not I would kill it, but that thought soon left my mind as I got home and played with my son. Maybe I can get a bette score, but I really don't care now, I have better uses for my time (Family and essays
All in all I was really pleased with the Manhattan course and the material provided here. They were both a tremendous help. The actual tools that Manhattan gave you (guides/timer/note book) were awesome.2) Could you write more on how you managed to combine your rather complicated family situation with the preparation? How did you deal with distractions?
Two things helped with this: I restructured my life and had a very understanding/supportive wife.
To get the studying in I had to be very focused and efficient with everything else in my life. I teach at my school every morning at 6am, I also teach Thursday nights and Saturday mornings/afternoons. After teaching on weekday mornings I would then go to work, after that I would go home and try to spend some time with my family. I love to chat, so I had to cut that out of my life. Basically, I only had x hrs of potential study time, considering my commute, school, job etc - so I had to make the most of all those. So structure was necessary. I woke up everyday at 5:30 and made sure that I didn't go to bed later than midnight. I studied when I could. Brought my books/guides/laptop with me to get in what I could when I had free time. Not to sound too dramatic, but it is what it is.
Regarding my wife - we had a very frank discussion about the committment to studying before I started. I told her what I needed to do and she was totally behind me and supportive. Without her support I wouldn't have been able to get in half of the work that I did. And even if I was able to put the time in, I doubt that it would have been quality time. 3) How confident were you after finishing your preparation and what about your confidence on the test day?
My scores (Manhattan GMAT
tests, GMAT Prep, GMAT club tests
) all improved as i went along (until my son got sick). So technically I felt very confident as I went into the test, I was more interested in constant improvement than the actual scores. As I mentioned earlier, I lost all focus 2 weeks before the test, so my only fear was losing that while I took the test, but I figued that I could pull it together for a few hours on a Friday. 4) Could you describe your test day experience?
The experience was actually quite pleasant. I played a sport in college and before every game i needed to get a song in my head (to help me focus ) and I would just repeat it for the whole game. I took the same approach for the GMAT (yes I know, strange) and choose Rainbow in the Dark by Dio. I got the song in my head and then walked in about an hour early. They took my picture, scanned me and then said that I could start whenever I wanted. I started the test about 45 minutes early and thats that.
The test itself was a mixture of the GMAT Club's Quant tests and MGMAT Verbal sections. Nothing shocking or startling happened. After the test was over I went home and cracked a beer (Dogfishhead's Midas Touch).
and thats it!