Here's my story of how i prepared for the GMAT:
I decided to take the test back in May. I started preparing seriously from early June. My preparation (which consisted mainly of doing practice tests) was coming along pretty nicely till the 3rd or 4th week of June when something happened in my life which totally derailed my prep plan. Anyways, it took me a couple of months to get things straightened out and i restarted the process this month. Prepped pretty hard for about 3 weeks (about 4 hrs a day)and gave the test yesterday and scored 750.
Since I have an engineering background, my math was always pretty strong, so I did not do any real "studying" for the quant section. As for the verbal section, I got the Arco book and went through the basic principles of each section quickly. It took me awhile to figure out the nuances of solving the reading comprehension questions. I found the CR and the SC parts pretty straight forward right from the start. The main part of my prep, though, was doing a number of practice tests. This helped me improve my mental stamina and this really stood me in good stead during the test. I used to do a test per day (both paper based and CATs) and then spend about an hour reviewing my wrong answers. In my humble opinion, reading each question really really carefully, word by word is super important. GMAT really tests your ability to assimilate very specific details about an issue/situation. I must have done close to 35-40 tests(Barrons, Kaplan
, Arco, Princeton Review, Powerprep, paper based tests etc), thanks to all the resources available on the web. I was consistently scoring above 650 on all of these except for Kaplan
(whose scoring system sucks big time). But then 4 days before the test, I was running out of CATs to do, and I decided to give MGMAT a try (after all the nice reviews I read about it in these forums.).This is what really helped my score. Before this I was expecting to get between 650-700. Once I got through the first 3 MGMAT CATs, and based on those scores, I started to feel confident that 700 was pretty indicative of my abilities. MGMAT's quant section was so devilishly tough that it used to suck all the juice out of my brain, leaving me panting and with almost nothing left in the tank for the verbal section. I used to finish the quant section with less than half a minute left compared with more than 5-10 minutes on any other test. MGMATs verbal section is also a couple of levels higher compared to the actual GMAT.I did CAT 2 of the powerprep the day before the exam and scored a 770.
My test was scheduled for 8AM. I am a firm believer that the brain works the best in the morning hours. I got about 4 hours of sleep the night before and spent the remaining time tossing and turning in my bed. I had a breakfast of oatmeal and fruits, got ready and headed out to the test center. I got seated and went through the essay section pretty smoothly. I ate a banana during the break. I started off pretty nervous for the first 5 questions of the quant section but then settled down nicely after that. I knew I was doing well when I encountered an inverse parabola coordinate geometry question. I completed the section with about 6 minutes left. In the next break I had a chocolate bar ( somehow my brain seems to work best when my body is loaded with sugar!!!!!!!!). The verbal section started off very well and as the test progressed I could feel that I was answering almost every question correctly. I finished the section with 5 mins remaining. I knew I had to get a score around 700, based on my performance. But, when 750 appeared on the screen, my shoulders slumped forward in absolute relief and disbelief. Man, what a feeling it was!!!. Anyways, this, in a nutshell, is my journey till this point.
I am a BE (chemical Engg) from India, MS (Chemical Engg) from Oregon State (GO Beavs!!) with over 6 years work experience in the semiconductor materials processing industry. Still not yet fully decided on what schools to apply ( both within US and internationally).
My CAT scores ( based on my limited recollection) are as follows:
Princeton CAT1 650
Princeton CAT2 670
Princeton CAT3 680
GMAT Powerprep CAT1 710
GMAT Powerprep CAT2 770
MGMAT CAT1 680
MGMAT CAT2 680
MGMAT CAT3 690
The real deal CAT 750!!!
Thanks again for all the strategies/tips which I got here. Hope my debrief helps.