Finally did it. My first attempt last year was 620 (43Q/33V). Let me start with saying that I am relieved but yet disappointed. I really expected to do better as the verbal overall, did not seem particularly too hard to me, well, perhaps because I missed the ones early in the beginning. When I think of it, I think that 650 is relatively good in and of itself because you have 85% of test takers below you. However, top schools really consider only anything 670-680 or more. After months of practicing verbal, it is funny that my verbal score actually decreased.
Let's now talk about how I prepared. I started reading all the books I could come across (PR verbal+math workout/Kaplan800
/OG/Arco/Peterson/Barron). Remember that practicing on paper form will be very different from CATs. Ultimately, I would even recommend against taking paper test formats unless you seriously time yourself. My PR scores were 630-660-670-720 and my Kaplan
scores were 660-590-610-550. PP scores, 730-760 were contaminated because I read all of OG before doing PP, so it is not reliable. Don't rely on Kaplan
scores as you have to add 50-100 points on what you get. What I can tell you is to practice as many problems as you can. Know your basic math rules and verbal idioms. One thing I should have done was to practice with some LSAT books, as recommended by previous posts. I started putting about 1-2 hours per day in early months and then 3-4 hours per day in final month and + 4 hours/day in final days. You may not need to put in that much time but I myself, being a non-native speaker, think that I needed to put in that much to improve verbal. Overall, I am just drained by the GMAT as I have been procrastinating lots of things because of it but things will get back on track now.
Finally, the exam itself now.
The AWA was fairly easy because I had memorized PR's template. Honestly, I did not study AT ALL for AWA and I am sure I will get 5 or more for each sections. If you are anxious about this section, you can memorize a template and then just try to sketch a framework for your essay. Try to destroy the argument or find reasons supporting your beliefs for the issue part, all of that without having to write out the whole thing.
The Quant section was relatively tough. However, I started on a good foot since I was really confident about AWA. I had 2-3 combination problems, not as hard as the ones on this board but still relatively time consuming. Remember, you WILL see combination/permutation problems as you reach the high forties so practice those. Kaplan
and PR will not teach it to you as well as I learned them on this board. DO practice the combination problems you can find here, even and especially the ones from previous posts. Geometry was a joke. DS was slightly more challenging with some absolute value concepts and algebra. I had like 4 very difficult word problems which took much of my time. I think I had at least 2 of those right. I finished with 40 seconds for my last question which was relatively easy but I think I had it right just at the very last second.
Verbal caught me off guard with its difficult SC questions very early. 2nd question was RC and it was ok to read. maybe 45 lines and it was about a science passage. Then some more SC and they were really getting harder. Halfway through was a 75 lines RC which was long but remember a fundamental trick: Read the first question first! That first question asked me about a very specific detail at a given line which I must have got right outright. Had one final RC toward last 6-7 questions but it was readable with only 45 lines. Had one boldface CR which again, I believe was very doable. As I previously said, verbal did not seem particularly hard overall but that may in fact be because that I missed early questions. I think OG CR/SC/CR (the ones at then end of each section) were of similar difficulty as the actual test. I had 1.5 min. left when I reached the last question so time management was not really an issue here.
In the end, I want to give back to GMAT club a bit of what it has given me. I find this place great and everyone should actively participate in discussions. I will certainly take the test again next year but I now have to focus on my cfa3. Too bad that this will not be fresh in my head again. I want to wish you all good luck with your test! Special thanks to Stoolfi, Anandk, Asandeep who contributed to my learning experience