I finished my GMAT this monday and scored a 720 (q48, v40) on my first and last attempt.
Though i am not happy with my quant performance, i am nevertheless ok with my overall score.
To start with, i am based in the UK since 2010, and working in telecom for the past 7 years. I had already done my MBA earlier in 2005 in india, and joined a sales & mktg role. Steady rise, but after 7 years felt that i need to spread my wings beyond Sales. Though at 31, relatively much older than most GMAT aspirants, my idea was to get into some very specific schools that could help me make that jump easily.
In Feb 2012, decided to give the GMAT and prepare for atleast 5-6 months. I started with researching the study materials out there. Biggest disadvantage was that i didnt know anyone who was giving their GMAT, and all of my peers had given up. Added to that, a hectic job and a newborn it left with very little time on weekdays to find out what was available. Ended up with a Princeton Verbal review book first, and found it informative about what the exam was and the various tricks and tips. I also gave two Princeton Prep tests and score a 650 and 570 respectively. Verbal was a bugbear, and my quant had become pretty rusty too.
I chanced upon GMATclub while googling in march and immediately got hooked, and it helped me find the best books out there....MGMAT (without a 2nd thought!!) , Powerscore CR
and the usual OG books. I also did surround myself with a lot of other material Kaplan 800
(never touched it), Princeton 1012, Aristotle, etc that i never used and frankly was a lot of noise. During my prep, i had figured that the more material i would finish the better my score would be. I also assumed that the more time spent for my prep, the higher my score would be as i would have mastered all the topics.
Two very wrong assumptions!!
(i) Every prep material out there has a different method of application, and a different style to approach GMAT. Princeton seems to rely more on "tips", while MGMAT was more concept oriented that appealed to me. You really just need the one material that works for you and stick to it
(ii) I wasted a lot of time, which i called GMAT prep. But i wasnt spending more than an hour a day trying to cram a lot of stuff till June. You just need 3-4 months (IMO) to get a good score provided you are regular. Furthermore, gaps can be very detrimental as i found out 2 weeks before the exam. I had a 10 day break from prep in end august, and my mock test scores snowdived after the break.
I also did spend a lot of time of the forum, which was counterproductive after a while. I realized that i should be ideally mastering the concept before trying to answer the forum posts.
SC was a shocker, and one area that didnt improve despite revising the MGMAT SC
guide. I took up the e-GMAT
SC course in july and it was helpful in improving my performance. i saw a steady improvement in my mock tests.
One resource that i discovered very late (2 weeks before the exam), and i cant recommend highly enough is Thursdays with Ron. I would go as far to say that if you need a fantastic verbal score, just go thru his archives. My RC and CR improved immediately after listening to his classes. Biggest regret is that i didnt use them earlier.
My exam went relatively smooth. AWA was easy, and i used chineseburned's template to type up my essay. IR was much easier than the one on MGMAT mock tests. (Hope i get a decent score).
Quant was easier with some tough problems around the 14-18 qn mark range. I did have to skip 1-2 keeping a tab on the time. Verbal was easier that the mock tests, though there some questions on CR which were very obvious misses, and i had no clue how to answer them in 2 mins.
Got my score of 720, and felt disappointed about quant (48) that i felt could have been better esp. i was always scoring in the 49-51 range in the last few days. However, it was a relief to see the 700+ figure as i wouldnt have to write it again!
On to the applications now!