Many thanks to all the posts at GMAT clubs, i found some really useful tips here on how to prepare for the gmat.
My debrief as follows
Duration of preparation :
I scheduled my GMAT appointment six months in advance in order to ensure I got a slot in the end december/ early jan holiday period. Due to work pressures, I started preparing very seriously only about 3-4 weeks before the appointment. I took two weeks off before the D-Day to focus intensely on preparations for GMAT. I found that taking a vacation from work to study intensively was very helpful.
Books or Resources Used:
In order :
- GMAT prep 2006, unfortunately, i didnt get the cd along with the book. Gave me a good intro into gmat but was very shallow in explaining concepts, i struggled especially with Sentence correction and this book hardly helped. I got a 640 on the diagnostic test with a very poor quantitative score.( dont remember). i found balancing speed and accuracy very difficult. This was about 2 weeks before the d - day.
2. OG - I labored through this mammoth book in 5 days of the intensive period. It gave me a good idea of the "type" of GMAT questions. I took the untimed diagnostic, and this was really benefical, because it pointed out areas I needed to work on : sentence correction and geometry and problem solving. ( i had major speed issues on quantitative)
3. Online : at this point, I went online looking for CATs to see where I stood. I came across GMAT club and i found all the tips here very useful, although at times confusing, but i looked for posts that addressed areas that i was weak in. I also clicked through into the 800 score ads, and downloaded 5 practice GMATS.
800 score computer tests : did them towards the end, useful if you want to push yourself and reach for the stars and land on the moon. verbal was very poorly constructed, and i doubt if it has any relevance to the actual gmat at all..the quantitative however, helped me improve my speed a bit. but my accruacy suffered as a result. The 800score tests gave me scroes ranging from 500 to 600.. really deflating my confidence.
I also found the gmat club math review very usefuly, especially on probabalities, which I was quite weak in.
4. Kaplan GMAT 800
: This was by far the most useful book I used. I finally understood all the principles involved in the verbal section after going through this book. The style of the book is explanation of a principle followed by examples followed by practice problems followed by problems involving many principles. Very good teaching method. The quantitative questions werent very tough though. But it was useful to review some of the tricks.
5. GMAT VERBAL review and Quantitiave review :
These additional books by the GMAC, were quite redundant. Many problems overlapped (if not the same, then extremely similar). But it was a good method for me to get back into the "ETS" frame of mind. Many other authors like Kaplan
and Princeton get so carried away by their teaching, that they dont really set example questions exactly as the ETS would. The OG and the supplements for verbal and quantitiatve really help get a good grip on those kinds of questions. I would recommend doing these books 2-3 days before the exam.
6. Crash Course for GMAT : Princeton review : This was another gem of a book that gave me very concise summarized information, exactly what you need 2-4 days before the test. Summary of various idioms, summary of various sentence correction errors, different types of critical reasoning questions etc.
7. I did the first power prep 2 days before D day. I finished only 31 out of 37 questions in the quantitiative, but I did well on the verbal. I got 710 but I read that the power prep always overestimates your score. Plus not being able to finish the quantitative worried me a great deal. I pretty much panicked.
I spent the next two days redoing the 800score tests, but timing them 10 minutes shorter to ensure i picked up speed. things improved a bit.
A day before the test, I took Power Prep 2, and got a 760. I managed to finish the quantitiatve so I felt more confident.
Come test day, I went in relaxed and fresh from a good nights sleep.
D- Day :
I was worried about the quantitiative section and so I tried to speed up on the earlier questions, which were relatively easier, and less potential to have hidden tricks that make you choose the wrong answer.
I ended upo finishing just in time (30 seconds to spare). Q15 to 30 were very tough, and I ended up spending a lot of time on them. Then the questions started getting much easier, and I wondered what happened.
Do not read too much into the difficulty of the questions, it appears to bear no relevance to your score. A question might be much tougher than you think it is.
I then took a break, and came back in 3 minutes to start the verbal section. The verbal section started off a bit tough for me, with 6-7 straight sentence correction questions. finally i got a cr and then a reading comprehension, and then my confidence started building. I got through the verbal section very quickly with 20 minutes to spare.. In hinsight, do not rush through the verbal. Make sure you elimiate every wrong answer.
And then the good news followed. I am quite pleased with this score as it is reflective of my practice tests, though I would have liked a bit more on the verbal.
Anyways, thanks again to all for all your tips and advice,
I will be happy to answer any more specific queries.