Let me first start out by saying that my experience may probably be atypical to the average experience but may be important to some nonetheless.
Some background on me is that I am a US Based and work as an Engineer, so my base is on strong mathematics and average verbal talents. I am only trying to go to school part-time locally and combining my work experience and undergraduate GPA I really only needed a 660 for confidence on my application.
I first bought my books in January 2013 and I bought the OG and the complete set of Manhattan GMAT books
, let me say that I did not end up reading or even opening all of the Manhattan books
but they were a better value as a complete set and starting out I couldn't be sure what areas I was going to need the help in. I then took a first cold turkey (and I mean completely cold turkey, not even have read directions, I knew nothing of the sections or even types of material) practice test and the following were my results: MGMAT1: 460 Q37 V18
This was not a fun result for me but it gave me a basis for what needed to be looked at (pretty much everything). But it was still frustrating to see how far I needed to go and served as kind of a de-motivator for me. So for the next month to month and a half or so I learned more how the test actually worked but probably only spent 4 or 5 hours studying throughout that time period. Needless to say this was not very aggressive nor productive studying but at least from time to time I was getting familiar with the material. Fast forward to the middle of March. I decide to take a 2nd MGMAT practice test to try and re-motivate myself to get into shape. The results were: MGMAT2: 610 Q40 V34
Clearly I showed a lot of improvement just by becoming familiar with the test even though I only put in 4 or 5 hours over that time, everyone knows the concept of data sufficiency and some of the SC rules can be weird initially.
With me being in the range of low 600s I decided the only way I was going to actually study for the thing is to go online and schedule it. So on March 18th, I scheduled my test for April 3rd. This left me with exactly 2 1/2 weeks to work. Working with this timeline gave me a better outlook for the test, in that I was not willing to sacrifice my life for a stupid standardized test but I was willing to see myself as a "hermit" for 2 weeks. At this point my studying truly began.
Every day for the Week 1
I would set aside around 70 minutes a day to do problems from the OG. I would do 10-15 problems from each section, and time myself using a spreadsheet (basically noting a start and end point, not actually enforcing any timing). I would then grade myself on each and every problem from the explanation section to understand how each problem was written and solved.
The first weekend came up and really only did a practice test on Saturday which was another MGMAT, my results were: MGMAT3: 630 Q38 V37
. As I am a math centric person, I pretty much felt at this point like my verbal scores at 80 percentile were going to be suffice and what I needed to work on was getting my math score into a better range. But for the rest of the weekend I didn't do any more studying and just tried to relax.Week 2
came around and I did a smattering of OG problems in math, trying to try problems later towards the back of the book as I had read that they were more difficult. Additionally I started reading through the MGMAT books
on the Quant Subjects that I was missing on my MGMAT Cat Exams. Again, I pretty much ignored Verbal completely as I figured the practice score was "good enough" and felt that I could make the most score gains with quant practice. Practiced around 60-90 minutes a day after work.
The second weekend came up and I decided to take a Final practice test. I now had 5 days until my exam, so I used the GmatPrep exam #2: 660
I don't remember what my exact layout was (I pretty much had a book burning and software uninstalling after the test), but my verbal had stayed the same and my math had slightly improved (but was still behind in percentile to verbal) But with a 660, I was confident that I thought I could score somewhat near my practice and I would be okay.Test Week
came and on Monday and early Tuesday I basically continued to read over the MGMAT quant books and also the MGMAT Flash cards so that I was sure that I knew the concepts. But on the night before (Tuesday) I made sure to put everything down and just relax. On test day, my test wasn't until 4:00PM so I had taken off work in order to relax/prepare beforehand. I pretty much woke up at regular time, ate breakfast and lunch, and played video games all morning. 2 Hours before the test, I did 5 SC and RC problems from GMatprep practice (I figured I hadn't really looked at verbal since my last practice test, so it would be a good but not taxing refresh) and I also crammed the AWA template found on this forum into my head. Then I walked into the test calm enough, made sure I went to the bathroom and then just got after it. I did the AWA and IR without really stressing, took only a 2 minute break (didn't leave my seat) before the quant and then started it up. I am pretty sure I finished my last quant question with 5 seconds on the clock, but I can honestly say there were 2 or 3 questions where I just looked at it, realized that I may not know exactly how to get the answer in 2 minutes, and took an educated guess. This approach helped me save the time for the questions I know I can answer and make sure I didn't make any stupid mistakes. I took about 5 minutes for the 2nd break, making sure to leave the test room and also get myself a fresh pad so that my chickenscratch from quant wouldn't distract me on verbal. Then I took verbal, not really paying any attention to the clock, and just answering the questions as confidently as I could, not spending time 2nd guessing myself. In the end my score came out as a GMAT Test: 730 Q48 V42
, a full 70 points higher than any practice test I had taken.
My real advice here would be, don't try and make it out to be as big a deal as you think it is. Be happy with that you get on your practice tests but go into the main event only wanted to do the best you can regardless of any test scores previous to that day or any expectations that you may have. I feel like trying to study for a 3-4 hour test for 6 months to a year can put undue burden on you and I can honestly say the only real thing I was worried about was having to shell out another $250 to the evil "non-profit" testing industry. Other than that, just hope you don't get reading passages so cripplingly boring that you fall asleep during the test.