I consider GMAT one of the most well planned exams. That does not mean it gets any easier to score well in it. Here are my 2 cents on the preparation. Hope it helps.
I took GMAT in late September last year, which was planned in late August but it got cancelled because of some unavoidable circumstances in our surroundings. But that one extra month did help me take a brake from prep and focus more on strategy. So, in a way I thank destiny for that.
Coming to planning and preparation, I started preparing only after I booked my slot (Yes, to put myself under pressure to prepare as it involves huge fees) in May.
I planned a 3 month preparation time only after realizing my initial potential after taking one of the free official mocks given by GMAC. I scored a daunting 630 in that very first mock. There I realized the gravity of the efforts needed and hence I decided for a 3 month study plan.
BTW, key take away from the first mock should be your strong and weak areas at microscopic level. For example- I could see that in VA I was extremely bad with sentence correction and fairly bad with RCs. So, I knew in which direction to sail the boat. Similarly, for QA I realized that geometry was my weakness and Arithmetic, Probability and PnC were strong areas.
Now was the time to make a proper strategy. I decided to study the basics of my weak areas and practice the questions from OG for 1.5 hrs every day after office (from 11 PM to 12:30 PM). Then for another half an hour, I used to practice my strong areas also (this some aspirants miss and end up making little to no use of strengths). After a month of such preparation, it was time to put myself to test and for that, I bought Manhattan’s test series of 6 mocks (after much contemplation). I decided to take the mocks in real test environment type setup and for that, I used to drive to my office on Sundays.
More crucial than taking mocks is analyzing them and for that, I used to keep whole Sunday and tracked my performance in every mock compared to the last one. That helped me a lot in refining my strategy with every mock.
2 weeks prior to my scheduled test date (August), I took last Manhattan mock and could manage to score only a 700. A week before I took the second official mock and scored 720. Though not much satisfied with my score in mock, I got ready for the big day. However, destiny had some other plans and a night before the exam I got cancellation mail. I thought it’s not a good omen as I was at the peak of my preparation but then I calmed myself down and thought of utilizing this to my best. I rescheduled the exam a month later and re-took all the mocks after resetting them and instead of analyzing the mocks I tried understanding the GMAC scoring algorithm. At times, I could notice bizzare patterns in the scoring method, which I made use of while further refining my strategy for exam. Finally, on the D-day, I could manage to keep myself braced and put all my learning and strategies to good use. However, I did stumble a bit in RC section and that I think led to a 740 instead of a 760 or so.
- Gauge your current level by taking official mock only.
- Understand your weak and strong areas and formulate a plan accordingly. Do keep in mind your own learning curve and pace.
- Do not underplay on your strengths, for you are going to gain the maximum out of them only.
- Last, but my favourite part, take good chocolates with you on the exam day and enjoy munching in breaks.
All the best!