Preparation (Jan’09-Jun’09) - My date with the beast started in Jan’09, when I finally decided that something got to be done in order to give the stagnant life a push. I wanted to do an MBA, but I was not sure why. Still, I went ahead and started preparing for GMAT, as I knew that once I kill it, I’ll have hell lot of time in next couple of years to fit my thinking cap on my head. Downloaded GMATprep, did first CAT (with AWA, ALWAYS do so, don't skip it not even in single practice test!!), and scored a dismal 640 (Q50, V27). I knew straight away where I needed to improve. Brought OG11 and OG-verbal. Finished quant early, and believe me, it was piece of cake (for most Indian Engineers, it is ). But I found verbal tough to handle, although OG explanations are superb and best in lot. I used to select a pool of 15-20 questions and do them under strict time conditions (1.75 min/question). This really helped me to develop pace, especially in RCs. Continued studying at snail's pace till mid-march and then I thought it's high time that I should give the GMAT in April’09, 1st or 2nd week. But Manhattan free CAT opened my eyes. Even after finishing OG, I could increase my score to a mere 650.
My chacha once said correctly, “Jab tak sar pe talwar na ho, hum to hilenge hi nahi ”, I finally booked the date for 9th July, with 3 months left for final push, but I continued random visits to various online forums, not focusing ,just taking few scribes here and there.
June 1st week, I knew I had to start serious stuff. Immediately I took up Manhattan SC and CR books, and man!! They are awesome. The 5 CATs, which you get along, are really unbeatable. I hinged solely on these books, CATs and OGs for final frontier. The quality of MGMAT CATs is awesome, but I have to admit sometimes their quant gets over the head, although verbal is pretty similar to what one can expect in real test.
My first four MGMAT CAT scores were 670, 690, 700 and 710. My strategy was usually to study for 5 days, review my mistakes, and give one full-length test. With 1 week left, I tried GMATprep2 and scored 720 (Q49, V39) and MGMAT 6- 780 (I wish it were the real test) .
Test Day (July 9th, 2009) - AWA went smooth, and so was Quant. Best thing about Quant is that even if you had to guess 3-4 questions, you know that 49-51 is within the grasp, if you are confident about rest of the questions. That's what I did; I planned not to waste time in questions I knew I would not be able to solve. But overall quant was pretty cool, not above OG level, definitely not.
Took the scheduled break, and not for a single moment I realized that I overshot the time limit of 10 minutes (You need to extra careful here!) Before the break, the proctor told me that he would remind after 9 minutes, but that never happened. As I started verbal with clock beating me already, all the strategies, all the thoughts, processes of elimination, went for a toss. Took few deep breaths, started afresh, but I knew I was fighting a lost battle. I thought it'd be better to be absolutely sure of next few questions, and took a lot of time answering them. Fortunately, I got a pretty easy RC midway. With 11 minutes left, I was wandering at 31st question; I hoped to finish the section somehow. But the tide again turned in my favour and got a pretty simple RC (only 2 paragraphs, easy questions, I guess that was not counted) and few simple CRs. But all-in-all verbal was nowhere I was expecting it to be.
Anyways, completed formalities and clicked on report score. I was hiding my face like that 'grudge' girl (Japanese version), and not expecting more than 670-680. But, I was amazed to see a 710. I never thought I could break the mark with the haphazard verbal section. Overall, i am pretty satisfied with my score.
Conclusion - All the guys preparing for GMAT now, I know that format is supposed to change (along with many other things), and my story seem to be pretty outdated, but if you believe in yourself, never back down. You never know when your luck befriends with your efforts, and remember when that happens, nobody can stop you.
All the best!