I had taken exactly 3 months to prepare for GMAT with 80 per cent time devoted to Verbal preparation. Being a software engineer, GMAT quant was a cakewalk for me.
Right from the beginning I made sure that I did not inundate myself with lots of study material. I got hold of the Official Guide (11th Edition), Princeton Verbal review and the Kaplan CD (not the Kaplan Book) and the PowerPrep Software from mba.com. Apart from this, I used the "1000 SC" and "1000 RC" documents available at scoretop.com.
I started off with the "Princeton Verbal Review" to get an overview of the GMAT questions. Once I was comfortable with the question pattern, I took the first test from Powerprep Software where I scored 720 after which I tried my hand at the Official Guide.
I kept taking the Kaplan tests every weekend and made sure that I practiced consistently and give ample time to analysis of the tests. Kaplan tests are not a true representation of the real GMAT. I scored 620+ in each of the tests which could be safely mapped to 720 in the real test.
I had joined an online group of "would-be-GMAT-takers" which proved to be a good way to practice sentence correction during 5-minutes breaks that I took every two hours from my office work. There were similar forums on scoretop.com as well. I could run through two questions in each break. This might sound like "only-two-questions" but this way, I could go through a lot of questions in a span of three months even with a hectic work schedule. I believe that joining this group and actively participating in the forum was one thing that helped me the most.
Two weeks before my exam, I rushed through the quant and the AWA part. Quant and AWA was more or less covered in the Kaplan tests that I took, so the preparation took me not more than four days. I relied mainly on Official Guide for quant. Ten days before the exam; I once again went through the verbal part of Official Guide thoroughly. I felt that I was almost done with the material I had, so I got a few tests from 800score.com from a friend. I didn't have the analysis of the answers so took them merely as practice tests. Two days before the final exam, I took the second test of Powerprep where I scored 750.
I had been keeping a record of all the mistakes that I had done during the tests and the things that I learnt while analysing my mistakes. Every weekend, I used to revisit this document to check if was making the same mistake. For the last two days, I carefully went through this document to see if I had done justice to my preparation. Eventually I scored 770.
I believe that GMAT is a sheer test of how cool you keep while taking the test and this can be achieved only through regular practice. Also, it's the quality of preparation that matters more than the quantity. There are tonnes of GMAT material available on the internet and bookstores but nothing can beat the magic of perseverance and consistency. The writer is a student, Class of 2008, at the Indian School of Business. For additional information on the GMAT visit http://www.gmac.com/gmac/thegmat/