What are the best strategies for preparing for the GMAT?

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Different study techniques work for different people. I like to layout a plan, stick to it, and execute it. I was able earn a score that is higher than the average at every school that I know of (Stanford is the highest I know of) by taking the following approach.

1.) Remember that the GMAT is just like any other test in school. It is NOT an intelligence test. Just like tests in school, it pays off to study and prepare.

2.) The GMAT is mainly a test of speed and endurance. The goal of your preparation should be to improve yourself in these respects.

3.) The first thing I did was buy the Princeton Review's Cracking the GMAT book. I read through it and created flash cards for rules that I found helpful. I would review my flashcards periodically to remind me of shortcuts for the math section and rules for the verbal section.

4.) After reading the book, I decided to take practice tests. On each of the 10 Saturdays before the Saturday of the test, I got up in the morning and took a full test (except the AWA section) around the time I was going to take the test on the test day. I would completely isolate myself by driving into work, going into my (windowless) office, shutting the door, and taking the test. This was my attempt to simulate testing conditions the best that I could. Taking a test on a computer takes some getting used to so I made sure my practice tests were all on the computer. The ten tests that I took were (in order)

The 4 Princeton Review tests that come with the CD with the Princeton Review book. The Princeton Review tests are easier than the actual test.
The 4 Kaplan tests that come with the CD with the Kaplan book. I did not read the Kaplan book at all. I simply bought the book for the practice tests. I could have read the Kaplan book, but did not want to risk burning myself out. The Kaplan tests are much harder than the actual test.
The 2 tests from the GMAC. These tests really are just like the real test. Most folks I know ended up scoring within 20-30 points of their GMAC practice test scores on test day.

5.) After low key Friday nights (I headed to bed early to get up for tests on Saturdays) and taking tests on Saturday mornings, I would let loose and enjoy time with my wonderful and very support friends on Saturday afternoons and nights. I was 23 when I was preparing for the GMAT and looking back the best thing I did was schedule time in to enjoy being 23. That time and those experiences with my friends were really enjoyable and are much more important to me now (5 years later) than anything that had to do with the GMAT. I needed to have fun on Saturday afternoons/nights to prevent burnout. At the time I lived in Austin, TX which provided plenty of places to keep my mind off studying and relax.

6.) On Sundays, I would review the tests I took on Saturdays to see what I missed and why. I tried my best to learn from it and sometimes made flash cards to remind me of my mistakes.

7.) On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Friday, I would study for an hour or so per night by doing practice problems from the Official Guide for the GMAT book. If you buy only one book, buy this one! It has 1400+ actual test questions. I forgot what the exact format was of the approach I took was, but I seem to recall doing 12 Math questions in 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break, immediately followed by 12 verbal questions in 25 minutes. I would then go do something else for a while and then come back to review the questions and learn from the mistakes I made on the questions that I got wrong. Again, I would make flash cards to help remind me of the lessons I learned from my mistakes. By taking this approach, I covered about 900 questions from the Official Guide. I could feel burnout setting in so I did not attempt to do more. I made sure I focused on the areas I was weakest in.

8.) I would take Wednesdays off to avoid burnout.

9.) I decided to take the GMAT within a year of graduating from college because I wanted to take it while I was still in a studying mindset and before other things in life came along.

10.) On test day, time your eating appropriately so you are not hungry or groggy during the test. Don't forget snacks for the break to help you stay sharp. I also intentionally did not put my best effort into the AWA section so I would have more energy for the rest of the test. Most schools don't care about the AWA section and use the essays you submit with your MBA application to evaluate your writing style.