I just took the GMAT this past weekend and scored a 760 (Q49 / V44), so while everything was fresh on my mind I wanted to make a post here about the process that I went through. I know that there are a few threads like this already out there, but when I was trying to figure out how to tackle the GMAT, I came to WSO and the guides/accounts that people had posted here were great resources for me. I remember wishing that there were a few more threads about how people found success, so I figured that I would write one to give back to the community that helped me out so much as I went through the process.
Background - My GPA is around a 3.6. Knowing that HBS and GSB GPA averages are around 3.7, I knew from the beginning that I would need to crush the GMAT in order to account for being below the GPA averages if I wanted a good shot at either of those two schools.
What I did - From my online research it seemed like Manhattan GMAT was the best resource for GMAT prep, so I took the free practice test that they offer completely cold. I figured it would be like the SAT, but I was sorely mistaken. I scored a 620. So I ordered the entire MGMAT set of books (its like 10 of them) along with the GMAC official guide. I went through every single book and took rigorous notes, doing every practice problem and writing down everything that I didn't know.
Took another practice test with MGMAT after all of this and scored 650. I was pretty dissappointed. So I cracked open the OG and started churning out problems. I quickly found where I needed work and picked up on the patterns that the GMAT likes to test. I also bought a program called GMAT Pill. This was the turning point for me. Doing GMAT Pill in conjunction with the OG problems, I felt like I made leaps and bounds in just a few weeks. I took a GMAC practice test (you get two when you sign up for a date to take the actual test) and scored 750. Went in on test day and got 760.
My Recommendation - I think the MGMAT books are a good resource if you have absolutely no experience with some of the quant concepts or you are not a native english speaker. However, I actually don't think I would recommend MGMAT to most people. In my opinion, they are too conceptual in their approach. This is hard to explain unless you have prepared for the GMAT, but the test is more about knowing how to navigate the questions and recognize how they want you to solve the problems than it is about knowing every single concept and theory.
Instead of MGMAT, I would strongly recommend the GMAT Pill program. Especially for the verbal section, I found this platform to be extremely helpful. The sentence correction pill that they offer is seriously phenomenal. After going through the entire program, I got over 95% of the SC problems in the OG correct. GMAT Pill is based on video lectures and shows how to work through problems, what to look for in the questions, recognizing patterns, and how to go about solving them. If I had to redo my study plan, I would buy GMAT Pill and the official guide and nothing else. I found the best plan of action was to work through the official guide questions, making notes of which concepts I was struggling with. Then, I used the GMAT Pill to improve in areas that I was weak. GMAT Pill also offers an OG tracker which provides video explanations to all of the problems in the official guide, which I found extremely helpful.
Finally, I would not recommend people take the MGMAT practice tests. In my experience, the quant is significantly harder and different than what you find on the actual test. Scores also seem to be very deflated on those exams. Instead, i would recommend taking the GMAC practice tests, as they seem to be very accurate and the format is exactly the same as what you will see on the actual exam. I would take one as a baseline, and another within a week of your test date.
So that is what worked for me, I'll be happy to answer any questions that anyone might have to the best of my ability. Best of luck.