My GMAT experience is probably going to be pretty different from most applicant bloggers, but I thought I would share anyway in case it is helpful to some folks.
Back in February I started thinking about getting an MBA. It seemed like the smart thing to do competitively, since most people in my department either have one or are working on one. A majority of people did their MBAs part time. In my area, there are many choices for good part time programs: Drexel, Villanova, St. Josephs, Penn State, etc. I decided I'd better get started, since these programs can take 3 years or more, especially for those with non-business undergrad degrees who can't waive many of the core classes. I attended some info sessions and picked out some target programs.
I decided to get started on the GMAT and aim to get my applications in for the Fall semester. The average GMAT for these schools ranges from 550 to 620, so I wasn't too worried about getting a suitable score. However, scholarships are generally based on GMAT scores, so I decided to aim for a score in the mid to high 600's so I would have a better chance of getting some money. I ordered 3 books, and ended up using two of them for the majority of my studying:
The Official Guide
Princeton Review (Cracking the GMAT)
Kaplan GMAT 2007
I started with Kaplan, but stopped after the introduction. There were a ton of typos, and entire sections were repeated on different pages! I thought, if they can't properly edit this book, can I really trust them as a study guide? So I ditched Kaplan and started in on Princeton Review. I really liked PR. Their approach is to teach you tricks based on their extensive knowledge of the test. While I didn't use all the tricks all the time, it really helped to have them in my back pocket for questions that I didn't know how to approach. The tricks especially helped me for the verbal section, where I tended to overthink my answers. There was really only one thing they got wrong: they said the GMAT never requires you to calculate standard deviation, they only ask questions that require you to understand what the standard deviation is. Well - I got a question that required calculating it! I think I guessed on that, but I don't really remember anymore ;) PR's method for AWA is also great. It allowed me to spend only one day practicing my templates so I could spend valuable time on other stuff.
The Official Guide was great for practice questions. Indeed, this is the only book with actual GMAT questions. I actually got a couple questions on my test that were repeats from this book! Both PR and OG have great practice exams you can do on your computer to simulate how the actual test works. This was really important for me, because I discovered I had to really concentrate on moving quickly through the quantitative questions ... otherwise I wouldn't finish! If I knew I could solve a question but that it would take longer than 3 minutes, I had to make an intelligent guess and move on. I tended to practice one section at a time, so the only full practice test score I had was a 670.
So finally it was test day. I was a little nervous, but not too bad. I brought a can of Coke and an oatmeal bar to keep my energy up inbetween sections (which I ended up really needing!). Once I was finished, I took a deep breath and requested my score .... Holy crap, a 760!!