You should start the preparation approach by determining, when you want to take the exam. In order to determine this, taking any of the practice tests will be very useful. Practice test score will help you gauge, where you stand. Once you know where you are at and where you want to be; you can frame a plan at the pace, which you can prepare!
GMAT books have practice tests in the book and or in the CD-ROM. You can alternatively take the practice test online; you can review your score in individual area i.e. math and verbal. Note that analytical writing is something that you will not be able to gauge your score, as none of the current practice tests will rate your writing skills. So, you need to keep in mind that although you will not be rated for the analytical writing assessment, it would be a good idea if you can frame your opinions by breaking down your thoughts into points.
After the practice tests, analyze each area thoroughly; your time spent on analysis is as much important, as your time spent on the test itself. Understand the sections of weak performance and mark the areas of difficulty. If you can encounter all your mistakes in the beginning and can work on correcting the same, then you have a better chance at the end. Do some research on the schools that you would like to attend in order to figure out what score you want to make; find out what their average GMAT scores are and what other factors play a vital role in their admissions processes. In general, the schools do not guarantee admission for specific GMAT score; many schools have a baseline GMAT score that is required; but among the candidates, who have reached that score, the GMAT is not used further to determine admission.
Preparation time can vary at one’s own pace; the best way to go about it would be a systematic approach. The following are some of the suggested books for preparation.
- GMAT official guide.
- The Princeton review – Cracking the GMAT.
- Manhattan review sentence correction.
- Manhattan GMAT math study guide.
Also look for the most recent edition, when buying books. You can also use online versions of the books.
Make sure to schedule your exam, when you have a clear plan and almost started the execution. Do not delay in scheduling the exam, as you don’t want to wait too long! This is because, you might not know, when it would demand you to change your plans; it might happen, when your local testing center doesn’t have an available test date that works for you! Once the exam date is confirmed, keep up your consistency in the preparation. Again, make sure you spend enough time after the test to analyze your performance; then take forward the analysis, by working on the areas that are weaker.
Another important aspect would be to keep entangled in online forums like GMAT club and others; this will help you with more updated information, as to what one can expect in the tests and also understand preparation strategies of others. All the very best for your GMAT preparation!