I took the GMAT about 18 months ago, and through hard work (and a little bit of work), I was able to score a 740 (49Q, 42V). I’m a native English speaker, so on the verbal portion, I didn’t really have to learn any subject matter. For other native english speakers, I would recommend you just practice as many questions as you can.
For the verbal portion, I used the Official Guide to the GMAT, as well as the Kaplan Books.
One tip – Read the economist weekly if you already don’t. Their style of writing, as well as their content in general, is great practice for the reading comprehension portion of the GMAT. Read the economist enough, and you’ll be able to answer arcane questions on abstruse passages on the GMAT easily.
Now, onto the Quant portion:
I used the Manhattan series of books as my bible, and I can’t attest enough to how awesome they are. Seriously, make sure you use them, they’re totally worth the investment. As an engineer, I come from a heavy quant background, and am pretty good with mental math. To really do well on the quant portion, I had to focus on correcting any shoddy mistakes or errors I’d make in haste. To iron these out, I practiced, a lot. I can’t emphasize how important it is to do literally every question on all the Manhattan books.
Test Day Tips:
I’m sure you all have taken a lot of tests in your lifetime, so I won’t rehash the usual pointers that you’re probably already familiar with. Just a couple that I found useful:
1. Just like how a pitcher or a hitter in baseball has a warm up routine, I’m sure you have one too. Make sure you come to the test site early enough to give you at least 20 minutes to check in, use the bathroom and get all that out of the way.
2. Make sure you bring a bottle of water with you to the test site. Its a 4 hour test, make sure you hydrate.
3. While hydration is important, make sure you don’t drink too much water. Seems obvious, but I personally know of a friend that had to use the bathroom during the test, and yes- he lost 3 minutes of time on the AWA portion.
4. By the time the test has rolled around, I’m sure you’ve practiced, a lot. Just remember to stick to the script, keep it simple, and you’ll do just fine. You’re better of pacing yourself and making sure you get all your questions right instead of rushing through the questions in order to beat the clock.
5. Adderall usage- Some of you may have tried it, some of you may have not. Some of you may have a prescription for it (in that case go forth and use), but most of you likely don’t. I’m not going to recommend its use (I don’t use it), although I know friends who swear by its potency in allowing them to focus. My only advice is this- if you haven’t used it before regularly, don’t debut its usage on test day. That’s just a recipe for disaster.