The first step that I took on this phd journey was to sit for my GMAT. At the beginning, I did not really have a target score in mind. And I did not know how important the score was in the PhD application process. However, after learning from a trusted source, I started to see the importance of getting a GREAT GMAT score.
I was told that to get into a good school, 750 was a 'must-have'. I did not know how tough it was to get a 750... I just went thru the 2 or 3 materials that I had. And the preparation period was a tough one as there were the nice distractions from my then new-born baby. Then, there were the not-so-nice distractions from work and other projects.
By God's grace, I hit a 750 on my first (and only) attempt at the GMAT in Oct 2005. To me, that was the opening of doors from the Lord. And it really kick-started the search for a phd program....
If you are preparing for the GMAT, here are some recommendations:
1. Cracking the GMAT (Princton Review). I like the strategies in this book.
2. Official GMAT Guide. Practice and practice.
These were the only materials that I used for my prep. It did not occur to me, internet-savvy as I was, to look for resources online. It was only after sitting for the GMAT test that I found a good community for GMAT prep - www.gmatclub.com.