Wow, it's nice to read about your various experiences. I will try to organize a post this afternoon. My apologies for not doing it sooner, but I just finished school last week. I also got a bit sidetracked by my tendency to engage in endless debates with InterestedDad.
First off, let me assured you that there are no earth-shattering secrets in what has been -very generously- dubbed as the Xiggi method. I think that it is mostly based on common sense. After all, how hard is it for anyone to figure out that the more one practices, the more one improves. However, there are a few elements that seem to work better than others. Also, I may be able to point to certain elements of a preparation that yield lesser results. For instance, I do not recommend to spend MUCH time reading lists of words.
I'll try to get something posted this afternoon. I'll address one question immediately: taking tests under timed conditions.
The answer is yes but only at the end of the preparation, and eventually at the onset if you did not take an official test. In the past I have compared an SAT preparation to the preparation for a marathon. It is not necessary to run 26 miles each day to prepare for a race. It is better to prepare your body for the grueling race in smaller installments and build resistance and speed by repetition. I do not think that there is ANYTHING wrong in trying to emulate the testing conditions by setting aside a few Saturdays at the kitchen table. It is, however, not necessary, especially in the phase where you build knowledge, confidence, and time management. I would recommend 10 installments of 30 minutes over taking an 5 hours ordeal. One of the keys of a successful preparation is to establish a number of intermediary targets. First, you want to make sure you understand the test and its arcane language. Then, you want to test your current knowledge. After that, you want to make sure you understand what TCB considers correct answers. As I will post this afternoon, I even recommend taking a test WITH the answers in front of you. Obviously that test would not establish a valid yardstick score wise, but it will go a long way to build confidence in your own ability and recognize the few traps that ETS uses.
Oh well, I'm getting ahead of myself.
PS Thanks, Tanman!