I just took the GMAT today and just found this section of the forum. I enjoyed reading some experiences so figured I'd share mine.
I'm 30 years old and work as a software developer in the US, and am a native English speaker. I never did very well in school, for undergrad I majored in engineering at a pretty selective university, but graduated with a 2.8 GPA.
I've been working as a software developer since I graduated from college and it's been ok. Things I like and some things I don't like about it. 6 months ago I was in a bit of a funk, feeling kinda burnt out with work, working hard but struggling with some tasks, feeling like I was not getting recognition/appreciation for my work, my career had plateaued etc. On a whim one day I was reminiscing about college and started to think about business school. It was such a random idea as I knew absolutely nothing about business school, the gmat, grad school in general, and wasn't really sure where I wanted to take my career path. I kinda of wanted more responsibility at work though, and wanted to more impact on business decisions instead of being pigeonholed as a code monkey and I thought a MBA from a top business school might be the way to prove to companies that I could do it. And I wanted a new challenge. I have no idea if this is good reasoning for taking the GMAT or not!
I briefly looked up the top business schools in the US, and saw the average GMAT scores were high 600's, mostly 700s. I wanted to see where I was so I went to the library, grabbed a random gmat book, erased the answers that were already written in (lol!) and took a practice test. I had no idea what to expect but I was disappointed when I scored mid 500s, I thought I would be a lot closer. I was particularly discouraged when I went back and looked closely at the penciled in responses I'd erased, and the guy had gotten many questions I'd missed right. In the score page of the book looks like from the penciled in marks that guy had scored around 700! I was mad about doing poorly when some random guy who writes in a library book did so well!
Regardless I started studying a little on and off in the next few months. I took another practice test in another book and didn't do very well there. I bought the og book and started doing some practice questions, skipping around since they are apparently ordered by difficulty and doing the easy ones didn't seem to provide much value. Overall up to today I probably did 1/4 of the questions in the book.
At some point during this time I actually looked up the cost of these business schools and was shocked. I'm really ignorant lol. I was studying and thinking I could go to business school for 25-30k a year, then find the schools I'm looking at are 50-60k a year! This discouraged me and I thought about not bothering with taking the GMAT, but since I already put some time in studying figured I might just take it. Again on a whim a few days after new years, I finally decided and registered for the gmat in early march. I figured that would give me enough time to study and having a date would motivate me. At this time given my poor performance on the practice tests and practice questions, set my goal at 600.
I started studying a bit more, found this forum and found out about the gmat prep software, took practice test one and scored 610 (36q, 38v, 7ir)
. Was pretty happy about that overall. This was the first time doing the adaptive thing and I really struggled with it in ir and q, running out of time and randomly guessing at the end. Was surprised I got 7 in ir as I'd never studied for it at this point. I raised my goal to 650.
During this time my work started getting busy. They were giving me some more responsibilities (finally) which required me to work extra hours to adjust to, and in the two weeks leading up to the test, I had almost no time to study, I had studying almost none for ir and awa besides taking the gmat prep practice test.
I rescheduled to march 20. I got in some decent studying for a week or two then got crazy busy at work again. I did find the time to take the second gmat prep test last weekend, and scored 660 (45q, 36v, 5ir)
. So I felt decent about hitting 650, maybe even higher. In the week leading up to the gmat I was trying to get a project out, first monday, then delayed to tues, wed, finally thursday. I worked till 9, 10pm all week, and had no time/motivation to study. The release went out thursday (yesterday). usually I have to provide on-call support the night after the release. I hadn't slept well on wednesday night and was so sleepy at 10pm, but decided to stay up till 12:30am instead of falling asleep and getting woken up by a call.
I ended up sleeping pretty well and not getting called, woke up at 8. I actually felt pretty relaxed in the morning, happier that the release went out, I didn't get called, and I had the day off work rather than stressing about the gmat. I guess it helps that I'm still not sure if I want to go to business school so there wasn't much pressure. This seems unique among gmat test takers. seems most wouldn't bother with the test unless they are serious about b-school. Some people I talked to about it thought I was crazy, or thought I was just saying I wasn't sure about b-school because I was scared of scoring low. I talked to my friend a few weeks ago about the gmat, he said he took the gmat 4 times, sounded like he was pretty stressed about it and he scored considerably lower than his practice tests.
Anyway, I had a relaxing morning, reviewed math for 5 minutes, drove 20 min to the test site, arrived at 1:40 for my 2PM test time and got right into it.
AWA - felt decent about it. The topic was about a software company. Have no idea what I'll score.
IR - paced myself better than the practice tests finishing just on time without too much rushing, but in the middle questions I struggled a bit and gave up and guessed after burning some time.
Quant - After the first few the test got surprisingly easy compared to what I experienced in the gmat prep practice tests. At first I thought I might be missing alot of questions so it was adopting easier. But in the middle I was pretty confident that I got many of them right. I was overall feeling pretty confident. I started thinking maybe they adjusted their adoptive algorithm to make the test easier/less painful? Like I was getting questions slightly below/at my skill level instead of at the top/above it. Through the finish I felt I was doing much better than the practice tests and the pacing was perfect at the end, finishing with 1 min left with no rushing.
Verbal - It again felt easier than the gmat prep tests, throughout the whole section. towards the middle/end I started to feel a bit too relaxed, loosing a little focus, wondering what I'd score, dreaming if I might be at 700 because it felt so easy, then wondering if I was completely messing up and thus getting easy questions, or if there was a bug in the adoptive software lol. I was also getting hungry and I do wish I'd brought a snack. My pacing was again perfect.
Finished and the score popped up 640 (46q, 33v, 5ir)
. Initial reaction was slight disappointment due to it feeling easy yet I scored 20 below my second practice. But after that I felt pretty good about it as I thought it was a decent score and I gained around 100 points from my first practice test completely form self studying.
Among the schools I'm considering, 640 is slightly below the 80% range for the highest, barely in the 80% range for a few, and right at the median for the lowest.
I still don't know if I want to apply to schools or not. Overall with my current score and low undergrad gpa it doesn't seem like I have a good chance at these schools. The applications are pretty expensive and seem like a lot of work. I don't know if the expenses will be worth it for me. How common are scholarships? I can only assume my stats are not good enough for a scholarship at the schools I'm considering. But maybe if I drop to a lower tier?
How much do extra curricular matter? One interesting thing about me is I've been racing cars/go-karts for the past 7 years and have a list of accomplishments with that. I saw one schools website advertising a racecar driver in their entering class lol. I guess it's a good selling point.
Is it easier or harder for someone from a engineering/computer science background to get in? It doesn't seem that common.
Also I don't know what job exactly I would slot into if I graduated from business school. Management job in technology I guess? Like I mentioned earlier I am interested in driving product design/business direction on the technical side of things.
And since I'm not that young and am working in a I guess somewhat higher paying industry (although I don't think I get paid that much for my profession) the average starting salary for graduates doesn't seem that appealing to me. I'm not sure how much I would make if I graduated with an MBA (if more at all) and that will definitely influence the decision for me. I'm guessing in combination with my technical experience I can get higher, but I'm guessing it could be very hard to find this type of position too. Need to do more research on this end I guess.