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OK, it looks like the movement is catching on now. Remember not to spam Pearsons, but rather include a unique and legitimate reason as to why you think the noteboards (aka whiteboards) should be discontinued.
Complaints mentioned so far include:
1. Pens that write poorly.
2. Pen tips that leave blobs and smudge easily.
3. Ink that dry out quickly.
4. Whiteboards that do not erase clearly.
5. An uncomfortable bulky feel.
6. Pens that discriminate against small printers and left-handers.
7. Limited writing space.
8. Unfamiliarity with a whiteboard and marker for making complex calculations.
9. Sixteen years of formal education that never exposed us to such crap!
Come on fellow GMAT club members, let`s stand up to Pearson and channel our strength in numbers to fight for our right to use scratch paper and pencils again!!
BAN THE BOARD!
Last edited by GMATT73 on 01 Mar 2006, 22:24, edited 4 times in total.
Here is my letter to GMAC and Pearson VUE. If you have the same feelings, then I encourage you to write or call GMAC and Pearson VUE.
GMAT Program Coordinator:
I am writing to express my absolute frustration and utter confusion over the recent decision to discard the pencil and scratch paper in favor of laminated sheets and markers.
This past Thursday, I attempted the GMAT under the new policies enacted January 1st. After months of preparation that included over 150 hours of studying, 25 hours with a private tutor, 3 days of vacation from work, and a trip from Los Angeles to San Diego, I had no choice but to cancel my exam during the Quantitative section. This occurred not due to a lack of understanding of the content presented on the test, but solely to an external factor â€“ GREASY LAMINATED SHEETS OF PAPER AND INCONSISTENT ERASABLE MARKERS!!!
If I had to summarize the overall goal of GMAC and Pearson VUE, I would say it is to further education. Given this, I have no doubt that you understand my complete shock and disappointment to have something as simple as the writing utilities provided to me to ultimately stand in the way of my dreams of attending a top business school.
I would also imagine that a goal of GMAC and Pearson VUE is to provide a fair and equal mode of evaluating candidates for graduate studies. The use of laminated sheets and erasable markers not only creates an absolute frustrating challenge when completing the algebraic and geometric equations required by the GMAT, but also creates an unequal and unfair comparison to those who took the exam prior to Jan. 1st.
I strongly believe that the change of vendors to Pearson VUE is a positive move forward for the GMAT. The new technology and new user interface provide marked improvements to the exam. However, in the name of cost and security, GMAC and Pearson VUE went too far. If cost is the main concern, then I encourage both groups to consider cost takeout in areas that do not directly impact a test takers score. If security is the main concern, then I remind both groups that convicted felons walk through airports with only a fraction of the security I am subjected to when taking the GMAT.
To understand fully the impact of using laminated sheets and erasable markers, you must recognize that this affects mostly men who tend to write very small. Also, you must appreciate the fundamental fact that paper and lead create friction, which practically guarantees a mark to be made when attempted, whereas greasy laminated sheets and wet markers do not. Each of us has made use of pencil and paper since the very beginnings of our respective educations. To be introduced to something so foreign and so impractical as laminated sheets and erasable markers on test day is beyond comprehension.
For those of us that write small and/or extensively during the Quantitative section, the GMAT just became ten times more difficult. If your hand touches the ink, it smears. If you attempt to write where your hand or arm previously rested, a layer of film prevents the marker from working properly. If you make a mistake during a calculation, you must start over â€“ marking over a letter or number just compounds the problem and youâ€™re left with blob of ink. If you write too small, you canâ€™t see the numbers when the ink bleeds together. If you write too large, the marker becomes inconsistent.
During my attempt this past Thursday, I spent 6 minutes on the first problem and not because I didnâ€™t understand the question. I almost conceded to doing the problem in my head because the ink blobs on my laminated sheet were incomprehensible. I requested a new pen, further slowing my pace, only to realize the same results. When a test taker is required to redraw a single number or letter over and over before it actually appears on the sheet, thereâ€™s a serious problem here.
I appreciate that the GMAC understands the heart and emotion that goes into taking the GMAT exam. For me, as for many others, there is a dream business school out there within reach. Completing the GMAT exam with high marks allows each of us to move one step closer to realizing that dream. It is here where I ask both GMAC and Pearson VUE, if an external factor, such as laminated sheets and erasable markers, stands in the way of just one person in realizing that dream, should this continue to be a policy? How many more people need to put the heart, the hours, and the money into chasing a dream only to have a ridiculous policy stand in the way?
I have full confidence that GMAC and Pearson VUE will team together and put the true mission of the GMAT exam at the forefront and remove this policy. At the very minimum, I strongly ask GMAC and Pearson VUE to offer pencil and scratch paper on a request-only basis. Personally, I am formally requesting to be refunded from attempt this past Thursday in the form of a free next attempt. The GMAT is a requirement. I must pay $250 for this exam prior to gaining admission to business school. Bottom line, I did NOT receive a fair and equal opportunity for the money I spent.
I look forward to continuing my progress towards business school once GMAC and Pearson VUE agrees to revert to a fair and equal system.
Here`s a novel idea. What if we used the markers to actually write directly on the monitors at the testing center? Maybe they work better that way?? There is no "disclaimer" that strictly prohibits us from doing so, so why not get your money`s worth and ease the eyestrain?
The fundamental security problem is the test design itself, the markers do not solve the problem of using the same body of questions over an extended period of time. Sadly, these markers punish the good (the noncheaters) for the acts of the bad (the cheaters).
I took the test on March 1. I wrote the company that night regarding the erasable boards. As a lefty I got more ink on my left hand than I did on the board. The markers were cruddy and dried up after sitting out without the cap for 15min.
Could someone share the dimensions of the boards and pens? I'd like to try to find something similar for use during my prep, so any tips on what these things resemble in the real world (if any!) would be great. Thanks!
I have to say, that while it was good to know about potential problems with the noteboards, I did not have any problems.
Yes, the pens will dry out and yes, they can get blobby, but I have found that pencils will also have problems, especially when you are depending on something given to you. I recall way back when I took my SAT and ACT in 1977, that I was given 2 pencils, and God help me if they broke or wouldn't erase the Scantron sheets.
The laminated paper was plenty for the test; I didn't use half of what I had available and if I had found a problem with the test, the monitor had a box full of pens available, and she was careful to test the pen I got before the test began.
All in all, I don't see this as something people should get worked up about. Yes, theoretically some people will find this a disadvantage, but only if 10 or 15 seconds makes the difference at the very end of the Quant section, and I at least had no problem with managing my time to make sure I did not run out of time before I ran out of questions. Maybe that's just me...
So I would say make sure people know about the noteboards, but functionally this is as good an idea as we are likely to see. Also, it occurs to me that there is a no-win position for us the test-takers. No one can complain about the boards until they have taken the exam, and it's going to be well-nigh impossible to prove we miss out on a prime school because the marker or board caused us to lose the concentration needed for a maximum score. I mean, we might as well blame the air conditioning unit noise or the clicking of other keyboards, other elements we cannot control. I am not saying the boards aren't annoying, but I found it more annoying to not be wearing my watch and cell phone than to have to use a marker and noteboard, so again for me it was no big deal.
I have to agree with the above post that the boards are not so bad. Maybe their quality is inconsistent and I was lucky, but I took the test yesterday and had no trouble with the boards. I didn't even use all the sheets and only ended up w/ a few smugs on my fingers (nothing all of my clothes or anything like that). I just post this to ease the concerns of those taking the test in the near future - you can still do just fine w/ the boards (actually, they're more like laminated sheets).
i too was a little thrown by the use of the dry erase sheets. but, they weren't that bad. i write small and didn't have too much difficulty reading what i wrote. but then again, i made it a point during practice and the actual test to write a little larger than usual just to make sure i could more easily read what i wrote. u don't need to conserve space! write larger! you're score depends on it! the pens did sometimes have problems writing, but nothing too severe.
my guess is that Pearson wants to save on the cost of paper more than any security issues. i'm sure this new method was very inconvenient to some people and that's a real shame. to be realistic, i don't see that much of an outcry about this so i don't see them changing their policy. i'd recommend to anyone taking the test to practice with the similar materials mentioned above so that this becomes a non-issue.
If it`s a matter of scrimping on a few sheets of paper, then why doesn`t Pearson enforce the same procedure across the "board" for all GRE, LSAT, SAT, and TOEFL test takers as well? Surely, there are far greater numbers of people who take the GRE than the GMAT every year, yet they are all given pencils and scratch paper.