REPORT OF THE GMAT EXPERIENCE
450 (Quantitative Score 28, Verbal Score 24)
On Thursday 31st May 2012, I sat to take the GMAT in Accra, Ghana (precisely at the Pearson-Vue testing center in Total House, Accra). My testing session began at 9:28 am and ended at 1:27 pm, for approximately 4 hours.
REACTION AT THE SCORE
At the end of the test my score was a disastrous 450 (Quantitative Score 28, Verbal Score 24). After witnessing the score, I was really stunned and disappointed. I had spent close to 3 and a half months preparing for the test, putting my heart and soul in preparing for this exam. This was clearly one of the worst days of my life.
LENGTH OF STUDY TIME
I used 3 and half months in preparing for the test
MATERIALS USED FOR TEST PREPARATION
1. Manhattan GMAT
Set of 8 Strategy Guides
2. Official Guide to GMAT Review 12th edition
3. Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review 2nd edition
4. Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review 2nd edition
5. Aristotle SC Grail
6. Veritas Prep
Critical and Data Sufficiency Guides
7. GMATClub and Beat the GMAT
8. Afex 3-Month GMAT prep course (local test preparation center). Ronald and Albert, the instructors for Quantitative and Verbal respectively were very helpful.
9. 800 score.com CATs and GMATPrep CATs
I mainly spent my days studying for the GMAT at Afex Test Prep Center. I started studying in March with Albert for the verbal section. I learned the nuances of each question type, and I started to aggressively practice for the section. In March, I received the following scores for my GMAT Practice CATs:
800 score.com CAT 1: 470
800 score.com CAT 2: 380
800 score.com CAT 3: 580
In April and May, I attacked the quantitative section, especially the Data Sufficiency section and I later noticed that I was improving on a previously foreign section to me. In May, I did not study for a week, because I attended the funeral of a cousin in South Africa, who passed away on 30th April. In fact, I regained my composure 5 days after I returned from the funeral (around 2-3 weeks before writing the test). That could have been an unsettling factor during my test prep.
GMAT Prep Scores for May:
GMATPrep 1: 350
GMAT Prep 2: 420
TEST DAY EVENTS
I arrived at the test center 40 minutes before my scheduled appointment. I checked in at around 9:25 am and I went through the registration process, before I was handed my test booklet and I sat down at my workstation and went through the tutorial, and then proceeded to the AWA essays. I received an Argument essay first and I was able to write the essay in the allotted 30 minutes. Then I got to an Issue essay, which also I wrote confidently.
After spending one hour on the essays, I took my first 8 minute break and I ate half of a chocolate bar and I returned to start the Quantitative Section. I checked in and to my dismay on the screen, I had spent 2 more minutes on break, meaning that I had 73 minutes to answer 37 questions in the Quantitative section, which unsettled me a bit and brought my confidence down. I was able to answer the questions in the section confidently, but I sort of noticed that after a few moderately difficult questions, I was getting some easy questions, and I took this to mean that my quantitative score was not good at all. Nevertheless, I kept pushing on and I answered all the questions before time was up. At the end of the section, I took my second break and had the rest of the bar of chocolate. In hindsight I may have rushed a few math questions.
After my break, I began the verbal section, which started off with 2 sentence correction questions, which I was able to clear with ease, before the other part of the test reared its head. I felt that the critical reasoning questions were not too bad. Majority of them were in the mould of strengthen the argument. Reading Comprehension passages were also fairly balanced and not too intimidating. After I finished the tests and saw the scores I received I was disappointed.
REMARKS AND OBSERVATIONS
Here are the things I have noticed about the GMAT and what I could have done:
1. Practiced more quantitative and verbal questions and completed more full CATs. This is a key to improvement on the GMAT. I also want to know which is the best practice CAT apart from the Official GMATPrep Software.
2. Had a life apart from the GMAT and not in some cases over studied. As I am unemployed, I took this to be my full time job. Sometimes I wish I was able to do other stuff apart from studying. There were certain times I was clearly in no shape to study, but I forced myself to study, especially spending late night. Sometimes I used to get agitated doing certain things over the GMAT. It seems that my enthusiasm for achieving a 700 score may have been an unhealthy obsession.
3. Broken down my major goal into smaller bits and achieving them. I was targeting a 700+ score, but I should have had smaller goals which would have made surmounting this much easier.
4. Worked on my fundamentals and basics. I believe that had I worked more on deepening my understanding of the quantitative and verbal fundamentals before studying for the GMAT, my score would definitely be higher than what I received. Success on the GMAT is clearly incumbent on a good understanding of English and mathematics fundamentals.
5. Worked on ironing out my weaknesses more closely. I have noticed that to succeed on the GMAT, one must work to minimize his or her weaknesses in order to earn a high score. My clear weaknesses were Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency.
PERSONAL BACKGROUND NOTES
• 26 Year Old Ghanaian male
• Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
• Earned my high school diploma and college degree from the United States (spent a total of 8yrs and 2 months studying and living there).
• Returned back to Ghana to find a job, due to the credit crunch/financial crisis in the USA (2009), but without success, as it was and it is still very challenging finding full time employment at home.
• Only notable job experience was 2 low paying internships with the HR department of a notable international bank (SCB).
• Unemployed for the most of 3 years out of university.
• Wanted to write the GMAT to eventually pursue an MBA at a top 20 graduate business school to help resurrect my career but it seems impossible.
• Currently have no idea of what to do as I feel that my journey into the working world may be over before it started and I may have to change careers or forever remain unemployed.
• Live with parents but I want to be able to stand on my two feet in life and professionally.
In light of my dismal performance, I wanted to kiss my MBA aspirations goodbye. However, there is something inside me that wants to keep going for this qualification. Maybe I may have to retake the GMAT, but at a later date and at a time where I am very comfortable with the basics and fundamentals.
PS: I know this post is long, but if I am to get solutions to some of the issues I faced when I was writing the GMAT, I must freely air out my concerns and worries. Experts and 700+ scorers, feel free to make the necessary remarks and critique where necessary.