I just finished taking the GMAT in China, and without a doubt, I can say that I am angrier than I have ever been in my life. Pearson Vue and GMAC have let me down.
A bit of background: I am an American, but I have been living in working in China since earning my BA in economics 5 years ago. I have been planning on taking the GMAT for quite a while, and over the past four months, have been studying intensely. This has required extreme sacrifice, as my job is busy and until about a month ago, required frequent travel. I was hesitant at first about taking the exam in mainland China. Without going in to too much detail, I can say that my five years in China has taught me that things can never be expected to go smoothly here even with the most mundane matters. I did not expect the testing center to be on par with what one might see in the US or other countries, but given GMAC and Pearson Vue's mission to create a level playing field by providing identical testing centers throughout the world, I did expect things not too be too far off par. Boy was I wrong.
Upon arriving at the testing center, which is located in an old, run down building with no air-conditioning (its about 90 degrees and 70% humidity here), I went through all the regular procedures--hand scan, signing NDA, etc--with the only difference being that the directions were given to me in Mandarin Chinese. I started the exam at the same time as about 6 others, who were also all taking the GMAT. IR and AWA went of without a hitch, then onto quant. I felt pretty good during all 3 sections, though was a bit annoyed that the proctor logged me back in after my first break, with 5 minutes still to go (after coming back in to the room after eating an apple I explained I wanted to sit at my computer for the remainder of the break, but we had a bit of a communication breakdown, or in typical Chinese fashion, probably just wanted to get me out of the way so she should continue doing whatever the hell she was doing).
Anyways, took my break after quant, and went into my stronger section--verbal Here's were sh*t hit the fan. I have been scoring consistently around V44 in my practice tests (Kaplan
and GMATPrep) over the past two months, and consider it my strongest section. Since beginning my study back in May, I have never scored less than 42 on verbal. I went in pretty confident. About 7 minutes into the section, just as an RC question came up, some kind of commotion broke out just on the other side of the test center door, which was just about 5 meters behind me (as I was at the first test station in the room, right by the door). It sounded like a physical altercation, or at least an intense argument, was going on--perhaps with one of the other test takers involved. After about 1 minute of this I was properly incensed, and cupped my ears hoping it would soon be brought under control. It was not. The argument or whatever it was intensified and continued for ten minutes. I was, at one point, so angry I almost got up and went out there to lose it on someone, but of course I was on the clock and trying to stay focused (which also kept me from raising my hand). I was ecstatic when it stopped, as it was severely distracting. On with the test, I thought. However, a few minutes later, it picked up again and carried through the end of the test. I finished verbal, and at this point was angrier than I have even been in my life. I raised my hand, and the proctor, an early 20's girl who looked like a college student, came in, and before doing the BIQ's or reporting my score, I complained intensely. I asked her how they could allow this to happen in a Pearson Vue testing center, what the hell was going on, etc. and she told me to finish my BIQ's and she would explain.
My hands were shaking with anger as I went through the BIQ's. Reported my score, and my V37 was the lowest I have ever scored--including my first practice test before ever studying. I was literally shaking with anger through the verbal section, and praying, yes PRAYING, the argument would be controlled.
I complained with great intensity, but tried not to lose it on the 3 young girls apparently running this operation. All I got was an apology. The only explanation they gave was, "We're sorry...they were boys and we are girls. We couldn't control them." Typical China,
I told them I would be contacting GMAC, PearsonVue, and Nanjing University (where the test center is located). I have sent emails to all said parties, and I am waiting until tomorrow morning during business hours to start placing calls. I have never experienced this level of unprofessional-ism in my life. PearsonVue has severely disappointed me. I am angrier and more upset now than I have ever been.
Oh yes: results were Q44 V37 for 640 overall. Quant (not my strength) is right where it was on my last GMATPrep. Verbal was WAY off (disappointing because verbal has been the reason I've been able to score 710+ on last GMATPrep practice exams). I am well short of where I expected to be, though confident that PearsonVue/GMAC will have the level of professionalism to both figure out how the hell this happened, and provide a retest.
Don't take the GMAT in China. This country never fails to dive beneath my lowest (and constantly declining) level of expectation. Last takeaways: PowerScore CR
Bible was great, Manhattan GMAT
strategy guides for quant were very helpful, and I wish I had spent more time with my error log
and on challenge sets, and less time just trying to get through various books.
Worst day I've had in years.