I have not posted before but I wanted to share my journey for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I finally got the score I was after and if I don’t tell somebody who understands soon, I’m going to burst. Secondly, I was utterly miserable after I took my second test. I hope that anyone who is feeling that way can find some solace and hope from my own experience.
My Story begins waaaay back in January 2006. I was in my final year at university (Manchester Business School) and I knew that at some point I wanted to do an MBA. I had participated in an exchange program the year before at a uni in the states and I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to apply there. I bought the official guides and did all of the questions in each book. I then took the GMAT during my final year exams. I got a 620, which was plenty for the school that I was applying for (I got in). It occurred to me that if I tried a little harder on the GMAT I might be able to get into a much better ranked school. To cut a long story short, I decided that I would try to get some work experience and the reapply a few years later. Best decision ever.
So fast forward a few years, and in August of 2010 I decided that it was time to start thinking MBA again. I knew that I wanted to go to a really great school and I now had some solid work experience behind me. I researched the schools that I thought it might be nice to go to and found out that the average at those schools was between 680 and 710. I made it my goal to get 700 as I felt that it should be attainable and because when we talk about GMAT scores being able to say that the hundreds digit of your score is a 7 is lovely, just lovely.
I downloaded the test prep software from mbadotcom and took a practice test just to see where I was. I scored a fairly respectable 600. I looked through all the material in the official guides and realised that to get 700 I was going to need to get some proper tuition. I didn’t think that simply doing the questions in the books was going to improve my score by much.
I did some research and called a couple of companies, and eventually I settled on Manhattan GMAT
. Their reviews were consistently good and the customer service I received was top notch right from the start. They called me back very quickly and the next day I had a follow up call from the tutor who I would be working with if I chose to go with them. Kaplan
hadn’t even been able to connect me with a potential tutor. So I signed up for 15 hours of private tuition which was going to be enough to run me through the entire Manhattan GMAT
curriculum. Here’s where I started to make mistakes. I wanted to take the GMAT asap so that I could get my applications in as early as possible. I built a schedule with my tutor in which all of my lessons would take place over 4 weeks. This sounds reasonable but Manhattan GMAT
give a LOT of homework. I’m sure plenty of people could have handled it no problems, but I just wasn’t committing the maths techniques to long term memory. I should point out at this point that I was only studying the maths, I have never had a problem with the verbal, my lowest verbal score on any test ever, was 91st percentile.
My four weeks culminated in a horrible test taking experience. I was so worked up about it that I literally didn’t sleep the night before, and by the time morning rolled around I was livid at my own daftness and absolutely positive that I was going to get an awful score. I felt sick, like a hangover coupled with jetlag. At the test centre I guzzled 3 cans of redbull; one before the test, and one during each break. This hindered rather than helped, and by the end of the quants section the screen was swimming in front of my eyes and I had given up all hope. When I clicked the report scores button a 660 flashed up on the screen in front of me and I just buried my head in my hands. I knew it wasn’t a bad score but I just felt so bad about not doing as well as I wanted to. I felt like I had let down everybody who had supported me, and wasn’t even sure that my backup choice of uni was going to accept me.
I’m not one to wallow, so the next morning I made a plan of action. I decided that I would retake the GMAT and try for that 700. In the meantime I would look around to see what uni’s I could get into with a 660 and get the applications moving for those. When I say “get into” I just mean that the median score of those uni’s was 660 or lower. All of that meant that I could approach the next GMAT test as a personal quest for 700 rather than a critical moment in my MBA applications process. If I got a 700 then I would apply to my original uni’s and if not I would be happy with the best uni that I can get into with a 660.
Instead of going back to Manhattan GMAT
I went to my old high school maths teacher because I realised that one thing that was letting me down was skill at basic maths activities. Long division, factorization, and roots and exponents were still mysterious and occult to my eye, so I knew I needed just some general knowledge. Alongside studying with my math teacher I worked my way through each of the Manhattan GMAT books
again. This time I took the time to make sure I understood not only each specific technique, but also the math that lay behind them. I took a bunch of practises and was getting anywhere from 680 to 730, so I was pretty sure that I had a good shot at the exam.
The test day rolled round again. This time knowing that I might not sleep well the night before, I made sure that I got 10 hours sleep every day that week so that if I had trouble nodding off then I would not feel too bad. And true to form I got to sleep at 05:30 am and woke up at half past 9, I even went out for a walk at 4am to try to settle down. I got to the test centre with plenty of time to spare and this time had no redbull. Again, I was terrified that I would let everyone who had been supporting me down. I have never had exam nerves before so I had no coping mechanisms in place I just had to take the exam and see what happened.
It was a totally different experience. As I was working through the maths I was able to recognize that I was getting questions from the more difficult end of the spectrum. And by the end of the verbal, the passages and sentence corrections were so bizarre and convoluted that I knew I had done well.
So I clicked the report scores button and wham! 44 V, 43 Q, and a 710 overall. I nearly got kicked out of the test centre because I was celebrating so hard!
So that’s it. I hope that this little tale helps you on your own journey.