I am completely walking on air right now. After months of studying (mostly quant), I finally took the test today for the first time, and I did better than I ever dreamed. Here's my story.
I'm 31/F, liberal arts degree from fairly well-respected state university, 8 years of journalism experience. I had never considered business school until April, when I took a "finance for non-finance professionals" seminar offered by one of my trade association clients. That was my "aha!" moment: I'd been told all through school that I was no good at math, so I'd avoided anything that had to do with it ever since. Long story short, that seminar showed me otherwise. It made me realize that business school might be a good option for me.
When I first started looking into it, I thought, "Maybe I can get into the part-time program at [low-ranked local university]." My original plan was to go part time, so that was where I looked first. I bought several GMAT books (mainly Kaplan Premier
and OGMAT). It quickly became apparent that I needed a LOT of work on quant (reality check: I had not done long division by hand in so long that I actually had to Google "how to do long division"
), while my verbal skills, with a little brushing up, were in good shape. My job for the past 8 years has basically entailed reading comprehension, sentence correction and critical reasoning, so I didn't focus much on that until the end.
Quant was a long, hard slog. I spent at least an hour a day reading study materials and doing practice questions; the results of the practice quizzes made me want to cry more than once, but I kept at it, day after day. Finally, in August, I signed up for two related Foundations of Math online seminars through Manhattan GMAT
. They came with MGMAT's Foundations of Math book, which was a GODSEND. I cannot recommend it highly enough. While the OG and Kaplan
books often assumed I knew things I didn't know, MGMAT's Foundations of Math walked me through the basics in ways I could almost always understand easily. It really made the difference for me. After I mastered that book, I was able to circle back to the Kaplan
and OG books and tackle the material that had previously been beyond me. The Web seminars themselves were somewhat helpful, but the book was invaluable.
I took four of the six Manhattan GMAT
practice tests that came with the seminars and scored 690, 700, 690 and 730. I spent a lot of time studying the explanations for the problems I got wrong (and the ones I got right!), and I liked the assessment tools that allowed me to compare all the tests at once and see at a glance which areas of math were my greatest weaknesses. This tool also helped me shore up my weaknesses on the verbal section.
The day before the test, I got a mani-pedi and went to see "Secretariat" (fluffy, no strenuous thinking required), then went home to wait for bedtime. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin, I was so nervous. I barely slept. I got to the testing center so early that I had to wait downstairs for half an hour before I could go up. I thought I was going to be sick!
OK, so, the test itself. I'm pretty sure I messed up the Analysis of an Issue essay (my outline wasn't very good), but I feel good about the Analysis of an Argument essay. We'll see in a few weeks. The math was ... oh, man. I thought for sure I was bombing it. I encountered several questions I hadn't seen in all my months of prep and no questions on a few topics at which I'd worked very, very hard, but that's the luck of the draw. (Lesson: Study as many question types as you can! Don't get hung up on any one topic!) By the time I got to the verbal section, my head was spinning. As the final question approached, my apprehension mounted -- I was incredibly nervous about my score. I clicked through all the demographic questions and finally got to the score page.
740. SERIOUSLY? WHAT?? Um... I may have done some silent fist-pumps. Wink
I had hoped to get at least 700. 740 (44Q/47V) was beyond my wildest expectations. I hit the 68th percentile in math -- considering I probably started at the 10th percentile and relied entirely on self-study, I'm thrilled with that number. 99th percentile on verbal; I made some adjustments after a few practice tests that put me in the 93rd percentile, and apparently it worked. Again, Manhattan GMAT
's extensive practice test analysis was very helpful in preparing for the verbal section (to be fair, I did not take any other company's practice tests).
Overall: 97th percentile. I will be on Cloud Nine for at least a week.
I have a lot of work to do in the application process, but this score opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Needless to say, I'm now planning to go full time next fall (a conclusion I came to over several months of research -- as a career changer, it seems like the wisest choice). I can't wait to see what the future holds! In the meantime, I'll be bolstering my quant skills with an accounting or statistics course this spring through the USDA grad school. My message to anyone who thinks they can't handle the math is: TRY! I thought I couldn't and I was wrong. It took a LOT of studying, but I got there. You can too!
Best of luck to everyone who has yet to take the test!