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Sleep deprived GMAT debacle with a positive note!

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Sleep deprived GMAT debacle with a positive note! [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 06:31
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Dear gmatclub,

A little background:

For the MSc in management I am already accepted for and attending, I had to provide a GMAT score of over 600 to be allowed to continue the next academic year. I'm from Western Europe, where selecting on basis of a GMAT score is only recently becoming a more common practice. The 600 requirement is quite moderate, especially considering it is the top business school in the country and one of the better schools in Europe. The low score obviously stems from the fact that in contrast to schools in North America, academic institutes have a tendency to not be private and implementation of gmat-selection is in its introductory phase at my uni.

Since September I have been studying on and off for the GMAT, with a final sprint the previous month. It consisted mainly of revision of my high school math principles that I hadn't used since puberty, learning how to apply these principles without a calculator (be it with the use of primes or specific shortcut formulas that we are all aware of here at the club).

At first I just wanted to pass the 600-level, but preparing for the gmat became quite the addiction and the week before today's test I scored well-above the low 600 I scored at the beginning stage of my preparation. My CAT scores being approximately: (don't remember exactly):

Gmatprep1: 710 (Q47/V40)
MGMAT: 750 (Q48/V44)
Kaplan: 680 (Q86th%/V85th%)
VeritasPrep: 690 (Q47/V38)
Powerprep 1: 760
Powerprep 2: 740
Knewton Quantitative 93th percentile
Gmatprep2: 740 (Q47/V45)

I took these tests (among others) in test-like settings, all of which gave me overall confidence that I am able to score in the 650-720 range, the first time I took the gmatprep1 I was very surprised scoring that high, but it gave me confidence that my preparation was paying off, and I was having fun at it too.

The past week I have changed my sleeping and test taking schedule to coalign with my actual test date of today. I spent yesterday on revision and decided to call it a day three hours before bed-time to watch a movie and to relax. Given my positive CAT-results I wasn't nervous for the test (other than being extremely curious as to what my score would be) since passing the 600-mark was never an issue.

Now I arrive at my experiences: when I went to bed,I was able to get gmat out of my head fairly quickly, leaving my mind completely blank. In here lies the problem I faced, my mind was so empty, I just couldn't sleep. I was wide awake even though I should've been tired (and I had been at the end of the revision). In the past I have stressed before my driving exam causing my mind to be a mess the whole night, changing sides all night, but this night all was just very calm, I laid in my bed for hours, but I just was not able to fall asleep. I became even calmer when I took some Valerian which I hoped would induce sleep, but it only made me feel a bit feverish and more calm, but not sleepy at all. At first I worried about not getting proper sleep, but I accepted the predicament quickly, and decided to just make the best out of it. Having been able to count all clock strikes, I am certain I did not even zone off for a minute.

In the morning I took an extra long shower to freshen up, at this point I was still not tired, just more in a zombie-like state, but not tired as you would be if you are twisting and turning in your bed. I also tried to compensate for the lack of sleep by having a more extensive breakfast than planned. I decided to take energy drinks with me to the test, as well as dextro energy tablets and bananas, just to avoid crashing completely.

At this point I did not think I would be able to pass the 600, but I wanted to take the test anyway and approached it as a practice test. The people in the test centre could not believe that I actually didn't sleep and were probably thinking I wouldn't pass the 600 mark. At this point I was getting nervous but I had already accepted taking the test again in 4 weeks time. I was able to shake off my nerves during IR, which I never practiced before and I did just use to get settled in at the test centre. I had not practiced it before because verbal (especially reasoning) is my strong point and I didn't want to devote time to a section that was not relevant to me. I had to read almost everything twice or three times before understanding it, which was due to the sleep deprivation.

I kind of screwed up IR, so I decided to chuck down a couple of energy tablets, a banana and a Red Bull at the 8 minute break. Starting Quantitative I struggled big time because the medium-difficulty questions I got were almost all word problems, which I was in no state of comprehending quickly, and I was pretty careless with calculations, so most of my answers were glorified guesses, if glorified at all. I knew I was doing well below my level because the questions I did answer correctly were not challenging at all, very basic algebra/number plugging questions (Y= X + 2, Y is 5, what is X.. etc.). In my mind I had scored around 34Q but I decided to give Verbal a shot. Same Redbull, banana and dextro routine in the second break. I reasoned that verbal is more reactive, which is something that is doable when tired, unlike Quants where creative thinking is not happening at all. I was starting to feel less like a zombie, and I was confident that I could score at least 35 and maybe, just maybe have a shot at 600 (albeit my Quant experience gave me no reason to believe that). I didn't ace Verbal as well as I could, because I had to read RC and CR questions and passages repeatedly to comprehend them, but it was feasible. I finished both parts without seconds to spare, and decided to make my score count, I wanted to see what the bottom of my abilities was (I'm sure I would've performed better drunk, as I perform well under influence :lol:).

Q38, V38 (620).

I am quite happy with the outcome given the unusual circumstances of my GMAT, especially because I have passed the requirement to continue my MSc (a requirement which is even too high for some who are at their best). But I am disappointed that I couldn't really challenge and test myself. Especially at Quant I just didn't get any challenging questions that I find fun solving. This is why I wonder if it is crazy to want to take the gmat again, just to prove that I can do better? The higher score might be a requirement for future academic endeavours, but for now I feel like I have been to Disneyland with a leg cast and will leave it be. Has anyone experienced something familiar? Is it the gmat-addiction?

Furthermore, I have used the OG, MGMAT Quant guides (except the advanced one), Kaplan Premier 2012 among other mediocre books just for problem sets, and have also exhausted all free CATs and material wonder if there is quality material that I didn't use before that will be new and challenging to me, and that might inspire me to pick up gmat again somewhere in the future. Hypothesizing that a realistic score would be 680, and todays experience is clearly not indicative of my true level, how did the people who scored (or could score) 680+ pick up gmat again after a couple of months of not paying attention to it, and how long did it take you until you were at your prime again (no pun intended ;)).

Coming to the end of my rant, I would like to ask what the policy for gmat scratch papers is at the test centres you have went to? The test centre I went to had rags for scratch papers, small and loose, a nightmare to work with. I thought gmat had their very own scratch papers across the world? I have used the MGMAT scratch papers and feel that if I would have been at 600-700 level questions in Quants, the scratch papers would be even more annoying to deal with.

My advice for future test takers is not to stress out if things aren't going your way, one of the reasons I have shared my experience here is that I could only find people that were completely devastated by a low score on a test they took when they hadn't slept or were ill or otherwise inconvenienced. If, like me, past scores are not that much of a worry, just take the test and see where your low is. Verbal requires less creativity and is still roughly indicative of how well you will do, and there are Quants questions you should be able to do even in a bad state. It is also a nice way to see how you cope with these extreme circumstances. If not useful for your gmat, it certainly is a skill that you might need in your career in management.

Last but not least, in the test centre there was a girl who scored in the 7th (!!!) percentile at Verbal. I wonder if random guessing would yield a higher percentile? Or is the CAT even accurate in the tails of the normal distribution?

P.S. Sorry for the rant and grammar mistakes, I am still in the vegetative state as during my test :).
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Re: Sleep deprived GMAT debacle with a positive note! [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 10:10
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Congratulations - a long story, as to the 7th percentile on Verbal, you will get between 0 and 2nd percentile by blind guessing as proven by Bunuel: gmat-prep-software-analysis-and-what-if-scenarios-146146.html

Thank you for the debrief and good luck with the next stage!

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Re: Sleep deprived GMAT debacle with a positive note!   [#permalink] 22 May 2013, 10:10
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