I didn't forget! As an undergrad senior, I have been really busy with finding a job / exams / jury duty (which was ridiculously annoying!) and everything else.
I'm happy to report that I accepted a job as a derivatives trader / market-maker and I'll be starting in two months!
Anyway, here's my GMAT debrief:
My exam was on August 19, and as evidenced in this thread, I was expecting a pretty solid score (>750). I'm definitely happy with my 760, but I wish I had done a few things differently. Here's a breakdown of my exam experience:
Note: I'm the type of person who loves pressure situations and doesn't get nervous about most things, so if you're looking for a thread on how to calm your nerves, then look elsewhere!TESTING CENTER SELECTION
I have a psychological condition that can make certain noises pretty distracting, so I wanted to choose a testing center that was as quiet as possible. There three testing centers that are relatively close to me (< 1 hour drive), so I had some choices. One was in a small but hip city, the second was in a major US city, and the third was in a super-rural, poorly educated town. I chose the poorly-educated city because I figured that there would be fewer people there during my test. I was right -- I was literally the only person in the room for the entire exam, so I didn't have to worry about noise. This was also great because the proctor (a rather large fellow who moved EXTREMELY slowly and made multiple errors trying to type in his administrator password during my breaks) was able to focus all of his time and energy on me. I would have been pretty annoyed to see him lumbering around trying to log other people in / out.
One problem that I did encounter was the long drive over there. My exam was at 6:30 PM, so I started my drive around 5:00 PM and ended up there around 6:00PM. On the way there, I stopped at a small shop for a few Gatorades and power bars. When I got back into my car and started to drive up the hill to the testing center, I noticed that a huge bee was trapped in my car. I have a deadly allergy to bees and I didn't think to bring my EpiPen, so I literally pulled over, hopped out of my car, and just started running. It was definitely an interesting experience to have right before my exam.TIME OF DAY
This was one of my biggest errors. I was a pretty big night owl during the summer, so I figured that the 6:30 PM time slot would be great for me. Sadly, I didn't realize that a 6:30 PM time equivocates to the post-lunch drowsy period when you're waking up around noon. I should have picked a time much closer to when I actually got up at that time (man, I wish I could still wake up at noon! Gotta love the summer as a college student). While I was pumped to be taking the actual GMAT, I was feeling pretty sleepy on the drive home just from the time of day.AWA
(NOTE -- MY AWA COMMENTS APPLY TO NATIVE SPEAKERS ONLY!)
Nobody cares about the AWA. I'm serious. I don't know if there's much value in doing the AWA during practice exams because nobody cares about your score. Some people may argue that it's important to build stamina for test day, but I think that's worthless for two reasons: first, on a normal practice exam day, you aren't focusing all of your thoughts on your practice exam. I did a few practice exams after work / after going to the gym / after fun nights out, but on test day, I focused all of my energy and thoughts on the actual exam. Second, adrenaline kicks in on test day and you'll have more energy to crank out the essays -- they're more like a mental warm-up. I didn't read any guides or any sections on the AWA because it just doesn't matter. When I was writing the essays, I thought they were absolutely terrible, but I ended up getting a 6. Who knows!QUANT
Yep, the quant section is getting harder. I ran into a few types of problems that I had never even seen before -- including one in particular that reminded me of a question I had gotten as a brainteaser during my derivatives trading interviews. By the time I realized what the problem was really asking, I had wasted too much time. Manhattan GMAT
is a pretty awesome resource for this type of thinking, but it's not a comprehensive guide anymore for the quant section. You're going to have to improvise. It's also hard to prepare for the GMAT's experimental questions. It was nice to see a few ridiculously easy problems randomly thrown in there (i.e. reducing fractions), but it definitely threw me off of my game. The easy questions kind of lulled my mind to sleep. PowerPrep is the best way to prepare for this wildcard factor (PowerPrep has the experimental questions in there) but the general level of difficulty is way too easy.
This brings me to another big mistake that I made on test day: strategy. Before going into your exam, decide on your strategy for handling tough quant questions. Are you going to skip over them and move on? Are you going to try to hammer out a solution? I made the mistake of doing both -- I tried to get an answer for a while (i.e. 2-3 minutes), but at the end, I ended up skipping. I wish I had made a decision beforehand so I could have more time at the end of my exam.VERBAL
Not too much to say here. Verbal was pretty spot-on from the practice exams. The one thing I did notice is that there were some idioms that I knew as a native English speaker, but didn't remember from any verbal review books / idiom lists in particular. I think that the exam makers have realized the unbelievable amount of preparation materials out there for anyone who wants them and is now slightly changing the exam to compensate for all of this information.SCHOOL SELECTION
Choose the schools you want to send your scores to before your exam. I know this sounds stupid, but at 27 bucks a pop after the exam, it pays to send the scores early. I sent them to all of the schools I wanted to apply to who didn't allow self-reported scores alone to apply.
I feel like I'm missing some parts of my story, so I'll edit it as need be. Hope this helps someone!