I took the GMAT this Saturday, at 4:00 pm MT.
I was so nervous in the morning before I took it, I almost threw up. (Ah, anxiety.) Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and instead I went to my regular Pilates class. My sister thought I was nuts for doing so on the same day as my test, but it ended up being the best decision. The deep breathing you do in Pilates really helped calm my nerves, and the exercise helped relieve some of the stress.
The test itself was fine. I was still nervous and a little jittery when I got to the testing site, but as soon as I was seated in the testing room in front of my computer, I took a few deep breaths, and everything was fine.
How I did on the actual GMAT
Because of the computerized nature of the test, when you are done, the computer can give you your unofficial score. It’s actually kind of amazing. I remember having to wait for weeks to figure out how I did on the SAT and the ACT.
My Unoffical Score
Writing Analysis Section
On the argument analysis essay, I ran out of time. I was down to the last five minutes, so I was going back over what I had written to make sure it sounded good. I got to the final paragraph and was making a change to a sentence, and my time ran out. So I have absolutely no idea how my final paragraph reads. Hopefully I won’t lose too many points for that.
I kept better track on my time on the issues essay. I was able to finish all of my sentences sand even review everything before my time ran out. I don’t get to find out my official score (which will include how I did on the writing analysis essays) for 20 days.
The biggest surprise: They mix up the order in which you get the essays, which didn’t happen on any of the three practice tests I took, although it might have if I had taken the second practice test offered at mba.com.
The Quantitative Section
This section actually went much better than I was expecting. When I took the third practice test on Friday, I did very poorly on the Quantitative section. I missed almost two-thirds of the questions and ended up in the 27th percentile. I was pretty stressed out about it.
But, on Saturday, as a way to prepare for the test that afternoon, I sat down and went over all of the questions I had gotten wrong on the last two practice tests, because after you take them, the Petersen’s practice tests have step-by-step solutions to all of the math problems.
I spent several hours going over all of the questions I missed, and about doing the Quantitative section of the third test and planning how I was going to track my time on that section while taking the actual GMAT.
Planning how to track my time was the most useful thing I did on Saturday before the test. Knowing that you have two minutes to answer each question is entirely different from realizing that that means that if you aren’t on question 21 by the time you have 30 minutes left, you’d better pick up the pace.
I ended up giving myself 15 minutes for the first 5 questions (they’re the most important on the test, since how you do sets the bar for the rest of the questions), and 15 minutes for each sets of 8 questions after that. When I hit the 5 minutes left mark, I planned to stop working on whatever question I was on and just select some answer for the rest of the questions, because leaving a question unanswered is worse than guessing.
I ended up answering 36 out of 37 of the question. I didn’t quite stop working at the 5 minute mark, and the last question I was working on took longer than I expected. (I’m 98% sure I got it right, though.) I was just about to confirm my answer for the 37th question when the message box came up informing me that my time had elapsed. *sighs* Oh well, missing one question won’t mean the end of the world.
What I learned, in a nutshell
Thing 1: Take at least two practice tests before you take the actual GMAT. If you can, make sure at least one of them is a computerized version.
Thing 2: If you plan to take the GMAT, got the mba.com and look through their pre-test materials. Not having to read through the terms and conditions, etc., on the day of the test saved me time and helped my anxiety.
Thing 3: If you want to gain experience with the Computer-Adaptive Test technology that you’ll see on the GMAT, review the information available on mba.com, including their free preparation software. Because the people behind mba.com are the same people behind the test, their version of the CAT software is the most similar to what you’ll actually experience on the test. They also have all of the disclosures and other information that you’ll run into on the day of the test, which it will be good to familiarize yourself with.