With Only A Week To Go, Mango Concludes “The GMAT Is A Beast!”

Mood:  Inspired. Just co-facilitated a workshop today on multidisciplinary 21st century skills.  If you haven’t deduced yet, I work in consulting in the educational sector. After sharing this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson to highlight the importance of inventive thinking, I was reminded again of why I’m in the field of education, why I hope to remain here long-term, and why there needs to be change especially in the approach and organizational structure.  This is a rant best saved for another blog entry, but it is something that I’m quite passionate about, and hope to shape it into a running theme of my B-School essays.

Music: Revisited my Jack Johnson Pandora station.  It reminds me of last spring when my best friend and I backpacked (we like to call it flashpacking) through SE Asia and would put Jack Johnson on in the evenings while we were sitting in our cabanas, looking up at the stars.  Those flashpacking trips (we’ve covered Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Mexico, and most recently, Brazil) bring me back to when I was truly carefree and removed from the crazy realities of life.

Random Musings:  I’ve just updated my LinkedIn page, started connecting with my clients, and am trying to pull all my different social-media identities on the web into a central location, through an “about.me” page.  I figure about.me is the quickest way to summarize what I am about, almost like a virtual business card!

With 1 week left, the pressure is building!

In the past, when I have had to cram for exams, I’ve always found reasons to procrastinate.  Case in point: My sophomore year, I had stayed away from all the hype surrounding Grey’s Anatomy until finals week when I was looking for a distraction.  That came in the form of McDreamy, McSteamy and during those fateful few weeks, I crammed while watching almost an entire season.  Two years later, it came in the form of Pac Man on Facebook.  Amidst writing final papers, I perfected my Pac Man strategies and wound up as one of the top 50 players in the world, my profile proudly displayed on the winner circle.   That week I received a flurry of messages from Pac Man fans all over, friend requests, some asking for pointers while others had more uh, odd requests.  They’re pending in case I am ever in need of a self-esteem boost, ha!

Surprisingly, I’ve avoided getting hooked on any new TV show or achieving champion level of any games (though I’m so ready to get back into bar trivia nights!).  I chalk this up to maturity, and of course, my job.  Last week, we had our quarterly, all-day firm-wide team meetings where I was catching up on work in the evenings, which is generally reserved for GMAT.  Last Tuesday afternoon, I was looking forward to getting in some much-needed time with permutations and probability, my greatest weaknesses in Quant, when I was shooed along to a company-mandated associate dinner.  It was like a family reunion, with many of my out-of-town co-workers coming back and we had a blast indulging in delicious Pacific Northwest food, sending drinks back and forth, and catching up.  As much as I wanted to socialize afterward and sing karaoke with the group, I knew that studying was the wiser decision and I couldn’t give my best rendition of “Since U Been Gone” knowing that my GMAT books were probably thinking the same thing about me.

Of course, this past weekend was dedicated to more studying. After taking another practice test on Sunday, my score went down to 690. When I saw that score, I panicked. What is going to happen, am I doomed to be hovering around the 700-mark, not knowing if I would go over or under? I know that 700 is the big hurdle to jump over, but I didn’t want to just hop over it, I wanted to clear it with a lot of breathing room. So I decided to analyze my test scores, and direct my focus to my weak spots. Since I had purchased the Manhattan GMAT set, this provided access to six practice exams online. I could take each exam multiple times, and I had two others from the GMAC, so I did not need to worry about running out of exams to take.

Here’s the crazy thing – I’ve worked through much of the GMAT OG, Manhattan GMAT series, as well as Kaplan and Princeton review guides. I placed sticky notes on each page detailing the problems I got wrong and right.  I timed myself on individual problems from the books and generally stayed under two minutes for math, close to 1 minute for writing. Why was I doing well in practice problems but not so well on the Exam?  Why am I coming out confident but missing almost half of the problems? I’ve come to realize that a lot of it is just due to the nature of the test and testing – I have a terrible time pacing myself in Quant and need to be better at distinguishing when to complete and when to skip problems so I don’t get trapped at the end.

So. Crunch time counting down to test day, a week away.  My goal? Take a practice test daily leading up to G-Day. A little extreme?  Nah. I am determined to conquer and be comfortable with the test!

To close, I’ll admit I’m a huge fan of success stories and happy endings.  When a hero faces an obstacle and over comes it despite their shortcomings. Well. I’m definitely no hero but the GMAT is a beast. I remember referring to the application process as a marathon not a sprint. The GMAT is a huge mental marathon. And all the practice problems are like mini sprints. Looking back, I should have spent equal time on my test-taking abilities, as those have declined as well. Knowing the information is one thing, but being about to pound it out problem after problem and while your confidence is eroding?  That takes instinct, resolve, and of course, practice.

Less than a week until G-day!!


PS – A recent incident (aka realization that I am reaching my quarter-life mark) prompted me to reflect on what I hope to accomplish by age 30.  As determined as I am to attend B-School, I don’t want that to be my only significant accomplishment in the second half of my 20’s.  As I post entries, I hope to add to the 30 x 30 list and hopefully that will reveal a little more about my aspirations outside of my career, and my personality 🙂

to start…

30. Give a TED talk about something I can claim some sort of expertise in (outside of Pac Man). Inspire others. Make them chuckle.

Mango is a consultant in the Pacific Northwest who is applying to business schools so she would graduate in the Class of 2014. This report is adapted from her blog posts at Por que MBA? One Girl’s MBA Application Journey!