Taking The GMAT 21 Years Later

Some 21 years after earning his MBA degree at Dartmouth College'e Tuck School, standup comedian Paul Ollinger sits for the GMAT

Some 21 years after earning his MBA degree at Dartmouth College’e Tuck School, standup comedian Paul Ollinger sits for the GMAT

Here I am in suburban Atlanta at the Pearson test center where in 30 minutes I will be taking the GMAT, the test that will determine which business schools will find me to be an attractive candidate.

It’s going to be a four-hour grind requiring focus, efficiency and mental endurance. To maintain my mental acuity I have brought a bottle of water and a Nature Valley granola bar to consume during my brief intra-test break.

My heart is racing. My hands are clammy. I am more than a little nauseous.

I really shouldn’t be this nervous. I’ve studied. I’ve reviewed. I’ve taken multiple practice tests.

But the main reason I shouldn’t be nervous is that I already have an MBA.

Yeah, from Dartmouth’s Tuck school. Class of ’97, baby!

I’ve also had a pretty solid post-MBA career in digital media, with career stops at Yahoo!, Facebook, and – oddly enough – years’ worth of time in comedy clubs where I have performed over 500 stand-up comedy shows.


So, why am I doing this? (my wife asked me the same question this morning)

I’m here because I’m writing a book titled You Should Totally Get an MBA: The Comedian’s Guide to Top Tier Business Schools.

It is a longer form project than the weighty business articles I’ve written over the past few years (see Apple’s $178 Billion in Cash Would Buy SO MUCH WEED on Huffington Post).

Like all great B-school guidebooks, it’s got school reviews, interview advice, and ridiculous amounts of nudity.

Okay, maybe not so much nudity. Maybe in the sequel.

In writing said book, I have tried to replicate the mindset of a current MBA applicant, which means studying for and re-taking this bear of a test.

For that reason, I am fixin’ to get my GMAT on.

I check in. Dude behind the desk asks my name, reviews my ID, then scans my palm for vein-pattering identification. CIA technology to deter cheaters. All right, GMAC.*


I return to the waiting area to realize that I can’t find my granola bar. This is not okay. I get really whiny when I’m hungry.

I return to the desk and ask, “Did you see the granola bar I left up here?”

“Uhhh, no.” he replies, offering a cursory glance around his desk, then looking at me like I’m a deranged idiot.

“It’s Oats ‘n Honey” I add, confirming his suspicion.

Dude couldn’t care less.

Does this guy know what’s at stake here? This is game day! This is the Super Bowl that determines whether I have the goods to pretend apply to HBS or Stanford! If this was my first crack at the test, I would be freaking out.

But it’s not.

* GMAC is the name of the organization that administers the GMAT, and is also the name of a hip-hop artist whose rap song Turnt Up begins:
“I’m addicted to the money…if it ain’t about them hundreds, , you ain’t sayin’ nothin’.” Coincidence?

  • Crispin Gatieza

    You only want to know his score for the same reason that anyone like you would ask. “Are you better or worse than me?” Comparative insecurity. The GMAT is only one factor in getting into a good business school. It’s not even the most important factor.

  • Paul Ollinger

    gotta take care of those neurons, Bill!

  • Bill Lorey

    39 years post ATGSB (GMAT precurser) took GMAT. Like you, I already have an MBA but wanted to prepare for next (post retirement vocation to keep neurons firing). 640 also, Data Sufficiency is inhumane!!!!! Started classes last week with mostly 20 somethings, only one in class to use pencil and paper to take notes, not a computer. First test next week-have to memorize 20 formulas-neurons in overload. Family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts.
    Note: at least with EDU 62 my Tuition and Fees are waived, so my ROI (one of the formulas) will be great!

  • Brendan O’connell

    Totally funny and cogent and great perspective!
    If we viewed and better (experienced) most of our significant choices with 25 years hindsight, what WOULD it do for us?

  • Agsnd

    So…you write an article, the purpose of which is to detail your GMAT experience almost 20 years later, but won’t reveal your original score?

    Why not?

  • BA_Confidential

    It was meaningfully higher. But I really did bust my ass studying for the first one.

  • elva

    ;o)~ yup yup!

  • Gianni

    Pretty hilarious Ollinger! Still a great score for someone who “doesn’t give a sh*t”!

  • bwanamia

    What was the score that got you into Tuck?