HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Healthcare AI
GRE 366, GPA 3.91
Chicago Booth | Mr. Non-Profit Latino
GMAT 710, GPA 3.06
Harvard | Mr. MPP/MBA
GRE 325, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Risk-Taker
GRE 310 (to retake), GPA 3 (recalculated)
London Business School | Mr. College Dropout
GMAT 690, GPA NA
Harvard | Mr. MBB Latino Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Fresh Perspective
GRE 318, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Ms. Social Business
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Funder
GMAT 790, GPA 3.82
London Business School | Mr. Engineering To IB
GMAT 770, GPA 3.43
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. Soccer Club
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3 (85th Percentile), First Class Standing.
London Business School | Ms. Audit Meme
GMAT 710, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corp Dev
GMAT 730, GPA 3.34
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Harvard | Mr. Green Energy Revolution
GMAT 740, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Technopreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.2
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Top Firm Consulting
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
INSEAD | Mr. Truth
GMAT 670, GPA 3.2
INSEAD | Mr. Powerlifting President
GMAT 750, GPA 8.1/10
Harvard | Mr. Mojo
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Law To MBA
GRE 321, GPA 3.77

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.

WHY AM I TAKING THE EXAM? MY WIFE ASKED ME THE SAME QUESTION

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.*

WHERE IS MY OATS ‘N HONEY GRANOLA BAR?

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?

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.