Even after practicing for up to seven hours with a controversial online whiteboard tool for the new at-home GMAT, professional test-taker Stacey Koprince scored 30 points below her last GMAT exam in a testing center.
Koprince, content and curriculum lead at Manhattan Prep, took the at-home GMAT on the first day It was available on April 20th (see She Took The At-Home GMAT. Here’s What Happened). Eight days later, on April 21st, she finally got her test results.
“I scored a 740,” she reports. “I normally score 760 to 780. My most recent exam in a testing center was 770. BUT this score decrease is a lot more interesting than the overall number shows.”
‘MY WHITEBOARD PRACTICE AHEAD OF TIME ACTUALLY WORKED’
She wasn’t the only one of the first test-takers to score lower. Soojin Kwon, managing director of the full-time MBA program at Michigan Ross, today said a second-year Ross MBA took the at-home test on a lark and scored 20 points below his previous test-center result. The student racked up a score of 740 versus a 760, according to Kwon who made the remarks at an admissions panel discussion at the CentreCourt MBA Admissions Festival.
She has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT exams for more than 15 years, having already taken the GMAT five different times, always scoring in the 99th percentile, since 2012 when the last major test change occurred. Koprince achieved a top score of 780 on the GMAT, a perfect score of 800Q and 800V on the GRE, and a 172 on the LSAT that comfortably put her in the top 1% of all test-takers in the world.
So her experiment last week to sit for the new at-home GMAT would be done with a lot of perspective on the test which the Graduate Management Admission Council is calling “an interim, short-term solution” available to prospective students while test centers remain closed due to COVID-19 virus. An at-home version of the GRE was launched by Educational Testing Service nearly a month earlier.
After taking the exam, Koprince believed that her verbal score would be in its usual range, but she was less certain about her quant result. “I might have been fine, but it might have dropped a little,” she said at the time.
In fact, the reverse turned out to be true. Her quant score went up by 1 point (from 48 to 49), compared to her last official test. Her conclusion: “My whiteboard practice ahead of time actually worked,” Koprince says. She estimates spending up to seven hours with a similar tool recreated by Manhattan Prep in advance of the test and has urged everyone who takes the at-home GMAT to practice with the tool, now made available by GMAT along with a tutorial, for a minimum of one week.
‘I WAS FEELING MORE MENTAL FATIGUE THAN USUAL FOR THE VERBAL SECTION’
So while her quant score held up nicely, it was her verbal score that plunged from 50 on her last test-center GMAT to 42. “But this had nothing to do with the whiteboard. So what happened? I was feeling more mental fatigue than usual for the verbal section. Part of that mental fatigue was almost certainly due to the testing format, in particular having to do quant first and not getting a break between the two sections.”
In retrospect, Koprince thinks she could have mitigated those issues. “I barely practiced verbal leading up to the test—all of my attention was focused on quant. I also took my one practice test half at my desk (quant) and half on the couch (verbal and IR). I didn’t make sure that my chair was comfortable enough, and I didn’t make a point of looking away from the screen periodically and rolling my neck and shoulders. On the official test, the neck strain hit me during the verbal section and the pain did actually distract me during that section.”
She also noted that she had completed the quant section a couple of minutes early but moved on to the verbal section immediately. “I should have let the clock run down to create a mini-break in my seat,” she now thinks. “In fact, if I could do it again, I would keep the break going for the first two minutes of verbal. That’s one question in each section sacrificed to give myself a four-minute break—absolutely worth the mental recharge.”
‘THE BIG TAKEAWAY’
After finishing the exam, she had also thought she might have lost a point or two on the Integrated Reasoning section, acknowledging that she had failed to understand one problem and “messed up” on another. In fact, the final results showed that her IR score rose by one point, to eight from seven.
If she could go back in time and do those things, Koprince believes she would have scored a 45 or 46, instead of 42 on the verbal, and with a 49 quant, she would have earned her more normal 760 to 770 overall.
“The big takeaway: I’m really happy that my whiteboard preparation paid off on quant—and that means others can learn to do what they need to do, too—but I was too lax on other factors for verbal. So learn from me and do better!”