About Mid-April, I finally bit the bullet and scheduled my GMAT exam. As soon as I did that I began to feel the pressure. I scheduled my exam date for May 8th, 2010. In the blogosphere/message board world, we call that D-Day!. When you make the appointment for your exam you pay $250. Yes, it’s definitely an expensive test and that’s a fee that I came to be “comfortable” with over time hahaha as you’ll find out! I suggest that everyone looking to take the GMAT schedules it immediately, even if it’s some time in the future. It’s incredible what happens when there’s a time when you don’t want to study and you remember that there is a finite number of days left before D-Day!
The same week that I scheduled the GMAT I also sent out the thank-you emails to the people who I met at Tuck. It probably took me about 2 hours to write the thank-you letters. I met a lot of students when I was there and I assumed that they all talked to one another, so I wanted to make sure that I sent them thank-you notes that were all slightly different. I was just very paranoid about that stuff. The odds that they actually did talk to one another about thank-you emails that they got from prospective students is probably very low, but I didn’t want to take my chances. In hindsight it’s pretty selfish of me that the current students would care that much to ask their classmates if they got a similar email. In hindsight, I now know that students most likely don’t do that – having been a student myself – but yes, we do talk to one another!
The other reason I wanted to make sure I sent thank-you emails to them was to be able to keep the lines of communication open between us. Not everyone received an email however. I sent some hand-written thank-you notes to some “important” people. I thought it would be slightly different and would separate me from the crowd. Now whether or not that made any impact, I will never know. But that was my modus operandi and I was determined to stick to it. I remember being at work one day and going across the street to buy stationary and envelopes (which I still have actually). Then I saw stickers with letters on them and bought a pack with the letter R on them for my first initial. I used those to seal the back of the envelope.
Instead of getting nervous for the GMAT exam, I actually started to get excited. Two weeks before the exam I knew that I still had the GMAT Verbal Review and GMAT Quant Review official guides to go through. I saved them until the very very end because they tend to have more advanced official questions in them. What I found to be important while studying for the GMAT was to monitor my “hit rate” the % correct/% incorrect. This was a better proxy for how I would do on the exam. It made sense to monitor that percentage and it was good for me because it was something that I could track over time.
In the beginning of April, I visited Harvard Business School for their LGBT “day” let’s call it. It’s essentially a day geared towards those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender. I honestly went and wasn’t sure how many people would be there but yes there were about 50 of us. Again, I won’t go into details about what I experienced, but lets just say that I was impressed but also learned more about myself and the type of environment that I would want to learn in. So to recap, even before I took the GMAT I had visited 3 busines schools – well 4 if you count NYU. During these visits I would see the same people over and over again. So for those who think they’re “early” to the admissions game in June/July of the year that you’re applying – just know that you’re relatively LATE because there are many people who have already started.
After the HBS visit, I realized that I had 3 weeks to go until the GMAT. From Manhattan GMAT, I was able to get a free 2-hour online workshop because it was offered to us for attending one of the MGMAT workshops the day that I signed up for the GMAT class. I took the 750+ Sentence Correction workshop not only because it was my weakness but also because I knew that Sentence Correction was the easiest to make up time, valuable time that I could use when doing Critical Reasoning and/or Reading Comprehension.
The class went very well. I learned about breaking down a sentence to its core. I know this seems very simple and basic but being able to break down the sentence is one thing. Knowing how to work with it and evaluate it is another. The class focused on the latter. I then did the SC question bank provided by MGMAT in their online student center. I don't think it was a good idea to do the question bank right after the workshop because the workshop focused on advanced topics whereas the question bank did not.
My mind was on that 750 level while trying to answer the questions and I forgot about the basics. I was trying to use the methods I had just learned for advanced questions to analyze the easier ones. It didn't turn out so well. So be warned that if you take that workshop, do not study easy SC corrections right after. I suggest taking some time off before jumping into it. It’s interesting how your brain works. For those of you studying for the GMAT, it’s important to realize that there are different ways of thinking for
different problems that you’ll encounter. That’s why I had difficulty with the easy questions that I routinely got correct.
Another thing that I started to do a couple weeks before my GMAT exam was start to get myself on a normal sleep schedule. I knew that my sleep cycle was all messed up from studying at irregular hours but that it was important for me to get on a normal schedule so that my brain would work properly during the exam. I also wanted to hedge against getting sick. I had heard about people taking the GMAT exam while a little (or a lot) under the weather and I didn’t want to be THAT person in the exam who had to either leave or cancel his/her score because I didn’t feel well. So I started to take medicine just in case some germ wanted to have a party in my body, leading up to the exam.
On April 27th, it was my 28th birthday. As an only child my birthday was a big deal for me. It was a day where I could be selfish and have an excuse! I usually threw a big party for myself and send out invites months in advance and have everyone come and party with me, but this year I actually decided to study for something that could change my entire life. I had about 12 days until I took the GMAT exam and I had mixed emotions. I was starting to feel confident about SC and CR. My hit rate on SC and CR was about 90% - partly in thanks to the PowerScore CR Bible. Prior to finding this book, I would be able to narrow Critical Reasoning questions down to two answers but would ALWAYS choose the wrong answer. I started to get frustrated because I essentially, always had a 50/50 chance of getting it correct and I always got it wrong. The PowerScore CR Bible helped me understand why I was choosing the wrong answer, instead of just telling me which answer was correct. I don’t know what it was but I just took to the PowerScore way of thinking. So to applicants out there just be cognizant of which types of books you resonate well with you.
The week leading up to the GMAT, I told myself that I was not going to put any new information into my head. I wanted to simply drill all that I had learned. Remember when I said that I wanted to take a practice exam every weekend leading up to the exam? Well, that did not work out well for me. 2 weeks before the exam I had only taken 2 practice CAT exams and I wanted to get through 4 more before my real exam. So that was 4 in 2 weeks. If you’re wondering where I got all of the Practice CAT exams from, I think MGMAT gave 6 practice exams and then on the official GMAT website GMAC.com, they also give you two practice exams. Or maybe you have to pay for them, I can’t remember.