Revisiting the dark place that is the GMAT

Some people have been asking me about one conspicuously absent topic on my blog thus far, and no, it isn’t a mistake that I have not written about it.  Yet.  I am avoiding all things GMAT because like many applicants, I don’t like the GMAT.   Sidenote:  Feel free to comment on my posts or email me anytime @  I’m happy to answer questions to the best of my ability, and I can always use a prompt for future posts.


But back to the GMAT.  I feel like I’m able to talk to the evils of the GMAT not because I have an outstanding score (I don’t), but because I’ve done battle with the GMAT 3 times.  I kind of feel like adcom’s should applaud my taking of the GMAT 3 times as a sign of dedication (totally kidding, i wish it worked this way).  I started my prep in November of 2011, when I took a Manhattan GMAT CAT (First one is free!) and got a 620 – I thought “not bad, I should be able to breeze to 700+”.  I bought a set of books from Manhattan GMAT.

Quickly, I dove right into their first book, number properties.  Slowly, my eyes got heavier and heavier, and by the time i got to the 3rd or 4th book, I was pretty well spent.  Working 10+hr days (I know bankers, we get that you work 100hr weeks) mostly outdoors, I found it hard to have any energy left to study.  I managed to plow through the all of the quant books, and the SC book.  booked my GMAT for February after getting a few practice scores of 700+.   I left the test center that day as many before me – completely humbled.  I had missed my target score significantly, and instantly knew I was in for another 3 (or more) months of torture.

Round 2, I decided, would be different.  I took a few months of study off, to avoid the infamous burnout.  After resetting my mind, I started over with the Manhattan books, but a different approach.  This time, I’d be less academic, and more practical.  I did hundreds of practice problems, and just about exhausted the OG12.   I signed up for my test in the fall of 2012, and end left the test center really confused that afternoon.  Certainly effort wasn’t the issue, but what was I doing wrong?  I knew that I would end up back here one day.


Round 3 began with a totally new strategy.  I ditched the Manhattan books in favor of an in-person class through Veritas Prep*.  The course coincided perfectly with the 3 weeks I had off from successfully making my job switch, so I was in very good shape with free time.  The class was just what I needed.  I don’t think the materials are all that different, but I just felt a lot more comfortable with the in-person class as compared to studying on my own.  Before the big day, I was getting outstanding scores on the GMATPrep software, though I had to believe that a lot of that was due to my intimate knowledge of the question bank.  This proved to be true, as I ended up 10 points shy of my goal of 700, with a 690.  I am not going to retake the test, partly because I don’t think I can get a 30 point improvement, and partly because I believe there are other places to improve my application more .   A 690 is within the range of all my target scores, and while not a strong asset, it certainly won’t be a major hindrance either.

So what did I do right?  I found a study method that worked for me.  Rather than beating my head in with a method that didn’t work, I switched styles.  I also utilized down time for GMAT studying.  During my job change, I had 3 weeks which I lived and breathed GMAT.  Certainly everyone won’t have that kind of luck/time, but if you do, consider using it for the GMAT.  Finally, I didn’t give up.  My entire GMAT prep period took over a year.  If you’re truly serious about a top 15ish program, it is imperative that you score in the 80% range listed by your target schools.

So there it is.  My personal 15 month battle with the beast that is the GMAT.  Did I win?  Not really, but i didn’t lose either. Sometimes that is all  it takes.

*I don’t think there is much difference between Vertias and Manhattan.  Veritas worked for me because it was a different methodology (in-person vs. self-study).  I changed providers because Veritas was available in my hometown, while Manhattan was not.  Both are excellent prep books/packages.

2 responses to “Revisiting the dark place that is the GMAT

  1. Pingback: Fridays From The Frontline - Clear Admit Blog·

  2. Pingback: The age of excess | Boots to Suits·

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