Mid November 2006. I arrived at the GMAT center 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Before entering the room, I had to take all my personal items, including wallet, cell phone, pen and even my jacket. I was driven to a small white room with about 10 computers and one camera in each corner of the room. It is definitely not the most stress free environment.
I had scheduled the GMAT without knowing exactly why I needed it. For a while, I had been thinking about taking an MBA and how it could be an interesting thing to do as means of getting new job opportunities, but I wasn’t really sure about it. So I went to take the test just to see if I could get a bit more than 600. At the time, I thought that was the minimum score I should have if I intended to apply to a good school. Basically, I was trying to earn an option of applying to a good school. If my GMAT score was low, I knew an MBA wasn’t the way.
I think the biggest difficulty in taking the GMAT is managing the anxiety. It is quite stressful being in a small room with cameras pointed at you and knowing that you have limited time to answer each question. Any slip can cost you a lot in the final score.
So I didn’t start it very well. In the first couple of questions I spent too much time struggling against my own fear of failure. After seeing that if I kept that nervous for the rest of the test, I would really fail any chances of having a reasonable score, I switched to “nothing to loose mode”. That is, if I had started well, it meant I had a lot to loose in the next questions, as my score was high at that time. But starting so badly, I thought at that time I had ruined all my chances of having a good score, so my anxiety disappeared completely and I just kept answering questions without fear of failing (cause I thought I had already failed….our mind is a tricky thing, isn’t it? And mine is even worst!).
By the end of the test, we are supposed to click if we want to see the score, and make it valid, or don’t see it and cancel it. I thought a long time before I clicked. I thought I had failed my goal, so I wasn’t sure what the best course of action was. I was thinking of cancelling it….but if I cancelled it, I had to do it again. If I failed, I had to do it again also. Either way, I had to do it again. The only difference was it wouldn’t count for my exam history. So I took my chances and I clicked yes. And I’m glad I did it. Turns out I’m quite pessimistic regarding my performance in exams….and after well, I hadn’t performed that badly. I got a great score (the first digit was a 7!).
But what I really got with that exam was an option. An option to apply to whatever school I wanted to.