(Today we share a “GMAT war story” from KJ, a recent Veritas Prep student who was recently accepted to multiple top-ranked business schools. If you think you’re stressed about taking the GMAT, just read what she went through to make her test happen during the blizzard that rocked the DC area in February!)
I put off applying to business school for the past few years mainly because of my anxiety over the GMAT. I have ADHD and knew how difficult it would be to first, gather all the information needed to submit a request for extended time and second, even get a decent accommodation.
When my sister, who was four years younger than I, started graduate school, I begrudgingly told myself it was now or never and started collecting the information needed in August, 2009. It took nearly three months to get part of the accommodation I had in undergrad but I told myself I would just do my best. Because the accommodation process had taken so long I knew I needed to find a reputable GMAT prep course at an accelerated pace.
As a note, I want to earn my MBA to help other people less fortunate abroad. I am very interested in International Business and Social Enterprise. I feel I am going back to school for the Lord and it is His work that needs to be done.
I then received an email telling me I had won a raffle for a free Veritas Prep course. I of course thought it was spam and was very annoyed to be receiving such emails. Upon further investigation I learned I truly HAD won AND it was the exact prep course I wanted to take!
Veritas has an excellent reputation and standards — their instructors all scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT. They also solely focus on the GMAT, which I greatly appreciated. I was able to take full course in two weekends and it was great.
By winning this free course, I took it as major encouragement and a sign that I was on the right track in pursuing what I wanted to do. Little did I know what would happen from there.
I had a time crunch, and Round 1 applications were approaching — I had to take the test a week after my class ended, mid November 2009. Again, I had a lot of anxiety about the test, but just thought I should bite the bullet and do what I could. I got a 370. A 370. No, that is not a typo. Verbal – Raw 31/58%, Quantitative – Raw 6/0%, AWA – 6/90%. Total – 370/9%.
The closest testing center I could get because of my time restriction was two hours away. Needless to say, I pretty much cried the whole way home.
I was in the 0 percentile in math. 0! Haha, what?! I am actually better at quant than I am verbal. In some ways it was funny. I tested out of math in college, and I had a Bachelor of Science where we used statistics and analyzed data all the time and I work for a bank. The whole thing was just ludicrous.
From there I just decided to take a break. I appealed my accommodations and at the same time scheduled another test with the current accommodations closer to my house. I didn’t want to get myself worked up as I did over the last test. My appeal came back and they told me (very rudely) that they would not change my accommodation now or ever.
At the end of December I took the test again and got a 550. I was not happy about it, but it certainly was better than my 370. Verbal – Raw 35/73%, Quantitative – Raw 30/28%, AWA – 6/90%. Total – 550/49%.
I spoke with some schools, and while they were not excited about my score, I at least could justify my difficulty and hopefully have them focus on the rest of my application which I considered to be very strong.
I knew I wanted more though. I wanted to get into an excellent program. I knew I was smart, a hard worker and I knew I could do this. I then decided to schedule ANOTHER exam for the beginning of February.
I obviously missed Round 1 applications in the Fall, but I spoke with each school and they encouraged me to apply Round 2 (these deadlines are in January) and then update them once I had taken the GMAT again. So, I got all my applications out and then decided to tackle the GMAT.
This time I would actually study and go through the Veritas Prep books (as I hadn’t had much time before). I called Veritas Prep and asked if I could get a private tutor. EVERYONE at the office was so kind, helpful and prompt in helping me. I was able to meet with my tutor the next day. We decided to solely focus on quantitative and dust off the skills I had learned 10 years ago. My tutor was awesome. He not only helped me hone in on what I needed to work on, but also helped me mentally attack the exam. He helped me with my timing — on two practice exams I solely focused on spending equal time on the questions and not worrying about the outcome of the test. I probably met with him eight times in less than a month.
I canceled everything in my schedule. Church groups, soccer, the gym, any social event and I would study quant until the wee hours of the morning. It was intense.
Then came Snowpocalypse 2010.
We had been getting record breaking snowfalls in the DC area that winter. This worked for me as I just stayed home and studied. But now, the test date was only a few days away and we were predicted to get record breaking amounts of snow. Nearly 3 feet — in Virginia!
I was nervous, but determined. I called the test center before the snow hit and asked them their policy. They basically said they really never close but if they have to, the people scheduled that day basically have to reschedule. Rescheduling takes about another month, another month I didn’t have.
My test was on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. The snow fell that previous Saturday. The center was still closed that Monday. I hoped/guessed it would be open Tuesday but then came ANOTHER prediction — another foot of snow Tuesday afternoon! My test was scheduled for noon.
I called the center Tuesday and confirmed they were open but they said they might close early. I begged them to please, for the love of God, let me take the test. They finally agreed but said I had better hurry.
This was it. This was the moment. What are you made of?
I did the essays and got ready for the quant. I knew I had to focus on the timing and move on if I was taking too long. I got halfway through the quant and knew I didn’t have much time left. I was so upset with myself, but I had to keep going and just continue to do the best I could do. I refused to let myself get emotional. Focus. I got through it and probably had to randomly guess about 12 questions. I just made sure that I actually finished the test and didn’t leave any blank.
I then took a break and just let it all out. I knew I had bombed it. OK, fine. Maybe, even though I believed God wanted me to do this, it wasn’t meant to be now. Maybe I had misread the signs. Either way, I knew I still had to get it together and just try to go finish the verbal. I hadn’t practiced anything in verbal since the last test so I would just do what I could and then leave. The snow was coming and I could just go home.
So, I got through the verbal. There wasn’t as much stress as I knew I had pretty much blown any chance I had at getting a good score. I just gave the whole thing up to God and whatever He wanted to do with it would be.
It came time for the score.
I clicked the button and was in complete shock of what I saw. 660.
There had to be a mistake. Verbal – Raw 34/68%, Quantitative – Raw 47/78%, AWA – 6/90%. Total – 660/82%. I couldn’t believe it.
I was the only person in the testing center. The test administrators were waiting to leave. I thanked them for waiting for me and wished them luck battling the snow that was alr
eady falling again outside.
I sat in my car that cold winter night outside the testing center. Snow was everywhere and it didn’t matter. I took in the moment. I knew that everything would change from here. I was grateful and humbled. Wow. Thank you, God. Thank you.
My grade may not have been stellar but I could make it work. I got into every school I applied to. I plan to enroll in the Fall at a top 15 school in the country. My dream school.
I am so grateful for the people at Veritas Prep and the people that believed in me. This winter was one of the most difficult in my life. Record snowfalls and record achievements. I am so humbled and happy.
It was my destiny.