Well, I’ve been putting this post off. I took the GMAT last Saturday. You get an instant score back. Really, testing technology has come forward in incredible ways since I was in high school. Between the fingerprint scanners and the adaptive testing…well, it was pretty nifty.
I did horribly on the quantitative portion…in the fortieth percentile per the early score. I did incredibly well on the verbal portion, to the point that I could still theoretically get into a competitive program just because my verbal so completely outweighed my math score. It is unfortunate, but I have forgotten almost all of math, I think. I reviewed somewhat before the test, working off of practice tests, but it barely helped, I guess. I did well enough on the practice tests, and I honestly don’t know what went wrong. With only a small number of exceptions, I thought I was doing okay on the math part.
I cried like a baby in the car afterward. I drove away from the exam station first. But, I cried horribly, and I could barely face the admin picking up my test printout. I *know* that I could have done better, and I know that what it boils down to is that the test required recall of knowledge that I have not used in more than ten years. Nonetheless, I have built myself up for most of my life in my head…and any time any real proof surfaces that I am not as awesome as I think I am, I collapse inward. I unrealistically expect that I should be able to walk into any test, any challenge, and succeed, with no preparation. It’s what I do, generally. I took the LSAT with almost zero prep and scored a 173. I took the SAT with zero prep (and with a raging head cold) and got a 1340. However, the LSAT required no real knowledge. It was a test of reasoning. Back when I took the SAT, the same was true of it.
I did this same thing to myself when I took and (in my mind) failed the PSAT. I’d already taken the SAT, mind you. I only took the PSAT because my school offered it for free, and I figured another awesome test score on my resume couldn’t hurt me. I scored only average, though, and I didn’t want to show my mom my score, even though I knew she’d never criticize me for it. I was just ashamed. It’s worth noting, of course, that the PSAT then was a pure knowledge test. In fairness, the GMAT isn’t supposed to be a knowledge test, but they need a common language to test logic. Math serves well for this purpose. English is fuzzy. Meanings are often unclear. Still, if you don’t have the basic knowledge they’re seeking, you can’t prove that you have the reasoning, unfortunately.
It’s why I work late hours, take on the worst projects, etc. I’ve created a reputation for myself at work that I’m your “go to” gal if you have an impossible situation. I have no idea how I do it, but I generally manage to fix things. Unfortunately, my successes just bolster my fragile ego to alarming new levels. I’ve been feeling pretty full of myself lately, so I imagine that this is a blessing in disguise…some air being let out of my balloon before it pops.
While I was bawling, I was on the phone with Scott. He did the awesome things he does to make me feel better, including reminding me that 40th percentile just means a little below average of the subgroup of people who take the GMAT. He said it’s kind of like ranking Mensans and finding out you’re in the mid-range…you’re still in an elite subgroup to start. He also reminded me that I’m not trying to get into MIT or Harvard or anything. I’m looking for online programs, and even the best of those…well, they’re selective but not for test scores necessarily. And lastly, I reminded myself of something I told a dear friend recently…that we “smart kids” get kind of penalized later in life. We took math that most people consider advanced much earlier in our education than most. Thus, it’s even farther back that we have to go to remember it later on. Scott pointed out that I’m getting compared against college graduates that just finished taking geometry, algebra, and calculus. I haven’t had Geometry in the past decade, and it played heavily into the GMAT. My goodness, what I would have given for my old composition book full of geometry proofs during that test!
I feel old. 🙁