September 16, 2006

Pick up and move on

Taking the GMAT and facing a painful result can be depressing. It can happen to smart, supportive people who were a source of inspiration to many others. Whatever I say will probably be pedantic and "arm-chair" exercise, because I took GMAT only once. When I walked out the test center, and discussed it at home, I did think many times how things might be if I scored lower - and even the thought was disconcerting.

However, what I can say based on my preparation and what I read, is this,

  1. You are not alone - Many good scorers are repeat test takers, and their perseverance and focus got them there.
  2. Evaluate your strategy - It is important to evaluate your study strategy and whether it works well. Blindly practising 1500 questions will not guarantee test success. A good result is a function of several parameters R = f(strategy, fundamentals, pressure,familiarity)
  3. Understand trade-offs - Be realistic - if you are ranging on 620 and struggling to hit 650 - then getting all worked up about reaching 780 in 2 months won't get you too far. It is really hard to cross from even 740 to 750, let alone 780. You need to understand your trade-off, what are you willing to let go so you can do better elsewhere? Why spend 50 hours trying to get 1 question right on permutations when you can spend 40 of those hourse getting 5 questions more on SC? My own strategy was to not obsess over every single question - so I studied perm/comb basics, I could solve simple questions, and I just decided to guess a harder question using some "not-a-wild-guess" techniques. Did it keep me from getting a Q(50/51)? maybe it did, but it also got me a 40+ in verbal because I spent extra hours on SC.
  4. Pick up and move on - a fall does not mean you can't get up. For catharsis, go ahead, feel depressed, throw a few things around, play a hard video game and blow up the stroggs, crib and complain. Then relax a few days and have a good time. And then come back.
  5. Space your tests - If you did really badly, then don't schedule another one just a month later. There are exceptions but most people are not that category. Give yourself some time to understand what went wrong, why, find a better method, and then set the next test.
If you are in this repeat situation, my wishes to you!

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