The day of reckoning has finally arrived. You’ve practiced long enough, honing your skills against similar opponents. The last few months have all been leading up to this moment. You’ve gathered whatever knowledge or insight you could gain into the way the adversary operated. Your strategies have been formulated. Time to pit yourself against the machine- you got that right- it’s a battle of wits against a machine. You are going head to head with the GMAT engine, prepared by the folks at MBA.com.
My preparation for the exam started three months prior to the actual d-day. I pored over all the forums, from MBA.com through Pagalguy - looked up the suggestions given by high scorers. Some sounded insane, and some downright condescending. As if, you are gonna take it easy on exam day! The butterflies would have gone into hyperdrive mode, by then, in your stomach. That’s only natural. I came across a guy who had mentioned chocolates and another one who had mentioned using an energy drink. I had my concerns on the effects of combining the two, on exam day. Thankfully I tried it on the penultimate day. It was not something I’d do normally.
However, I was still standing, and not doubling up or running around like Hammy the squirrel from Over the Hedge. This was a good sign. I also took a couple of tests to keep the momentum going. The last test I took was on the day before the exam. I had set aside the final test of the GMAT prep software, for this purpose. Of the two practice tests provided by the makers of the exam, I had taken one quite early in the course of my preparation, in order to assess where I stood. I also went through the test results from my previous practice tests. Tried to analyze, one last time, where I had gone wrong and more importantly, where I had gotten it right!
My test centre at Mumbai was pretty far from my apartment. Just about managed to get there in time. My backpack had all the “ammunition” that I required. A couple of pens and pencils, two bars of Cadbury fruit n nut, and a bottle which I filled up with two cans of RedBull. I had scouted the area a couple of days back and had conducted a trial run. No sense getting all worked up, and ending up lost on the day of the exam.
Some candidates had gathered round the centre and were trying to go through their notes one last time. Some others were taking it cool and lounging around the place. I was observing both groups, with my earphones securely jammed in place. Don’t remember which song I was hooked on to at that point. Could’ve well been something by Green Day or Blink182. Rock somehow helps in calming my nerves.
Anyway, the door to the GMAT dungeon opened shortly .They made us sit in a row, waiting like in a hospital examination room. There was the supervisor up front, who sat behind a desk with a computer and a webcam. Each person had to wait his turn, to submit his/her admission ticket. For just a bit, I got distracted by a pretty girl seated near me. “Would have been nice to have such a distraction on any other day. But not today….” I thought to myself. Had to shake myself up there for a bit, to get my focus back. The supervisor called my name, and off I went to get my mug shot taken. As is wont to happen, I ended up providing another pose for the criminal archives.
They provided me with a list of regulations and a locker key. Dropped off my stuff and plopped down in my booth with a computer blinking and urging me to enter the password. After a couple of wrong entries, I got it right. Minor High five! You had to raise your hand to ask questions or request help. I felt like I was back in high school. A work sheet was provided to scribble and do calculations if necessary.
The gong sounded; at least that’s how it felt in my head, when the supervisors instructed us to enter the password for the exam. The initial screens listed out instructions for the exam. After agreeing with quite a lot of sentences- for all I know, I might have agreed to sell my kidney - the screen with a list of schools, popped up.
Now, I used to score around 640 in the practice tests except for the last one in which I moved past the 700 barrier. It did seem like an anomaly at that time, and I didn’t give it much thought. The schools I had selected were more in line with my earlier consistent scores. I had picked a dream school – Harvard- just for kicks. Three target schools and a failsafe application too. The ones I selected were Darden, MIP, Manchester and Herriot Watt as the fall back option.
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