James Joyce doesn’t teach time management, but fate is the great equalizer

I should honestly be working for a marketing company. I mean in the last 5 days since I took the GMAT I have gotten more e-mails about what I got and why am I keeping people waiting…the hype was building. It finally reached a crescendo last night when someone broke into my apartment to find out what I got on the GMAT. (That last one isn’t true, but I did get a lot of e-mails and I want to thank those who cared enough to drop me a line). So why you ask did I wait this long to deliver this tidbit of news? Well something has been happening behind the scenes here at the blog. An exciting thing, a somewhat disappointing thing, and things that will have a huge impact on my life. But before we get to that, here is rundown of what happened on my GMAT.

I arrived at the testing center at around 7:25 for my 8:00am test. Why, because I am neurotic about being early. As I am looking for a way into the locked building, a woman asks me if I am here to take a test. I told her I was and she told me to follow her and that she was running late, she was sick, and the other guy who was supposed to be here today has a pregnant wife, so he might be a little late, or just not show up at all. This woman is talking a mile a minute and is pretty much giving me a verbal rendition of her autobiography. I pretend to intently listen, while inside a fire was burning. One that would fuel me to achieve greatness on this test (at least I hoped it was that and not just gas…). Too make a long and frustrating story shorter, lets just say that the guy whose wife was going to have the baby, forgot to come into work because he though it was Columbus Day weekend and the center was closed. I didn’t start my test until about 8:20, so I was just hanging out with 14 other people for about an hour. One hour, to think about the test…my strategy, the score I needed. I think I freaked myself out a bit during that time because when I went in to take the test, I wasn’t as confident as I was when that fire was burning inside me (it turned out to just be gas…).

The test began well enough, answering questions left (or wrong) and right. Swatting all comers away with confidence that I was getting them right. I was on question 20, when I realized that I hadn’t looked at the clock yet. This isn’t unusual, as timing has never been my problem. When I looked at the clock, it was a moment of sheer terror. If it was portrayed in a movie, the camera would have zoomed in on my horrifying expression, while some eerie music plays in the background. I don’t remember the exact numbers in play here, but needless to say, I was pretty much screwed. I think I had 20 questions left for 30 minutes, or something insane like that! I immediately hit the panic button (there wasn’t an actual panic button, but a metaphorical panic button instead)! I start whizzing through problems by just narrowing down answer choices to 2 and then picking one. I don’t think that was one of the strategies that Manhattan GMAT recommends…I finally catch-up to where I am supposed to be and there are about 5 questions left. I answer those to the best of my knowledge, but the damage was done. Time management had ruined my Quant section for sure. After this emotional and physical beating I still had verbal to contend with…

I don’t know if it is the GMAT in general, or I have just been really lucky, but every official GMAT I have taken has started the verbal section off with a sentence correction question (my least favorite of the verbal questions). Despite that I make my way through this section without much fuss, but with a constant eye on the clock. I finish it off and I feel pretty good about verbal, but I just know that my quant score it going to tank my overall score. I click through the questions about my background and I get to the section that asks if I want to cancel my score. I seriously think about doing this, but I was always told to never, ever cancel your score, unless there is something ridiculous that happens, like a lion breaks into the testing facility and bites your leg off. So I don’t cancel my score. Out of nowhere someone breaks through the door into the testing center with a trombone and plays WA-WA-WAaaaaaaaaaa. I see my score up on screen….640. Just as I suspected my quant had destroyed a good test. My breakdown was a 40 for quant (8 points lower than last time) and a 38 for verbal (2 points higher than time). So what did I learn? Well first, James Joyce seemed to help me, but not as much as I would have liked. Secondly, and probably the most obvious…even it has never been a problem for you before ALWAYS CHECK THE CLOCK! Time management ruined my GMAT and my day…but all was not lost.

On Thursday of the week prior to the GMAT I was supposed to have a call with Randall Sawyer of the Johnson School to discuss what I could do as a re-applicant to better my profile. The call didn’t happen because he wasn’t in the office. I don’t know if he had something happen, or the admin did not block that time out on his calendar, but they get a pass…once is a mistake and I can handle that. I was bummed out, but not totally destroyed.

Also on Thursday of that week, I had a 2nd interview at a bank in the city (this bank may or may not sponsor Liverpool F.C.). After 2.5 hours of interviews I emerged confident that I would be receiving an offer, but then I was told that because of funding reasons, the position would be put on hold until January. I was thrilled about that because I knew that I would find out about Cornell, Columbia, BU, and ND before January, so if I got in somewhere I could politely decline an offer, or if I didn’t get in…the new gig would have been a nice fall back option.

So what ended up happening? Well, the new bank was so impressed with me, that they ended up putting through an exception to make me an offer, which was incredibly generous, like 25% higher than what I make now generous! The offer came on Monday, which is incidentally the day that I was going to hit the submit button on my Cornell app. After talking it over with my wife, my family, my extended family, random people on the street, and a homeless guy who was trying to catch a unicorn….I decided that I am not going to be applying to B-School this year and I am accepting this new position. The past few days have been a whirlwind, but I finally got the official offer letter last night and I gave my two weeks notice this morning.

I am saddened to leave my current job, as the people around here really make the company what it is. Although I will miss the people I work with, I know that this is in my best interest now and for my future. Once I made the decision I decided that I should call Randall Sawyer to let him know that I wouldn’t be applying. I thought that he deserved to know why I wasn’t applying because he had been so helpful to me throughout the process. I have too much respect for him to just leave him guessing. I called Randall and while he was disappointed that I wasn’t reapplying, he said that getting an offer in this job market is something I should be proud of. I thanked him for his help, he thanked me for the call and we said goodbye, but not before he added that B-School would always be there for me in a couple of years if I still want it.

So now what? Well the blog dies….I don’t really know why I would keep it around if I am not planning on applying to B-school for at least 2 years. I had a great time blogging and sharing my successes (I don’t know how many there were but there had to be some, right, right????) and failures (multiple, soul crushing failures). I believe that all things happen for a reason. I was meant to take this job and to not go to B-School. Why? I have not idea…but it is going to be really fun to find out!

Before putting a knife in this guy, I just want to thank everyone who read,  commented, was a fan of, casually glanced at, or even hated my blog. Hopefully I have helped you in some small way, and if not, hopefully you had fun reading about my life. I want to thank my wife and my family for supporting me throughout the process. This experience took time away that I could have spent with them, but they always understood and they never let it become a problem. They were my biggest supporters and my best friends.  Love you guys!

I want to thank Clear Admit for featuring me in the Friday From the Frontlines. I want to thank anyone who has ever done a guest post for me and lightened the burden of having to come up with a brilliant post everyday. Lastly, I want to thank John Byrne from Poets and Quants for featuring my blog on his website, his stuff is cutting edge and he isn’t afraid to give you his opinion on things. Plus, he is a Jersey guy, so we have that bond going already. Go to his site people…you won’t be disappointed.

If you ever have a question about applying or want to mock me for coming this far only to stop about 1/4 of an inch from the finish line, I can be reached at sgargiulomba at gmail.com. So I bid all of you adieu and like Ryan Seacrest, I’M OUT! (cue curtain and applause)

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Groundhog Day & Weekend Rewind

With all due respect to Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck, and any other shadow seeing rodents in the US, I am talking about the movie with Bill Murray. In the movie, Bill Murray keeps waking up to the same day. It didn’t matter what he did or if he died during the course of that day, he would still wake up to the weather report on the radio in the morning. That is pretty much how I felt this weekend. I took my practice test and thought that I did terrible on Quant and very well on Verbal. When I clicked the submit button, the score read 700, with a 45 Q and a 40 V. The exact same score I had received last week. At first I thought that this was an error because I didn’t feel like I could have/should have scored that high after the limited amount of studying I did during the week. After logging out and logging back into the test section, it indeed showed that same score. I was very happy with it, and it is somewhat validating to know that I can post two 700 scores in back to back weeks, even though my studying wasn’t what it should have been. This gives me confidence that moving forward I can increase these scores, especially quant, as I felt that I was guessing quite a bit (although most were educated guesses).

After taking the test, I relaxed for most of Sunday. I cooked a little bit…my first venture into making polenta. It has an interesting consistency, but once I drowned it with a sausage-tomato sauce the dish turned out pretty well. I also FINALLY got around to writing a first draft of the first Columbia essay. I am sending it to my reviewer tomorrow and then will hope to do 2 more revisions before sending in the application.  I am going to start working on revising and editing my Cornell essays this week. At some point I also have to write the re-application essay, which shouldn’t be that hard of an essay, as I have quite a bit to write about. I am already looking forward to essay writing being completed, and I haven’t even really started yet!

In sports news:

Yankees are tied for first, Fulham tied Blackpool (disappointing result, but glad to get a point after how the game played out), and the Red Bulls smacked San Jose 2-0. A good sports weekend for my teams, save for Donovan McNabb’s injury for the Redskins. Hopefully he can be back for the first game of the season.

Hope everyone had a great weekend…

First 700, GMAT Scheduled, & Essays started

I know its only 10 points more than I scored on the actual GMAT, but 700 sounds soooo much better then 690 doesn’t it…I took a practice test on Saturday morning, around 8:30. When I clicked the final button on my Manhattan GMAT CAT I thought I had done reasonably well, but I didn’t think I would be hitting 700! I was really excited about this, as it seems that my hard work is paying off. My breakdown was as follows:

Quant: 45

Verbal: 40

Overall: 700

AWA: 6.0 (I think I deserved it….I am obviously kidding about this, there is no generated score for the AWAs)

I was happy with my performance in Verbal, as it was 4 points higher than what I scored on the real thing. I believe that confidence is a huge part of the GMAT and I had loads of it on Saturday. I prepared myself mentally before the test started by accepting that the test was going to be very hard, no matter how well I was doing. I think this helped me not get discouraged, keep my pacing, and ultimately score better on the test.

I was so excited about the result that I schedule my actual GMAT for October 2nd, which is the first Saturday of the month. It is scheduled for 8am in Lyndhurst, NJ (same place I took the previous 2, I am a creature of habit!). My goal from here on out is to try and consistently score in the 700 range, but not to get too discouraged if a 660 pops into the equation. Bad tests just happen, for whatever reason, they just happen sometimes, so believing that I can score 700+ shouldn’t

GMAT Studying

As I stated in my last post, I have chosen the Manhattan GMAT Self Study Guide for my GMAT preparation this time around. They provide your with a study plan that should have me ready to take the test sometime at the end of September…depending how quickly I can move through the material. The study plan does a nice job of alternating between Verbal and Quant, something I always had trouble doing when studying on my own. So far I have almost finished the Number Properties book and I have just started the massive text that is the Sentence Correction book. In all their books, MGMAT provides practice problems for you, and then tells you what problems to do in the Official Guide.

So far it has been going pretty well for me, as I have remembered quite a bit from the little time I have studied so far. I am devoting about 2 hours per day to studying/doing problems. That would have me at 80 hours studied by the time the test rolls around. I think that is a solid amount of time. One thing I think I learned from my previous attempts is that taking the GMAT is a lot like being an Olympic athlete. You have to train just the right amount, so that you are peaking when test time rolls around. Hopefully this study guide will help me do that. Another thing I learned from reviewing my past prep was that I didn’t do enough verbal in the weeks before the test. My verbal scores on practice tests went from 50 to 43 to 38. That is a huge drop…my test day performance was a 36, so I fell even more from my last practice test. I will not make this mistake again!

One of the things I found curious was that MGMAT only schedules you for 3 CAT tests during the 8 week prep. They give you more tests, but only schedule 3 of them. I don’t really think that 3 is enough, so I will be amending the schedule to add 2 more tests. I probably won’t take my first test until the 22nd of August. That would allow me to take 5 tests and be on schedule to take this exam at the end of September or the 1st weekend in October. I am not happy about having to take this again, but I just can’t believe that I can’t do better in verbal than a 36. My goal is a score of 40+. I know I can do it, I just have to do it on test day!

Hope everyone’s studying is going well and that you are starting to think about applications. My next post will probably outline the schools I am applying to and the rounds in which I am applying to them.

P.S. No word from Cornell…do they ever have to send me a letter telling me that I was rejected or can I be like 45 years old and they can call me out of the blue to let me know that I just got off the wait-list?

I suck, I’m an idot, and I’d like to thank the academy…

Soooo, this is awkward. It seems that I haven’t blogged at all since I left for my honeymoon. The reasons are many, but it really boils down to 2 things:

1. I wanted to take a break from everything after the wedding

2. I have a new boss that is just ever so slightly more demanding of my time (read extra sarcasm here!)

But, my many fans (my mother and the family dog) requested, nay demanded, that I start this machine back up again. I can’t promise that I will post as frequently as i did prior, and the posts probably won’t be as long, but I am really going to try to get back into this. Before doing so, there are a few apologies that I must make first.

1. I want to apologize to Accepted.com for not voting in the Beautiful B-School Contest. I told them I would and I completely forgot. That is totally my fault and for that, I am a moron.

2. I want to take the time to thank Clear Admit and my fellow bloggers that voted me as the most entertaining applicant blog and the 7th best applicant blog overall. I never took the time to properly tell everyone else how much I enjoyed their blogs, and for that…I am an idiot.

So to update everyone as to what has been happening in my life over the past 3 months:

1. I love being married! Danielle and I are really happy (at least I know I am…hope she is) and are just loving being newly weds. Plus, having this ring on my finger has really helped me out with letting the ladies know I am taken. Before I had the ring I had to carry around a stick that Danielle gave to me to beat them off of me as they approached, but now I just flash the ring, and it is like garlic to a vampire.

2. I STILL HAVEN”T HEARD ANYTHING FROM CORNELL!!!!!!!!! I e-mailed Randall a couple of times and he indicated that I would should be receiving a letter within the next week or so…never happened, so here I wait. I am just hoping that some poor soul can’t attend Johnson this year and I get a call on the 1st day of Orientation.

3. I finished my online course from the UCLA Extension program. For those that don’t remember, I took an online calculus course to boost my quant profile and to show Johnson that I could hack it academically (my college grades were not very good, 2.9). Obviously i got an A because I am a freaking genius (the first time I typed this word I completely misspelled it, some genius I am)!

4. I have begun studying for the GMAT again…in anticipation of not getting in to Johnson. My method of choice for this go around is Manhattan GMAT’s self study program. I figure that I know the test enough that I don’t need a course, just the discipline to study as much as is required. I took the intro test on Thursday of last week and scored a 630, which wasn’t terrible considering that I hadn’t looked at any of this stuff in one years time. My breakdown was 43 Q and 34 V. My actual test day breakdown was 48Q and 36V, so I am not that far away in either category. I am really going to try and break over 700 this time. I figure that a 710 would have gotten me into Johnson this go around, so hopefully it will do the trick if I apply for next year.

I am (hopefully not – if I get into Johnson next week) starting an all new admission’s cycle, with all new bloggers. I hope to read everything that you guys write and hopefully you do the same with my stuff. May all your scores be 800s and may all your essays write themselves. I’m back bitches!

P.S. I changed the name of the blog because I will no longer be a 2012 applicant. I figure it fits my content better anyhow.

Back in the saddle again…

Just back from my trip to Sicily, which was great fun. I will have some pictures and such up sometime this week, so I can make everyone jealous. My return has reminded me that my GMAT is now 1 month away and my Kaplan course technically begins tomorrow (although I won’t be attending that class because it is the diagnostic test, which I have already taken). Monday and Wednesday until for 1 month, to go along with the HW and the Manhattan GMAT books I have. All of this must be done in 1 month. A daunting task, but one I am definitely ready to face. My vacation has given me a nice break from the constant Manhattan GMAT work I was doing before the trip.

Speaking of Manhattan GMAT, on the plane ride to and fro I read the Sentence Correction Manhattan GMAT book, which is by far the best resource on the topic that I have come across. This is especially true if you are shooting for a 700+ score because the book goes into a level of detail that I haven’t seen in any other test prep materials. Highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to bolster their sentence correction skills. Back to the grind after work today, with more sentence correction on the docket (Official GMAT guide problems). Hope everyone had a restful and safe weekend, back later with some more thoughts and musings.