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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Weekend Rewind (GMAT Edition)

As I was making my way through the Verbal section of the GMAT, I thought I was doing pretty well. I didn’t think my Quant section had gone well, so I was determined to make up for it with a great verbal section. I had not scored below the 96th percentile in Verbal in about 3 weeks, so I thought if I did about the same in verbal, I would be happy. As long as the test accurately reflects my strengths and weaknesses, then I have done the best I can…everything was going swimmingly as I got to the last Read Comp section. Panic was now setting in….the passage was only two paragraphs!!!!!!!!!!!!

Throughout the practice tests, I noticed that the better I was doing, the longer the passages got, so I immediately knew I wasn’t doing as well as I normally do. This coupled with my perceived poor Quant performance had me thinking I was looking at something like 620. The moment arrived to click the “Continue” button to calculate my score. I didn’t even look…I waited until I saw the screen change to look at my score.

When I saw my score there was shock, horror, relief, and anger all rolled into one. The screen displayed a 690, not what I wanted, but obviously much better than I had expected. How did this happen you ask? Well the Quant section that I thought I bombed turned out to be a 48 (83%), which I was thrilled with. My verbal was a huge letdown, 36 (78%), as it was the exact same score I received last time. I was very angry with myself for not doing better in verbal because if I had done what I normally do in verbal, my score would have been well north of 700.

I realize that it sounds pretty stupid to be disappointed with a 690, but it is more about not reflecting my true abilities that made me angry (still makes me angry). BTW…an increase of 4 points in Quant is only worth 10 more points on the total score, wtf? Overall the experience was a good one, and from where I came (550 on my first practice test) this is a pretty good achievement. My plan is to go with my score for this year and if I don’t get into a top 25 school then I will re-take the GMAT next year in hopes of improving on that score.

On a somewhat related note: Why do I consistently get great verbal scores on practice tests and a mediocre verbal score on the real thing? I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just a Kaplan thing, or just a Veritas thing, but I was pretty consistent throughout the process. Very perplexing to me…

I hope everyone who took a GMAT this weekend did very well, happy Monday everyone!

MBA.com Practice GMAT

Like a bucket of cold water to the face it hit me….640 (43Q and 34V), huh, 640? I looked twice, three times even and that is still what it said. I think I went through all the stages of grief in about 10 seconds, but I came out of it resolved to do better. I sat there after the test thinking about where I go from here and there were two things that I could think of.

#1 – Holy shit, the MBA.com test is much harder than any of the Kaplan tests I have taken.

#2 – I haven’t had enough time to study because of the Kaplan course I am taking. The first time I took Kaplan, my classes were on the weekend, which gave me time to study during the week. I don’t have as much time during the week because I have class twice.

The results from these two thoughts are that I am only going to attend 1 class a week and get back to taking 1 CAT a week. I also have to get back to the error log, which I have not been doing religiously. My plan is to split time evenly between Quant and Verbal (2 days a piece) and take a CAT on either Saturday or Sunday. I am also going to be taking the MBA.com CATs the last two weeks before the test, so I know where I truly stand.

Have any of you hit a rut like I have here? How did you pick yourself up and get moving back towards your goal? Any advice for me?

Practice GMAT Fail and Test Re-Scheduling

So, I wanted to take a practice test this weekend, but found out that the MBA.com practice tests do not work on a Mac. BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Seriously, how do people make programs that don’t run on Macs? Especially a product, which appeals to the sub 40 age range, who are the most prevalent Mac users. Enough with my rant, but MBA.com needs to get its act together!

In reviewing where I am in my GMAT preparations I decided to re-schedule my test for August 13th. The reason stems from the fact that the Kaplan course I am taking is consuming me. Having class every Monday and Wednesday until 9, and then getting home at 10:30 doesn’t leave me with much time to study on those days. I figure that I can use some extra time after the course is over mid-July to ramp up my solo study efforts. I also want to be consistently scoring in the 700+ range, and I have yet to achieve that.

My only concern about the re-scheduling is that it won’t leave me with much time to put my application for Columbia together. I suppose strengthening that application is more important than taking my sweet ass time with it….I believe it leaves me with 8 weeks to finish it before the ED deadline. That should be plenty, but I am feeling extremely lethargic this morning coming off a holiday weekend. Happy Monday to all!

Kaplan Class begins and a Tuesday Tip

Kaplan class began last night and I was pretty excited to get into it. A lot of the stuff in the beginning of class (orientation) was review for me, so I didn’t get much out of it, but the enthusiasm of my teacher was a breath of fresh air. He has a very engaging teaching style, which keeps everyone involved and the class very interactive. I learn best when doing something and catching my mistakes, so his style suits me pretty well. He is also very accessible, so I stayed after class to have a chat with him. I asked him what he thought the best way forward for me was because I have already taken the Kaplan course and doing the same thing would not lead to any improvement in my score. He told me 2 things which I thought were pretty helpful, hence the Tuesday Tip.

#1 – Record all mistakes from all problems that are attempted in a notebook  (This isn’t the helpful part to me because I knew to try that). The most important part he said was how to study those mistakes. He told me that I should review all the mistakes that day and then try to recall what the mistakes were the following day. The reasoning behind this is that on test day you will not have the luxury of that notebook, so studying and forgetting the mistakes doesn’t help anyone. If you remember them off the top of your head, then you have a greater chance to recall that mistake during the actual GMAT.

#2 – This is much less important, but I thought it was helpful enough to include in this segment. He told me that I should certainly take the 2 MBA.com CAT tests. The reason one should take these is that Kaplan’s tests are calibrated to try and reflect how one would score on a GMAT, but it isn’t perfect all the time. The MBA.com test is much more like the real test, in wording and question types.

None of these are earth shattering developments for me, but I think it’s pretty damn good for me to recall these at 7:50 a.m. on a Tuesday. Hope everyone’s studying/applications/procrastination is going well. Back later today with more stuff.

Bethpage, Father’s Day, & a little GMAT Math

Spent all day Saturday and most of the day on Sunday at Bethpage Black, with my dad (for Father’s Day), watching the US Open. Good times were had trekking through the mud and over the many hills that the course offered to its spectators this weekend.

Got off work a little early on Friday (4pm), for being a good boy ( i guess), and decided to tackle the OG math diagnostic. I found it to be about what I experienced on the GMAT, maybe slightly easier, but by a negligible amount. I scored an above average on the section, so I guess I am happy about it. This week will be spent putting the answers into a log and reviewing them.

I also have my Kaplan course starting tonight, so I am looking forward to get going with that. So much to do and so little time until the GMAT, the next few weekends are going to be dedicated to all GMAT all the time. Back later with more…

Happy belated Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

P.S. –  See the Hangover if you haven’t all ready. Pretty funny, not epic, but worth the watch.

Weekend Study Plans

My Kaplan course starts on Monday, so I will be taking the Diagnostic test in the OG this weekend to assess where I am in my test prep, and what I need to work on in the classroom and in future study sessions. Tonight will be half the diagnostic and the other half will be on Saturday night (a very exciting life I lead, I know). I am going to the US Open this weekend at Bethpage, so its not all that bad. That’s about it for me on this lazy Friday. I am just now recovering from the Sicily jet-lag and look forward to a restful weekend.