July 03, 2011 |

The acronym “GMAT” (Graduate Management Admissions Test) seems to cause universal anxiety among prospective MBA applicants. The idea of taking a four-hour-long exam is certainly frightening. However, as the Daniels website says, “The GMAT is considered one way of predicting academic performance in the first year of a graduate business program,” and the test is required by nearly every business school in the country. After completing everything else for my Daniels application, I registered online to take the GMAT and drove to the nearest bookstore to purchase a study book.

After spending almost an hour trying to decipher the subtle differences between brands (Manhattan? Kaplan? Cliffs Notes?), I grabbed the nearest book and ran to the checkout line before I could change my mind. I ended up with the Princeton Review’s “Cracking the GMAT,” which turned out to be a perfectly adequate selection. I spent the next few weeks reading the entire book and taking practice exams (Although I did not take a GMAT preparation course, I have heard that they can be incredibly helpful.

When my GMAT test date arrived, I drove to the testing center, which was located about twenty minutes from my house. The employees there would have put the TSA to shame. I had to empty my pockets (not even Chapstick was allowed), secure my jacket and purse in a locker, throw away my water bottle, and submit my fingerprints electronically.

After I passed security, I was escorted into the testing room, where I was given a set of earplugs, a marker, and a pad of scratch paper. The test was administered on a computer, which was a huge advantage over the last few standardized tests I had taken. First, I was able to move at my own pace. Instead of sitting in a room with dozens of people and having to wait for the proctor’s instructions before I could move on to the next portion of the exam, I could progress as quickly as I wanted. Second, when I finished the exam, I was given a print-out with my verbal and mathematical scores. The instant gratification was a huge relief, as I had anticipated waiting with bated breath for several weeks before receiving my results.

When I left the testing center, I felt that a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. While the idea of taking the GMAT was scary, the preparation and test-taking process was challenging but rewarding. Filling in the final blank on my Daniels application was an incredibly satisfying experience!

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