The GMAT or OH MY GOD Can People Really Do This?

I am so pissed at myself right now. I can honestly say that in all of my higher education, standardized tests, credentialing exams—and there have been plenty of them—I have never done poorly on a test of any kind.

So it starts with me trying to prep for my GMAT for a couple of months. Honestly, there was just never time. There was always work. Or an appointment for one of the kids. Or John had class. Always something. But I tried half-heartedly to prepare. And by the time I was finished with all of the tasks I had to do, I was too exhausted for anything that could be considered optional. I mean, the GMAT doesn’t sign my paycheck. My grades do not depend on studying it, so it had to be moved to the back burner. And then I found out that the required score for my top-choice program is not that difficult, and I blew off studying altogether.

Holy shit.

On test day, I was nervous as hell. Butterflies and nausea. Heart-racing, palm-sweating nervousness. I tried to pump myself up with an iPod full of pump-up music. Lots of Eminem and other I’m-Kickass tunage. I chugged a venti mocha from Starbucks. Then I squared my shoulders and marched my happy ass right into that testing center as if I owned the place.First of all, let me tell you that Fort Knox could learn a thing or two from the security of a GMAT testing center. Palm-vein scans. Digital photos. Audio and visual recordings of the entire test. Pockets turned inside out and sleeves rolled up before entering. You have to put everything into a locker. EVERYTHING. All you are allowed to have on your person is your photo ID and the key to the locker they give you. No pencils or paper. They give you a dry-erase notebook for scratchpaper, and you aren’t supposed to erase it. When you run out of room, they bring you a fresh one. They provided me with earplugs, but I wasn’t even allowed to have the wrapper they came in. Please explain that one to me. How does one cheat with an earplug wrapper they get from the testing center? Because if they can figure that out, they deserve to ace the damned GMAT.  I had to unwrap them before I even entered the testing room and give he wrapper to the proctor. And when you leave the room for any reason, the entire process happens all over again.

And then I sat down to take the test.

I whizzed through 2 writing assessments. I gave responses that were well-developed and organized in thought. Grammar was perfect. No spelling errors. If anything, I can churn out a paper for anyone and anything, so I am sure I nailed those, though it will take a few weeks for the powers that be to determine my score on them. It gave me a chance for a scheduled break, which I declined. I mean, I finished the writing assessments with time to spare, so I was in the zone. Ready to go for the net round. Bring it on, Bitch!

Next came quantitative. I’m not allowed to tell you about any of the questions. I swore on my children and my future as a human being in this world that I would not. But I will tell you that this math can suck a big one. Algebra, geometry, and arithmetic organized into either problem-solving or data sufficiency questions. The math concepts were not hard at all. What was hard? The way it was organized into the problem. Each problem solved by a long chain of steps, and then the solution is not at the end of those step, but rather some portion that relates to it. And then the answer choices! Normally, when one takes a multiple-choice math exam, they solve the problem and if their answer doesn’t match the choices, the know they have done something wrong, they go back and work the problem again and find an answer that matches. Well, the GMAT bases incorrect choices on common mistakes. Say you forgot to divide the number in step two of fifteen by 2. One of the answer choices will fit that error, so you see your answer among the choices and have no idea you were wrong and are completely oblivious. But then you don’t just get the problem wrong! Your score goes down and the subsequent questions are easier because the test then figures you are a fucktard and need easier questions. Incidentally, the easier questions are worth less, so then it takes forevver to get back up to the score you need. But if you get the first few problems correct, the exam propels you into the difficult questions. And for me, these were insanely difficult. And then there is data sufficiency. I can’t even….Just Google that shit. The GMAT prides themselves on the fact that they invented this question type. If I were them, I would not be proud of the fact that I tortured poor college students seeking advanced degrees. And they are a big fricken part of the quantitative secion. Whatever. Shake it off, because after another body cavity search after a potty break, it’s time for the verbal reasoning.

Critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comp compose the verbal reasoning. Simple, right? Ummmm, no. Because the GMAT gives you complex sentences full of modifiers in odd places and odd verbage that one would never use in a normal conversational tone. The grammar is perfect, but the flow of the sentence is completely awkward and clumsy. So you really have to know your grammar. Conjugation is a biggie. The critical reasoning gives you a statement and you are expected to draw inferences or determine ways to weaken or strengthen the argument–whichever is asked. The reading comp is pretty standard, except the passages are verbose and dry, written on topics nobody could give two shits about.

And just like that, you’re finished. And the beauty of the GMAT is that you get your unofficial score right then. It isn’t official because the writing assessments have to be scored by some geek in an office somewhere. But the rest of the test is scored. And they don’t even give you a warning that it is coming. It just pops up on the screen, and you are in a room of other test-takers and cannot blurt out any expletives. I mean, I think I deserve some extra points for not blurting out, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME!!!!!”, which is totally what I was thinking.

Because here is what the fuck happened: I aced the verbal reasoning. I am pretty sure that I nailed the writing assessments. I bombed the fucking math. Fuck. FuckityFuckFuckFuck. However, I scored so well on the verbal that my scores are competitive anywhere–Wharton, Harvard, Keenan-Flageler—any of the big B-schools. I fucking did it. But then I start revisiting the requirements for my first-choice school. GPA 3.5. Okay. GMAT score greater than 470. Okay. (GPA x 200) + GMAT> or = to 1070. Yeah, okay. I’m good, right?

No. Halt. Big screeching brake sound here. Because they want a certain percentage of the GMAT score to come from math. Fucking math. And my score was so unbelievably lopsided.

I aced it, and yet I still have to retake it.

Shit.

I am pissed. I want to shout from the rooftops that I have never done poorly on any test ever. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever even gotten a B on an exam. I certainly have never gotten a B in a class. I can write when I have to. I test remarkably well. What the fuck????

Oh and did I mention that the exam was, like, $300? Not counting prep materials. And I have already gone to the store and purchased a program specific to GMAT math. Feel free to take up a collection for me. I have to wait 31 days to retake that fucker, too.

I would rather shoot myself in the eye than take that fucking exam again.

I Lied

I was going to get a good night’s rest tonight before my GMAT tomorrow. Incidentally, this is also the test that will make or break me. And then I couldn’t resist clicking the links to some blogs I follow and seeing what everyone is up to these days.

My heart hurts from it. I know it shouldn’t but it does.

I am so happy for my friends who have children who are whizzing through their milestones. I was going to comment. And then I stopped because it hit me.

My baby is amazing. He is smart and funny. He imitates sounds. As soon as you finish a drink at the house, he snatches your glass or cup and promptly runs it to the kitchen sink because he knows that is where it goes, damnit. He has a better sense of direction than I do. He climbs and runs and jumps. You can tell him, “Zachy, give me the phone/ book/ remote/ toy of whatever name/ paper/ pen/ any other obscure object”, and he knows exactly what you want and will hand that object to you. He is, by all rights, a toddler. He has wants and needs now. He is playful. He is fucking unbelievably adorable and people come up to him all of the time in public.

Yet the second reason why my heart hurts.

Because he is toddler and people expect him to say small phrases. Or respond when they ask his name. Or when they say hello or goodbye. Instead he looks at them. He won’t speak. He won’t even attempt. And there is this awkward pause. And he has the wants of a toddler, but he cannot tell us. Sure, they are teaching him to sign. He can now tell us ” more” or “drink”. But that doesn’t tell us if he wants milk or apple juice. or whether “more” means food or play or bedtime stories. And while you are trying to figure it out, he is wanting it and having a meltdown because he does’t understand why in the fuck you will not help him out right then.

Today, we got his hair cut. And the stylist was trying to talk to him. For the first time, I had to explain that he understands but he won’t speak. And then, as if there was something wrong with him that I had to make excuses for him, I followed up by blurting out that he was almost 2 months premature and he is behind is all. As in “please-don’t-think-he’s-a-freak-he’s-not-a-freak-he’s-a-fucking-miracle”. Why? Why do I feel like I have to make excuses? Better yet, why the fuck am I crying right now? Zach is fine. He isn’t even slow, cognitively anyway. When they assessed his cognitive development, he scored above average. WAY above average. The problem isn’t with Zach. The problem is with me.

We want our children to run faster , learn more, be cuter than the others. And then when they don’t, we tend to internalize that like I am doing right now. And when we hear a child is having probems, we assume stuff. Mom smoke/drank/ did drugs while pregnant. The parents are stupid or uneducated or come from a low socioeconomic background. Or they got no prenatal care.

What happens when the mom got the best prenatal care around by some of the best specialists in the field of maternal/fetal medicine? What happens when the family is from a middle class environment? And both have college educations? And the child has an older brother who is freakishly gifted? And when mom is no dummy, was a merit scholar, labeled gifted all of her life? Or maybe mom and dad work too much and noone works with the child? But no, because mom and dad make sacrifices so that one parent is with the child at all times. Went through hell to give the child breastmilk, organic baby food, nurturing, and more. What happens when the parents have done everything right? Well then to have a child have something wrong just slaps everything we believe right back in our faces. Because if all of these things apply to us and there is something wrong, then that means there is no control. That means it could happen to any fucking one of you, too.

So when I tell you my kid won’t talk, and you have that awkward pause, is that what is going on in your mind?

And now it’s worse. Because today, we got Zach’s hair cut. And he is a little boy now insead of a baby, so instead of just a trim, he has a little boy style. It is so fricken cute I cannot stand it. But he looks like a little boy now, which means people will expect more. More awkward pauses.

So if you are one of my mommy-blogger friends here in the blog world and I follow your blog, and you noticed that I haven’t made comments, please do not be offended or think ill of me. I am not wishing this on anyone. I am glad that your children are doing well. I want for them to continue to do so. One day, hopefully soon, I will take pleasure in reading about the new and amazing things they are doing. But it is very, very hard for me to read of the things that your child is doing and mine should be doing and is not. I get angry at our situation, hurt, and then feel guilty for even feeling like that, all because I read a blog post. And then what should I say? “Gee, be glad your child is normal?” No, because then it will make you feel bad for taking pride in the things your child is doing, and I don’t want you to feel like that, either. You should be proud! So I will be abstaining from commenting on some subjects. At least untill I heal a little bit. But I am still reading. I’m still there.

 

While I Was Away

I’ve been busy. I’m sorry. I’m a horrible blogger. And the truth? I’m still busy. I honestly have no business creating a long list of catch-up posts when there is so much I should be doing. So I am going to try to catch you up in this one post, if you are still out there.

School: I’ve got a couple more classes under my belt. More A’s. I’ll be finished with my business degree in September. I’ve been working on the MBA applications. More on that in a sec.

Evan: Evan is still…Evan. They’ve changed his meds several times. Some of it has been good and some bad. The bad changes are the ones that had him literally awake for days, dark circles under his eyes, palor. It broke my heart. Until one day when his teacher called and said he fell asleep in school and we had to bring him home and let him sleep for almost 2 days straight, only waking him to get some fluids in him so he didn’t dehydrate. I hate it all and would love more than anything to just be able to take him off of all of them and get them out of his system, but I kow he can’t function without them. Now things are finally looking up. He came home last week, excited and proudly presenting this flyer from school. Turns out they are having baseball sign-ups and Evan wants to play. We signed him up. He’s never played a sport before because he has never shown interest. But we jumped on this, even taking him to get fitted for a glove and bat, getting him training gear. He’ll start practicing here at home this week, since he is too old to play tee-ball, and this is actually pitch baseball.

Zach: Zach was officially assessed at the 12-month level, developmentally speaking. He has started therapy after officially being labeled as developmentally delayed. I had some very overwhelming days where it struck me that I have one child with Asperger’s and another who is DD. I had to get past that to carry on. In the meantime, in absence of any verbal communication, the therapist has started teaching Zachy to sign what he wants. Simple things like “more”, “drink”, “all done”, “eat”, and “help”. He can finally express what he wants to us instead of having a meltdown because we cannot understand his grunts and shouts. And with this development has emerged some attempts to be verbal. He can get the intonation of the syllables of words, but nothing anyone can understand yet. But he is trying, which is more than he was doing a month ago. He continues to be social and adorable and loving. And he is so smart. He can clearly understand anything you say to him. He hs favorite places and knows the routes to those places and will cry if you turn the opposite direction in the car. We just have to catch him up a little bit.

Grad School: I got letters of recommendation from my direct supervisor and department director at work. I wrote a stellar cover letter and drew up a new resume. I had my transcripts sent yesterday. Yet about a month ago, I was having a weak moment, so I scheduled a time to go into my first choice school and speak to them about my potential for admission. I was armed with nothing more than an unofficial printout of my undergrad work. She basically told me there was a very little likelihood that I will be turned away with my academic record. But I have to take that damned GMAT. You may recall that I took two weeks off at the end of January to prepare for and take the test. And then I psyched myself out and wouldn’t do it. That was the low point where I called them and made the appointment. And then I bit the bullet and scheduled the damned thing. And tried and tried to prep for without the advantage of time off from work or school. As a matter of fact, I have finished two more classes and started 2 more in that time frame. I still feel underprepared. My stomach has been in knots for days. As in butterflies and queasiness. The exam is tomorrow. If all goes well, I will be started at one of the top-ranked MBA programs in October. Oh, and that’s another thing: because I went back and did an undergrad business degree and will be fresh from that with immaculate grades, I am elegible for their accelerated program. In other words, they will give me credit for my undergrad and I will only have 8 classes left to my MBA. So by Summer of 2013, I will be an MBA. Yeah. No pressure. I have to get in. Have to. No other options. I even submitted all of the financial stuff for grad school, and at a very expensive private university, I will even have all of that falling into place.

So there you have it. While I haven’t been present in the bloggy world, I’ve been doing plenty. I look forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs and hopw you’ll forgive me for my absence.