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How Wonder Woman helped me beat the GMAT: 720 (Q43/V47)

This topic has 2 expert replies and 4 member replies
kaaviar Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
29 Apr 2017
3 messages
5 times

How Wonder Woman helped me beat the GMAT: 720 (Q43/V47)

Post Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:09 pm
I just got a 720 (94th percentile)! Q43 (50th percentile)/V47 (99th percentile) (I'm very aware that Q43 is a little on the low side, but hoping to supplement that with some additional math coursework I'm taking!)

A lot of what worked for me is psychological, and in this post, I'm mostly going to talk about getting over mental roadblocks rather than content roadblocks.

A year ago, I scored 560 on my first practice test and wondered whether I was barking up the wrong tree. 6 months later (December 2016), I scored a 700 (Q44/V41) using The Economist's on-demand platform. Not bad, but I figured I'd need to better than that to get into my target schools.

During this last round of studying, I found myself battling depression. As it stands, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and tend to panic during standardized tests, but in addition to that, I found myself feeling so deeply overwhelmed by the GMAT, by starting on B school applications for R1, by a relatively new job, and general life stresses that all I really wanted to do was hide under the covers and hope that my many obligations would let me be. I had trouble motivating myself to study. Even after several months of studying (using Magoosh), my practice scores on GMATPrep tests were, respectively, 680 two weeks out from the test and 700 one week out from the test. I had no idea what was going on, and I felt totally hopeless.

Then I saw Wonder Woman. I'm really not kidding, but this was the thing that did it for my attitude, psychologically. I almost cried when, during the scene where she puts on the headband and enters "No Man's Land," a little girl a few seats over from me dressed up as Wonder Woman, whispered to her mother, "Look, mommy, she's so strong!" So strong, indeed. I'd been a collector of Wonder Woman comics for quite a while, but what good would it do to read those without internalizing what they were trying to say? What they were trying to do for women everywhere?

A tutor I was talking to said something then that jumped out at me: "You need to learn how to be a happy test-taker." A happy test-taker? What an oxymoron! But he was 100% right. I needed to learn to actually *like* taking the GMAT instead of seeing it as something I needed to get over with as soon as possible. I needed to see the GMAT as an opportunity to be brave and to be strong, like my comic book idol Wonder Woman.

I thought about that 680 and that 700 more deeply and realized that, each time I'd taken one of those practice tests, I saw it as a burden, a thing that I desperately wanted to get over with as soon as humanly possible, so that I could relax or go to a friend's party afterward. I was taking these practice tests in my pajamas, on my bed, after having woken up from a nap, barely making myself go through the motions of a practice test, just because I knew it was a thing I was supposed to do.

From that realization on, I was able to engineer a great test day. I spent a week doing Headspace meditation once a day on Competition. I read a book about the psychology of performing under pressure, with great suggestions for the actual day. I took yesterday off of work to play with my best friend's cat, watch Moana, and not study. I ended last night with a bubble bath, candles, and herbal tea. I drank a TON of water. And then, I had planned every single thing about today, from when I would wake up to what I would eat before I left the house to what snacks I'd pack for the test. Doing all of that made me feel calm because I was completely in control of what I was doing and when I was doing it. Incidentally, I did also plan to wear Wonder Woman-themed comfy athletic clothing to the test. And the WW tank top and sports bra did, indeed, make me feel like I was in control of this thing. Smile

And then from then on out, I saw this test today as an opportunity rather than a burden. I welcomed every triangle question I got. I didn't sweat it when I needed to guess. And I think what kept up my stamina and focus during the verbal section the most was actually being genuinely curious about each RC passage and each CR scenario. I'm a voracious reader in general, and a passage about rRNA or the French Revolution is no different! I found a way to be genuinely interested in every topic the test presented me with.

So go forth, GMAT-taking ladies (and dudes, too!), watch the Wonder Woman movie, and get inspired to #slay.

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Post Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:04 am
I love this attitude! This is something that I always encourage my students to do - stop thinking about the test as a hurdle to overcome, and reframe it as a challenge that's fun to conquer.

Congratulations on your score! And I hope you approach business school with the same Wonder-Woman-like strength and tenacity!


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

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sfiqal Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
20 May 2015
3 messages
Test Date:
Target GMAT Score:
Post Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:50 am
This post made me so happy! Congratulations Kaaviar- you #SLAYYYYYYYQUEENN! I am so getting a Wonder Woman shirt now!

monmonsta Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
08 Jan 2017
11 messages
Post Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:21 am
Amazing energy filled post! Love the positivity! Congratulations GURL.

Post Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:12 am
This is outstanding. If there's one element of the GMAT that test-takers tend not to pay enough attention to, it's the psychological dimension of the exam. Well done!

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Anki05 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
15 Oct 2014
2 messages
Post Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:52 am
I get sweaty every time I take a mock test and doubt myself if I score higher than usual.
But I had just decided recently to not care about the scores and just focus on each and every question and give my best out of it. Stay positive and not care about the final result so much that it screws up the current learning process!
After reading your post I am feeling even more positive!
Congratulations on an excellent score and Good luck with your applications!

Best Regards,

Dukemm Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
29 May 2017
7 messages
Post Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:10 pm
This has got to be one o f the best threads i've come across so far. Amazing positivity! Congratulations on your success!

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