620 first try - furious with Pearson test proctors!

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So I just took the GMAT for the first time today and scored a 620 (Q39, V37). This was substantially lower than what I've been averaging recently on the Kaplan CATs and official GMAT prep tests.

I took Kaplan's ultimate practice test a couple weeks ago so I was actually quite comfortable last night and this morning before the test. However, my experience at the testing facility was a nightmare.

Everything started out fine with the AWA section. After I finished this part I took a quick trip to the restroom and then returned to the testing room. After taking the ultimate practice test I realized that it would be in my best interest to request a new spiral dry erase notebook after every section so that I wouldn't waste any time during the test to raise my hand, etc. (I write big). Thus, when I returned I asked for and was given a new notebook.

I sat down and started on the quant section. Things were going well until I got to somewhere around question 10 and flipped to the third page in the spiral notebook...and to my surprise, there was already writing on that page...actually there was writing on every subsequent page after page two! The proctors had given me a used notebook! Wow was I upset and panicked at the same time!! Now what else could I do besides raise my hand? I did this and waited for about 30 seconds or so while trying to work out the next problem in my head until I realized that proctor was just staring into space and wasn't going to notice my waving hand. So I had to get up, run over to his peripheral and explain my urgent problem using hand gestures! From the time this happened until the time it was resolved (while it felt like it was an eternity) I probably lost at least 2 minutes. And my focus/groove was way out of whack for the next couple questions.

Now, after the quant section I calmed down a little bit during the break and was positive about the verbal section because this is the area that I truly excel in. However, during this section, about ~20 questions in, my pen completely ran out of ink. And again, the proctor was staring into space when I raised my hand. So, yet again, I had to run over to him myself and explain my urgent problem. Another loss of at least a minute or two when you consider the time that it took me to regain focus.

I don't blame the staff at Pearson completely for my score being significantly lower than I had expected, but I do partially attribute their lack of professionalism to my low score. I can understand a pen running out of ink....but giving me a used notebook!?! come on, this really really got to me! I'm paying $250 to take a timed test where every single second counts...and I have something preventable like this happen. I did everything I could to make sure that there would be no distractions (i.e. no reason to raise my hand)....but I cannot control the behavior and lack of professionalism of the test proctors.

I just really needed to vent, anyone have any opinions on this or heard of this happening. I have read about test takers pens running out of ink, but nothing about receiving a used notebook. Looks like I'm going to have to put my social life on hold for another month and give an upper 600s/lower 700s score another try, maybe at another testing facility.!

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by JasLamba » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:40 pm
Hi,

Could you contact GMAC and send them a letter? Perhaps they could give you a new test date. I don't know what is the "magnitude" of these types of problems when they will consider your situation. I have known two people who have been able to reschedule their tests because there was one guy in the room who constantly made noise while he was taking the test (really calling for attention). Both these people sent a letter to GMAC and got another test date (at no cost) and GMAC cancelled their previous score.

Hope things get better,
Jas

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by shadowsjc » Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:11 pm
hi,

i agree, that's a terrible experience. definitely contact GMAC and ask them for a retake. and, don't worry - if you do much better on the retake, you can always address it on your b-school applications in the optional essay.
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nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
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by MFaulkner » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:51 pm
Thanks for the advice. I came this link: https://www.mba.com/mba/thegmat/gmatscor ... scores.htm which talks about testing irregularities and errors in administration and how they may result in a no-fee reschedule and cancellation of score if applicable. I will be calling GMAT customer service first thing tomorrow to try and sort this out.

Yesterday took quite a bit of energy out of me and I really don't think that I was thinking as clearly as I should. Today, now that I'm thinking straighter, I have concluded that I was most definitely at a significant disadvantage when taking this test due to the administration errors I mentioned. I can only hope that GMAC will agree and grant me my request for a score cancellation and no-fee retest.

After I discovered that I had been given a used notebook I DID tell the incompetent proctor that there was already writing in the notebook...but I had earplugs in and was obviously in too much of a hurry to explain further (though from his reaction he did not seem to consider this to be as a significant issue as it really was.)

However, I do wish that I would have tried to sort this out with the proctors right after I completed the test yesterday. Although as one might expect, I was physically and mentally drained once the exam was over (in addition to being very upset) and I don't think that I could have had an effective and reasonable discussion about the situation with the proctors anyway at that particular time. I just tried to maintain some level of composer and get out of there asap. HOPEFULLY the proctors will remember me and work with GMAC if need be so that this can get sorted out. I also am hoping that the session was video taped so the GMAC can review the tapes to see both occurrences if they'd like. Can anyone tell me if this is a normal procedure? I do remember seeing cameras.

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by MFaulkner » Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:27 am
Well I heard back from the GMAC on Wednesday in regards to the issue that I filed with their customer service department. The representative that called me stated that they had reviewed the video tapes and discussed the event with the staff at the testing center. He stated that it took 54 seconds for the proctor to provide me with a new notebook and 35 seconds for the proctor to provide me with a new pen. (However, he could not answer my question to what this 54 seconds included...I asked if it began when I initially raised my hand or if it began when the proctor became aware of my request and he did not have an answer. Thus 54 seconds must be the minimum amount of time that I was distracted, and it obviously does not include the undetermined time that it took me to regain my focus after I acquired the new notebook.) He said that this response time does not warrant a score cancellation or no charge reschedule. He also mentioned that I should have brought this up with the test administrators during my 8 minute breaks in addition to calling GMAC first thing on Monday morning and that if I was not satisfied I should have not submitted my score at the end (ridiculous imo).

I must say that I'm quite shocked to have been given this much initial resistance. After arguing and explaining my logic for about 15 minutes over the phone the rep gave me an option to fax a letter to the appeals board for additional consideration. He seemed very stuck on the idea that a score cancellation was impossible but by the end of our conversation he seemed to hint that a no-charge reschedule might be possible.

I just can't believe that they don't consider a minimum of 1:30 to be a significant amount of time on this exam. That amount of time alone will result in a guess on at least one additional question. I also can't believe that they expected me to argue with the proctors during my 8 minute break. The absolute last thing that I want to do during that break is get all worked up in an argument and become even more distracted! He EVEN asked me why I waited until November 23rd to bring up this issue! Unbelievable!! I took the test on Saturday, and the next day that the GMAC is open was that Monday, November 23rd. And in regards to cancelling my score, I don't see how this would have been any more advantageous to me than my submitting it. If I had cancelled it and the issue not deemed appropriate for a reschedule I would have also been out $250.00 and it would have been something else that may have needed explaining on my application to b-school.

Anyways, I'm still pretty worked up over this and am very surprised that they're taking such a defensive approach to the whole issue. I am going to start writing this letter today to address all of the issues that they're fighting me on. Hopefully this will get resolved with at the very least a free reschedule. Any suggestions are still appreciated...

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by Alcololz » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:33 am
You know what really bothered me? I took the writing, then took my 8 minute break. I went outside to the lobby, used the bathroom, and then came back, probably about 4 minutes to go on my break.

I asked to go back in and sit down, and I planned to gather my thoughts for the remainder of my 8 minutes. BUT the proctor started the exam right away! I had 30 seconds of tutorial and the exam started!

The proctor was a sweetheart, and she explained during my next break (between math and verbal) that the test center doesn't allow you to sit at your desk and wait during the break... if you are at your chair, you must be taking the test.

I didn't think that was cool at all!

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by MFaulkner » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:16 pm
Thought I'd post back and let everyone know what happened.

As I mentioned in my previous post, GMAC requested that I detail the events that occurred in a brief letter and fax it to them. I ended up writing a fairly detailed 2 page letter (much more than brief) that described every circumstance that I felt put me at a disadvantage during the exam. I addressed every issue that the customer service rep battled me on and requested that to have my score totally wiped clean and given a chance to retake the exam free of charge.

I was told that I'd be getting a call back from them a day or two after they received the letter. I never received a phone call but I did receive an e-mail from Pearson a few days later with a phone number to call at my earliest convenience to set up my no charge reschedule.

So, since they never called me back I have no idea if they canceled my score or not but at least they are allowing me to take the exam again free of charge. A score cancellation would be nice, but a 620 isn't so incredibly bad that it will hurt me in the long run. I'm going to try and reschedule the exam for mid January. Even with the holidays I should have at least 4 solid weeks of additional preparation allowing me to make enough progress to score even higher than I was capable the first time around (even if I hadn't experience those 2 distractions).

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by cramya » Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:49 pm
Hope u have a much better experience this time around. Good luck and I am sure u will get your dream score.

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by beatthegmat » Tue Dec 08, 2009 11:03 am
Really really sorry to hear about this experience! Can you please share which testing center you went to? I want to pass this thread along to my contact at Pearson.

All the best,

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by MFaulkner » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:25 pm
beatthegmat wrote:Really really sorry to hear about this experience! Can you please share which testing center you went to? I want to pass this thread along to my contact at Pearson.

All the best,

Eric
Sure,

It was the Pearson Professional Centers-Indianapolis (West).

I actually decided to take it at the same place again b/c it's so close to where I live. :\
This time I'll be sure to check the notebook before I enter the testing room and ask for an extra pen just incase. Hopefully they got rid of the proctor I had trouble with and/or realized the importance of employee training when it comes to tests of this magnitude.

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by beatthegmat » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:33 pm
Thanks for this follow up. I hope your next GMAT test experience goes smoothly!
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