Yeah, I know: your GMAT test score is really important to your personal and professional goals, and your test date is written on your calendar in huge red letters. Right now, you’re planning your entire life with that date in mind. You’re taking it extremely seriously. That makes perfect sense. But let me tell you a story anyway. Once upon a time, there was a New Yorker named Mr. FP. (In case you’re curious, “FP” stands for “fat pants,” because he used that term in one of the most entertaining MBA application essays I’ve ever read.) At the time, Mr. FP worked in a demanding finance job, and he struggled to find time for his GMAT studies. He scheduled his first GMAT test date for late December, but wasn’t able to do quite as much studying as he had hoped.
Still, Mr. FP took his two GMATPrep tests in the week leading up to his test date, despite the fact that he didn't feel 100% ready for the exam. On his first GMATPrep test, he scored a 680. Not bad, right? The 680 was a pleasant surprise, considering Mr. FP’s difficulties with some of the homework. A few days before his exam, Mr. FP took the second GMATPrep test, and only scored a 640. Not spectacular, especially since his goal was a 700.
At that point, it was clear that Mr. FP didn’t have a very good shot at getting a 700. He's a brilliant guy, but we agreed that he had specific GMAT weaknesses, and his practice tests weren’t going terribly well. But Mr. FP is a pretty laid-back fellow, and he took the situation in stride.
“Whatever dude,” he said, in our final GMAT tutoring session before his exam, “It’s my first time taking the test, and it’s too late to get my money back. So I’ll just take it as a practice test, and maybe I’ll learn something or whatever.”
Two days later, Mr. FP called me immediately after he left his GMAT exam, and he was laughing so hard that he couldn’t even tell me what happened. Eventually, he spit out the news: he got a 720. And he thought it was absolutely hilarious.
The moral of the story? I’m not certain that there is one. Maybe Mr. FP is just a really, really lucky man. Or maybe he performed incredibly well because he was relaxed, and didn’t take the GMAT overly seriously that day. Whenever he got rough questions, he didn’t let them rattle him—he just shrugged, made his best guess, and calmly moved on. Whatever Mr. FP did that day, it worked.
You know that I'm in awe of the work ethic of most of my GMAT students. But maybe some of you try a little bit too hard sometimes. Just some food for thought.