Well, I did it. I survived the GMAT. However, I wouldn't say I kicked its ass like I wanted to.
The test is administered in 3 parts in this order: 2 Essays, the Quantitative (aka Math) section, and the Verbal section. I feel good about the essays because writing is my strong suit. The Quant section was rough--so rough, in fact, that I failed to answer the very last question. Not finishing every single question on the GMAT is a big no-no and severely penalizes your score. My big problem was pacing. Even though at one point I noticed I was getting really hairy questions, which is a good thing in a computer-adaptive test that adjusts to your level, I was taking too long to answer and by the time I still had 10 questions to go, I had so little time left that I had to take a wild-ass guess at almost all of them.
I felt good about the verbal section, however. I kept a steady pace and finished with a few seconds to spare. Historically, that's how it has always been for me--stonger in verbal than math, and today was really no different. My verbal score was in the 87th percentile and my math was down in the dregs--the 28th percentile. My overall is in the 58th. It's also below the recommended minimum score that two of the three schools I'm heavily pursuing right now wants to see. Now, the GMAT is not the be all and end all of your business school application. Everything I have read and heard has indicated that the admissions committee for b-schools really does look at it holistically. I am confident that I will produce great essays and that I will have solid recommendations. My undergrad GPA is above average and my recent work history is pretty good, but I wouldn't say any of it is enough to easily overcome a lop-sided, below-average GMAT score. As such, I have already decided that I will bite the bullet and take it again as soon as I am able, which I believe is in 30 or 31 days. Most schools even give you the chance to try and redeem yourself with an extra essay in your application, but I feel like I shouldn't go down that road if I don't at least try for a better score first.
I am, of course, disappointed that I didn't reach my goal on the first try, but the thing about business is that you have to learn take a hit, figure out what the heck went wrong, fix it, and keep going. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.
You may have won the battle this time around, GMAT, but it's not over yet!