GMAT second thoughts - should I bail?
February 23, 2015 4:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm registered to take the GMAT in less than a week. I've been reviewing for a couple of months now and my practice scores aren't that great, definitely sub-600. I'm developing a sense of dread about this whole thing. Should I chalk it up to impulsiveness and bail, or forge ahead?

I'm at a crossroads professionally and looking for new career options. While I've been on hiatus from work, the thought occurred to me that an MBA might be something I'd want to pursue, so I signed up for the GMAT to the tune of $250. It's been a long time since my last standardized testing experience - I took the GRE back when it was still a paper and pencil exercise (I have a master's in a non-business field). I'm not bothered by the computer-adaptive aspect of the test, but I am bothered by how much I have forgotten since I last needed to test for anything. It's too late for a tutor.

I am now not strongly motivated by the idea of getting an MBA apart from the access to new skills and networking opportunities it might give me, which I'm thinking aren't a good enough reason to spend $13K a semester or more. In fact, in the time since this seemed like a good idea, I've had other opportunities for career re-direction come up which I'd rather pursue.

What I'm looking for here is someone's permission to bail, I suppose. I've pretty consistently been getting scores on practice tests that are way lower than I would like, with no sign of improvement, so I don't think I will study my way out of this. I feel like the sunk-cost fallacy of having paid a couple hundred bucks that I will not get back is part of what's making me hesitate. Well, that and the embarrassment of telling people that I bailed because I told everyone I know that I signed up, thinking it would motivate me. Now it feels like a trap.

Can someone convince me that I should take it anyway, or help me figure out what to say when I tell people I didn't do it so that I won't feel like a failure?
posted by Otter_Handler to Education (6 answers total)
Take it and let your actual score determine your options. Might as well find out how you would do so you don't have to wonder. If you decide in the future to pursue an MBA, can either take again or use this score. Seems like no downside other than getting a score you don't like because you didn't put the time in. Big deal.

If you really want to bail, just get "sick" the night before. If anyone asks, just tell them you ended up not taking them because you were too sick.
posted by 724A at 5:16 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want some random internet stranger's permission to skip it, then you have mine. Your life is your own and you are entitled - encouraged even - to make your own decisions and do what is right for you. From what I've gathered around here, if you aren't fully on board with any kind of graduate program, it's going to be much, much harder.

If you really feel like you are going to have to explain yourself to other people (you have my permission to decline that as well), then what would be harder? Telling people you scored poorly or telling people you decided not to take it? If you decide to skip it, simply tell people that you put a lot of thought into it and decided that it wasn't the right time to pursue an MBA. Anyone who is really going to push for more will be pushing the boundaries of polite behavior, in my opinion. You are not being a failure. You are evaluating your options and making the right decision for yourself.

But what's the actual downside of taking it? Possibly scoring badly? So what if you do score badly? Will it damage you physically? Nope? Financially? It doesn't sound like it. Mentally? Maybe a slight bruise to the ego but those fade - especially if it's something you don't care so much about. If you decide to take it and score badly, just tell people that your heart wasn't it in and you know not pursuing an MBA is the right choice to make. Again, you are not being a failure. You are evaluating your options and making the right decision for yourself.

A possible upside is that since you are going to be less invested in the results, you'll be more relaxed and might actually score better than you think. And then you'll have even more options to evaluate and make the right decision for yourself. Did I mention that you are not a failure?

Good luck with whatever you decide!
posted by Beti at 5:17 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've never taken the GMAT - what happens if you get a bad score, and then re-take it? Will they strike your first test score entirely? Will they report both to any inquiring schools? You should figure that out first and foremost; if they will essentially "delete" your first score upon the next re-take, then you should get off your duff and try your best.

However, if they will keep all scores anyway (like on the LSAT), I'm going to say you should strongly consider bailing and actually study - and improve - before you take it again. Have you actually talked to any MBA students or graduates to see how this test is received by the schools? (If not, that is a problem all its own; don't get a degree without some pre-investigation into how it will actually affect your life.) If there is a chance you will be permanently "marked" with this bad score by some portion of schools, even if you re-take and improve, then sit this one out and get over the $250. Your admissions profile such as test scores, grades, etc., can have a profound impact not only on your schooling (scholarships, etc.) but also your long-term career (by affecting what school you actually get into and attend). So figure out the ramifications and get it right rather than just winging it.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:45 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

You have my permission.

Getting an MBA on your own dime is a terrible idea. I only have one because I got a full-boat ride from my job, and even then, they had to twist my arm.

If you're not ready, and you see no immediate need for it in the future, bail away. Take yourself out for a beer or a manicure instead.

Life's too short to go through the motions.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:12 PM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Never take a standardized test if you don't expect to do well. Nowadays your scores on these exams can follow you for a long time, and you have no idea what you're going to want to do in the future. I know people in their 30s and 40s who have had to provide their high school SAT scores for graduate school.

Regardless of whether you still want that MBA, if you don't feel prepared to the full extent of your ability, do not sit the exam.
posted by telegraph at 4:50 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, you can now take the GMAT, see your score, and THEN decide to cancel or keep that score. FYI.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

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