The GMAT Experience Vol. 2

Round One

(A quick tale of the how the GMAT can ruin a perfectly good day)


Hashim Bello, GMAT Teacher wanna-be and Mousetrap builder


Argh 2.5 hours away in Random Town X, Mystery state. The things I do to build a better mousetrap. Sheesh.




August 9, 2004

The Mission:

  • Test a revolutionary new way of approaching the test for high scoring students.
  • Test theories of questions flow on the math and verbal sections real test.
  • Harvest question ideas for future content and upcoming Insights Newsletter.
  • Analyze breakdown of topics on both math and verbal sections.
  • Visit centers in areas that Bell Curves has many students in order to best advise them on centers to stay away from or use.

The Adventure:


I must truly be insane. Who wakes up at the crack of @$$ to go take a GMAT 2.5 hours away?? Me, that’s who. Not sure where this drive to help people beat the system comes from, but once it is turned on it is really hard for me to turn it back off. The GMAT got to me and I am gonna break it, if breaking it is the last thing I do.

I am a little obsessive about dissecting things, as a kid I used to take apart toys just to understood how they worked. I could never get them back together, but I never cared because once I knew how they worked the mystery and hence the excitement was gone.

I had a student that I particularly enjoyed working with and poured tons of time and energy into him without accomplishing the mission on the GMAT. He went to school and got a decent score but for the amount of work we did he was WAY overdue an outstanding score. As a direct result of that experience the GMAT and I were set on course for a head-to-head collision.

Back to the present and fast forward past speaking with extremely helpful phone reps at Prometric. Continue forwarding past me missing my exit to get caught in a traffic jam that took 40 minutes to get to the next exit so that I could turn around.

Note the hidden tip here: Head out to the test center REALLY early so that when random Murphy-esque experience occurs you are not in harm’s way.

Random Question: If I hidden tip is pointed out, is it really a hidden tip?

(A) Only if the person does not read the tip

(B) Only if the person does not care about the tip

(C) It will never be a hidden tip if it is pointed out.

(D) It is still a hidden tip when pointed out.

(E) There is no E.

So 2.5 hours later, I arrive on hour early. (For those of you paying attention, I sort of exaggerated how far it was at the beginning … but only a little bit) Scope out parking, scope out the entrance, scope out the exits (just in case I have to make a break for it), and walk around to see what kind of area it is. This place is a great location. There is plenty of parking, not much traffic getting there normally, its quiet -no factories, firehouses or construction going on nearby. I am pumped. This is going to be a cakewalk. Well that is what I keep telling myself. In actuality I am a little concerned about the Verbal. I have not actually concentrated on a standardized test that I had to read for since the LSAT. After crushing that I said that my reading days were done, but that was before GMAT pissed me off.

Anywho, I toddle off to the Subway I spotted not too far away to grab a low carb meal because it’s a fad and I need to watch the pounds. Hrm it’s too cold in the Subway so I eat in the car. I promise that the random details will stop soon.

Alright, appointment is for 1pm. It is now T minus 30. I decide to go make sure that everything is cool at the center, get them to look at my ID and stuff just in case someone wants to be a nitwit and give me a hard time, I would still have time to rectify some problems.

Back at Prometric: Lobby is basically empty and clean. It’s warm and comfortable inside. I get the benefit of an amusing exchange between the over friendly, but very professional, person at the front desk and the very nervous test-registrant with a very tenuous grasp of English. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE people that don’t speak English. Americans are for the most part a bane to the world. I have tutored many non-native English speakers to 650+ scores (which is actually pretty funny since often we can get the students’ scores into the low 30s on the verbal, though the student could not tell you the difference between an adjective and an adverb). But somehow there is confusion about whether the test-taker is there to take the TOEFL or the GMAT. Turns out it was for the GMAT, go figure.


Random man, looks to be about 60. Confusion about driving directions and his registration form. Hmm. At this point I had already been amused enough, and just wanted him to move along. After he realizes that he has been insisting that his driving directions were his registration for some test or another, he skedaddled inside.


Moi: Hello, I am registered to take the GMAT at 1pm

Lui: May I see your ID please.

Moi: Why certainly

Lui: Okay, thank you can go right in.

Moi: HUH!?

Lui: Yes, go right in sir.

Moi: DOH!!!

The Test:

Nothing exciting. Hopefully anyone reading this already knows the format of the test. One weird thing did happen. During the Verbal section the computer locked up for about 15 seconds. I stared tat the screen in disbelief and considered calling the proctor, then it came back on.

Now, NORMALLY I would tell someone to call over the proctor anyway and make sure it is on record that something strange happened, but in my case I do not want any attention drawn to the detailed description I have written about the math section on my scrap paper nor to my test results and the rather unusual pattern that someone would be sure to notice in the previous section.

Sigh, I suck it down, chalk it up to weirdness and hope it means nothing.

The Results:

50 Math

33 Verbal Ouch! (but hey I only answered a small fraction of the test, so not too shabby. AND I WAS ROBBED DAMMIT!!!!)



Math section:

  • Lots of Arithmetic:
    You HAVE to be comfortable doing rate questions and average questions.
  • Lots of half-breed questions:
    BC will be adjusting content shortly to better reflect this trend on the test.
  • Verylittle of the hard Stats content, but a broad spectrum of the entire Stats section.
    Students are well advised to be confident on the entire stats section and not to freak out over one or two question types.
  • Strategy worked like a dream.
  • Series and Sequences showed up twice.
    ETS up to their old tricks of flim-flamming students with scary looking content.
    Students would have seen this in the Bell Curves manual and would be confident if they learned the lesson well. Still nothing but a weird pattern question.

Verbal Section:

  • 16 Sentence Correction
    • Lots of idioms, lots of parallelism and lots of A as the answer. Normally, this is what I expect when I am doing well. Somehow that was not the result here. I am convinced that I was robbed!!! I WAS ROBBED!!!!
  • 13 Critical Reasoning
    • 5 weaken questions
    • 2 evaluate questions
    • 2 complete the argument
    • 1 assumption
    • 1 flaw
    • 1 reasoning
    • Standard fare. Nothing remotely tough. I WAS ROBBED!!!!
  • 12 Reading Comprehension
    • Passage One: Birds; 45 lines; 3 questions
    • Passage Two: Archaeology; 90 lines!!!!!!! ; 4 questions
      • Thank everything that is worth thanking that I did not do it.
    • Passage Three: I forget =( ; 55 lines; 4 questions
    • Passage Four: Advertising; 45 lines; 3 questions


Sentence Correction

Critical Reasoning

Reading Comprehension

1 – 10




11 – 20




21 – 30




31- 41




  • (877) 223-3828
COPYRIGHT ©2002 - 2014 BELL CURVES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All tests names are registered trademarks of the respective testing companies, which do not endorse and are not affiliated with Bell Curves.
BELL CURVES - 25 West 36th Street Street, 8th Floor - New York, NY 10018 Bell Curves is an educational services and test preparation company. It delivers high-quality consulting services, test preparation programs, and self-study resources to students throughout the country.
Equal Opportunity Employer - Privacy Policy - Refund Policy