Naomi O’Donnell has always wanted to study an advanced management degree to kick-start a career in consulting. She wants to work in the luxury and fashion department of a Big 3 consulting company like McKinsey, or as an internal consultant for historic luxury firms like LVMH and Richemont.
With previous experience in marketing and fashion, and a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Lausanne, the Master in International Management program at Imperial College Business School seemed like the perfect fit.
To apply, Naomi took the GMAT—the world’s leading business school admission test—in a test center, but she wasn’t happy with her score. Then, her native Switzerland entered coronavirus lockdown. It was only by retaking the GMAT online that Naomi was able to land a place at her top choice business school.
BusinessBecause caught up with Naomi to find out more about her online test-taking experience.
Why did you decide to take the GMAT Online Exam?
By March 2020, everything was closed in Switzerland [due to COVID-19], including GMAT test centers. As the months passed, taking the exam online started to seem like my only option if I wanted to go to school in September.
Do you think your school prefers the test center GMAT vs the GMAT Online Exam?
No. Imperial informed me about the online version when it came out and suggested the idea.
Do you feel your GMAT score was reflective of your abilities?
I did as I would have expected on the mathematical segment, but I do not believe my English capabilities were reflected in my score.
I took the test in the middle of the day, thinking that it would be sunny all day so I did not have to turn on the lights. After the math half of my exam was done, it became completely dark and cloudy, resulting in me doing the English part in almost total darkness because I was not allowed to leave my desk to turn on the lights. Reading long texts on a computer screen in the dark was very tiring and I believe that I did not perform as well as I would have wanted due to that.
What advice do you have for anyone taking the GMAT Online Exam?
Turn on the lights before the exam! Jokes aside, first of all you need to do a few checks regarding your internet speed, sound, and video quality. On the day of the exam, they ask you to take pictures of your desk from every angle and also of your surroundings. They told me to unplug my printer for some reason as well.
The one thing that really surprised me was that there is an actual person looking at you live during your exam. I thought it was going to be a recorded video and someone would review it afterwards but this was not the case. It was bizarre to think that a person was staring at me for the whole time!
My tip would be to really know all of your GMAT strategies by heart and don’t rely on the whiteboard.
Note: The GMAT Online Exam now allows a physical whiteboard option.
Why did you decide to pursue the Master in International Management at Imperial?
The key factor for me was that the program incorporates two-to-three consultancy experiences in global settings. This is such a crucial element for me as I do not have any experience in consulting. The program gives me the opportunity to develop both my academic skills and practical professional skills, and aligns well with my future career plans.