Knowing Better

Saturday I took the GMAT. They send you an e-mail the day before warning you that you won’t be allowed to take the test if there is any discrepancy with your ID. I checked to make sure my driver’s license matched the name on the receipt and all was well. At the test center, though, it turned out that my recorded birth date didn’t match my license by some few days. The check in clerk looked around for rules on what to do but couldn’t find them and decided to let me test. “I’ll have to file an IR, though,” he said.

The GMAT is an adaptive test, which means that it checks your answer and adjust the next question as it goes, and consequently your score is available on completion of the test; at least, your “unofficial” score. There are two essay questions that are scored by human review. My unofficial scores, then, rank me 50th percentile in Math and 97th percentile in verbal, for a total rank of 88th percentile. I became happy with the test as soon as I made it through the math section without timing out, and 88th percentile is good enough for me.

As I left the test, the clerk admonished me to have my incorrect birth date changed and that my scores would be held for review until the discrepancy was resolved.. I dutifully went online to do so on arriving home. But you cannot change your birth date online, and in fact there is an explicit notice that you will be refused the test if your birth date does not match.

Today I called customer service. After a lengthy automated message informing me that soon, if I asked any question to which I should already know the answer I would be billed, I was brusquely informed that I cannot take the test if my birth date is incorrect (which I already knew). I explained that I already took the test but I had been told there was a problem. The rep then offered to send me the link to my scores (which I already knew). Finally, after several rounds of this, I was put on hold briefly and then told that everything was in order but it takes 20 days for them to score the essays (which I already knew). I did not get the impression that my specific situation had been investigated at all, but I certainly got feeling that tech support was going to become the most lucrative part of the business when the new rule took effect.