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4th time's a charm? Should I retake...?

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Intern
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Status: SMU Cox MBA Candidate Class of 2014
Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Posts: 10
Location: United States (TX)
Concentration: Marketing, Strategy
Schools: SMU (Cox) - Class of 2014
GMAT 1: 580 Q V
GPA: 3.2
WE: Marketing (Health Care)
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4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2011, 18:50
Hey guys,

I have been a long time observer of this great site and this is my first time posting. I wish I had better news, but I took the GMAT this morning for the 3rd time and scored a horrific 480. I am still in shock considering all my practice tests were well above this level (590 - 640). I know that my practice test range isnt particularly high to begin with, but I never expected anything like what I got on the official test. I'm at a loss as to what else I can do to conquer this stupid test. I have used the Manhattan books w/ the OG Guide, taken the practice tests, bought the Knewton Course and nothing seems to be helping on the ACTUAL test. I have seen steady progress in my study time, granted i studied (on and off) for about 5 months.

What amI doing wrong? Does anyone have suggestions? I really need to AT LEAST get into the 600's to be competitive in my B-School apps. I feel like the rest of my profile is great, but the only thing holding me back is this test.

My original Schools I wanted to apply were: SMU, Rice, Consortium: UNC, NYU, Univerity of Texas. In light of my scores I may have to revise the list, but I'm gonna take one last shot at this, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2011, 22:03
Expert's post
It's unfortunate to hear about your experience today. What were the previous two scores?

I don't want to be the guy to say so, but a 480 is probably too big of an obstacle for some of your target schools. But if a retake is the right thing to do, you need to find out what went wrong in your previous attempts. At the moment, I'm not sure what that is. Perhaps you could elaborate on your GMAT preparation for the first three attempts. Based on what you have already told us, it seems that the on-and-off habit adversely affected your performance, as well as GMAT fatigue.
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Status: SMU Cox MBA Candidate Class of 2014
Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Posts: 10
Location: United States (TX)
Concentration: Marketing, Strategy
Schools: SMU (Cox) - Class of 2014
GMAT 1: 580 Q V
GPA: 3.2
WE: Marketing (Health Care)
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 7 [0], given: 0

Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2011, 08:14
I didn't fare any better the first two times I sat for the test 2 years ago. My prep for those first two times consisted of:
1. Official Guide
2. Kaplan Verbal and Math
3. I studied for two months (4 in total) for both tests. In retrospect, my studying wasn't very focused and was more based on memorization than actually learning the material\strategies. I tried to cram as much information in as possible, not really understanding what type of test I was taking. After I bombed those, I postponed all of B-School ambitions and took a break for about a year. I evaluated things, reviewed stories from this site and other, and decided to take another shot at it.

My prep this time is as follows:

1. Materials used: Manhattan Guides, Knewton Prep, Official Guide w/ Quant and Verbal books

2. Prep: Started off with the Knewton Course (Live). The sessions were good for about a month or so, but I couldn't keep up with the live schedule due to work issues/personal issues at the time. (That's why my studying was on and off) So, I decided to stop taking live courses and just use the on demand feature along with the Manhattan books that I ordered.

After awhile I concentrated solely on the Manhattan Guides and the OG12. With work/family obligations, I tried to study 2-3 hours per day during the week and then 8-10 hours (total) on the weekends. I attacked each section and kept an error log for the OG questions. After each practice test, I tried to analyze my weak spots and concentrate on those things as my prep went along. Things didn't always work out that way as obligations came up and I would go days without looking at any material. This fact caused me to push my test date back several times, which is why my initial goal for prep (2 months) turned into 5-6 months. I found myself having to continuously go back through material I felt I had already mastered.

Just in writing this response and recanting my prep, I can already see how my prep wasn't exactly ideal. I know that this seems like a daunting obstacle to overcome, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to improve my score. I am determined to at least score competitively, I know I can do it. Any suggestions?

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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2011, 08:51
Expert's post
cndukwe wrote:
Started off with the Knewton Course (Live). The sessions were good for about a month or so, but I couldn't keep up with the live schedule due to work issues/personal issues at the time.

cndukwe wrote:
would go days without looking at any material. This fact caused me to push my test date back several times, which is why my initial goal for prep (2 months) turned into 5-6 months. I found myself having to continuously go back through material I felt I had already mastered.

I think that this is the main culprit. You couldn't find time or muster enough energy to consistently stick to a study schedule. These obstacles cost you (1) a competitive score, (2) years of your time, and (3) hundreds of dollars. And at this stage, you probably suffer from burnout.

I would say that you probably need a small break before you restart your studies. You have the right materials and approach, but fatigue will prevent you from applying the game plan. You need a sufficient amount of time and dedication to earn an acceptable score. If a proper study schedule cannot be carried out, then another retake will just end in the same result.

So my advice is rather basic. Just be consistent and put your GMAT aspirations first and above everything else. This will require sacrifices and might not be possible at times, but you really need to put in a great deal of effort this time.

If you have any more specific questions (study materials, practice tests, etc.), we would be happy to offer our thoughts. If not, then good luck with your retake!
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2011, 21:14
Its hard to say without knowing more about your study methods, but it doesn't make sense that your actual score is 110-160 points lower than your practice tests, unless the tests were garbage, or something happened on your test day that threw you off.

Did you take the GMATprep tests? And if so how did you perform on those? Secondly, was there anything that seemed off on your test day? Did your nerves get to you? Did the questions seem different from what you are used to? Or maybe were you unable to sleep leading up to it? Perhaps you bungled the timing?

I'm just trying to figure out why there is such a discrepancy between your practice tests and your actual test. I know the first time I took the GMAT I was very wound up and nervous and my brain seemed to shut down during the math section. I retook it a month later and felt much more at ease and performed much better.

When are you planning to apply to programs? If it is this year, you will probably have to reschedule immediately for your retake and study hard and consistently until then. If its not til next year then I would do as bmillan said and take a bit of time off and then make a plan that you can stick with day after day for two to three months.

Lastly, you didn't mention what your breakdown was, but if your math scores are low I'd recommend the MGMAT foundations of math if you haven't worked through it yet. My math was bad when I first started studying and that book really helped me out. Just remember to stick with the basics, don't try to jump into difficult concepts and material until you are a master of lower and mid level questions.
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Status: SMU Cox MBA Candidate Class of 2014
Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Posts: 10
Location: United States (TX)
Concentration: Marketing, Strategy
Schools: SMU (Cox) - Class of 2014
GMAT 1: 580 Q V
GPA: 3.2
WE: Marketing (Health Care)
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 7 [0], given: 0

Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2012, 15:11
Wow! I cant believe i'm just replying to this message. I actually ended up retaking the GMAT and got a 580. Not a great score by any means, but I still decided to apply to MBA programs. I applied to Rice and SMU, which are both local to me. I got accepted to SMU w/scholarship and will be interviewing with Rice next week. I guess the rest of my application was pretty strong.
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2012, 17:30
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A 100-point improvement is impressive, so I'm glad to hear that you feel more comfortable with your performance. Congratulations and thanks for the follow-up!

An interview means (obviously) that the school is interested in you, so you're overall profile must be quite good. Hopefully, you can impress those interviewers at Rice. Here are a few links to some basic info:

http://gmatclub.com/blog/2012/03/mba-ad ... interview/

http://gmatclub.com/blog/2009/02/busine ... pplicants/


Good luck!
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2012, 18:36
cndukwe wrote:
Wow! I cant believe i'm just replying to this message. I actually ended up retaking the GMAT and got a 580. Not a great score by any means, but I still decided to apply to MBA programs. I applied to Rice and SMU, which are both local to me. I got accepted to SMU w/scholarship and will be interviewing with Rice next week. I guess the rest of my application was pretty strong.



Congratulations!

I would love to read a debrief of what you did from your last reply to the one from today.
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2012, 22:33
Wow congratulations!! I am impressed that you didn't give up. Would love to know how your experience with Rice went? Might be a prospective school for me.
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Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2012, 22:45
cndukwe wrote:
Wow! I cant believe i'm just replying to this message. I actually ended up retaking the GMAT and got a 580. Not a great score by any means, but I still decided to apply to MBA programs. I applied to Rice and SMU, which are both local to me. I got accepted to SMU w/scholarship and will be interviewing with Rice next week. I guess the rest of my application was pretty strong.


Congratulations! Did you do anything differently this time around? To what would you chalk up your drastic improvement? How useful was the error log?
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Intern
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Status: SMU Cox MBA Candidate Class of 2014
Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Posts: 10
Location: United States (TX)
Concentration: Marketing, Strategy
Schools: SMU (Cox) - Class of 2014
GMAT 1: 580 Q V
GPA: 3.2
WE: Marketing (Health Care)
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 7 [1] , given: 0

Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...? [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 14:28
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The biggest thing that changed for me between retakes of the GMAT was my ability to RELAX. I was wound so tight in previous sittings for the test. I had major test anxiety because my practice scores were always dramitically higher than what I was getting on the actual test. This last time around I intentionally broke up my study times, so that I had built in breaks. During the breaks I would completely get away from my books for bit and I think that doing so allowed my brain to recuperate.

In regards to an error log, I definitely benefited from using one. I think I ended up using and error log I actually found on this forum along with the Manhattan Series books and online tools. Those proved to be very helpful. Also, when I started my studying again, i swallowed my pride and started all the at the bottom with Math/Verbal fundamentals. I used the Foundations Series Manahattan puts out before I jumped into their strategy guides. I saw a marked improvement using that approach.
Re: 4th time's a charm? Should I retake...?   [#permalink] 13 Jun 2012, 14:28
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