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710 - Should I retake?

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710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 29 Jan 2011, 20:05
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Today I took the GMAT and scored a 49 in Quant (86 percentile) and a 39 in Verbal (87 percentile) resulting in an overall 710 (92 percentile).

My journey began in early September when I took a GMAT for the MLT application. I had never taken the exam before. So, I downloaded the free exams from GMAC took the first test and scored a 640 (42 Quant and 36 Verbal). After that I essentially did not look at the the study materials I had purchased from Veritas because I was deluged with work. Although, there was one week in between Thanksgiving (after I got news that I was accepted to MLT) and December where I did do some preparation.

When the New Year came, I made a real effort to start studying. This was crucial because MLT requires an official score by February 1st to remain in the program. So, I scheduled my test date as late as possible January 29th. I began studying some time after the 3rd and hit the books hard. I found the Veritas books to be generally easy and went through the material swiftly (about 3-4 books per week - studied for ~25 hours per week). I also purchased the sentence correction guide from Manhattan GMAT (a true gem!) along with the OGs. Overall I feel the Veritas prep material was just "ok." Honestly, I think you cannot go wrong with MGMAT and the OGs. Although I purchased the OGs, I was only able to do about 80-100 questions total (all sentence correction). I would have loved to gone through the questions but ran out of time. This is when I noticed that I really should have started WAY earlier. I believe most of the gains I made were in the last week of studying. Ideally, I would have simply delayed the test date for another week or two but given the pending MLT deadline I had not choice. In fact, earlier this week, following a practice test, I felt so inadequately prepared that I ordered the MGMAT reading comprehension guide as well as the PowerScore critical reasoning guide. I also prepared myself mentally to retake the test. Below are the results of the practice tests I took. Note that I did take the first GMAC exam twice (however there were 4 months apart).

1. 1/17/2011 - GMAC test 1 = 680 (47 Quant and 35 Verbal)
2. 1/25/2011 - GMAC test 2 = 690 (48 Quant and 36 Verbal)
3. 1/25/2011 - MGMAT test 1 = 670 (45 Quant and 37 Verbal)

Clearly, I was disappointed and surprised when I scored a 680 last Monday. After all, that's only a 40 point improvement from my diagnostic and more notably, my verbal dropped! So, I decided to focus on sentence correction solely for the next 4 days. On Sunday I spent the day on quant (mostly looking over formulas - quant has always been my strong suite, I couldn't have spent more than 20 hours on quant). On Monday I reviewed a little bit of verbal mostly covering sentence correction but I did touch up on some RC and CR.
On Tuesday, I took a half day came home and took the test only to score a 690, ugh! I was so frustrated, 5 days before the exam and I couldn't even crack 700! However, I noticed that I shot myself on the foot by taking too much time on the verbal. As a result, I had to guess on the last five questions (four of which I got wrong).
So that night, I decided to go back at it again. This time I decided to take the first MGMAT exam. I was aware of MGMAT CATs reputation for having insanely difficult quant. So I approached the quant in non-chalant manner. Mainly I did this because I wanted to get to the verbal and make sure I get my timing down. I finished the verbal with over 12 minutes left on the clock. Even though my score was a 670, I was happy because my verbal improved as did my timing. Very important, this MGMAT test are great tools because they provide the test taker with data (timing, sections, correct, wrong, etc). To my surprise, I evidently needed to work on CR.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, I reviewed materials for a maximum of 3 hours (mostly sentence correction). On Friday (yesterday) I took the entire day off met up with a friend had a phenomenal lunch, had a few beers, took a nap, and watched some basketball. I think this was key, I completely relaxed the day before the exam. Ohh yeah! One other very important thing I did, I visited the test center and asked questions. Thank goodness I did this because the test center was located in a plaza and the exact location was rather tricky. So I didn't have to deal with the stress of finding the test center today.
This morning I woke up around 8:15, ate some food, and reviewed materials for 35-40 minutes or so. I arrived at the test center about half an hour early 11:30. The AWA went "ok" I did practice doing a two sets of the AWAs during the GMAC so at least I felt fine with it. The quant was rough there a few questions were I certainly made educated guesses because I did not have the time to work the problems out. As per the verbal, well I had a real difficulty focusing, I was thinking about music and I kept thinking what the hell I was going to tell my friends when I scored a 640. Yet, I figured what the hell I'm planning to take the exam in late March anyways, so this is no big deal. Finally, I finished the exam and got my result. I was taken back, I did not expect to do that well. I think it's palpable, I was thrilled.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Build a consistent study habits and schedule your exam 2 months ahead. I feel that test takers need about 4-5 weeks just to learn all the strategies and use another 3-4 weeks to hone these newly acquired skills.
2. Simulate the test environment as best as you can! This means completing the AWAs, this is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of preparation. Not so much because the AWA is difficult, but more so because the AWA wears you at and by the time you get to the verbal you're ready to pull your hair. Also, do respect the breaks and other rules such as no food or drinks. Remember you want to train.
3. Order good study materials and do sufficient research. Veritas was alright, but way overpriced. Truth be told I feel I could have benefited much more in terms of results and price from Manhattan GMAT. I will say this about Veritas, the client service they delivered is unmatched.
4. Make educated guesses. For example if a quant question about number properties, exponents, etc. includes the words "INCLUSIVE" generally it will be one of the two answer choices that are sequential (e.g. 42 and 43). If you have no time an have to absolutely guess, then I pick "43" because it's an inclusive meaning +1 question type.

Another key note, historically, I have nearly always performed better under pressure situations (i.e. the actual exam) than prep exams. Why that is? I don't know. It's just the way it is. Trust me, no matter how often this happens, during the actual exam I generally think I'm blowing it.

So here is the final part of my post, where I ask for your advice. Should I retake the GMAT? I only studied for 4.5 weeks and my improvement was decent 70pts. However, I know that I can really improve my verbal and quant can also benefit from me focusing on number properties and advanced geometry. I would have finished the OG questions and read the books that are shipping to my address as we speak (MGMAT RC and PowerScore CR). I truly believe I can improve my score at least another 20-30 points. Still, I was an econ major in college, so I am well aware of the law of diminishing returns. Is it really worth this extra effort? Should I be focusing my efforts on my endeavors outside the office which have become increasingly demanding (United Way, MFI, and Big Bros Big Sis)? These questions are difficult to answer. I had dinner tonight with a good buddy of mine (Wharton '03 alum) who called me an idiot for even thinking of retaking the exam. But here's the rub, say I don't get accepted to any of my top 3... though these hypothetical dings would probably derive from gaps in other parts of my apps, I would always left be wondering, what if I retook the GMAT and scored a 750? When you answer this little conundrum I'm faced with, do consider that I will be applying this coming fall for a full time programs starting Fall 2012.

Feel free to PM questions or anything specific that we rather not discuss openly. :wink:
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2011, 09:14
First thought, congratz to your great score!

Second thought, I think the same about your thoughts of retaking the GMAT as your Wharton buddy.

Wharton has a MBA average of around 710. If they reject you it was definetely not your GMAT score that got you rejected. Always consider the worst case: What if you scored 680, because you got sick the day before (happened to one of my friends)?

Anyways, who are we to judge about your future. Why don't you just call the admissions office of the school of your choice and ask them plain and simple what they think? Just tell them about your profile (and keep it below a minute) and ask them if a GMAT score of 710 would put you at risk. Those people can be honest... ;)
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2011, 13:13
Thanks! That's a great suggestion. By the way my top choices are HBS and Wharton (I will also apply to Stanford - even if it's a far cry).
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2011, 14:52
Hi WhoIsJohnGalt!

I'm going to be very straightforward: Only repeat the GMAT if you think that your current score does not represent your ablities.

A simple advice, but hope that it helped.
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2011, 19:49
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2011, 07:28
ha ha... sorry maybe i shouldnt do that.. but i wouldnt want to be that guy holding the umbrella..

vwjetty how is this pic relevant? are you saying the guy on the bike is WhoIsJohnGalt, who would be, metaphorically speaking, falling face down if he were to consider retaking the gmat with a score of 710, with an 80-80 split, in the bag?
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2011, 15:53
gmat1011 wrote:
ha ha... sorry maybe i shouldnt do that.. but i wouldnt want to be that guy holding the umbrella..

vwjetty how is this pic relevant? are you saying the guy on the bike is WhoIsJohnGalt, who would be, metaphorically speaking, falling face down if he were to consider retaking the gmat with a score of 710, with an 80-80 split, in the bag?


That was my interpretation... It's good to have a good sense of humor. :lol:
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2011, 07:47
Just received my AWA. I scored a 5.5.
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2011, 09:10
Expert's post
Fantastic Username!
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2011, 09:17
WhoIsJohnGalt wrote:
Just received my AWA. I scored a 5.5.


Great!
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2011, 14:16
Awesome score!
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2011, 19:35
I don't want to digress, but I do think this is relevant... My undergrad GPA is a 3.03 from a small liberal arts college (about 3.45 last 2 years of college). Prior to that I took various college courses at a local community college while I was in high school (38 college credit hours and a 3.6 GPA). Given that I will certainly be in the lower end of the spectrum for applicants should I really push higher for the GMAT? Also, just out of curiosity, when I report my undergrad GPA do I report the 3.03 or the cumulative GPA (3.03 + 38 credit hours with a 3.6)?

Thanks in advance for your input.
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2011, 06:22
dude i have the same score and am pretty much in the same boat as you are. No point taking GMAT again if you end up getting 730 , unless you score a 740+ don't waste your time .
It really depends on your profile and the kindff applicant pool you'll be compared with .
So think long and hard before making a decision .
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Re: 710 - Should I retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2011, 17:16
I've decided to retake the exam not necessarily for schools but for employment purposes. After b-school, I plan to work in investment banking with the anticipation of moving into private equity at some point in time. Given how competitive private equity is, I would like to distinguish myself in anyway possible. So, I will take the exam again this May with a goal of 750+.
Re: 710 - Should I retake?   [#permalink] 10 Feb 2011, 17:16
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