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Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT

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Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 13:51
Just finished up the 08 application season with a ding off of the waitlist at Kellogg, going along with my dings from Tuck and Wharton.

My profile:

27 year old male, US, 4 years WE in marketing for two small consumer products companies, 3.7 GPA from top tier public school as a double major in business and English. Looking at brand management long-term.

I'm putting together my plan for 09 apps and am looking for some feedback in regards to the GMAT. I took it two times prior to applying:

Oct 07: 650 (48th Q, 95th V)
Dec 07: 650 (77th Q, 75th V)

Then again:

April 08: 650 (65th Q, 85th V)

I applied in round two for all three schools. The third attempt at the GMAT in April was in response to my WL at Kellogg which, in hindsight, was a bad idea. Tuck and Kellogg both told me that they look at each section separately. A 77Q/95V split is somewhere around 700. I've taken finance, stats, calc, accounting and the like and had Bs or better.

The question I'm facing now: do I take the GMAT a 4th time?

I'm evaluating where to apply and looking at Kellogg again, Fuqua, Darden and maybe Ross. Your feedback is very much appreciated.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 14:25
I think it depends. Three 650s in a row might seem like mid-600s is your plateau..... but it also might be your study strategy.

Have you altered your strategy much between the 3 tests?

My first attempt was low 600s then I drastically altered my GMAT action plan and brought my score up to 700 on my second attempt. You might just need to do something similar to help you with section consistency (and from your breakdown on each test, you are certainly capable of getting much higher).
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 15:24
Hey buddy, for a 27yo male, and with your target schools, I'd retake the GMAT and get closer to 700. 2009 is going to be a tough application round, you gotta get everything working in your favour.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 06:24
raabenb wrote:
I think it depends. Three 650s in a row might seem like mid-600s is your plateau..... but it also might be your study strategy.

Have you altered your strategy much between the 3 tests?

My first attempt was low 600s then I drastically altered my GMAT action plan and brought my score up to 700 on my second attempt. You might just need to do something similar to help you with section consistency (and from your breakdown on each test, you are certainly capable of getting much higher).


Strategy was pretty similar for all three - Kaplan/Official Guides, CATs the two weeks before the test. My splits seem to indicate that I can get a higher cumulative, but I really need to get the quant side down. At this point, I think it's a question of time management in the test.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 06:25
Thanks to both of the posters...it seems like the sentiment is 4th test with 700+ > 3 test at 650 with different splits.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 06:26
Also, raab - would you mind telling me the changes to your GMAT plan?
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2008, 06:47
My first time, I only used the official guide and did about 6 practice CATS. I studied about 3 times a week.

My second go around, I used OG, Kaplan Math Workbook, Manhattan Sentence Correction, Kaplan 800 and did about 12 CATS. I studied every day of the week for 2 months.

When I got a question wrong, I marked it in the front of the book and revisited it. Although I only got about 1/3 of the way through my study materials the intensity and focus brought me to a much higher confidence level. The reason I did not complete my studying, and had to take the GMAT earlier than planned, is because of increased work obligations (including international travel). I am positive that had I completed all my materials, I could have gotten 740-750.

Are your study habits more like my first go around or my second go around? Increasing your stamina and revisiting incorrect questions can play a huge role in bumping up your score.

zmfatla wrote:
Also, raab - would you mind telling me the changes to your GMAT plan?

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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2008, 20:06
4 times is a lot! I mean...taking the gmat is no small feat by any standards if one is to properly prepare for it. I would say try to focus your efforts on other areas to boost your application. I mean....you could take it as many times as you wish but at some point you need to be realistic about your situation and think about whether it makes sense to continue studying and taking the exam. Is that the ONLY area that you are weak in? Every adcom will tell you, the gmat is only a piece of the whole package. IMHO, there are so many other ways that one can improve on his/her app other than just getting a better GMAT score.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 10:34
raabenb wrote:
My first time, I only used the official guide and did about 6 practice CATS. I studied about 3 times a week.

My second go around, I used OG, Kaplan Math Workbook, Manhattan Sentence Correction, Kaplan 800 and did about 12 CATS. I studied every day of the week for 2 months.

When I got a question wrong, I marked it in the front of the book and revisited it. Although I only got about 1/3 of the way through my study materials the intensity and focus brought me to a much higher confidence level. The reason I did not complete my studying, and had to take the GMAT earlier than planned, is because of increased work obligations (including international travel). I am positive that had I completed all my materials, I could have gotten 740-750.

Are your study habits more like my first go around or my second go around? Increasing your stamina and revisiting incorrect questions can play a huge role in bumping up your score.

zmfatla wrote:
Also, raab - would you mind telling me the changes to your GMAT plan?



Raab -

Thanks for the response - I've been traveling the past week and just saw it.

To date, my habits have been somewhere in the middle. Lots of time with the OG, Kaplan Math Workbook and a couple of Manhattan topics for tests 2 and 3. I spent a lot of time reviewing the incorrect questions and focusing on my problem areas (number properties and DS). The biggest deficiency has been in CATs - I don't think I'm testing well in the time frame (which is obviously a critical issue) and really need to do more of them.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 10:41
mlchang616 wrote:
4 times is a lot! I mean...taking the gmat is no small feat by any standards if one is to properly prepare for it. I would say try to focus your efforts on other areas to boost your application. I mean....you could take it as many times as you wish but at some point you need to be realistic about your situation and think about whether it makes sense to continue studying and taking the exam. Is that the ONLY area that you are weak in? Every adcom will tell you, the gmat is only a piece of the whole package. IMHO, there are so many other ways that one can improve on his/her app other than just getting a better GMAT score.


Thanks for the response...certainly at the heart of my dilemma. At this point, I don't feel like my scores are representative of my ability on the test, although I've got a growing body of evidence that says maybe they are. I feel like I should be able to "put it together" and get a 700+ score, but that obviously hasn't happened.

The GMAT is my weakest area, but not the only thing. It seems like the most rectifiable, however, since the two "halves" of the test seem to be there and need to be codified in one attempt.

Your point is well taken - spinning my wheels on the GMAT for another two months could occupy time that is better spent elsewhere.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 14:50
1) I'm assuming your going FT
2) I'm assuming you have a fairly strong profile
3) I'm going to go against the grain here.

I think you're good. usually, 650 is "in the range" for most schools. Yes, 2009 is going to be one hell of a year to apply, and if you have the time and energy for a 4th (!!!) try, by all means.

In my own, completely isolated, on an island, humble opinion: there is too much made of the GMAT

Yes, a 480 will not get you into HBS, and a 770 might get you dinged at Haas. My essays and recomedation package was stellar, and that is the humble way to put it. Grades were anything but. GMAT was good.

Overall, having a balanced, very strong package is what will get you in. Simply being a GMAT wiz will not.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 15:22
zakk wrote:
1) I'm assuming your going FT
2) I'm assuming you have a fairly strong profile
3) I'm going to go against the grain here.

I think you're good. usually, 650 is "in the range" for most schools. Yes, 2009 is going to be one hell of a year to apply, and if you have the time and energy for a 4th (!!!) try, by all means.

In my own, completely isolated, on an island, humble opinion: there is too much made of the GMAT

Yes, a 480 will not get you into HBS, and a 770 might get you dinged at Haas. My essays and recomedation package was stellar, and that is the humble way to put it. Grades were anything but. GMAT was good.

Overall, having a balanced, very strong package is what will get you in. Simply being a GMAT wiz will not.


Thanks for the response, zakk. I am looking at FT, and I believe my waitlist at Kellogg means my profile is at least in the ballpark.

My gut, over-analyzed thought is that while 650 is in the range, it causes enough of a pause to be detrimental in a very well-represented group (white, male, US, 27). A 700 will at least pass the smell test whereas a 650 will not. I certainly don't expect to be a GMAT whiz, but I don't want the score to raise a red flag right off the bat (which is what I'm assuming a 650 does).

I do agree with you that a high GMAT score doesn't mean much if it's not a part of a broader package.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 18:10
Have you considered tutoring? That could help you know what areas to focus on to bring up your score. It helped me get my quant to a semi-decent level.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2008, 06:04
As much as people (and Adcoms) say that GMAT is only one part of the application, I personally believe that in 2009, you probably want at least a 700 GMAT score to avoid disqualifying yourself from the Top 10 schools.

A WL at Kellogg is a great feat in itself, so don't worry too much about it. Looking at your simple profile, I think you have what it takes to get into schools like Kellogg, but either your essays or your GMAT is holding you back. Of course, without knowing what you wrote for your essays, the GMAT is the only thing we can give you opinion on. :)

As for taking it a 4th time, ONLY do it if you have consistently scored high on the Quant side. Otherwise, you'll probably end up with 650 again.

I highly recommend the GMAT Club math tests or the Manhattan CATs. The math is BRUTAL and way harder than the actual test, but if you can learn to time manage your Quant on those tests, then you'll find the GMAT Quant section to be super easy. That was my strategy and I could not believe how easy the actual Quant section was when I took it.

Good luck no matter what you decide! :)
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regards to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2008, 08:11
skaballet wrote:
Have you considered tutoring? That could help you know what areas to focus on to bring up your score. It helped me get my quant to a semi-decent level.


Ska - I've thought about it, but not something I can really afford right now. I've got the problem areas pretty well identified (I think) and it's about putting together two good halves of the test.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2008, 08:18
kryzak wrote:
As much as people (and Adcoms) say that GMAT is only one part of the application, I personally believe that in 2009, you probably want at least a 700 GMAT score to avoid disqualifying yourself from the Top 10 schools.

A WL at Kellogg is a great feat in itself, so don't worry too much about it. Looking at your simple profile, I think you have what it takes to get into schools like Kellogg, but either your essays or your GMAT is holding you back. Of course, without knowing what you wrote for your essays, the GMAT is the only thing we can give you opinion on. :)

As for taking it a 4th time, ONLY do it if you have consistently scored high on the Quant side. Otherwise, you'll probably end up with 650 again.

I highly recommend the GMAT Club math tests or the Manhattan CATs. The math is BRUTAL and way harder than the actual test, but if you can learn to time manage your Quant on those tests, then you'll find the GMAT Quant section to be super easy. That was my strategy and I could not believe how easy the actual Quant section was when I took it.

Good luck no matter what you decide! :)


Thanks for the post kry. I think you and I are of a similar mindset - a 650 is hard to look past, especially for this coming season. As it stands now, I'm leaning towards taking the test again in August. I'm going to take a closer look into the GMAT Club math tests.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2008, 08:41
After thinking about this for the past couple of weeks, I think I'm going to pass on taking the test again. The feedback from my WL manager at Kellogg is sticking in my mind that there wasn't a specific concern about my GMAT or quant side. As other have said, I think my time is better spent on my essays and recs at this point. I feel much better about my story and the presentation of it after going through the process last year.

Thanks to all the posters for their input.
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2008, 13:09
good luck zm! we'll be around to help!
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2008, 14:00
kryzak wrote:
good luck zm! we'll be around to help!


Much appreciated kry! :)

Work to be done now that the Kellogg topics are out...
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Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2008, 14:08
If you dont mind me saying this, I am not sure this is the right decision. A 650 GMAT IMHO in the coming application season will 99% not cut it at the schools you mentioned unless you are a minority or from other very very under-represented demographic. Also, just because one ad-com during the course of a feedback session did not bring up your GMAT doesnt mean there is nothing wrong with it. Schools dont always disclose every single reason that held you back. So, in your shoes, I would re-take. If not, I would atleast diversify my portfolio and pick a few lower ranked schools. In any case, best wishes for the upcoming app season.

zmfatla wrote:
After thinking about this for the past couple of weeks, I think I'm going to pass on taking the test again. The feedback from my WL manager at Kellogg is sticking in my mind that there wasn't a specific concern about my GMAT or quant side. As other have said, I think my time is better spent on my essays and recs at this point. I feel much better about my story and the presentation of it after going through the process last year.

Thanks to all the posters for their input.
Re: Advice for a re-applicant with regard to the GMAT   [#permalink] 26 Jun 2008, 14:08
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