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Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice

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Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 15:14
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Just finished writing my first exam (8/21/10) and wanted to share my thoughts. After many months of prep I scored a 690 (88%) Q45(75%) V39(87%). :| I'm a bit disappointed that I did not break 700. I was relying on a Verbal of at least 40 if not 41 because I have felt that is where I generally scored but the Verbal today was much harder than any practice I've done and not reflective of the practice material I used. I generally have not missed more than 1 question on RC but I got some hard paragraphs today. The SC were also much more difficult than I've practiced in the past. I'm not too sure what happened, but I did not see a boldfaced question until near the very end, so I thought I was doing a little better than my final score. I feel like I may have had a weak finish.

Not too sure what to do at this point, but seeking advice. I'm only interested in top programs (Wharton, Columbia) and I know they care a lot about GMAT. I'm happy with the 46 in Quant as it was generally in line with expectations, I was just expecting a better verbal score to push me over 700. Do you think I should consider retaking the test and waiting to apply in R2? I've read the stickied retake thread and I know my results are within the deviation, just looking for some dialogue. Honest criticism appreciated. I want Wharton, but do you think a GMAT have +20 more points would make a bit of difference?

My Prep
I took the usual route, albeit extended, purchased Manhattan materials a year or two ago and studied occasionally but wasn't serious until this spring. I dabbled in all of the materials out there. I've taken the free tests offered by Veritas Prep, Kaplan, Knewton, Princeton Review, and Manhattan. I found that I could read and study all the guides I wanted but my scores did not reflect any seriousness until I started taking CATs under real conditions. All of my scores were in the low 600s initially, primarily because of my weak Quant.

Here are my scores to date:

MGMAT
Date - Score - Q/V(%)
  • 4/11 - 700 - 44(73%)/41(93%)
  • 5/1 - 610 - 34(44%)/38(85%)
  • 5/2 - 650 - 37(52%)/41(93%)
  • 5/9 - 660 - 43(70%)/37(83%)
  • 5/16 - 700 - 44(73%)/41(93%)
  • 7/11 720 - 47(81%)/41(93%)

GMATPrep
  • 7/31 - 710 - 44/42
  • 8/7 - 730 - 49/40
  • 8/15 - 710 - 46/41 Retake 1 (probably about 1/3 were repeat questions - a bit disappointing based on what I read.)


Update:
I received my 6.0 AWA today.
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Last edited by jb88 on 26 Aug 2010, 18:33, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 15:47
jbharris88,

Congratulations! Have a look at this thread on whether you should retake. It's been created by bb the moderator of GMAT Club.

should-i-retake-gmat-thread-retaking-gmat-strategies-83339.html

Also, have a look at this link below. Just in case you do decide to retake. If you can bump your quant score by +1/+2 points and your verbal score by a +1/+2 you will be at 700/710.

download/file.php?id=12351
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 16:05
Thanks akaydee, it feels great to be done with that bastard of a test but overall I know I should have done a little bit better! I've read through bb's post, I'm just not sure that it'd even be worth it to retake since the likelihood would be I only bump my verbal a little.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 17:28
And note that even if your verbal is 40, it might still be a 690. Somebody correct me if i'm wrong.

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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 20:04
Expert's post
Congratulations!
I am sorry that you feel bummed. 10 points is usually not a big deal at all but when it separates from 700, it can be important.
I would not recommend to retake - your score is inline with your practice tests and you will need to burn serious time to get an extra 30-50 points. (not worth just messing for 10).

If you do feel that you have time on your hands and passion for a higher score, you should invest all of it into math. Take a look at the MGMAT Number Properties again as well as word translations. Also get Kaplan Math workbook.

As much as I hate saying it (I never recommend to retake), if your quant score is 73rd percentile and you are shooting for Wharton and Booth, you may want to spend the next 30 days one hour a day on math, solving questions and try to get your percentile closer to 90 on math - many finance schools care about it (unless you have a CFA/CPA/etc). I would double check in the profile review forum with one of the consultants there.

Good Luck!
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2010, 21:27
Thanks for the response bb. I really appreciate your advice and insight. I don't think I would ever be capable of pulling a 90th percentile on the math even if I tried. For whatever reason, the quant seems to cover such a vast array of topics that I feel I can't truly master them. My quant seems in line with where I've been, I guess I'm just bummed about the Verbal which left me short of my 700+ goal. Based on how I performed, I'm still surprised I managed to pull off a 75%tile. You do offer great advice though, I feel that Number properties and word problems are 2 crucial areas that make all the difference.

I will definitely see what the consultants have to say. Hopefully some analytical work experience stands for something, I just hate having to place this coulda/woulda/shoulda game and wish I could bring a truly stellar profile to the table to leave no room for doubt. Worst case scenario I feel that I can go to Booth part-time and everything will be ok. I know I'm a competitive candidate for that at least.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 06:11
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Hi,

First, Good job on the GMAT. When I took the test on Aug 2 a few weeks ago, I scored a 700 (90th percentile, and 44Q/41V split). So, I am the person you should be fuming at :-D (just kidding). But I DID actually score a 700, 44Q/41V, and I have some insight for you after living with my score for a few weeks now.

I highly doubt any school is going to turn down an applicant simply due to a 690. If they do, it's probably not a school you really want to go to. Most top schools have that 80% range from about 650-750, so a 690 is still in the middle. Quantitatively, 88% is only 2 % away from the 90 percentile. It's still in basically the same area, and most people realize that the scores have a normal variance of at least 30-50 points depending on lots of factors. So, in terms of intelligence/ability, a 690 is virtually the same as 700.

Where you got shafted is how a 690 FEELS compared to a 700 when a human being looks at it. A 690 feels a lot less than a 700 even though it's only one notch down, since everyone has been programmed to look for "700+" as top tier. Conversely, iin a cruel twist of the universe, a 710 does NOT feel different from a 700, even though it is equally distant by 10 points.

To add insult to injury, you had solid scores overall (46/39, very similar to me), but you narrowly missed the coveted 40's balance by just a point. So, your overall score combined with the breakdown looks worse than it is. To the HUMAN eye, your score does not feel significantly different from someone who scored, say, a 670 or 680 with a 43/37 split, or whatever it would be.

So, basically, the GMAT gave you a solid score good enough to not keep you out of most top tier schools, but it shafted you by withholding the full weight of the score.

The problem is, if you retook the test, you assume massive risk, and don't stand to benefit much. Let's envision some scenarios for you:

1) You retake and get a 660 or lower. It can happen! You have gotten lower than this on some practice tests, so it's definitely a possibility. Not only would this look bad, but it would confirm to the adcom that your original 690 was not the low end of your scores. A downtrend is always bad. FAIL. At least with your 690, it looked like your score could have been anywhere from 660-720.
2) You retake and get about the same as the first take, a 680 or 690. So you wasted money, time, and are forced to apply round 2 or later (if you wanted to retake again... or would you at that point?). Not only that, but it would look weird to have taken the test and gotten the same score, again below 700. It would confirm to the adcom that you were WORRIED about admission with your original score, and still couldn't produce even after making another attempt. Retaking a test says a lot about your confidence and comfort level. Adcom would know that you are applying with a score you don't like. FAIL
3) You retake and get a 700 or 710. You break the ceiling and get the number you were seeking, but you delayed your application and had to take the test twice to achieve it. Not only that, but remember that quantitatively you have not improved much. You're still in the 90th percentile-ish area. One would expect your score to increase significantly on each retake, and it didn't. This would be a diluted, unimpressive 700+
4) You retake and get a 750+. This would be great, except it could be difficult for you. It would likely require an unreasonable amount of studying to achieve this. The GMAT was not intended to be a life goal you work on for over 6 months, it is intended to be a quick test of your current ability just prior to heading to b-school. None of your practice tests indicated that you are at this level, and your first take confirmed that. So even though it would look great on your app despite a retake, this is a low probability score for you. Your time and effort is better spent elsewhere.

The probability of the first two is greater than the second two, and carries enough risk to deter any reasonable person from retaking. With a 690 you lost one of the battles but still won the war, which is what counts. By only taking the test once, it shows the adcom that you were comfortable with your score and only needed to take it once, which looks good on an application. So, you should live with your score and focus on your application.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 09:08
@ jbharis88 First of all congratulations on a great score!! :)

As far as the admission is concerned, I dont think that not hitting the 700 will make any difference. I totally second the detailed advice of shoteverything.

@ shorteverything : +1 for a wonderful post!
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 10:58
Sorry to repeat myself on various threads with this piece of advice, but to address shorteverything's scenarios that you score the same or below your first score, what you should do (if you plan to retake) is just send your scores to Wharton/Columbia now (and wherever else) and don't choose the 5 schools option when you retake. If I'm not mistaken, they'll never know you took it again. You can decide if your new score is worth sending.

This is only if you're set on retaking. Other concerns still apply such as pushing to R2, spending a lot more time, etc. But if it bothers you, at least not sending your second score at first won't hurt you. I also agree it probably isn't worth it if you don't think you can get your quant up. 690 is perfectly fine - where your score *might* hurt you is in highly quantitative schools like wharton/booth maybe Columbia where they would want a higher quant score than 46.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 11:24
CharmWithSubstance wrote:
690 is perfectly fine - where your score *might* hurt you is in highly quantitative schools like wharton/booth maybe Columbia where they would want a higher quant score than 46.


Yeah, unfortunately those are the only schools I'm really looking at. Booth part-time is my back up and I'm confident I can at least make it in worst case scenario. Part time may be my ultimate fate regardless, but I really want to attend Wharton.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 11:28
shorteverything wrote:
The problem is, if you retook the test, you assume massive risk, and don't stand to benefit much.

With a 690 you lost one of the battles but still won the war, which is what counts. By only taking the test once, it shows the adcom that you were comfortable with your score and only needed to take it once, which looks good on an application. So, you should live with your score and focus on your application.



Shorteverything,

I don't know what to say. Of all the forums and posts I've read to date this is potentially one of the most thoughtful responses I've seen. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your thoughts and insights and the way you layed out the different scenarios. Borderline 700 scores are something a lot of people wrestle with and it's nice to know others out there can offer advice.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2010, 14:51
Well congratulations on your score.

I think bb was right in saying that with your target schools and focus on finance your quant score might be a issue, if you plan to retake it then thats the are you should target for improvement, hedging you bet in scoring 2 points more in verbal is not a great idea. You should work on the quant section while targeting the 41 you believe you can get in verbal. Look at it this way 2 point improvement on both section will push your score to 710-720 much better than a 700 :)
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2010, 00:56
congrats and good luck either way!
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 26 Aug 2010, 05:56
JB- i too am on the same boat and have been wrestling with the decision for the past month+. I agree with most of what has been suggested here, that its much more of a psychological frustration than academic. That said, scoring a 690 also gives us the opportunity to be motivated to score much higher, whereas scoring a 700 originally (statistcally equivalent to a 690) would most likely refrain us from contemplating a retake. I am considering Knewton's 50 point guarantee, with a base score of 690 it seems like a win-win.

Best of luck with your decision.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 27 Aug 2010, 17:09
bb wrote:
As much as I hate saying it (I never recommend to retake), if your quant score is 73rd percentile and you are shooting for Wharton and Booth, you may want to spend the next 30 days one hour a day on math, solving questions and try to get your percentile closer to 90 on math - many finance schools care about it (unless you have a CFA/CPA/etc). I would double check in the profile review forum with one of the consultants there.

So it's better to have a 690 (Q49/V34) than a 690(Q46/V39) if applying to Wharton or Booth?
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 27 Aug 2010, 19:38
Expert's post
klughing wrote:
So it's better to have a 690 (Q49/V34) than a 690(Q46/V39) if applying to Wharton or Booth?


That's right!
Many Finance Bschools will consider it a weakness if you have a 90+ percentile in Quant.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 27 Aug 2010, 20:28
bb wrote:
klughing wrote:
So it's better to have a 690 (Q49/V34) than a 690(Q46/V39) if applying to Wharton or Booth?


That's right!
Many Finance Bschools will consider it a weakness if you have a 90+ percentile in Quant.


I think I'm not reading this correctly, 90+ percentile in Quant is a weakness?
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 27 Aug 2010, 20:34
Expert's post
my bad; the other way around
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice [#permalink] New post 27 Sep 2010, 13:19
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the advice. Instead of retaking the GMAT, for now I'm planning to take a class or 2 (Calculus and Micro - 2 that I received C's in freshman year) before the Round 2 deadline.
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Re: Balanced but frustrated - 690 (Q46/V39) - Seeking Advice   [#permalink] 27 Sep 2010, 13:19
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