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Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730

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Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730 [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2012, 14:46
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Hi All,

Long time lurker here with few posts. I began my study back in mid-December and took my first GMAT exam Feb 11th. Interesting experience for sure. Got a 720 with 49Q (85%) and 39V (87%). Pretty balanced score, but not as high as I need to help my profile for my target schools. As such, I will be retaking on March 26th. Shall the studying once again begin :P

Background:
I've got "soft" major during undergrad, but have never had a problem with math. It's been about 1.5 yrs since graduating college. I was not born in the U.S., so verbal doesn't come to me as naturally as it would to native speakers.

Prep Material:
1. MGMAT series for all of quant, and SC of verbal. I definitely think the Numbers Properties, Word Translations, and Sentence Correction guides are the best in class. However, I think CR and RC guides are garbage.
2. Critical Reasoning Bible for CR. Finished the book during a business flight. Very well structured and very readable, despite being 300+ pages. You do not need to master the book to see your CR score improve drastically.
3. OG 12. Enough has been said about it, so there's nothing really new to add here. It's essential for you to practice to train your pattern recognition skills. The GMAT is all about recognition. Practice makes perfect.

I averaged about 1-2 CATs per week after the first two weeks of prep:

Number, Score, Quant, Verbal.
MGMAT 1 650 45 34
MGMAT 2 650 45 34
MGMAT 3 690 43 40
MGMAT 4 660 44 36
MGMAT 5 720 47 42
GMAT Prep 1 690 48 36
MGMAT 6 700 48 37
GMAT Prep 2 720 50 38
MGMAT 7 780 51 45
GMAT Prep 3 730 49 41
MGMAT 8 780 51 45
GMAT Prep 4 710
GMAT Prep 5 750

MGMAT 7 and 8 were reshuffles, and had repeat questions that I had seen before, so they are definitely overstated. GMAT Prep 3, 4, 5 had few repeat questions as well.

I took most of the exams on weekends, but as time approached my GMAT date, I started taking after work, or back to back, to train my endurance.

GMAT DAY Experience:

I purposely scheduled it at mid-day, as I am not a morning person. Woke up and had a chocolate milk (make sure you get full fat and full sugar kind. Sugar provides quick glucose for the brain, and fat slows down digestion to provide "timed release" benefit. Also had a banana, and a small muffin to go with it. If you do not take a multi-vitamin, I suggest you bring a banana for potassium, glucose and fructose, and Gatorade for vitamin B complexes. Just treat the GMAT day like an intense work-out day.

Went in the test center feeling "normal". AWA was straight forward, but did feel rather drained right after. Took a break, had sips of Gatorade, and washed my face with cold water. Then came quant. I was a little thrown off by the way the question was asked on the first question. I thought, shit, perhaps the actual GMAT is more different than I anticipated. Calmed myself and figured it out. Next one was normal. Third question was asked in such an obscure way that I had no idea what I needed to do. But knowing it's the third question and that it must not have been a difficult one, I refused to move on. Re-read it twice, and told myself, **** it, let's move on. After that point, I felt less nervous, as my expectations shifted from "Rock it", to "Finish it, and learn from it." Finished last question just about on time. Verbal started with my mind lingering on how underwhelming my performance could have been on quant. But I told myself to stop being a little bitch and move on. Sentence Corrections seemed very straight forward, almost an extension of the practice problems from OG12. First RC was short, but tough. However, I typically preferred shorter and tougher passages, than longer and "easier" passages. Made my best selections and moved on. Then came a RC about some volcanic eruption, with layers of thick vocab that got me a little nervous about time. I had to re-read a couple of sentence more than twice to make sure I followed. Questions were a mess as well. If I had to guess, I probably lost lots of my verbal points here. CR were relatively normal, and I proceeded with confidence. But as CR's get hard, it takes much longer to do, and I certainly took my time. In the end, I had to rush a little. Heart pounding, I finished the second to last question with 1 minute and 5 seconds last. Last question was a short SC, and I quickly spotted the splits and selected my answer. Phew, life goes on. Submitted. 720. Surprised I did not mess up quant as much as I thought I did, and surprised my verbal was still sub-40. Overall, the score was just in-line with expectation.

I was content with the score, and moved on to relax and to worry about my next steps in my application process. My to-be admission consultant then sent me back to the GMAT forum, saying that my 720 is my biggest weakness, relatively, for my target schools. Hah. Back to studying :-D .

Hope my debrief helped. Also welcome any advice regarding my next month of studying.

Last edited by TheEntrepreneur on 28 Mar 2012, 20:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2012, 16:58
you need a new consultant.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2012, 20:32
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wow..fantastic score and nice debrief...
I agree with thugly921 comment above regarding the consultant
nothing wrong with ur scores and also may i know, which all schools ur looking forward to apply
I am yet to come across a review that says 720 is not a competitive score.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2012, 20:49
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Wow, that's crazy...you got a great score with a 720. I can't believe anyone would even hint that might not be enough...correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the average GMAT score at Harvard was something around a 720 (although there are a myriad of other factors to always consider, besides GMAT score, obviously)...
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2012, 11:02
Thanks.

Regarding my re-take, I guess the logic is really that I should use my GMAT score as a strength, meaning that it would hopefully be 20 pts higher than the median.

For example, HBS and Stanford median scores are at 730. A 720 is definitely competitive, but it is in-line at best. It's hard to distinguish my profile against other applicants with great GMAT scores, and especially when taken into consideration my specific profile: a young applicant with 3 yrs exp at matriculation, and "light" leadership in undergrad. Ideally, I'd need to use GMAT as an anchor to lift up my story.

Plan for the coming month would be somewhat similar, with comprehensive review, followed by practice questions, leading up to last week with exclusively targeted review and CATs.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2012, 11:15
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I think the only reason you would want to retake is if you honestly feel that every other part of your application is undeniably sub-par or at best, par with your applicant demography.
I mean Undergrad academics, career growth and experience, personality/background/unique non-work experiences etc.

Honestly, I would give an arm and a leg for your score! :)
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2012, 13:06
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Do you really think you are going to beat that score?
I'm in about the same situation as you (though I'm not considering retaking at all): I got 720 after getting higher scores at both MGMAT (730) and GMATPrep (740 w/o reshuffle, 760 with reshuffle). Also, I have a good profile but not great enough to beat the competition in my dream school with only "720" and I was hoping that the GMAT could help me make the difference.
I made a small exercice for you: if you put your real mock scores (I mean the ones without reshuffle) into GMATclub score calculator (I tried MGMAT 720 and GMATPrep 720), you'll get a 710. You can even submit you real score and get your %ile in terms of "performance under pressure". In my case, I was at the percentile 72 which is rather good. You may even be at a higher %ile (depending on the mock scores you consider real). Hence, I think you did not underperform. Don't bother about the story of one guy who got 750 after getting no more than 690 at MGMAT CAT, because there are probably tens of opposite stories. Of course, if smth unusual occured during your test or if you know that smth went wrong, go for a retake. But if not, be happy with 720 and move to smth else (also, consider applying for other schools thant top 5 schools because even if you retake and get 760, you may finish rejected from there).
Personnally, I do not consider that I underperformed and even if I can remember of few mistakes, I think that I have as many chances to win 20 points as I have to lose 20 if I retake.
Whatever you decide, good luck.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2012, 16:29
deschoup wrote:
Do you really think you are going to beat that score?
I'm in about the same situation as you (though I'm not considering retaking at all): I got 720 after getting higher scores at both MGMAT (730) and GMATPrep (740 w/o reshuffle, 760 with reshuffle). Also, I have a good profile but not great enough to beat the competition in my dream school with only "720" and I was hoping that the GMAT could help me make the difference.
I made a small exercice for you: if you put your real mock scores (I mean the ones without reshuffle) into GMATclub score calculator (I tried MGMAT 720 and GMATPrep 720), you'll get a 710. You can even submit you real score and get your %ile in terms of "performance under pressure". In my case, I was at the percentile 72 which is rather good. You may even be at a higher %ile (depending on the mock scores you consider real). Hence, I think you did not underperform. Don't bother about the story of one guy who got 750 after getting no more than 690 at MGMAT CAT, because there are probably tens of opposite stories. Of course, if smth unusual occured during your test or if you know that smth went wrong, go for a retake. But if not, be happy with 720 and move to smth else (also, consider applying for other schools thant top 5 schools because even if you retake and get 760, you may finish rejected from there).
Personnally, I do not consider that I underperformed and even if I can remember of few mistakes, I think that I have as many chances to win 20 points as I have to lose 20 if I retake.
Whatever you decide, good luck.


Hey deschoup, thanks for the reply. Appreciate the input. I agree that I did not under-perform. However, here are reasons why I'd attempt a retake.

I'm under the impression that even if I do score lower than 720 this second time, AdComs will simply look at my highest, and chuckle at my failed second attempt to improve. So, it appears there's no real downside risk to my attempt. In financial terms, it's almost like an at-the-money option.

Secondly, I did not post the dates of the exams, but they were taken rather evenly between mid-December and early-Feb. So it was a 2-months timeframe. My second attempt gives me 25-30 days more to study. My logic tells me that with time, I should be able to improve my score. I estimate that my chance to beat and miss my 720 will be roughly 75% and 25%, respectively.

Now, if AdComs would frown upon my newer and potentially lower score, then I may reconsider my decision. Additional inputs appreciated.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2012, 11:18
Hi,
I would suggest not taking the GMAT again.
Option 1: you beat your 720. I would ask "why wasn't the applicant comfortable with a 720 to retake the exam? No self-confidence with his application? " and self-confidence is important for future leaders.

Option2:
660 to 720: it should still be ok. And an adcom Will take into account both scores.
< 660: it Will be over. That can happen: Imagine you are Sick...
You'll have to take it again but you'll decrease the admission probability...


I Will repeat myself but GMAT is only a part in tour application form...




Remember that GMAT is only one part of

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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2012, 09:05
alexxx4 wrote:
Hi,
I would suggest not taking the GMAT again.
Option 1: you beat your 720. I would ask "why wasn't the applicant comfortable with a 720 to retake the exam? No self-confidence with his application? " and self-confidence is important for future leaders.

Option2:
660 to 720: it should still be ok. And an adcom Will take into account both scores.
< 660: it Will be over. That can happen: Imagine you are Sick...
You'll have to take it again but you'll decrease the admission probability...


I Will repeat myself but GMAT is only a part in tour application form...




Remember that GMAT is only one part of

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Hi alexxx4, thanks for the reply.

I was told that the AdComs will only consider the actual score that you choose to report on your application. Yes, I do know that they have access to the entire score report, including historical attempts. However, many said that AdComs only look at such report after admission. I'm not sure how much that I believe in this, but it certainly weighs on my decision.

As reply to your option 1 question, while 720 is not a bad score, I believe in that one should strive to achieve better given the circumstances. I hope AdComs sees the glass half full scenario.

Either way, I certainly do hope that I score better, and that I'd put in the work to improve my chances. Fingers crossed :)
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2012, 09:56
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congrats man! 720 is pretty siick man! If you feel you cant do better, go for it...Im writing my exam is a few weeks and im basically scoring the same that you got in your practice.. Any finals words of advice regarding the actual test??

Thanks
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2012, 18:49
Well, not much advice to give other than what others must have already covered:

Focus more on official questions as test date approaches. It gets your logic to align with the way GMAT makers think. Stop doing third party questions few days before the exam as they often test your knowledge in a sutbly different way.

I'm going for it soon myself. Let me know how you do when you do :)
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 06 Mar 2012, 03:18
Ignore the naysayers go ahead and rock the GMAT.

Without GMAT 760 or atleast an attempt to achieve it, I have a sense that the best part of you will feel a little
hollow.

Remarkable success was not achieved by people who toe the line but by the people who made one of their own.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retaking! [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2012, 12:08
I agree with both sides here. I don't see much of a reason for you to retake it unless your next month of studying goes really well. Frankly, from looking at your practices, your highest score on a non-reshuffle was 720, which is exactly what you got. Now, were you improved overall by the time of your reshuffles, and had an extra 20 points of knowledge and maybe 20 or so points from questions you'd seen? Possibly, no real way of knowing that.

I would say that if you think you can do better and improve over the next few weeks, it probably won't hurt to take it. You sound like you didn't have your best day and still did well, so odds are you won't get a 650, and if you are feeling that bad, you can always cancel.

That being said, the GMAT is not going to get you into HBS or Stanford if you're weak in every other area. It might benefit you more to start getting involved elsewhere and find something to make you look a lot more interesting (minimal work experience and minimal leadership/activities in college really don't excite AdComs). I would fine a way to get working on that, because the way you presented that sounds a lot weaker than your profile with a 720.

I say go for it since you want to, crush the test, but then think about all the other factors involved.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730 [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2012, 20:30
Hi all, just wanted to give a quick update for those that care:

Retook for a 730.

Q - 49, V - 41.

Somewhat anti-climatic and and a little underwhelming. Not too much differences in my preparation; just more practice. Definitely noticed that actual quant questions are noticeably more difficult than OG and GMAT Prep. Either way, I will not be re-taking for sure! Glad all's over.

Best of luck to all of you who are still in the process.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730 [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2012, 03:10
Good for you that the score evolved in the right direction !
I'm not sure the adcoms will make any difference though, or even prefer a "720 then 730" to a "720 first attempt and done" (I'm defending my situation ;) !
Good luck for the next steps.
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730 [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2012, 05:00
deschoup wrote:
Good for you that the score evolved in the right direction !
I'm not sure the adcoms will make any difference though, or even prefer a "720 then 730" to a "720 first attempt and done" (I'm defending my situation ;) !
Good luck for the next steps.


Yeah, I doubt AdComs would react to a 730 any differently than they would a 720. My "internal breakeven" for justifying roughly one more month of studying was probably 740 haha. But I will live.

Where will you be applying for school?
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Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730 [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2012, 11:06
Great score and good luck with the admissions processes.
Re: Debrief - First Attempt 720; Retook for 730   [#permalink] 01 Apr 2012, 11:06
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