Thanks GMATT73. It's not that 640 is a bad score in and of itself but it is pretty dismal for a top 10 school. It's just frustrating that all the hard work that I put in preparing for the test isn't reflected in my score. I will just have to practice more math problems. Do you know if I can skip the AWA for the next test? In other words, will schools look at my AWA for the first test and my actual score on the second test?
It took me four attempts to reach a 640 primarily because I am a foreign language linguistics major and never use math in my translation-instruction career. But our breakdowns are different: whereas mine was a Q42/V35, your's seems to be skewed higher in verbal.
Unarguably, it is difficult to gain admissions to a top ten with a 640, but not entirely impossible. As for a top 5, virtually no chance.
Now, back to the task at hand. Clearly you have strong verbal skills and your practice scores reflect potential to perform higher on quant so go ahead and schedule a retake before the end of the year.
This time around beef up on your math. Try practicing in timed sets of 40 problems twice a day. Source your questions from MGMAT, Kaplan
, retired ETS paper tests, and of course the OG + supplements. Keep an error log
for bi-weekly review. This should get you into at least the low Q40s. From 45+ you really need to have a solid grounding in math. I have seen such problems, in other words reached that plateau several times, but never seemed to overcome it because I lacked the solid mathmatical foundation that most of our competition posesses. (but gradually catching up;)
Assuming you will continue to take practice CATs to keep your verbal at par, one month should be enough to get you a 40-40 split, or something like a 680. That score IS, with strong essays and leadership skills, enough to make the short list at one, if not more than one, of the top ten (but still subpar for top five).
Regarding the essays, don't skip them unless you have contacted your adcom director in advance and been given explicit permission to do so. I have read somewhere that one test taker did that, but I believe he/she was targeting a tier two or three school. Just relax and write fluid, clear arguments with the standard transitions. Essays do sap a bit of energy, but you can minimize that by not racking your mind and choosing examples to support your arguments/issues that you are familiar with. Keep it simple and you will score at least a 4.5~5.
One more thing, do all your practice with graph paper and markers. This takes the shock factor out of making the switch on test day. Good luck!