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GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake?

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GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 04:25
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Okay people,

I know this topic is posted on a regular basis, but I want to put my own story out there.

I scored 740 on GMAT, 97th percentile total, 97th percentile in verbal, 83percentile in math. Now, I know this is a great score. I studied intensely while working a day job for about two months. The frustrating thing is that on GMAT Prep tests I scored 770 both times. I took the first mock test before I dived into the intensive study period about one month before the test date, and I took the second mock test about 10 days before the test date.

I'm pretty sure my lower score on the real thing was due to a mind block I experienced in the early part of the quant section: it took me 5 minutes to do an easy question and I coudn't get the right answer, so I obsessively double checked my result over and over again until finally picking the closest choice. After that I was somewhat rattled and had to answer the last 10 math questions very quickly. On verbal I did good as on the practice tests.


The main reason why I'm contemplating a retake is not that I want my 770 real bad, rather, my GPA is very low - 2.6. My undergraduate program is recognized as very tough, but still this GPA looks very shabby for top schools. And I want to go to a top school (my undergrad was in a top school too). So my original plan was to redeem my undergrad years (which were bad due to extenuating circumstances I will have to explain in my ap essays) by kicking ass on the GMAT, which I knew I can do.

My question for people out there is, how does the 2.6-740 combo look to recruiters? Are there schools who care less about GPA and more about GMAT? In light of my poor GPA, is there a meaningful difference between a 740 and 770? Any feedback is appreciated. If I want to appy to MFIN, is 83 percentile in quant too low?





Now my advice to future test takers:

1)Stick to your timing strategy and do not worry about individual questions – I know you heard this many times, but the temptation to get hung up on an individual question is likely to be much much stronger on the real test than on the practice tests, especially if you have a math ego (like me) or are a perfectionist. I say at the beginning of the test do not spend more than 2 minutes on any question – forget about the “spend extra time on the first 8 questions” rule. Too careful double checking will lead to obsessive double checking, and this will put you in a time hole. Rather, just be confident about your answers. YOU WILL GET SOME MATH QUESTIONS WRONG FOR SURE, and it's better to get them wrong every once in a while than in a streak of panic or lack of time. GMAT is no place to do thought experiments or contemplate about nature of numbers. Be in your game mode and sacrifice questions if necessary. Getting 7 questions wrong at the right time can still result in about 90 percentile.

2)Stick to your daily routine – I made the mistake of not drinking my regular morning coffee (I drank tea) because I felt nervous in the morning (when I took the test) and thought coffee will cause me to get panicky. My body was extremely alert, but my mind maybe not.

3)Loosen up – taking the test too seriously will create hurdles like over-demanding ego or panic. On the other hand, if you are relaxed you will think more outside the box, and you will be in the optimal mood to take the test. The day before the test do something you enjoy, like listening to inspiring or relaxing music (maybe classical is a good choice), or talking to your friends.
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Last edited by DoorKnocker on 16 Nov 2010, 16:10, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 06:04
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i personally think 740 is good enough. I think if schools that prefer high gmat will regard that pretty high already and those schools that prefer high gpa probably wont care as much if you score 20-30 pts higher unless you get like 780 or something? I doubt adcom will give a straight answer either.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 09:26
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becarev, first off, congratulations on your very solid result and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Regarding your question on retake: 740 for the GMAT is a high score especially given the fact that you have a full time job. By scoring that high you've showed that you are more than academically adept and will have no problems at school. Therefore, I wouldn't retake the test.

I'd like to ask you a few questions:

1) How many CATs in total did you take?
2) Could you describe you preparation in greater detail?
3) Could you describe you daily study routine?
4) How did you deal with fatigue when studying, esp. after work?
5) How did you manage to combine full time job and other social activities (wife, girlfriend, friends, movies etc.) with the preparation?
6) How confident were you after finishing your preparation and what about your confidence on the test day?

Thanks.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 10:36
how about a debrief for that score please?
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 15:55
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if i were in your shoes, i wouldnt retake. your best case scenario - you get a 30-40 point improvement - may not necessarily shift the adcom's perception of you. however, in the event that you get the same score (or worse - lower), then the adcom may think to themselves "what the heck was this guy thinking?"

just spend time on your essays and your whole app package. consider the GMAT as part of an application checklist that you have already completed
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 16:56
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At this point I think you've more or less nailed the GMAT, and that the time (and money) you would spend pursing the coveted 770 could be better spent on other aspects of your application. Do you really think 740 vs. 770 means that much to an addcom? I'm not convinced that it does.

Personally, I'd suggest that you focus on developing your own compelling story of why you belong in the program. Continue to make connections and gain as much nuanced information about your target schools as you can. Best of luck!
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 17:38
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If you're looking to do an MBA, then I definitely agree with the general consensus here -- don't retake. I'm betting that your 740 will eclipse every school's mean score (Stanford may be up there, though... who knows!)


If you are looking to do a MFin program, then a retake might be in order IF:

1. You're shooting for the top two programs (Princeton, MIT). Princeton even says on their website that their mean Q scores are 50 (GMAT) and 790 (GRE). Don't quote me on this, but I think Princeton's acceptance rate is somewhere around 3-5%, so having a low GPA and a lower-than-mean quant GMAT score wouldn't exactly help your chances in the super competitive field.

AND

2. Your undergraduate degree isn't quant heavy.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2010, 21:49
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Hi Everyone,

Thanks a lot for your considerate feedback. My nerves are settling after three days of taking the test and I think I'm settling on the decision not to retake, at least for the time being. My next step, like some of you suggest, is to start doing research and gathering information about different schools regarding admissions, scholarships, and suitability. After that, I hope to get inspired by a few schools and start drawing up my application.

More about my background: My undergrad is degree is in engineering, so it's as quantitative as it gets. I have three years of experience working as an expat in an Asian country, and other than being 'international' I don't think adcoms will consider the experience particularly interesting.

Anyways, I want to contact some 3rd-party recruiters who help with MBA admissions for a living and get them to judge my case. Maybe it's against the website rules, but I'd like to know if there are some good agencies.

And, I guess I owe you a DEBRIEF:

STARTED study March 24, TEST date June 8.

I was planning to write a GMAT ever since I graduated three years ago. I studied for it for about a month in 07 but I canceled because of personal issues. Finally this March I found myself free and bored with a regular, though not light, work schedule, so I decided to start GMAT study.

My local bookstore was limited: I saw only Official Guide, Princeton Review's Cracking the GMAT, and some KAPLAN books. Right away I bought OG and PR. I realized PR is a kind of strategy book, so I started reading it meticulously with a pencil and notebook in hand.

PR CRACKING THE GMAT - APRIL:

My first notes were March 24 so that's when I started. I remember I took it easy that month, not intensive study by any means. I read the PR slowly and did the sample exercises as I went. As I went through this book I got the feeling that the material is too easy to be true, but having natural tendency to trip over fundamentals (which I in fact did to a small degree at actual the test), I decided to still pay attention. Finally at the end of April I decided I did enough background research and did the Warm up Test, Verbal Bin 2 and 3, and Math Bin 3 and 4 in the Cracking the GMAT. My scores were 17/20, 23/27, 22/26, 23/26, 20/26 respectively. The scores spurred me to gear up more, but I could tell that I'm easily in top 20%.

The book is good because it's very easy to read and it gives you a down-to-earth perspective on the test. The tone of the book is somehow positive. If I didn't learn the math stuff a few times over in my life I wouldn't be confident learning math only from this book. However, given my quant background the combination of PR and internet was perfectly sufficient to fully refresh the required math knowledge. Also, the scope of the questions was somewhat limited, but my impression is that they mimic the actual GMAT questions quite well.

For the verbal part, I learned the basic tips like comparing answer choices to get the clue about the right answer. This is crucial I think for sentence correction. For reading comprehension, my strategy is to read the whole damn article word by word and then answer questions. On the actual test I did this for all three passages, and when answering the relevant questions I went to back to the article for every question, and still I had time. For critical reasoning my answering techniques were quite holistic (either I get it or I don't), except of course I always read every single answer choice every time. PR gave me good advice here in teaching me to eliminate answers that sound too general, too specific, or too offensive or derogatory - this is a great tip.

OG GMAT REVIEW 2010 - MAY:

Took the diagnostic right away on May 9, scored 44/48 on quant, 48/52 on verbal. After the quant I took GMAT Prep first practice ten and shocked myself by scoring 770. If I could have booked GMAT the next day I would've done it, but the test center in my town is very busy so I had to book in a month. I managed to squeeze an early booking on June 8th, and figured I'd aim for 780.

Until this point I wasn't visiting forums much but when I realized I scored 770 I started googling GMAT discussions up because I wanted to find out if GMAT Prep software gives you reliable estimate -770 seemed too good to be true. That's when I discovered gmatclub website

For the rest of the month I just attacked the 807 sample questions in OG. I didn't do all of them, only the last about 40% for each of the five sections. My schedule was very routine, Monday to Saturday I averaged about 30-40 questions a day, Sunday I rested. Every time I do a batch I checked my answers and paid special attention to questions I got wrong. I did a good job of memorizing quite separately all the difficult math problems. In the end, I think I answered about 100 questions wrong out of 1000, many of them simple lapses of concentration.

May 29 I did the other GMAT prep test and I got 770 again. My quant score fell from 50 to 49, my verbal score rose from 44 to 47 compared to the first prep test.

After the 2nd practice test I started to wind down my study intensity. I shifted focus from shelling out sample questions to paying attention to math concepts for the toughest questions - all that tricky probability, number theory, inequalities etc. I looked for advanced material on the net and came across jumbotests and 4gmat. I didn't pay anything but did the free questions - jumbotests was so ridiculously hard I concluded the website is a scam that tries to make you purchase their ebooks by destroying your test-taking confidence with unreasonably hard free online questions. 4gmat was a little better, but in retrospect, considering my real gmat score fell because of worse quant performance, I think I would've been better off if I remained ignorant of those websites and content with my quant skill. Instead I had a surge of panic that lasted about three days about one week before the real test.

The whole time I never went to an academy or took a GMAT course of any kind. Only self study.

Oh, also I bought KAPLAN advanced book. I didn't even finish 20% of samples there, I just meddled with their critical reasoning questions because at some point my practice was showing a weakness in critical reasoning. I didn't have time to do the whole book. Also, the questions I saw there seemed not to mimic GMAT questions extremely well.

AWA: Throughout my study I did a total of about 20 practice essays. I wrote them all within half an hour, many times during short breaks at work. At the beginning I created my own loose template and modified it as my practice taught me.

TEST DAY AND DAY BEFORE:

Had a half day off work before the test and the morning of the test off as well. I slept about 6 hours and my girlfriend showed up at the tests center without telling me. I had a tiramizu and apple juice at the starbucks downstairs, then went up to the room, registered and started writing the test. No complaint about the noise, but the notepad surprised me. The notepad is much bigger than I thought, It has maybe 5 sheets spiraled together and each sheet is larger than A4. I was confused before the test about whether I get an erasable pad (which I imagined to be some kind of whiteboard) or an actual notepad with a couple of pages. It turns out you get both in one. Each page of the pad is erasable, each page is a sheet sleeved into transparent erasable plastic. What annoyed me too was that the square grid on every page was too bold.

I don't have my AWA scores yet but I did between 5 and 6 I think. My essays were well structured but I was afraid I wrote a bit too short, maybe 450 to 500 words on one of the essays.

As I said before, I stumbled on quant at the beginning, totally unexpected mind block on an easy question. I got rattled a bit and although I came back and did great anyways, I'm sure my tactics could have been much better. I just wasn't feeling it like I usually do.

Verbal was also good. Actually during my second break I tried to drink the cold coffee I brought in my bag (in the locker) but the test center lady said I can only drink the water from the cooler. This angered me a little because I thought I read on GMAT website that I can have food that I bring over the break. However, I didn't push the issue and just settled on water. Towards the end of verbal, my eyes and brain were getting somewhat numb but I can't say it would have been any better had I had coffee.



In terms of life-study balance, well, it wasn't that balanced. I was tired and stressed the whole month. Prior to my study period I was having it quite easy, and when I have too much free time I tend to get lazy. Therefore, I thought working and studying at the same time will push me into some kind of battle mode. I had very little free time except on Sundays, but this didn't matter because even when I had free time I couldn't stop thinking about how I have to study for GMAT. Another words, I was always thinking about GMAT.

The good thing was my girlfriend was totally supportive. She cleaned my room and did some of my chores, plus she was 100 emotionally behind it all. This helped a lot. It's very important to have someone close to you support you hundred percent - if your parents or friends are not pushing you, find someone who will.





I guess that's it. Hope you get some insights from my experience and feel free to share your thoughts.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 00:45
becarev

Hi,

Even I share the same GPA and I'm yet to give GMAT...

I wish you all the best!! Do well buddy!
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 02:45
Thanks a lot for a detailed post and best regards.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 04:32
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Great score! I would not recommend to retake but I would definitely explain bad GPA.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 17:58
Thanks tsandeep, good luck to you too, as you have an important challenge ahead of you.

I'm also considering taking on a possible one-year job contract that could really improve my resume. I know GMAT scores are valid for 5 years, but I wonder if they get old during that time period. I heard somewhere schools asking people to get a more recent GMAT score. One the other hand, if I get more job experience (now I have 2 years) i think my GPA would become less significant. Any thoughts anyone?
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2010, 06:38
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Great Score, Congrats.

Sure if you have more job experience your GPA would become less relevant.

But your Gpa is concentrated on a specialized area as to the content in Gmat, so there wont be much focus on your gpa since you scored high on your gmat.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2010, 06:06
getting 760 new wouldnt make much difference. Better explain the GPA
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2010, 12:03
The general advice I hear is that 700 is essential to make up for a bad GPA, and 740-plus basically does the job.

Now it's about the overall package. With a 740, you should be able to handle the curriculum at any business school, provided you show the adcom that you're disciplined, too.

Geez, the percentiles keep getting lower. Now a 48 is an 83rd percentile?
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2010, 05:58
congrats on the score and good look with applications
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2010, 07:50
wow .. 2 mths ! amazing and congrats !
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2010, 08:06
Congratulations and thanks for the Debrief!! Very useful and all the best for the Applications too.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2010, 09:35
Congrats on the great score! IMO a 20-30 point increase beyond a 740 won't significantly alter your application. Maybe spending the same time on other aspects of your application might help more...
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2010, 13:58
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Congratulations on an absolutely terrific score! A 740 is amazing. But I don't think that retaking the test is a good investment in your time, money, or energy right now. As one person already mentioned, there's also the risk of scoring lower. It's just not worth it. Focus instead on other parts of your application.
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Re: GMAT 740, bad GPA, retake?   [#permalink] 17 Jun 2010, 13:58
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