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GMAT Score - Analysis

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Joined: 30 Sep 2006
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GMAT Score - Analysis [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 20:10
I am new to the site as I just took the exam today. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated:

I took the test after about 2 months prep and a Kaplan class and got a 680. I was satisfied but still a little disappointed with where I hoped to end up (700+). Particularly, I did not answer the last question in quant which I feel really lowered by score for this crucial range that I am in for a top 5 school.

My breakdown was:

Quant - Scaled score of 44, Percentile 73
Verbal - Scaled score of 39, Percentile 88
Overall - 680, 89th Percentile

1. Does anyone have a feel for if answering that last question would have made a difference?
2. Does this score allow me to be on equal footing with those applying to top 5 schools?

This is an odd score b/c quant is much stronger for me generally. I got an 800 on the SAT math so I'm a little baffled but think overall I'm OK.

Thanks in advance.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 20:47
Since you asked direct questions I will give direct answers.

In your score range (44Q), the last question probably could have improved your score by 10 overall points if you answered it correctly. By the last question of a section, the CAT has zeroed in on your score and even the last 2-3 questions probably won't move your overall score much.

Will you be on equal footing with those applying to top 5 shools? Well, this is going to sound harsh, but no. The average GMAT at these places is around 710 and heading up. The types of people that gain admission to these places have excellent grades, excellent work experience and excellent recommendations and great stories to tell about their leadership and involvement. If you have each of the above qualifications, but a GMAT score 30 points under the average, your chance of admission will be lower than their average admit rate, probably by at least half.

The more I research these schools the more convinced I am that the only people that can gain admission with GMAT scores below the average are under-represented minorities and people with truly unique and relevant work and personal experiences (senator's kid? Donald Trump's daughter? fulbright scholar? charity missionary in Sudan?). Certainly, we have all heard stories of people with 650 GMAT gaining admission to Harvard, but by and large it just doesn't happen.

The good news is that you seem to have a good chance for improvement. You said that generally you do better on the Q, and your history with the SAT certainly shows some promise. If you are serious about the top 5 schools, I think you should defintely consider taking the test again. If you are flexible and are willing to work with top 10-15 schools, and if you are very strong in other areas of the application, you may not have to. For top 5 (really the 'ultra-elite' top 7) schools, you need to be be strong in every area and exceptional in at least a few.

I know people are going to get their panties in a bunch over my comments so I will throw out some hard numbers for everyone to think about. Everyone can apply their CR and DS skills a little here. 200,000+ people will take the GMAT this year. 680 is the 89th percentile, which means there will be over 22,000 higher scores this year. The 7 ultra-elites (as defined here at GMATclub) will have total class sizes of approx 4100 students this year. Certainly some of those will be people with scores less than 680 as well. (Looking at admitted totals does not work because some of the same people will be admitted to all the same places; looking at class sizes is the only thing that makes sense). So, maybe 16-17% of those scoring over 680 will gain admission to the top 7; and certainly those with higher scores will have the best chance. To go one step further, there will be 16,000+ scores over 700 this year. There's still just those same 4100 total seats in the ultra-elites.

In talking with Adcoms I have more and more come to believe that while an excellent GMAT certainly is not enough to get you into a top school, a below average GMAT will go a very long way in keeping you out.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2006, 21:52
Thats an excellent analysis Pelihu. Now I understand how you got 6 in AWA :-D

Before, I mentioned in another thread that I met two guys with less than 700 scores who went to Harvard and Wharton. As Pelihu said, they had exceptional background. One guy was a senior government officer, and won president's medal for his impeccable performance in tax collection. Another guy was a senior police officer, who was heading a 1400 strong anti-terrorist commando force, before he joined Wharton.

Besides, GMAT is the only thing we can improve on in a relatively short-term. Remaining all aspects of application, more or less are unchangeable, I think.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2006, 07:15
I've come to believe this as well. The Kellogg analysis I posted some time ago showed that the admissions % was decidely different - if I remember correctly, < 650 was at 11% or so, and over 750 was at 36% or so. When you considered yield, it wasn't outside the real of possibility to presume a 6 or 7% accept at 650, and a 40-45% accept at 750.

I've also spoken with a student reader who was very honest about the GMAT.
He came from an ultra elite. This is what he said "I cant tell you how many people I see take the GMAT once, get a 690, and assume that's good enough. Its not."

His words. Not mine.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2006, 11:51
ak_idc wrote:
Thats an excellent analysis Pelihu. Now I understand how you got 6 in AWA :-D

Before, I mentioned in another thread that I met two guys with less than 700 scores who went to Harvard and Wharton. As Pelihu said, they had exceptional background. One guy was a senior government officer, and won president's medal for his impeccable performance in tax collection. Another guy was a senior police officer, who was heading a 1400 strong anti-terrorist commando force, before he joined Wharton.

Besides, GMAT is the only thing we can improve on in a relatively short-term. Remaining all aspects of application, more or less are unchangeable, I think.


Thanks for the compliment ak_idc. Head of 1400 strong anti-terrorist commando force - now that is some leadership. Pretty unique too I'd say.

And you're totally correct about the GMAT being the only thing you can improve in the short-term. The only way I can improve my GPA is to get a time machine. Work experience and extracurricular involvement can't be changed in a few months without raising flags with the adcoms. Even with essays, you can spend plenty of time to polish them up to the best of your abilities, but there's no way to improve them much substantively if you don't have anything interesting and unique in your background to talk about.

I think it is just human nature how adcoms deal with GMAT scores; put yourself in their shoes. You work at an ultra-elite and you have a huge pile of apps to read in front of you, or it's the end of the day and you've been reading so much your eyes are blury. About 4,000 people have all been answering the exact same essay questions. You pick up an app with a 660 GMAT and mid-line GPA. You think to yourself, that's OK, but I have piles and piles of apps with better basic stats. You might just give it a quick look to see if there is anything truly unique that you want to add to your class, but how much attention can you give it before setting it aside and moving on? If, on the other hand, the app has a 760 GMAT or a 4.0 from Princeton, well, you might pay special attention and/or save it to read it again later. It's just human nature.
  [#permalink] 01 Oct 2006, 11:51
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