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Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake?

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Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake? [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2013, 16:56
Let me start off with some context to my question. I graduated from a top 5 US public university (bottom of the Top 30 overall US schools) three years ago. Unfortunately I graduated with only a 3.24 overall GPA with a double major in Economics and Political Science. For my MBA I'm planning on targeting schools in the top 15 (Stern, Ross, Johnson, Darden, Haas). The last one is probably a stretch. As the subject of my post suggests, my questions is should I consider retaking the GMAT?

I took the test yesterday and scored a satisfactory 720 (Q49, V40). However, I had a terrible nights sleep prior to the test and believe I didn't perform near my peak. I also started the quant section ~2 minutes late, which threw off my timing a bit. However, I believe I got slightly lucky with the quant subject matter. As for the verbal, none of it came easily. I was in a complete daze. In particular, my timing was terrible and I had no clarity in my thought. I believe the latter was due to my poor nights sleep.

Is it worth studying for another month and potentially bumping up my score ~20 points? My motivation for considering this is that my GPA is probably a bit on the low side for my target schools. The reason I'm torn is that my score is within the +-30 point error from my practice tests. Accordingly, it's not like this score is entirely unrepresentative of my ability. Yet I think I can do better given a good nights sleep.

I don't plan on applying for to schools for another year so I have time. I also believe I have decent work experience in a desirable industry (biotech) and have a relatively compelling reason for pursuing my MBA.

Should I consider retaking the GMAT? Or does the 720 already do enough to counteract my low GPA? One of the reasons for my thinking is the recent PLoS ONE article about grade inflation. I think everybody has known about the low-challenge high-GPA phenomenon for years, but this brings the subject to the fore.

For reference, I've reproduced below the results of my practice tests over the past few months.

Kaplan CAT1: 610
Kaplan CAT2: 640
Kaplan CAT3: 630
Kaplan CAT4: 670
Kaplan CAT5: 640
Kaplan CAT6: 660
Kaplan CAT1: 720 (Repeat)
Kaplan CAT7: 730
Kaplan CAT8: 720
GMAT Prep1: 740 (Q48, V44) (took on 07/07/13)
GMAT Prep2: 740 (Q48, V42) (took on 07/20/13)

Thanks in advance to everyone for any advice!
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Re: Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake? [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2013, 19:28
Expert's post
@tomstackley -- given you have another full year before you're going to apply, I would suggest that you have another attempt to get closer to your apparent potential of 740 (from your practice tests). This will help further strengthen your case for having the academic capabilities for the top 15 level schools you aspire to attend.

I often liken MBA applications to competing in the Olympics, where 1/1000 of a second separates a gold medal from 4th place. Given all the time you have available, if you are confident that you can improve on the 720, why wouldn't you make that investment?

Also have a look at some of these articles for other ideas of things you could do to strengthen your candidacy over the next 12 months:
http://mbaprepschool.com/topic/planning-for-an-mba/

Best wishes for success with your MBA application and broader career.

Cheers, Chris
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Re: Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake? [#permalink] New post 05 Aug 2013, 22:24
Expert's post
tomstackley wrote:
Let me start off with some context to my question. I graduated from a top 5 US public university (bottom of the Top 30 overall US schools) three years ago. Unfortunately I graduated with only a 3.24 overall GPA with a double major in Economics and Political Science. For my MBA I'm planning on targeting schools in the top 15 (Stern, Ross, Johnson, Darden, Haas). The last one is probably a stretch. As the subject of my post suggests, my questions is should I consider retaking the GMAT?

I took the test yesterday and scored a satisfactory 720 (Q49, V40). However, I had a terrible nights sleep prior to the test and believe I didn't perform near my peak. I also started the quant section ~2 minutes late, which threw off my timing a bit. However, I believe I got slightly lucky with the quant subject matter. As for the verbal, none of it came easily. I was in a complete daze. In particular, my timing was terrible and I had no clarity in my thought. I believe the latter was due to my poor nights sleep.

Is it worth studying for another month and potentially bumping up my score ~20 points? My motivation for considering this is that my GPA is probably a bit on the low side for my target schools. The reason I'm torn is that my score is within the +-30 point error from my practice tests. Accordingly, it's not like this score is entirely unrepresentative of my ability. Yet I think I can do better given a good nights sleep.

I don't plan on applying for to schools for another year so I have time. I also believe I have decent work experience in a desirable industry (biotech) and have a relatively compelling reason for pursuing my MBA.

Should I consider retaking the GMAT? Or does the 720 already do enough to counteract my low GPA? One of the reasons for my thinking is the recent PLoS ONE article about grade inflation. I think everybody has known about the low-challenge high-GPA phenomenon for years, but this brings the subject to the fore.

For reference, I've reproduced below the results of my practice tests over the past few months.

Kaplan CAT1: 610
Kaplan CAT2: 640
Kaplan CAT3: 630
Kaplan CAT4: 670
Kaplan CAT5: 640
Kaplan CAT6: 660
Kaplan CAT1: 720 (Repeat)
Kaplan CAT7: 730
Kaplan CAT8: 720
GMAT Prep1: 740 (Q48, V44) (took on 07/07/13)
GMAT Prep2: 740 (Q48, V42) (took on 07/20/13)

Thanks in advance to everyone for any advice!


My advice would be to forget about GMAT now. Your actual score is not that far from your GMAT Prep score. There can easily be a 20-30 point difference if you take GMAT on consecutive days. With a score above 700, you have proved that you can handle the curriculum. Now only if you work hard toward 780 will it make some difference. A 720 or a 740 are quite equivalent. If you have time, its great. You can invest it in preparing yourself for the hectic days ahead - take some business/economics/finance courses in your local college depending on what interests you. Take active interest in activities at work and outside work. Try to take more responsibility and work on your leadership skills.
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Re: Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake? [#permalink] New post 06 Aug 2013, 07:06
Expert's post
@tomstackley -- I agree with @Karishma that you should be using the next twelve months to strength all the elements of your application, particularly those where you can demonstrate leadership accomplishments at work and in your community service/extracurriculars.

However with respect to your GMAT retake, while obviously a 760+ would be fantastic, your GPA is well below the reported averages for each school on your list (stats from each school below). Given you have the time, I would work to push your GMAT higher if possible. Also if you had "not stellar" undergrad scores in courses like economics, calculus, etc. I'd follow @Karishma's advice about enrolling in university extension courses to build an "alternative" transcript to address any red flags.

In effect I'm not advocating for "either/or" but rather "and" -- use the time to strengthen every element of your candidacy!

Obviously I don't know anything else about your profile but unless you have other stellar "spikes" in your leadership achievements, community service, etc. I don't want you to be left wondering "what if?" or "did I do everything I could to get into my dream school?" 15-16 months from now when the Round 1 results for next year's applicants are delivered.

In addition to the link I provided you in my original response to our content on "Planning for an MBA" you might also find this set of articles on "Standing Out" useful as you think about where to focus your time over the next 12 months: http://mbaprepschool.com/topic/standing-out/

Best wishes for success!

Cheers, Chris

=========
Stern 720 plus 3.51 GPA
http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/students/class-profile/

Ross 703 plus 3.4 GPA
http://www.bus.umich.edu/RecruiterInformation/Profiles/ClassProfiles/Mba2014.htm

Johnson 700 plus 3.3 GPA
http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/Two-Year-MBA/Key-Facts.aspx

Darden 703 plus 3.48 GPA
http://www.darden.virginia.edu/web/MBA/Students-Alumni/Class-Profile/
==> although more recent data reports Darden's average GMAT at 717

Haas 715 plus 3.61 GPA
http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/community/classprofile.html
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Re: Low undergrad GPA GMAT Reake?   [#permalink] 06 Aug 2013, 07:06
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