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Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain?

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Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 02:56
Hi Folks,

Now there are many schools that have an optional essay we can write about any extenuating circumstances, such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance or significant weakness in your application.

As an Indian applicant, there are two things I want to explain here.

1. Undergrad Academic Score.
I scored a 74% in my engineering. Now this may look a small number, but I am sure this is a good score for my area of study. I fall in the top 5% of the class. Unfortunately, there is no way of officially calculating GPA. How do I explain this? How do I explain, without sounding poor :cry: , that eventhough the percentage is low, I am in the top layer of that low! :) :|

2. GMAT AWA Score.
I gave GMAT twice. I sucked the first time (560 with 4.0 in AWA). I gave it again to score a 710 with 4.5 AWA.
While the Verbal score is at 92%ile, the AWA score is at 37%ile.
Just to prove it was a bad day, I gave a TOEFL and scored a 30/30 100%ile there. :wink:
I feel good that I have numbers on my side to talk, but how do I convince the adcom that I had "TWO" bad days fro AWA?! :roll:


Let me know. :)

Cheers,
gmatRetake.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 04:34
You do not need to write the optional essay.

1) Adcoms are more than familiar with foreign grading systems. They do not do a direct GPA calculation. From your class rank it will be obvious that you did very well in college.

2) They do not care about the AWA. As long as you score a 4 or higher, you've passed the litmus test.

You're perceiving weaknesses in places that there aren't any.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 05:51
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
I would say that you need to explain your case if you say you had a noticeably bad semester or a couple really bad grades.
It's better to explain your situation that leave it to the adcoms to decide it.

Although in your particular case, I wouldn't worry much about the GPA conversion/GMAT score/AWA score concerns. Those fears are baseless.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 06:02
Anasthaesium wrote:
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
I would say that you need to explain your case if you say you had a noticeably bad semester or a couple really bad grades.
It's better to explain your situation that leave it to the adcoms to decide it.

Although in your particular case, I wouldn't worry much about the GPA conversion/GMAT score/AWA score concerns. Those fears are baseless.


Yes, if there was a really bad semester or inconsistent academic performance then that would need to be addressed. However, it doesn't really seem like that's the case since he/she was in the Top 5% of the class. If grades are based on ranking against the rest of the class then even a 50% can be considered an excellent grade if everyone else received a 35%. My point was that a direct comparison between international grading and US grading cannot be done so it's pointless to try to explain why your "bad grade" is really a "good grade." If your grades were good within that particular educational system then that's all that matters.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 06:22
Optional essay is not optional. Yes it is not a requirement to click the submit button... but it is by no means really an option. Nearly nobody has a pristine and perfect background, so use that space to supplement or clarify anything that may help your candidacy. One bad semester? Explain it and then show how you improved from it. <- this is just an example not stating specific to the original poster. If you don't use the optional essay you are essentially wasting an opportunity to improve your profile.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 09:16
cheetarah1980 wrote:
Anasthaesium wrote:
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
I would say that you need to explain your case if you say you had a noticeably bad semester or a couple really bad grades.
It's better to explain your situation that leave it to the adcoms to decide it.

Although in your particular case, I wouldn't worry much about the GPA conversion/GMAT score/AWA score concerns. Those fears are baseless.


Yes, if there was a really bad semester or inconsistent academic performance then that would need to be addressed. However, it doesn't really seem like that's the case since he/she was in the Top 5% of the class. If grades are based on ranking against the rest of the class then even a 50% can be considered an excellent grade if everyone else received a 35%. My point was that a direct comparison between international grading and US grading cannot be done so it's pointless to try to explain why your "bad grade" is really a "good grade." If your grades were good within that particular educational system then that's all that matters.



Hi cheetarah1980,

So a point in the resume stating the position in the class should do the job I think.
May be I am worrying to much. :)

Cheers,
gmatRetake.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 15:40
Agree with most of the above, I wouldn't address your GPA on the optional essay. The top 5% stat will trump the actual % and the adcoms see this all the time.

As far as the AWA score goes you need to think about what schools you are applying to. If you are looking for top ten then you may want to address the point simply to be sure that it doesn't count against you. At the ultra competitive schools the smallest thing can let you down. You wouldn't want the adcoms to think that you don't recognize a mediocre score.

Having said that you're score is right on the line and it might be the case that you don't want to draw attention to it. I suggest you develop some relationships with some current students and see if you can get some inside info on how your schools view the AWA.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2011, 16:16
losttraveler wrote:
Optional essay is not optional. Yes it is not a requirement to click the submit button... but it is by no means really an option. Nearly nobody has a pristine and perfect background, so use that space to supplement or clarify anything that may help your candidacy. One bad semester? Explain it and then show how you improved from it. <- this is just an example not stating specific to the original poster. If you don't use the optional essay you are essentially wasting an opportunity to improve your profile.

I totally agree with what you're saying. There's usually something about an application that needs to be clarified with the optional essay. I was only saying that in this case the optional essay does not need to be used for that particular concern because there's really not a weakness in the GPA/AWA. The grades seem to be damn good and the AWA is good enough to not be an issue.
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain?   [#permalink] 17 Aug 2011, 16:16
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