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# Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain?

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Intern
Joined: 21 Aug 2010
Posts: 29
Followers: 3

Kudos [?]: 36 [0], given: 6

Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 03:56
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.

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 , 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.
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?!

Let me know.

Cheers,
gmatRetake.
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VP
Status: Current Student
Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 1345
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 710 Q48 V40
WE: Sales (Consumer Products)
Followers: 108

Kudos [?]: 419 [0], given: 73

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 05:34
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.
_________________

The Brain Dump - From Low GPA to Top MBA (Updated September 1, 2013) - A Few of My Favorite Things--> http://cheetarah1980.blogspot.com

Manager
Status: Taking heavily leveraged but calculated risks at all times
Joined: 04 Apr 2010
Posts: 185
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Finance
Schools: HBS '15, Stanford '15
GMAT Date: 01-31-2012
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 63 [0], given: 12

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 06:51
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
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.
VP
Status: Current Student
Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 1345
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 710 Q48 V40
WE: Sales (Consumer Products)
Followers: 108

Kudos [?]: 419 [0], given: 73

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 07:02
Anasthaesium wrote:
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
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.

_________________

The Brain Dump - From Low GPA to Top MBA (Updated September 1, 2013) - A Few of My Favorite Things--> http://cheetarah1980.blogspot.com

Senior Manager
Affiliations: CBS Class of 2014
Joined: 07 May 2011
Posts: 390
Concentration: Finance
Schools: CBS '14 (M)
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 07:22
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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Intern
Joined: 21 Aug 2010
Posts: 29
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Kudos [?]: 36 [0], given: 6

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 10:16
cheetarah1980 wrote:
Anasthaesium wrote:
Well, I would like to respectfully disagree there.
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.

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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Affiliations: Tuck - Class of 2013
Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Posts: 96
Location: United States
Schools: Tuck '13 (M)
GMAT 1: Q V
GMAT 2: Q V
GMAT 3: Q V
GPA: 3.93
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Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 16:40
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.
VP
Status: Current Student
Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 1345
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 710 Q48 V40
WE: Sales (Consumer Products)
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Kudos [?]: 419 [0], given: 73

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain? [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2011, 17:16
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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The Brain Dump - From Low GPA to Top MBA (Updated September 1, 2013) - A Few of My Favorite Things--> http://cheetarah1980.blogspot.com

Re: Optional extenuating circumstances Essay : How to explain?   [#permalink] 17 Aug 2011, 17:16
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