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Should I take the GMAT again?

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Should I take the GMAT again? [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 08:48
I have a 710 (49Q, 37V). Now before you start blasting me about how that is high enough, focus on other things, well within range, etc, let me give you my background.

I applied this past season, dings all around. Will be applying again this fall. The main problem with me is my super low GPA 2.76. However, I am aiming only for top 10 school. I was told that it can be done, and I am determined to do so.

I did graduate from a top US undergrad school known for difficult academics, however I guess that didn't help too much since I didn't even get invited for interviews. As far as my essays, I spent a good amount of effort on them and I thought they were quite good. I had them reviewed by several people, including top MBA grads who said they are very good. Of course I will continue to tweak them for the next few months, but I'm not sure if I can improve them significantly.

The next thing would be to take classes and get A's in them right. Well I live abroad and don't have a local community college or university extension I can go to. I tried looking up classes I can take but so far I can't find any good options. There are classes at top local universities, but they don't give grades unless you're in a degree program. I will continue to look around but doesn't look too good here.

I have been actively involved in a couple extra curricular activities, but dunno how much more I can do. I am trying to take some positions in those organizations, but am limited since most positions are taken. If I try to join a whole bunch of different groups and volunteering for this and that now, I think it will just make things look diluted and seem like I am just doing it for bschool and not of my own interest.

Most of the people with low GPAs generally have 740+ GMATs...I am wondering if that's sort of like "necessary" if you're GPA is lower than 3.0.? Also, I have taken the GMAT 3 times..would taking it a 4th and 5th time look desperate? Also, I have been getting 730-ish on my practices....but as you know there is a bit of luck involved as well and I might risk getting a bit lower than 710 if I get nervous or something...which might look bad right?

I have been working for almost 6 years. As far as work, I do not expect any significant changes in the next few months.

Should I take the GMAT again?? I definitely don't want to, and I'm not even confident that I will do better, but it seems like the best option right now to improve my candidacy?

Any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks!!
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 08:59
To a certain extent, a high GMAT score can mitigate a low GPA. Having said that, I believe schools want to see scores within their range, and a much higher GMAT score doesn't really compensate for other elements of your application. Your GPA and GMAT are the two primary indicators of academic success - of course, they also consider essays, work experience, recs. etc. So if you really think you can boost your score a fair bit, then go for it - you have the time!! Good luck!
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 10:49
I applied with a low GPA as well. I definitely felt some pressure to maximize my GMAT score. I look at it like this: you would stop trying to improve your essays, or interview skills or references just because you had reached some "in the range" level. Most people try to put together the best application possible - which means re-writing essays until you don't think you can do any better; managing recommenders so you can get the best possible reference from them; and scoring to the best of your abilities on the GMAT.

So, if you think you can improve 30-40 points on the GMAT (an less is considered normal variance), I think you should take it again. I think many people will agree that waiting for a decision can be really stressful. I don't think anyone would want the additional stress of wondering if a higher score would have helped.

I've never heard anyone say "my essays are pretty good, they could be better but they are in range so I think I'll stop here." It just sounds silly. Likewise, I find it strange that people do not maximize their GMAT scores to the best of their abilities. Certainly, don't re-take if it will undermine other parts of your application. Otherwise, if you have the time and the ability, given your GPA I think it makes sense.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 11:19
good point pelihu, however, remember that he has already taken the GMAT 3 times. Any more tests that you give, will have diminishing returns. For example, if you get a 760 on your 4th try and 780 on ur 5th try, I dont think it will hold as much value.

I would advice you take other classes. I am a similar siutation as yours, and might hav to re-apply next year. I have a 730 on GMAT and a 3.0 GPA.

At this point, I am taking extension classes. There are several schools for which you dont have to go on campus even once. UCLA and UC Berkley are two examples.

Hence, IMHO, thats what you should focus on.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 12:14
Oh sorry, I missed that. If he's already taken it 3 times I'd recommend against taking it again. DJM is right that at this point even a 760 or 780 won't do much for you.

He's also right that some classes through UCLA or Berkeley extension would be your best bet at this stage.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 15:10
Work on things outside of work - extracurriculars, thing that give you a character. No school is going to be questioning your GPA through not having high enough GMAT, no school is going to question yr GMAT.

It is somewhere else. Maybe interview style, maybe other things about fit, maybe bits in your essays that don't clear their fears about other things. It is difficult to tell.

I can't see too much from taking outside courses relating to an MBA that are ultimately beneficial, but that is just me. Taking another thing that is a professional Qual that you would benefit from and acing it would be something different though.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 15:59
I have a few acquaintances here at the Club who have gotten into top ten schools with stats similiar to your's. Probably best to bag your 710 and fine tune all other elements of your application package.

If you really want to take a holistic approach to maximize your chances for admissions, then consider taking the plunge and utilizing the services of the best consultant out there: http://www.mbaexchange.com/ Request that Dan Bauer (HBS alum) personally handle your application.

His fees are not cheap, but then again his success rate for the top ten is pretty darn impressive.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 19:12
Thanks guys for the advice. Very useful information. I think what I will do is put the GMAT aside and try to focus on other things.

If I were to find a class to take, do you think it will be useful to my application if there is no grade given, but maybe some kind of certificate or document that says course completed? Is that better than nothing?

GMATT73, thanks for the reference. I have heard good things about MBAExchange. Can you tell me a bit more about how you heard about this guy Dan, where I can find out his success stories, etc? Any anybody also comment on MBAExchange?

Funny thing is, orginally I looked up MBAExchange and then decided not to use them because they don't take credit cards. They required wire transfer which I thought was a pain in the arse. I ended up thinking consultants are too expensive and I have friends who are top MBA grads anyway, so I didn't go with any consultant. I guess I might have to go back to them now.
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Apr 2007, 19:18
i would retake it if and if only you're consistenly scoring 760+ in your practice tests. Since you're not, I wouldn't waste more time there, your gmat is high enough after all.
Perhaps you should try asking for advice to a consultant, best of luck :)
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2007, 07:10
aceman626 wrote:
Thanks guys for the advice. Very useful information. I think what I will do is put the GMAT aside and try to focus on other things.

If I were to find a class to take, do you think it will be useful to my application if there is no grade given, but maybe some kind of certificate or document that says course completed? Is that better than nothing?

GMATT73, thanks for the reference. I have heard good things about MBAExchange. Can you tell me a bit more about how you heard about this guy Dan, where I can find out his success stories, etc? Any anybody also comment on MBAExchange?

Funny thing is, orginally I looked up MBAExchange and then decided not to use them because they don't take credit cards. They required wire transfer which I thought was a pain in the arse. I ended up thinking consultants are too expensive and I have friends who are top MBA grads anyway, so I didn't go with any consultant. I guess I might have to go back to them now.


Dan is a legit middle aged consultant based out of Hawaii with ample experience. Once upon a time I considered Duke as a long shot and started shopping around for consultants. After exhausting other forums and asking friends that utilized similiar services, everybody pointed me toward MBA Exchange. Even with an extremely low GMAT (640), Dan reckoned that I still had a solid shot at admissions (to Duke) with the aid of his services.

Ultimately, I gave up on the idea and independently snipered in on a lower ranked smaller school with a better fit.

Your other option would be to start taking UCBerkeley online courses in Stats, QMeth, Accounting, etc to mitigate your GPA. In the long run, that might be the better choice. The fees will be about the same that Dan would charge you for 3~5 schools.

Either way, a 2.67 shouldn't be the only factor barring your admissions to a top 10. Were you working through school? Was there a rising trend in your grades? Did you major in quantum physics??
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2007, 07:14
GMATT73 wrote:
Did you major in quantum physics??


I didn't major in quantum physics, but the sole mention of the subject has brought back scary memories of the modern physics course I took as an Engineering undergrad. Sweaty palms, insomnia and cold sweat are symptoms I relate with quantum physics. Since then I assume anyone majoring in quantum physics is probably nuts and most likely very intelligent :lol:
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2007, 20:09
Hi, thanks for the advice. I am a bit wary of online courses...first off, i heard they're not respected by bschools? secondly, i went to Berkeley for undergrad, and it's HARD. The main reason I got a 2.76. I can imagine the online courses to be even harder cuz you don't have access to teachers, etc. Are there easier options?
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2007, 20:35
Seriously, you're hoping to get into a top 10 MBA program, you already have one strike against you (your GPA) that indicates either you didn't try hard enough, or you tried hard and couldn't cut it, and you're looking for the easy option? Inspiring.

Even if you have a great explanation for your GPA, it's still low for top programs; I'm speaking from experience. Top public undergrad, worked full time to pay 100% of all costs, graduated in 3 years, hold an additional highly respected degree (JD from Michigan Law), and I still felt compelled to score through the roof on the GMAT as well as take additional classes online (4, all A's all at the same time, UCLA extension) before thinking I had a legitimate shot at elite schools.

There's no way around it, 2.76 is really low, in the bottom 10% for every single top 15 MBA program, and in the bottom 5% for virtually all of the top 10s. People admitted to top 10 schools in that GPA range are largely underrepresented minorities. If you aren't in that group, then you need to be very solid in every other category. If you happen to be part of an overrepresented group, particularly Indian and certain Asian demographics, you need to do everything possible for every other category.

Based on what you wrote, it's impossible to guess whether your work experience is distinguished or unique, or just how strong your essays were, but from your tone I'd guess they are more or less average. Average GMAT, average work experience, average essays, no extras, bottom 10% GPA. To get into the top programs you need to be solid in virtually every category, and excel in a few; being average to below average in every aspect isn't going to cut it.
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 06:13
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GMAT as well as take additional classes online (4, all A's all at the same time, UCLA extension) before thinking I had a legitimate shot at elite schools.


I am thinking to get few A's in either a community college or the Extension courses ,

could you please let us know - how was the over all program -- Difficulty level ? Any suggestions welcome
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 06:54
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The way I see it, aceman still has a few options:

1. Start taking UC online courses now and, yep, ace them. The more the better. They are tough, but at least you can work at your own pace. While doing so won't have an impact on your cumulative GPA, it will look favorable in the admissions eyes because you are showing a renewed interest in the academic, particularly business, world.

2. If you are hell bent on a top 10 MBA, then fork out the $5K to the consultant mentioned above. He specializes in strenghthening weak candidate's marketing pitch. Seriously, that is his forte. Every part of your application will be revamped and sold as one compelling story.

3. Choose a slightly lower ranked school (11~30). People gripe about the quality of education and lack of prestige associated with these programs, which, to a certain extent in a few industries may be true, but the straight fact is that an accredited MBA from any of the top 100 schools on the Financial Times list is more than likely going to move your career forward. In terms of educational quality, some schools like to set themselves apart, yet we all know that business is business, and the core will essentially be same no matter where you study.

There are members on this board that will type until their fingers fall off advocating why one must gain admissions to a top 10, and I don't want to pick an argument on the subject. The issue has been exhausted several times over and if you are so inclined to read about other's comments, then I suggest you run a search in the archives within this particular sub-forum.
Ultimately, it comes down to how bad you want to go to one of those schools. If you shotgunned all ten with your current stats, expect a string of dings. On the other hand, if you really honed in on one or maybe two in the elite range, with the assistance of a good consultant, then I would wager that you might get a 50/50 chance.

Bottom line, consider where you are now and where you see yourself two or three years from now, make a plan, and act on that plan. I personally know lots of MBAs, even one who graduated from CSUN and is happily semi-retired with more cash than his grandchildren will even need, simply because he had the right plan. I also have a best friend who got his MBA from Haas and works for Morgan Stanley. He's also absolutely miserable. We still keep in touch, but I can only handle so much of his pedantic pessimism. The poor guy is only 34 and already burned out.

No matter which direction you choose, remember that if you want something bad enough, even a top ten MBA, you need to do the homework. MBAExchange won't be an easy route either and don't expect them to write your essays for you. Essentially, their consultants will force you to stay focused throughout the entire application process. It's sad, but some people actually need to pay somebody else to inflict punishment on them.
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 07:14
pelihu wrote:
hold an additional highly respected degree (JD from Michigan Law)



Hey Pel, I know you readily admit a low UG gpa. How were you able to get into Michigan Law? It's a legitimate top8 school. I've seen it climb even higher than that.

I don't mean any offense by the above statement. But I know law schools place emphasis on LSAT and gpa.
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 09:13
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
hold an additional highly respected degree (JD from Michigan Law)



Hey Pel, I know you readily admit a low UG gpa. How were you able to get into Michigan Law? It's a legitimate top8 school. I've seen it climb even higher than that.

I don't mean any offense by the above statement. But I know law schools place emphasis on LSAT and gpa.


No, not at all, very good question. I was actually wondering if someone was going to ask me that at some point.

I finished up in 3 years - which means a lot of classes every term. UCLA is on the quarter system, which means that I had more or less 2 full quarters of school after I was admitted. I really thought at the time that I wouldn't need my GPA ever again.

So, here's what happened. My GPA was never really high (about 3.3 at the stage I turned in my applications), but my LSAT was through the roof. Also, the LSAT policy was different then and they averaged your scores if you took it more than once so almost everyone took it just one time and the school averages were a bit lower. Once I had admits in hand, I decided to party away the last 2 quarters (again, I didn't think I'd ever need it again). I was actually admitted to Michigan, Columbia & Berkeley law schools (no love from Harvard, Stanford or Yale).

I quit my job doing database analysis & took a job waiting tables in Malibu; started seeing a girl that was, hmmm, really hot and really wild; and did just enough to graduate. With the volume of classes I took each (again I graduated in 3 years), I essentially spent the last 1/4 of my time at college partying (actually I spend all 3 years partying, but even more in the last 2 quarters). Little did I know I would need to use my undergraduate record again. :lol:
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 09:25
Ozmba2006 wrote:
Quote:
GMAT as well as take additional classes online (4, all A's all at the same time, UCLA extension) before thinking I had a legitimate shot at elite schools.


I am thinking to get few A's in either a community college or the Extension courses ,

could you please let us know - how was the over all program -- Difficulty level ? Any suggestions welcome


Hi Oz,

I actually thought that the classes were pretty easy. In fact, I will say if you put in the work, you should have no problem getting A's. Honestly, it's more a test of effort than skill - there are just widely varying levels effort for various class members. I will say that a corporate finance class that I took was fairly rigorous, but the marketing class I took was a joke.

So, just put in the effort and you will do fine. I thought of it as repayment for the effort I lacked in college. :)
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 09:36
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Hi Oz,

I actually thought that the classes were pretty easy. In fact, I will say if you put in the work, you should have no problem getting A's. Honestly, it's more a test of effort than skill - there are just widely varying levels effort for various class members. I will say that a corporate finance class that I took was fairly rigorous, but the marketing class I took was a joke.

So, just put in the effort and you will do fine. I thought of it as repayment for the effort I lacked in college. :)


Thanks Pelihu

It was also fun to know about your GPA story
Never bothered about GPA during college ...so paying the price now
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2007, 10:36
pelihu wrote:
So, here's what happened. My GPA was never really high (about 3.3 at the stage I turned in my applications), but my LSAT was through the roof. Also, the LSAT policy was different then and they averaged your scores if you took it more than once so almost everyone took it just one time and the school averages were a bit lower. Once I had admits in hand, I decided to party away the last 2 quarters (again, I didn't think I'd ever need it again). I was actually admitted to Michigan, Columbia & Berkeley law schools (no love from Harvard, Stanford or Yale).


Yes! I forgot that one applies to law school as a junior and law schools do not get a chance to see your senior year grades for evaluation. I am a bit surprised that you turned down Columbia for Michigan. Reputation wise, Columbia law school is not as inconsistent as its bschool counterpart. Columbia Law is perennially ranked directly below Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Was some sort of scholarship involved?

ps-I also dropped my gpa from a summa cum laude to a cum laude, thanks to senioritis.
  [#permalink] 20 Apr 2007, 10:36
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