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Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class?

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Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 02 May 2013, 18:54
I'm considering getting my MBA under a specific set of conditions; basically that I get into one of a handful of schools (NYU, Yale, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, MIT, and Dartmouth) although I'm open to other options (close to NYC) that have a reasonable chance of getting me placed. My profile is overall fairly weak (see below) with the open question of a GMAT score.

I'm a historically strong standardized test taker (1410 SAT ~95th percentile, no test prep; 168 LSAT 96th percentile, but skipped an entire logic problem for so likely a outlier low score) so there is a possibility that I could home run the GMAT (mid 700s). Either way, I'm fairly confident I can achieve a 720+ score that seems to meet the minimum threshold most top places. The problem is, I've not been able to study adequately on my own and would need to take a prep class at a cost of about $1.5k to get my score into that kind of shape.

GMAT: 720+

GPA: 3.4 (call it a top 100 undergraduate business school although it was top 50 when I went; well known public university anyway)

Major: Accounting; Minor in Leadership and Ethics

Work Experience: 6 years at a super-regional bank doing middle-market leveraged debt (particular group within the bank is an industry leader); several promotions including an executive prep program (1st ever person selected) and competitive credit training program (top 10% of class); will either be 7 years at matriculation or possibly a year at another firm

Extracurriculars: Nothing spectacular since school; various volunteer positions including some local soup kitchens, NGO's, and some things through my church; I did a Semester at Sea study abroad program in college, that's been a wild card on a few interviews that people like, not sure how much an admission's committee cares

Age: 30 at matriculation

Recommendations: Nothing spectacular although I might have a personal network in at Wharton (which is a very long shot with my profile anyway).

I'm concerned that other aspects of my profile will hold me back too much regardless of other considerations; particularly my old age, poor work experience, and average GPA. I'm willing to spend the money on the class of course, but I'm hesitant to do so unless I can realistically expect to get admitted somewhere with a ~720 GMAT score.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 02 May 2013, 20:17
Hey man,
Allow me to say that maybe you are being a bit hard on yourself. I assume that if you can achieve a +720 GMAT score, admission officers at the very least will look at your application.
Maybe it is true what you say about your age and maybe you come from an overrepresented background (accounting) which turns out to be very competitive among candidates.

But IMHO, I would be more optimistic if I were you!

Anyway, if this is such a determining decision for you, why don´t you arrange a free interview with one of the admission prep companies, ask this question and then decide?

Best!
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 05:43
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If you can get a 720+ you are in the running for top 10 schools. Admittedly, the H/S/W will be tough, but they are tough for all. Otherwise your profile seems quite solid - it is what you make of it.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 06:38
JonAdmissionado wrote:
If you can get a 720+ you are in the running for top 10 schools. Admittedly, the H/S/W will be tough, but they are tough for all. Otherwise your profile seems quite solid - it is what you make of it.


Thanks for the advice. All I can hope for is getting my foot in the door and executing well in essays and interviews. Maybe a little luck will get me somewhere; perhaps I was being overly negative.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 06:40
wizzard wrote:
Hey man,
Allow me to say that maybe you are being a bit hard on yourself. I assume that if you can achieve a +720 GMAT score, admission officers at the very least will look at your application.
Maybe it is true what you say about your age and maybe you come from an overrepresented background (accounting) which turns out to be very competitive among candidates.

But IMHO, I would be more optimistic if I were you!

Anyway, if this is such a determining decision for you, why don´t you arrange a free interview with one of the admission prep companies, ask this question and then decide?

Best!


I think I will actually; I was looking into MGMAT's prep because it is local for me (NYC). I may go speak to them next week.

I'm not sure if I'm being too hard on myself; I was trying to be as honest with my profile as possible. Based on what I've read of top 10 admits, I'm just not a good candidate. I'm not really a bad candidate though and my approach is to apply to a lot of schools as you can see and hope that I get a little lucky with 2-3 of them.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 12:18
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Personally, I'm a little skeptical of GMAT courses and here's why: no matter what, you need to put in the legwork to make sure you know the material. And the material isn't rocket science. It's a tough, tough test to be sure, but there isn't some kind of secret strategy that the GMAT course will give you. It's really just a matter of practice, practice, practice. I thought about doing a course, too, but realized I would probably just have to devote even more time to studying because I'd still need to sit down and practice out of class.

Hope that makes sense. There's probably a million people (plus a whole test prep industry) who would disagree with me, but I think it's a waste of money.

Now, one pro I do see to a course is if it helps you to create the time in your schedule to study. In that case, it might be worth it. So obviously you need to decide what's right for you.

But with regards to your profile, I agree with everything stated above. At least at Yale and Tuck, lots of people I met worked for smaller, more regional firms and many--probably most (myself included)--did not go to an Ivy for undergrad. You're definitely being too hard on yourself. With the right application execution, I imagine you could get into one of those schools.

So GMAT course or not, start hitting the GMAT books. And I actually have PDF copies of all the MGMAT books, so feel free to PM if those would be helpful. Good luck!
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 12:38
lb2015 wrote:
Personally, I'm a little skeptical of GMAT courses and here's why: no matter what, you need to put in the legwork to make sure you know the material. And the material isn't rocket science. It's a tough, tough test to be sure, but there isn't some kind of secret strategy that the GMAT course will give you. It's really just a matter of practice, practice, practice. I thought about doing a course, too, but realized I would probably just have to devote even more time to studying because I'd still need to sit down and practice out of class.

Hope that makes sense. There's probably a million people (plus a whole test prep industry) who would disagree with me, but I think it's a waste of money.

Now, one pro I do see to a course is if it helps you to create the time in your schedule to study. In that case, it might be worth it. So obviously you need to decide what's right for you.

But with regards to your profile, I agree with everything stated above. At least at Yale and Tuck, lots of people I met worked for smaller, more regional firms and many--probably most (myself included)--did not go to an Ivy for undergrad. You're definitely being too hard on yourself. With the right application execution, I imagine you could get into one of those schools.

So GMAT course or not, start hitting the GMAT books. And I actually have PDF copies of all the MGMAT books, so feel free to PM if those would be helpful. Good luck!


Thanks for your advice; I wasn't trying to be overly negative or anything, but I made this post after reading that "Handicapping MBA Admit" series on Poets & Quants and after a rough bit at work so I was definitely not evaluating myself positively or even objectively. From your comments and others in this thread it sounds like my chances are better than I probably realize.

Funny, I am actually coming around to your exact suggestion. As part of my evaluation of this option, I reached out to a friend who worked at MGMAT to tell her I wanted to speak to her and her advice (without knowing the details of my situation other than that I am a pretty good self-studier) was exactly identical to yours; basically, that the live courses are great for people that need the extra motivation/time management/discipline, but don't provide any real advantage over self study. She recommended the same thing as you, just work through the self-study program. I'm going to follow-up in more detail of course, but I'm not strongly leaning towards this option.

Also, I didn't mention this, but I already have the 2012 MGMAT full series; I will need to add IR and maybe some other supplemental books, but apparently the curriculum doesn't change much YOY. I did fall off their 12 month online CAT thing so I will either need to re-purchase the books or try to negotiate some kind of reduced fee for just the online access (apparently they are open to stuff like this).

Again, thank you very much for your advice.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 13:28
jloopy17 wrote:
lb2015 wrote:
Personally, I'm a little skeptical of GMAT courses and here's why: no matter what, you need to put in the legwork to make sure you know the material. And the material isn't rocket science. It's a tough, tough test to be sure, but there isn't some kind of secret strategy that the GMAT course will give you. It's really just a matter of practice, practice, practice. I thought about doing a course, too, but realized I would probably just have to devote even more time to studying because I'd still need to sit down and practice out of class.

Hope that makes sense. There's probably a million people (plus a whole test prep industry) who would disagree with me, but I think it's a waste of money.

Now, one pro I do see to a course is if it helps you to create the time in your schedule to study. In that case, it might be worth it. So obviously you need to decide what's right for you.

But with regards to your profile, I agree with everything stated above. At least at Yale and Tuck, lots of people I met worked for smaller, more regional firms and many--probably most (myself included)--did not go to an Ivy for undergrad. You're definitely being too hard on yourself. With the right application execution, I imagine you could get into one of those schools.

So GMAT course or not, start hitting the GMAT books. And I actually have PDF copies of all the MGMAT books, so feel free to PM if those would be helpful. Good luck!


Thanks for your advice; I wasn't trying to be overly negative or anything, but I made this post after reading that "Handicapping MBA Admit" series on Poets & Quants and after a rough bit at work so I was definitely not evaluating myself positively or even objectively. From your comments and others in this thread it sounds like my chances are better than I probably realize.

Funny, I am actually coming around to your exact suggestion. As part of my evaluation of this option, I reached out to a friend who worked at MGMAT to tell her I wanted to speak to her and her advice (without knowing the details of my situation other than that I am a pretty good self-studier) was exactly identical to yours; basically, that the live courses are great for people that need the extra motivation/time management/discipline, but don't provide any real advantage over self study. She recommended the same thing as you, just work through the self-study program. I'm going to follow-up in more detail of course, but I'm not strongly leaning towards this option.

Also, I didn't mention this, but I already have the 2012 MGMAT full series; I will need to add IR and maybe some other supplemental books, but apparently the curriculum doesn't change much YOY. I did fall off their 12 month online CAT thing so I will either need to re-purchase the books or try to negotiate some kind of reduced fee for just the online access (apparently they are open to stuff like this).

Again, thank you very much for your advice.

Good stuff! It sounds like you're in the right frame of mind. I know how you felt—there were definitely times in the process I got down on myself for various reasons (age—opposite issue as for you as I’m 24, lack of management experience, less well-known undergrad). But the fact is, you really just need to put together a cohesive application package that focuses on your strengths and fit with a given program. And then nail your well-deserved interviews!

As far as tests go, you get two free CATs with your GMAT registration. Those will be closest in format to the actual exam and in my opinion (that again, many would likely disagree with), those two are really all you need (basically to get a sense of the timing and pace). I mainly focused my energy on doing timed problem sets in the MGMAT chapters and went over and over and over them again until the material was intuitive. Probably took around 4 months to study, maybe 100-150 hours total? I took the GMAT once, got a 710, and was happy to move on. You can of course find much more comprehensive GMAT insight elsewhere on this site that can help you set up a good study plan.

So I definitely think your friend is right—it’s really just a matter of discipline. One thing that helped get me motivated to study was to simply schedule my test date. Up until then, my focus was a little scattered. But when I had a firm deadline I was able to prioritize GMAT studying.

Happy to answer any questions you have on Yale as you get into applications this fall/winter!
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 03 May 2013, 16:11
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Hi there, just on the "GMAT insight" and the "shortest way to" a successful test : if you are the "gifted" test taker you say you are, and if you haven't completely forgotten the fundamentals of maths (geometry, simple probability, arithmetics, some equations and inequations and a few bits here and there) you SHOULD definetely NOT take the courses but go for self-study, taking some days off here and there to accelerate your progress.
I have written a very long input to outline how I got 740 on my first attempt in 8 weeks. The article is long because I outline everything I learned, every setback one can avoid, and the most important things to save a lot of time.
The article is entitled "An incredibly hard and challenging 8weeks to GMAT 740 "

If you think 30 is old, you're plain wrong: HBS does accept 32y.o. on its full time curriculum. I'm applying in europe at age 35 and met a guy matriculating at 36+ it's not so much your age as much as what you intend to make of the MBA experience and competencies. You age should be seen as a credential for maturity and readiness to a more senior role than the average MBA grad, that's all.
For the high score, if I got it, anybody can : I am a bad test taker, have always had bad performance with tests that put too much focus on time and I am not even a native english speaker.

But my primary question is that you didn't mention WHY you want to do an MBA ; top tier schools like the ones you mention have already rejected high GMAT score candidates because the high score was the only thing they had put forward, your motivation and career plans are at least as important as your current academic level.
Anyway, have a look at the article (sorry its lengthy, I couldn't make it any shorter)

Cheers,
A.C.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 06 May 2013, 12:04
Hey jloopy17,
I was just rereading one of your posts and I noticed that you used the "Handicapping MBA Admit" series on Poets & Quants to reach to your conclusion.
I´ve read some of those but... Can one be sure about those analysis? Are they that accurate?

I know the analysis comes from a qualified source, but anyway...
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2013, 04:06
AmineCHABBI wrote:
Hi there, just on the "GMAT insight" and the "shortest way to" a successful test : if you are the "gifted" test taker you say you are, and if you haven't completely forgotten the fundamentals of maths (geometry, simple probability, arithmetics, some equations and inequations and a few bits here and there) you SHOULD definetely NOT take the courses but go for self-study, taking some days off here and there to accelerate your progress.
I have written a very long input to outline how I got 740 on my first attempt in 8 weeks. The article is long because I outline everything I learned, every setback one can avoid, and the most important things to save a lot of time.
The article is entitled "An incredibly hard and challenging 8weeks to GMAT 740 "

If you think 30 is old, you're plain wrong: HBS does accept 32y.o. on its full time curriculum. I'm applying in europe at age 35 and met a guy matriculating at 36+ it's not so much your age as much as what you intend to make of the MBA experience and competencies. You age should be seen as a credential for maturity and readiness to a more senior role than the average MBA grad, that's all.
For the high score, if I got it, anybody can : I am a bad test taker, have always had bad performance with tests that put too much focus on time and I am not even a native english speaker.

But my primary question is that you didn't mention WHY you want to do an MBA ; top tier schools like the ones you mention have already rejected high GMAT score candidates because the high score was the only thing they had put forward, your motivation and career plans are at least as important as your current academic level.
Anyway, have a look at the article (sorry its lengthy, I couldn't make it any shorter)

Cheers,
A.C.


Thanks for the advice! Yes, based on here and elsewhere I am leaning toward exactly what you suggested: a self-guided study program. I actually have a set of MGMAT books from 2012 already so I might not even have to buy anything.

I know that the GMAT score is just one element of my application and I am working on other elements simultaneously. I'm trying to boost some of my extracurriculars and doing some extra networking to hopefully secure some better recommendations. I have the essay questions for the schools I am looking into and have been thinking about those.

The main thing I am working on, as you suggested, is developing a thread that ties my pre-MBA education and career with post-MBA aspirations. Truthfully what I want to do is secure a job as an associate in private equity post-MBA so that I can gain experience in the business and develop a client base with the ultimate goal of starting my own small-mid market PE fund. However, it's hard to determine if adcoms will look favorably on something like that.

By the way, I'm very interested in reading your article, but you didn't link it? Could you PM or post it here?
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2013, 04:09
wizzard wrote:
Hey jloopy17,
I was just rereading one of your posts and I noticed that you used the "Handicapping MBA Admit" series on Poets & Quants to reach to your conclusion.
I´ve read some of those but... Can one be sure about those analysis? Are they that accurate?

I know the analysis comes from a qualified source, but anyway...


Yes, I'm not sure to be honest. After reading this site and a few others, I think that series might be highly conservative. At the very least, the quantification of everything is deceptive. I look and see that some superstar has a 20% chance of getting into a top school so what do I have?

Anyway, I'm not letting myself be discouraged about it. If the adcoms don't like my application, they will have an opportunity to reject me, not some profile.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 12 May 2013, 04:37
Hi there,

Sorry for not answering your query I was away for the week (I force my self to be offline on vacation).
I don't really know how to "link" to my article/thread in a smart way, but I suppose this will work

an-incredibly-hard-and-challenging-8weeks-to-gmat-152115.html#p1220292


Cheers,

A.C.
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Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class? [#permalink] New post 12 May 2013, 07:21
jloopy17 wrote:
wizzard wrote:
Hey jloopy17,
I was just rereading one of your posts and I noticed that you used the "Handicapping MBA Admit" series on Poets & Quants to reach to your conclusion.
I´ve read some of those but... Can one be sure about those analysis? Are they that accurate?

I know the analysis comes from a qualified source, but anyway...


Yes, I'm not sure to be honest. After reading this site and a few others, I think that series might be highly conservative. At the very least, the quantification of everything is deceptive. I look and see that some superstar has a 20% chance of getting into a top school so what do I have?

Anyway, I'm not letting myself be discouraged about it. If the adcoms don't like my application, they will have an opportunity to reject me, not some profile.

For what it's worth, Sandy was nearly spot-on about my chances. That said, don't let anyone else tell you not to apply if you believe you legitimately have a shot.
Re: Strong Enough Profile to Justify GMAT Prep Class?   [#permalink] 12 May 2013, 07:21
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