The short answer is NO, don't study for the GMAT and work on your essays at the same time! We've met far too many applicants who are reapplying, and offer "Well, I was cramming for the GMAT while writing my essays" as the reason why they got rejected last year.
Honestly, a 690 is good enough to get you in anywhere. Why even take it again? If you're worried about your verbal score, some well-written essays can overcome that.
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