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690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice?

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690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 14:42
So I last posted on here in August 2008, after taking the GMAT with little preparation and scoring a 690 (36Q, 47V). Given that my quant score was in the 48th percentile, I figured I could do far better with some more preparation, so I decided to retake the test.

I first took a couple month break from the GMAT, and then started studying in earnest in mid-January (two months ago). I got a GMAT tutor who specializes in helping students through the quantitative section, and started meeting with him for 2 hours every week. He assigned problem sets that I would complete, and then we would go over the answers together during our sessions. He was very knowledgeable, and helped me to understand how to approach the quant problems. After 7 or 8 sessions with him, I took a GMAT prep test and scored a 48 on the quant section, and then took two GMAT focus tests and scored in the 44-49 range on both. I was still struggling to finish the test within the allotted time, and on the last 4-5 questions I consistently found that my only choices were either to guess or leave them unanswered. In order to address this issue, I did some speed work, trying to do a lot of questions under timed conditions, so that I could get a sense of how long I had for each question, and noticed a considerable improvement. I signed up for the test yesterday, and went in to take it this morning, thinking that I was all set to get a great score.

I just returned from the test center, and I am disappointed. I got a 730 (44Q, 47V), which is a good score. However, I am not happy with the score for a number of reasons. First, I feel I could have done much better on the quant section. I left the last 4-5 questions unanswered, which I've heard means a pretty stiff score penalty. I also didn't feel very "on" during the test. Second, a 44 on the quant section would put me in the 70th percentile. Considering that I'm aiming for top business schools (top choice Stanford), this does not seem too impressive, especially given that I've heard that business schools look more closely at the quant score. Third, I was really hoping to hit the GMAT out of the park because my undergraduate GPA is not the best (3.2, Harvard), my work experience is limited (just graduated in June 08) and I know I need to compensate for those weaknesses.

Now I'm wondering what to do, and am hoping for some advice from all you seasoned GMAT-ers.

- Should I retake the test? How do schools view retakes? If I were to take the test again, that would be my third attempt. What score would I need to get for it to make a difference in the eyes of admissions committees?
- What's the consensus on leaving questions blank? Did I sabotage my score by leaving those last few questions unanswered?
- What are my chances at getting into a top business school (e.g. Stanford) with my profile (730 GMAT, 1 yr work experience, 3.2 GPA at Harvard, black female)? Of course, I know that grad school competition is stiff this year, that getting into top b-schools is always difficult, that more work experience would be desirable, that my low undergraduate GPA will hurt me, etc. Given all of those things, I'm wondering what my strategy should be. Is it worth putting in the effort to apply now? Do I even have a chance? Or should I wait a couple of years to give myself a chance to build more work experience? (That option sounds rather unappealing as the job market is not too hot right now, don't know if you've heard.)
- Will applying to a school and not being accepted hurt my chances of being accepted if I apply the following year?

Any other thoughts anyone might offer would also be much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 15:34
so if i got it right, u r black female who graduated from harvard with gmat of 730?
i am not an expert but i can hardly imagine any school to pass on u with such a unique background. not only u will be admitted but also will get $$$

maybe work experience is going to be an issue but ur background can surely make up for this

only thing i dont understand here is why would someone with such an impressive profile worry about retaking 730 gmat

thats like saying... i need to make one liter of lemonade so i got 10 liters of water and 100 lemons. should i go buy some more, just in case?
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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 17 Mar 2009, 19:37
You went from a 36q to a 44q which is an incredible in itself. For your profile I just don't see how a 750+ is going to help you out and 3.2 at Harvard isn't going to be a big deal. Relax and write those essays!

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New post 18 Mar 2009, 19:54
thanks both for the feedback and encouragement.

I'm still a bit skeptical of my chances, and it does feel like my GMAT score is the thing I'm best in a position to improve at this point. as a recent grad trying to enter the nonprofit world (where there are fewer entry-level and career development programs than in consulting or i-banking), I've had trouble finding meaningful work, and am currently working in a job I don't enjoy very much. I am a program associate with an entrepreneurial educational non-profit (we act as a match-maker between low income high school students and top colleges), and don't have very many leadership opportunities. I've been trying to make the most of the position and to create opportunities for myself to take on independent projects, while also taking on additional volunteer positions and looking for better employment options, but it's been tough. the jobs just don't seem to be there, at least not for someone with so little work experience. considering that I don't feel like I'm getting what I want to be getting out of my professional life, I am really anxious to go back to school, as I feel it might be a more efficient path to gaining good experiences and finding a more engaging job. (I'm also very interested in starting an organization of some kind, and crave the management education.)

so I have heard that there are a few key factors that go into admitting applicants to business schools: 1. work experience (and, for younger applicants, undergraduate GPA), 2. GMAT score, 3. essays/explanation of reasons for wanting to attend, 4. employer recommendations, interviews and all the other little extras that go into an application. given that I feel I have little control over #1 and to some extent #4, I guess my instinct is to try and compensate with my GMAT score. I had hoped to get a really top score (and thought I was capable of achieving one), so that admissions officers would be willing to overlook my thin resume. I guess I should probably give up that dream now, and move on to working on #3. I have started to do some research on the schools I am interested in, and am trying to do some serious thinking about what I really want to get out of an MBA. hopefully, I will be able to craft an essay that will wow them even when other parts of my application might not.

anyway, spiridon, thanks so much for the lemonade analogy -- made me laugh out loud, and really helped me to feel better (though I doubt that I am really such a "unique" candidate). and lsuguy7, I will try to take your advice and start thinking about my essays and trying to shake off the 3.2 GPA. thanks again to both of you!

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 18 Mar 2009, 20:16
Start going through the B-School application forum. You'll see people with high 600 gmats getting into every school they apply to and people with 760+ getting dings all over the place. You've got to ask yourself when you get into bschool and you're reading these applications if you'll put more weight in a 760 than a 730.

If you have a clear reason why you want an MBA now, and why xyz school is the perfect fit for you, and you can speak passionately about your post MBA goals you'll be better off than most.

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2009, 11:33
i think we should all have a pity party because you scored a 730..................

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New post 19 Mar 2009, 14:35
embrya2k, my goal in writing this post was not to inspire people to take pity on me, but rather to get constructive advice from people who are going through a similar process. I realize that most people who received the same score would be very happy with it; I tried to explain in both of my posts why I am not. on top of all of the reasons that I described in those posts, I think anyone can understand that it is frustrating to feel that you have worked hard, yet still underperformed. (Objectively speaking, improving from the 48th percentile to the 70th percentile in quant is a positive change, but it certainly isn't going to win me prizes with admissions committees.) of course, I know that there are people who have an even more difficult time with the GMAT, but I didn't think that meant I could not also share my disappointments and ask for advice on my next steps. anyway, though I wish you might have contributed something more useful to this discussion, I do appreciate your reading my post, and taking the time to respond.

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2009, 20:48
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black, female, 3.2, harvard, 730...

you do not need to retake the GMAT.

you may or may not get into Stanford with 1 year experience. if you don't, it will not be because of your gmat score. I say unless you write a utterly stupid essay you have a 75% chance of admission on stats alone

If you don't get in, you only need to do one thing... wait a few years and reapply. If you had 4 yrs experience right now you could go to any elite school you want with 99% certainty. I am dead serious.

couple more things:
- 44Q is within your range of performance, especially considering your earlier 36Q. I don't think it is rational to expect a 49Q, i.e. you probably didn't really underperform. I would say 45Q should have been your target and you achieved it. what if you retake and get 40Q? Move on.

- GMAT is not even that important for ultra-elites. Stanford averages 720, therefore them choosing between a 730 vs 770 makes no difference to them. Even statistically it makes no difference. absolutely none. do the math, you can't alter their average.

- reapplying to the same school later is challenging because you have to specifically answer what you have done to improve your profile. at the same time, it won't be that hard for you, you will have spent that time working and getting more experience.

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2009, 06:55
Tarmac....would you say it looks good if you know you do not have XYZ school adm stats yet, but apply anyway, with the intention of re-applying later with a stronger app..I would assume it makes you look dedicated to come back, more focused, etc....then there is some basis to judge your progress...

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New post 20 Mar 2009, 09:38
spgny wrote:
Tarmac....would you say it looks good if you know you do not have XYZ school adm stats yet, but apply anyway, with the intention of re-applying later with a stronger app..I would assume it makes you look dedicated to come back, more focused, etc....then there is some basis to judge your progress...


no, unless you are a Black woman Harvard graduate with a 730 GMAT

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2009, 10:05
I think you should be proud of going from the 48th percentile to the 70th percentile. With more time, I'm sure you could bring it up further, but your GMAT score is already at or above the median score for accepted students at any program. 730 is a great score and will be looked on favourably!

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New post 20 Mar 2009, 22:44
tarmac, I really appreciate your comments -- exactly the sort of concrete feedback I was looking for. am especially grateful for the explanation of the dynamic surrounding reapplying to schools that have previously rejected you (and thanks to spgny for asking the clarification question). this forum has been an amazing source of information and advice. for now, I think I will shift my focus to the business school application section, where I will be seeking info on b-schools with a strong international and/or social entrepreneurship focus. and to embrya2k and others, don't worry, that's all the whining I will be doing around here for a while!

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2009, 10:45
Good luck, Kelli, I know you will do well. It's time for you to "graduate" to the B-school Application forum. :P Seriously, I predict you will get into Stanford.

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Re: 690 (36Q 47V) -> 730 (44Q 47V) -> disappointed. advice?   [#permalink] 22 Mar 2009, 10:45
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