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740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!

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GMAT 1: 740 Q50 V40
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740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Sep 2015, 19:10
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I took the GMAT 3 times and got a 630, a 680, and a 740. The schools will only see my 740, and I feel like I just beat the system.

About a month after I started prepping for the GMAT, the score reporting rules changed, and I learned how to exploit them for the perfect score report. Here’s my story how, and how I prepared for the 97th percentile.

My GMAT “Equipment”



On my first GMAT Prep test I scored a 520, and although I was kind of terrified, I learned that that was actually better than the average starting score, which made me feel a lot better. I set about following the 3 month study plan with an obsession. I think the thing that made the biggest difference is understanding that to get good at answering GMAT questions, and working the adaptive CAT, you have to build specialized skills.

Here are the skills from the course, and my own reflections that enabled me to get a 740:

  • Double check - Especially on the questions you know you can do. Early on, I missed way too many questions I because I made stupid, idiot mistakes. Rather than just hitting my head against the desk, I reflected on what bad habits were causing those mistakes. Before you click “next”, double check.
  • The test measures thoroughness. If the question says, n > 2, don’t just think 3, consider 2.1.
  • Attention to detail - When you read a question, read it carefully enough to catch exactly what it’s asking for because they’ve got a brutal punisher answer waiting for you otherwise
  • Spotting the gaps - This is especially helpful in CR, and DS. In Empower, they teach about the 3 common flaws/assumptions: 1-No other factors, 2-Success, 3-Relevance. In every CR argument, you can count on at least one of them, and you’ll know how to answer every assumption, strengthen, weaken, and evaluate the argument question. In DS, knowing what’s missing makes finding the right answer a lot more direct, and sort of takes the mystery out of it.
  • Being in control when you read - It's way to easy to race through the content as you read, but I'm sure you noticed that when you don't race, you're far more accurate. For me at least, it was night and day. The only way to perform at my best is to read with careful, slow, high engagement.

On my next few Manhattan tests, I ventured from 520 to 600. Those 80 points meant a lot for my confidence because I knew I could still get so many more. That’s also right around the time that Empower sent out an email blast about some awesome new GMAT score reporting changes. Basically they broke down how to game the system for a perfect score report with only one test showing, your best score, no matter what. It changed everything for me, so I want to pay it forward to anyone who doesn’t know how it works. First you need to know the new score reporting rules (in case you don’t know them yet, here they are):

+You can cancel after seeing your score, and schools can’t see that you cancelled
+You can reactivate any score you wish if earned within the last 60 days
+You can retake the GMAT every 16 days, up to 5 times a year

Here’s my attempt to recap how to play the system for the perfect score report:

  • Prep until your practice tests are inline with your target score. There’s no getting around the fact that you still have to be ready to go.
  • Take the test. If you get hit or beat your target score, accept it and you’re done. If you don’t like your score, or anything about the balance, cancel it then because that’s your only chance to cancel. There’s no penalty to cancel other than the test fee you had to pay.
  • Reschedule your test for 16 days or longer. Repeat step 2.
  • If you’re still not happy with your score, reschedule and repeat step 2 again.
  • Now you get to reactivate your best score, and that is the only score the admissions committees will ever see. It’s the perfect score report. Just one awesome score.

Basically, you almost want to go into the test center planning to cancel unless you hit a homerun.

So that is exactly what I did. I got: 630, 680 (didn’t like it because my quant was way below my potential), and then a 740. Obviously, I chose to keep the 740. If I still wasn’t sure, I could have cancelled, thought about it, and then later chosen to either reactivate one of the scores, or retake.

Ultimately, this awesome strategy changed everything for me, and perhaps by far the best thing about it is it took about 90% of the stress out of taking the test for me. I knew it wasn’t do or die, and that allowed me to relax, focus, and play at my best.

The only downside is that each GMAT costs $250. This guy I work with also took the GMAT who complained about the $250 test fees and reactivation fees to use this system, and I told him that if you’re concerned about an extra few hundred dollars for something that could net you $millions in additional income I don’t think Harvard wants you anyway. He laughed and said “point taken.”

I owe EMPOWERgmat everything for sharing this strategy, and I hope that others can benefit from the system the same way I did.

Here’s to all, and make sure to pay it forward too! Maybe I’ll see you at Kellogg, Stern or CBS!

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Re: 740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2015, 04:56
great post ... I am appearing for gmat in december ..
Can you please tell how much is reactivation fee ?
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New post 29 Sep 2015, 10:26
adityadon wrote:
great post ... I am appearing for gmat in december ..
Can you please tell how much is reactivation fee ?

Hi and thanks. Having that sense of freedom gave me so much more confidence, and I never had any of the test anxiety that I thought I would. Knowing how to play the score system changed everything for me. Hopefully this helps you for December too. Since my 740 was the last test I didn't have to pay to reactivate my score, but I'm pretty sure the fee is just $100.
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New post 29 Sep 2015, 12:54
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You played into the system you didn't beat it. The whole point of the score cancellation policy was to encourage more retakes for that $$$. Schools already didn't care how many times you took it.

Wouldn't be surprised to see average scores rise to 740-750 at top 10 schools.
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New post 29 Sep 2015, 19:46
Kennedy91- This is awesome!!! I don't think too many people know you can structure your tests this way. Your post changes everything for me.

Porkbun has a point that these rules favor those who can afford it, but if you have the money, this system is a no-brainer.

Personally, I don't mind spending an extra few hundred $$ to pick the score that could help get me into Stanford. The average starting salary at Stanford now is something like $180,000. I think it's important to keep the cost of the GMAT in perspective. It's a bargain compared to what it can get you.
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New post 29 Sep 2015, 20:07
ckmichigan wrote:
Kennedy91- This is awesome!!! I don't think too many people know you can structure your tests this way. Your post changes everything for me.

Porkbun has a point that these rules favor those who can afford it, but if you have the money, this system is a no-brainer.

Personally, I don't mind spending an extra few hundred $$ to pick the score that could help get me into Stanford. The average starting salary at Stanford now is something like $180,000. I think it's important to keep the cost of the GMAT in perspective. It's a bargain compared to what it can get you.


Obviously taking the test multiple times is worth it considering the ROI. I myself have done so.

That really wasn't my point though. What I was trying to get at was that in the past even if OP's report card showed a couple of 600's and a 740, schools only consider the highest score. The 600's in no way would hurt him. Now, there was a point where I think if you had taken 5+ tests that it would start to hurt you, but that was only a very minute consideration. Sandy Kreisburg had recommended taking the test 10+ times in order to get the score you want.

However, with this new rule change, we aren't going to see that (5+ tests on a report card) anymore. Schools aren't dumb, they absolutely know that this rule can be exploited. They never placed ANY premium on single takes and with this rule change any minor consideration of excessive takes goes out the window, because it can never be tracked.
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New post 30 Sep 2015, 10:37
Hi kennedy91,

That's OUTSTANDING news about your score. With a 740, you're in position to apply to any Business Schools that interest you, so you shouldn't hold back when it comes to your applications.

While the point made by Porkbun is valid (Business Schools don't really care how many times you take the GMAT), you hit on one of the big advantages of GMACs Score Reporting 'process' - the option to reactivate a score (combined with the shorter 16-day 'wait period' between Exams) can really ease the levels of anxiety that many Test Takers experience on Test Day. Your ability to incorporate that pattern/logic clearly helped you to perform up to your potential.

The Schools that you mentioned in your original post are all highly competitive, so you might want to work with an Admissions Consultant on your applications. If you're interested, we have one particular expert who we recommend who has helped many of our Clients to fantastic results. Email/PM me and I'll help set you up with a free consultation.

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
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740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2015, 12:34
kennedy91

Congratulations!!

I am taking my GMAT - October 14th. Let's hope for the best. Your post and score inspired me in some way that if you work hard, anything is achievable. It is not rocket science :)

If it does not work in the first time,there is always another chance. Just don't lose hopes. That is what I learnt from you post.

Thanks and All the best for the admission process.

Do let us know your experience!!

Regards
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Re: 740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2015, 13:40
hey kennedy!!! Congrats on your score!!!

Would you mind sharing you score breakdowns???
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New post 14 Oct 2015, 11:27
Saswat89 wrote:
kennedy91

Congratulations!!

I am taking my GMAT - October 14th. Let's hope for the best. Your post and score inspired me in some way that if you work hard, anything is achievable. It is not rocket science :)

If it does not work in the first time,there is always another chance. Just don't lose hopes. That is what I learnt from you post.

Thanks and All the best for the admission process.

Do let us know your experience!!

Regards
Saswat

Hi saswat...how was ur exam???
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Re: 740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Oct 2015, 12:31
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi kennedy91,

That's OUTSTANDING news about your score. With a 740, you're in position to apply to any Business Schools that interest you, so you shouldn't hold back when it comes to your applications.

While the point made by Porkbun is valid (Business Schools don't really care how many times you take the GMAT), you hit on one of the big advantages of GMACs Score Reporting 'process' - the option to reactivate a score (combined with the shorter 16-day 'wait period' between Exams) can really ease the levels of anxiety that many Test Takers experience on Test Day. Your ability to incorporate that pattern/logic clearly helped you to perform up to your potential.

The Schools that you mentioned in your original post are all highly competitive, so you might want to work with an Admissions Consultant on your applications. If you're interested, we have one particular expert who we recommend who has helped many of our Clients to fantastic results. Email/PM me and I'll help set you up with a free consultation.

Another GMAT Assassin has been made!
Rich


I was under the impression that you could only retake the GMAT every 31 days? Is the new rule that you can retake the GMAT every 16 days? Or is it only 16 days if you cancel your exam score? Does it not count as 'cheating' if you redo the exam within 16 days as some of the same questions will come up? If it does count as cheating, can't GMAC cancel your score?
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Re: 740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Oct 2015, 20:17
Hi tanad,

GMAC's 'old' policy was that you had to wait 31 days after taking the GMAT to take it again. This past July, the rules changed though - now, it's only 16 days. To answer your other question, you will NOT see any repeat questions on the GMAT.

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New post 20 Oct 2015, 20:27
I'd like to clarify 1 thing that I read above. Although the new GMAC rules do give you the flexibility of cancelling and only reporting your best scores I don't think you actually can get around the question of "how many times have you taken the GMAT" that many bschool applications ask. You have to talk about your cancelled attempts as well or else IMO, you are not providing the correct picture. For schools that do not ask about how many times have you appeared for GMAT, yes you are at an advantage.
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Re: 740 - I Got To Pick My Best Score!   [#permalink] 20 Oct 2015, 20:27
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