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How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 13:01
Hi everyone,

The GMAT registration fee includes the cost of sending the test score to up to five institutions of the test taker's choice. Would be great to know how to go about selecting these five options in the best possible manner, given that there are significant costs involved in sending test scores later.

Which subsets should I include in this list - dream schools, fit schools, or safety schools (at this point this classification is purely theoretical since the subsets only realize themselves once the test score pops up on that screen :| so feels like a Catch 22)? Basically, how do I avoid a 'great score but selected safety schools' situation (which will mean that I'll still have to send scores to all the other schools I really want to get into) as well as a 'had a lower than expected performance but I selected dream/upper fit schools' situation (which could mean that I might have to cancel the score altogether even though it could be a decent enough score for lower-fit schools and safety schools).

Would really appreciate any suggestions/advice on this.
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Re: How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 14:03
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Good question. One way to answer is to approach your dilemma from the opposite side - let the schools decide which score you need instead of letting your score decide where you are heading.

While there is a meaningful excessive get additional score reports, there are many tools you have access to:
1. You can reinstate your score later if you need to
2. Schools generally will use the higher score, so even if HBS gets your 550, they will ignore it when you send your 790, though they may be wondering what kind of drugs you were taking
3. Many people apply to more than 5 schools and inevitably get additional score reports
4. Cost of applications is $200+ per school so the hard cost of actually applying outweighs the score report fees, which become much less relevant
5. Most important - USE YOUR PRACTICE SCORES. If you get a 700 on a few of your practice tests, you can kind of count on a score in that range. But if you are getting 600's then expecting a 700 is kidding oneself. Better than take a test hoping for an amazing score, don't schedule it until you can't improve your score or until you absolutely hate GMAT ;-)

My suggestion would be not to worry about which schools you want to send the score to but pick the schools you are willing to attend and depending on where your practice tests fit in, and how your profile compares to other folks, aim accordingly. E.g. if you have a slightly stronger profile and you are shooting for 690, you can put any school with 700 as your target and perhaps 1 safety and 1 aspirational at 720. If you are feeling not so bullish about your profile then put more target and safety schools.

P.S. You can always take the worst case scenario and assume you will underperform and pick the schools appropriately. If you outperform your expectations, it will be a bonus that will be worth $40.
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Re: How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 23:45
Hi bb

Thanks for responding, almost a fanboy moment since I really appreciate the effort you've put into this community!

bb wrote:
Good question. One way to answer is to approach your dilemma from the opposite side - let the schools decide which score you need instead of letting your score decide where you are heading.

While there is a meaningful excessive get additional score reports, there are many tools you have access to:
1. You can reinstate your score later if you need to

Interesting, and I agree with it. I might sound crazy but honestly I intend to have a 'one and done' attempt at GMAT (multiple considerations - time, cost involved, life plan)

bb wrote:
2. Schools generally will use the higher score, so even if HBS gets your 550, they will ignore it when you send your 790, though they may be wondering what kind of drugs you were taking

Hahaha! Yeah I guess it's a psychological thing (hopefully I'm not the only one suffering from it). Could think of an analogy for this dilemma - I wouldn't want the girl I have a crush on to see anything except my best version, but then my improvement might impress her equally! :tongue_opt1

bb wrote:
3. Many people apply to more than 5 schools and inevitably get additional score reports
4. Cost of applications is $200+ per school so the hard cost of actually applying outweighs the score report fees, which become much less relevant

And the same is the case with me. I'll actually be applying for admission to PhD programs where the selection rates are generally lower, so my app list might be longer in fact.

bb wrote:
5. Most important - USE YOUR PRACTICE SCORES. If you get a 700 on a few of your practice tests, you can kind of count on a score in that range. But if you are getting 600's then expecting a 700 is kidding oneself. Better than take a test hoping for an amazing score, don't schedule it until you can't improve your score or until you absolutely hate GMAT ;-)
My suggestion would be not to worry about which schools you want to send the score to but pick the schools you are willing to attend and depending on where your practice tests fit in, and how your profile compares to other folks, aim accordingly. E.g. if you have a slightly stronger profile and you are shooting for 690, you can put any school with 700 as your target and perhaps 1 safety and 1 aspirational at 720. If you are feeling not so bullish about your profile then put more target and safety schools.

Unfortunately, for PhD I do not have accurate profile comparisons yet (will begin this research after GMAT) but I have created a list of target schools with their PhD GMAT ranges (from websites, brochures, etc). And then I've done something similar to what you explained above - I'm using my practice test scores so far to define my application range (being a bit conservative on the aspirational side right now, since I think what I have right now would just be an at par profile) :)

bb wrote:
P.S. You can always take the worst case scenario and assume you will underperform and pick the schools appropriately. If you outperform your expectations, it will be a bonus that will be worth $40.

Amen to that! Thanks again for the detailed response!!
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New post 19 Apr 2019, 19:40
I agree with much of what BB said. I guess now the bigger question is, what is going on with your GMAT prep? Are you currently studying? When is your actual GMAT and what is your score goal?

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out.
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Re: How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Apr 2019, 22:57
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
I agree with much of what BB said. I guess now the bigger question is, what is going on with your GMAT prep? Are you currently studying? When is your actual GMAT and what is your score goal?

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out.


Hi ScottTargetTestPrep

I have scheduled the actual exam for May 4th. My target score is 750, and the floor would be a 730 (don't want to sound cocky but I feel anything below that would not be competitive for PhD programs at top tier colleges). I have been studying along with a day job for about 12 weeks now.
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Re: How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 19:20
Wow, so things are going very well! Good luck with the GMAT, and reach out with any further questions.
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Re: How to select the five schools to send test scores to on GMAT day?   [#permalink] 23 Apr 2019, 19:20
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