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Undergraduate Education University of St. Thomas – St. Paul, MN Bachelors of Arts – Financial Management 3.45 GPA Overall Vice-President of Financial Management Association & Investment Banking Association I owned and managed a small business to help finance my undergraduate education. CFA Level II Candidate Work Experience 5 Years 1.5 Years at a Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund – Portfolio Finance & Collateral Management 2.5 Years at a small Investment Management Company – Equity Investment Analysis & Equity Trading 1.0 Year at an Investment Management Company – Equity Trading
GMAT 590 (Q35) (V36) AWA 5.0 I plan on re-taking the GMAT this summer. My first actual test was lower than the practice scores I had been receiving. I hope to score above 640. I feel that this is the biggest weakness in my profile.
Post MBA Career Investment Management – Equity Research & Portfolio Management Investment Banking – Middle Market Focus
Target Schools University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Business (Full Time) University of Wisconsin – Madison (Applied Securities Analysis Program) (Full Time) Indiana University – Kelley School (Full Time) University of Iowa – Tippie (Full Time) University of Chicago – Booth School (Part Time)
Is my current GMAT the weakest part of my application? Do you believe I would have a legitimate chance at the schools listed above given my current profile and GMAT score? Am I targeting the right schools, would I have a chance at higher-ranked schools? Other than boosting my GMAT what else can I do to boost my chances at the schools listed above?
I agree: your GMAT is currently the biggest challenge in your business school candidacy. If you can raise that score, you could apply to more programs like Booth. Generally, you should be fine at programs that have a mean or median GMAT score close to yours. And, if your GMAT score falls within the middle 80% range at a school, you have a shot.
You have an impressive background. Frankly, many people want to attend business school to obtain the type of job that you already have! So, one question that raises: why do you really need business school? I advise you to paint a picture that cohesively ties together your past, present, and future. Demonstrate to the admissions committees that your desired career path truly necessitates an MBA.
I don’t believe you mentioned extracurricular activities, but I’m sure you know that the more leadership you can convey through these, the better!
I recently scored 640(Q42) (V37) on the GMAT. This puts me right at the bottom of the middle 80% range at my target schools. I did score 700 on my last practice CAT, and was hoping to score at least 660. I do think I will do better if I take the test again. I was fairly nervous and rushed during the quantitative section. Do you think my time would be better spent studying and taking the GMAT again or focusing on the essays? I have put some thought into my essays, but have not started them. I want to apply in R1, which is early November for my schools.
It's a tough call... I think the question you have to ask yourself is how badly do you want to get into a school like Booth? If you really have your heart set on Booth, then the more you can improve your score, the better. That said, I'm not sure that a 660 would move the needle there, so if you think that's the highest you could score, it might not be worth it (at least for Booth).
For your other schools, though, it seems like a 660+ score could definitely increase your chances if the 640 is the bottom of the 80th percentile range. If you truly believe you can do better, then I'd say go ahead and retake the exam as soon as possible and get it out of the way. Then focus fully on your applications. Don't worry so much about R1 vs R2 (though if R1 is November for your schools, you've got plenty of time to do both) - worst case scenario you apply in R2 with higher quality applications! There is not a substantive difference in acceptance rates between R1 and R2, generally speaking.
I appreciate the advice. Do you have any advice for applicants with GMAT scores near or at the bottom of their school's range? I feel that I have good story as to why I am pursuing a MBA degree and how it is relevant and essentially required for my career path. I also feel that I have valuable career experience that will enhance the learning atmosphere for my colleagues. Is there anything else I should be keeping in mind when applying and writing my applications?
As Brian mentioned before, you want to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are a strong leader, team player and that you are a multi-dimensional individual who excels in all things you take on. You want to demonstrate that you have strength of character, strong work ethic, strong analytic capability. You also want to show that you've thought very hard about why you need an MBA at this juncture, and why you need one from this particular school. There's quite a bit that you need to show, but you can certainly overcome a low GMAT if all the other dimensions are strong (professional leadership, community leadership, extracurricular activities/initiatives, personal stories).