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# Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA

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Intern
Joined: 19 Jan 2010
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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15 Mar 2010, 10:26
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Didn't want to jump the gun until I heard back from a few schools, but despite my low GMAT (mid-600's), I received admissions to Booth and Kellogg.

Moral of the story: don't lose hope even with the low GMAT or GPA. Blow them out of the water with your story and other accomplishments. Hope this helps motivate others to keep fighting for that admission spot. Best of luck all!

Last edited by nlt22 on 22 Mar 2010, 08:10, edited 2 times in total.

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Current Student
Joined: 12 Nov 2008
Posts: 365

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Schools: Ross (R2), Cornell (R3) , UNC (R3) , INSEAD (R1 Jan)
WE 1: Advisory (2 yrs)
WE 2: FP & Analysis (2 yrs at matriculation)
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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22 Mar 2010, 08:40
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Happy to report that this morning I got an interview invite for Cornell and I also got into UNC. I only applied to 3 schools in the US, and here's the tally so far:

1) Ross - got in
2) UNC - got in
3) Cornell - int invite

My GPA is exactly 1.87, so low GPA friends - do not despair!

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Manager
Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 94

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Location: United States
Concentration: General Management, Leadership
WE: Information Technology (Consulting)
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2011, 13:42
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Via wrote:
Hey Guys/Gals,

I have a low undergrad GPA (2.99) and a low GMAT (650/44Q/35V/5.5AWA).

All in all, I applied to 8 schools (Kellogg, Tuck, Yale, Darden, McDonough, Kelley, Owen, Olin) and I was accepted to all of them. I also received significant scholarships (half tuition or full tuition) from 4 of them (Yale, Darden, Owen, McDonough).

My success, I believe, was a product of my research efforts and application strategy. Using my research on the GMAT Club and several other sources, I realized that I had several attributes that were appealing to admissions committees and I worked hard to highlight every one of them.

My approach:

Two and a half years ago, I realized that I wanted to attend graduate school. Specifically, I wanted to attend a competitive b-school program but I realized that my undergrad GPA was low. Therefore, I took graduate level classes within an MA in leadership and management program. I only took four classes within a year and a half period but I received a 3.75 GPA. I was able to highlight this GPA on my application to counter my undergrad GPA. Although I only took four classes, I argued that I earned good grades despite working full time as a general manager, dealing with several life changing events, and volunteering/etc...

About a year ago this month, I started researching b-schools in depth. I was addicted to the GMAT CLUB, BW Forums, the GMAC website to see GMAT statistics, books ("How to get into top B-school"), and 15 b-school websites. I also attended MBA Fairs and discovered groups like The Consortium. Basically, I was a research-a-holic last year.

Using my research, I decided to apply to the 8 schools I listed above. Given my low GPA and GMAT, I didn't know where I'd lie on the competitive ladder among b-school applicants. Therefore, I decided to apply to 1 top-5 school, 1 top-10, 2 top-15, and a couple of other programs that lied in the 15-35 range according to US News and BW rankings.

I then developed a very specific essay strategy that highlighted any and every attribute that I thought gave me a competitive advantage. My goal was to show that I was a success story, that I could succeed in any rigorous academic program, and that I would contribute to any b-school as a student and alum.

In my opinion, my positive attributes include: I'm a first generation hispanic/ I'm the first member of my family to pursue a graduate degree/ I'm in the Army and have deployed twice/ While I was at my undergrad institution- I was heavily involved in my student government as an elected officer/ I served as a tutor, Div 1 athlete, and as an elected and appointed club leader throughout my time in college / I continue to serve as a Class Officer for my undergrad alumni organization/ I earned a 3.75 GPA in graduate level courses despite losing two family members and working full time as a general manager. As a general manager, I received formal ratings that eventually placed me in the top 2% of my peer group. There were a couple of other small data points I added to my essays but you get the point.

When I was writing my essays, I tried to answer the unique questions of each b-school while inserting these attributes to develop a unique story of enduring success. After endless revisions to my b-school essays, I submitted all of my applications by Round 2 for each school. I applied to 5 schools through the Consortium and 3 schools independently.

Some other things that I believe helped me:

I visited every school to which I applied and I highlighted that fact during my interviews. I searched for "key" terms each admissions committee was likely looking for. In my opinion, some of these include: Olin: Research driven thinking/Kelley: family, community, involvement / Kellogg: collaboration, Look at their 4 pillars ie. Intellectual Depth, Diversity of thought.../ Tuck: loyalty, community, friendship, advantage of a b-school education in a rural setting (ie. less distractions, community, focus, etc.)/ Darden: Case Method, working on a team to solve cases, interactive classroom environment.

Every school has a unique community and academic experience that they want to sustain. Figure out what that is and show how you could contribute to it.

Many of you have pointed out that, unless you are an underrepresented minority, female, or have unique work experience, you may not be able to overcome a low GPA or GMAT. Overall, that may be true. However, there are no absolutes in this world. I think everyone has positive attributes that can make them look very competitive despite poor stats. I could have easily applied to less prestigious schools and have saved a lot of time & money in dropping my Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, and Yale applications. Also, had I failed to highlight my strengths to the admissions committee, I could have experienced multiple rejections that some applicants with very high GPAs and GMATs have experienced. In the end, it never hurts to fight for your candidacy and apply to the b-school programs you love.

Furthermore, I believe that, even as a minority, I still overcame major weaknesses in my application. I am certain that over 80% of the minority applicant pool at Kellogg had better stats than I did. It is rare to have both a low GPA AND low GMAT and get into a top 5 program.

Now that my application journey is over, I hope that this post will help some of you. I feel indebted to all of you who have contributed to GMAT Club and have educated me for the last couple of years.

Good luck on your applications!

-Via

Hi Via - you are indeed an inspiration - 8 for 8 is simply amazing!. I particularly enjoyed where you talked about what is unique to each school - however, you didn't mention on Yale (dream school) - what would you say is Yale's sweet spot?

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Manager
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Location: United States
Concentration: Strategy, Marketing
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2013, 07:32
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Thought I'd write my story here and the other low GPA thread since I read through all of the low GPA threads a bunch of times when applying because I was so nervous about my chances. Hopefully I will give another low GPA-er some hope!

Profile:
Age/gender: 28 y/o female
GPA: 2.9 from a top 10 liberal arts school, economics major
GMAT: 700 and 690 (yes did worse the second time), don't remember my split but my quant was nowhere near that 80% everyone says to get.
WE: 3 years in a rotational program for a well known financial services firm, 3 years in risk at a global investment bank
Extracurriculars: Captain of sports team in college, consistent volunteering since college (some leadership positions and unique stuff), very involved with former college, and have a lot of hobbies I mentioned in my apps to sort of differentiate myself.

Schools I applied to and results (all Rnd 1 or Regular Decision):

Wharton: Waitlisted (after a terrible interview mind you, Team Discussion was great, but interview, yikes)
Kellogg: Waitlisted
Columbia: Accepted
Fuqua: Accepted
Stern: Accepted

I think the following helped my case:

1. A clear idea/and description in my apps of my career goals, why an MBA would help them, why that specific school's MBA would help them, why now was the time I was pursuing MBA, and how my prior work experience would help me achieve those goals. I had heard that schools worry career changers won't find jobs if it is too great of a change, so I highlighted aspects/stories of my work experience that directly applies to my goals. I also made sure to show why I was passionate about my goals and what had led me to realize my goals.

2. In addition to tying my work experience to my goals, I tried to give examples of leadership at work. I told a couple of stories that demonstrated me taking initiative and leading teams. I also told my recommenders that schools like that so if they had any stories to put in their recommendations that would be great. Don't know what my recommenders ended up writing, but I did send them both an email with what my goals are and some of my professional and personal accomplishments.

3. Once you start doing in depth research on a school and its programs, it is pretty easy to figure out what is important to that school (what type of candidate they are looking for). So in each of my essays, I made sure to pick examples and tailor my message to that specific school's values.

4. I took two classes in the summer before I applied, 1 accounting class and 1 math class (not calculus level) to show that I have quant skills and can be a good student, got A's in both courses. Was told specifically by one of the schools that they really liked that I took the initiative to take those courses.

5. I visited every school I applied to. Luckily for me this was easy and the only two schools I really had to fly to were Duke and Kellogg which meant I could self-initiate an interview while I was there. Just felt like this showed my interest but more importantly allowed me to speak of my visit in my application.

6. In general I just really tried to show that I was ready to fully engage in the program and the school's community. Also tried to show a coherent story as to how my career goals were formed, how MBA would help achieve them, and what I hoped to do in the short term and long term.

7. Just a note about the optional essay since I wondered about this. I chose note to come right out and say "I have a low GPA because...". Instead I chose to use the essay to highlight the two courses I took in an effort to prepare myself for the rigors or the MBA program and since I had been out of school for awhile.

Hope that is helpful to someone! Nothing earth shattering above, but there are so many things to keep in mind and think about in this whole process it's easy to just get stuck on your low gpa or gmat and think that means you're not a strong candidate. Especially looking on this board, it's amazing how many people have such strong stats. But you never know, you see people with 750 GMATs and 3.8 GPAs get rejected from top schools all the time while someone with much lower stats gets in. To me, that really shows that the adcoms really do take a look at the holistic picture. Good luck!

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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11 Aug 2013, 20:06
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Good GMAT score is good to have. But that is not all. So, with a moderate GMAT score you can still make into a top B SChool. If you are not interested to give another shot at GMAT or if you dont see yourself with a much improved GMAT score in the near future, it's better to focus on criteria than spending more time on GMAT

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Current Student
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Concentration: Strategy, Economics
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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17 Mar 2014, 21:53
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I'm not sure how I just found this thread. I would have devoured it last year when I was applying.

University: University of Southern California
Major(s): Mechanical Engineering
GPA: 2.88
GMAT: 770 (99%), Q:50 (93%), V:44 (97%), AWA:4.5 (37%)
Nationality: US, Caucasian
Age: 29
Gender: M
Work Experience: 7 years in construction project engineering/project management. Promotions approx. every 2 years.
Extracurricular Activities: Honestly, pretty limited. The only significant one was advisor and alumni president for my fraternity.
Community Services: Participant/volunteer in a few runs, build days, etc

Application Results:
R3 - Fuqua - Dinged without interview
R3 - Ross - Accepted
R3 - Booth - Matriculated after being waitlisted
R3 - Kellogg - Withdrew from WL upon acceptance from Booth

What do you think is your biggest advantage?
My GPA was terrible, I applied in R3, and I certainly didn't have anything to offer in terms of demographic diversity. My GMAT obviously helped a ton and having significant work experience help distance me from my grades. Beyond that, my essays were solid and I very deliberately addressed my shortcomings. My recos were fantastic. I took a risk for my 2nd reco by having a classmate from an executive education program I completed write about my contributions in an academic setting.

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Manager
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Location: United States
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
GMAT 1: 760 Q48 V48
GPA: 3.1
WE: Engineering (Manufacturing)
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2014, 12:10
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Program: MBA
Area of interest in MBA: General Management, Strategy
GMAT: 760 Q48 V48
GPA: University of Michigan, Engineering, 3.1 (ok ok, 3.06)
Work experience(WE): ~5 years at matriculation, Manufacturing
Nationality: US, White
Age: 26
Gender: Male
Extra-curriculars/community: Heavy involvement (including chair of board) in local chapter of professional society.

Schools applied to:

Ross, Round 1, Accepted
Kellogg, Round 1, Accepted and Matriculating
Booth, Round 1, Waitlisted with interview
Tepper, Round 1, Accepted (with \$\$\$)
Fuqua, Round 1, Accepted (with \$)

I used the optional essay in each app to briefly explain the grading curve in my technical classes. I also said that while I wish my GPA had been higher, that I was proud to have graduated from a competitive program in four years while showing improvement and working part time. I used 118 words, which I think was enough to show that I recognized the weakness, but not so much that I irritated the adcom with another lengthy essay.

For someone with a similar situation (high GMAT, low GPA), just know that you can get into a really good school.

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2008, 12:37
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Great idea, it seems that only 700+ are getting into top schools. Wondering if anyone is gonna post something here
_________________

The one who flies is worthy. The one who is worthy flies. The one who doesn't fly isn't worthy

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2008, 17:31
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I hope to be one of the success stories with a 660..... but I don't think it's going to happen

After browsing this board and looking at some friends, I'm pretty sure I overestimated my chances. Guess I'll be taking the gmat again for the 7th time and applying next year. That is, if I can manage to stay employed. Oh boy. Credit crunchtastic!

Good luck to you guys!

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Current Student
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2008, 19:51
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I know someone who's WL at Booth it that helps... probably reading this right now!
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Location: Texas
Schools: Chicago (R2), Kellogg (R2), Tuck (R1), Darden (R1), Cornell (R1), Texas (R2), Rice (R1)
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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19 Dec 2008, 10:51
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Guys, dont be dissappointed with a low GMAT/GPA. The stats on these forums are lil skewed in anycase. All u need to do is to check the 80 percentile ranges from top business schools and u ll know what I am talking about.

having said that, pay a lot of attention to your essays and come up with a clear career vision. Also, train your recommenders so that u have a very coherent story to present to adcom. Also, broaden your school choices and apply in a diversified mix.

Best of luck!
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Traffic never sleeps...

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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24 Dec 2008, 06:02
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GMAT: 670 (Q:50, V:30, AWA:4)
University attended: ENSAM (French top leading engineering school)
Major(s): Mechanical engineering
GPA / Honours:N/A
Nationality: French / Congo
Age: (at matriculation) 31
Gender: Male
Work Experience: 6 / Consulting / Associate
Extra-curricular Activities: Many
Community Services: Many

Business Schools (Admitted): Columbia in the ED
Business Schools (Applied but Dinged):

Hope this gives hope

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Current Student
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Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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02 Jan 2009, 12:31
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Saying hat most of low-GMAT admits at top schools are female is quite different from saying that most low GMAT scorers are female. Just look at the awesome scores of the various AC, jjola21, etc.

I did not get an interview from Stanford. I think it's fair to say that if I were Palestinian I would have stood a 90% admit chance, my profile being just as strong as it is now. The thing is that I would have had a far dimmer chance of building a profile as strong as mine now! So I must say I'm still at an advantage.

It's true that affirmative action can distort the selection process (elites of developing countries/minorities are widely advantaged) yet the schools must optimize for diversity in the interest of their admits, and rightly so.

A thought that lingers in my mind: in retrospective, one should take much more risk in choosing his undergrad job to maximize her chances in getting an admit for a top school: securing a job at a high-level nonprofit, for example. I see far less competition in proportion with H/S admit chances there than in any other industry:

if we format industries as: Industry (difficulty in getting job, admit chances after 2-3 years):

PE/VC (vh, vh)
MC/IB (vh, h)
Non-profit (m, vh)

I would love some inputs on this point.

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Director
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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19 Jan 2010, 12:40
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i've edited the thread title to reflect low GPAs as well. here is an admit success story from drsatisfaction - GPA of 1.9, and admitted to oxford and insead.

my-road-to-oxford-sbs-and-insead-89413.html
_________________

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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19 Jan 2010, 12:58
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shadowsjc wrote:
i've edited the thread title to reflect low GPAs as well. here is an admit success story from drsatisfaction - GPA of 1.9, and admitted to oxford and insead.

my-road-to-oxford-sbs-and-insead-89413.html

thanks man. wasn't sure where to put it but this is a good thread.

also, to clarify a bit on my profile:

Asian
25, 26 by matriculation
GPA 1.9 - admitted into school at 15 on a full scholarship though, and completely screwed off afterwards
GMAT - 760
WE - 6 yrs by matriculation, with 1.5 in a pretty senior leadership role. i manage all financial related issues on my company's business with 2 major Fortune 50 companies (think software maker and chocolate maker) and have a team of about 50 that all matrix into me for finance. this is worth easily \$10+ million and i increased the profitability of the businesses significantly.

reading some of the earlier success stories, i must say, the essays are key. the reason i think i got into oxford was the fact that the 2nd essay is 2000 words and i went on a limb to really write a compelling case for myself as an outlier and distinguish my application from others. for INSEAD, i focused on the achievements i had at work. i'm not talking about winning awards or whatever. i'm talking about hard bottom line results that can't be argued with and the experiences i have managing people at a fairly young age.

also, references - i believe i got very strong references from my VP. i never got a chance to see what he wrote, but i have a great relationship with him and believe he really pushed for me in the references.

so overall my argument was - talent is not an issue with me. it's always been drive. i was 15 and i butchered my undergrad GPA. i've moved on, i've grown in life, and i can handle the work now. of course, some programs bought it and took me in, others didn't.
_________________

Oxford Round 1 - interview invite 10/30/09, admit 12/11/09, ATTENDING 2010

My Road to Oxford and INSEAD http://gmatclub.com/forum/my-road-to-oxford-sbs-and-insead-89413.html#p676253

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Schools: Wharton, Booth, Columbia (all round 2)
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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20 Jan 2010, 18:25
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GMAT: 610 (low quant)
GPA: 3.3
Nationality: USA
Age: (at matriculation): 28
Gender: M
Work Experience: Six years, consulting
Extra-curricular Activities/Community Services: Strong area for me, many unique experiences

Business Schools (Applied in R2): Wharton, Columbia, Chicago

Though my job is pretty quant heavy, I just could not crack the quant section of the GMAT. I demonstrated my quant ability through essays and asked my recommenders to focus on my quant skills.

Honestly, at the point in my career, going to a lower ranked school (ie, one where my GMAT "fits") is just not worth it for me. Though I have reasonable expectations for this process, I am going to be intrigued to see how much GMAT actually comes into play.

I have extensively networked at each of the three schools I have applied, and hope that the hustle factor, along with my essays/work experiences, will allow adcoms to wave me in.

Question: Though my best individual GMAT is a 610, if you combine my best verbal with my best quant (from consecutive GMAT takes) my score is roughly a 680. Any chance an adcom would take this into consideration.

Best of luck everyone...will report back when I have some news to report.

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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20 Jan 2010, 19:38
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I dont have much to report yet as im still waiting on decisions, but I was admitted to Duke with a 3.1 from a "party school". I think you can have a low GPA, or low GMAT, but if you have both you better be a URM or have some type of crazy story. Thats the vibe I have gotten.

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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21 Jan 2010, 16:00
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Just received an interview invite from Booth today

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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22 Jan 2010, 21:07
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Thanks sapphireka! I had a good email exchange with my interviewer today and will report back about how it goes.

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Schools: Emory (accepted), Wash U (accepted), Darden (never heard a thing), Vanderbilt (accepted), Texas (dinged)
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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23 Jan 2010, 17:17
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Hello. I hope this gives others with low GMAT scores some hope. My first time I took the GMAT, I had a devastating score of 520. Keep the faith!

GMAT: 630 (Q:44, V:33, AWA:4.5)
University attended: Large state-school
Major(s): Business
GPA / Honours: 3.4
Nationality: American (Hispanic)
Age: (at matriculation): 30
Gender: M
Work Experience: No. of Years / Industry / Role: ~6 years; HR Recruiting, Overseas work in tourism.
Extra-curricular Activities: Lots of international/domestic volunteer work
Community Services: Board member of major minority organization

Business Schools (Admitted):
CGSM: Emory
CGSM: Wash U
Vanderbilt

Pending:
CGSM: Virginia

Business Schools (Applied but Dinged):
CGSM: Texas

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA   [#permalink] 23 Jan 2010, 17:17

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# Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA

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