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So I was thinking...

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Should ryguy write a brief optional essay discussing his gmat score?

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So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 14:33
Friends,

I'm really happy with the way that my Cornell and Michigan turned out. I also did a great job with Columbia on the reapp (as many know I was waitlisted last year and given positive feedback ), but that didn't work out for whatever reason.

I have two apps to go for Round 1 - Duke and Darden.

Should I write an optional essay "asking" the adcom to look beyond my GMAT score (680, don't have the splits in front of me but I think it was 49Q, 32V 5.0 AWA) and focus on other attributes:

1) Undergrad GPA - 3.8 (from no-name state uni.)
2) Essays - I'm a white bread American and my verbal score is not any indication of my ability to write/communicate. I honestly think that my final versions have been pretty darn good. MUCH MUCH better than last year for sure when I was waitlisted at Columbia, NYU, UCLA and accepted at USC.
3) Interview (I could mention this with Duke at least, as I'll be flying to Durham to do the self-initiated thing in 2 weeks.
4) Maybe even the CFA...

I don't want to sound desperate by any means. I would definitely keep it super short - maybe 3-5 sentences. With at least all of the talk on increased competition, I'm thinking of throwing in everything and the kitchen sink on these two apps.

Thoughts?

Cheers,
ryguy

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 14:40
This is a really tough call, but I am going to have to go with "No". I think that by writing about it, you will unnecessarily draw attention to it and they may dwell on it. If the school already has a policy where they don't put much weight on it, then you don't want to be the one who is bringing it up unnecessarily.

I understand your desire to be verbose and the stress of a competitive year, but I don't think it is necessary.
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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 14:47
I don't think you should change your strategy any. You have solid scores, and great Quant. I think that's all enough.
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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 14:50
I know people here with less than that for a score. I wouldnt worry about it too much. I think writing an optional essay for the GMAT is like saying I am too lazy to retake it but I know its bad. I would say either retake or just leave it alone. Writing about it is going to make it more of an issue than it otherwise would be.
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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 14:54
I wouldn't do it. The average GMAT at Duke and Darden is what, 690-700? So you are barely below. I don't think it's worth dwelling on your score and writing about it in an optional essay could hurt you as easily as it could help. Not worth the risk imo. You clearly have enough to cross the academic hurdle at these schools (3.8, 680, CFA) and from what we've all heard academics are more or less a check the box type of thing and the real decision is made based on essays, recs and interviews.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 15:07
I think your Quant GMAT score is great. I have been to information sessions for three schools and was told pretty much the same about GMAT verbal score. They give it more weight if you are an international applicant or English is not your first language.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 15:17
I wouldn't write about it...its a good score and you might look a bit of a worrywart :)

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 15:56
Agreed with the above posts. I feel that one should only write a 'why X is bad' on your essay if it is something that you KNOW could be grounds, by itself, for getting dinged unless there's some type of explanation.

To relate, I feel the same way about my 3.2 undergrad gpa, it's definitely below average considering where I'm applying and the weakest part of my app, but I feel it's better addressed in positive ways during my regular essays rather than singling out my optional essay for it.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 16:03
On a broader scale I don't think one should ever write in an essay 'you should look past _____ because of _____'. Either your essay skill/stronger parts of your app will cause them to do that or they won't, no reason to instruct the adcom about it. Perhaps that's not how you intended to write it anyway but thought I'd clarify.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 16:58
My vote's no. Like others said, it would cause unnecessary scrutiny at the gmat. If you plan to take any add'l quant courses or anything (I can't remember your major) then you could maybe mention those?


cheers,
ac.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2008, 19:26
Tough call. I don't think it will be a huge deal either way you decide, especially since you are a native English speaker. They will probably make a note of your V score as they review your app, but I don't see it being a sole reason for a ding.

I would probably address it in the optional essay though. Your overall, and obviously quant, scores are both acceptable; however, I think you should write a 3-4 sentence explanation of the verbal score. Based on discussions I've had with adcom over the past year or so, I have decided that nothing you put in there (within reason) will be detrimental to your application. I almost think of it as only being able to help. On the other hand, I see river's point that they may wonder why you didn't just retake it.

One thing a particular adcom member said was that if you are even thinking about whether or not to address it, then you probably should address it...better to give them a reason than to let them make an assumption.

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2008, 00:39
I voted no, but it's really up to you. The optional essay, IMO, is a good place to draw the adcom's attention to something positive about you. I am no guru, but thinking logically: it only makes sense to write the optional essay on a weakness in you profile if you have something to say that would seriously mitigate that weakness.

For example, say you have a weak GPA. You can explain in the optional essay that during that time you discovered you had cancer and went to a vodoo priest to cure you and could not find the time to study (example intentionally silly). But if you have no compelling story to tell about a weakness, keep it as it is.

Edit: forgot to mention that 680 with a Q49 is not really a weakness. If I were you, I'd look for a more interesting topic for the optional essay.
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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2008, 08:36
Thank you all for the feedback. Clearly, the response was overwhelming for not writing the essay. I suppose within the context of average/median scores at Duke/Darden, my score isn't significantly sub par. In fact, if I had a 690, I probably wouldn't think twice about this. As it stands, I think that I will not write the essay. Again, thanks for being my sounding board!

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Re: So I was thinking... [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2008, 09:37
I agree with your decision. Your overall score is fine and your quant score excellent. If your writing ability is better than how you scored on the verbal section and AWA, that will be naturally exemplified in the rest of the essays and shouldn't need to be called out.
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Re: So I was thinking...   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2008, 09:37
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