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Don't Give Up! - 700 + Admitted to CBS

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jcdiaz23 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Don't Give Up! - 700 + Admitted to CBS

Post Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:24 am
I am not much of a writer but I lived on these beatthegmat forums and always told myself that I would post my story in order to help inspire at least one person. I'll give a brief summary at the end with the resources that I used and what I would highly recommend.

I began studying for the GMAT around July of 2012, starting with a (Manhattan GMAT) practice score of 530. I knew I would have a long road ahead of me. I would study on and off for a many months (worst thing to do). My goal at the time was just to apply to a local college, so I did not feel the need to do amazing on the GMAT.

Knowing that I would be much better off if I got help, I joined a Manhattan GMAT course taught by Tommy Wallach. He was an awesome teacher that I highly recommend and the course was a great way for me to get down the basics. After taking the course, my score hovered close to a 600. I could not get it any higher. I got frustrated and took a break from studying.

I kept lurking through these forums and read reviews on tons of different courses and material. I can honestly say that the empowergmat course was the best thing that ever happened to me during my time of studying. Their lessons and guides help you beyond simple memorization. This course definitely took me to the next level and after doing it once I was scoring in the mid 600s. Thanks Rich! I then took another break and took the course again, and noticed my scores were a little better.

I kept hovering in the 600s and did not know what to do anymore. Then I realized that I was not keeping a log of my practice problems - this changed everything for me. Keeping a log of all of the questions from the OG that I either got wrong or guessed and then going back at a later time to complete these was the best thing I could have ever done. I was no longer intimidated by certain problems because I knew different ways of solving them. Before this, I would read how much people stressed that you should do this but did not really pay attention because I am not the type of person to make an error log. DO THIS. Do not be lazy like I was. It will save you so much time and will make your studying much more effective. I also began an effective studying schedule of studying 2 hours a day on the weekdays, except Friday. Waking up early on Saturday and taking a practice CAT, then going over it on Sunday. Go over all of the CAT questions, even if you get them right. You will be surprised how many times you will have guessed correctly.

Bottom-line: I took over 25+ practice tests (way too many - I wish I would've found empowergmat and made an error log much sooner) and I ended up taking the GMAT 4 times (580, 650, 620, 700).

Before I had even taken my last GMAT, I knew I was capable of scoring 700+ and was not going to quit until I did so. I began looking around for help with my application and actually had a couple of consultations with some companies but I did not entirely feel satisfied. Many of these companies, while being honest, didn't give me the confidence to apply this year. Many of them kept telling me that my scores were too low or that I did not have enough experience and should wait a couple of years to apply. This was very disheartening and I actually stopped studying and looking for help with admissions for a few weeks until I picked myself out of the gutter and began studying again.

It is then that I stumbled onto one of the best things I could've ever done. I attended a digital webinar for StartusPrep where I got to ask Shawn O'Conner (the founder of the company) questions about admissions. This was very nice of him because many of the other admissions companies would not answer too many of my questions. Because of this, I contacted Shawn and had a consultation with him. While being honest, he gave me such confidence about my business school prospects that I did not get from any other company. At first, I thought he was just being nice because he wanted my money, but there was a sincerity to our conversation that I decided to take a chance and sign up with them and it was the best thing I could've ever done.

My first choice of school was Columbia Business School and because of that I was assigned Samantha Merton as my advisor. She was AMAZING! There are no words to express the gratitude that I have for her help. She helped me build my "profile" from the ground up. Throughout the process, I actually learned a lot about myself and was able to refine my career goals. This only further helped me improve my confidence about my application. She was always open to scheduling phone calls and would respond to my emails within 24 hours (mostly a lot quicker). These advisors at StratusPrep are limited with the number of clients that they can help in order to provide a much better service to individuals. Also, you meet wit Shawn a couple times throughout the process to go over a few things and his insight is priceless.

After a few months of prepping, I finally submitted my applications to the 3 schools that I chose and I really could not have been happier with how they came out.

Next, Samantha actually helped me prep for my Columbia interview. I was so prepared and confident during the interview. It was as if I had done this interview many times before.

Whether I got into any of the schools of my choice or not, I knew I had given it all that I had thanks to Samantha and Shawn's help. Luckily, I just found out that I was accepted and could not be happier. It is very surreal still because of how difficult this whole process has been but now that its over it is very relieving.

One key to beating the GMAT and your business school application.. never give up. It is going to suck. A lot. Your friends are going to go out and have fun while you are at home studying or working on your application. It is tough but I promise you it is worth it. I almost gave up several times. People would constantly tell me that it was just not meant to be. F*** that. You make your destiny by working your a** off. As I continued to study and improve, my goals in life began to grow. I began to ask myself, "Why not me?" Why can't I get into a top business school? This fueled me and life began to take on a special kind of meaning for me.


Sorry if this post is all over the place, I am writing this during my lunch break at work and just wanted to get a few points across.

Obviously, different things will work for different people but here is a summary of resources that I recommend because they were very effective for me:

- empowerGMAT.com
- GMAT OG (its a must)
- Error log for both CATS but mostly for OG questions
- STRATUSPREP.com


Good luck everyone! I went to an unranked school for undergrad, a good school but not very well known. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.

Lastly, I wanna leave two quotes that kept me going.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
- Henry Ford

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”
- Rocky Balboa

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