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GMAT score not improving- even with private tutor

This topic has 1 expert reply and 0 member replies
lfoltz Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
28 Sep 2012
5 messages

GMAT score not improving- even with private tutor

Post Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:39 pm
I've posted in this forum before and not received any response. Hopefully I'll get at least one this time! I need advice on improving my GMAT score and applying to school for 2013 entry.

I took my first GMAT practice test in late September 2012 without studying whatsoever and received a 520. From the beginning of October through the end of November, I met with a private tutor for about 1.5 hrs/week and studied about 30hrs/week. (I was unemployed) During that time my scores ranged from a 450-570, and every other test seemed to vary 100pts from the last. A week before my actual GMAT (on 12/29/12) I did three practice tests and got 550 on all of them. Needless to say, I was more than frustrated that I had been studying for 2 months, while not working, and only improved 30 points. (What a waste of $1200!)

Even though I was not satisfied with my practice scores, I wanted to take the actual test so that I could apply by the 3rd round deadline instead of the 4th. To my devastation, I received a 450 on the actual GMAT on 12/29/12. I want to apply to 5 different schools (UT Austin (McCombs), Vanderbilt (Owen), UNC (Kenan Flagler), Georgetown (McDonough), and Boston College (Carroll), but the median GMAT is around a 680 for all of these schools. I feel like I don't even have a chance to get in with a 450 GMAT.

Additionally, I worked in healthcare consulting for 4.5 years, and after losing my job in October 2012, I took the opportunity to look for a job in event planning. I applied for jobs in that industry with little to no experience and while continuing to look for jobs, "interned" at 2 non-profits from Jan 2012- October 2012, (Ronald McDonald House and Dress for Success) doing development and event planning. During that time, I discovered that I really enjoyed marketing better than event planning and decided to apply to business school. I recently accepted a contract position at a company I interviewed with, but I am only contracted to work until March 15th 2013.

I have a 3.25 overall GPA from UNC Chapel Hill and a 3.45 GPA from my upper level classes in the School of Public Health. However, given the "gap" in my employment, I definitely want a better GMAT score. (I took the GRE on 12/31/12 and received a 155 verbal and 153 quant, which apparently "equates" to a 620 GMAT score.) Does anyone know how grad schools feel about unemployment?

I know I need to retake the GMAT and I will probably retake the GRE too. My question is whether I should go ahead and apply to schools for the round 3 deadlines, which are in January, and indicate on my application that I am retaking these tests OR retake the tests in early March and apply by round 4 deadline OR retake the tests this summer and apply for admission in 2014. My applications are ready to submit minus my resume and essays.

Also does anyone have advice for improving my score? I feel hopeless because I worked so hard with no improvement and don't know what to do next. I think whether I study another month or another 5 months, I'll continue to get the same outcome. Should I just continue to take practice test after practice test, spend another $1000-$1500 on test prep, or just accept that 450 is the best I can do. I'm willing to put in the time, effort, and money, but absolutely want to see results.

Thanks so much for your advice!!

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OfficialGMAT Official Company Rep
12 Jun 2012
620 messages
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Post Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:02 am
Hello, Lfoltz. First, it sounds as if you are doing a lot of the right things. You are putting time and effort into preparing for the exam, and at the same time, you have found a career you are passionate about. Those are two assets that will help you both in business school and beyond!

As for your GMAT score, I cannot tell you what you specifically could do to improve your score. We at GMAC have done some research into GMAT test-takers who retake the test, and I do have some information I can share about those who see score improvements after the first try. Our research has found that the average gain on the GMAT exam after the first try is 33 points. So your retake score is consistent with what we have found. Students who failed to complete each section of the GMAT exam during the first attempt are particularly likely to see gains in their test scores with a retake. You can read the full report here: http://officialgmat.mba.com/2012/12/04/behind-the-scenes-repeat-testing/

As for your work experience, you should talk to the admissions officers at the schools you plan to apply to, as each school will have its own selection criteria. However, you certainly will not be a first student to apply to their program with a gap in your employment! You can read this essay from the admissions director at the Tuck School of Business for her advice: http://asktheexpert.mba.com/2011/10/24/i-have-a-job-gap-in-my-resume-how-do-i-approach-explaining-this-in-my-mba-application/.

Good luck!

Official GMAC Representative

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