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580 for a top 20 MSA School. Did not let the GMAT beat me.

Congrats! Tell us how you did it
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Two years ago I said I was going to get my Masters at Wake Forest. I have now been waiting just as long to be able to write this to you guys.

In March of 2013 I decided to pursue a Master's in Accounting and become a CPA. Like MBA hopefuls, MSA programs require the GMAT. I had received my B.A. in History and had not taken a math class since 2009 so I was concerned with the use of math on the test. I began studying while working full time and also taking pre-requisite courses for grad school the following Summer.

My first attempt at the GMAT was that December. I did study regularly for it but it was nothing intense since I was balancing work and school at the same time. Suffice to say, it showed, I got a 520. I was bummed for sure, I received a 550 on practice test, but I figured I could still get into a decent school with that score. However, a school like Wake Forest or Chapel Hill was out of the question now.

I applied to NC State University and was informed how their minimum score was 530 and that they would at least need me to retake the GMAT and they could still accept a 520 but they would need me to try at least a second time before making that decision. I took it after months of not studying (basically took it cold) and boy did it show. I got a 480 and was not at all liking my chances anymore.

After turning in my second score I decided that I needed to get serious and tackle this test head on. I was not going to go to my second tier of desired schools because of a test. In July of this past year I signed up for the Economis program and made it my goal to study two hours a day for the next three months. This is not a plug for the program as I am not a paid employee or compensated for any promotions but I must admit the Economis is a good program. I saw a big jump in my practice scores ranging from 580-640 and felt confident that schools like Wake Forest and UNC Chapel Hill would at least consider my application. I took the test in October and scored a 580 after feeling able enough to break the 600 threshold. Not what I was feeling I could score but it was still a sixty point improvement. I decided to still apply to UNC Chapel Hill (MSA GMAT average 630) and Wake Forest (MSA GMAT average 620).

Wake Forest and UNC Chapel first screen applications before inviting applicants for interviews and I received invites to both. I went to Wake Forest two weeks ago and I will admit that I feel I did very well in the interview. I am not exactly a social butterfly but I have never gotten anxious over my interviews for graduate school. I go to UNC Chapel Hill on Monday for my interview but I wanted to make this post today because I received my admissions letter to Wake Forest! I was so relieved and excited to be able to plan for the next stage in my life and prepare to finally become a CPA.

I wanted this post to inspire people who have not performed as exceptional on the GMAT as other people. I wish I could have scored in 700s and been considered for scholarships but I want people to know that a lower GMAT score does not mean instant denial. It just means you have to present yourself in different areas. I mentioned how I have worked as a mortgage officer for the past two and a half years, I have been preparing taxes the last two tax seasons as well as the next season coming up. I explained how my degree in History has helped me analyze past events and see patterns that can transfer well into the accounting profession. I also talked about my background as a musician and how it has helped me work in a team environment (as well as add personality to my application :P). I also received great recommendations from my supervisor and multiple CPA professors. Overall, you can convince anybody that you are the right fit for a program as long as you work hard and put the time and effort into building your application.

Some tips for the GMAT that I found valuable and helped my boost my score 60 points would be to study on a regular basis.

1) Set at least an hour a day aside to study the GMAT and you will find that you will retain the material you learned better.

2) Do. Not. Get. Frustrated. Seriously, the first four weeks of seriously buckling down and studying was so frustrating because I was seeing very little progress. I was beginning to question if the GMAT was something I could never score competently on. Thankfully I started to improve and the concepts began to "stick" and I started seeing my score improve. Persistence is key.

3) Pace yourself. This is really for specific test takers like me. I have the mentality on exams "you either know it or you don't" I am a very fast test taker who goes with my gut feeling and usually, if I change it from my initial answer, I get the answer wrong. On the GMAT, I was finishing with twenty minutes left in EACH SECTION and it was a big reason why I was scoring poorly. Every place that I read about the GMAT talked about how difficult it is to beat the time limit set on the GMAT. This led to mental mistakes and even giving up on certain questions because I was so afraid of running out of time. Once I started slowing down, and not giving up on problems, I saw vast improvements in my score.

4) Don't force it. There will be times when you are studying for the GMAT and everything you are learning will feel like it is flying right over your head. That just means your brain has said "no" and you need to take a break. Let your brain reset, go see a movie, play some video games, spend time with your family, whatever you need to do to let your mind recharge then start studying again the next day. Don't kill yourself over this test.

Sorry for the long post but I have been waiting so long to share this story and hope it inspires people who have not initially scored well on the GMAT, are thinking about a career change, or have majored in something completely different than business and are trying to get into an MBA/MSA program.

I also want to thank all the contributors on this website, I came her all the time just reading topics and trying to get any kind of advice that would help me succeed and you all did not disappoint. This is a great site. So far I am two for two (accepted to Wake Forest and my alma mater) and I am now awaiting NC State's and UNC Chapel Hill's decisions.

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by StephanieNYC » Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:05 pm
Thank you so much for posting this! I'm really keen on attending a top MBA (preferably chapel-hill), but I'm extremely worried about not being able to outperform my peers on the GMAT. Which school did you end up attending?

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by Kaneisha Grayson » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:27 pm
A huge congrats to you, Dayln! I also had a low GMAT score (620) and I'm delighted to see other people not letting the GMAT beat them! Also - fun fact: one of my adorable twin nephews is named Dayln with the exact same spelling as you! I'd never seen that before, so your post especially caught my eye. Go take over the world!
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