Good score, but given my target schools, should I retake?

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Firstly, thanks to the forum for help in determining how / what to study over the past few months.

I took the GMAT yesterday and made a 760 (99%), broken down as follows: Q - 49 (89%) and V - 46 (99%).

Given my target schools (HBS, Stanford, INSEAD), I am concerned about my quantitative score. Should I consider retaking to get it up? Or is this acceptable?

My profile is basically white male from top undergrad, working in real estate private equity, with a couple years I-Banking.

I am very confident I can perform at the same level on the verbal.

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by pissantvache » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:59 am
I don't think you need to. at that level, you're within the standard deviation of 99th percentile on the quant, and I think once the schools see your gmat they'll be much more concerned with other stuff, like how exactly you are different from every other post I-banker/private equity applicant who wants to go to hbs.
They say the sea is cold,
but the sea contains the hottest blood of all,
and the wildest, the most urgent.

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by Leonard C » Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:10 am
I'd say definitely forget about taking it again. Any score above 700 (or even 680) will put in the the right league for those schools. I believe the real turning point is the 90th percentile mark. There are diminishing returns after 700. So long as you are above the 80th percentile in each section, you are fine. I've been reading a lot of the posts from admissions consultants, and this is the strong message that I am getting.

To be honest, I think a lot of people place too much emphasis on the GMAT. Just some anecdotal experience for you to ponder (by way of background all these guys are in the Army logistics and intelligence unit, which can be viewed very roughly as the "management consulting" arm of the army):

- Person A got 640 and was accepted into Stanford. Also accepted into LBS and Duke. Dinged at Wharton and Sloan. Did not apply to Harvard. Had strong references and good essays. Worked for top 100 company in Australia as an engineer, before that was in the Army.

- Person B got 790. One of the smartest guys I know. Lieutenant (FC) in the Army logistics and intelligence unit. Promoted faster that average and is more senior than I am despite being in the same class. Mensa member. Graduated with university medal from ANU, one of the top universities in Australia. Did not spend that much time on his essays. Dinged w/o interview from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Sloan. Wait-listed on Columbia. Had an admissions consultant look at this apps and the feedback was that his essays were not up to par.

Person C got 710. Second Lieutenant in same unit, lower rank than Friend B with only one award to his name. Hired an admissions consultant to help him with his application, and on a relative scale probably spent 3 hours on each application essay for every 1 hour on the GMAT. Accepted at Sloan and Harvard. Going to Sloan because he feels a better fit with their personality type.

Person A is an example of a low (or perceived as low by this forum!) GMAT candidate going to a top school.

Person B and C are directly comparable. Same year as I am, same type of work, etc, but unlike me applied last year. Person B more highly regarded and respected, and even Person C happily admits Person B is a stronger candidate. However, lackluster essays = no admission. Like the GMAT, the admissions process is an imperfect process, and key is knowing how to sell yourself.

So, my advice to you is forget about the GMAT. In fact, you may want to think about even hiring an admissions consultant. Person C went with Veritas and was very happy with the experience. He did GMAT with Veritas also, and I guess that's how he choose Veritas for apps process. I think that's more useful than doing the GMAT again.

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Great insight

by blogger » Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:19 am
Thanks guys, your insight is most helpful. After reading your posts, I think you are right. I guess - at least with a 760 - it pretty much comes down to differentiating myself and writing first-class essays. But my quant score still kind of annoys me.

To hell with the GMAT. It is on the shelf, and I am going to use my books for kindling!

Anyhow, I will definitely look into Veritas, and I appreciate your all's input.

Thanks again.

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by black_cat » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:20 am
Leonard, excellent post! That's what I was trying to convey in a post last week ... that I will not put too much emphasis on the GMAT because it's only one piece of the entire application (and I am very strong in all other aspects of my application).

Blogger, if I scored a 760 on the GMAT, I would throw a frickin' parade for myself! That is an amazing score. Don't over analyze it ... focus now on the other parts of your application!

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by MeddlingKid » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:47 pm
First off, congratulations on a job well done. A 760, despite your perception of your quantitative performance, is an excellent score. The admissions comittee realizes the cons with placing too much importance in one test. If you excelled in math courses during college, your "low" (I don't agree that your score is low, by the way) quant score should be a moot point.

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by michelsmithm » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:47 am
Congratulations for your remarkable score well i just cannot suggest you much because i am not having that much idea but i just want you to say

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by AGJAMESNEWYORK » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:50 am
First, congratulations on getting an awesome score. Your GMAT score will not keep you out of any school that you wish to apply to. Second, do you mind telling us how you prepared for the exam, especially in the final days leading up to the exam. Also, could you let me know the type of quant questions that you saw on the exam. I will be taking the exam this Friday and I will appreciate any insight that you can provide.

Again, congratulations and I look forward to your advice.

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How to Study

by blogger » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:15 am

If you are taking the exam next Friday, I hope you have already put some time into it. How much time can you allocate each week?

I am professionally pretty busy, and work a 60 - 65 hour week, so I could only put so much time into it each week. Because of this, I basically studied for 3 - 4 months on Saturdays and Sundays only. It is basically impossible (at least for me) to get home at 9:30 at night and stay focused on the GMAT. I'd put in 3 - 4 hours each weekend reviewing concepts and then doing some brief timed practice.

Then, I scheduled my test for March 24th on March 1st, with the intent of forcing myself to study 1.5 - 2.5 hours each night after work. I was able to do this for 2 weeks, and it really hammered home all the key concepts for me. Unfortunately, I had to close a transaction the week before the exam, so I literally didn't study at all for 10 days or so prior to the weekend before the exam.

Then, the weekend before the test (I took it Monday - I recommend this highly, as it gives you a couple days to review and to rest) I studied pretty much all afternoon and night on Friday, all afternoon and night on Saturday, and did nothing but review a couple key concepts on Sunday. I pretty much just chilled on Sunday, and tried to forget about the test.

It is important to take a couple practice tests. I only used Manhattan GMAT. I took them on weekends, when I had time - not the weekend before the test. Then I just used the Manhattan GMAT timer with questions I had particular difficulty with - 2 mins a question for like a set of 20 or 30 questions.

Other than that, I only used OG and Kaplan for written study. Then I used Manhattan GMAT online materials. Everything else was useless.

I think this way worked really well for me. It allowed me to review the topics, then take a break, then review them again, then take a break, then really focus on them, then take a break, then review them right before the exam, then take a day off.

May not work for everyone, but worked for me. Let me know if this helps, and if you would like further insight.

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by jsilverstein » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:56 pm
I hate you.

Just kidding - you did great - be proud of yourself.