A Stumble Across the 700 GMAT Finish Line

I am relieved to say – I am finally moving on from the GMAT aka Give Money And Time to the GMAC.

My GMAT retake was Sept. 19th and I resolved it would be my last.  My preparation up until this retake was a little lopsided. I put off studying entirely for the two weeks immediately after my first attempt, and studied pretty consistently the next three weeks.  I knew that timing was my big thing, so I tried to employ a variety of strategies including pacing myself and not running out of time at the end.

Like the first time, AWA went by quickly and though I had to think and plan longer on my topics this time, I still felt pretty good when finishing.  Moving on to Quant, I started with some fairly easy questions, then moved up to medium level, and for a few that I had no clue how to solve, I gave it my best guess and moved on.  What really scared me was a few easy questions in the middle: Was this a sign that I had made simple mistakes earlier?  This caused me to panic and I resolved to keep truckin’ along, doing well at the end and finishing with a minute to spare.

When Quant was over, I was slightly worried – I hadn’t seen any rate or permutation questions, the ones that I felt solid on, but saw two functions questions, types of questions that I did not brush up on.  I knew something was amiss, but wanted to head strong into Verbal so I only took a few minutes for the break.

The entire time on Verbal I told myself to work at a steady pace, which was my problem the last time.  Halfway through Verbal, I noticed I was short on the time I had budgeted and guessed on two questions in a very long CR passage.  I finished just on time, but thought I had bombed Verbal.  Luckily, I did not have to go through the experimental section this time around and when my results screen finally came up, I put my hands over my eyes, much like you would do watching while The Ring:

The result? 710 (92%) with 44Q (66%) and 44V (97%).  I had made my goal of hopping over the 700-barrier, but it was more of a stumble and dash at the end, rather then a true leap.

Go figure.  While I’m happy with my Verbal score, the Quant leaves much to be desired. +20 points is not much, but it puts me closer to the average of the schools I hope to attend.  My only concern now is in the unbalance of the scores – would a school look unfavorably upon such a low quant score?

Regardless, I really wanted to move on.  Realistically, the most my score could go up is maybe 30 pts, and the 3 practice tests I took over the past week I scored 710, 720, and 730, so I knew it was within my range.  At home, I googled a 44v 44q split and got some interesting feedback – most people said the 710 was a good score, but the split may be concerning to some as the 80/80 percentile is preferred. Gah!

I even wondered for a minute whether I should submit the 690 score because of the more even distribution, but realized how silly that was.  710 is a great score and I really did not want to keep taking this test again and keep forking over the $250.  I have no plans of doing anything finance related, though I’m fairly comfortable with numbers and data as I use them in my job with relation academic performance across schools.  After beating myself up for the split, I realized that I did okay considering I did not sign up for a class and used the Manhattan GMAT guides, OG books and a tiny bit of Kaplan and Princeton review here and there along with the Manhattan GMAT, GMAC and Knewton practice tests.  What did help the last couple of weeks was googling types of questions that I was still unclear on – there’s a lot you can learn from random websites on basic math!

Set of GMAT guides, looking for a good home!

I am pretty much convinced that my GMAT tribulations are ending today.  I even re-read through this thread on whether or not to retake, and can’t really point out a good reason other than increasing the Quant.  On the drive home, I reflected on the irony of the situation, which should be taken as a sign to move on.

I thought back to My Biking Incident of Last Summer – in an attempt to fit in better in my city (I was not about to get a tattoo and could only take PBR in small amounts), I bought a vintage Schwinn off Craigslist and convinced myself to bike to work. The bike was not really my thing, it was more of a practical move with a 15- minute commute downhill to work.  Riding home in a hurry one afternoon to get to kickball practice, I fell off and busted up my knee, landing in urgent care.  (I still have the scar to prove it, and now have to pose strategically in photographs – ha!)  A few weeks later, my bike got stolen as it was locked outside of my office; granted I had left it there for two weeks while I worked in Asia, but that’s besides the point.  Maybe, somewhere the universe was saying that I need to stay off that bike, and maybe, this is an indication today that I need to focus on other parts of my app. This time around, I’m listening.

  • Thanks for sharing your stories – yes, let’s hope they can look more closely at the other parts of the application, and according to Arch-Poet, it sounds like they do! Arch-Poet – I didn’t know that schools allow current students access to their applicant files…do you know if this is typical of all schools or were you granted special access? The encouragement definitely helps!!!

  • Mazen

    Well I retook the GMAT about a week ago and improved from 650 (strong Q 50 and very weak V 28) to 680 a more balanced score (48Q, 35V).
    Actually, I was consistantely getting 710 + on the practice tests. Therefore I believe that it has a lot to do with your shape on the big day.I cannot understand when I hear people saying that less than 700 is not enough for HBS or Stanford. Although, it is true that a 770 score is a huge leap from 680, I think that a 730 (mean of HBS) is really close to 680!!!
    I just hope that the adcoms think the same way!!!!!

  • Arch-Poet

    Hello Mango,

    I had a similar experience last year with the GMAT. First time around I got a 690 with a low quant score of 42 (61%) and a relatively high verbal of 42 (95%). Second time around I managed a 730 with an even higher verbal score of 50 (99+%) but the same darned quant score of 42. This was a concern because I was a humanities major with a non-quant consulting background. I decided to try and offset this deficiency by taking a stats class at a major university and acing it.

    Fast-forward 1.5 years to me sitting in the student services office of the top ten program I currently attend. I am reviewing the assessment file for my application to that school (which can be both a heartening and confidence-destroying exercise) and I come upon the academics section. There is a rating area for quant skills with a check next to the word “poor” on my form and a note saying that my GMAT quant score is not competitive. It also says, however, that my overall score is strong and it mentions that I did get an A in that stats class.

    So, my overall impression is that quant performance matters but is not a non-starter if you can make up for it in other ways. For example, I noticed that in the paragraph below the quant comments on my assessment form, there was strong praise of the extracurricular leadership position I decided to focus on last summer. If I had re-retaken the GMAT, I doubt I’d have had time for this.

    Best of luck!