The below entry is quite long, so here’s a summary: One of my GMAT students was able to improve her score, but still fell short of her target. However, she was accepted to her MBA program of choice.
In September of last year, a student contacted me for GMAT help. She had already taken the GMAT and scored a 420. Her goal was to get into an MBA program at a local California State university. This school has a strong reputation around Los Angeles, where many professionals are alumni. The student’s scoring goal was 540, which was the average score for the school. Coincidentally, that’s also the current median GMAT score of all test-takers.
We began meeting once per week for two-hour sessions. Much of the time was spent reviewing targeted Official Guide problems in the student’s weak areas. We also reviewed several full-length GMAT practice exams. The practice exams were taken using the GMATprep software exams and Manhattan GMAT’s online CAT exams.
This student was smart, but somewhat inconsistent with her studying. She worked full-time and frequently travelled on the weekends, so the majority of her studying was in small increments during the week. She also took a couple of extended breaks from studying altogether.
After I tutored this student for about two months, she took the exam in late November. Her score was a 470 – an improvement of 50 points, but still disappointing. We had a long conversation to discuss the results. She told me that during the exam, she got into timing difficulty on the Quant session, and had to rush through the last five problems. She also got slammed by some difficult Reading Comprehension science passages about obscure topics. However, she decided to retake the exam once more.
I was glad to hear that the student was determined to give the GMAT one last shot. She scheduled her next exam for late December. During this month, we continued to meet once per week. She also applied to her target MBA program with the 470 score, and was rejected.
During the month of December, our third month working together, things began to click. (Side note: sometimes, it really does take that long to get used to the questions on the GMAT!) I could tell that she was becoming more skilled at solving problems on the Quant section. She became much more efficient, and she improved her timing as well. Previously, she was spending 3 minutes on difficult questions, yet still getting them incorrect. Now, following my recommendation, she would just make an educated guess after 90 seconds.
The net result was that she retook the GMAT on December 31st and scored a 510. We were both happy that she had improved, but disappointed that she wasn’t able to reach her target score. Nonetheless, she had now managed to improve 90 points from her original score. She submitted her new GMAT score to the school, even though it was still below their average score.
A few weeks later, the student called the admissions office of the school that had rejected her. On this call, she discovered that the school had an ‘appeals process’ in which you could ask for your application to be reconsidered. All she had to do was email the admissions office and request the appeal. She wrote the email, and heard back about a week later – she was accepted!
I can’t know the precise reason why she was accepted. When she originally applied, her GMAT score was a 470, and she submitted her new score of 510 a month later. I believe the admissions committee may have been impressed that she retook the GMAT and improved. This showed that she was serious about earning her MBA. Furthermore, the student took the initiative and called the admissions office to inquire whether her new score might help. This also showed her determination.
A third possibility is that the school was under-enrolled for the new class, and needed to fill more seats. However, even if this was true, she still demonstrated her commitment by improving her score and staying in touch with the school.
Everyone’s GMAT journey is different, and this student’s journey was especially difficult. She studied for over four months, and took the exam three times. However, in the end she was accepted to her school of choice! As of now, she has already begun taking classes and is officially an MBA student.
Remember that thousands of students are accepted into GMAT programs each year with a below-average score for their program. If you are persistent and show that you are serious, you may be one of them. If you live in L.A., write me to inquire about Los Angeles GMAT tutoring.
1. When you begin to prepare for the GMAT, you should have between 2-3 months of relatively stress-free time ahead. You should not take any extended breaks (over 1 week) from studying. If you work full-time, leave your weekends open since you’ll be too tired to study for more than an hour on weekdays
2. During practice exams and on test day, make sure you use the correct timing strategies.
3. Even if you don’t reach your target GMAT score, BE PERSISTENT. Try to meet the members of the admissions committee at an information session, or get in touch with them through phone or email.
- Matt, www.thegmattutor.com