Now that the sting has worn off…

I’m considering a very difficult decision. Insanity maybe? I don’t know. I’m thinking about retaking the GMAT before Round 2 deadlines with a goal of scoring at least a 750 this time. I know my weakness: I’m a very young applicant. I have a great GPA, great extracurriculars, great work experience (quality wise) but my GMAT as a consultant told me is “average”.

I’m pretty decent at taking standardised tests and I’m sure that with proper preparation I can beat the 710 I have. But I am worried about how I’m going to manage this with work, my startup, my volunteering work and actual applications. On the flip-side, having a really strong GMAT score could make me stand out and offset the damage I do to their admission statistics with my paltry work experience by increasing the average GMAT score.

Now, another sign that I’m losing my mind is that I am considering applying to Booth in Round 2. Yep. You heard me right. A school that is ranked way above Duke and practically up there with H/S/W. Why you ask? Primarily because this: Chicago Booth Early Career Candidates

…the Admissions Committee will bear in mind the applicant’s proximity to the college experience when considering factors such as leadership, supervision experience, and academic success.

I found myself checking off everything on that list. BUT, and this is a huge but, the average age is still about 28 though with 4.5 years of work experience. Does that mean I’m reading too much into this whole pitch they have for early career candidates? Well apart from this, I like the fact that the program is extremely analytical and personalized, and they have a great focus on entrepreneurship and non-conformity. I am still debating this internally, but I must admit a 750 would make me feel a little better about applying here. NaijaMBAGal, any insights? 😛

Other than that, I’m still deliberating my list. Cornell Johnson is definitely in there and I’m debating between Ross and maybe UCLA (didn’t think I’d want to be on the West Coast, but oh well). So if not this year, then what? I’m going to rethink my job situation and work towards getting into a top 10 school next year. Until then, decisions decisions.

UPDATE: A few hours after I wrote this post, thanks to some helpful feedback from gnpth and mbablackgirl, I decided what the heck and booked my date for the GMAT. 23rd December it is. It will be my third attempt (630, 710 and ?). I did absolutely no extra preparation between attempt 1 and attempt 2 so I have no idea how I managed that. Worst case, I get a score lower than 710 and I cancel it. Best case I get a 750+. Seems quite low risk to me so I took the plunge. Is it weird that I’m excited about taking the test?


18 thoughts on “Now that the sting has worn off…

  1. Yeah that is there. But nothing bad in trying it out. Who knows, if you are invited for interview. You can pull it off. I may sound unrealistic but that’s the way it is :).

    Anyhow, You can take time, think about and act accordingly 🙂


  2. Retaking the GMAT with a lot going on with work and life is demanding, but if you believe it will boost your R2 applications then I would encourage you to persevere. As you said, “if not this year, then when?”

    Otherwise, may be worthwhile to contact adcomms or the marketing teams of the R2 schools questioning the rates of acceptance for below average age applicants and any other questions you may have.

    As gnpth mentioned there is no harm in trying. Look forward to hearing your revised game plan! Keep pushing


  3. I feel you… 🙂 I’ve picked up myself and I’m gearing up for another attempt sometime around December 20th… (prettyyyyyy close, I know!). But it will give me enough time to put together a killer application and (hopefully) increase the points. And I know it seems crazy considering my 650, but I’ve set sight on a 750+ too! Do let me know your strategies! 🙂

    I think 710 is just great! But if you can be better than great (and YOU KNOW YOU CAN), then you definitely should give it another go! And there’s plenty of time (just tell yourself that 😀 )


    1. Woohoo, that’s awesome. Yeah, it’s best to set your goals super high. You just need to work on your verbal though since you’re already insanely good at quant! I’m aiming to hit a 50 on the quant and a 45 on the verbal (ideally). It’s not too far off from my previous split (47Q, 40V) so I guess we’ll see how that turns out. No preparation strategies yet, I’m googling what books I need at the moment. I took the test in 2012 so everything I have is outdated :/


      1. Whoa! 45V is a really high target to set for youself. With a 50Q, 45V split, you will most likely be in the 780-790 range on the GMAT! I had a 50Q/41V split and scored a 760. I think as long as you focus on pulling up your Quant score to 50, you should be golden in terms of hitting that 750/760 target score.


      2. I know it is! But always good to aim higher no? I mean since I managed to hit a 40V before, hoping I can improve on that. But you’re right, Quant is where I can actually make a difference! But you are amazing! 760 will make you competitive anywhere you apply.


  4. I think it’s really remarkable that you’ve picked yourself up and started working on the next plan so before I “offer insights”, I’ll like to say well done. I agree with you that retaking the GMAT is pretty low risk though I’m not certain if schools treat cancelled score with the same attitude us applicants do. Personally, I don’t think a +40 difference is as impactful in the application as it is a confidence booster but sometimes that’s just what we need 😉

    I think Booth’s an awesome school and though I have no facts to support what I’m about to say, I really believe it. Booth values creativity and individuality more than they do GMAT scores. I say this because I got to the interview stage with a 650 GMAT but I know beyond any doubt that my presentation for that round was top-notch. That really was the only thing I had in my favour for that application. I filled the online application in a hurry and used mostly one-liners but my presentation could not be faulted. I blew the interview for three reasons: I tried to fit in with my answers, I could not make a personal connection with my interviewer and I applied in round 3.

    I also think Booth likes “curveball applicants”, people that are as qualified as the average applicant but have something a bit differentiating about their qualifications. I know a few people in that category that got in last year. That said, my advice is look for your most distinguishing personal traits and present it creatively.
    Good luck with the GMAT, but start your essay/presentation already because you’ll have to do that regardless of what you decide with the GMAT


    1. Thanks NaijaMBAgal! That is some really encouraging insight and I’m happy to take your word for it. That is exactly the impression I got from Booth! They seem to care more about the person and less about their stats. I think it goes with their whole non-conformist thing, which I absolutely love. I’m going to give it my best shot anyway, we shall see how it goes! And yes, I have started on my essay! I don’t have much experience with presentations so I’m going with that option. But I love how open ended it is!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahh I’m filled with so many emotions right now!! I was so preoccupied reading your post and the comments that I didn’t realize they were calling my name at Starbucks for like 5 minutes. First of all YES PLEASE consider Anderson! That would be amazing if we both got in.

    Secondly, ahhhh omg the GMAT retake strikes again. You know how I feel about the situation. As stressful as the GMAT is especially considering work and the rest of the applications, it’s the one thing you have complete control over and you don’t want to have any doubt of your mind after a ding that that was the reason. Especially for candidates in our situation. The young applicant from Anderson I spoke with pretty much confirmed our suspicions.. she said that was the one thing she could really do something about and she focused all her energy on getting a top score and it obviously worked out for her!

    You are so smart and I am extremely confident you can pull off that 750 no problem. Completely understand your excitement… it feels good to let go of the disappointment of the past and have new things to look forward to. I’m excited for you!! If only we could be study buddiessss


    1. Hahaha, I can totally imagine that B. It’s definitely in the running! I realised that there aren’t too many schools on the west coast which should make it easier to find jobs there. And yes, exactly! It’s the only data point they have to really compare applicants so if we’re capable of bringing our scores up, we should! Also, I am the worst study buddy ever and you’re lucky you’re not stuck studying with me! I’m super ADD while studying and I literally can’t sit in a single place for more than half an hour tops. I’d drive you nuts. But yes, I think we can do this!!


  6. Heyyy there! First off, *tight Hug*.
    I love how you have bounce back. Please apply to Ross? 😀 It is a great school!!
    Working on your GMAT score is the smartest thing to do at this point. My friend who is a first year at Yale now, was 22 when she applied and had about the same amount of work experience as you. I think what really gave her application that push was her stellar 750 on the GMAT. She applied in R2.

    Looks like there’s going to be a whole lot of us taking the test in December! Let’s get this done!


  7. Hey! Personally, I do not believe a great GMAT score gives you an edge while applying to B-School. I know some really cool people who got in to Wharton and Kellogg with a 680 score (both Indians) and another who got into IESE with a 710. But I understand that this is one thing you have control over, and if you are confident you can pull off a better score, then go for it! Not much of a downside.
    It’s great that you’re excited about taking the test, go in a with a positive attitude and you can kill it!

    Are you considering European schools as well or only US? Have you done any R&D on schools which do admit a slightly larger % of younger candidates like yourself? Booth is a great choice, I know someone who applied to Booth with 2.5 years workex and was interviewed. I think if you demonstrate fit and show creativity in your presentation – you will definitely at least be interviewed!

    Good luck!


    1. Hi Vandana! Yes, I definitely agree. But as a much younger applicant, I feel like all of my stats should be off the charts just to compensate. I don’t want to give them another data point to say, “Never mind. Maybe two years later”. Like if they compared me with someone who had a GMAT of 740 and 5 years of work experience, I would fall short. So yes in a way, this is the only thing I can really control and be sure of!

      I would love to study in Europe, seriously. But the average work experience in European schools tends to skew higher than American schools which is why I’m not considering them. Yes, I have been looking into that and unfortunately, H/S/W are the ones that take people in with 3 years of work experience. I guess they have that luxury. Booth is another school which is on my radar and slightly more attainable, at least from a mental perspective. But that is really good to know about your friend! Gives me hope. Thank you for inspiring me 🙂

      What have you been upto lately? It’s been quiet on your end!

      Liked by 1 person

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