Most people will tell you this is the hardest part of the application process. For some, its a breeze but for most of us mere mortals it takes a lot of work and more than one attempt.
I decided in 2013 that I would be going for my MBA and from my research found out that I would need to complete the GMAT. Now, I am a stranger to Computer Adaptive Testing and my first GMAT Prep CAT showed me my score would be 500 if I took the test at the time.
For my first test (May 2014) I studied on my own with the Official Guide and scored a 590 on the test. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I made up my mind to retake and booked my test for three months after i.e. August 2014. I bought the entire Manhattan pack and was averaging 640 on the CATs. My last GMAT Prep CAT was a 710 so I was confident I would do great. Alas, to my surprise I scored a 600 (Q36, V36). After this second attempt I took some time off anything MBA. I had my second child, focused on work and enjoying family time.
In September 2015 I decided to take the exam again as I had made up my mind to start my MBA in the fall of 2016. This time I changed my approach, as Quant was obviously my weak point I decided to focus on it. I did some research and decided to get the Magoosh Premium Prep Package and I can say that it was the best decision I made. I followed the Quant video lessons religiously and practiced all the Quant questions. I took their CATs and GMAT Prep CATs to assess where I was in my preparation, work on my timing and identify my weaknesses. My CAT scores were as follows:
Kaplan CAT 600 Q 38, V 34, IR 5
Magoosh 630 Q 42, V 35
Manhattan 640 Q 42, V 35
GMAT Prep 1 620 Q 40, V 35 IR 7
Magoosh 570 Q 36, V 32
Magoosh 600 Q 40, V 32
GMAT Prep 2 750 Q 48, V 42, IR 7
Magoosh 650 Q 44, V 35
GMAT Prep 3 670 Q 45, V 37, IR 6
GMAT Prep 4 690 Q 44, V 40, IR 6
The last two GMAT Prep tests were taking exactly two weeks and a week prior to my test. So I was expecting a score between 650-670. But that was not the case, my final score was 620 Q44 V33. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I kept reviewing the verbal section in my head and I honestly don't know where I went wrong. I have decided not to retake as I already interviewed with my preferred school and I'm currently waiting for the decision.
Do I think I could do better? Absolutely. Did I give it my best shot? Yes I did. Am I disappointed? Very. However, I have realized that the score is just one aspect of my application. If you are like me dealing with this scenario my advice is this: Know when to stop. If your score is within 50 points of your target school's average and you are not absolutely sure of significantly increasing your score, please focus on the other aspects of your application. As important as the GMAT is, its not the only thing you will be considered on.
For me, I'm glad for the experience. It just makes me more determined to do great in business school and prove to myself that I do have what it takes and deserve to be in the school I attend. Now is time to enjoy family time, focus on hobbies and hone my organizational skills.