In a recent conversation, I asked a colleague at BCG to tell me about her experience preparing for the GMAT. Since she ultimately scored an impressive 760 (99 percentile), I suggested that she share her experience with MBA Admissions Advisors readers, which she gladly agreed to.
Can you tell us a few words about yourself?
I graduated in May 2013 with a Masters of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Engineering from Polytechnique Montreal (Quebec). Since then, I have worked for 1 year in management consulting. I took the GMAT in order to apply for a top MBA program and I intend to enroll in September 2015.
What was your score on the different sections?
Verbal: 42 / 96%
Quant: 50 / 89%
Total: 760 / 99%
AWA: 5.5 / 80%
IR: 6 / 67%
How long did you prepare for the GMAT? How intense was your preparation (weekly hours)?
On June 27, 2014, GMAC announced that GMAT candidates would now be able to see their unofficial score before deciding whether to accept or cancel their test score.
This is a significant change for MBA applicants, who will now need to add one step to their GMAT test preparation: a score cancellation strategy session.
Until recently, we systematically recommended GMAT test takers to never cancel their score. It is indeed very common to hear of candidates who scored 700+ GMAT scores while feeling they had performed poorly during the test. I remember almost cancelling a 750 GMAT score myself after answering a string of very easy quant questions towards the end of my test… I incorrectly thought that something had gone terribly wrong.
With GMAC’s recent change, GMAT candidates are now in a position to make an informed decision. Because of the limited time available to click on the accept / reject score buttons (only 2 minutes), we strongly advise test takers to set their cancellation threshold (if any) before taking the test.
Here are a few tips to make your decision easier:
As we get closer to application deadlines, we tend to receive inquiries from MBA applicants who wonder about the possibility to put together a solid B-school application in less than a month.
Applying to a top business school usually requires months of effort, and GMAT preparation alone takes a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks for most applicants. Furthermore, picking, reaching out to, and managing recommenders can be extremely time consuming. Finally, most MBA programs require applicants to submit university or college transcripts; obtaining them can turn into a long struggle, especially for international students (who also need to translate their transcripts and convert their grades).
Our recommendation is therefore to submit your MBA application when it is ready, even if doing so implies applying at a later stage. This is usually a no-brainer for early birds who after considering applying in round 1 realize that they need a bit more time to polish their essays and therefore decide to apply in round 2. Although considered more competitive, round 2 gives them an opportunity to submit a much more robust application.
However, skipping round 2 and applying in round 3 is a much bigger chance to take because of the limited number of spots available at most schools. Postponing MBA plans one year is often not an option for applicants who have spent months crafting their story and just want to go to B-School in the fall. If you haven’t started putting together your application and feel that you absolutely need to submit it before the round-2 deadline, here are 10 tips that may help you achieve the impossible.