The Results are In


First of all, I want to thank everyone that took the time to wish me luck on the GMAT today! Pulling That MBA Trigger, Top Dog MBA, Naija MBA Gal, MBA on my Mind, SciMBAGNPTH, and The MBA Journey. You guys don’t even realize how special all your posts and comments made me feel, y’all rock!!

I ended up scoring a 680 today (45Q, 38V). Not quite as high as expected, but my optimism that I can do better the next time around is slightly outweighing my disappointment. Sorry for the football analogy I’m about to make to all of you non football fans, but in taking the GMAT exam day, I felt like a rookie drafted in the 1st round playing in their first regular season NFL game. 1st round because I know that I’m not only qualified to take this exam but also have the ability to achieve a high score, but a rookie, a first timer, nonetheless. No matter how well you know the playbook, how hard you practice in training camp or how great you play during the preseason scrimmage games, there’s nothing like playing in a real game for the very first time, just like being able to regurgitate every quant formula and SC rule, studying every waking moment, and acing the mock exams, is in no comparison to the experience of going against the GMAT itself, decked out in a helmet and pads, running at you full speed when it really counts.

My achilles heel was exactly what I knew it would be, what I told myself on the drive to the testing center not to let happen, what ultimately did happen on BOTH sections, I FREAKING RAN OUT OF TIME! *facepalm* I’m a terrible guesser so I’m pretty sure in my mad dash to just finish, I for sure got every single question wrong.

As I am determined to apply to programs this Fall and want to submit the strongest profile possible, I plan on retaking the exam within the next 1-2 months to get that 720. I know I have quite the uphill battle, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes. It’s crazy just how much clearer my mind is now that I have taken the exam. Maybe it’s false confidence, but I know what areas I struggled in and how I can improve strategy wise, so hopefully a few more weeks of preparation will get me in the 700 club. As an underrepresented minority, I know a 680 would probably be an adequate score to get me into most of my program choices, but because I’m also a young applicant, I feel like I need a high GMAT score to prove I should be accepted now rather than later.

This time today, I thought I would be gearing up for the next step of the application process with maybe only spending Saturdays in the library essay writing, but at least having Sundays of NFL Football to look for to, but as we all know, plans don’t always go accordingly. No worries, Sundays will still be football day, I can’t give that up for anything, but I will definitely have to schedule out a solid plan to juggle a crazy Q4 to meet expectations at work, commitments with my volunteer projects, attending information sessions, GMAT studying, and of course updating this oh so wonderful blog.

And for any of you just starting out, I have listed the important things I’ve learned from my GMAT studying thus far. If I’ve even helped one person see things a bit more clearly, I have done well.

1. Timing is key

This was probably my biggest mistake, I waited really late in the game to start making sure I could solve most problems in the given time constraint. This will HAVE to be improved.

2. Learn what works for you

I absolutely love reading the Share GMAT Experience forum on GMAT Club. I’ve found alot of the tricks and tips that people used to get those top scores very helpful, but make sure you remember that everyone is different, and you must assess your own personal strengths and weaknesses in order to score high as well. Some people are just naturally gifted and need only a few materials for prep, and some people may be weak in a subject that you are not or vice versa. Definitely read advice from others, but never take it as the end all be all.

3. Be prepared to spend 

This might not apply to everyone, but for me, I know I spent alot of money on not just paying for the exam, but also in all my prep materials, and probably a lack of research of my own fault on what I should be using that led to overbuying. I tend to operate under the assumption that I have an endless supply of money in my bank account, so I never really plan out things before I buy them, I just spend and hope for the best. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the materials I purchased definitely helped me in one way or another, but I probably could’ve gone with less options if I knew what I know now, then.

4. Stay organized

Kind of going along with the previous bullet point, I was very disorganized in my studying. What I thought was a good plan, really was just a big mess. I would set a schedule but never follow it, had spreadsheets and notes and scratch work everywhere. The key to staying organized for me was using online question banks. I used Magoosh for a majority of my studying, which I loved because not only did they have video explanations for each problem, but I could also track what questions I missed, how long I took to complete, difficulty level and the subject material it covered all in one place. When the time came to start assessing my weakness, this was a tremendous help. My work in the OG books on the other hand, while I loved how they were accurate representations of what questions on the GMAT would be like, I failed at keeping my error log filled out and organized and never really went back to review the ones I missed.

5. Quality over quantity

I’ve been studying since the middle of May for the GMAT. I know so embarrassing. But I probably didn’t really start effectively studying until the middle of July. I mean, I was definitely “studying” for hours in the library before then, but I can honestly say that comparing my productivity from study sessions back then to now, there is a world of difference. Practicing 1000s of problems does not make you any more prepared for the test than practicing 200 problems and using the rest of the time to make sure you understand not only what you’re doing, but also why.

6. Take the GMAT as early as possible

Balancing GMAT prep and all the other facets of the MBA application can be extremely overwhelming. I’ve hardly started the next stages, but just thinking about it makes my head hurt

7. I’ve gained some serious face fat.

Like OMG no kidding you guys. When  I selected “yes” to take the first optional break after IR and my photo popped up on the screen, I was scared by what I saw, the straight on headshot of my face with incriminating evidence of one too many twizzlers during GMAT studying. YIKES!!

I apologize for the lengthy post. Definitely was not my intention, my fingers just can’t stop typing sometimes. But I’m off to give my brain a much needed rest. I’ll be at the pool tomorrow for the first time since beginning of July.. woohoo.. so my plan is to resume studying after the Labor Day weekend. I need some me time, before I can dive back into all that again. My apartment needs to be cleaned badly, errands I’ve been neglecting need to be ran, and shopping needs to be done. And if any readers out there have been successful retakers, would love to hear from you!! Damn GMAT… when will you stop consuming my life.


Posted on August 23, 2014, in GMAT, My Journey. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Good luck!! I’m scheduled to take my GMAT on the 22nd Sep! And I’ve only just started studying!! I’m kinda nervous, but I love how you’ve gone on about your preps! Congratulations on the 680! It is a great score!

  2. Hi! I just recently came across your blog – fellow MBA-applicant here 🙂 I just recently started preparing for the GMAT (I always had the impression I work best under pressure) and think that 680 is actually a very good score for your first test – One of my best friends got into Tuck with that same score! The second will be the winner 😉 Best of luck with it!

    • Thanks Kate for tuning in!! And welcome to the MBA applicant madness! Sending lots of luck your way! Are you applying this Fall as well?

      That’s awesome you already have a friend at b school. Easy access for advice! And thank you so much, that definitely makes me feel alot better. Hopefully I do better the next time around.

      I absolutely LOVE your blog. International travel has been a long time goal of mine so I really hope 2015 is the year I can start crossing alot of countries off my list. Spain will be my first stop, I’m obsessed. But for now I shall live vicariously through your posts 🙂

  3. Great job! A 680 is something to be proud of, especially your first time around. You will kill it for sure next time. Good luck!

  4. Hi!

    A 680 is still a competitive score! For what its worth, my score last year was a 680, and it was enough to get me interviewed and on the waitlist at Sloan.

    You’re gonna crush it next time. Now you know what to expect!

    This thread on timing strategies was really helpful for me btw:

    • Thanks Scott!! That makes me feel a ton better. You read so often on the blogs how if you don’t have a 700 you pretty much have no chance, so if I don’t reach the mark *lets hope that’s not the case*, I can still feel good about my chances

      I actually came across that article, but unfortunately it was only a few days before my exam, so now that I’ve got about 4-5 weeks before the next one, I’m definitely going to use it. Thanks!

  5. Great work on your first go. 680 a great score. Manhattan GMAT recommend on planning to take the exam twice. First time, is a trail, to see what it feels like in reality and enable you to figure out your game plan. So time number two your more relaxed and you can nail it. Well done!

    Upside 680 is a competitive score; think and consider before you put yourself through it again.

    If its timing the main issue with the quant. I would recommend getting a couple of sessions with a GMAT tutor; they can give you some personalised hints and tips. I used one and I found it really helpful. I found mine through Gumtree; think the American equivalent is craig list.

    • Thanks Sarah for the advice!! I definitely agree, now that I’ve taken it once, I already have a pretty good game plan on how to attack it next time around and will hopefully be a bit more relaxed and prepared.

      I never thought about getting a tutor. I’m going to see how these next few mocks go and if I continue to struggle, I’ll definitely look into that!

  6. 680 is a great score any day but particularly grear for a first attempt. You’ll do better in your next attempt, you know what to focus on while preparing and you have additional time to get it right. You still have enough time to get into school by Fall of 2015.

    I’d say take some time to refresh yourself, treat yourself to something nice for your efforts so far then go get ’em. Congratulations for this score, and for the next one that will be better.

  7. 680 is a great score for your first attempt, trust me! Great work! I’m totally confident you can cross the 700 mark the next time around just because you’ll know what to expect. I was in a very similar situation and you know what the outcome was! With your level of preparation and better time management, you should be good to go. I’m glad you’re not too disheartened though (and you shouldn’t be, because 680!) but I remember going down a black hole of self doubt and misery the first time around. But yes, don’t give into any doubt. You know you got this. Since you have a solid application otherwise, this should be just a small hurdle. Enjoy the Labour day weekend! 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words PullingThatMBATrigger!! I definitely plan on busting my ass to get over that 700 mark next go round! If only I could schedule a backpacking trip to Europe before October, then I’d be super confident about my chances haha.

      What would you say you did differently/focused on more between your first and second attempt??

      • Since I didn’t have too much time on my hands, I just focused on refining my strategies for test day making sure I got the timing right and basically took a lot of practice tests. Although, I never really reviewed what I did wrong, you definitely should! I also memorized some of the rules of sentence correction so that I wouldn’t be tempted to go by intuition.

  8. Congratulations and good luck for another attempt.

  9. First off, 680 is a solid score! It means you have covered a lot of ground and your foundations are bullet-proof. Congratulations!! 😀 Now, you’ve only got to focus on those 700+ level questions, I know your retake score will be terrific. So just hammer away at that prep and take as many tests as you can! That timing problem will reduce tremendously as the number of mock tests you take increase. I missed out 7 questions on my quant section in my previous attempt because of mismanagement of time! it was painful. I am taking as many mocks as I can. (About 12-14)
    And don’t get me started on that dreaded ‘Ëxam fat’, the stress eating coupled with the late nights, not good. Not good at all.
    Anyway, Texaswannabecali, Let’s vow to Crush the GMAT in the next month or so! Let’s get our butts to business school! 😀

    • Thank you so much MBA on my Mind! You are so sweet!!

      I’m definitely going to spend more time taking mocks this go round. I plan on buying the Exam Prep Pack from the official site as well as using the the Veritas Prep and MGMAT exams I have left over so fingers crossed by October i’ll be ready for Round 2 of the GMAT smackdown sess.

      Hope studying has been going well for you!! I know you’re gonna absolutely kill it. What did you end up deciding about applying to Kellogg R1??

  10. Hi there! First of all, congratulations on completing the exam! You made it through all the prep, got there, did the test and still got a pretty decent score – nothing to be ashamed of! I think it’s so funny how everyone (myself included) passes on advice about not leaving it too late, like we’re all doomed to repeat the failures of our predecessors 🙂

    The method I used (to score a 720 first time – what I thought was a great score but is actually nothing special) was to front-load the questions, i.e. take more time to answer them since they have a bigger impact on your score if you get them wrong. This basically meant that I had to “guess” the last five questions as I had about four minutes left (it’s also critical not to leave any question unanswered).

    I’ve since had people challenging this system – and I don’t want to give you false advice – but maybe this is something to check out. scltn’s timetable seems to support this too.

    Anyway, take some time out now, enjoy the football and pool (sounds great!) You’re gonna kick butt in the re-run! I’m staying tuned!

    • 720 is an AMAZING score!! We can always trade if you’d like haha. Just kidding…

      I think I kind of used the front loading strategy this time around and I definitely see the merit, but for me personally, as I started to see the time getting away from me instead of remaining focused, I just got extremely flustered so in addition to having the guess on the remaining questions, I also probably took alot of time away from the ones I could have answered correctly if I had relaxed a bit more.

      I still think I’m a proponent of that strategy though because when going too quickly, i tend to make careless mistakes, but in the next few weeks I’m gonna try out different scenarios and see how well they work for me!


  11. Way to go! A lot to be proud of!

  12. PS – as for the fat face issue – No one has a solution for that GMAT problem yet!

  13. TWBC – Congratulations on the score, a 680 is a decent score to have. (side note – My very own sister got accepted to Sloan and Kellogg at the age of 21 with a 680)
    If you ran out of time and still scored a 680, you’re gonna kill the GMAT the next time! I am absolutely sure about that!

    If you are facing pacing issues, try writing down a matrix of Q no vs Time that works best for you on the scratch pad before every (mock and actual) test.

    The pacing matrix that I use for the Verbal section is as follows
    Q 1 — 75 mins left.
    Q 11 — 55 mins left.
    Q 21 — 40 mins left.
    Q 31 — 25 mins left.
    Q 41 — 5 mins left.

    It keep you on your aware of the time and reminds you to modulate your pace.

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