ACT 3: FROM 590 TO THE GMAT 700 CLUB (Q47, V40, AWA6)


I played classical saxophone for about 8 years between middle school and my first year of college. I also had the privilege of taking private lessons from Mr. Collins, who was hands down the best in my state at the time. His students consistently auditioned well enough to dominate all-county and all-state wind ensembles. Looking back on that time I wish I would have worked a little harder.

My instructor always told me that I had a lot of talent that I was not working hard enough to tap into. And though I never stuck with the saxophone well enough or long enough to see Julliard or become a recording professional, there is one thing that I developed well during that time: the discipline to sit in one place and practice at something for hours–day in and day out.

Mr. Collins was known among his students for an axiom that he beat into our heads week after week: “Practice does NOT make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect.



As Mr. Collins’ axiom (well actually it’s not his. As an I adult I have come to find out that it is a commonly used phrase) relates to the GMAT exam that I took today, I did NOT practice perfectly; which is undoubtedly why I failed to make my 730/740 goal or 750/760 stretch goal.

My unmet goal notwithstanding, I am sitting in front of my laptop with a 12pc of garlic parmesan Buffalo Wild Wings, a video game controller in my hand and a bottle of malbec breathing in the corner of my eye. I shall down at least half of it by midnight. Why? Because I am beyond relieved to have officially made the ranks of the GMAT 700 club–even if by only a hair. My test verdict? 700 (47Q, 40V, 6AWA – 90th percentile overall).


A few folks who were paying attention may have noticed that my first GMAT post started with “ACT 2”. Well, there was a reason for that. You see, while ACT 3 didn’t exactly win me a Tony, it at least got me an invite to the ceremony,  ACT 1 was just downright embarrassing. Not only was it off Broadway, but it was a Venice Beach freak show, right between that guy playing electric guitar in a turban with roller blades on (don’t believe me? I dare you to click it) and the henna tattoo stand.

It all started last November when a good friend of mine from high school (Colgate undergrad, Columbia GSB ’08) mentioned the MLT program to me and recommended that I apply. Apparently it was supposed to prepare you to maximize your chances of admission at top 10 or 25 business schools. Shorty after that, I found out that a friend of mine from undergrad (the same age as me) had just finished the program and was in her first semester at Kellogg as a part of their class of ’13.

Little did I know it, but I was about to learn a hard lesson about applying in Round 3. By the time that I even found out what this organization was, it was only about a week and a half until the R3 deadline. Within that time frame, I had to submit an app (which is a replica of an MBA admissions app), secure recommenders and take either a GMAT or practice GMAT exam.

I didn’t have time to get a GMAT spot by the deadline so I opted for a practice GMAT and scored a 650 without much study. I got dinged by MLT, most likely because of my age (the ding letter stated that they typically preferred candidates with <8 years of work experience); however, I felt pretty good that I had gotten a 650 on the practice test with minimal studying.

If I had gotten in (which, in hindsight would have been more of a time commitment than I would have been able to make) I would have needed an official GMAT score of 500 by the end of February. I was really trying to hold out to get my results before I plunked down my $250 and risked putting a less-than-stellar score on my GMAT report.

Needless to say, I was more than irritated at the fact that by the time MLT bothered to let R3 applicants know what was going on I had already scheduled a GMAT just so that I wouldn’t come up short on that requirement had I been chosen. The result? A dismal 590 (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit while reliving that).

Basically, I cracked under the pressure of timing (my most recent standardized test before that was a paper-based GRE taken in 1999 that I did quite well on, actually). I froze during the quant section, wasted tons of time and ended up not only guessing on about 8 problems but not even finishing the last 2 or 3.

Don’t ask me what my Q/V split was because I’ve never bothered to look at my official score on the GMAT website. I told a few family members and close friends that I had made “about a 600”. Scoring that far away from 700 was disappointing enough, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of having a sub-600 score attached to my name. That would just be uncivilized.


So here are the main 2 mistakes that I made during my most recent GMAT prep:

#1 Not enough review

I made the feature image for this post a display of my GMAT shrine (shown above). It consists of:

*OG 12th Edition

*OG Quant Review 2nd Edition

*OG Verbal Review 2nd Edition

*Barron’s LSAT

*Manhattan GMAT Number Properties

*Manhattan GMAT Geometry Review

*Manhattan GMAT Word Problems

*Manhattan GMAT Advanced Quant

*Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction

*Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible

*9 composition notebooks full of quant problems

Based on the forum browsing that I had done (that and talking to other GMATers), these were the books that seemed to be the most critical for success.

I actually never got to the LSAT book. I purchased it because another friend of mine from undergrad (Stanford GSB ’08) said that she took the LSAT a year before the GMAT and that the verbal section of the GMAT was just an easier version of the LSAT. As a result of her Barrons prep, she scored in the 99th percentile on the verbal section of the GMAT.

Again, I never got to that book. And the reason that I didn’t get to it was because about 2-3 weeks prior to my test date I discovered that I was going through too many problems without sufficient review. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks while reading a post on

So basically I was getting really proficient in one area, then moving on to the next area without enough review to really grasp all of the underlying relationships between principles. As a result, I would go back to similar problem weeks down the road (after having barreled through another 100-200+ problems plus on other topics) and I would not be as sharp as I had been. This hit me really hard when I realized that I was…

#2 Starting practice tests too late in the game

Like a fool, I took my FIRST pre-exam practice CAT just 7 days before my exam. I got a 660 (GMAT Prep – 45Q,30something V) and completely freaked out. WTH? I had made a 650 before I had ever studied at all. I was devastated–done.

Four days before my exam date, I took a second practice exam–620 (Manhattan GMAT – 30something quant, 40 V). WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME? I’ll tell you what. I was cracking under the pressure again because I had forgotten a TON of the critical minutiae that I would need to get to 700 land. It was all somewhere in those composition books that I had been furiously scribbling in for 3 months, but I couldn’t access it because I had not invested enough time into my review.

Two days before my exam date, I started the 2nd GMAT Prep practice test. I got a ridiculous case of test anxiety and ended the exam about halfway through the quant, utterly disgusted. I could not bare struggling through another exam and not even being within 40 points of my goal. I was sure that if I completed that exam and got the resultant score I would go through the roof and become a nervous wreck on exam day. So I tried a different approach…


Over the past few months I’ve become good friends with a few other MBA folks to commiserate with, namely Cheetarah1980 (Booth ’14) and OhDenny (Yale SOM ’14). I tend to believe that if you want to be successful at something, your most valuable resource is someone who has recently accomplished what you are after. These two were going through this very drama a year ago and were both able to gain acceptance into solid top 10 programs.

Cheetarah1980 in particular suggested that I calm the hell down if I wanted to have any chance of doing well on this exam. “Stay away from those  %@%^ GMAT books. You aren’t going to learn anything new in 3 days”, she [basically] said. “Just relax, keep reminding yourself that you can do this and you’ll be fine. And if you need to take it again, then take it again.”

I realized that she was right, so I slammed by books shut and headed off to Pasadena for a barbecue/gathering that a friend of mine was hosting. I spent the rest of my Saturday there and had a blast. While on the freeway I declared the rest of my time before exam day as my official screw the GMAT weekend (well, the real name is a little more ghetto and gutter than that, but you get the picture).

Later that night I went to my favorite Thai Spot with a good friend and ordered my favorite dish, an Ocean’s 7. With every bite of shellfish and every sip of Zinfandel, I thought to myself: screw the GMAT.

On Sunday, I slept in until I was good and damn ready to get out of bed. Since I’m a very early riser, “sleeping in” for me is anything past 6am. I must have gotten up at around 7, but it felt like noon; and I felt great. I did 45 minutes of cardio at the gym and came home to shower and make my usual power breakfast–egg whites, a sprouted-wheat bagel, berries and Yogi green tea (all from Trader Joes, of course).

I watched Youtube videos until about 10am, at which time I made a long overdue pilgrimage to Korea town for a Korean massage (the best). After I woke up from dozing off on the table I thought quietly to myself, screw the GMAT. On the way home I picked up a six pack of ice cold Stella Artois and enjoyed them while re-watching the last game of the NBA Finals (go Heat!) on DVR.

Later that evening I watched a DVR marathon of True Blood and Game of Thrones. I answered neither phone calls nor texts, except a last minute “well wishes” call from Cheetarah. Oh Denny had left me a good luck voicemail and Linda Abraham from sent me a very nice email. It’s great to be surrounded by such supportive people.


On exam day I woke up refreshed and ready to go. I had successfully gone 36 hours without obsessing about the GMAT and it had made a world of difference in my disposition. I hit the gym for another 45 minutes of cardio and then came home to shower before getting a nice clean shave with a brand spanking new Gilette Fusion razor–I love those things.

I avoided eating anything heavy and basically just snacked on fish and berries throughout the morning (I head read somewhere that berries keep you alert and help your brain to function well). I also drank plenty of water.

I arrived at the test center an hour and 45 minutes early. On the way there I kept repeating to myself: “Remember, every question on this test can be answered in 2 minutes or less; and there is no problem on this test that isn’t similar to something that you’ve answered correctly before.”

I stuck to my usual exam day ritual of wearing power lifting shoes. I think its because I feel kinda unstoppable in them, like I’m about to squat 400.

As it turns out, the testing center is on the northern border of my old sales territory from when I worked in big corporate, so I didn’t need to do a practice drive there earlier. I was all prepared to go to the Starbucks across the street for a coffee, but the center was in an office campus that had a cafeteria, so I went and got a cup there and downed it while listening to Tupac, Lil Wayne and Drake on my iphone (ghetto, I know, but it puts me in a beast-like state of mind with predator-like focus; also notice that I’ve finally upgraded from Blackberry to an iPhone to prevent a future Berkeley incident).

I ended up starting my exam an hour early and appreciated the folks at Pearson Vue for not making me wait for that hour in agony before allowing me to begin. I packed my personal belongings, a stash of berries and an emergency bottle of 5 hour energy (just in case I got sleepy before the verbal section) in my assigned locker, took my seat and got started.


When the test began I immediately noticed that I was full of energy, but not jittery. I had gotten my plenty of rest/light food/water/berries/coffee/time of day balance just right.

I had also made sure to schedule my exam on a Monday. I had read a comment by a Stanford GSB student on Quora that Monday is the best day to take the exam because you are coming off of a weekend of rest instead of a week of work. That made sense to me, since my infamous 590 during ACT 1 came after working about 5 1/2 hours on a Thursday before rushing across town in traffic to take the exam.

The AWA section was pretty straightforward.  I was able to identify several weak assumptions as well as counterarguments to the argument at hand. I also had several ideas of what could strengthen the argument with several examples to boot. If anything, I got TOO carried away with counterarguments and examples and wrote like a 600-800 word passage that was too long to fully edit in time. I ran out of time just as I was noticing that I had spelled the word “initiative” wrong in the last paragraph. Oh well.


I have several issues with the new IR section of the GMAT. First of all, its irritating. The reading is less interesting than watching paint dry and it wears down some of your energy between that and having to interpret graphs. Additionally, the way that some of the questions are asked came across as convoluted.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I admit that I did zero prep for this section. I had planned to spend my last week reviewing it but when I began having problems with my GMAT practice tests I panicked and the final days of my prep strategy were derailed. Plus I knew that although it would behoove me not to bomb the IR, a less than perfect score would not be held too strongly against me since its a new section and schools have yet to decide how they are going to “integrate” it into their current admissions algorithms. I finished it in time but was glad that it was over.


During my 1st break I grabbed a few swigs of water, ate some berries and came back to my seat. Quant started out pretty well. I felt much more relaxed than I had before. In my head, I thought that if I could just match the quant from my GMAT Prep CAT (45) and my verbal from my MGMAT CAT (40), that I should at least make the minimal threshold that I would need to feel ok about all of this.

Then it happened. I came across some stupid number line problem. It was NOT a hard problem at all, but my adrenaline had me launch into the problem the wrong way. For instance, instead of seeing “RS” as a line segment between two points I read it as “the variable R times the variable S”; ugh. Once I realized this I started the problem over, already 2min+ in the hole. I should have guessed and moved on (since that is what I ended up doing anyway) but my ego would not allow me to LET IT GO.

As a result, I wasted valuable time and went from a time surplus to a deficit. I also couldn’t let another problem or two go and fell further behind. I practically guessed the last 4-5 questions (made very quick determinations without fully hashing out the logic) and probably sent a Q48-Q50 right down the drain.


Other than my abysmal 30something verbal on the GMAT Prep CAT, I’ve gotten used to about a 90% verbal. I could feel during this part of the exam that my performance was about par for the course; and that is basically what I got. It was neither sexy nor spectacular, but I held the line; hey, defense wins championships. I also could plainly see where having gotten to the LSAT book may have helped me add an additional 20-30 points to my score with an increased raw verbal score. I’ll seriously need to look into that during my retake prep (yes, a retake is likely).


After finishing the last verbal question with just :30 on the clock (I got hung up on a question or two and fell behind in this section as well, resulting in a mad dash on 4 of the last 5 questions. I got to the final question with just over 2 minutes left and took my time to make it count.

I zoomed through the demographic information, pleased that they had saved my previous answers from ACT 1.That saved me a good deal of aggravation. I also made sure to UNCHECK the boxes where you authorize the GMAC marketing partners to send you emails. I’m pretty sick and tired of getting daily spam from Podunk State University’s “top ranked” (by whose standards?) MBA program (yes Cheetarah1980, I have stolen your term).


So, what does all this mean? Well, this GMAT score definitely puts me comfortably within the 80th percentile ranges for all of my target schools (more comfortably for some than others), meaning that there are plenty of people enrolled in each of these programs who are in the middle 80% of the class with a lower GMAT score than I’ve earned. Check.

I also wanted to make the 80/80 split that most top programs look for. I missed it by a hair on Quant but exceeded it measurably in verbal, which balances this out. All in all, its a solid score and some would reason that I don’t need to take it again.


While no GMAT score is good enough to guarantee anyone a spot into a top tier program (people with 800s get turned down all the time), I really would like to get an additional 30/40 points behind me before I rest on the GMAT. Initially, I was uber excited just to hit 700 and no longer have the pressure of hitting this mark hanging over my head. No matter what I ultimately decide, that in and of itself feels pretty friggin good.

At the same time, this is a high stakes game and I plan to leave nothing to chance. I’m also not waiting on my URM (under represented minority) status to “get me in” either because A) quiet is as kept, that contingent is becoming more and more competitive thanks to programs like MLT and B) I’ve just never been the type to think like that anyway. I would never want anyone to have a reason to question whether or not I deserved to have something that I know I damn well earned.


So, moving forward I will officially be shifting my focus to my letters of rec, apps and essays. I will still do regular GMAT review in the background and take a periodic CAT exam.

If my CAT exams get into the 720-750 range, then I will retake this exam in hopes of  achieving the 30 point gain that most admissions consultants suggest that you achieve to justify the logic of retaking the exam when you already have a solid score. And if I don’t make that kind of improvement, then I will move on to continue to accentuate the other components of my application.

For now, however, I’ll be enjoying the rest of my evening by polishing off these wings, having a few glasses of this malbec and invoking my childhood with a few hours of finger mashing on my favorite video game, God of War III on PS3.

*Grabs a garlic parmesan wing, pours a glass of red, and gets ready to do serious damage to Hades*



Would you like my help getting into your dream b-school? Well, there are two starting points for that:

1. Get a Free Profile Analysis (after receiving your information, I’ll let you know whether or not I think I can help you)

2. Get Help Now (If you already know that you want help and what you want help on, then just skip to here)

, , , , ,

About mbaover30

Wharton MBA and admissions expert

View all posts by mbaover30

Subscribe to the MBA Over 30 Blog

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

69 Comments on “ACT 3: FROM 590 TO THE GMAT 700 CLUB (Q47, V40, AWA6)”

  1. justaparna Says:

    Wow!! amazing! great feat! many congratulations to you! All the very best for your application season! i am sure, this is something you are looking forward to 🙂


  2. DHokie Says:

    Congrats on the 700! As a fellow Angelino looking to apply to nearly the same list of schools this Fall, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the past few months.


  3. Kofi Kankam Says:

    Well-done! Let’s connect sometime in the next few weeks.


  4. cheetarah1980 Says:

    I feel like a featured player in this post. Congrats on joining the 700 Club. You are a welcome addition to a place only 10% of GMAT takers ever go. I know all about wanting to retake a solid GMAT score, so I won’t tell you that you’re crazy. Just know that you’ve checked this box and can feel comfortable working on other aspects of your application. If you have time give the GMAT another go, but I have the feeling that those 9 schools on your list won’t permit much time for a retake. I learned that the GMAT is sometimes one of those things you just have to build a bridge and get over. Anyways, whatever you decide you know I’m rooting for you.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Thanks Cheet, your advice has been invaluable and I will absolutely be working on the rest of my app starting today.


    • OhDenny Says:

      I agree with Cheetarah – this is the best, and most luxurious problem to have. You are in great shape. Whether you decide to take again or not, you win either way. (Unless you totally bomb the next go… which… don’t do that, bud.)

      Get crackin’ on those essays!


  5. bschool2013 Says:

    Congrats!!! If I had gotten on a 700 on my first try, I no doubt would have tried to improve it 30-40 points too, knowing the worst I could do would be the original 700. However, it took me THREE tries to achieve 700 (with scores of 660 and 610), so even though the thought briefly crossed my mind to improve it, I realized I had probably reached my peak performance.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Thanks for your perspective bschool2013. Are you a 2012 admit or applying for Fall 2013?


      • bschool2013 Says:

        I’m applying for Fall 2013. My “year of the GMAT” was 2011. I’m finishing up a military obligation (which is why I couldn’t apply for 2012) and made the most of my time cranking out the GMAT and visiting all my schools last year so that when I show up for interviews, it’ll be my second time on campus.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Great strategy! I wish you the absolute best of luck.

  6. Angie Says:

    Hey, is that the brand new God of War game?!? Did it come out already? Not sure…just asking on this. I need to pick that up as a gift for someone if that is the case.

    Congratulations to you. If I got a 700 on this blasted exam, I would be partying in the streets. I would be elated. Again, congrats on something so amazing.

    I feel you on retakes. I have taken this stupid test SO many times, that I know it may not look the best on my application. I did mention that to an admissions rep, and she said that it merely shows perserverance. She was from Wharton. Now, I dont know what the other top tier folks may say, but this is what I heard from her.


    • bschool2013 Says:

      I think schools mean it when they say they consider your highest score. So one person who takes 3 tries to get a 740 will not be evaluated differently than someone who got that 740 the first time.

      Personally, I think taking the test 3 times is enough punishment, so why penalize someone further? For what it’s worth, I know someone who took the GMAT 4 times, got a 740 on the fourth attempt – full ride to Darden.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      To my knowledge God of War Ascension is either not out yet or has come come out.That is basically GOW4. This video is from GOW3. Nice to be in the company of another GOW head!


      • Angie Says:

        Thanks to you both! It definitely makes me feel better to know that a multiple retake person like myself does not have to feel shame. I think it has just taken time to overcome the test anxiety.

        Yes, I like God of War! It’s a great game. My boyfriend loves it, and I bought him his last game. Very cool graphics and a great plot! Looking forward to the next installment.

      • mbaover30 Says:

        That makes 3 of us (GOW4)!

  7. Linda Abraham Says:

    Congratulations! I hope you enjoyed your wings, wine, and video game. You deserved to. A 110 point increase and arrival at the magic 700 hurdle is cause to celebrate.

    Regarding the retake, while you can’t get too high a GMAT, if you feel GMAT prep is taking away from other application elements, it may be wiser to spend your time and efforts on those other elements given that your score is competitive (or better) at most of your target programs. On the other hand, if you feel you can handle it all and get to your target range, go for it.


  8. rakesh Says:

    i gave gmat on 26th of this month and scored 700(50,34). felt that i need 30 – 40 more points for a better chance into ivy league colleges. i really liked your idea to work for the essays and reccomendations and simultaneously preparing for gmat again! what universities are you planning to applying ?


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hello Rakesh. Welcome to the 700 club. If we both had your Q and my V we’d be in pretty comfortable shape. If you go to the top of the blog and click on the list of schools you’ll see where I am applying and why. As of right now, I’m applying to all of them except two. More may be ruled out in the future.


      • rakesh Says:

        can u suggest me any college, which gives aid with 700 score?

      • mbaover30 Says:

        I don’t think its about that as much as how well the school feels that you fit their program. It could come down to you wanting to go into a field where they have few students and want more influence. There are a lot of variables. I have a friend who made a 710 and got an impressive scholarship at a top 1-5 school. Then you have the consortium (now open to all ethnic groups), where someone could conceivable score below a 700 and get a full ride. I’d say just do your research by talking to reps from your target schools and recently admitted folks to those schools.

  9. Deborah Knox Says:

    Have been traveling and haven’t had easy connection to email, but had noted in my mind when you were taking the test, and I’m delighted regarding your results! I’m with Linda on not letting test prep bog down executing well on the rest of your application.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Thanks so much for your input Deborah. Your article on over 30 applicants was the first that really gave me hope about this process. My #1 focus right now is essays; #2 recommendations (I’ve already secured my first); #3 possible (not definite) GMAT retake; #4 the rest of my applications, which I am filling out as I go.


  10. Jeff Says:

    saw your article on poets and quants; am always encouraged to see someone with the same books as me. regardless, congrats on the fantastic improvement and best of luck to you with your great list of schools. lots of essays to write though…


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hey Jeff,

      Thanks for the congrats. And speaking of essays, I’m chewing on a pen working on my first right this moment. lol. Don’t forget to subscribe!


  11. Alison (aka mrsjonstewart) Says:

    Congrats on your great score! Just found your blog through a link on Cheetarah’s and immediately read the whole thing — it seems we are kindred spirits in many ways, so your success story is very inspiring!

    I am also a “senior” MBA candidate, I also had the crazy idea of applying in R3 this spring (but came to my senses), and I got a 590 on the throwaway GMAT test I took (though from now on, when people ask about my first GMAT score all I will tell them is that I got the exact same score as a member of MENSA). Your advice here is really excellent, I am sure it will come in handy as I think about my next attempt — I am almost looking forward to my “screw the GMAT” weekend 🙂

    Subscribing now…can’t wait to keep reading!


    • mbaover30 Says:

      Alison, thanks for your kind and inspiring words. I started the blog as a way to commiserate with folks like yourself. Everyone needs support and camaraderie in this process. Stay tuned as there will be much more to come!


  12. pisspoor Says:

    I found this blog yesterday,the day before my second attempt. First attempt in may was a lack luster 600 and today I scored a 570. I was close to being suicidal. Trying to pick up the pieces and see if I should make a 3rd attempt or accept that this is not my game. Will keep reading here, hope to get inspired to try one more time.


    • mbaover30 Says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I definitely know that suicide is not the way. There are tons perfectly good business school options that do not even require the GMAT. If you really want to increase your score, however, join the and may communities.


      • Angeline Says:

        I definitely do not want to be intrusive, but I would like to comment on what “pisspoor” has said.

        I have taken the GMAT multiple times. Yes, it can be a very mean mind game, pushing you to your limit. It’s a tough exam, and it tests elements that many have not necessarily been tested on (logic, patience, confidence, etc.).

        I am currently utilizing a tutor. I am not 100% sure if it is going to get me where I want to go, but I feel like I understand this exam to a much higher extent. When I first took the exam, I only scored a 530. My highest score was only a 550. However, I continue to move forward, and to see where the real trouble lay. If you have the time, I heartily recommend that you get a tutor to assist you. Or, you can take a class. Those type of things really do help. I hesitate to say take a class, since that option never helped me. Classes were so autonomous – I did not get the one on one assistance I am getting now. I meet with my tutor twice a week via Skype. He really knows how to drill down and find my weak areas. Some of us just need that extra push, you know?

        I think maybe you were being facetious when you mentioned suicide – at least I hope you were. This test does not measure your abilities. I know an executive that never scored high on the GMAT OR GRE. She cut her losses, got accepted with great essays, and know makes a ridiculous salary. Oh, and she gets to live in Basel, Switzerland. She travels, and is well-respected. There IS life after the GMAT. I apologize for the length of this post, but this is something I feel very strongly about!

      • mbaover30 Says:

        Great advice Angeline. Thanks for contributing and don’t forget to subscribe!

  13. Javoni Says:

    Came across your blog and read a few posts, great job bro! You really deserve that, it seems you worked really hard going all the long way up to here, hats off!


  14. Charles Bibilos Says:

    I saw your blog today for the first time, and absolutely loved this post. You deserve a cookie for spicing up a GMAT post with Thai shellfish, garlic-parmesan Buffalo Wild Wings, zinfandel, malbec, Korean massage, Stella Artois, and a turban-clad roller dude. Awesome.

    Just one question: didn’t you get hungry on a fish-and-berries diet on test day? I would have gnawed my arm off by the middle of the verbal section.

    (Belated) congratulations on the great score, and good luck with your applications!


  15. bzm Says:

    This holy grale GMAT is probably the most time-consuming part in the process 😦

    I took my first GMAT in dec 2011.
    Applied mathematics engineer + English is my 3rd language = 720, Q51, V36, AWA 4.5

    I have decided yesterday to retake it. I will apply in sep/oct 2013 for Harvard / Stanford / MIT / Berkeley.

    V36 and AWA 4.5 is definitely a (poor) not-that-strong performance.
    Even if I explain that I did a lot to improve my English since dec 2011: a new job where I use English daily, on-line courses, professional trainings… the ad coms would say: “OK, but you had the time to retake the GMAT, we want to see a proof of your tenacity and your hard work…”.

    The devil is in details. Overall score is OK, but V score is not OK –> retake 🙂

    Almost 150 hours of preparation….


    • mbaover30 Says:

      You are actually in a good position. You are over the hump and adding icing. You know u have the math down. If you want to bump up your verbal, study LSAT verbal books. Those are harder versions of GMAT and if u can master those you should see your GMAT verbal bump. Since u already have 51Q, even a 38 V will be impressive. There is actually a formula for the AWA. Email me at mbaover30@gmail and I will find it for you. Also study for the IR section. Schools will look harder at that this year and it presents an opportunity for you to differentiate you among your peers.


  16. Kdandu Says:

    I am a EMBA applicant in similar boat(mine probably should say mbaover40 as of now): I got 600 at the most in the practice tests for GMAT and my test day weekend went the following way, the actual test was at 9am on monday:
    Friday evening -> Elder kids 10th birthday party at Amazing Jakes’ in Dallas area and a sleep over of her friends
    Saturday morning -> Usual weekend chores but 2 hours of random prep
    Saturday evening -> Neighbor’s Christmas party and some drinks included in it
    Sunday morning -> 2 hour random prep
    Sunday afternoon –> deep siesta to energize, rush to client office nearby to prepare in seclusion
    Sunday evening -> return home at 830pm(after 2 hour prep and 2 hour test practice)
    Sunday night -> cowboys were playing, had to watch last 2 quarters and espn sportcenter till 1045pm
    Monday morning -> wake up at 630am, cut a pear to 3 pieces, take breakfast and go to test center
    Test started at 9am, took sufficient break and at the pear in each of the breaks.
    45 quant, 38 verbal –> 690 with AWA of 6(i might have typed about 600 words for each topics in AWA)…


  17. Justin G Says:

    Hi there! I have been popping in on your blog for a bit and finally decided to follow and post. While I realize you are not a professional admissions consultant, I am curious as to what you might think in regards to my situation (profile). I’m attempting to determine if a top school is currently within my reach.

    In March of this year, I took the GMAT for the first time with the intention of seeing how I measured up before taking it again. To my surprise, I scored a 690 (44Q 40V), 5.5 AWA and 92nd percentile on the IR. As I had only studied one book (Cracking the New GMAT, Princeton Review) for about 2 weeks, I was pleasantly surprised with my score. Unfortunately, I had missed most of the admissions deadlines for 2013, or at least the rounds in which I might have a shot at acceptance to a top program. So, I decided to apply to the Tippie School at the University of Iowa just to familiarize myself with the process. I was accepted and offered a full tuition scholarship, but declined the offer. It just seemed too easy, and setting my sights too low is something I have often been guilty of in the past.

    I have every intention of applying to a number of top 20 programs this year, but much like you did, I fear my age will negatively impact my chances when weighed with the rest of my profile. Currently, I am 33 years old and will be 34 in July of 2014. I did not begin attending college full-time until age 25, after 4+ years as a production supervisor could no longer hold my interest. I graduated from a middle of the road state school (Ball State University) as the “Outstanding Senior in Operations Management & Information Systems” with a 3.71 cumulative GPA and a 3.9 in my major. I have in the 4 years since been a Warehouse Supervisor, ISO 14001:2004 Lead Auditor and Project Manager, and currently work as a Shipping & Receiving Manager for Apple Inc in Elk Grove, CA.

    Considering my somewhat jumbled profile, do you think I have a shot at an upper echelon program? My absolute dream school is Kellogg, but I believe that is quite a long shot. I’ll also be applying to Fuqua, Johnson, Haas, Kenan-Flagler, Anderson, and McCombs.

    Age – 33
    GMAT – 690 (44Q 40V), AWA 5.5, IR 92nd percentile
    GPA – 3.71, 3.9 in major with an upward trend
    Undergraduate – B.S. in Business Administration, Major in Operations Management, Minor in Information Systems from Ball State University
    4 years of leadership experience before obtaining undergraduate degree, 4 years experience in similar and more advanced roles since graduation

    I realize you are likely quite busy so I’ll understand if you are unable to respond. However, I would greatly appreciate any insight, advice, encouragement, or even doses of reality you might be able to send my way. Thank you very much for writing this blog!



    • mbaover30 Says:

      Hello Justin,

      First, I’d like to apologize for the late response. Wharton has been a whirlwind. You most definitely have a shot a top 10–and perhaps top 5–program. You have a strong GMAT (though a little low on eh quant side) and an excellent GPA. Your background will add diversity in the class. Be confident about what you have accomplished, execute well and you’ve got as good of a shot as anyone to get in. If you have any questions, just email me at Also, consider my consulting services at . It’s how I’m partially paying for school.


      • Justin G Says:

        I really appreciate you responding at all. Thank you so very much for the encouragement. I realize that my quant score is in fact a little low. I completely froze on the function problems in that particular section, problems I had little trouble solving during my test prep. It was unreal I totally I blanked out on those. I’m hoping the IR will carry at least a little bit of weight, and I did score all A’s in my undergrad quant courses (Statistics, Quantitative Analysis, etc). I will be taking a serious look at the services you offer. Thank you again for the response, I hope all is going well for you in Pennsylvania, sir.

    • Eric Says:

      Wow! Your blog is a breath of fresh air. I’m totally in the same boat as you were, however I have a few years on you. I’ve been in the military for the last 13 years and trying to re-learn algebra and CAT English is killing me. I had scores of 550, 520 and 590 on my practice GMATs, which have been more than discouraging. I even tried tutors, its like I’ve been throwing money at a problem. Congrats on breaking 700! I’ve been told more than a few time that the GMAT will be make it or break it for me since I’m over 35, with many year of work experience and not enough academic. Best of luck at Wharton.

      BTW you could turn this blog into a book. I would buy one.


  18. Carlton Says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought
    this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!


  19. IAMMANVI Says:

    All i understood is ” Calm the hell down”, ” screw the GMAT” — Thats exactly what is wanted to hear.. thank you !! 🙂

    Result is always better when you are not stressing over something alot…



  1. Fridays From The Frontline - June 29, 2012

    […] Over 30 tracked his GMAT progress in three acts. Unfathomable shared some of his takeaways from a conversation he had with an ISB alumnus. […]

  2. Fridays From The Frontline | The Daily Buzz - June 29, 2012

    […] Over 30 tracked his GMAT progress in three acts. Unfathomable shared some of his takeaways from a conversation he had with an ISB alumnus. […]

  3. MBA Essay Mode and My 2012-13 Application Strategy | MBA Over 30 - July 5, 2012

    […] it’s been exactly ten days since I unloaded a huge weight off my back by hitting the 700 GMAT mark–if only by a […]

  4. MBA Essay Mode and My 2012-13 Application Strategy - July 7, 2012

    […] it’s been exactly ten days since I unloaded a huge weight off my back by hitting the 700 GMAT mark–if only by a hair. […]

  5. A Ball Game, a Bachelor Party and Berkeley | MBA Over 30 - July 9, 2012

    […] At the beginning of the season I thought I’d be slick and buy us some Dodger vs. Angels tickets in Dodger Stadium. Yet, thanks to that damn UCLA quarter system, each time this arrangement was happening, my mentee either had mid terms or final exams. And the most recent series was in the heat of my final study days before the GMAT. […]

  6. A Ball Game, a Bachelor Party and Berkeley - July 12, 2012

    […] At the beginning of the season I thought I’d be slick and buy us some Dodger vs. Angels tickets in Dodger Stadium. Yet, thanks to that damn UCLA quarter system, each time this arrangement was happening, my mentee either had mid terms or final exams. And the most recent series was in the heat of my final study days before the GMAT. […]

  7. My July 2012 MBA Application Update | MBA Over 30 - July 26, 2012

    […] made my second GMAT attempt almost exactly a month ago and emerged with a 700 (Q47, V40, AWA6.0) that I was proud of, but knew was not my best. So, like many borderline 700 clubbers before me […]

  8. One MBA Essay Shy of Done | MBA Over 30 - July 31, 2012

    […] from 10-15 top b-schools. I will also be managing my recommendations and moving into some moderate GMAT study to see if I feel like getting in the ring one more time. Share this blog: Pin ItEmailLike […]

  9. MBA Admissions Age Discrimination and Musings on Rookie Hype | MBA Over 30 - October 7, 2012

    […] months ago–just a few days after I arose from the battle ashes of the GMAT with a quasi-victorious final outcome, I came across this article on the Clear Admit Blog, one of […]

  10. NO MORE Business School Applications! | MBA Over 30 - December 24, 2012

    […] a year ago, I plunked down $250 and took my first swing at the GMAT. I had made a 650 on a practice test without studying, and felt that I should be able to do about […]

  11. NO MORE Business School Applications! - January 15, 2013

    […] about a year ago, I plunked down $250 and took my first swing at the GMAT. I had made a 650 on a practice test without studying, and felt that I should be able to do about […]

  12. Entrepreneurship Doubling at Wharton since 2010 | MBA Over - June 24, 2013

    […] one year and nine months that have included a complete tenure at a new tech marketing/ops job, 4 months of GMATing, 4 more months of writing apps and essays (and editing each at least 100 times), 2 months of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: