GMAT retake? (low AWA score)


blitzkrieg
Hi. I am an Indian male engineer with a little over 2 years of work ex in IT. I am aiming for some of the top 50 programs, most of which have average GMAT scores around 700.

I have a 730 GMAT score in my first attempt (Q-51, V-37, AWA-4, IR-8).

While it is a decent GMAT score, I am worried about my low AWA score, which seems like a black mark in my report. I am also worried about the fact that I belong to a large and really competitive applicant pool (Indian male engineer), and have just the bare minimum of work experience without much leadership.

Would you recommend re-taking the GMAT to compensate for the weaknesses in my profile? I can probably bring it up to a 740 with a decent AWA score with a week's preparation.

Please suggest. Thanks.

[Edited by blitzkrieg on Sep 13, 2016]

Hi. I am an Indian male engineer with a little over 2 years of work ex in IT. I am aiming for some of the top 50 programs, most of which have average GMAT scores around 700.

I have a 730 GMAT score in my first attempt (Q-51, V-37, AWA-4, IR-8).

While it is a decent GMAT score, I am worried about my low AWA score, which seems like a black mark in my report. I am also worried about the fact that I belong to a large and really competitive applicant pool (Indian male engineer), and have just the bare minimum of work experience without much leadership.

Would you recommend re-taking the GMAT to compensate for the weaknesses in my profile? I can probably bring it up to a 740 with a decent AWA score with a week's preparation.

Please suggest. Thanks.
quote
Razors Edg...
I would say that in general a 4 would be ok, given your overall score. What programs are you looking at?
I would say that in general a 4 would be ok, given your overall score. What programs are you looking at?
quote
blitzkrieg
I would say that in general a 4 would be ok, given your overall score. What programs are you looking at?
As of now I'm looking at Oxford in UK, McCombs in US and ISB in India. The average gmat range is 690-710 in these schools, but they all say that they need a balanced score.

I was surprised to see that 4 is just a 20 percentile...Is it really ok?
[quote]I would say that in general a 4 would be ok, given your overall score. What programs are you looking at?[/quote]As of now I'm looking at Oxford in UK, McCombs in US and ISB in India. The average gmat range is 690-710 in these schools, but they all say that they need a balanced score.

I was surprised to see that 4 is just a 20 percentile...Is it really ok?
quote
I've heard that a 4 is generally considered to be enough, especially if you're a non-native English speaker. Under 4 and it could be problematic.

A good rule of thumb is that if you think you could do better, and not suffer on other sections, then re-take.
I've heard that a 4 is generally considered to be enough, especially if you're a non-native English speaker. Under 4 and it could be problematic.

A good rule of thumb is that if you think you could do better, and not suffer on other sections, then re-take.
quote
Ayon
Blitz,

From Germany to Australia to US between a Master's and a MBA, you are all over the place buddy. It's good that you are thinking hard before you take a decision. I know many people who took the decision and then bailed out, or did not enjoy their journey.

You are giving way too much importance to GMAT and the AWA. AdCom is NOT going to view your GMAT and the AWA and say "Awww, he is almost perfect except that he scored few points lower than writing an essay so let's deny him because he has 4 on AWA" Or go "Wow 730 GMAT let's admit him" Because you are neither applying to the likes of Harvard or North Dakota State University.

Please spend some time on your essays. Write convincing essays and practice your interview questions. Don't worry about GMAT dude.

Just to give you some random data points some of the guys from my undergrad school (all having 4-6 years of work ex at the time of joining - all IT Indian Male)

Guy1: GMAT 600, got into Schulich (Canada), worked 2 years in Canada and then came back to India for his startup.
Guy2: GMAT 630 then 700, got admit from TCU, Tippie, SMU, thunderbird. Many mid tiers didn't invite him to interview or admit him. He took an offer worth $90k in analytics.
Guy3: GMAT 740, got into Penn State (free ride), He applied to many top25 schools - they didnt even interviewed him, now works at top Computer Hardware / service/ analytics firm
Guy4: GMAT 720, got into Penn state now working in EY (SAP)
Guy5: GMAT760, work in UK as Product Manager, now in Ross
Guy 6,7,8: GMAT 720 (not from my undergrad) got into UIUC, now working in a Big4 as a Consultant earning $85k
Guy 9: GMAT 650 (not from my undergrad) got into Katz, got picked in a relatively unknown Pipe / Electricity / Valve / Aerospace etc. manufacturing company. Presently in UK as division lead
Guy 10: (not my undergrad) GMAT 720 got into Boston University dual degree with MS, In my company doing the same stuff as I do
Girl 11: (not my undergrad) GMAT 760, prior experience in UK, got into Tuck, in my company doing the same thing
Guy 12: GMAT 640, W&M, now getting $80-90 in SCM
Guy 13,14,15: GMAT 720,700,650 W&M (1 year junior) still searching for jobs after graduation
Girl 16: GMAT 600, W&M MBA got into one of the innovative Indian IT firms now earning in 6 figures in CA
Guy 17: Me GMAT 600,610,630, 630 working as Management Consultant doing the same thing as Guy 10/Girl 11 earning the same salary (entry level 6 figure)

Feel free to ponder on some of these. GMAT will only take you so far, it's ultimately you who gotta bring the skills to use.
Blitz,

From Germany to Australia to US between a Master's and a MBA, you are all over the place buddy. It's good that you are thinking hard before you take a decision. I know many people who took the decision and then bailed out, or did not enjoy their journey.

You are giving way too much importance to GMAT and the AWA. AdCom is NOT going to view your GMAT and the AWA and say "Awww, he is almost perfect except that he scored few points lower than writing an essay so let's deny him because he has 4 on AWA" Or go "Wow 730 GMAT let's admit him" Because you are neither applying to the likes of Harvard or North Dakota State University.

Please spend some time on your essays. Write convincing essays and practice your interview questions. Don't worry about GMAT dude.

Just to give you some random data points some of the guys from my undergrad school (all having 4-6 years of work ex at the time of joining - all IT Indian Male)

Guy1: GMAT 600, got into Schulich (Canada), worked 2 years in Canada and then came back to India for his startup.
Guy2: GMAT 630 then 700, got admit from TCU, Tippie, SMU, thunderbird. Many mid tiers didn't invite him to interview or admit him. He took an offer worth $90k in analytics.
Guy3: GMAT 740, got into Penn State (free ride), He applied to many top25 schools - they didnt even interviewed him, now works at top Computer Hardware / service/ analytics firm
Guy4: GMAT 720, got into Penn state now working in EY (SAP)
Guy5: GMAT760, work in UK as Product Manager, now in Ross
Guy 6,7,8: GMAT 720 (not from my undergrad) got into UIUC, now working in a Big4 as a Consultant earning $85k
Guy 9: GMAT 650 (not from my undergrad) got into Katz, got picked in a relatively unknown Pipe / Electricity / Valve / Aerospace etc. manufacturing company. Presently in UK as division lead
Guy 10: (not my undergrad) GMAT 720 got into Boston University dual degree with MS, In my company doing the same stuff as I do
Girl 11: (not my undergrad) GMAT 760, prior experience in UK, got into Tuck, in my company doing the same thing
Guy 12: GMAT 640, W&M, now getting $80-90 in SCM
Guy 13,14,15: GMAT 720,700,650 W&M (1 year junior) still searching for jobs after graduation
Girl 16: GMAT 600, W&M MBA got into one of the innovative Indian IT firms now earning in 6 figures in CA
Guy 17: Me GMAT 600,610,630, 630 working as Management Consultant doing the same thing as Guy 10/Girl 11 earning the same salary (entry level 6 figure)

Feel free to ponder on some of these. GMAT will only take you so far, it's ultimately you who gotta bring the skills to use.
quote
blitzkrieg
Blitz,

From Germany to Australia to US between a Master's and a MBA, you are all over the place buddy. It's good that you are thinking hard before you take a decision. I know many people who took the decision and then bailed out, or did not enjoy their journey.

You are giving way too much importance to GMAT and the AWA. AdCom is NOT going to view your GMAT and the AWA and say "Awww, he is almost perfect except that he scored few points lower than writing an essay so let's deny him because he has 4 on AWA" Or go "Wow 730 GMAT let's admit him" Because you are neither applying to the likes of Harvard or North Dakota State University.

Please spend some time on your essays. Write convincing essays and practice your interview questions. Don't worry about GMAT dude.

Just to give you some random data points some of the guys from my undergrad school (all having 4-6 years of work ex at the time of joining - all IT Indian Male)

Guy1: GMAT 600, got into Schulich (Canada), worked 2 years in Canada and then came back to India for his startup.
Guy2: GMAT 630 then 700, got admit from TCU, Tippie, SMU, thunderbird. Many mid tiers didn't invite him to interview or admit him. He took an offer worth $90k in analytics.
Guy3: GMAT 740, got into Penn State (free ride), He applied to many top25 schools - they didnt even interviewed him, now works at top Computer Hardware / service/ analytics firm
Guy4: GMAT 720, got into Penn state now working in EY (SAP)
Guy5: GMAT760, work in UK as Product Manager, now in Ross
Guy 6,7,8: GMAT 720 (not from my undergrad) got into UIUC, now working in a Big4 as a Consultant earning $85k
Guy 9: GMAT 650 (not from my undergrad) got into Katz, got picked in a relatively unknown Pipe / Electricity / Valve / Aerospace etc. manufacturing company. Presently in UK as division lead
Guy 10: (not my undergrad) GMAT 720 got into Boston University dual degree with MS, In my company doing the same stuff as I do
Girl 11: (not my undergrad) GMAT 760, prior experience in UK, got into Tuck, in my company doing the same thing
Guy 12: GMAT 640, W&M, now getting $80-90 in SCM
Guy 13,14,15: GMAT 720,700,650 W&M (1 year junior) still searching for jobs after graduation
Girl 16: GMAT 600, W&M MBA got into one of the innovative Indian IT firms now earning in 6 figures in CA
Guy 17: Me GMAT 600,610,630, 630 working as Management Consultant doing the same thing as Guy 10/Girl 11 earning the same salary (entry level 6 figure)

Feel free to ponder on some of these. GMAT will only take you so far, it's ultimately you who gotta bring the skills to use.
Hey, thanks for the info.

Actually location is not a concern for me, I am fine working in any country. Does it make a difference? I'm thinking of applying to 1 school in 5-6 countries, but just need to know which schools to choose.

If 760 (with 4-6 yrs of international management experience) is what it takes to get into the likes of Ross and Tuck, don't you think I should aim for a little higher for the schools I'm targeting? (especially as I have just 2-2.5 yrs of work ex. with no international exposure and very little leadership).

I have started working on my essays. I have about a month's time and can probably write an average-satisfactory essay. But don't you think a higher GMAT can increase your chances (especially since gmat is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection)? If a bunch of people have similar essays, won't they give more preference to the guy who has a higher GMAT?

[Edited by blitzkrieg on Sep 15, 2016]

[quote]Blitz,

From Germany to Australia to US between a Master's and a MBA, you are all over the place buddy. It's good that you are thinking hard before you take a decision. I know many people who took the decision and then bailed out, or did not enjoy their journey.

You are giving way too much importance to GMAT and the AWA. AdCom is NOT going to view your GMAT and the AWA and say "Awww, he is almost perfect except that he scored few points lower than writing an essay so let's deny him because he has 4 on AWA" Or go "Wow 730 GMAT let's admit him" Because you are neither applying to the likes of Harvard or North Dakota State University.

Please spend some time on your essays. Write convincing essays and practice your interview questions. Don't worry about GMAT dude.

Just to give you some random data points some of the guys from my undergrad school (all having 4-6 years of work ex at the time of joining - all IT Indian Male)

Guy1: GMAT 600, got into Schulich (Canada), worked 2 years in Canada and then came back to India for his startup.
Guy2: GMAT 630 then 700, got admit from TCU, Tippie, SMU, thunderbird. Many mid tiers didn't invite him to interview or admit him. He took an offer worth $90k in analytics.
Guy3: GMAT 740, got into Penn State (free ride), He applied to many top25 schools - they didnt even interviewed him, now works at top Computer Hardware / service/ analytics firm
Guy4: GMAT 720, got into Penn state now working in EY (SAP)
Guy5: GMAT760, work in UK as Product Manager, now in Ross
Guy 6,7,8: GMAT 720 (not from my undergrad) got into UIUC, now working in a Big4 as a Consultant earning $85k
Guy 9: GMAT 650 (not from my undergrad) got into Katz, got picked in a relatively unknown Pipe / Electricity / Valve / Aerospace etc. manufacturing company. Presently in UK as division lead
Guy 10: (not my undergrad) GMAT 720 got into Boston University dual degree with MS, In my company doing the same stuff as I do
Girl 11: (not my undergrad) GMAT 760, prior experience in UK, got into Tuck, in my company doing the same thing
Guy 12: GMAT 640, W&M, now getting $80-90 in SCM
Guy 13,14,15: GMAT 720,700,650 W&M (1 year junior) still searching for jobs after graduation
Girl 16: GMAT 600, W&M MBA got into one of the innovative Indian IT firms now earning in 6 figures in CA
Guy 17: Me GMAT 600,610,630, 630 working as Management Consultant doing the same thing as Guy 10/Girl 11 earning the same salary (entry level 6 figure)

Feel free to ponder on some of these. GMAT will only take you so far, it's ultimately you who gotta bring the skills to use.[/quote]Hey, thanks for the info.

Actually location is not a concern for me, I am fine working in any country. Does it make a difference? I'm thinking of applying to 1 school in 5-6 countries, but just need to know which schools to choose.

If 760 (with 4-6 yrs of international management experience) is what it takes to get into the likes of Ross and Tuck, don't you think I should aim for a little higher for the schools I'm targeting? (especially as I have just 2-2.5 yrs of work ex. with no international exposure and very little leadership).

I have started working on my essays. I have about a month's time and can probably write an average-satisfactory essay. But don't you think a higher GMAT can increase your chances (especially since gmat is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection)? If a bunch of people have similar essays, won't they give more preference to the guy who has a higher GMAT?

quote
Dan85
Where did you hear that GMAT 'is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection'? I personally believe, it just ticks a box (which it does in your case) and serves as a pre-selection criteria.

Move on to the parts of your application that can distinguish you more clearly, that make you credible and unique. Invest the time in the essays.
Where did you hear that GMAT 'is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection'? I personally believe, it just ticks a box (which it does in your case) and serves as a pre-selection criteria.

Move on to the parts of your application that can distinguish you more clearly, that make you credible and unique. Invest the time in the essays.
quote
blitzkrieg
Where did you hear that GMAT 'is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection'? I personally believe, it just ticks a box (which it does in your case) and serves as a pre-selection criteria.

Move on to the parts of your application that can distinguish you more clearly, that make you credible and unique. Invest the time in the essays.
If it just ticks a box, does it mean that a person with a 720 gmat and 780 gmat will be treated the same at a school where the average is 700?

Here, this is where I heard it: http://www.accepted.com/mba/the-gmat-in-mba-admissions-fact-and-fiction

It also says "A high GMAT relative to the school's average could help you get in because your test score will contribute to a higher average score for the school and perhaps a slightly higher ranking"

Also, have a look at this: http://www.mbadataguru.com/blog/admissions/mccombs-mba-acceptance-rate-analysis/
(acceptance rate is directly proportional to GMAT)

[Edited by blitzkrieg on Sep 15, 2016]

[quote]Where did you hear that GMAT 'is generally considered to be the most important factor for selection'? I personally believe, it just ticks a box (which it does in your case) and serves as a pre-selection criteria.

Move on to the parts of your application that can distinguish you more clearly, that make you credible and unique. Invest the time in the essays.[/quote]If it just ticks a box, does it mean that a person with a 720 gmat and 780 gmat will be treated the same at a school where the average is 700?

Here, this is where I heard it: http://www.accepted.com/mba/the-gmat-in-mba-admissions-fact-and-fiction

It also says "A high GMAT relative to the school's average could help you get in because your test score will contribute to a higher average score for the school and perhaps a slightly higher ranking"

Also, have a look at this: http://www.mbadataguru.com/blog/admissions/mccombs-mba-acceptance-rate-analysis/
(acceptance rate is directly proportional to GMAT)
quote
Ayon
@Blitz,

My personal opinion
1) True GMAT plays an important part in getting selected into "good" schools. A higher GMAT does help in rankings as it increase avg. gmat of the class profile. However, that's true for schools in top 15 - 50+. Top 15 schools are not in a rat race

2) The school where the average is 700 is a top 15 school right? Would you be treated the same as 780 GMAT, maybe - maybe not. I don't know how top 15 school's adcom works - I doubt anyone would know for sure unless they have worked there.

3) From what I understand - and I may be wrong here as this is just my opinion - Top schools view GMAT as a correlation and not as causality. A candidate has managerial aptitude, leadership skills and is a fast learner as reflected by a) career progression b) increasingly increase in responsibilities both in and out of work c) academic record.

Most of such candidates will have good score (correlation).
Every student having a good score will be such a candidate (causality) [ NOT TRUE]
That's why you'd have random cases of guys admitted into Harvard with a 480 gmat. They would be coming from war torn countries showing exemplary dedication against odds, and that's the reason why AdComs from top schools don't simply put all the applicants in an excel sheet, apply a Sort descending on GMAT and call for interviews.

One of my buddy has 720 on GMAT, he applied to Northwestern, Tuck, NYU, Ivey, UNC, Ross etc. He is my classmate from undergrad (Engineering) but he did MS in Finance and now works in a Bank in India earning good 15L/year. He wasn't selected in the interviews. Why? He put way too much time retaking GMAT trying to better his score of 720, He didn't spread his risk and didn't apply to schools outside of top 15. He did nothing in his life or career that makes him an exemplary candidate.

However, these are just my opinion. You must do what your heart tells you to do. If you think retaking GMAT would increase your chances then by all means go for it. People told me not apply with 630 GMAT, yet I made it work. If I'd listened to "conventional wisdom" I would have graduated from SPJain PGPM.

Good Luck!
@Blitz,

My personal opinion
1) True GMAT plays an important part in getting selected into "good" schools. A higher GMAT does help in rankings as it increase avg. gmat of the class profile. However, that's true for schools in top 15 - 50+. Top 15 schools are not in a rat race

2) The school where the average is 700 is a top 15 school right? Would you be treated the same as 780 GMAT, maybe - maybe not. I don't know how top 15 school's adcom works - I doubt anyone would know for sure unless they have worked there.

3) From what I understand - and I may be wrong here as this is just my opinion - Top schools view GMAT as a correlation and not as causality. A candidate has managerial aptitude, leadership skills and is a fast learner as reflected by a) career progression b) increasingly increase in responsibilities both in and out of work c) academic record.

Most of such candidates will have good score (correlation).
Every student having a good score will be such a candidate (causality) [ NOT TRUE]
That's why you'd have random cases of guys admitted into Harvard with a 480 gmat. They would be coming from war torn countries showing exemplary dedication against odds, and that's the reason why AdComs from top schools don't simply put all the applicants in an excel sheet, apply a Sort descending on GMAT and call for interviews.

One of my buddy has 720 on GMAT, he applied to Northwestern, Tuck, NYU, Ivey, UNC, Ross etc. He is my classmate from undergrad (Engineering) but he did MS in Finance and now works in a Bank in India earning good 15L/year. He wasn't selected in the interviews. Why? He put way too much time retaking GMAT trying to better his score of 720, He didn't spread his risk and didn't apply to schools outside of top 15. He did nothing in his life or career that makes him an exemplary candidate.

However, these are just my opinion. You must do what your heart tells you to do. If you think retaking GMAT would increase your chances then by all means go for it. People told me not apply with 630 GMAT, yet I made it work. If I'd listened to "conventional wisdom" I would have graduated from SPJain PGPM.

Good Luck!
quote
Dan85
I think it boils down to this: We don't know how the schools you mentioned react to an even higher GMAT. They might value it, or they don't. Your 730 translates into 96th percentile, a 760 is 99th percentile. Is that little difference worth the effort? I doubt it.

You did very well in the GMAT and (at the schools you mentioned) your score is sufficient - that's what I meant with 'tick the box'. If they don't admit you, it won't be because of your GMAT but because of other parts of your application.

And, last but not least, if you write good essays, they won't care about your AWA. After all, you're not applying to HSW.

[Edited by Dan85 on Sep 15, 2016]

I think it boils down to this: We don't know how the schools you mentioned react to an even higher GMAT. They might value it, or they don't. Your 730 translates into 96th percentile, a 760 is 99th percentile. Is that little difference worth the effort? I doubt it.

You did very well in the GMAT and (at the schools you mentioned) your score is sufficient - that's what I meant with 'tick the box'. If they don't admit you, it won't be because of your GMAT but because of other parts of your application.

And, last but not least, if you write good essays, they won't care about your AWA. After all, you're not applying to HSW.
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