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Monday, September 19, 2011

If at First You Don’t Succeed...Skydiving Is Probably Not for You…

Mood: Exasperated. More on this later.

Musing: This post is going to be relatively short.  I know now that I'm pretty terrible at writing short posts, but there is a list of things I need to do this afternoon, which most importantly include:

1. Pack -
I fly out to work in Pittsburgh at 5:30am tomorrow for work the rest of the week.  I have invested in this Sharper Image 21-inch upright convertible backpack: 
Cute, but not very functional.

                   Awesome and practical

Granted, I only paid $29.99 from Marshalls, but I love this thing.  Before, I had used a Diane Von Furstenburg suitcase set which was visually pretty and stood out from all the other drab business luggage, but after 2 years of constant use, the handle got stuck and I haven't bothered to fix it since.

2.  Plan - We're throwing a housewarming/bday party (yes housewarming, though I've lived here for 9+ months...) this Saturday and have some major cleaning and decorating to do.  We have a boa theme (feather boas) but my room mate and I are considering getting an actual boa,
à la Britney at the 2001 VMAs. Clever, right? :) 

I am relieved to say - I am finally moving on from the GMAT aka Give Money And Time to the GMAC

My GMAT retake was this morning and I resolved it would be my last.  My preparation up until this retake was a little lopsided - I put off studying entirely for the 2 weeks immediately after my first attempt, and studied pretty consistently the next 3 weeks.  I knew that timing was my big thing, so I tried to employ a variety of strategies including pacing myself and not running out of time at the end.

Like the first time, AWA went by quickly and though I had to think and plan longer on my topics this time, I still felt pretty good when finishing.  Moving on to Quant, I started with some fairly easy questions, then moved up to medium level, and for a few that I had no clue how to solve, I gave it my best guess and moved on.  What really scared me was a few easy questions in the middle - was this a sign that I had made simple mistakes earlier?  This caused me to panick and I resolved to keep truckin' along, doing well at the end and finishing with a minute to spare.  When Quant was over, I was slightly worried - I hadn't seen any rate or permutation questions, the ones that I felt solid on, but saw two functions questions, types of questions that I did not brush up on.  I knew something was amiss, but wanted to head strong into Verbal so I only took a few minutes for the break.

The entire time on Verbal I told myself to work at a steady pace, which was my problem the last time.  Halfway through Verbal, I noticed I was short on the time I had budgeted and guessed on two questions in a very long CR passage.  I finished just on time, but thought I had bombed Verbal.  Luckily, I did not have to go through the experimental section this time around and when my results screen finally came up, I put my hands over my eyes, much like you would do watching while The Ring: 

The result? 710 (92%) with 44Q (66%) and 44V (97%).  I had made my goal of hopping over the 700-barrier, but it was more of a stumble and dash at the end, rather then a true leap.

Go figure.  While I'm happy with my Verbal score, the Quant leaves much to be desired.   +20 points is not much, but it puts me closer to the average of the schools I hope to attend.  My only concern now is in the unbalance of the scores - would a school look unfavorably upon such a low quant score? 

Regardless, I really wanted to move on.  Realistically, the most my score could go up is maybe 30 pts, and the 3 practice tests I took over the past week I scored 710, 720, and 730, so I knew it was within my range.  At home, I googled a 44v 44q split and got some interesting feedback - most people said the 710 was a good score, but the split may be concerning to some as the 80/80 percentile is preferred. Gah!

I even wondered for a minute whether I should submit the 690 score because of the more even distribution, but realized how silly that was.  710 is a great score and I really did not want to keep taking this test again and keep forking over the $250.  I have no plans of doing anything finance related, though I'm fairly comfortable with numbers and data as I use them in my job with relation academic performance across schools.  After beating myself up for the split, I realized that I did okay considering I did not sign up for a class and used the Manhattan GMAT guides, OG books and a tiny bit of Kaplan and Princeton review here and there along with the Manhattan GMAT, GMAC and Knewton practice tests.  What did help the last couple of weeks was googling types of questions that I was still unclear on - there's a lot you can learn from random websites on basic math!

Set of GMAT guides, looking for a good home!

I am pretty much convinced that my GMAT tribulations are ending today.  I even re-read through this thread on whether or not to retake, and can't really point out a good reason other than increasing the Quant.  On the drive home, I reflected on the irony of the situation, which should be taken as a sign to move on.  I thought back to My Biking Incident of Last Summer - in an attempt to fit in better in my city (I was not about to get a tattoo and could only take PBR in small amounts), I bought a vintage Schwinn off Craigslist and convinced myself to bike to work. The bike was not really my thing, it was more of a practical move with a 15 minute commute downhill to work.  Riding home in a hurry one afternoon to get to kickball practice, I fell off and busted up my knee, landing in urgent care.  (I still have the scar to prove it, and now have to pose strategically in photographs - ha!)  A few weeks later, my bike got stolen as it was locked outside of my office; granted I had left it there for two weeks while I worked in Asia, but that's besides the point.  Maybe, somewhere the universe was saying that I need to stay off that bike, and maybe, this is an indication today that I need to focus on other parts of my app. This time around, I'm listening.  :)

Pretty much the mentality of my city - less cars on the road and less pollution, I'm all for it!

Hopefully if I can show the admissions committee my strengths in numbers and data in other ways, such as in my job and on my transcript (took a few quant courses, minored in econ), the 44Q will not keep me out of a school.   I also read that if a certain component of your application is low but the rest is stellar, the admissions committee may wave you in but recommend taking additional courses. 

What I am looking forward to now are the school visits!  I have decided not to let living out in the PNW and physically far away from these schools prevent me from visiting, as I know now the importance of the on-site visit. Due to some clever scheduling with working out east heavily in a few weeks and red-eye flights, I will be able to visit Kellogg when I'm working in Chi-Town and Columbia while helping my BFF settle into NYC.  I'm stoked that I'll be able to spend time with friends in both cities, but also thankful for the opportunity to get a better reading of how I will fit in at these schools.  I want to get the most out of my school visits, so that will mean reading up on the programs ahead of time (the two programs that I am least familiar with on my list of prospective schools), compiling a list of questions to ask, and researching which classes I want to sit in on.  

All that Jazz in Chicago?
Or concrete jungle where dreams are made of in NYC?

So what do you think - should I quit now while I'm *slightly* ahead, or take the GMAT once more to see if I can get that Q up?  At the risk of my verbal going down... I truly think my time could be spent in better ways. 

Time to make the most of my "vacation" day from work and to go scrounging for a birthday dress,


law and order marathons ----> actual half can be done!
Bucket list #27:  Run a half marathon, or at the very least, a 10k.   Ran a 5k this past summer dressed as Curious George (to my credit, I convinced my two friends to dress up as the [wo]man in the yellow hat and a banana) and I have been wanting to train for a longer run.   Now that the GMAT is over, this might be good balance with the app-writing process.  Bonus points if the half marathon offers pasta or beer afterwards, or is fairly flat.  :)

****addendum to my last posting: I realized last night that I may have miscalculated my chances of getting into a b-school in my last post, as I had multiplied the possibility of getting in instead of possibility of getting denied.  The actual percentage?  (1-.85*.8*.6*.5*.75*.6*.6*.5) or 97% chance .... I'll take THAT figure with a Morton's factory worth of salt :)


  1. Hey! Congratulations for your new GMAT score. Wish you all the very best for your applications!!

  2. Congratulations and welcome to the 700 Club! It's a wonderful place to be. Now the fun part starts: ESSAYS!! Good luck and maybe we'll get to meet at one of our common schools.

  3. Congrats for your score! Retaking the test was definitely worth your time. A second try is always good when you feel that the first try was not satisfying, as it helps erases the doubts that you have.

    -Kimi Stremmings