The December game plan


Right. So after my poor GMAT score. I’ve taken a couple of days to reflect, to research and to come up with a new game plan.

My aim is to apply for two American business schools in round two.
The schools are Harvard and Duke and both have a submission deadline of the 6th January.

To do this successfully I need to:

  • Sort references
  • Write essays
  • Fill in applications
  • Shorten my CV
  • Resit GMAT

First step is finalising who I’m going to ask to be references for each business school. To help choose, I’m going to be guided by the questions the recommenders need to answer. Harvard wants both recommenders to talk about what constructive criticism they have given me and how I’ve responded. While Duke wants references that can comment on my interpersonal and team working skills. Thankfully I think I can ask a couple of people, so no one needs to do more than one business school.

For the Harvard essay I can reuse a lot of the personal statement essay from the Fulbright application. A lot of the qualities they look for are very similar between the two. Just need to tweak it and focus more on what I can bring to the Harvard community.

I’ve done the first draft of the 25 random things for duke. But I will need to rewrite and ensure it compliments the rest of my application. I need to write an essay on why duke. Truthfully I need to do a bit more research to make this truly sing. But I can make a good start and then focus on the areas where I need to fill in the gaps. First step write emails to some more student groups.

They also want me to write three short essays on my post MBA goals. Again while I my Fulbright essay on research objectives can be used as a starting point. I think I need to make the aims and objectives alot more punchy and focused.

Fill in applications
This is the faffy bit. To reduce any last-minute stress this is best done early with a glass of wine in hand. I have all my transcripts PDFed and ready to go. So it looks like a Friday night or a Saturday after hockey is application time. I don’t foresee any issues with this section.

I’ve got positive comments on my CV in terms of length and content. However for business school I need to reduce it to a page. From what I’ve seen I need to focus more on impact. Mmm how do you that in a public sector research context? Need to think a bit more about that but I’m hoping I have a good starting point.  I think  I can re-write this over Christmas so no need to worry now.

Resit the GMAT
Ok, I need to resit the GMAT. This is my final shot. Based on the last two times I need a different strategy. My new strategy is based on two aims:

  • Reduce performance gap between practice test and test day
  •  Improve overall level of performance

To reduce the performance gap I need to sit alot more practice tests. Downside for me one test takes four hours. So there is only one day of the week I have enough time to sit them which means there is a natural limit to how many I can do. I also need to improve timing and thinking under pressure. There are two basic approaches to this. Do questions under timed conditions and really know inside out and backwards the approach I should take to each question type.

Since some of the performance gap might be due to the incorrect accommodations I’ve asked my educational psychologist for their advice just to be sure.

Since I’m going to work under the assumption of that I have a performance gap I need to improve my overall level of performance. So I want to improve my verbal score to the 99 percentile. This is very achievable. Just need to nail sentence correction. Downside as a dyslexic this is where I struggle in normal life. So I have my work cut out for me. I can often tell if the sentence is wrong but I can’t say why. Upside I’ve seen a course which might help, which is offered by GMAT pill. I also need to do more work on the Quant and see if I can improve it towards the 70 percentile. Help! Seriously I know the concepts, how to approach questions and the strategies to use. But I can’t seem to translate that to test day. So it’s a combination of the basics and learning how to tackle the tough stuff. Some if that is just deciding which subject areas I want to get to an advanced level in. So that really knowing my strengths and weaknesses.

I also think I need to change my online course. I’ve used Magoosh and its been brilliant at moving me from 25 percentile to about 50 percentile. But I’ve now gone through the videos twice. I need a new resource which also covers the advanced stuff. Any suggestions?
I also have a maths tutor who has also been really helpful at bringing up my score and showing me answer strategies.

I’m tempted by GMAT pill, but I would love to try something offered by Manhattan GMAT, if only it offered something which was only quant focused.


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