Frog to Dragon: HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA Blog

The quest for wisdom, from France to China, of an HEC MBA & Tsinghua MBA dual degree student (class of 2011)

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Posted by at 24 May , 2009

Admissions » School selection » GMAT » Essays » Recommendations » Interviews » Focus on HEC

With my b-school selection in mind, I checked their GMAT range. You can find them in the b-school profiles from Business Week.
At that time (using data from the 2007 intake), they were as follow:

London Business School HEC-Paris
Mean GMAT score 682 657
Median GMAT score 680 655
Middle 80% range GMAT from 620 to 740 from 600 to 780

Basically, a score of 680 would give me good chances to both LBS and HEC and that’s what I aimed for.

Note: I never aimed for a 700+ score. Of course, getting such a score is a nice to have, but I’d rather spend time polishing my essays than studying for the GMAT. Reading stories of people getting dinged without interview despite a GMAT of 750 make me believe I was right.

I took a free trial test at the Paris Kaplan center without knowing anything about the GMAT. Scored 610.
As it was my first interaction with the test ever, I was surprised by the way many of the questions were formulated. I found there was a lot to learn and then registered for a 1 week training session at Kaplan in order to ramp up quickly and learn a few GMAT tricks. The training session also included a set of 10 online tests which I found very useful.

My GMAT preparation method:

Note: I did my studies at Kaplan but I’m sure the method I used is applicable to other GMAT preparation centres.

Learn to quickly identify your weaknesses on different question types. Not only DS vs. PS, or CR vs. SC vs. RC, but in terms of Geometry vs. Algrebra vs. Probablilities.
It will allow you to identify exercices to focus on, especially if you have a fat book like thy have at Kaplan with many exercices based on types.

If you can, also identify the time you spend on each question type. (For Kaplan online test users, it’s written on the result sheet). Matched with the error rate, it provides a valuable information about which types of questions gather a lot of errors and waste of time. This information can help prepare your test strategy.

Example: Always make a documented guess on certain types of questions in order to save time to secure others.

Here was my preparation plan with online tests :

  • Trial test
  • 1 week Kaplan course
  • GMAC preparation test #1
  • Kaplan test #2
  • Kaplan test #3
  • Kaplan test #4
  • Kaplan test #5 (in real exams conditions)
  • Kaplan test #6
  • Kaplan test #7
  • Kaplan test #8
  • Kaplan test #9
  • GMAC preparation test #2
  • Kaplan test #10
Ginkgo alley at Todai (Komaba campus)

Ginkgo alley at Todai (Komaba campus)

Alright, time-off for a bit.

One thing I did that was pretty unconscious was that I decided to spend my last week of cram studying… in Tokyo.
Yes, that’s right… Japan.

So here I was, a 12 hours flight away and recovering from a 7 hours jet-lag, studying for my GMAT in the library of the University of Tokyo. I don’t recommend it to anyone, but studying for the GMAT at Todai fits my bill for cool activities ;)

It was in early August and beside studying I enjoyed the late hanabis in town, which was fantastic. The move was bold, but I can’t say I regret any of it.

I came back from Japan the night before my GMAT exam – which I sat in the morning of August 11th.
A few hours later, my score came out:

Score Percentage
Verbal 34 69%
Quantitative 48 84%
Total 660 83%

A few weeks later, I received my AWA results as well: 4.5; 42%.

Actually, I was a bit disappointed as this score was lower than my 680 aim (and I had scored 700+ during my training) but the fact was that the score was well within the 80% range of both LBS and HEC (for which it was higher than the median).
So, instead of resitting the GMAT to improve my score, I decided to focus on writing fantastic essays.

Admissions » School selection » GMAT » Essays » Recommendations » Interviews » Focus on HEC


2 Responses to “GMAT”

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  1. Tee says:

    Nice post, but could you say, in all, how many weeks did you spend in preparing for your GMAT

    • Pam says:

      Hi Tee,

      Great question… I had to go through my email archive to find the answer.
      I took the free practice test at Kaplan on June 7th 2008. That’s when I found out my score of 610.
      Because I was working full time, and wanted to apply in September, I decided to cram with a 1 week prep class at Kaplan in early July.
      I sat for the test on August 11th.

      So I would say that in total, my preparation took me about 4 weeks, on top of the 1 week class prep at Kaplan. During these 4 weeks, I worked with the books and online practice tests provided by Kaplan as well as the GMAC practice tests.

      I realise it was quite a short time for GMAT prep, but at the time, I believed (and still do) that one should only aim to be “good enough”, i.e. check the median, at GMAT. A candidate’s real potential can only appear in things that are less quantitative than a standardised test.

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