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Thread: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

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    2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

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    Hi, I am looking to apply to PhD FInance in the US and UK.

    In terms of my academic profile. I received an undergraduate degree in finance, economics and econometrics from a global top 50 university and a top 10 business school in finance using QS rankings. I graduated with first class honors which roughly translates to a 4.0 GPA on the US Scale. I came second in the class. During my honors year I wrote a dissertation on advanced asset pricing theory which I am currently working with my supervisor to publish. My supervisor is happy to give me a strong reference for this.

    I will begin studying a MSc in Finance and Economics at LSE from September of this year, with aims of taking advanced courses in microeconomics and econometrics given my previous background. I will aim to get a Distinction which I think I can achieve given my strong background in econometrics and economics and asset pricing. Hopefully I can also get an LSE reference before I apply for the 2017-2018 season. If not, I have two top professors at my local university who are happy to write me one.

    I also have RA experience at my local university doing research in derivatives and global financial governance. My supervisor has a recommendation letter for me. I also have been a teaching assistant with good reviews.

    My main weakness is my GMAT score. I have a 680 (Q49 V34) though I am currently studying to improve it to at least 700 before I start LSE. I understand that this alone will exclude me from the top PhD programs but I am ok with that so long as I can get into a 2nd tier US PhD program (top 40-top 50 program). I am also open to doing my PhD at LSE afterwards (I have been told by them that a GMAT score below 700 is not a pre-requisite if I do well in the program that is more important) as well as London Business School, INSEAD and other top European schools.

    Just wondered if I could get some feedback on my chances. I am just not good at standardised tests and with my effort on publishing my dissertation, my work as an RA and teaching assistant, bit hard to find the time. Just want to know if I could get into a 2nd tier school with my GMAT score. Would appreciate some advice.
    Last edited by ted23; 05-15-2017 at 12:57 PM.

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    My concentration is not Finance, so I hope someone else is better able to assist you.

    Your profile is really strong. It would be a shame if you do not get accepted just because of your GMAT score. So, my opinions will be more related to the GMAT.

    Did you get a score of 680 after a lot of preparation, or with just few hours of study, for example? My first official GMAT score was 680 too. However, after studying specifically for the GMAT for a time, I improved my score to 750. And I also studied while working as a teacher and rewriting my master's thesis for presentation and publication. You already have a 49Q, which is 2 points short of a perfect quant score (which Finance schools love to see in an application). So, if you focus on your few weaknesses and on high level quant questions, you should be able to improve that score without wasting much time. Your V34 score is kinda low, but it means that it is probably easier to improve by several points. I'm not even a native speaker and I achieved a V42, for example. If you are able to improve from Q49 to Q51 and from V34 to V39, for example, that will be well over the total 700 score and will make you an extremely competitive applicant. It seems a realistic scenario for you.

    I also would think about the possibility of taking not only the GMAT, but also the GRE. Since you got a GMAT Q49, I think you may be ready to achive a GRE quant score which is over the 90th percentile, since it is easier to get that kind of percentile in the GRE than in the GMAT. Your main weakness seem to be the Verbal section and maybe you find the GRE Verbal section easier than GMAT's (the Verbal sections of GRE and GMAT are very different, so one might do much better in one of them).

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Not an asset pricing guy but your profile seems very competitive for me. You can definitely aim higher than your current expectation. Get distinction in LSE & connect with faculties. If you manage to work on some joint projects and get good grades on micro, I guess you might have a chance at T10.

    I myself didn't take GMAT but GRE so I'm not very sure how difficult it is to improve GMAT, but in my impression these are not that important. If you find it too difficult to improve GMAT then maybe try to switch to GRE: all you have to do is to get 168 out of 170 in very preliminary middle school math.

    Also in my impression LBS is comparable with US T10 & LSE (asset pricing) is at least T25. One of my asset pricing friend rejected a T25 US program to join LSE this year. I heard they've got some good hiring in AP senior professors so their AP is really on rising trend.

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    My concentration is not Finance, so I hope someone else is better able to assist you.

    Your profile is really strong. It would be a shame if you do not get accepted just because of your GMAT score. So, my opinions will be more related to the GMAT.

    Did you get a score of 680 after a lot of preparation, or with just few hours of study, for example? My first official GMAT score was 680 too. However, after studying specifically for the GMAT for a time, I improved my score to 750. And I also studied while working as a teacher and rewriting my master's thesis for presentation and publication. You already have a 49Q, which is 2 points short of a perfect quant score (which Finance schools love to see in an application). So, if you focus on your few weaknesses and on high level quant questions, you should be able to improve that score without wasting much time. Your V34 score is kinda low, but it means that it is probably easier to improve by several points. I'm not even a native speaker and I achieved a V42, for example. If you are able to improve from Q49 to Q51 and from V34 to V39, for example, that will be well over the total 700 score and will make you an extremely competitive applicant. It seems a realistic scenario for you.

    I also would think about the possibility of taking not only the GMAT, but also the GRE. Since you got a GMAT Q49, I think you may be ready to achive a GRE quant score which is over the 90th percentile, since it is easier to get that kind of percentile in the GRE than in the GMAT. Your main weakness seem to be the Verbal section and maybe you find the GRE Verbal section easier than GMAT's (the Verbal sections of GRE and GMAT are very different, so one might do much better in one of them).
    Hi thanks for your comments. I am currently studying to improve my quant score to 51 and my verbal score. My verbal is actually good expect for critical reasoning (My reading comprehension and sentence correction are in the 85-90% percentile) so I anticipate it should be possible to improve. I don't know enough about the GRE but I am of the understanding the verbal for GRE is harder? In any event I have 3 months before my LSE program starts so I'm not sure if I should study concurrently for GMAT and GRE? I'm not sure if I would have time for that. I'm just naturally not so good at standardised tests, my math background is strong (I have taken linear algebra and advanced calculus before), but for some reason GMAT math is a bit frustrating since its a mind game essentially.

    I've been advised by many that I might just have to accept the GMAT as a weakness in my application and maybe the other aspects of my application might compensate for it. I might be able to improve GMAT but I might not. I'm just not sure if I should just make sure the rest of my application is stellar instead of focusing on GMAT as some have suggested. I would love your views on this.

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ariel s View Post
    Not an asset pricing guy but your profile seems very competitive for me. You can definitely aim higher than your current expectation. Get distinction in LSE & connect with faculties. If you manage to work on some joint projects and get good grades on micro, I guess you might have a chance at T10.

    I myself didn't take GMAT but GRE so I'm not very sure how difficult it is to improve GMAT, but in my impression these are not that important. If you find it too difficult to improve GMAT then maybe try to switch to GRE: all you have to do is to get 168 out of 170 in very preliminary middle school math.

    Also in my impression LBS is comparable with US T10 & LSE (asset pricing) is at least T25. One of my asset pricing friend rejected a T25 US program to join LSE this year. I heard they've got some good hiring in AP senior professors so their AP is really on rising trend.
    Thanks for your comment. I'm gonna try to improve my gmat. If not I might give gre a try. I was just wondering if you think the other parts of my application might offset my weak gmat score. I'd think I could get into some second tier schools such as Pennsylvania state, Wisconsin Madison,etc even though my gnat is still below their average. But I just want to know if my gmat as is would be an application killer for even 2nd tier schools? I could aim higher if it wasn't for my gmat.....

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    The verbal sections of GMAT and GRE are different, not necessarily harder or easier. The GRE tests a lot of vocabulary, for example, something that the GMAT doesn't test so much. So, someone who is good at vocabulary may find the GRE easier, while someone with limited vocabulary may find it harder.

    But it is easier to get a high percentile at the quant section in the GRE than the GMAT. And the quant section is probably more important to you. The preparation you have for the GMAT quant section is usually enough for GRE too.


    At least for me, my preparation for the GRE helped with the preparation for the GMAT. And I agree that GMAT math is like a mind game. The GRE math is more straightforward, in my opinion, so it may also be easier for you because of that. Specially if you're better at problem solving than data sufficiency, since GRE math is all about problem solving.

    If would advise you to accept your GMAT as a weakness if you were really far from a good score. But that's not your case. You are pretty close to get a very competitive score, with some effort I think you can solve that weakness in your profile.

    People often say that a strength in an application does not necessarily compensate for a weakness.

    People also often say that GMAT and GRE scores are very important in the initial evaluation of your application, because that's the thing that schools can compare among such distinct profiles. So, if your score is too low, you may not survive the initial screening of some school. You will not get to the point that the school will see your strengths.

    Of course lots of what people say are speculation. But why take the risk instead of trying to improve the odds?

    And you seem to think that it's necessarily easier to get accepted by a second tier school. We are often surprised. There are lots of cases when an applicant is not accepted by any of the so-called safety schools, but is accepted by a higher ranked school. You can see the case of Silviatx here at Urch. She had decided to apply to lower ranked schools due to her lower GMAT score. But she got offers from schools which were among the best in her list of schools, while being rejected by others ranked lower.

    So, I think you have a stellar application. Try tour best to achieve a great GMAT or GRE score, since that will cover your main weakness. And do not limit yourself to second tier schools, even if your GMAT score remains the same. You never know what schools you really have a chance.

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    The verbal sections of GMAT and GRE are different, not necessarily harder or easier. The GRE tests a lot of vocabulary, for example, something that the GMAT doesn't test so much. So, someone who is good at vocabulary may find the GRE easier, while someone with limited vocabulary may find it harder.

    But it is easier to get a high percentile at the quant section in the GRE than the GMAT. And the quant section is probably more important to you. The preparation you have for the GMAT quant section is usually enough for GRE too.

    At least for me, my preparation for the GRE helped with the preparation for the GMAT. And I agree that GMAT math is like a mind game. The GRE math is more straightforward, in my opinion, so it may also be easier for you because of that. Specially if you're better at problem solving than data sufficiency, since GRE math is all about problem solving.

    If would advise you to accept your GMAT as a weakness if you were really far from a good score. But that's not your case. You are pretty close to get a very competitive score, with some effort I think you can solve that weakness in your profile.

    People often say that a strength in an application does not necessarily compensate for a weakness.

    People also often say that GMAT and GRE scores are very important in the initial evaluation of your application, because that's the thing that schools can compare among such distinct profiles. So, if your score is too low, you may not survive the initial screening of some school. You will not get to the point that the school will see your strengths.

    Of course lots of what people say are speculation. But why take the risk instead of trying to improve the odds?

    And you seem to think that it's necessarily easier to get accepted by a second tier school. We are often surprised. There are lots of cases when an applicant is not accepted by any of the so-called safety schools, but is accepted by a higher ranked school. You can see the case of Silviatx here at Urch. She had decided to apply to lower ranked schools due to her lower GMAT score. But she got offers from schools which were among the best in her list of schools, while being rejected by others ranked lower.

    So, I think you have a stellar application. Try tour best to achieve a great GMAT or GRE score, since that will cover your main weakness. And do not limit yourself to second tier schools, even if your GMAT score remains the same. You never know what schools you really have a chance.
    Thanks for your comments. I took a mock GRE just now (having not done any study at all for GRE) and got Q169 V148. So I think I can get a really good quant score there. I think I might have time to improve verbal if as you say its about vocab. I'm a native speaker so I might be better at that. I'm thinking of just switching over to GRE just on that.

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Your application looks extremely competitive. A good test score will help you in clearing the initial screening for the top schools. I would advice you to take the GRE. Given your maths background and 3 months of preparation time I would strongly advice you to prepare well for the GRE (using ETS test books) and take the exam in full confidence.

    I think once you improvise on your GRE score - you have high chances of getting selected in your dream schools (LBS, LSE, INSEAD). Though, I would be wary of the strategy of trying to compensate anything in your profile (in place of the GRE score).

    Also, versus GRE & GMAT, I know at least one school (Kellogg - Northwestern) that accepts only GRE for Finance PhD. So that's one more reason for you to take the GRE exam! All the best!

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    Re: 2018 PhD Finance Application Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by finphdind View Post
    Your application looks extremely competitive. A good test score will help you in clearing the initial screening for the top schools. I would advice you to take the GRE. Given your maths background and 3 months of preparation time I would strongly advice you to prepare well for the GRE (using ETS test books) and take the exam in full confidence.

    I think once you improvise on your GRE score - you have high chances of getting selected in your dream schools (LBS, LSE, INSEAD). Though, I would be wary of the strategy of trying to compensate anything in your profile (in place of the GRE score).

    Also, versus GRE & GMAT, I know at least one school (Kellogg - Northwestern) that accepts only GRE for Finance PhD. So that's one more reason for you to take the GRE exam! All the best!
    Hi, thanks for your advice. I am going to take GRE. My mock scores suggest I can do much better in GRE (especially math I am getting 169 and 170 for my mocks). If I can bring my verbal up maybe I could aim for top US schools as well. Do you think if I were to improve my GRE to 90th percentile I would be competitive at the top US schools as well? It looks like my strengths might shine through more in GRE (since I am a native English speaker)

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