For most, 700+ is a good gmat score. So, what is required to achieve that score?
Refer to the canvass above as we expand on its different elements and highlight common questions aspiring test takers have, such as: “Why haven’t I improved after months of studying?”, “why can some people achieve a good score with little preparation?”, “Can I increase my score by 100 points in 2 or 3 weeks?”, or “I will study very hard for 2 months, will it be enough?” etc..
Even though the Gmat tests you using math and english, that is not the main objective of the test. Understand what the Gmat tests: Critical reasoning, logical thinking and reading comprehension skills. This has a crucial implication you must understand: You cannot improve such skills in a short amount of time.
What you must do to get a good Gmat score should be based on that knowledge, because that is what the test wants to measure.
If you ended up here because you are frustrated by months of studying and no improvement then perhaps this blog will help.
Keep the following in mind: The Gmat is not an IQ test. A bad score does not mean you are not smart. It probably means you were practicing without purpose and not identifying your weaknesses to eliminate them. So don’t give up.
Anyone who got a good Gmat score had:
- A strong foundation in basic Math and Reading comprehension
If this foundation is weak, then you cannot demonstrate your ability to solve problems.
- The right mindset
Curiosity, inquisitiveness, attention to detail and competitiveness. As you read questions or passages, you should always be asking yourself what every bit of information means and what implications it has on answering the question, and be confident that you can arrive at the correct answer.
- Used the right materials and practiced with discipline
Practiced official guide questions, understood how to solve questions properly and timed themselves after mastery of concepts.
- A mature understanding and acceptance of their weaknesses
They were not in denial about their weaknesses. They accepted what had to be done to improve in terms of the work and time required. Sometimes, months are required.
- Strong mental stamina, test taking confidence and focus
Through consistent practice, they improved their test taking stamina and focus, thereby increasing their confidence for test day.
- Measured and kept track of their progress
Continuously monitored and measured their progress and did not assume that just because they were solving questions they will improve.
This is a hard list to maintain and track, particularly if one has a full-time job and other serious responsibilities. If you had prepared for the Gmat and were not successful, it could be due to failure in one or more of the 6 items above.
With that in mind, lets answer some common questions.
“Why haven’t I improved after months of studying?”
Ask yourself whether or not you have a strong foundation in math theory and reading comprehension. It is more common to recognize a weakness in math theory and overcome it than it is to recognize a weakness in reading comprehension ability and fix it. Why? Maybe because it is easier to “worry” about your math problem, and not reading comprehension. Typically you would think that fixing your reading comprehension is straightforward (“I just have to read more.. easy! So I will do it later”), and delay it in favor of practicing math. In reality, improving reading comprehension takes a long time, and you cannot improve it in a few weeks.
It may be that your months of studying were futile because you did not work to improve your foundation in math and reading comprehension, and all the practice questions you did were cosmetic. You did not use the practice questions to improve your foundation. When you sat for the real test, you didn’t do well because you did not improve your foundation.
GMAC has been in business for decades, so they know how to come up with questions that test the core skills, not the fact that you solved many questions. Don’t assume that just because you finished the official guides you will do better. Don’t assume that just because you took a 3 months course you will improve. Use the questions to eliminate your mistakes, improve your foundation, and improve your critical reasoning and logical reasoning skills, and not just for the sake of telling yourself that you did them and therefore you will be fine. Don’t be naive. Be mature and practice with awareness and purpose.
Be honest with yourself, and don’t be tempted by a test prep program that promises drastic improvement in a short amount of time. Unless you have strong foundation, that is just not possible.
“Why can some people do well with very little preparation?”
Very few people do well with little preparation. In fact, even the ones who do so well, have been preparing all their lives. I don’t mean that they have been practicing for the test all their lives, but that they have been using and improving the skills the test measures. Lawyers, engineers, consultants, etc. They solve problems and read complex text very often as part of their job, and as such, have a huge advantage over say, graphic designers or marketing professionals. So, for them, practice involves framing their knowledge and adapting their skills for the test with little practice.
In other cases, people who have read a lot all their life have very strong reading comprehension skills; another huge advantage. When they practice for the Gmat, all they need to do is fine tune their reading skills for the test in a relatively short time and learn to pay attention to the little details.
“I will study hard for the next 2 months, will it be enough?”
It depends. Is your current score in the mid 400s? Have you been preparing for months with no improvement? Unless you arrive at a miraculous breakthrough, it is very unlikely that you achieve a 700+ score. Such low score is a symptom of poor reading comprehension that requires months of consistent practice. Don’t be discouraged. This does not mean you are not smart. It just means that your foundation needs work, and that requires some time and patience. Focus on your objective, which is to go to a good business school. Be mature, and accept the amount of work that you will have to do. Your future deserves it.
It is important to be honest with yourself about where you stand as far all that is required to get a good Gmat score. As you can see from the canvass, many elements have to come together. The more elements you need to work on, the more time you need. Especially true if you need work on your reading comprehension skills. If you are scoring in the mid 600s, then it means your foundation is good and what you need is a little direction and a little extra work. In that case, a test prep course will be useful. If on the other hand, you have been practicing and studying for months and still scoring in the 400-500 range, then you probably have a weak foundation, and that requires considerable work before you restart your gmat preparation again.