700 is seen as a magic number by many attempting the test. But let’s examine if 700 is really necessary to gain admission to a top-20 business school.
Most business schools are still reporting that the average GMAT score for admission is less than 700 but recently it has become increasingly common to see some of the very top schools to be reporting scores at or slightly higher. But these reports may be slightly misleading since a couple very high or low scores can skew the average score. In contrast, median scores give you a clearer picture of your chances (although in most cases the median and average are fairly close).
You want to get the highest score you can but remember that the GMAT score is only one component of your admission. Admissions committees will look at your experience, GPA, recommendations, admission essay, and much more when making their decision.
A score of 700 means you need to score better than close to 92 percent of others taking the test so this is an ambitious goal. Hard work and a good score on the quantitative and verbal sections will be necessary.
How long it takes to get a 700 GMAT score?
Getting to 650 (approx. 80th percentile) should take the average person about 50 hours of study but if you are a native English speaker and have a good aptitude for math then you may be able to get to this point with less study. Taking your score up yet another 50 points to 700 will probably take another two or three of study unless you decide to work with a professional GMAT tutor in which case you can do it in less. A good GMAT tutor can help you become more efficient at problem-solving.
The myth regarding the first questions of each section
The idea that how you do on the first ten questions of each section has a disproportionate effect on your score is simply not true.
This belief unfortunately leads many to spend more time than they otherwise would on the first ten questions. You should of course try your best on all questions including the first ten, but your score will be determined more by the difficulty level of the questions you answer right rather than the total number of correctly answered questions.
If you are having trouble with those first ten questions then you may wish to move on so you have time to answer the rest. Remember, if you leave any question unanswered it will be scored as incorrect with an extra penalty. So be sure to pace yourself properly.
It is unlikely for most people to get all ten first questions right anyways. The exam adapts and each time you answer correctly it just gets harder (until you answer something wrong at which time it becomes a bit easier again).
So don’t make the mistake of believing in this myth and misallocate your time and effort. Try your best with each question but don’t obsess about any particular set of questions.
Can I retake the GMAT as many time needed to get a 700?
Most b-schools will look at your highest score when viewing your application. This allows them to report higher averages and means for their rankings. Also they tend to see the GMAT as a test that you are ready to succeed in the program. If you get a good score then you showed that you are ready. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t ready before, you are ready now.
The GMAT score is only one component of your admission. The Admissions committee will look at your experience, GPA, recommendations, admission essay, and so on. They will look for a drive to succeed at everything you set your sights on. A good GMAT score of course will also show that you have the determination to work hard to succeed.
More often than not, test takers do better on subsequent tries at the exam. They tend to be less nervous the next time around since they know what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid.
It may be wise in fact to plan from the beginning on having to take the exam twice. Consider the first try as simply practice so that you can get used to the pressure and time constraints that you will face.
How do you get there?
700 level questions move beyond the basics. So the CAT system will start to give you questions that are more about subtle logic and patterns. Things will not be obvious anymore. You need to work to spot hidden equations, grammar flaws, and so on.
High scorers are different from lower scorers in that they rapidly determine how to approach each new question. They will see a similarity to some problem that they encountered in the past so they know what is likely be the best approach towards solving it. This ability to almost immediately recognize such things allows them to save time and avoid common traps.
The 7 critical keys factor of success towards getting a 700 score
#1) Be Consistent
Getting a good score is more often a matter of learning how to avoid careless mistakes as opposed to learning methods to answer some of the more esoteric problems you might get. Minimize simple mistakes and your score will really improve.
#2) Become Good at the Fundamentals
Having a good understanding of general grammar rules for example will help you a lot on the verbal section. If you have a good grasp of the grammar then you can quickly read passages and comprehend the message being conveyed.
#3) Score Well on the GMAT Verbal Section:
Non-native English speakers often do well on the Quant section but not so well on the Verbal section so their overall score is not as good as it could be. As a specialist GMAT tutor for non-native English speakers, I’ve worked with many such students with success.
An important part of doing well on this section is being able to answer questions within a reasonable time frame. Sentence Correction questions should typically take less than a minute, Critical Reasoning should take between 45 seconds to 2.5 minutes depending on the difficulty of the question. This will ensure you have enough time for some of the longer Reading Comprehensive that could take as much a ten minutes.
For more information on how to improve your GMAT verbal score, read the following article: Improve your GMAT Verbal score for non-native English speakers
#4) Score Higher on the Quant Section:
Some test takers may be good on the verbal section but are not so strong on the Quant section. The difficulty of the questions you answer correctly is an important part of your score in this section so to do well you need to get the tougher questions right too.
Timing is important in this section too. On average you should be answering the Data Sufficiency in a bit less than 2 minutes and just over 2 minutes for the tougher Problem Solving questions.
A good way to practice is to use a log to keep track of what types of questions you make mistakes on. This way you can study some more then find similar types of questions and try again maybe a week or so latter and see if you have improved.
It is best to use a tutor that specializes in the GMAT rather than a math or English teacher who is not familiar with the unique content that you encounter to in the GMAT.
For more information on choosing a GMAT Tutor, read the following article: How to select the best GMAT Tutor
#5) Time Yourself When Practicing
It doesn’t matter so much whether you can correctly answer a question but whether you can answer it within the time allowed by the GMAT. Math questions typically should be done in about two minutes while for the verbal section things may vary.
Practicing with a timer can help you determine where you might be going wrong. Practice as many times as you need to in order to make sure you can successfully answer questions within the times recommended
#6) Study Smart
We’re not talking about anything overly complex. In fact, you say we’re focusing on doing the fundamentals well. Having said that, getting 700 on the GMAT is not simple and easy either.
#7) Improve Your Ability to Recognize
The most important key towards getting 700 on the GMAT is acquiring the ability to quickly recognize the type of problem your question entails and deciding the best method to answer it.
For more information on GMAT for non native English speakers: http://www.gmatstar.com