18 Mar 2017

What’s a good GMAT score II

Here is the thing, the GMAT obviously affects acceptance into MBA programs. It’s arguably the most important single part of the admissions process. But please take that with a big grain of salt. There are numerous other factors in the process, such as GPA, CV, essays, recommendations, and “fit”, that are just as if not more critical. It’s just that the GMAT has been around for a while; it’s consistent, the schools have a lot of experience with it, and it comes with a nice, big, shiny “number” that they can point at and say, “see, this is better than that.” All things being equal, as in, when comparing many “equally” compelling candidates, it’s easier to point to a “hard number” for justification rather than the “soft criteria.” Let me restate this: a strong candidate has a solid, compelling overall application package, of which the GMAT score is a necessary but not solitary component. Keep in mind that at the best schools all candidates are strong candidates, which means it is especially important to have a strong GMAT score. While the GMAT score is not the whole enchilada, it sure seems to make a big difference.

While I’m not sure I agree with GMAC’s assertion that it “has proven validity in predicting success in the first year of graduate management education,” I do know they are very good at what they do, which is testing and placing a population into a “bell curve.”

GMAC’s latest percentile breakdowns on the score are on their website using data from 2013 to 2015. The average or mean score is 551.94 with a standard deviation of 120.88. This puts the first standard deviation at 670, and the second at 790. In case you are wondering the standard normal distribution is also called a gaussian distribution or more informally the bell curve.

At a 650 you have already scored better than 76% of all GMAT testers. That will make you competitive in all but the top schools. Scoring around 600 keeps you above the mean but not competitive in the admissions pack. As mentioned in my previous post, if you are planning on applying to the top schools in the world you want to be in the 750 range.

What this means for you.

Again, in my previous post I said you should shoot for a score around the 25 – 75 percentile of applicants. Considering you can’t significantly change any of the other “soft” criteria within a short time, the GMAT score is your best bet for making you a better candidate. The acceptance rate differential for a score range difference of half a deviation, 60 points, is significant, in some cases doubling your chance or more.

Problem is, if to improve by more than half a deviation, you have to fundamentally change your ability on the test. There is a pop theory that says it takes 10,000 hours to reach mastery in any skill. That’s 10 years of 20 hours per week of practice. Crazy. Good thing is that’s just pseudoscience. However, one does not simply go up by half a deviation or more without assistance. Regardless of how you choose to go about prepping, you need to have a clear plan and give yourself at least 3 to 6 months to effectively change your percentiles. Better yet, contact me for a consultation at [email protected].