In the competitive world of international MBAs, a high GMAT score can open many doors.
No candidate should settle for a low score. But if you decide to retake the test, know that a higher score won’t come easily. On top of the work it took you to get good at the GMAT, you’ll have to work even harder to get your score up to 700 and over.
We asked our GMAT Experts for the strategies they think are key to getting your score up into the stratosphere.
Build up the tools you need to boost your GMAT score
Shanna Ricketts, GMAT Instructor at Manhattan Prep
First up, build up your math foundation—algebra, fractions, decimals, percents, and ratios. Make sure you get good at using quant strategies, like smart numbers, testing cases, working backwards, and estimation.
Master the different question types. Make sure you fully understand how data sufficiency questions work and become a pro at testing cases. Don’t rely on your ear for sentence correction questions: be able to recognize what is being tested and use rules to eliminate wrong answer choices.
Make sure you practice regularly. Shorter, more frequent study sessions are better than longer, less frequent ones. Incorporate timed sets into your daily practice.
Keep an error log and use it to track problems. This will help you identify problem areas, problems to re-work, and especially key takeaways from each problem. Diagnose your careless mistakes and come up with strategies to prevent them in the future.
Diagnose your strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge gaps
Mike Diamond, Director of Curriculum and Co-founder at ApexGMAT
A low GMAT score is usually due to unfamiliarity with the exam or problems with your fundamental knowledge or problem-solving skills. Most often it's a combination of the three. Diagnose where you're weak and where you're strong, where you have knowledge gaps, where you have gaps in applying that knowledge and where you're less than fully sensitive to some of the pivots that the GMAT takes.
Aim for high-yielding practice, which means evaluating what you're doing right or wrong. Focus on doing fewer problems and deconstructing them to understand where you're making good or bad decisions. This mindful practice will feel slower but is much more fruitful in the long run.
Make sure of your fundamental knowledge. Then, the real challenge is knowing when and how to use it. Understanding what a problem is asking for, understanding where your head goes when you read a particular passage, and reconciling these is vital.
Doing this and focusing on high-yielding prep develops familiarity with the problems at a characteristic level, which is what really leads to successful 700+ candidates.
Start with specific question types based on your particular difficulties
Mariano Aguilar Vela, GMAT Verbal Expert at GMAT Dudes Test Prep
The GMAT is more challenging than any other exam you have ever taken and you have to work hard for a 700+. A GMAT prep program should be tailor-made for your particular learning method, background, and motivations.
It’s better to start with specific question types, based on your particular difficulties. As you improve, start mixing concepts and types of questions. Practice every day—at least 18 hours per week.
As you improve, start taking mock exams again. None are better than the official ones from mba.com. These will help you refine your test strategy and understand your weaknesses under stress.
Finally, it’s important to manage your stress. It's a long journey that requires discipline, motivation, and resilience, but all your effort and sacrifice will pay off.
Learn to answer medium-level questions reliably and quickly
Kevin Armstrong, Owner of Gmatclasses
To raise your quant scores from the 50th to the 80th percentile, you need to be well-versed in the topics and agile in the calculations the GMAT calls for.
Candidates seeking a high GMAT score often seek out the most challenging quantitative practice questions, but in my experience, you can raise your quant score most effectively by learning to answer medium-level questions reliably and quickly, and by avoiding getting bogged down on hard questions.
Work carefully. Resist the temptation to hurry though questions because of the time constraint. If you know that you normally leave five questions unanswered, choose five questions to guess the answers to, either because they look too difficult or time-consuming or because they are on a topic you have trouble with.
Retaking the test without a fundamental shift in how you are preparing for is unlikely to lead to a higher score (unless you were achieving high scores in your mock tests and just had a bad test day).
To boost your score, make sure you have your fundamentals covered and that you are spending time learning as much as you can from every question you practice. As always with GMAT prep, don’t get bogged down on the theory without understanding how the GMAT tests it in practice.