Could a GMAT score be improved significantly ?

Is the GMAT the kind of test someone can improve their score on?

I plan on putting tons of effort and retaking over and over till I get a score that helps me get into a decent school. Is this reasonable? Can someone who puts in crazy amounts of studying for the GMAT get a high score or they just wont improve that much and can forget about it if their first score is very low?

Thank you AF community!

700+ should be good enough for any school, provided the other aspects of your application are good. 2-4wks of studying should be more than enough for 700+.

As much as I am tempted to believe what you are saying, common sense is telling me no to. A score of 700+ would basically get me into Harvard (assuming the rest of the application is impressive). Now you are saying I can do this by studying for four weeks. It seems like the GMAT is the biggest criteria for MBA admissions. I hardly doubt they are basing their decisions on a test any fool can ace in four weeks. The test is supposed to show you potential for the program and that is something you develop over years, you can’t just gain it in four weeks. So the question is how good is this test at doing its job? Sure studying will yield better score, but if the test is doing what it should, there will be only so much room for improvement. Now if you have managed to get 700+ with weeks of studying, that is great, but I don’t think all people can pull it off.

I saw a regression somewhere that had “hours studied” as an independent variable and the slope coefficient was 1.1 (I think)… so for every hour studied increases you score by 1.1 points. But Im pretty sure hours studied isn’t linear. Each addition hour add less value than the previous. I’ve also heard that if 4 weeks isn’t enough studying, nothing is. The test is more of an aptitude test.

Here’s my experience: Back when I was still a senior in undergrad (in 2008), I was running out of options. The job market was bleak, I had no offer and graduation was approaching. During the winter break I picked up a Princeton Review book, studied lightly for about 2 weeks and scored a 510. A few months later I received a job offer and started to focus more on the CFA rather than the GMAT. This past summer I started hitting the GMAT books again. Off the bat I scored 560 on my first diagnostic. After a few more months, that improved to 650. To make a long story short, I think the GMAT can be gamed once you start becoming familiar with the way the questions are phrased.

I think you have this notion because of your social circle, or people you talk to most about professional development (e.g., analyst forum - everyone talks about getting into a top 10 mba). The average MBA candidate is probably not looking to get a 700+ score so they can go to Harvard. They will probably get whatever score they need to get into ABC and get the MBA for whatever reason (e.g., engineer needs MBA to get manager post). So I think you can get a great score if you put in the time because the average candidate doesn’t care too much. Just regurgitating something I read about the LSAT awhile back which made a lot of sense. Everyone on LS forum talks about getting a top LSAT score to get into a top law school; however, this is a self-selected group. The majority of LSAT writers just get a decent score to go to ABC.

Business school is not as much as a numbers game as law school. Law schools literally have formulas where they weight your LSAT score and GPA, with adjustments for the difficulty of your undergraduate school and your major. Business schools (from what I have heard, anyway) assign more value to your career achievements. So, if you’re one of the many, many tech nerds who can slam dunk the GMAT, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to Harvard. But to answer the original question, you can absolutely increase your GMAT score through studying. A large part of the test is about grammar and sentence structure, which you can learn by reading GMAT books. Even the math or reading comprehension sections have patterns that you can get used to through practice. Of course, everyone has a different maximum score after which further practice will not be helpful. However, nothing should stop you from trying to reach your best potential score.

I would second what ohai said. Business schools choose students who have the best potential to succeed in business. While GMAT is relevant, there are other criteria such as leadership potential, ability to work on a team, persistence, etc that are extremely important. If you would like to improve the GMAT score, I would highly recommend Good luck!

Check out Look at the GMAT Stories section and you’ll see there were people improving from 500 to 700. I’ll go ahead and warn you that some of those people spent 12 months studying. Although the GMAT isn’t a true IQ test, being naturally smart is 70% of the battle. IMO a 720 is the bottom score to get if you want any shot at an M7 school. I wouldn’t spend more than 1.5 months prepping for the GMAT. A good friend of mine took the GMAT three times. His scores were 700, 680, and 750. He kept studying all throughout and in the end got dinged from HBS, GSB, and Wharton. I kept telling him that his GMAT score wasn’t holding him back. Once you have a median score you might as well start polishing the other portions of your app.

I improved ~150 points with studying. Also a 700+ alone won’t get you into HBS. You have to be more holistic in a b school app than just score. My old roommate had a strong 700+ and missed on 4 of the top 5 schools.

agreed, except for some professions and schools replace “Median” with “>700”

I am currently in the process of applying, and what I have read in all MBA-prep books is that GMAT is not the biggest criteria for MBA admission. Simply because its just a test measuring lower grade spelling, math, and writing abilities. What they are most concerned about for admission is that the total picture is correct. You score well enough on your GMAT, have interesting life experience, know how to sell yourself, ability to write an impressive resume, etc. Most importantly: you add something to the class! Would it be interesting to sit in an MBA course with 80 mutual fund analysts who all scored 750 on their GMAT? I guess it will be a boring, one-sided conversation on each topic. So they want people who have been around the world and are able to see the bigger picture. And a 700+ would get you into Harvard? I dont think so! A 700+ would not close the door, but it would surely not get you in. Its like saying that passing CFA L3 assures you can will be offered a portfolio manager job. When i studied for the GMAT I first completed all books, and when I did my first practice test I ended up with a score of 570. Two weeks later I scored 680 on the test itself. So you can improve your GMAT score dramatically by doing a lot of practicing. Just like every test the questions will always be about the same, and when you have all the skills you just need to be quick enough to give the correct answers in time. In total I studied 100 hours for the GMAT.

I think you can probably improve about 100 points on average. Nobody I know will admit to getting less than a 700 but the test is a bell curve so there are lots of people getting lower than that. My boss is an interviewer for Insead and he told me to just take the test till you get a good score. 600 below need not apply. Above that you have a chance. 700+ is good enough and need not be improved upon. I’ve studied over 100 hours for the test. I’ve brought my math up a lot because I was very weak at doing math without a calculator. Hadn’t done it since 7th grade. I’m waaaaaay better at that now. My verbal score has barely budged, but was high to begin with. So yes, you can definitely improve it.

By the way, when do you plan on taking the exam? I hear of individuals on improving from 500 to 700 all the time, it just takes hard work and a longer time frame.