GMAT Tips: Don’t Worry About a Perfect Score |

GMAT Tips: Don’t Worry About a Perfect Score

By QS Contributor

Updated June 16, 2020 Updated June 16, 2020

Right from the outset, I have to tell you something that you might not want to hear: it’s unlikely that you’re going to achieve a perfect GMAT score of 800. Hopefully, you aren’t too saddened by that news to continue with your studies. Before we go any further, it’s important that you understand that the prior two sentences were meant as something of a joke. A perfect GMAT score of 800 is something that most test takers will never be able to achieve in their lifetimes (only about 0.0001% of GMATers do it each year), and that score should not be your actual goal. Instead, you ultimately want to score at a level that will be high enough to help you get into your top business schools (and perhaps receive some scholarship money, if you’re interested in that sort of thing).

If we can agree that a perfect GMAT score is NOT the goal, then we can proceed to the actual tough decision you’ll have to face while working through the GMAT on test day (and you’ll likely have to make it several times during the test):

While working through each of the sections (but primarily the quant and verbal sections), you have to remember that your overall effort has to take priority over your effort on any individual question. In real basic terms, this means that you CANNOT allow yourself to get ‘stuck’ on any really difficult, wordy or odd prompts that you might come across in the quant, verbal or other GMAT sections. If you do so, and waste too much time in the process, you’ll end up burning through too much of your 75-minute clock – and end up having to guess on a bunch of questions at the end of the section (and likely missing out on all of those potential points).

A computer adaptive test (CAT) review is a great way to see the impact of these decisions (or the failure to properly make these decisions at key moments). When reviewing a CAT, take a good look at any question that fits your personal definition of ‘hard’ or ‘weird’ – how long did you spend on any of those individual questions? In the quant section, how often did you go over three and half minutes on a question? In the verbal section, how often did you go over one and half minutes on a sentence correction or over two and a half on a critical reasoning prompt? What ended up happening at the end of each of those respective sections? How were your scores on that CAT?

Now what do you think would have happened if you had ‘dumped’ a few of those hard/weird questions instead of spending so much time on them? THAT is the decision that you have to consider. While it might seem like it’s a tough choice to make, your goal wasn't a perfect GMAT score, so can you make the big decisions to maximize your overall performance?

This article was originally published in January 2016 . It was last updated in June 2020

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