Since 2013, I have coached over 1000s of students on the GMAT.
The most frequently asked questions I had to answer have always been around the best practices to reach a competitive GMAT score.
While working hard for the GMAT is surely the most obvious answer – here’s an alternative angle that you can look at GMAT scoring:
When you look at the GMAT score table above, it seems that there are many paths to score in the 730 and above range – 93 paths if we want to be precise.
From scoring a 51 in Verbal and a 39 in Quant to scoring a 50 in Quant and a 39 in Verbal, you seem to have many options.
Yet, appearances are often deceptive, and this is no less true when it comes to the GMAT.
Before going any further, it is crucial that you understand how the GMAT scoring system works. Disclaimer: it is not just about the raw score only.
Scaled Score & Percentile
While the GMAT scoring algorithm is one of the world’s best kept secrets, it is important to understand that the GMAT score percentile will influence, if not your score, your prep strategy.
Remember that there are 93 distinct paths (on paper) to score 730 and above. Unfortunately, the number of paths is much lower because of how percentiles work.
Let’s start with a simple comparison: as soon as you reach 45 and above on the Verbal section, you reach the 99th percentile (meaning only 1% of GMAT test takers worldwide have reached this score over the last 3 years) but scoring a 45 in Quant puts you on the 57th percentile only (in other words, a highly mediocre score).
Check the chart below to gain better clarity.
Now you start to realize that your number of options to score 730 and above is greatly reduced.
Instead of 93 different paths, we’re looking at a lower figure of 11 options, as displayed on the table below (in yellow).
What we call the “perfect zone” also shows you the importance of bringing your Quant score to the 49+ range, as scoring a 48 would only provide you with 3 realistic paths while scoring a 46 would provide you a single realistic path.
This is why at Prep Zone Academy, we always push hard on the Quant in the first 6 to 8 weeks of our students’ GMAT preparation. It is the most effective way to push a student’s score to a highly competitive range.
When in doubt, prep for quant.