The GMAT is usually taken by those who are frustrated with their careers.
Relax, we’re kidding!
Only a few of those who take the GMAT are frustrated. 😛
Seriously speaking, though, the GMAT is the first step on an MBA journey. Most of the time, people go in for MBAs either to facilitate lateral movement from one career to another or vertical movement within their existing careers.
In simple words, they either want to do something other than their existing jobs or they want to get promoted and make more money.
An MBA is the surest way to ensure a smooth transition no matter which direction you want your career to move in. But an MBA from just about any random college isn’t going to cut it. You need to get into a reputed B-School for your MBA to really get you what you want.
To get into one of those, you need a good GMAT score. And that brings us straight to the topic we’ll be discussing in this article.
1. What is a Good GMAT Score?
We’re always told we can only hope to get into the best B-Schools in th world if we have a good GMAT score. What nobody talks about is what a ‘good GMAT score’ actually is.
In our opinion, most of the time, this is a highly subjective question.
For someone who wants to go to, let’s say, Durham University Business School in the UK, 580 is a pretty good GMAT score.
For someone aiming for Stanford or Wharton, that’s a disastrous score.
In essence, the answer to this question depends on the answer to another one:
Which B-Schools do you want to get into?
Only when you know where you want to go can you figure out what it takes to get there. So, get on with your research!
Look up the top one-year MBA programs in the US, across Europe, even take a look at two-year full-time MBA programs around the world.
Figure out whether you want to do a one-year or a two-year MBA program. See if you can decide what specialization you want to take up, too.
Basically, get a good idea of which MBA programs you’d like to be a part of. Don’t let GMAT cutoffs or academic requirements faze you at this point. That will come later. For now, all we’re looking for is your dream course with no real-world limitations.
Once you have a list of such courses, draw up an average of all their average GMAT scores.
That is what you can consider as a good GMAT score for yourself.
Next, let’s talk about your target GMAT score.
2. How do I Fix My Target GMAT Score
You’ll have to get through a few steps to arrive at this. Here’s what you need to know:
a. Difference between ‘Good Score’ and ‘Target Score’
First and foremost, understand that there’s a very important difference between a good GMAT score for you and your target GMAT score.
Here’s the thing:
There’s likely to be a mismatch between your capacities and your expectations from yourself. Sometimes, the score you want and the score you can realistically aim for are quite different from each other.
The first point about identifying a ‘good GMAT score’ was aimed at getting an idea of what it will take to get what you want.
This point is about figuring out the best that you can realistically expect from yourself and seeing if there is a difference between the two.
b. Using Official Mock GMAT Tests
Official GMAT mock tests provide the best and most reliable way for you to figure out the final score you can expect. The official mock tests use the same patented adaptive scoring algorithm as the actual GMAT.
So, the scores you get on the official mock tests are a very good indication of what you can expect on the actual GMAT.
Remember, however, that you don’t need to prepare before taking your first official mock GMAT test. The first test serves as a diagnostic device. Don’t take it as an exam; instead, take it as a quiz to help you figure out where you stand.
It’s important not to prepare before taking your first mock GMAT. When you’re unprepared, the score you get is your baseline. If you have a clear baseline, you’re in a good position to measure the amount of effort it takes for you to improve your score.
Information like that is critical to your goal-setting process. The only way to honestly decide how far you can go is to first know what it takes to go that distance.
c. Take Help!
Typically, it helps massively to have a mentor or a third person do this target-setting with you.
If there’s a big difference between your ‘good GMAT score’ and what you scored on your diagnostic test, two things may happen. One, ambition can mislead you pretty seriously. But the second is probably worse – you may get completely demotivated.
This is where a third person who understands your potential comes into the picture. They can keep you from flying too high as well as from sinking too low.
Having such a neutral third person in the picture helps balance your plans out. Actually, that’s why you need to be very careful when you select a mentor.
You need to ensure that they provide a neutral perspective and not one loaded with bias. In most cases, such a bias will be inevitable if you pick someone close to you.
So, ideally, choose a mentor who isn’t very close. Consider going in for a professional mentor who has experience with this kind of thing.
Professional mentors are great at gauging what they need to know about your abilities. Plus, they know what B-Schools look for. Thanks to this, they can factor in multiple aspects when they weigh in on your decision-making process.
In any case, the point is, don’t try to do this alone.
These three points will be quite enough to help you figure out what your personal target GMAT score should be.
Now, we understand that often, the target score you get through this method means you won’t get into the B-Schools you want to go to. It’s not easy to just accept that; you’ll most probably want to do something about it. That brings us to the next part of this article.
3. What if I Want to Aim Higher?
Well, first of all, let us assure you, it’s great to want more than what you can achieve. Ultimately, that’s what pushes us to grow and develop as people.
However, in this case, you need to find a balance between practicality and ambition.
If you have a very strong gut feeling that you can reach higher than the target you’ve set for yourself, trust your gut. But don’t change that target just yet.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Give yourself whatever you think you will need to surpass the target you’ve set. Don’t just study hard, learn to use tips and tricks to game the GMAT as well. This can save you a lot of effort.
Remember, the GMAT is not a test of how much you can mug up and remember, it’s a test of how well you can use what you know. Train your mind to focus on executing the stuff you already know, especially when it comes to GMAT Quant.
Suppose the target you got through the process in Step 2 of this article was 650, and you want to aim for 680 instead.
Approach the second mock test as if it were the actual GMAT itself. Give it literally everything you’ve got, and try your best to score 680.
Here’s what happens if you manage to pull that off:
Nobody can question whether or not you can get a 680 on the GMAT. More importantly, it will tell you whether or not you can go any higher.
Know this – once you’ve given your all to achieve a higher target, you’ll have absolute clarity on what you can actually do and what you can’t.
Take a call on whether you want to raise your target GMAT score or not based on this experience.
To Sum Up…
At the end of the day, remember that your MBA journey is entirely about you. Everything along the way should be personalized to your needs and abilities.
To make the best of all the resources at your disposal, make sure you have a strong handle on the direction you want to take. Getting an MBA is nothing but investing in self-development and a good GMAT score is your ticket to a respectable MBA.
Just remember to give it your best without holding back and the returns will be plentiful, too!
Do let us know if your thoughts, queries, and feedback in the comments section below.