In my last post I discussed how to interpret the various parts of your GMAT score. In this section I’ll discuss how you should think about it. If you score a 650 what does that mean? Should you re-take the test?
The first thing that’s important to remember is that the GMAT is simply a tool to help you achieve your goal: admission to the business school of your choice. I mention that because the often-stated goal “to score as high as possible” isn’t really useful. As long as the end goal is accomplished, the score doesn’t really matter. That being said, there are many extremely competitive schools, and so any incremental gain in your score can be a slight edge in your application.
That being said, your GMAT skill is not fixed like your height. If you’re six feet tall today, you’ll be six feet tall tomorrow. If you score 650 today, you may or may not score the same thing tomorrow. If your skill level is at a 650 scoring 670 or 630 is fairly likely. Are your guesses lucky? Did you happen to get reading comprehension passages that you understood very well? Were you feeling good and confident and quick on the day of the test? All of these differences can help determine where in your range that you score.
So should you re-take the test? The first consideration you need to consider is the end result. Would the score you have be enough to get you admitted to the school of your choice? If it would, congrats! You’re done with the GMAT. If not, you have to ask whether you need a small improvement or a large improvement. If you need a large improvement, it’s time to reconsider your study methods and consider getting some more help to achieve your goals. If what you need is just a small improvement, you may want to consider taking the GMAT again soon. GMAC will allow you to re-take 16 days after your initial test (rather than the former 30 day wait), so it’s certainly possible to brush up on a little more practice and be ready to go quickly. But should you?
Your scores in full practice tests should be a good indication. If you’re able to score higher on reliably scored full practice tests, it’s worth taking a shot again and hoping you can have a better day to get what you want. If your practice scores show that your score is fairly reflective of your current skill level, it’s okay to take a shot at a better score but be aware that a lower score is also a possibility! As long as you’re willing to take that risk, go for it.
If you decide to try again, good luck!
I’ve had a few students take their GMAT scores and come back with a score. But what does that score really mean?
First, let’s break it down into parts. The first part is the Analytical Writing Assessment. You will receive two AWA scores, one each from two readers. At least one of those readers is human. The other is likely a computer. The thought of software somehow judging the merits of my writing has always been a bit odd to me, but the system seems to work. The score you will be given is from 0 to 6, in half point increments. Score a 6.0 or a 5.5 and you’re set. A 5.0 is an acceptable score almost anywhere. Scores in the 4.0-4.5 range are about average, but may be cause for concern if you’re applying to top schools.
Next is the integrated reasoning score. Your raw score is between 1-8 in one point increments. I have heard for admissions officers at top business schools that integrated reasoning scores are not yet considered in the application process because not all applicants have these scores. Once integrated reasoning has been part of the GMAT for five years, these scores will likely take on greater importance. For now, some have said that a strong IR score can bolster a weaker quant score.
Finally, the central pieces of the GMAT scores are the quantitative and verbal scores. In each section you will be given a raw score that corresponds to a percentile as you can see here. The combination of those two raw scores will correspond to a scaled score, which is the 200-800 number we commonly refer to at your GMAT score.
So, as you can see there are a lot of numbers and a lot of scores, but hopefully that gives you a better sense of what it all means!
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If you want to strengthen your position on the GMAT critical reasoning section, understanding question types is essential. Today we’re looking at the strengthen question type.
When you face a question that asks you which answer choice most strengthens
the argument there are several important things you want to think about:
First, what does it mean to strengthen an argument? To answer that question, you
must understand that an argument is formed by pieces of evidence that add together to
support a conclusion. It’s that conclusion that’s the core of the argument. In fact, we can
go ahead and simplify that statement even more. The conclusion is the argument.
Now that we know what it is we need to strengthen in an argument, let’s get back
to the language of the question. You will most likely be asked to find the answer choice
that “most” strengthens the argument. That word “most” is misleading. In order to write a
question where there is one and only one correct answer, we can’t be dealing with issues
of degree. For that reason we can’t be comparing two answers that both strengthen the
argument to some extent. Therefore the correct answer is the only one that strengthens
To strengthen an argument—or as we’ve seen, a conclusion—is to make it more
likely to be true. Given that there are only three possible impacts a statement can have
on a conclusion we’re zeroing in on our approach now. The statement can make the
conclusion more likely to be true, less likely to be true, or it can be irrelevant. That makes
the question simple.
When you see a strengthen question, find the conclusion of the argument and
then test each of the answer choices with the following question: Does this answer choice
make the conclusion more likely to be true? If the answer is no, eliminate that answer
choice. If the answer is yes, you’re done.
Take this approach to all strengthen questions and you’re well on your way to
improving your GMAT score!