Can You Get an 800 GMAT Score?

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There's a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is "no."

According to a higher-up at GMAC, there were about 28 800 scores last year. That's out of everyone who took the test. Figure that a handful of those were test-prep employees and tutors, and the number of b-school aspirants who scored 800 on the GMAT is even lower still.

As I've written before, the harshness of GMAT scoring can be tough for some people. The population taking the GMAT is self-selecting, so it isn't like the SAT, where just about every high school senior takes it, including hundreds of thousands who don't want to and didn't prepare at all.

The scoring system is even tougher to accept if you think scores ought to be evenly distributed. They aren't--they are more or less on a bell curve, with lots of people ending up in the middle (the mid- to high-500s) and relatively few scoring in the 200s and 700. Only 10% of test-takers score a 680 or above, and way more of those score between 680 and 720 than between 760 and 800.

Fortunately, it doesn't matter. Most admissions officers and consultants will tell you that, beyond a certain point, your score doesn't matter. Of course, that "point" varies depending on the school, but I find it hard to imagine that any school is going to decide who to accept simply because one applicant scored a 750 and the other a 760.

For the vast majority of b-school applicants, a 740 might as well be a perfect score. For a slightly smaller majority of applicants, a 720 is indistinguishable from a perfect score. And every year, every single top school accepts people with scores in the mid-, even low-600s.

All of this isn't to say that your GMAT score isn't important, or that you shouldn't try to score as high as you can. Of course it is, and of course you should. But nearly every week, I hear from someone who has gotten a 740 and is intent on scoring higher, or is crushed by a 690. Some perspective is in order here.

To finally get around to concluding my long answer to whether or not you can get an 800 score on the GMAT: yes, you possibly could. But it doesn't matter very much.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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