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Not everyone has the same goal for the GMAT. But sometimes, especially from my vantage point as a tutor in New York City, it seems that way.
A 700 GMAT score is a nice round number, and combined with a respectable application, will get you into most MBA programs. Naturally, it's not an easy goal: on the GMAT, 700 is roughly the 92nd percentile. There's no single way to achieve that score, but an 80th percentile score on both the quantitative and verbal sections will do the trick.
As I've pointed out before, GMAT test-takers are a self-selecting sample, so that 92nd percentile is even tougher to reach than it may sound. While there are plenty of people sitting for the GMAT who have goals no higher than the 50th or 60th percentile, even those folks are intelligent, and in many cases have studied very hard.
Unlike the SAT, there aren't tens of thousands of apathetic teenagers taking the test, making it easy for you to land on the far right of the curve.
I'm a baseball fan, and I liken getting a 700 GMAT score to pitching a solid, but not spectacular, baseball game. You don't need to be Roger Clemens or Nolan Ryan, striking out every other batter you face. To get that 700, you need to keep the ball in the ballpark. That doesn't require a perfect pitch, it just requires that you don't make a bad pitch.
Here's what I mean: many GMAT students think that, to get that 700, they need to master every arcane question they find on the internet, do dozens of permutations and functions questions, and memorize long lists of idioms.
That's not true. I can offer plenty of anecdotal proof that that's not the case: I've helped dozens, if not hundreds of students get 700s or better on the GMAT, and I've counseled for years against that very course of action.
Instead, get yourself from 80% to 95-100% on the content areas you do know. Every time I review a GMATprep practice test with a student, a handful of their mistakes are careless ones, or simple errors on content they should know. (They've seen it before--you probably have too!) You can never avoid careless errors completely, but one of your primary goals should be to minimize them.
In order to do that, you need to...
Master the Basics
In GMAT verbal, you need to make sure you can read passages and complete questions in the allotted time without sacrificing comprehension. You must learn the general grammar rules that determine, on most questions, the correct answer.
In GMAT math, it can be much more time-consuming. If you find yourself with only a tenuous grasp of some materials on this part of the test, I strongly recommend Total GMAT Math. If you spend the time to go through each chapter, doing the exercises and practice problems along the way, you will know all of the math content you need to score a 700. What's missing is the final step:
As I written many, many times before, it doesn't matter whether you can correctly answer a question. It matters whether you can correctly answer a question in the limited time the GMAT will give you.
For most math questions, that means about two minutes. In verbal, there's a wider variety; you can read about it here.
Once you've gone over the basic content, never practice without a stopwatch by your side. If it takes you three or four minutes to do a problem, you'll have to do it again. And again. And again, until you can complete it confidently, correct, and under time constraints.
Getting the 700 GMAT
You'll notice that I'm not talking about things like probability, the dreaded bold-face Critical Reasoning questions, or doing a dozen practice exams. I'm discussing what some people view as basics. But at the same time, I'm not saying that a 700 GMAT score is a simple task.
What I am saying is that it is largely about execution. On test day, you'll need to avoid careless errors, manage your time impeccably, and apply all the skills you've worked on. Does that mean you'll answer every question right? Of course not--if that were the case, this article would be called "GMAT 800." But you'll get close, and the questions you get wrong will usually be those you guess on to save time.
A 700 requires that you study smart. The techniques I've described here will help you do that.
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.
|Total GMAT Math
The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material
available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!