How does one prepare enough to get a perfect score on the GMAT?

Scoring a perfect 800 on the GMAT is neither necessary, nor an easy task. The perfect score on the GMAT can be rightfully compared to a wild goose-chase. Extremely laborious, but you might not end up catching the goose. But you might pertain injuries in the pursuit.

Although you won’t sustain any physical injuries, working too hard will burn you out to even score over 700 in end. This is why having a plan of action, for a target as big as the 800 score on the GMAT, will help you possibly reach close to your goal.

Before we delve into anything else related to the perfect score on the GMAT, let’s make sure that you understand how difficult this goal is.

The score that we’re talking about is not the overall GMAT score, rather the score for the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test. In a test where only 8% of test takers score more than 700, a score above 750 is already considered exceptional. The problem with getting a perfect 800 GMAT score however is not simply about your GMAT prep. It also could be a fluke. The difference between 800 and 780 can be as simple as a decimal point mistaken by you.

With the thousands of tests taken every year, only a few (and I mean below 50), get the perfect 800 GMAT score. But remember, these few test takers also include GMAT tutors and coaches who have been helping students prepare for the GMAT for decades and have honed their skills and techniques every day for years.

If your wish to score a perfect score on the GMAT is fueled by your chase for perfection, or just the feeling of accomplishment, go for it. But, if you think your score of 800 on the GMAT will make your chances to get an MBA admit any more than a 760 would, then think again.

DO YOU NEED A PERFECT SCORE ON THE GMAT?

dart board bulls-eye perfect

GMAT scores are mainly to serve the purpose of comparing the thousands of applicants to business schools. They generally act as eliminating criteria.

Although, a good GMAT score can act as a catalyst to your MBA admit, it isn’t the only thing that a business school looks at.

A student with a perfect score of 800 on the GMAT might get rejected if they don’t have a substantial work experience or extra curriculars in their profiles. Look at the average scores of the top 10 business schools around the globe.

Global Rank Business School Average GMAT Score
1 Stanford Graduate School of Business 737
2 Harvard Business School 730
3 INSEAD 708
4 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton 732
5 CEIBS 686
6 London Business School 707
7 University of Chicago: Booth 730
8 MIT: Sloan 730
9 Columbia Business School 724
10 University of California at Berkeley: Haas 726

As you can see, the average GMAT score at all these business schools is mostly around 730. This gives us an idea that a score over 750 will be already be a good score to act as a catalyst to your selection.

All-in-all, you don’t need a perfect score on the GMAT. However, if you still want one, then keep reading.

WHY A PERFECT SCORE MIGHT NOT BE GOOD?

A top ranked business school generally seeks out candidates that are well rounded. Thus, having a GMAT score as high as 800 would reflect badly on the rest of your profile if it isn’t as impressive as your score.

Also, if you would frequent GMAT forums, people claiming to know someone who scored a perfect score on their GMAT generally mention how these scorers are reclusive, and have close to no social lives. I won’t go ahead and make such an assumption about anyone based on their score, but the work you would need to put in for the 800 score on the GMAT might really disrupt your social lives completely.

However, I would like to mention that there are still a few individuals out there who have scored the perfect score and still managed to maintain an active and well-rounded life.

But we can’t jump to the strategies yet, we have one more hurdle to cross.

CAN YOU SCORE THE PERFECT SCORE?

A perfect score on the GMAT would mean a strong knowledge of both Quant and Verbal. Unless you’re a mathematician with a knack for literature, it’s pretty difficult to have a strong grip on the two subjects at the same time.

If you have always been a scholar and have had consistently good, and similar results in both Math and English, you would have much higher chances of scoring the perfect score on the GMAT than someone who scores highly one either of these subjects and doesn’t do so well on the other.

It does not mean that you cannot score an 800 on the GMAT. It simply means, that your journey would be at least twice or thrice as hard as the person with similar marks on both subjects.

Let me give you a reminder. The last two points aren’t negative, or to deter you from trying to achieve a GMAT score. These were simply to help those test-takers, who just want to see if they could score an 800, see how big a commitment scoring an 800 on the GMAT is.

Since you’ve reached this far, I believe you’re sure of your goal, so let’s get started on how you can reach it.

HOW TO TAKE A MOCK TEST?

Taking mock test is an integral part of anyone’s GMAT prep. Without mock tests, tracking one’s progress is very difficult.

But just sitting down for a three-hour test isn’t the best way to optimize your benefits form the GMAT mocks. Having a pattern for taking a mock test will ensure you get the most out of the three or so hours you spend on the test rather than just knowing your current score. Your environment for your mocks and your approach to them should be like that of the actual test.

Take breaks and select the same section order that you would select on the actual test.

Something we need to establish is taking a mock test during any time of the day as you please shouldn’t be a habit.

To see in detail how to take a mock test and other such strategies, read this.

When you select your date and time-slot for the GMAT, let’s assume you selected a morning slot for it. Taking your mocks on the same time-slot as the one you selected will help you identify any problems you might face on test day.

If you feel sleepy when you take your GMAT mocks during the morning, chances are you will feel sleepy during the actual test as well. Since you know about this issue now, you can try to figure out ways to deal with it.

The second point to remember while taking a mock test is to make sure you practice every single GMAT strategy you have learnt. This will also help you eradicate any strategy that isn’t working for you anymore and replace it with a fresher version.

Once you’re done with the test, analyze every mistake you’ve made on it.

USE VETTED GMAT STUDY RESOURCES

This is more important than any other strategy on this blog. No matter what your goal score is, picking up any random GMAT guide off the market is a strict no-no.

The GMAT algorithm is very different from most popular standardized tests. Thus, some publications have printed their books after years of research. When you pick up a book that isn’t a trusted source for GMAT prep, you risk wasting your time practicing questions that have only a distant similarity to the actual GMAT.

In fact, these study resources, also include the mock tests that you will be taking, thus making sure you use trusted resources, to have mock tests that produce results, and have questions almost exactly like the actual GMAT.

START FROM THE BEGINNING

Since you’re not just prepping to score high on the GMAT, focusing on skills won’t be a good beginning for you.

You need to know the fundamentals of every concept, no matter how menial, that the GMAT tests students on. We have already established that the prep for a GMAT 800 score would be longer than a normal GMAT prep, so give into that right now. Now the reason it will be long is because, while other test takers can take guesses on the test, and strategize to score as high as possible even if it means skipping a few concepts, you can’t.

You will need to work on the basics of every concept in your Quant and Verbal books. You don’t have to find your weaknesses or work more on your strengths. You can only have strengths by the time your GMAT prep is over.

If you try to skip a certain concept, say triangles, you already have brought your goal score down to a 780 form an 800.

PRACTICE THE HARDEST QUESTIONS

Go on a hunt for the hardest questions on the GMAT. You need to ace these questions if you want that spotless score on the GMAT.

While many students would give up on the more time-consuming questions on the test, to make sure they have enough time to complete it, you won’t have this luxury. You will have to attempt the hard questions correctly, and also make sure you don’t spend too much time on them. This can only be achieved by practicing.

A great source for the hardest questions on the GMAT is GMAT Club. People on the forum often share the most difficult questions they have faced in the test, or lists of 700 difficulty level questions.

Try to solve at least 20 of such questions each day form both Quant and Verbal sections.

BUT DON’T FORGET THE EASIER ONES

Just because you have been asked to practice harder questions, doesn’t mean you are allowed to skimp on the easier ones.

The easy and mid-level questions are the ones that will get you to the harder questions, and eventually the score of 800 on the GMAT. In addition to that, getting an easier question wrong would cost you much more score points than a difficult question would.

Thus, keep your practice of the simpler questions up to date as well.

BUILDING READING HABITS FOR THE INDIAN ENGINEERS

Indian Engineers don’t really have a keen interest in classic literary works, and it reflects in their Reading Comprehension segment of the GMAT.

There is nothing wrong with it, but if your wish to score 800 on the GMAT and are this Indian Engineer that I just talked about, then you might need to change this habit. And it shouldn’t be one of those changes that a person picks up in the last few weeks before the exam.

Pick up some good reading material today itself, and get into the habit of reading a few pages daily. A few suggestions to get you started on are Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan, Autobiography of a Yogi, and Barbarians at the Gate.

Also pick up a few copies of international publications such as the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist on the regular.

These two types of reading materials aren’t mutually exclusive. I want you to read both a novel, and an international publication.

WORK ON TIME MANAGEMENT

This time management that we’re talking about, is very different form the Time Management on the actual test. this is the management of your study hours.

To make sure you score an 800 on the GMAT, fixing your study hours and sticking to them is crucial. Since your goal is much bigger than the average GMAT test-taker, the hours you put in to study will also be much longer and more tedious.

To someone prepping to score high on the GMAT, I would suggest studying a couple of hours every day after work. But to you, I suggest at least 4-5 hours of study time in a day. Our priority however remains the same, studying for quality time and not quantity.

Divide your study hours into two parts. The first 2-2.5 hour time slot that you spend studying should be in the morning, before you leave for work, and the second slot should be at night, after you return from work.

This makes your total study time, 14 hours a week. The 5 major question types that you will face on the GMAT are Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Data Sufficiency, and Problem Solving. Divide these 14 study hours into 5 segments, giving any extra time to the question types you face most problems in.

train mind practice mental health

Almost as important as preparing yourself for the GMAT, is preparing your mind for the goal score you have set for the test.

Your reflex to the difficult concepts, or your weak skills will be to skip them. It’s normal. You’re not doing anything wrong. but, since you have given yourself this feat of the perfect score, you need to get over it.

It’s okay if you want to ignore your weaker concepts, and you probably will do that even after scoring 800 on the GMAT, you need to accept it to get to your goal score. Only after accepting your flaws can you work on them.

Also know that you will feel frustrated and defeated many times during this GMAT prep. It could be right after a mock test where you score 500, or after one you scored 780 in. The reasons might differ but your frustration would be a constant.

But, if you prepare your mind by accepting all the hardships that are coming your way, recognizing them and dealing with them would become much quicker.

The score of 800 on the GMAT might be difficult to achieve, but with good discipline it is possible. However, I would like to keep things practical and tell you that you would probably need to take more than a couple attempts to achieve this score.

Making sure you don’t get burnt out during this feat will only take you closer to your goal score of 800. So, remember taking breaks, and participating in activities you enjoy so that you can keep your focus and not get frustrated.

Achieving a score of 800 on the GAT would also require a bit of luck to be honest. If you have decided to pursue this feat, make sure you are ready to give it as long as it might take.