Setting Sensible GMAT Goals

January 25, 2012
Lucas Weingarten

GMAT BlogSetting goals is critical to achievement.  Unless you know where you are going, getting there will be a little difficult.  With all my students, one of the first action items we work on is setting a GMAT target score.  Without a target your GMAT prep is directionless.  Moreover, it will not be near as effective.

Yet, aiming at any old number just to have a number to aim at makes no sense either.  In addition, taking aim at a number that does not align with your specific programmatic goals is almost worse than not aiming at anything at all.

So many of you out there have spent your lives in the 90+ percentiles.  All through grade school and into college; in your extra-curriculars and at work—you are used to being at the top of the pack.  But with the GMAT, you are now going head-to-head with a much more competitive set.

Basing current standardized test (i.e., GMAT) goals on past experience and self-perception is not reasonable.  It is essential for you to align your target score with the institutions to which you are applying.  When you set your target score at 750, then that absolutely MUST make sense.

A score of 750 represents the 98th percentile on the GMAT.  It is 22 points higher than the most competitive GMAT institutional average out there, and a whopping 32 points higher than the average of the top ten most competitive institutional averages.

So, if you have set your target at 750 or somewhere similar, please ask yourself why.  Why do you need to blow away the most competitive scores attained?

Take the time to compose a very good answer.  Make sure your answer isn’t coming from a place of pride: “Because I want to beat everybody else.”  Rather, align your answer with your goals: “Stanford has the best program in relation to my specific career interests.  Stanford boasts a mean score of 728 for admitted applicants in 2010.  Since my undergraduate GPA isn’t as high as I’d like it to be, my number of years and type of work experience might not shine as brightly as I need it to, and I don’t interview very well, then my GMAT score needs to be nearly perfect for my business school application to be competitive.”


Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten teaches students how to beat the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for Kaplan Test Prep and is proud to have earned “elite instructor” status. Lucas writes extensively for Kaplan’s GMAT blog, and in addition to the GMAT and business school as primary subject matter, he regularly explores topics within higher education, economic systems, sustainability, and current events. Lucas spent his formative years in North Carolina and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, though he has not yet found the part of the world wherein to bury his roots. He has an MBA with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and finance from DePaul University in Chicago and is fortunate to have secured an adjunct teaching position there out of the department of management. Family, friends, and a seemingly endless stream of new hobbies keep Lucas busy and happy outside of the classroom. You can reach out any time by email (lucas.weingarten@kaplan.com) or through the comments thread after his blog posts.



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