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 is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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