Hi, I’m Erika! I spend most of my time working as the SAT/ACT senior curriculum manager here at Magoosh, but I’m also a GRE and GMAT expert with 99th percentile scores, years of experience teaching and tutoring, and some YouTube videos that you may very well have seen me in. In today’s video, I’m going to talk about how I got a 770 GMAT score the first and only time I took it. I’ll share tips on how you can get a GMAT 700+ score too!
Now, your GMAT study experience may not look exactly like mine, more on that later, but these are strategies that anyone can apply to get a top score.
Understanding How the Test is Scored
It may surprise some of you to know but your score on the GMAT isn’t so much a measure of how many questions you miss on test day, but more a measure of the difficulty of the questions you miss on test day.
Specifically, your score is meant to represent the difficulty at which you are missing 50% of the questions you see and getting the other 50% right.
The way that the test does this is that the algorithm will keep feeding you harder and harder questions until you’re missing half of them.
If you’re missing more than half, it’ll lower the difficulty, but the big takeaway is that you are supposed to miss questions! The test is designed to push you until you do.
True, at the 99th percentile, the test is starting to run out of questions, so you’re probably not going to miss 50% of the questions that you see on test day if you are in the very tippy-tippy top of test scores.
- But perfection is not required for a perfect score. You can still miss questions as long as they’re at a very high difficulty level!
I know that I missed questions on test day—and I intentionally missed questions in order to keep pace.
Rather than agonizing over a problem that I wasn’t going to get right anyway, then messing myself up for time later, I accepted that I was going to miss the question and moved on because I knew I didn’t need to get it right to get the score I wanted.
To learn how to calculate your own GMAT scores, check out our GMAT score calculator!
Knowing Where to Focus
The second thing I did to get a 770 on the GMAT was to know where to focus my study. Again, you can miss questions and get a high score on the GMAT (and I did), but those questions were at a particularly high difficulty level.
If you’re missing questions at a lower difficulty level, you run the risk of the algorithm artificially setting your level lower to match those questions. Even if you can get questions in the high 700s right, you won’t get the opportunity to—because the test won’t show them to you.
What I did to counter that was to focus on the easiest questions I was missing. Anything that I was missing in the 500s or the 600s were the things that got my attention.
I prioritized those over the questions in the 700s because I knew that those 700-level questions were ones I was allowed to miss.
Never Making a Mistake More Than Once
The next thing I did to get a 770 on the GMAT was probably the hardest, and that was to try to never make a mistake more than once.
I didn’t do this perfectly, but I really, really tried. Part of my rationale was that I didn’t want to waste my time.
What’s the point of making a mistake 10 times when I can learn the same lesson from making it once?
More important than that is that I didn’t want to build any bad habits.
Every time you make the same mistake, you’re making it more likely that you’re just going to follow your habit and do it on test day.
Instead of drilling and drilling and drilling every time I made a mistake, I would stop and I would spend as much time as I needed to come up with a strategy that would prevent me from making the same mistake in another question.
Part of that is coming up with “what can I recognize in another question that might cause me to make the same mistake?”, and then ‘what can I do to avoid that in that question?”.
Then, I would review those strategies periodically as a reminder so I didn’t fall into that same trap again.
This sounds like it’ll take a lot of time but because it’s taking the place of repeated drilling, it actually ends up saving you quite a bit of time and you get a ton more mileage out of it.
The final thing I did to get a 770 on the GMAT was to study consistently.
I hinted earlier that your GMAT study might not look all that much like mine and that’s because I had a major advantage here: I was already working in test prep when I decided to take the GMAT. That means that I was literally working dissecting GMAT problems for a living, every day.
This is not meant to discourage you, this type of volume is not at all necessary and definitely not encouraged if you have other responsibilities, like work or school.
The regularity is something that I encourage because I was seeing it every day, I was able to build on prior knowledge, things I remembered from the day before to build connections, recognize patterns, identify common traps, and so on.
This makes me a much better GMAT teacher but it also made me a much better GMAT test-taker.
The takeaway here is not to do what I did and try to get a job in test prep (though we are hiring! 😉) but instead to try to break up your study throughout the week that way you can more effectively build on what you’ve learned before and take advantage of your study time more effectively.
That’s how I got a 770 on the GMAT! If you’re thinking about aiming for a GMAT 700+ score yourself, check out a GMAT study guide.
Good luck, and happy studying!
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