The GMAC Summit

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Prep Matters

I spent last Friday at the GMAC Test Prep Summit in Los Angeles. The conference was mostly for test prep professionals, but GMAC invited admissions consultants and I decided to go. I’m glad I did.

I am keenly aware of both the rise in test scores over the last 20 years as well as the importance of a competitive test score in the evaluation process.  The session presented by Dr. Larry Rudner, GMAC’s VP of Research and Development and Chief Psychometrician, highlighted factors for success on the GMAT. They may not be news, but they are critical to achieving a high score. They are also worth highlighting and repeating. Here goes:

1. Prep matters. Dr. Rudner showed us data on the nationalities that score the highest on the GMAT, specifically on the quant section of the exam. He also showed us data by nationality on self-reported prep time. Those nationalities with the highest scores also spent the most time preparing for the exam.

2. Pacing correlates to a high score. The first questions are not more important than later questions, especially if you end up guessing at the end just to finish.

3. Guessing is better than omitting. If you run out of time, you are better off guessing than simply leaving questions blank. However, see #2.

4. It usually pays to retake. If your score is not competitive at your target schools and you scored less than 700, then you should retake the exam. Among U.S. test takers who scored 700 or more on their first GMAT, the average increase was less than 10 points. Of all U.S. test re-takers, 55% increased their score by 30+ points. If you aren’t happy with your first score given your target programs, are willing to put in the time and effort to raise your score, got less than a 700, and are applying to a school that, like most, uses the highest score, then you should give it a second shot.

Thank you GMAC for holding the informative conference!

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Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.