The concept of a “good” GMAT score is highly subjective. The answer to this question depends on what schools you are targeting and whether you are aiming for a merit scholarship at those schools. While scholarship awards may be difficult to predict, an outstanding GMAT score can certainly improve your chances of obtaining one.

To determine what a “good” GMAT score means for you, familiarize yourself with the GMAT ranges at various business schools. Here are ranges from several top-tier schools:

Harvard Business School

  • Median: 730
  • Middle 80%: 680 to 770

University of Virginia — Darden

  • Mean: 699
  • Median: 700
  • Middle 80%: 650 to 740

Indiana University — Kelley

  • Mean: 664
  • Median: 660
  • Middle 80%: 590 to 730

To be competitive at any MBA program,you should score within the middle 80% of its GMAT score range and ideally at or above the median.

How to Get a Good GMAT Score

1. Assess yourself

Take a full-length GMAT practice CAT under test-like conditions. Don’t give yourself extra time or consult outside resources. It’s important to get a realistic assessment of your skill set. Don’t worry if your diagnostic score is much lower than your goal GMAT score. With targeted practice, many people are able to improve their GMAT score dramatically (sometimes by 100 points or more). The results of your diagnostic will be used to evaluate and better understand your strengths and weaknesses.

2. Make a study plan

Carefully consider your goal score and your diagnostic results. For every 10 points that you wish to improve on the GMAT, you should study at least 1 hour a week for at least a month. So, if you want to obtain a 650, and you are currently scoring a 600, aim to study 5 hours a week for a month.

Looking for study materials? Check out free resources online (click here), purchase test prep books, and/or enroll in a class. To maximize your chance of scoring well, considering enrolling in Knewton GMAT, the industry leader for online adaptive learning. Knewton adapts to your specific strengths and weaknesses and gives you targeted recommendations to help improve your score. Plus, Knewton understands that many MBA applicants are busy with 60+ hour work-weeks; class schedules are flexible, and video archives are always available on-demand.

3. Start tackling areas which require long-term work

If you want to improve specific skills in areas such as reading comprehension or data sufficiency, begin studying early for the best results on test day. You can learn quick tricks to help increase your score, but these strategies will be most effective when combined with long-term study. To improve your verbal score, for instance, it may be helpful to start reading high-caliber journals and publications. To improve your quantitative ability, begin by re-familiarizing yourself with the fundamentals: number properties, basic geometry, arithmetic, and algebra. Your comfort with numbers and expression manipulation will come in handy in unexpected ways. Don’t worry if you don’t see results immediately; as long as you keep a consistent study schedule and give yourself enough time, your hard work will pay off on test day.

4. Reassess yourself

After a bit of studying, reassess yourself with another practice CAT. Again, make sure to take the exam under test-like conditions in order to get an accurate assessment of your ability.

5. Target weaknesses

Make sure you are not studying for the “sake of studying.” Focus on addressing our weaknesses (while retaining your strengths) to see the most efficient score improvement.

6. Perform steps 4 and 5 several times.

7. Restrategize

You can adjust your strategy based on your scores on your second and third CATs. If you’re not seeing significant improvement, consider altering your study routine: sign for a test-prep course, seek outside help, or try to make he study experience social. Remember to factor timing and pacing into your study regime, as well. Good time management skills are key to GMAT success.

8. Finishing touches

Before the exam, review all your math and grammar rules, gain familiarity with test-day protocol, and practice with the most challenging questions.

9. Keep it all in perspective.

If you are scoring well, remember that the GMAT is only one part of your application. If you are scoring poorly, remember that most business schools (even the top ones) do not have GMAT cut-offs. No GMAT score will technically keep you out of consideration at a school (though a low score might raise a red flag).

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