Kevin was another great GMAT tutoring student from Hong Kong. He was very bright overall but really excelled on the quant side of the test (he ended up with a perfect quant score, q51).
After 4 months of studying we achieved a 740 GMAT score, with all of the improvement coming from the verbal section (a whopping 10 points!).
Sharp reasoning skills but lost in the weeds
His verbal reasoning was solid but as a non-native speaker he lagged on the verbal section. He would get lost in the reading, especially on longer reading comprehension passages. That lead to timing issues that further degraded the reading performance. He was aiming to be above the median of the M7s so we set our sights on hitting a 740 GMAT score, a 100 point improvement from his most recent official GMAT.
Confidence hurt after retake disasters
Kevin feared GMAT verbal. Why? He wasn’t 100% confident in his english skills. He’d taken the GMAT twice and achieved a 670 (q50 v29) and then, after crushing himself with verbal studying, a 640 q50 v27. He’d gone down!
GMAT score deflation happens more often than you’d think. More effort and more test experience don’t always lead to higher GMAT scores. Sometimes you’re just not working on the right stuff. Or maybe you truly are nailing it in practice but just have a bad day on the retake. Sometimes you’re ready to go but don’t have enough confidence in your skills and get stung by test anxiety.
One of the best GMAT tutoring students
Kevin was a fantastic student and chewed up every scrap of HW that I assigned him. He not only did the sets in a high quality way but he reviewed everything in detail, a part of the process that most GMAT studiers don’t do properly. He was a GMAT studying machine!
Testing our skills on a first practice test
First practice test. Lots of anticipation because he’d put in a mountain of effort (drum roll please…): 670 q51 v28. Up 30 points from the recent 640 but flat from his peak. A perfect 51 on the quant though. Wow. But on the verbal he said he felt nervous and cratered ending up with that sad looking 28.
The v28 wasn’t at all reflecting his success on HW sets, which weren’t perfect, but they were solid enough to indicate a verbal in the mid to high 30s. Kevin mentioned that he’d done the practice test at night after work. That’s a big no no. Don’t do practice tests when you’re tired. Do them as you would a real GMAT. Would you schedule a GMAT after work? C’mon people!!!
We try again and fail (again). 740 looking far away.
Second practice test: 660 (q49 v31). Sigh. This wasn’t going well. The quant had slipped to a 49. Even though this test was a dud, at least we were making some progress on verbal. Kevin was demoralized. He didn’t use the word “burned out” but I was afraid we were getting to that point.
He’d had timing problems on the verbal section and was afraid the same thing was going to happen on the test which was looming on the horizon.
100 hours later and we’ve gone from 640 to 650
He and I had a quick pep talk the day before the test and left on a positive note. GMAT Day: 650 q50 v28. Ugh. After all of that work. Probably 100 hours of studying. And we were 20 points below his best score pre-tutoring. We were both rather shocked and devastated. I was having GMAT successes left and right but Kevin’s GMAT prep swamp was a heavy burden.
I was 100% confident that Kevin could break 700. And a good day a GMAT 740 was possible. After-all, he was smart and had built up considerable GMAT skills and had the potential for a perfect quant score. He just had to get in the zone on test day.
Back to reading basics and some challenging LSAT reading passages
He’d been rushed on the RC passages so we decided to focus more on reading. I assigned Economist reading and a bunch of LSAT reading comprehension practice. He left plenty of time to work on the retake: 2 months. Verbal improvement can take a while so it was great to have the space to work properly.
Kevin leaves me hanging then…
Test day came and I didn’t hear anything from Kevin. This limbo always feels terrible but doesn’t always indicate disaster. A few days later he emailed reporting great news. Finally: q51 v38, 740. He was ecstatic about the score and a few months later he was admitted to Oxford Said school of business.
740 GMAT score FAQ
What is the 740 GMAT score percentile?
As of 2021 a 740 is in the 97th percentile
Should I retake a 740?
A 740 is above the median at every MBA program on the planet. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton… All of them. So from an admissions perspective there’s not a strong argument for retaking.
That said, if you have the energy and time and feel like you have a decent shot at a higher score then why not? A higher score is better. And having an insane GMAT score could also help with scholarships.
Of course, I would strongly advise against more GMAT studying if it’s going to take away from you working on other parts of your MBA application since the gains beyond 740 will have a minimal impact.
Is a 740 gmat score good enough for Harvard (HBS)?
A GMAT 740 is above the median at Harvard Business School and is most certainly good enough for admission.
What is a 740 GMAT converted to GRE?
There are several ways to achieve a GMAT 740 equivalent on the GRE:
Verbal 163 Quant 168
Verbal 161 Quant 169
Verbal 167 Quant 165
Verbal 166 Quant 166
What is a 740 GMAT score breakdown?
There are multiple GMAT score breakdowns that represent a 740 composite score. The lowest quant score possible is a 42, the lowest verbal a 38.