GMAT 550 to 750: Rare 200 Point Increase to 98%

750 GMAT Score

GMAT 550 to 750

Abby came in with a middle of the road GMAT 550 struggling with a 29 (12th percentile) on the quant section. The bright spot, a 40 on the verbal (90th percentile), gave us hope, and we needed some, because along with most of the other people we tutor, she wanted a 700+ GMAT score, a sizable 160 points away. In Abby’s case we had a favorable split (strong verbal/weak quant) for making a big leap. Strong reading and critical reasoning skills take time to learn and are important on the quant side as well. So if verbal is already strong that’s a big plus. Abby also came off as a hard worker ready to get in the grind. Ultimately she’d make a rare 200 point GMAT improvement from a GMAT 550 to 750.

Missing quant fundamentals but superb reasoning

It had been almost a decade since she had set her mind to mathematics so naturally Abby was a bit stressed about the quant side of the GMAT. That stress faded once we started our tutoring sessions as it became clear that although she was missing a ton of fundamental math knowledge Abby was fine juggling numbers and fantastic at applying new GMAT strategies.

Considering the homework scores she was putting up on her GMAT schedule it was easy to forget that Abby’s initial GMAT quant score lurked in the 12th percentile. On the verbal side we buzzed through some “greatest hits” sentence correction to cover often repeated SC structural issues, but, for the most part, I just managed her SC HW. I also assigned LSAT for GMAT to get the already excellent verbal into the stratosphere. If you’re already great at verbal get better! Pushing a 90th% score to a 95th% or a 99th% can make a massive difference in your composite score.

Here’s another GMAT hero aiming for the stars who succeeded by getting her verbal score to the 99th percentile.

A+ effort, GMAT Elusive

She was highly motivated and diligent. Never missing a HW assignment, doing thorough review, and always armed with tough questions during our tutoring sessions. 3 weeks into tutoring Abby launched into her first practice test and pulled out a 680 with a 40 on the quant! 130 points overall and 11 points on the quant were astonishing improvements. It wasn’t a fluke though. Abby was all in on the preparation and in the zone. 2nd GMAT practice test: Another 680. The quant had deflated to a 39. It happens. She had mismanaged her time and so had guessed on the last ten quant questions. I wasn’t worried. Practice test 3: 710 q44 v44. Practice test 4: 750 with a quant 48. She was on fire! 550 to 750 in 6 weeks. Practice test 5: 700 q42 v43. Practice test 6 710 q46 v42. The quant was a bit up and down but still the practice tests were looking good for 700+. Still, we always aim for two tests so no pressure Abby! GMAT Day: 610, q35 v42. Glad we planned for two.

Great practice tests but crappy results (ceiling vs floor)

It’s one thing to score 750 on a practice test but it’s another thing to bring that 750 score home on an official exam. It’s not that the practice tests aren’t the same as the real thing. They are. It’s just that we don’t perform the same way every day. A lot of what we do in tutoring isn’t necessarily raising the ceiling of someone’s score possibilities but raising the floor to get students really consistent even on bad days.

Bomb-proofing for the retake

Abby didn’t need more tutoring but wanted to schedule a few QA sessions to address any potential HW issues. In addition I made her a re-take schedule. As expected she kicked it in the teeth and continued to put up astounding numbers. I ran her through a set of extra tough official GMAT quant questions and a special set of quizzes that I call the “GMAT Quant Review Quizzes”. They are a big exception to our GMAT tutoring program in that they’re not official GMAT questions but ones that I wrote based on my experience having taken 8 GMATs. All that tough quant work got her in championship form. She was ready to rock. GMAT part 2: 720 q45 v44. She was thrilled and in a great position to apply to any MBA program on the planet.

720 to 750

Wait this post isn’t over? Nope. A couple of months later my inbox lit up with an email from Abby: she wanted to improve the 720 to a 750! A 720 is a phenomenal GMAT score and not an auto-retake. As of 2019 it’s above the median for a great majority MBA programs and just a shade below the rest. A 720 is also not an easy GMAT score to improve. The higher your score the tougher it becomes to better. That said, an admissions officer from Abby’s dream school had mentioned that improving the 720 could help her chances. Considering her practice test scores, her ability, and her amazing attitude I also felt the 720 was worth a retake. Since she hadn’t touched the GMAT in months we revisited the LSAT for GMAT work to get her critical thinking sharp again. Then we did a lot of application on the quant, retaking the GMAT prep tests (quant only), getting through the question pack 1, and, once again, the review quizzes.

200 point improvement: GMAT 550 to 750

Her practice test scores were excellent peaking at a 740. Was she going to increase her score from a GMAT 550 to 750? Test day: GMAT 750! The quant stayed flat at a 45 but she earned a 48 on the verbal, well into the 99th percentile. It really shows how powerful the verbal side of things can be especially if you’re eyeing mid-700 GMAT score. In this case it got her an extra 30 points! And that was likely just answering 2-3 more verbal questions correctly. At some point on the verbal side it’s just a matter of how much work you’re willing to do to eliminate all careless mistakes. Getting from a GMAT 550 to 750 is an astonishing feat. But given Abby’s natural ability and ridiculous work ethic I wasn’t surprised at her achievement. She gave a 99th percentile effort so hitting a 750 score, in the 98th percentile, was even a little bit of an underperformance.


750 GMAT Percentile?

As of 2019 a 750 GMAT score is in the 98th percentile. Keep in mind that GMAT percentiles change every year so come 2020 the GMAT 750 percentile may be different.

Is there a GMAT 750 Strategy?

The strategy for a 700, 720, or 750 is similar. It’s just a question of how far you’re going to push it. Often reaching a 750 score or above is more about perseverance than anything else (once you’ve checked all of the obvious boxes.)

GMAT 750 Study Plan?

Although getting a bit long in the tooth (based on the Official guide 13th edition) our GMAT study schedule will give you a sense for the type of work you may need to put in to achieve a 750 GMAT score. That said, your GMAT plan should be informed by your specific profile.

How to improve GMAT score by 200 points?

Increasing your GMAT score by 200 points is incredibly difficult and very few people will have the combination of talent, attitude, and perseverance to make it happen. That said, it is possible. The GMAT debrief above is a great example. In earning a Harvard GMAT score Thomas also improved over 200 points from a 510 to 720. And lastly, I improved my GMAT score by 200 points from a 580 to a 780. What factors make a 200 point increase more possible?

  1. Score breakdown tilted heavily to verbal. Generally the more asymmetrical the better.
  2. Low starting score. The lower the score the easier it will be to climb those 200 points. From 400 to 600 is generally much easier than 550 to 750 or the near impossible 600 to 800.
  3. Having plenty of time to approach the preparation in stages.




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