GMAT Q&A: Expected Improvement

From time to time we get questions from prospective GMAT test-takers we feel the answers to which might benefit others. This particular question came from an attendee at a recent webinar presentation given by Akil Bello for The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM).

Q: What is the typical improvement for a second test?

Some published information on the matter:

GMAC reports a standard error of about 40 points, which means that each score is roughly equivalent to any other score within that range. Additionally, GMAC data shows that test takers who repeat the GMAT gain, on average, only 31 points, which is well within that range of chance fluctuation.

The complicated reality:

All the data analysis by the team of superbrains at GMAC (led by the esteemed Dr. Lawrence Rudner) of course cannot factor in things like preparation and motivation. Our data supports an average increase of 100 or more points from Practice Test 1 to Official Test. Additionally, we find that we’ve had an even greater impact on those starting in the lower score range of 300 to 500. The average improvement for students starting in this range has approached 160 points, significantly higher than improvements for those starting in the higher score range of 500 to 700 (not surprisingly). We’ve also recently seen two students achieve almost 300 point improvements (one student worked consistently for almost a year, the other tutored for more than 30 hours and did not have a job). In short, you should consider where you are currently starting, how much prep you intend to do, and whether you are planning to get help because each of these things will impact the likelihood of you seeing a change in your score from test to test.

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