perfect score

my quest for 800... er, 790

I was just thinking about my previous entry about how hard it is to score an 800 on the GMAT, and realized that I was arguably being a little bit too impersonal about it. For what it's worth, I'm definitely gunning for an 800 next time I take the test. Is that a realistic goal? Probably not--I'm a precise test-taker, but I'm not sure that I'm quite precise enough to get an 800 on the GMAT. But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't going to try. (Though I might screw myself over in a small way if I manage to get an 800. Test-takers who earn an 800 are banned from taking the GMAT for five years, which means that I'd miss out on my annual visits to the testing room. Boy, that would suck.)

And just to recap, my GMAT tutoring career began with a subpar practice test when I worked for a large test-prep company, and I slowly have worked my way through the 700s. My most recent GMAT score was a 780 (51Q/47V). If there's room for me to improve, it's probably in the verbal section. I would love to hit a 51 in verbal, but I've been humbled enough times already, and I don't think that I'm the guy who can pull that off.

So what would a GMAT tutor do to improve on his own verbal score of 47? The same things, basically, that I ask my students to do once they've ripped through all of the GMAT official guides. Lots and lots of LSAT practice to build skills and stamina for the hardest critical reasoning and reading comprehension questions, and then some polishing of my grammar and usage, based largely on (fun!) resources such as style guides and grammar manuals. It never hurts to go back through official SC questions with a fine-toothed comb, but I think we all agree that the hardest stuff in the official guides and GMATPrep tests do not even begin to prepare you for the real thing... especially not if you're shooting for an insanely high GMAT score.

My schedule is still funky as I adjust to my new lifestyle in NYC, so I don't know when I'll have the time to re-take the test. Last year, I took it on about 24 hours' notice, and I'll probably do something similar this time around: when the mood strikes (and my schedule allows), I'll jump on the first GMAT appointment I can find. As soon as I do that, I'll post a few entries and share my experiences.