If you poke through popular GMAT forums like Beat the GMAT or GMAT Club, you’ll quickly encounter dozens of tales of GMAT glory. You’ll read about people who improved from 580 to 710 or from 440 to 630. You might even encounter the amazing story of the guy who got a 420 on his first practice test, and eventually made it to Harvard. These “I just beat the GMAT!” stories seem to be everywhere, and some of them make beating the GMAT sound awfully easy.
Almost every week, somebody contacts me about GMAT tutoring, and asks me why they haven’t been able to crush the GMAT like everybody in the GMAT forums. And the first part of my answer is always the same: there really aren’t that many forum participants crushing the GMAT. It just looks like it.
The triumphant tales of GMAT success receive tons of comments, and end up getting bumped to the top of the forums. But for every loud “I just clobbered the GMAT!” story with 40 comments, there are at least five (mostly unnoticed) GMAT forum posts that begin or end with “please help!!!” And I’m sure that there are exponentially more GMAT forum “lurkers” who have been demoralized by the GMAT, but choose not to post anything online. The people who get ripped to shreds by the GMAT either post a very quiet “um, how do I improve?” query on the boards, or they don’t say anything at all.
So whatever else you do over the course of your GMAT preparations, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you suck because “everybody else is beating the GMAT.” They aren’t. Only a very small percentage of people who retake the GMAT actually improve their scores substantially. Most GMAT test-takers are suffering, just like you. And most of the guys who made huge GMAT score improvements also suffered, just like you.
So while the GMAT success stories are absolutely wonderful if you’re looking for some inspiration, keep them in perspective: we read these stories because they’re relatively rare. That’s why they get all of the attention on the GMAT forums.
If you’re having a hard time with the GMAT, you’re definitely not alone. Spend some time in the darker corners of the GMAT forums, and you’ll find plenty of people just like yourself, who are working their butts off to achieve their goals. The GMAT may be easy for a very small handful of people, but if you want to improve by 100 points or more, you’ll have to work like crazy. But at least you’ll have plenty of company.