What score did Gayle Laakmann McDowell get on the GMAT and how did she prepare for the e… by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
Answer by Gayle Laakmann McDowell:
I got a 750 (out of 800). This is 98th percentile overall, but it's only a little above average for MBA programs like Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard. All three have means and medians around 720 – 730 (around 95th percentile).
As I recall, I studied for two or three weeks using the booklets from Veritas Prep. Those are great — definitely recommend them.
I took some practice tests by hand. I did not take any computer adaptive tests as practice, which was a mistake.
Some advice/comments for those preparing for the GMAT:
- I loved the Veritas books. My understanding is that they're targeted at people who are already scoring fairly well, whereas the other books are more broadly applicable.
- I didn't take a prep class, so I can't really speak from personal experience. My understanding is that they're great for people who have trouble forcing themselves to study. But if you are self-motivated enough to study, they aren't that useful.
- Take at least one computer adaptive test. I had never taken a computer adaptive before the real GMAT, and it threw me off a bit. The questions get harder the better you're doing, so you end up feeling like you're doing worse.
- Take the GMAT well in advance. I took it last minute, so it was my only shot (and fortunately I did well enough that it wouldn't hurt me, although it also wouldn't really help me). If you give yourself more time, you have the opportunity to retake it.
- I believe you can "hold on" to your score for up to five years, so you might want to consider taking it after you finish college or between jobs. This will offer you more time to study.
Also: if you're applying to the top schools, don't get too hung up on your score. Focus on getting in the right range, but beyond that it doesn't matter that much. It's just one very small piece of the package. Your work and other experiences matter far more.