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Breaking the 750 Barrier

by Kevin » Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:13 am
750 is the threshold for the 99th percentile and the GMAT does not award that distinction to specialists (people who do extraordinarily well on only one section of the exam). At that level, you need to excel in both sections. So, although last week we discussed how the verbal section can pick up the slack from a weaker quant performance, if your sights are set on 750+, you need to be in top form in both areas.

Your overall score out of 800 results from your performances in quant and verbal, each of which is first scored independently on a scale of 0-60. These subscores are then combined to yield your overall score according to formulae to which only Pearson (the organization that administers the GMAT) is privy. Each subscore (verbal and quant) receives a percentile ranking as well. This indicates the percentage of test-takers who scored below your level over the past few years. So, for example, if you receive a verbal subscore of 40, you are in the 90th percentile, which means that 90% of all test-takers did not perform as well as you in verbal.

Some recent scores of 750 broke down as follows: 41V/51Q, 46V/47Q, 44V/49Q, 45V/48Q, 47V/47Q. Notice that both sections are strong. Some recent scores of 760 broke down as follows: 51V/46Q, 42V/50Q, 46V/48Q, 44V/50Q. Again, these test-takers posted excellent subscores. To break 750, you more or less need to reach at least the 84th percentile in quant (subscore 46) and the 90th in verbal (subscore 40). While a significant number of test-takers can reach one or the other of these goals, very few can reach both on the same exam. Hence the reward of 99th percentile status to those who can.

How do you get there? By understanding how the exam changes at its highest levels. At the 750+ level, you will no longer be tested on the basics; by the time you start seeing 750-level questions, you will already have proven to the CAT that you have mastered the fundamentals and are ready for the tough stuff. So the CAT will try to gauge your level by taking the same concepts you would see at the 650 level and "gussying" them up. In quant, it is now more about logic than about calculation. Did you spot the pattern hidden in the numbers? Did you spot the hidden equations? In verbal, you will need to resolve subtle flaws of logic and grammar. The issues no longer announce themselves; you have to seek them out. The 750+ exam is for active test-takers. If you sit back and let the exam wash over you, chances are you will not break 750.

What about 800? Does anyone ever get the "perfect" score? Indeed (a Manhattan GMAT instructor just scored an 800 for the second time). But a score of 800 does not necessarily mean you got every question right. It means that you answered so many extremely hard questions correctly that your few errors were statistically insignificant in comparison. What kind of numbers do you need for 800? A recent test-taker who managed an 800-level performance received 51 in verbal and 51 in quant, subscores so rare that the GMAT does not even separate them in percentile (99th) from the theoretical upper limit of 60 on each section.

So to break 750, review the most challenging questions you can find. Pick them apart. See how underneath all the fuss, they still test the same basic concepts. The only difference is the amount of insight needed to see which basic concepts are being tested. That insight will come with practice.

Next week I'll discuss how top business schools view the 700 barrier.
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by harsh.champ » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:09 am
Some recent scores of 750 broke down as follows: 41V/51Q, 46V/47Q, 44V/49Q, 45V/48Q, 47V/47Q. Notice that both sections are strong. Some recent scores of 760 broke down as follows: 51V/46Q, 42V/50Q, 46V/48Q, 44V/50Q

Is it that verbal scorers always get more weightage???
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by thephoenix » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:33 am
Kevin wrote: Some recent scores of 750 broke down as follows: 41V/51Q, 46V/47Q, 44V/49Q, 45V/48Q, 47V/47Q. Notice that both sections are strong. Some recent scores of 760 broke down as follows: 51V/46Q, 42V/50Q, 46V/48Q, 44V/50Q. Again, these test-takers posted excellent subscores. To break 750, you more or less need to reach at least the 84th percentile in quant (subscore 46) and the 90th in verbal (subscore 40). While a significant number of test-takers can reach one or the other of these goals, very few can reach both on the same exam. Hence the reward of 99th percentile status to those who can.
pls throw some light on break ups of 700

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by money9111 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:09 am
Harsh I can answer that question... in short.. .YES verbal is weighted more heavily. However, this isn't a flaw in the test design. Because of the international pool of non-native english speakers more people focus and do well in the Quant section than the Verbal section. Since there are many more high scores for Quant than Verbal, Verbal is where it's easier to pick up points. Hope that makes sense...

I liked this topic! Very insightful
Last edited by money9111 on Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by thephoenix » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:28 am
money9111 wrote:thephoenix I can answer that question... in short.. .YES verbal is weighted more heavily. However, this isn't a flaw in the test design. Because of the international pool of non-native english speakers more people focus and do well in the Quant section than the Verbal section. Since there are many more high scores for Quant than Verbal, Verbal is where it's easier to pick up points. Hope that makes sense...

I liked this topic! Very insightful
hey money
that was an ans to harsh query

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by money9111 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:30 am
i've edited my post... sorry about that
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by KingTmo » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:33 pm
money9111 wrote:Harsh I can answer that question... in short.. .YES verbal is weighted more heavily. However, this isn't a flaw in the test design. Because of the international pool of non-native english speakers more people focus and do well in the Quant section than the Verbal section. Since there are many more high scores for Quant than Verbal, Verbal is where it's easier to pick up points. Hope that makes sense...

I liked this topic! Very insightful
Money- I never really knew that, I have been focusing so much time on my quant, but I guess I should balance it out in order to maximize my results - Good stuff!

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by FC » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:53 am
KingTmo wrote:
money9111 wrote:Harsh I can answer that question... in short.. .YES verbal is weighted more heavily. However, this isn't a flaw in the test design. Because of the international pool of non-native english speakers more people focus and do well in the Quant section than the Verbal section. Since there are many more high scores for Quant than Verbal, Verbal is where it's easier to pick up points. Hope that makes sense...

I liked this topic! Very insightful
Money- I never really knew that, I have been focusing so much time on my quant, but I guess I should balance it out in order to maximize my results - Good stuff!
I also thought the same but realized by taking the GMATPREP that when you break the 40-point barrier in verbal the overall score starts to go up by 10points for each verbal point you add. In the 700 range, the quant score just make a considerable difference when it is 50 or 51 (comparaing to verbal, of course).

So anyone who is aiming the higher percentiles should invest more time in verbal, not only because of the points but also because it is more difficult even for native English speakers.