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GMAT: The dos and don'ts for a high score

April 20, 2011 11:22 IST

In an online chat on April 19, Ashish N of EducationAisle gave tips to Get Ahead readers on how they can get a high score in GMAT.

Here's the unedited chat transcript:

hnhm asked, Good books for Maths GMAT?
Ashish answers,  at 2011-04-19 15:00:08Generally maths books (ICSE/CBSE) till class 10th are sufficient. However, few concepts such as Counting (Permutations, combinations & Probability) and co-ordinate geometry demand a more rigorous study. Practice a lot of questions, since that is the key to success in Maths.

sab asked, Hi,I have 2 year Experience now ,will a good GMAT score assure me an admission in top universities?
Ashish answers, Good GMAT score cannot 'assure' chances, but can 'boost' chances of admission to any b-school. Your profile matters a lot. Nevertheless, at this stage, the one single component of your 'eligibility' that you can most influence is the GMAT score. So, go for it.

ProISB asked, What was the range of GMAT scores in ISB last year?
Ashish answers, This information would be available at the ISB website; in general, the 'median' 80% range at ISB would be around 660-740.

Himangi asked, Hi Ashish, thanks. I've attempted the GMAT previously and got a 580. My mock test were in the range of 620-650. I want to understand how best I can work on improving my score to a mid 600?
Ashish answers, First advice would be to 'not' keep giving mock tests. Clearly there is some issue with the concepts. Please analyze those issues, master them and only 'then' try mock tests to see if there is any improvement. We have had students who have seen a 100 point jump between their GMAT attempts. But it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Hope you have it in you.

Sudhir asked, Hi Ashish!! I have 7 years work ex in IT, Age:33 yrs. Edu:,X & XII 67%. AND MCA (59%) but correspondence. With avg academics & not much in sports/EC; do I have chance to get into good college.
Ashish answers, Odds are a bit stacked up against you Sudhir. I am sorry.

kaushik asked, I have a work experience of 1.5 yrs currently and working with a Big 4 firm. I would like to apply for an MBA next year. Kindly let me know if it would be possible
Ashish answers, Sure, it would be possible. But, if you have any specific schools in mind, please go thru their website and see what the 'average/median' age group and experience profile of the class is. That would give you a good idea of whether you are 'ideally positioned' to make it to the school.

Jai asked, Hi ! How does one prepare for GMAT and what is the ideal prep time for the same ?
Ashish answers, Quite a broadlevel question. GMAT focuses on 'fundamentals' in Quant and Verbal, though I admit it gets a bit finicky in Verbal (especially in Sentenece correction). So, thoroughness with the fundamentals and a lot of practice is a pre-requisite. You can appear in the exam anytime.

Sudhir asked, Okay thanks!! but can a good GMAT help?
Ashish answers, That's the only thing now that can help...but difficult to tell till what extent...

gk asked, i have a work ex of 3.5 yrs as of now with a grassroots oil refinery in MP, india. I will write the gmat in few days. what are my chances in isb, hybd.
Ashish answers, While you start off with an advantage that you are not in the 'most common applicant pool' (Information Technology), nevertheless, there are other factors such as GMAT score, profile etc. which would matter equally.

anil07 asked, I am pretty weak in verbal, Is there any proper strategy to to rectify it ?
Ashish answers, 'Verbal' comprises SC, CR and RC. So, it would have helped if you had told which specific section you are strugging with. Most people face challenge in Sentence correction though. Building accuracy on Sentence correction takes time and effort. First things first…brush up your elementary grammer concepts. Apart from the parts of speech, the usage of 'verbals' (comprising Participles, Gerunds and infinitives) is extensively tested on GMAT. Focus should be on 'usage' of grammer than a theoretical knowledge about the types of nouns, pronouns etc. While topics such as Pronouns, Subject-verb agreement and tenses can be located in any standard grammer book, 'Parallelism' encompasses all the concepts and extensive practice and keen observation is the key to solving the questions that fall in this category. Also please note that going forward, questions that involve idiomatic usage will appear less and less frequently on GMAT, as per GMAC's own admission.

lv asked, Want to go MBA, having experience of 12years in Apparel manufacturing presently working at DGM level in a company, Is it going give my carrer a big boost? Kindly respond!!!!!
Ashish answers, It should, but please look for schools that have a profile of students that matches your profile (in terms of experience). If you really look at it, that makes sense, since the 'potential employers' would come to that school 'knowing' that they students would be more than 10 years experienced and so, would bring job offers commensurate with that experience level.

pankaj asked, what is the score will be required for IIMA
Ashish answers, Please check the information on IIMA's website for specifices. Nevertheless, the average GMAT score is 720 or above at IIMA.

red asked, dos n donts 4 gmat?
Ashish answers, Interesting question. There are few dos and don'ts to improve over time: 1. Shrug off the impression that solving a large number of questions alone will improve accuracy. To their own peril, students discover that the 'concepts' don't come with practice. Practice just reinforces the concepts. For concepts, one needs to literally go back to the basics. 2. During practice, both for questions that you get right and for the questions that you get wrong, you need to analyze why the answer is what it is. This is very important. For example, if you get the answer to a Sentence correction question right using wrong reasoning, then you are better off assuming that you did 'not' get that answer right. If you just keep solving questions without a thorough analysis of each and every question, you would perpetually continue on the 'hit and miss trajectory', with wide variations in your performance. In other words, out of (say) 10 questions that you attempt, you might get all 10 right, while on the next 10 questions you might get none right at all. The bottomline is that without thorough analysis, there will be no 'accumulation' of learning. 3. Just because the GMAT exam can be given multiple times, does not mean that your first attempt should be a 'trial' attempt. Give your best shot, the very first time.

AM asked, Hi Ashish , I have 7yrs of Exp Indian IT Male but have varied experience as compared to other IT peers i did give GMAT in 2009 and got wait listed in ISB what are my chances of getting into good MBA school with 8yrs exp
Ashish answers, The fact that you were waitlisted tell me that you have what it takes to make the cut. Please focus on your application. You stand in with a fair chance.

mktmohan asked, Hi Ashish, Thanks for the effort you are putting in resolving our queries. I am having 9 years of experience in IT field and currently writing GMAT on July 24/2011. Can you tell me apart from IIMA, ISB, is there any institute in India/Abroad which can be helpful for my MBA through GMAT? Also is there any PGPX based on GMAT in IIMB?
Ashish answers, Yes, IIMB and other IIMs for that matter, have executive MBAs, with GMAT as the eligibility criteria. Please check their websites.

guest asked, Sir...I have done my mba in 1998 and now want to appear for 1 year executive mba what GMAT score should I target for ?
Ashish answers, Second MBA is quite common. You should be able to justify what you think your second MBA can do, what your first MBA could not. 700+ should be your target.

nova asked, im a software analyst and so does many of us fresh how can i boost my profile other than getting a good GMAT score...!!!
Ashish answers, Participation in extra curriculars in the job that you are at, philanthropic activities and your performance at work, would all matter.

Sudhir asked, Thanks a lot Ashish for response!!! One last question please-- Can certifications like PMP, ITIL + good GMAT score+NGO work of an year help in covering for avg. academics? Please guide.
Ashish answers, Absolutely to a good extent. All these drop hints to that admissions committee that you are not the one to just take things lying down and are continuously working upon yourself.

sourabh asked, Hi,I have 88 percent in X n 89 percnt in XII...have 65%in graduation(Engineering).Have three yr work Ex in IT.What are the odds of getting in a good B-School.
Ashish answers, Your odds of getting in a b-school are even:)

ARUN asked, I am having 8 yrs of exp and wud like to go for european schools for the full time MBA..planned to go for schools from denmark,belgium and netherlands.What should be the ideal score that i can target for.Since there is work pressure i could not dedicate full time to study.
Ashish answers, Almost no one who prepares for GMAT has 'full time' to study, since most are working professionals. You should target 720+.

Dyuti asked, Hi Ashish, I am having 5 years of work ex and have taken GMAT twice with an avg score of 580. But with this score and profile I have I would not able to get a good B-school. (XII-67%, BE-62%, 5years IT experience- working with IBM from past 3 years.). How would you suggest for 3 rd attempt? How much would I be benefited with it?
Ashish answers, Third attempt would be too extreme and I totally empathize with you Dyuti. Take a break and then see if you can restart your prep. Third attempt would be any good, only if you feel you can significantly improve your score.

babu asked, Age 37, 12 years IT experience, GMAT 670, Bsc. 52 %, X, XII, PGDCA 72 %, NO EC/ Sports - Chances of getting into ISB, IIM, Kellogg etc. Thanks in advance
Ashish answers, Very minimal. Sorry about that.

Nick asked, Hi, I fall in the 'typical profile ' -- BE(Electronics) and then working in the IT space for 3 years. My Acads are good and I was also into a lot of extra activities. Will it still be difficult to make it to ISB if I have a good GMAT score (720-740)?
Ashish answers, Nops...with a good GMAT and a good profile, I suppose IT 'space' is still the largest contributor to the ISB student pool.

pankaj asked, Thanks Ashish, i have 10 yrs of exeperience and want to join good b-school. Can you help me out which institute should i join for GMAT preperation. Major thing is i am from Ahmedabad and there no institute (as per me). Can you help me out or can you guide me how should i start gmat preperation.Thanks in anticipation
Ashish answers, Apologies, I am not aware of the scenario of coaching institutes in Ahmedabad.

sourabh asked, Thanks Ashish, is IT background a disadvantage at global institutes comapred to indian B-Schools??
Ashish answers, "Disadvantage" would be quite extreme a word. It is just that b-schools, for obvious reasons, want the student community to be diverse. Since IT pool comprises the largest chunk of application pool, there is more competition in that segment.

tukur asked, Hey, i scored 740 in my test but have only 1 year of work experience in mgt consulting company. Should i apply in ISB? Do you think lack of number of yrs of work ex will be a constraint??
Ashish answers, No. I think you should want for another year or two and focus on your work.

sarat asked, Hi Ashish, My qualification are not that great, nor do I have much extra-curricular on my resume. I have 7 yrs IT exp, earning a decent 15L+/annum. Do I have a chance of getting a decent B-school in india???
Ashish answers, Would be tough, but a good GMAT score can help.

Prashant asked, I have a good % in 10th from premium mission school of Delhi, thereafter a Diploma in Industrial Production from Pant Polytechnic-3Years in Delhi. (Due to family situation). Technical Apprentice at Ashok Leyland for 3 years under the Apprenticeship Act. Completed a BBA from Pondicherry University - Distance Education. CDAC-Advance Software Programming - thereafter absorbed by an IT MNC. Have worked in Tokyo for 4.5 years and later on posted in Amsterdam till date - working in the field of DRM and broadcast protection. Am 33 Yes. old and married can score upto 650 in GMAT preps regularly. Wnat to make to IVY League/ISB - have enough funds for full time MBA ed. Should I go lateral and break from work??
Ashish answers, Not sure Prashant what you mean by 'go lateral and break from work'. I think if you can muster enough courage to bit the bullet once more (aka re-appear in GMAT and score a 700+), it would significantly imrove your chances.

bill asked, would an MBBS coming from the medical field be viewed favorably to get into a good business school
Ashish answers, Yes, but that alone would not suffice. A good GMAT score and profile is important.

Nick asked, I have been out of touch with acads ever since I graduated 3 years back. Please suggest the books for GMAT preparation considering the above statement.
Ashish answers, For both Quant and Verbal, material from any of the well known names in GMAT (Princeton, Kaplan, Manhattan) is sufficient. There would be significant overlap in the material for all these companies (after all, no one can claim a copyright on Nouns, Pronouns and Tenses). What is most important is not the material itself, but what you gain from the material.

sunny asked, Hi Ashish, I have a 710 on GMAT and a decent profile(chemical engineer, 5 years workex, 4 years in US, awards, papers). My target B-school is ISB. Should I give GMAT again and aim for higher score?
Ashish answers, Your profile, including GMAT score looks decent.

TheTechnoBiz asked, What is the weightage given to a GMAT score in reputed international schools? Is it just a first step and do SOP and profile play a major role in the selection process?
Ashish answers, Good question, but difficult to answer. For one thing, admissions committes the world over do not disclose this. Moreover, this would vary from school to school. Your second question is easier to answer. 'Yes', GMAT is the first step only.

harsha asked, hi i have 7 yrs of industry exp and am planning to take up the GMAT exam but since its a long time since I have even worked on any of the concepts involved in GMAT my confidence is not all that great to start off with ? any advice?
Ashish answers, Well, if lack of preapration is the reason for lack of confidence, the answer is easy. Prepare and confidence will follow!!

Avrina asked, Hi! If I have 6 weeks to study - 6 hrs everyday without other work. And I have got my diagnostic score as 500. WIth a law background, my maths is not great. ENglish is good. WHat kind of schedule and way of practice will you advise for me? ALso with a law background, what would be a good score?
Ashish answers, In 'general', it takes anywhere between 300-400 hours of study to be prepared for the exam. So, if we look at a 3-4 month timeframe, you should be looking at 2-3 hrs. of study perday. Please do note however that this time is indicative only and the actual time it takes you to preapre would depend on many factors such as: 1. How much 'gap' has there been since you left formal education 2. Your sustenance and persistence 3. Individual 'absorption capacity' And many other factors. Another characteristic that has been observed though, is that it becomes a bit difficult to sustain the same level of enthusiasm for studies, for a long time (say more than 6 months). So, you should aim at getting done with the exam within a maximum duration of 5-6 months. 700+ would be a good GMAT score to aim for. The current score tell me that you have way to go Avrina!! Good luck. Generally 'compressing' the time (to 6 weeks in your case) doesn't work too well, since human brain has assimmilation issues:)

Nick asked, Is it mandatory to have 5 years work ex to get into ISB considering the fact that average work ex of students @ ISB is 4.5 to 5 years?
Ashish answers, No.

sourabh asked, What according to you would be minimum work-ex before applying. Is three yrs of work good enough.
Ashish answers, Yes.

gimmemore asked, Hi Ashish, I am 33 years of age having 9 years of IT experience. I have 85% in SSC, 75% in 12th, 80% in BE and am doing my MS. I would like to do an MBA from a prestigious college now. What are my chances of getting into a good college assuming I get a 680+ GMAT score? Can you recommend some good management colleges in Europe and Singapore, and the criteria for getting selected in them?
Ashish answers, You should aim at 700+ considering that your experience is towards the higher bracket for most colleges.

shruthi asked, PLEASEANSWER: hi, i have 91% in SSC, 95.3% in Intermediate, 81% in BE(Mech).Work Exp of 2 years in IT. Do you think i have a chance to get into ISB or should i work for more time and then apply.
Ashish answers, Perhaps another year at work would be good Shruthi. You should utilize this year for GMAT prep.

sau asked, Hi Ashish, I have got acceptance offer from Strathclyde business School in UK. As we know that UK has abolished PSW visa. So how would you recommend Strathclyde b school and will it be worthwhile to go for UK MBA esp Strathclyde in light of the fact that PSW visa has been abolished.I have 4 years of IT exp with 680 GMAT score and decent extra curr. Please suggest.
Ashish answers, While we are not experts at this, I do know that a very good 'public forum' is hosted by business week. Please visit There are experts would be better equipped to answer your question.

gimmemore asked, Thank you Ashish
Ashish answers, Welcome!!

Prateek asked, Hi I have been preparing for very long time but was never confident as after 4 month of preparation i scored 550 last time so what should be the preparation this time if i have to give exam in July with 2 hours /day
Ashish answers, Analyze your specific areas of weakness and focus on those. If you are not able to improve your score, please 'postpone' the exam. There is no use giving GMAT in a 'trial' mode.

kunal asked,  hi Ashish, can you tell me some good Gmat training centres in Mumbai ?
Ashish answers, Am sorry, am not aware (which is not to say there aren't any:)).

d asked, hello ashish, i have done my BE Mech and MBA Fiance and Marketing from reputed universsity and now having work ex 2 yrs..... so is it suitable if i'l prepare for GMAT and how much score it'w require for ISB..... should i get any advantage foe education ....
Ashish answers, Sure, as I mentioned in my response to another question, many people go for second MBA. But you should have a good justification for this. 700+ is what you should aim for.

Nick asked, How many days prior to the exam date should I book my GMAT dates?
Ashish answers, Good few months before the exam. Not only does it take care of the logistical issue of non-availability of the dates when you want to give the exam, it also imposes discipline on you to prepare for the exam (since the clock is ticking:)).

AFT asked, Hi!I am currently into business and politics and have 4 years of IT experience as well. Thought an M.B.A would be an added advantage. But I have a GMAT score of 610 only . Is there a chance to get into a good college ?
Ashish answers, Unfortunately, very minimal. You 'must' improve your score.

prab asked, Hi Ashish, Age 39 Working as a senior project manager, have completed my PGDBM(Intl business) with SIIB @68%. Besides GMAT score what all will be required to get into top 5 b schools in the US.Please answer.Or is there any other route into B' SCHOOL as I want to change IT industry to non IT
Ashish answers, Your profile is important (academics,extra curriculars, job performance, etc. etc.). Please note that when you 'do' apply, do not mention 'change in IT industry' as the 'reason' for MBA. It can be the outcome but not the reason for MBA.

babu asked, Minimum GMAT needed to overcome avg. academics and extra curricular. Would it be OK if I show only 1 year of philanthropic work as EC. Have 12 yrs IT exp., getting 17 lac P.A., have worked in TCS and Oracle for 3.5 years out of total 11 yrs exp. Thanks in advance.
Ashish answers, Not sure what you mean by 'show only 1 year of philanthropic work'. Anything in 700+ range is the minimum you should aim for.

Deepak2011 asked, Hi Ashish, can you please suggest the best international schools/countries which offer financial aid for MBA
Ashish answers, Hi Deepak, answered a similar question before. Plese post on the forum hosted by business week at There are quite a few experts on that forum in this area.

sresh asked, Hi Ashish, I am having 5.5 years of work ex (XII-76%, BE-65%, 5.5years IT experience- working with SAP from past 4 years.). What are my chances of getting in to ISB / IIM - executive education - no EC?
Ashish answers, Tough sresh. See if you can get an extra-ordinary GMAT score (750+).

DivyaPrakash asked, Hi Ashsish. I am A CA with2 year experience and I want to get admission in ISB Hyderabad. My questions are as follows 1) What woudl be expected cut off needed 2) How much time I need to spend 3) What are job prospects after doing MBA from ISB
Ashish answers, There is no 'cut off' for GMAT. You should aim for 700+. Prospects of CAs after MBA are rosy, and that's an understatement.

Prateek asked, Hi what is the ideal strategy for 100 days preparation with 2 hour study/day. I have 15 years of work expeience and earlier GMAT score of 550 in Oct last year
Ashish answers, Hi Prateek, with a 550 to improve on, you need to work signifcantly harder than what you have budgeted.

tusheet asked, Hii...I have my GMAT exam date as 21st june..I am presently doing engg and get to study only 1.5-2 hrs a u think this much time is sufficient to prepare for over 720+ score??
Ashish answers, If you have not yet started/just started preparation, then the answer is 'no'. Generally people require more than that to prepare well.

CrownEagle asked, Pls tell me if there is any online GMAT training available in India?
Ashish answers, If you are taking 'online' course, it would not matter where that course is offered. Internet plays a level field.

Shilpi asked, I have scored 720 in the GMAT recently...Could you suggest some colleges in Europe and US that I could apply to?
Ashish answers, Hi Shlipi, tough to comment just on the basis of score, when I don't know your profile.

d asked, how much years experience necessary with gud education background and is 1yr study sufficient????......... thanks ashish
Ashish answers, 1 year of study for GMAT is an overkill. Max. 5 months is what your target should be.

rig asked, Hi. Got a 700 in my last attempy. I am BITS , Pilani passout with 6 plus years of experience in IT industry. Couldnot make it in to ISB . SHould I take it again & aim from 750?
Ashish answers, If you have the patience and perseverance, a 750+ would significantly improve your chances rig.

Ashish says, That's all we had time for friends. Come, together, let's Checkmate the GMAT!!

Ashish N is the faculty and co-owner of the prominent Bangalore based GMAT training institute EducationAisle ( He is an alum of Indian School of Business (ISB, Hyderabad) and scored in the 99th percentile on GMAT.