GMAT prep is tricky. You might improve your GMAT score significantly in the initial stages of prep but after a few days, it can be difficult to improve your GMAT score even by a few points. Despite putting in long hours, solving tons of questions, and taking multiple attempts, you may have reached the GMAT preparation burnout. If you feel your gmat score is not improving and your go-to strategy is to invest in more hours to improve your GMAT score, continue reading to understand why it isn’t the best way to go.

Here are the topics we will cover in this article –

  • Hitting the GMAT Score Plateau – What does it mean?
  • Why is your GMAT score not improving?
  • How to move past the score plateau?
  • Importance of review
  • Special Case – Breaking the 700-barrier

Hitting the GMAT Score Plateau – What does it mean?

Hitting the plateau, in simple words, means struggling to improve beyond a point. If you have given 100% to prep but your score hasn’t improved even after several months of prep, and you find yourself saying things like –

‘My score is not improving even though I am devoting extra hours each day’

‘My mock scores lie in the same range of 650-680 every time and I don’t know where I am going wrong’

‘I have taken the GMAT thrice already but could not cross the 700 mark’, you are most likely stuck.

However, if you have only invested a few hours per week and there are topics that you skipped during prep, you are probably not studying enough. Investing in more hours per week to cover those topics, then solidifying your concepts and practicing 30-40 questions from those topics will most likely improve your score.

Sadly, there is no quick fix to overcome the score plateau. A cocktail of right decisions like preparing a personalized study plan, learning from the right resources, following a structured approach, and seeking expert guidance plays a key role in directing you to success in GMAT. But first, let us understand why you are not able to improve your score.

What causes you to hit the GMAT Score Plateau?

Several factors play the culprit when gmat score is not improving. In most cases, it is the way you study for the test that causes you to get stuck. So, you are not bad at the GMAT. It is just that your preparation strategy is wrong.

Now, you might be thinking that changing your approach after already investing several months does not sound productive.

Rajeev felt the same way.

After taking the GMAT thrice, Rajeev was skeptical that he will ever reach his dream score. However, he did not give up. Instead, he took the challenge, unlearned most of the things he already learned during his previous attempts and started his prep again from scratch. He ended up with an impressive 740 and got into XYZ school. Watch his interview to learn how Rajeev did it –

gmat success story 740

4 Top Reasons Why Your GMAT is Not Improving

Here are some of the 4 common culprits why you are stuck at a low score on GMAT –

Not addressing mistakes right away –

Students who struggle with a low score often cover topic after topic and solve hundreds of questions on the way without revisiting their weak areas. Allowing your doubts and mistakes to pile up during prep will only hurt you in the long run.Solution: Every time you make a mistake, identify the root cause behind it, fix it then and there, and then solve 20-30 questions to solidify your learning.

Studying Randomly –

Most students start their GMAT prep with the belief that solving lots of questions will help them score well, especially the OG. But if gmat score is not improving and you are still only solving questions, you are not actually learning anything from this. Your weaknesses will continue to linger. Instead, you need to identify areas you are struggling with to improve your score.Solution: Your first step should be to find a good resource that teaches you a consistent method to solve questions and provides you with actionable insights into your performance. For example – It should not just teach you how to solve RC questions but also teach you how to read a passage.

Also Read: Key factors to consider while evaluating the right course

Not Following a Plan –

GMAT requires consistency and diligence. If on some days you spend 4-5 hours to prep and then you do not pick up the book for several days, your inconsistency in prep will hurt your score. Even if you spend 1 hour on prep every day, it is important to do it consistently. At GMATWhiz, our students get a personalized study plan which adapts regularly based on their progress.

Build Your Customized Study Plan For FREE

Learning in Stress –

If you are preparing for the GMAT under a lot of stress or have a demanding job, you need to first learn to manage stress. Plan your prep well and get help if possible. With the right guidance, you can easily sail through hiccups during prep and stay motivated to reach your target score.

How to move past the score plateau?

We already identified the factors why your GMAT score is not improving. If you continue doing the same things, it will not help you overcome the score plateau. So, what should you do?

  • Learn to Apply the Skills – Since GMAT is an adaptive test, the difficulty level of questions modifies after every 2 to 3 questions. To make the algorithm serve you with harder (also more valuable questions), you need to be skilled. Learn a methodical approach and then stick to this approach to correctly solve each question.
  • Maintain an Error Log – An error log is your key to scoring 700+ on GMAT. Sadly, most students either do not know how to create one or they do not religiously maintain an error log. A detailed error log will help you identify the trend in your performance so you can clearly see where you stand in prep and what you need to do to modify your prep strategy to score high on GMAT.Learn the Importance of an Error Log.Since creating and maintaining an error log is a time-consuming process, we have automated the process for our students. Whiz, our smart learning tool, automatically collects more than 20 data points to analyze your performance in each question and generates valuable insights into why you got a certain question right or wrong.

Try Whiz for Free

  • Follow a detailed adaptive study plan – Setting unrealistic goals might be detrimental to your score. Set an achievable target where you devote 1-2 hours to prep each day. Your study plan should be structured around your set target score and should have clear milestones. Also, your study plan should allow you to check progress at regular intervals, revise concepts, practice questions, and brush up on your weaker sections.
  • Importance of Learning in the Right Order – Avoid haphazard learning where you pick up any topic from any module. Instead, you should take up topics in a logical manner. Learning in the right order means strengthening your foundation skills before moving on to an advanced lesson. For example, covering exponents before learning prime numbers, understanding linear equations before solving word problems.
  • Get help – If at any point in prep you feel that you are not making progress, you must seek help. Our mentors at GMATWhiz frequently interact with the students to keep their morale high. We provide detailed 3-step explanations for every problem, our students prepare with a customized study plan and receive guidance at every step of prep.
  • Get some rest – A lot of students tell us that they are not able to devote time to prep during the week. Therefore, they compensate by giving 10-20 hours to prep on weekends. This strategy is not fruitful. It is important to devote a few hours each day, take breaks in between and restart if you feel stuck.
  • Work on your attitude – Last but not least, your attitude towards GMAT will create a huge difference in your performance. Try to keep a positive outlook, motivate yourself, talk to your friends or colleagues who have already cracked the GMAT, or seek help from a mentor whenever you feel stuck. Remember, discouragement is the enemy of progress.

Special Case – Breaking the 700-barrier

A 700-score can help you get into top B-schools, make you stand out on applications, and get you a scholarship. But only 12% GMAT test takers manage to score 700 and above. This is because either they set a high target for themselves, are facing a time crunch, or are lacking the right approach.

Unlike other score plateaus, we consider the 700-score barrier as a special case because crossing the 700-mark on GMAT requires additional effort. Here’s what different score ranges on GMAT signify –

  • Scores less than 550 – Your concepts are weak
  • Scores between 580 – 680 – Lack of right approach to solve questions

So, if you have reached a 670-680 mark, it indicates that your basic concepts are clear but you need to work on solidifying your approach to get any question of any difficulty level right. Let us understand this with an example –

Suppose you scored a 520 in your previous attempt. Now, if you are aiming 710 on GMAT, you need a score improvement of 190 points. For an average student, it takes 10 hours of preparation to improve by 10 points. So, to improve your score by 190 points, you need 190 hours of preparation.

It takes 20% more time (40 hours in this case) to cross the 700-score. So, 190+40 hours = 230 hours is what you need to score 710 on GMAT. If you cannot devote so many hours in your available time frame, it is best to change your target score to an achievable one.

Wrapping Up

Anyone can reach a score plateau at any point in prep. However, if you think putting in more hours to prep is the key to improving your GMAT score, think again. As we already discussed above that the reason your gmat score is not improvingis that you are either are not following the right preparation strategy or not learning a consistent method to solve each type of question or your prep lacks logic.

To get un-stuck from the score plateau, you simply need to work on those weak areas and work on building your skills. Here’s a recap of things you must do to overcome the score plateau –

  1. Use the Right Resources
  2. Follow a Personalized Study Plan
  3. Focus More on Quality of Prep
  4. Maintain an Error Log
  5. Prepare in the Right Order

Need further help? Feel free to schedule a free consultation call with our strategy consultant Piyush to discuss your queries.

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