Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog

GMAT Score Standards on the Rise


Recently, we interviewed a potential instructor who said that he had gotten a 99th percentile score a number of years ago, but that his total score was a 730.

This did not seem correct.  As many people know, the current score threshold for a 99th percentile score on the GMAT is a 760 or higher (out of 800).  This is a change from just last year, as even the most recent edition of the Official Guide indicates that 750 is a 99th percentile score.  But a 730?

So we examined a copy of this gentleman’s score report with great interest.  His score was reported as follows:

October, 1998

Quant Raw Score – 49

Quant Percentile – 97%

Verbal Raw Score – 41

Verbal Percentile – 94%

Raw Score Total – 730

Total Percentile – 99%

It turns out that he was correct – a 730 WAS indeed a 99th percentile score in 1998 (when GMAC first went to the computerized adaptive test format).

It is worth noting that this person’s raw scores NOW would translate to:

Quant Percentile – 90%

Verbal Percentile – 93%

In other words, over the past 9 years, it has become MUCH harder to be at the top percentile in the Math, and slightly harder to be at the top percentiles in the Verbal.   His scores now would not place him near the 99th percentile overall.

This just goes to show that it’s gotten, and continues to get, increasingly difficult to get a distinguishing score as competition heats up and preparation levels rise.

(on a side note – we did not hire this particular instructor candidate) article on GMAT Prep


A recent article appeared on that described some of the major GMAT Test prep options out there, and ManhattanGMAT was prominently featured.   If you missed it, click here to check it out.

Business School Admissions Panel – June 21st in New York City


The next Business School Admissions Panel discussion will take place on Thursday, June 21st, from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at ManhattanGMAT’s Chelsea Center (138 West 25th St.).

Admissions Officers from Harvard, Kellogg (Northwestern), and NYU Stern will be in attendance to discuss the business school admissions process. They will also be advising applicants on what one should and shouldn’t be doing to prepare.

I will post again with the link to sign-up for this FREE panel discussion in the coming week or so. Watch out for it, as this event will be first-come first-serve until it reaches capacity.

Interview with Jeremy Shinewald, Founder of MBA Mission


We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy Shinewald, founder of MBA Mission, to get his thoughts on the admissions season that just passed, and to provide a look ahead.

MANHATTAN GMAT: We are in the final stages of one admissions season and the earliest stages of the next. Let’s start with a look back “ can you share some observations on the 2006-2007 admissions cycle?

JEREMY: Well, the MBA was all but written off by BusinessWeek a few years ago. Now, due to the strength of the economy in general and Wall Street in particular, 2006-2007 definitely proves that the MBA is back. Candidates are confident that they will see a significant return on their respective investments and are once again clamoring for places in top-MBA programs.

As you guys know, there has been a sharp rise in GMAT test-takers (approximately 24% year over year) this year and top-schools are reporting significant increases in application volume. A few weeks ago, Soojin Kwon Koh, Director of Admissions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, wrote in the school paper that applications were up 31% and that 2006-2007 might be Ross’s most competitive year ever. She then noted that a portion of this increase could be attributed to individual candidates applying to a greater number of schools, not just to there being more applicants in general. I have heard similar comments from other admissions officers as well and am pretty certain that, as the perception of greater competition spreads, this trend will as well.

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GMAT Test Simulation Booklet Has Arrived


GMAT Test PadWe are VERY proud to announce that the new ManhattanGMAT Test Simulation Booklet is now available! It is virtually identical to the real thing used in the Pearson Vue testing centers, complete with marker. So now, you can practice with the confidence that you won’t be the least bit surprised by the nature of the laminated booklet they give you on test day.

Though it’s a small thing, we’re very glad to be able to remove one more variable or bit of uncertainty for students in their preparation. 🙂

If you’d like to check it out or pick up a copy, click here.

Boston MBA Admissions Panel Wrap-Up


The Boston Business School Admissions Panel took place last week, with 4 top 10 programs in attendance – Harvard, MIT Sloan, Columbia, and Northwestern.

One of the interesting trends was that MIT Sloan joined Harvard in favoring applicants from undergraduates. MIT, like Harvard, will waive your application fee is you are still an undergraduate, and will consider deferment. See MIT Sloan’s website for more details. (Click here for the past blog posting on Harvard’s similar policy).

It should be noted that this is still somewhat unusual among top schools. The admissions officer from Northwestern/Kellogg commented that they did NOT consider undergraduate applicants, as they require some work experience after college for successful applicants.

Another interesting fact from MIT Sloan – the admissions office emphasizes the recent experience of its applicants more heavily (i.e. what you’ve been doing the past 2 years) than what applicants did earlier in time in making its decisions.

More info to come from the business school panel later in the week.

GMAT “Official Guide Stopwatch”


One of our students (a very bright guy from the McKinsey corporate class) last month described a common problem with studying for the GMAT. He wanted to sit down and do timed blocks of practice questions, but it was cumbersome for him to use a stopwatch and time each ‘lap’ or question precisely, particularly when working out of the Official Guide. It was also an issue to record his answer choices for each question for when he wanted to review the set. He suggested that we come up with a practice center interface that would simply let students take timed practice sets of questions.

Not being too proud to immediately run with someone else’s idea, we decided to do just that! In our practice center, starting May 1st, students will find a blank interface that will simply record and time their answers to a series of questions, with the questions determined by the student. This way, students can work out of the Official Guide and still get practice with selecting answer choices on a computer screen (as with the real GMAT test), as well as have each of their questions precisely timed and recorded.

We hope that this ‘stopwatch’ proves helpful to all of our students. We will also have something interesting that one can do with the right and wrong answers from Official Guide questions in the next couple of weeks (hint – it involves an Excel spreadsheet that records one’s progress through the Official GMAT Review Guides . . . )

Use of Official Guides for GMAT Review


Last week, I was speaking to a student at the beginning of a course, when she made a surprising comment. She mentioned that she had completed a Kaplan course, but was seeing the Official Guides for the first time with us. Even though many of our students are refugees from Kaplan, I still found myself stunned at this; how could she have completed a full GMAT class without ever seeing the only publicly released questions from GMAC?

It turns out that Kaplan, for some reason, does not use the Official Guides! The only plausible reason I can think of for this is that the Official Guides, as the exclusive property of GMAC, cost a substantial amount of money to provide to students. There is no real ‘licensing’ of the content; you simply have to buy the books and give them to students.

Apparently Kaplan, looking at the vast number of students it would have to buy books for, decided that its own materials were superior to those provided by the writers and administrators of the actual GMAT test. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still find myself a little bit chagrined at Kaplan’s response to a choice between serving your students and serving the bottom line. It may represent, in some small part, the difference between the priorities of a large public company that has to hit numbers every quarter and those of a smaller, privately owned enterprise that can focus on providing the best offering possible.

Business School Admissions Panel in Boston


Those of you in New England will be excited to know that our next Business School Admissions Panel will take place at the Boston Center, on Wednesday, April 25th.

Admissions Officers from Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern) are all scheduled to attend. Our last panel discussion in Chicago was a huge success, with many questions answered and much insight gained.

For more information, or to register, just go to the main site or click here. It’s a great opportunity to get some of your questions answered, and get a better sense of the admissions process straight from some of the people who will be evaluating you (including, of course, how they weigh and interpret your GMAT scores).

Your GMAT Score is good for 5 years . . . until when?


Your GMAT Scores are good for 5 years . . . but to which date?

At our business school panel in Chicago earlier this month, specific schools clarified their policies:

a. At Chicago GSB and Kellogg, your scores are good if they are within 5 years of your application date.

b. However, at Harvard, the score should be 5 years before your matriculation date, which may be a year after you apply.

As a result, if you took the test 4 or 5 years before you plan on applying, you should check the specific policies at the schools in question. Still, for most people this is a total non-issue, as 4 or 5 years is plenty of time during which to apply to business school after taking the GMAT. Good for you if you’re planning ahead!