Pursuit of Perfection (GMAT 800 in 1983)

When I was in the USA even though I had the excellent GMAT score of 730 (690-700 was 99% cut-off) I wanted to and thought I could crack the perfect 800. Bhide, two years senior at IIT, got admission to HBS. Even though he had mediocre GPA at IIT, but had scored 775 on GMAT, was a Baker Scholar at Harvard. I thought I could do it.

I had scored 89%ile in the verbal section.I remembered there was a case study in the GMAT. It involved a supermarket.  I didn’t know what was a supermarket. Remember I grew up in India and spent my youth in seventies. I found it extremely difficult to answer questions related to supermarket.

Thought about 2 years in the USA made me well prepared. Was expecting much improved verbal score, maybe even a 99%. When I got my score, it was as expected – 99%.

It was the quantitative section that shook was a lot. The first time I had taken GMAT, in spite of missing my usual careless 2 questions per section, I had scored equivalent to eye popping 56 when the 99% cut off was 47-48. “Unseen” was a common comment. It helped me get an MBA fellowship and just after one semester admission to Urbana-Chaimpaign Ph.D. (I didn’t go there that’s another story.)

Second time the questions appeared simple. There were no questions where I could stand out. As a result my score did not stand out. Scored 51, maximum possible was 53, 99%ile cut-off was 47. Close but no cigar.

It affected my total score.750, very good, but still not 780-800 if the quant section remained as challenging as the first time. Not that I would have mattered.

GRE was revealing. Very simple questions. I made 3 careless errors. As a result scored 96%. My lowest ever. Very soon took it again  Was careful. Didn’t err and scored a perfect 800 but was just 98 percentile.But the subtle changes in difficult level made me from outstanding to so-so and prevented me from scoring a rare 800 on GMAT.