Each year, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the governing body of all things GMAT, compiles data on all GMAT test takers from around the world. This includes such demographic factors as age, geography, score, gender, overall number of tests, number of repeat test takers and other metrics that they publish for anyone with too much time on their hands. Sadly for us but thankfully for you, we here at Twainstein do have that kind of time—and interest—in digesting and synthesizing arcane GMAT data for our reader’s benefit.
Most years, there is nothing all that surprising in their findings—more people taking the test each year; number of female test takers on the rise; national average score remaining relatively stable. Pretty predictable stuff. Except this year, they included average score broken down into different age ranges. We thought the findings were worth sharing.
The highest scoring age group for the past five years on the GMAT was—get this—those under 20 years old. Really? Yes, really. More remarkably, though, just two years later (age range 22-23) scores were the lowest than at any point in the entire 20’s age range. Hmmm, now let’s think about this for a second…
What does this say about optimal time to take the GMAT? More importantly, what does this say about optimal preparedness period for the GMAT (i.e. when is the iron hottest to strike?)
Clearly, taking the GMAT, or any standardized test for that matter, while you’re still in college (under age 20), is ideal. This should make some sense. College is when your academic skills are most acute and the material is still fresh in your mind. So that explains why the under-20 age group scored highest. But what about the age 22-23 drop off—what explains that?
Well think about it: when are your academic skills least sharp? Right after you’ve exhausted yourself using them to complete your senior year. The last thing you want to do a year or so later is have to study math formulas and grammar rules again. GMAT scores among test takers 22-23 reflects this post-graduation distaste for anything academic.
So what’s the takeaway? Well, if you are even considering applying to grad school in the future, take the appropriate standardized test while still in school. The scores are good for five years from the date you took the exam. We suggest the summer between junior and senior year to prep for the test and take it in early fall of your senior year. That way, by the time the year gets going, you’ve already secured a solid score.
If that horse has already left the barn (that is, you’ve already graduated), prepare for the exam at a time in your professional life when things slow down, be it the holidays or summer. The GMAT and GRE are no joke and require 8-10 weeks of solid study time. Having too much on your plate during this period can and usually does affect your score. Lastly, if you have already graduated and have nothing but time on your hands, well, no time like the present.
Good luck and, as always, if you have any questions about this or previous posts, please contact us.