The Score Gap
It would be simple to consider the score gap as just the difference between the score you have and the score you want. But a more useful definition - for a test taker - is the difference between the percentile score that you have, and the percentile score that you want. That difference better reflects the effort it will take to hit your target score.
ESTIMATING YOUR SCORE GAP
To calculate your score gap, start by taking an official GMAT simulation. If you don't wish to use up one of the two free simulations, but still want a reasonable estimate, then it is possible to put one together. Contact us, so that we can walk you through the decision points. But if you already have a good estimate of your score, and you know your target score, then use the score table below to calculate the corresponding percentile scores, and then the difference between them. That is your score gap.
USING THE SCORE GAP
For example, many Dutch students start with 450 and aim to hit 550, which is the cutoff score for the VU Premaster in Business. From the percentile rankings (below), you can see that this amounts to a score gap of 22 percentile points. Closing a gap of22 percentile points could easily take 8 weeks of full-time, 9 to 5 studying - assuming only book and online research. These numbers are average expectations, and you could find yourself on either side of the normal distribution. But the score gap is the starting point for any objective view of your preparation plan.
CHOOSING A GROUP COURSE
Once you know your score gap, you should take a decision how to bridge it. In the example above, we found a gap of 22 percentile points - a rise of more than two grade levels. If you have +/- 8 weeks free, find a few good books and get started. But given 4-6 weeks, the best value-for-money is without a doubt a group course - assuming it's at the right level. With a good course, that number could come down to just 4 weeks of moderate in-class practice, plus a week or two of self-study to fine tune the score. Only be careful not to study with students more than 10 percentile points higher or lower than you - because that means you're likely to spend time on non-relevant topics.
For private tutoring, results are faster. Tutoring can even be the only feasible option, when times are tight. A score gap of 22 percentiles could take 3-4 weeks of at-home study, together with approximately 12 hours of in-person tutoring. One of our favourite records is 510 to 570, in only 3 hours of online tutoring. And more recently we did 500 to 630 in 13 hours, a more characteristic experience. Tutoring is the best option when any of your section percentile scores are more than 10 percentile points below the median for that section (see here).