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Your “Sputnik Moment” on the GMAT

Posted on April 19, 2011
sputnik moment

Way back in the 1960s, the United States was arguably the most advanced country when it came to space exploration (where do you think they picked up the term “This isn’t rocket science”). However, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, the Sputnik 1, and beat the USA into space.
From this event we get the term “A Sputnik moment”, which is a point where people realise that they are threatened or challenged and have to redouble their efforts to catch up.

How does this matter for the GMAT? Well, it matters because you never know when your strengths are going to let you down. I have quite a few students who claim that they needn’t worry about Quant.
Fair enough!
I assume you meant “I will score a 51”. If what you are actually meaning is “I might score a 51 given I have studied for CAT, and have an Engineering background” you will be mighty mistaken!
I feel the notion that “GMAT Quant is simple” is one of the biggest myths. A few months ago one of my students (IIT Mumbai, Mathematics Olympiad) ended up with a 50 in Quant!
Let us take a sample case. We have 2 students: A and B who have relative same quant skills. Let us see what a small difference can do to their overall scores:
Student A: Quant Raw Score 51, Verbal Raw Score 38
Student B: Quant Raw Score 47, Verbal Raw Score 38
Let us analyze how much they would score with the SAME verbal score but a difference of around 4 points in Quant.
Student A: 720
Student B: 690
A 30 point difference may not seem earth shattering but let us put it in perspective. Let us look at the median (not mean) GMAT scores of the top 15 schools in the US.
It is in this perspective that the difference shows up. Student A has managed to beat the median score of 14 out of 15 top US BSchools! A definite plus when you are applying. Student B however managed to score below the median GMAT for ALL the 15 schools!!
“No matter what people say about GMAT being “just a number” (Don’t believe when they say the same for “age” too!) – the fact remains that Indian applicants are applying with higher than average GMAT Scores – it becomes a make or break factor in your application.
Where does all this lead to? Well, the Sputnik moment! Don’t take your strengths for granted. Have a nose on the grindstone attitude and ensure that you are able to maximize it.

Do you think you have faced such Sputnik moments in your life? If yes then please do let me know in the comments below.

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