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Best GMAT Exam Score: Is Mine Bad or Good?

Best GMAT Exam Score

Although the GMAT exam score varies per institution, it is important for you as an MBA aspirant to understand and find answers to these questions; What is a good GMAT score? What’s a bad GMAT score? How to interpret a GMAT score and also understand percentile rankings? And most importantly, what are the average GMAT scores at your top choices for business school?

In this article, we’ll go over what makes a GMAT score good, GMAT score ranges of admitted students at various MBA programs, and how to set your own target GMAT score. Furthermore, it is important to note that what really determines the perfect GMAT score is a score percentile that meets your school’s requirement. Of course, no school demands lowly.

How Is GMAT Scored?

Your Official Score Report interprets your exam results. Each of your five GMAT exam scores is recorded on a fixed scale and shows on the Official GMAT Score Report that you and your designated score recipients receive.

In most cases, we see candidates focus wholly on the Total score. However, it is important to know that other scores are also meaningful. These scores describe your areas of strength and weaknesses.

Once the exam is finished the applicants can download the non-official GMAT results. The main result can also be downloaded only after 20 days from an individual account.

NOTE: GMAT 2020 results are announced by the board (official website). The applicants who pass for the round will be called to the further rounds of the selection process.

See an example of how GMAT is scored below:

S.NOSECTIONSCORE RANGEMEAN SCORE*
01Analytical Writing Assessment0-64.5
02Integrated Reasoning1-84
03Quantitative0-6038
04Verbal Reasoning0-6027
Total200-800548

Furthermore, if you do not finish the total questions in the allotted time, your scores will be assessed based upon the number of questions answered. Therefore, the emphasis is placed on answering all the questions.

What Is A Good GMAT Exam Score?

The GMAT score requirements of Business schools differ. However, the whole idea of GMAT is to foretell your first-year performance in comparison to fellow business school applicants. According to research, a higher GMAT score is a great indicator that you’ll do well in your first year in business school.

There is no one score that will ensure your admission. However, it is important you know the GMAT requirement of the school you’re applying to. When it comes to GMAT ratings, the key lesson is this: basically, the most important thing to note is that a good GMAT score is the one that places you in the Business school of your choice.

As of 2018, the mean total GMAT score is 556.04, but that doesn’t mean a score above 550 guarantees you admission into any Business school. At many schools, even a 600 would be a very low GMAT score. The best MBA programs like Stanford, Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, and Dartmouth, the average GMAT score of incoming students is above 720.

However, renowned Business schools with high post-MBA employment rates don’t have the same expectations and have average GMAT scores of less than 600.

Looking For GMAT Eligibility Requirements? Click Here To Find Out

How To Interpret Your GMAT Result

Knowing how to interpret your GMAT result will help you properly analyze the result. See how to interpret results from the different sections of the GMAT exam below.

Verbal, and Quantitative Scores

Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800; two-thirds of test-takers score 400 – 600. Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 0 to 60; scores below 6 and above 51 are rare.

Verbal and Quantitative scores are set in size and can be correlated to all GMAT test administrations, but, since they assess differently, they cannot be correlated to each other.

Analytical Writing Assessment Score

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) score depends on one Analysis of an Argument essay. Scores for the AWA range from 0 to 6 in half-point intervals.

AWA essays are scored by an aggregate of a machine algorithm and professional human essay raters. All essays will be scored using an electronic system, which will assess the structural and linguistic features of the essay, including the construction of ideas, syntactic variety, and topical analysis. 

More so, some essays are then randomly selected for auditing to guarantee the quality, consistency, and performance of the algorithm. The audit is conducted by qualified and approved human raters to ensure the algorithm is constantly assessing AWA essays in a manner that meets both GMAC and ACT standards and upholds the integrity of the AWA section score.

When there is a difference between the performance of the algorithm and human performance for an audited article, the score can be rechecked and changed. Furthermore, if you are of the opinion that your AWA score is not correct, you can request that your essay be reported using Essay Rescore Request Form.

Your Integrated Reasoning Score

Integrated Reasoning (IR) scores range from 1 to 8 in single-digit intervals.

Most Integrated Reasoning questions require more than one response. Because the questions are intended to measure how well you integrate data to solve complex problems, you must answer all responses to a question correctly to receive credit, no partial credit is given.

GMAT Score Reports

Immediately After Your GMAT Exam

Once you complete the exam, you will see four of your five scores: the Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and Total Scores (score based on the Quantitative and Verbal sections). Here are two things to think about when you see your Score Preview:

  1. What are the minimum scores you will report? You’ll be able to see your unofficial Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal, and Total scores, and you’ll have two minutes to accept or cancel them. If you don’t make a decision, your scores will automatically be canceled.
  2. Do you have time to retake the GMAT exam if you cancel your scores? You may take the exam up to five times a year, but only once in 16 days. The official score normally comes out it 20 days or less. So, before you consider canceling your score, make sure you have time to schedule and retake the exam and have your Official Score Report delivered to your chosen graduate business programs.

Your Unofficial Score Report

If you choose to accept your score at the test center, you will receive a print-out of your Unofficial Score Report before leaving the test center. The unofficial report includes your Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores. You may use this report to determine:

  • If you are a competitive applicant to the schools of your choice
  • Whether you want to retake the exam

NOTE: You may not use it for your admissions applications.

Within Three Weeks Following Your Test Date

After three weeks of the exam, you will get an email that your official scores are available. The email incorporates instructions for online access to your scores. In addition to the scores from your Unofficial Score report, the Official Score Reports your Analytical Writing Assessment Score, your GMAT Percentile Rankings, the personal data you provided at registration, and scores from other GMAT exams you have taken within the past five years.

It is also important to note that your official score is legitimate for five years, giving you the chance to take the exam and send your GMAT score to schools when you are ready. In addition to your GMAT exam scores, your Official Score Report includes:

  • The digital photograph that was taken at the test center
  • Self-reported background information, like telephone number, undergraduate institution, grade point average (GPA), and intended graduate study
  • Percentile rank

Enhanced Score Report

This GMAT Enhanced Score Report gives you a broader analysis of your performance in the test. You will receive personal insights by question type, area of focus, and pacing, providing you with actionable information to help you better understand your performance on the exam.

Your Official Score Report

Before taking the exam, you will have chosen up to five schools to receive your Official Score Reports. This is incorporated in your original registration. However, you can select additional schools to receive your scores online for a fee.

POINTS TO NOTE

  • Your GMAT exam scores are valid for five years and are available for reporting for up to 10 years. Scores over 10 years are not available.
  • Your Official Score Reports, which include copies of your essays and your digital photograph are released only at your specific request—either when you take the test or when you request an Additional Score Report. Review more information about GMAT privacy policies.
  • You have the option to cancel your scores on test day following your Score Preview, or for a fee, within 72 hours of your scheduled exam time.
  • If you cancel your scores, but then later decide to reinstate them, login to your mba.com account or call GMAT customer service. Canceled scores can be reinstated up to four years and 11 months from the exam date.

GMAT Exam Score Percentile Rankings

When you apply for MBA programs, you’ll be bidding against your peers for a limited number of coveted spots, so your GMAT score will have to match favorably to theirs. This means that your GMAT percentile rankings are arguably much more important than your score itself.

GMAT percentile scores, which are given on your score sheet, report how you did on the exam as a whole and on every section of the exam relative to other test-takers. For instance, a total score (that is, the Verbal and Quantitative sections combined) of 650 will give you a percentile ranking of 75%. A 75% percentile ranking means that you got a higher total score than (or equal total score to) 75% of your peers and a lower total score than 24% of fellow GMAT test-takers.

Therefore, 650 is a good starting benchmark for a high GMAT score: it usually hovers around the 75% percentile ranking spot, which is a good spot to be relative to your fellow applicants. A low GMAT score, on the other hand, is anything under 550.

Percentile rankings are compiled every year based on the past three years of test-takers. This means that while the possible scores for each section remain the same every year, the percentile rankings vary yearly.

See the list of GMAT percentile rankings from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) for the past three years, beginning with the total score and followed by section-specific charts for the Verbal and Quantitative sections, the Integrated Reasoning section, and the Analytical Writing Assessment:

Total ScorePercentile Ranking
80099%
75098%
70088%
65075%
60057%
55041%
50028%
45018%
40011%
3506%
3003%
2502%
2000%

Verbal & Quantitative Percentile Ranking

ScoreVerbal Percentile RankingQuantitative Percentile Ranking
5199%96%
4699%60%
4194%43%
3681%31%
3162%20%
2644%12%
2127%7%
1613%4%
114%2%
60%0%

Having taken a clear you at the table above, it is important to note the differences between Verbal and Quant percentile rankings: A score of 51 would place you in the 99th percentile for the Verbal section and in the 96th percentile for the Quant section. While a score of 46 would keep you in the 99th percentile in Verbal but put you in the 60th percentile in Quant! This is so because students score highly on the Quant section than on the Verbal section, partly due to an increasing number of international students.

Integrated Reasoning Percentile Ranking

Integrated Reasoning ScorePercentile Ranking
893%
782%
670%
555%
440%
326%
212%
10%

The percentile rankings for the Integrated Reasoning section show us that 7% of test-takers get a perfect score on the section since a perfect score of 8 would put you in the 93rd percentile. A high GMAT score on the Integrated Reasoning section is roughly considered to be 6 or above.

Analytical Assessment Percentile Ranking

Analytical Writing Assessment ScorePercentile Ranking
6.089%
5.054%
4.018%
3.05%
2.03%
1.02%
0.00%

11% of test-takers get a perfect score on the Analytical Writing Assessment. A high GMAT score on the AWA is usually considered to be 5.0 or above.

GMAT Exam Score to Get Into Business School

As said earlier on, the GMAT exam score of Business Schools vary. If the goal is to secure admission into the top 10 MBA programs consistently look for GMAT scores of 720 or above. For mid-to-high-range business schools (those consistently ranked between 25 and 80 on annual rankings lists like U.S. News), average scores of incoming students are usually in the 600-700 range.

Let’s take a closer look at the average GMAT exam score for 15 different MBA programs. Remember that some schools disclose the ‘low 80 percent range’ as part of their class profiles. This table contains a distribution of GMAT scores of all new candidates, except the bottom 10 percent and top 10 percent of the grades:

Top-Tier Business SchoolsAverage GMAT Score of Recent Incoming ClassMiddle 80% Range of Recent Incoming Class
Harvard Business School730690-760
Stanford Graduate School of Business737Total range: 590-790
University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business717680-750
Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business717680-750
Yale School of Management730690-760
High-Level Business Schools
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Business656Not available
George Washington University School of Business643Not available
Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management670Highest GMAT 770; 99% over 600
University of Iowa (Tippie)676610-730
University of Maryland, College Park (Smith)660600-720
Part-Time/Online Business Schools
University of Texas at Austin: McCombs School of Business (part-time)635Not available
University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Isenberg School of Management (online and part-time options)570Not available
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business (part-time)666590-710
Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business (online)596Not available
NYU Stern MBA Manhattan (part-time)Not available620-730

FAQs On Best GMAT Exam Score

What is a good GMAT score?

The GMAT score requirements of Business schools differ. However, a good GMAT score is one that guarantees you admission into the school of your choice. Therefore, it is important you check the school’s website for updated GMAT benchmark.

Who is Eligible for the GMAT Exam?

Applicants must be 18 years and above, hold an educational qualification and be able to afford the GMAT application fee of $250.

Is 650 is a good starting benchmark for a high GMAT score?

Ideally, it is. However, while score 650 places one on 75%, there are business schools that demand more than 75%. What this means is that your choice of the school determines what a good score will be.

Why do business schools use the GMAT for admissions

Firstly, the GMAT exam is specifically designed to test the applicant’s skills that should help them succeed in their MBA program. This means that the questions are designed to see how well applicants will solve the type of problems they will encounter in the course of the MBA program.

Conclusion

To sum it all, it is very important you note that the best GMAT score is the one that guarantees you admission into the school of your choice. Therefore, it is highly important that you find out the GMAT benchmark of the school you are applying to and focus on hitting or surpassing that score, anything below the set score won’t get you admitted.

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