This post focuses on two important themes.
- What does the GMAT score comprise and how to interpret the different numbers seen in a score report?
- Is my GMAT score good enough to secure a B School admit? Is my GMAT score average or well above it?
1 a. Interpreting the GMAT score report
Your GMAT score comprises the following components
- AWA Score: Your GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment or the GMAT AWA score is on a scale of 0 to 6 in increments of 0.5 points.
- Integrated Reasoning Score: Your GMAT Integrated Reasoning section score or the GMAT IR score is on a scale of 1 to 8 in increments of 1 point.
- Quant Section: The GMAT Maths section is scored on a scale of 0 to 60 in intervals of 1 point. GMAT Quant scores less than 7 or more than 50 are rare. 51 is the practical maximum score for GMAT quant section. It is not possible to score more than that. A score of 49 or more is a good Quant score.
- Verbal Section: The GMAT verbal section score is on a scale of 0 to 60 in intervals of 1 point. A GMAT verbal score less than 9 or more than 44 are rare. 51 is the practical maximum score of GMAT verbal section. The GMAT score calculator does not compute a higher score. A score of 40 or more is a good Verbal score.
GMAT Total Score: The total score for GMAT starts from 200 points. The maximum score for GMAT is 800 points. The total score in GMAT is given in increments of 10 points.
Please note that the GMAT score calculator converts the GMAT score in the Quant section and the GMAT score in the Verbal section from the 51 scale to the 200 to 800 scale. There is equal weightage given to the GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal sections when the GMAT score calculator computes the total GMAT score. However, the scores for the AWA and IR sections are reported as stand-alone numbers and are not used toward the calculation of the total score in GMAT.
You will know your scores in the IR, Quant, and Verbal sections and the total score in GMAT immediately after you complete the test, because these sections are evaluated by the computer. You will receive your AWA score within a fortnight of writing the test, because a human evaluator has to read your essay and mark it.
Note: The GMAT score report given at the test centre right after you finish the GMAT exam (the one without the GMAT AWA score) is called the unofficial GMAT score report. The GMAT score report that you receive within a fortnight (the one with the GMAT AWA score) is called the official GMAT score report. The official GMAT score report is the one that is sent to top Business schools that you intend sending your GMAT score to.
You will also see a percentile corresponding to each of your scores. For e.g., the GMAT percentile score corresponding to a verbal score of 40 for the period 2014-2017 is 90%ile.
What do the GMAT percentiles mean? If the GMAT percentile chart shows that you are in the 90th percentile, then 10% of the GMAT test takers in the 3-year period have scored 40 or more in the verbal section. Your GMAT percentile score is not as important to top business schools as your total score in GMAT and your GMAT Quant and Verbal scores. However, the GMAT percentiles help you better understand where you stand in relation to your peers and understand whether you have a GMAT score good enough to present a compelling application to business schools.
1 b. GMAT Scores: What happens after you complete the test?
After you complete the GMAT exam, the GMAT score calculator will compute individual section scores for the IR, Quant, and Verbal sections and the GMAT total score on a scale of 200 to 800. You will be shown a preview of your score for 120 seconds.
You will have the option of accepting the score or cancelling it in those 120 seconds. If you got a GMAT score good enough to apply with, accept the score.
Conversely, if you will not meet the GMAT score average required to make the cut to the school of your choice, cancel the score and GMAC will not report the scores of this test. If you fail to decide – the GMAT score calculator will cancel your score by default.
To Cancel or to Not Cancel?
You are not alone in having these questions!
Is my GMAT score 700 good or bad? Or is 530 a bad GMAT score? The numbers might be different. I have had students ask me, is 600 a good GMAT score and have also had some students who have asked is 650 a bad GMAT score. And in one instance, I had a student ask, is 780 a good GMAT score. There is no correct answer to this question. A good way to judge is to look at the GMAT score average in the class profile statistics of your reach business schools.
When in doubt – cancel the score. Yes! cancel the score.
If you come out of the GMAT test center and realize that you should not have cancelled your score, you have a recourse to reinstate it – all it costs is $50 – anytime up to 4 years and 11 months (Because the GMAT score validity is 5 years) from the date of your GMAT exam.
However, if you accept the score in the GMAT test center, your option to cancel the score online is available only for 72 hours for a fee of $25. The window to cancel a score is much shorter than the one to reinstate a cancelled score. So, when in doubt, cancel the score.
If you cancel the score, the AWA will not be evaluated and you will not get to know the scores. As soon as you decide to reinstate the score, the mechanism to evaluate the AWA will also get triggered and you will get the score.
1 c. Free GMAT score report to 5 business schools
You can send your GMAT score report to 5 business school programs, free of cost, when you take the GMAT exam. You will be asked to select those programs when you take the test – even before you are shown the first question.
Choose your programs wisely based on the range of scores you got during your mock GMAT tests.
If you are absolutely sure about the business schools that you will be applying to, go ahead and ask GMAC to report your GMAT scores to those schools.
Most often, we are not sure about the business schools that we will apply to without knowing our GMAT scores. In that case, a good strategy is to pick 5 business schools in which the median GMAT score or the GMAT score average of students admitted the previous year is 10 points lesser than your lowest score in the last 3 mock GMAT tests.
Lastly, if you choose your schools incorrectly, don’t fret. You can request GMAC to send your scores to your new list by paying a fee of $35 per school. Essentially, if you get your school list right when you take the test, you save $175.
Caution: In your zeal to save this $175, do not lose focus on the main objective – getting the highest GMAT score you possibly can.
2. What is a good GMAT score?
“It depends“, will be the safest answer.
It will be cruel to walk you all the way down to this part of the post and give that answer. I will take a few typical Indian MBA applicant profiles and suggest scores for those. Please note that the GMAT, although an important component of the MBA application selection process, is not the only criterion for admission. In the recommendations that follow, I have singled out the GMAT as the selection criterion.
A. Indian Male, Engineer, 24 to 48 months professional experience
A 680 GMAT score, or more, will be competitive. If you apply to schools in the US that rank between 25 and 50, you will stand a good chance of getting an admit.
B. Indian Male, Non-engineer, 24 to 48 months professional experience.
A GMAT total score of 660 or more will be competitive. Choose your business schools wisely and apply early to get an admit. Ideal schools to target with this score will be ranked 25 to 50 in the US.
C. Indian Female, Non-engineer, 24 to 48 months professional experience
A 650 GMAT score or more will be competitive. Top business schools look for diversity in class profile – both in terms of gender parity and in terms of educational and professional background. A higher score will also get you scholarships.
How far can your GMAT score take you?
The GMAT score is valid for 5 years. A great score will stand you in good stead even beyond the admission process. It is widely believed that an aspirant’s GMAT score plays a crucial role when potential recruiters shortlist summer interns.
What will qualify as a great score?
A total score in GMAT of 740 (Suggested split: 50 in the quant section and 40 in the verbal section) will qualify as a great score. You will most likely get not just admits – but also tuition fee waivers and scholarships with that score in quite a few top US business schools.
So, dedicate your energies over the next 3 to 5 months and prepare for the GMAT and get that great score.
A vast majority of the business school aspirants do an MBA only once in their life time. Do it from the right place. That will mean scoring well in the GMAT.
Answers to the Who am I quiz
Q1 : I am an odd number. I am greater than the product of the first two positive multiples of 5. GMAT Test-takers love to see me on their score reports. What am I?
I am 51. The highest GMAT score possible in the quant and verbal sections.
Q2 : I am a very symmetric numeral. I am the second smallest perfect cube of a positive integer and am also a perfect score to see in one of the sections of the GMAT test. What am I?
I am 8. The maximum GMAT score possible in the Integrated Reasoning Section.
Q3: I am a multiple of 37. I am also a multiple of 20. For most of the schools you wish to apply to, I would be considered a ‘great’ GMAT score. What am I?
I am a GMAT total score of 740.
Q4 : I am the LCM of 5 and 7. I am also the cost of sending your score report to each additional school! What am I?
I am 35. It costs USD 35 to send additional GMAT score reports to each schools.
Q5 : I am a multiple of the third smallest prime number. I am the cost of reinstating a GMAT score and twice the cost of cancelling the score! What am I?
I am 50. It costs USD 50 to reinstate a cancelled GMAT score. It costs USD 25 to cancel an accepted GMAT score.