What is a good GMAT score? Find the GMAT Score you need

by Maximilian Claessens
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What is a good GMAT score - Find the GMAT Score you need

GMAT scores vary widely for business schools in different countries, and there is no generally accepted GMAT score for all schools worldwide. However, based on the past score averages from different business schools, a good GMAT score can be said to be from 700 upwards. However, in some schools, 640 and above may already be considered a good score. So what is a good GMAT score? Let us help you find the GMAT score you need with this article. 

The answer completely depends on the school you are applying for. For example, according to e-gmat, the top business schools in the US require an average score of 703, while the top MBA programs in Canada require an average of 638-709. So, a good business score is based on the school you are looking to gain entrance into. The best method to determine this is to research your intended business school to find out their average GMAT score.

However, finding the answer for what a good GMAT score is is one thing, but knowing how to beat the score is another. In the long run, getting a good GMAT score totally depends on the person taking the exam. Read on to learn more about good GMAT scores and how you can get your desired GMAT score.

How is the GMAT scored?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is designed to measure a test taker’s ability in analytical mathematics, writing and verbal skills. Business schools mostly use the exam as the primary means of assessment for admitting students for an MBA program. Therefore, the GMAT is a standard and very important exam requiring complete focus and seriousness.

There are four sections on the GMAT exam, namely:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment – this is supposed to assess your ability to think critically and to communicate your ideas
  2. Integrated Reasoning – this assesses your ability to analyze data and evaluate pieces of information presented in multiple formats
  3. Quantitative Reasoning – this evaluates your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using your reasoning skills
  4. Verbal Reasoning – assesses your ability to understand written material, evaluate various arguments and correct written material in line with standard written English

The maximum score for these four sections is 800. Each section comes with its own score range.
These scores are ranged in the following ways:

SectionsRanges
Analytical Writing Assessment0-6
Integrated Reasoning1-8
Quantitative Reasoning0-51
Verbal Reasoning0-51

While all the sections are required, your analytical writing and integrated reasoning scores do not contribute to the total GMAT score of 800. Why are the two sections mentioned above tested anyway? Analytical writing and integrated reasoning involve psychology because your ability in writing and sorting through data can be used to measure how logical you think. Therefore, most business schools still consider these sections relevant, even if they are not part of your score. You are required to get an average score of 4 in these sections.

How high should you score on the GMAT?

The score you need obviously depends on the business schools you are applying for, but generally, you should focus on scoring high, not being too focused on the accepted average for your intended school. However, you must first understand the ranking percentile before trying to score high. The ranking percentile helps compare your performance with the other test-takers to determine how well you performed in the GMAT exam. 

To help you know better how this works, below is the overall GMAT score percentile ranking with the individual Quant, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and AWA Percentile Ranking for students who took the GMAT from 2018 -2020:

GMAT Total ScorePercentile Ranking
760-80099%
75098%
73096%
72094%
70088%
66076%
65072%
64066%
61057%
58046%
55036%
52028%
51026%
47018%
4009%
3404%
200-2100%

Scoring 98 percent means you scored higher than 98% of other exam takers. You may ask if comparing your score with others matters. Well, it matters a lot, as scoring higher than others automatically increases your chances of getting into your intended schools. Most schools already have a number of students they intend to give admission to in a particular year. So, for example, if a school decides to take just 500 applicants in a year, and a total of 1000 students took the GMAT exam for that school, your target should be to score above 70%. That way, you stand a chance of getting the admission amongst many others. Therefore, the higher you score, the higher your chances. This simply means that having the average score of your intended school may not be enough. What matters is having a higher percentile, as this automatically means you have a good score and increases your chances of getting into your desired school and program.

To break down the percentile ranking more, let’s divide the ranking into sub-sections:  

Verbal scoreVerbal percentile rankingQuantitative score Quantitative percentile Ranking
5199%5197%
4699%4656%
4090%4137%
3575%3625%
3058%3115%
2538%2610%
2022%215%
159%163%
102%101%
IR scoreIR percentile rankingAWA Score AWA percentile Ranking
890%688%
779%557%
664%418%
548%34%
431%21%
318%11%
28%00%
10%  

The above table is an easier way of calculating your percentile. 

How to determine a good GMAT Score for your intended School

One of the steps to determine what a good GMAT score is is to know the average score required for your intended business school. Aside from this, there are also other factors you need to consider if you intend to have a good GMAT score. In general, you want to have a look at these four factors:

  1. Average score of last incoming class
  2. Profile of last year’s class
  3. Score required for a scholarship
  4. Estimated ROI on GMAT score

We will be looking into each of these factors separately for a clearer understanding. 

Average score of last incoming class

Find out the average score of the last incoming class and try to get above it. For example, if the average score for a business school last year was 706, you should be looking at scoring at least 720+ in this year’s GMAT exam. More is of course always better. 

Profile of last year’s class 

The profile should be ranked based on the course you are going for; in other words, your score depends on the level of competition in your candidate pool. For example, if you are going for a popular course with so much competition and the average score for your particular candidate pool last year was 740, you should try to score at least 760 or more in your GMAT exam to place you at a vantage point, amongst most of your competitors. If competition is rather low, scoring around the average or even below it may still land you a place in the program.

Score required for a scholarship

For those looking to get a scholarship, the average score of your intended business schools shouldn’t be your focus; rather, you should focus on scoring as high as you can. Logically, a person with a higher score has more chances of being awarded a scholarship than a person that scored lower. For example, if the average GMAT score of a business school is 700, and two people looking to be awarded a scholarship score 720 and 750, respectively, the scholarship is likely to be awarded to the person with the higher score. 

Estimated return on investment (ROI) on GMAT score

You are probably wondering how the GMAT score connects with investment, which is highly understandable. Well, the return on investment (ROI) is more connected to the business school you attend. How is that? Going to one of the top business schools in the world automatically upgrades your profile. This means that you have a higher chance of getting a well-paid job if you attend a high-profile business school. The higher the profile of your school, the higher your income. The business school you attend strongly depends on your GMAT score. For example, if the average score for a high-profile business school is above 700, and you are aiming for that top-tier school, you know that you need to score at least 720-750 to have a higher chance of being accepted. 

In the end, the equation is quite simple: Good GMAT score + high-profile business school = Higher estimated return on investment (ROI).

Conclusion

A good GMAT score is considered to be anywhere from 700-800, but it also depends on the business school, as each school has its own average score. Also, remember that having a school’s average score doesn’t guarantee your admission to the school; rather, your percentile rank determines whether or not you get accepted. 

Instead of worrying about what is a good GMAT score, try to focus more on doing well in your exam. If you do not prepare enough, your chance of having a good GMAT score will be relatively low, so make sure you check out the countless learning resources available online, like our free Quant practice exams, and plan in enough time for your preparation.

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