What is a Good GMAT Score & How is it Calculated?

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Aug 01, 2022 07:26 PM

Is scoring between 700 and 800 in the GMAT good enough? While many may ask what a "good" GMAT score is, the answer to the question is not so simple. Find out what actually is a good GMAT score and how it is calculated.

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What is a good GMAT score is a popular query among GMAT takers. GMAT scores are an integral part of applying to foreign b-schools. With the MBA applicant pool abroad being immensely competitive, GMAT test-takers around the world are looking for ways to increase their odds to get into a top b-school and eventually having an edge over other potential candidates. 

You may often hear people say that there is no one good GMAT score and that it depends particularly on your objective of taking the GMAT. That said, it is not as simple as it sounds. A number of details factor in when you want to determine a good GMAT score for MBA. 

What is also crucial is how much you understand what GMAT scores mean and how they are calculated or scored. This is because your testing computer will display your test results on test day and will have only two minutes to decide if you want to report your scores to business schools or cancel them. To help you put things in perspective here is all you need to know what is a good GMAT score and how it is calculated. 

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What is the GMAT Exam?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardised exam specifically designed for admission to business and management programs at the postgraduate level. It has been the path for more than 60 years for leaders across the world who want to begin their academic journey in the field of business and management. Over 7,000 graduate business programs across over 2,300 schools use GMAT scores to select students for admission. GMAT total score ranges between 200-800. A good GMAT exam score for MBA is required if you want to enter top business schools.

Structure of the GMAT Exam

The GMAT comprises a total of four sections that are timed separately. At the start of the exam, you are given an option to choose three section orders for their exam delivery, in which you can take optional eight-minute breaks during the exam. The total duration of the exam is more than 3 hours. The table mentioned below will give you an overview of the GMAT exam structure:

Section

Time Allocated

Number of Questions

Types of Questions

Integrated Reasoning

30

12

Table analysis

Multi-source reasoning

Two-part analysis

Graphics interpretation

Verbal Reasoning

65

36

Critical reasoning

Reading comprehension

Sentence correction   

Quantitative Reasoning

62

31

Problem-solving

Data sufficiency

Analytical Writing Assessment

30

1

Analysis of an argument

What Skills Does the GMAT Assess?

The GMAT exam, according to GMAC, assesses problem-solving, logic, and critical thinking abilities. These abilities are tested in four separate portions of the exam: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA); Quantitative Section; Verbal Section and Integrated Reasoning (IR).

The meritocratic approach to data analysis that the GMAT IR part examines is required for most MBA subjects, as most of the work done at the MBA level involves scanning information to locate the most useful, congruent, or incongruent elements of any given dataset.

The GMAT Quantitative section consists of quantitative reasoning and quantitative problem-solving. Candidates must exhibit their analytical skills in this section of the exam by answering a series of 'problem-solving' and 'data sufficiency' questions.

The GMAT Verbal section includes questions on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. According to GMAC, the purpose of this format is to assess grammatical, conversational, critical, and analytical abilities. The candidate will be graded on how well the sentence's intent is articulated.

What is a Good GMAT Score?

There is no good GMAT score for MBA as such. It is more about your target score and destination that the actual score.  A target GMAT score will help you get into the b-school of your choice. However, it can be tricky to understand what a good GMAT actually means. Read on to have a clear understanding of the same:

A Good GMAT Score is Not Absolute

Your good GMAT score for MBA will depend on a number of factors such as the university you are applying to, your career goals, the business program and so on. The score that you might consider could be a below-average score for your peer. But, if your score gets you into the university of your choice, then you get the answer of what is a good GMAT score for you. Moreover, GMAT scores are not the only criteria for selection. Almost every university evaluates applicants on the basis of other factors including work experience, educational qualifications, skills, employability, statement of purpose, letter(s) of recommendation, and performance in the interview.

Determine Your Target GMAT Score

While there is no good GMAT score for MBA, you need to find out what the ideal GMAT score/score range for you would be. Once you have figured that out, you can prepare for the test accordingly. The best way to learn your target GMAT score would be to first be realistic, then shortlist the programs you want to study, and talk to alumni or students to determine your goal. 

Make a Note of Average GMAT Scores

A good GMAT score for MBA is better achieved when you have a clear idea of the average GMAT scores of the universities/programs you are applying for. You can do so by visiting the university websites and finding out what is a good GMAT score range and the average GMAT score range of students who enrolled in your program of choice. This would help you determine what you should achieve in order to get into the university.

Get a Gist of How Universities Weigh GMAT Scores

Universities across the world weigh the scores of every section of the GMAT differently.  While almost every school will look at your total score, some may also look at your section-wise scores and define their cutoff for each section. Once you have learned, you can prepare for a section more to score higher in the section that the university will look more closely at or put emphasis on.

Given below is a table that will help you understand what is a good GMAT score along with the best and better GMAT scores:

Section/Parameter

Best GMAT Scores

Better GMAT Scores

Good GMAT Scores

Below Average GMAT Scores

Total Score

710-800

650-700

550-640

Below 550

Quantitative Reasoning

51+

48-50

38-47

37 or lower

Verbal Reasoning

40+

35-39

28-34

27 or lower

Integrated Reasoning

8

7

5-6

4 or lower

Analytical Writing Assessment

6

5.5

4.5-5

4 or lower

Importance of a Good GMAT Score for Universities and Students

There are various reasons why MBA admissions officers give so much importance to your GMAT score:

Good GMAT Scores Demonstrate Your Capability to Handle Coursework

Business schools use your GMAT score to verify that you will be able to complete their academic programme. In this case, your score is used to determine whether you have the essential quantitative, verbal, and critical thinking skills to finish the curriculum, which includes topics such as finance, economics, and strategy. The primary responsibility of an admissions team is to attract students who will succeed in the programme!

MBA Rankings are Fueled by Average GMAT Scores

Rankings are important to business schools because candidates worry about rankings! When a school's rating rises, it attracts a larger and more qualified pool of students. Enrolling a more diverse student body improves the classroom experience and leads to better employment outcomes, both of which contribute to the school's reputation and rating. Naturally, business schools are enamoured with this.

The GMAT is relevant here since it is a direct element in MBA rankings — not the percentiles on particular sections, nor the integrated reasoning or analytical writing evaluation scores. According to the US News MBA ranking methodology, a school's average GMAT score on the GMAT is a crucial ranking element that the institution can directly impact its decisions.

Because these rankings use the average GMAT score (rather than the median), every point counts. It makes no difference when computing the average if student #1 increases from 680 690 or student #2 increases from 760 770. Both 10-point boosts have the same favourable effect on the average GMAT score, and thus the school's ranking.

The requirement to maintain GMAT averages also explains why highly qualified applicants with high GMAT scores receive so many merit-based grants. The average for most major business schools, such as Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton, is approximately 730. This means that a 740 score, considered "excellent" by most criteria, is only +10 points higher than the school average, whereas a 770 score is +40 points higher.

Those +40 points can be used to increase the average scores directly. The institution may also choose to keep its GMAT average while admitting individuals with lower GMAT scores but the exceptional distinction in other areas. Both of these outcomes are valuable to business schools, which is why many institutions employ scholarships to attract candidates with high GMAT scores.

GMAT Scores Are Important to (Some) Post-MBA Employers

Your GMAT score is often essential in terms of perspective work chances. Many finance and consulting firms (such as Bain, McKinsey, and BCG) use the GMAT to determine which students to interview. A high or good GMAT score can help you stand out as a strong applicant and provide you with a competitive advantage.

Average GMAT Scores at Top 25 B-Schools

Here is a list of the top 25 universities offering the most popular business and management programs and their average class average GMAT scores in 2021,2020, 2019 and 2018:

Name of B-school

2021 Class Average GMAT

2020 Class Average GMAT

Stanford University

733

732

University of Pennsylvania

732

732

The University of Chicago (Booth)

726

731

Northwestern University

724

727

Harvard University

725

730

Columbia University

715

726

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

716

728

UC-Berkeley (Haas)

725

727

Dartmouth College (Tuck)

717

722

Yale School of Management

721

720

New York University (NYU)

720

717

University of Michigan

722

720

UCLA

713

719

University of Virginia

703

718

Rice University

690

689

University of Southern California

-

708

Duke University

696

704

The University of Texas at Austin

704

702

Cornell University 

697

699

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

674

80% between 660-720

University of Washington

695

687

Georgetown University

692

693

Carnegie Mellon University

690

680

Emory University

678

80% between 640–740

If you wish to studying master's abroad and thinking to take the GMAT test? Get in touch with our study abroad experts to get details about the test.

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Why Do B-Schools Ask for GMAT Scores?

Around 1,700 colleges and authorized educational institutions worldwide use GMAT scores as part of the admission criterion for their MBA programmes. Among these are the premier educational institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cambridge, and Oxford, which, in addition to other programmes, specialise in business, management, and related subjects. 

These are just a handful of the famous colleges that offer a wide range of MBA programmes, spots which can be earned by scoring highly (typically over 650) on the GMAT. Over 6,000 graduate business programmes accept or require the GMAT for admission.

GMAT scores are frequently used as selection criteria for merit scholarships. Furthermore, GMAT results are used by some employers in addition to MBA entrance and scholarship applications. Finally, GMAT preparation fosters abilities necessary for success in business school and in managing positions.

A high GMAT score clearly adds a lot of value to your chances of admission, MBA experience, and employment opportunities. This makes the investment in GMAT prep well justified.

Moreover, business schools ask for GMAT scores because they tend to evaluate the applicants’ candidature based on the scores that they have achieved. Universities that do not require GMAT scores evaluate applicants only on their academic records. With a few notable exceptions (Oxford, for example), the GMAT is required for the vast majority of reputable programmes. A programme that does not require such a standardized test is almost always of lesser quality.

While there are real complaints about the GMAT, such as how it is culturally biased in favour of an Anglo-centered world, the test serves an important purpose. People apply to premier programmes from all over the world, and comparing undergraduate courses from Honduras, Slovenia, Romania, etc is tough. The education system is even corrupt in some countries. As a result, the GMAT acts as an objective criterion.

If an undergraduate student from country A and a student from Country B were both good students with high grades, they should be able to do well on the GMAT with some work. Furthermore, some universities demand the GMAT for some master's programmes but just recommend it for others. The GMAT is not required for all programmes at the London School of Economics, for example. Without a GMAT score, one can apply to Management programmes, for example. The same is true with Cass—it is not required for all programmes.

How is the GMAT Scored?

Having a hard time understanding GMAT scores? Hey, we are with you! Your GMAT official score report includes five exam scores based on a fixed scale and the same is sent to the designated score recipients/b-schools.Note that the GMAT score validity is five years. Here’s all you need to know about the GMAT score report and how it is scored.

Section

GMAT Scoring

How GMAT is Scored

Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning

6-51

Both sections are adaptive and are based on the following factors:

If your answers are correct

Number of questions you attempt

Difficult along with other parameters of the questions you attempted

The more questions you answer, the higher your score. The chances of scoring higher increase when you have more correct answers and more of them are of a higher difficulty level. 

The standard error of GMAT score measurement is 3 points and they are reported in intervals of 1.

A good GMAT verbal score boosts the performance of the test-taker.

Analytical Writing Assessment

0.0-6.0

This section is scored through professional essay raters along with a machine algorithm.

The score is reported in intervals of 0.5.

Integrated Reasoning

1-8

This section is scored based on the number of questions you managed to answer correctly. 

For questions that have multiple parts, you must answer all their parts to receive credit.

The score is reported in intervals of 1.

Total

200-800

Total GMAT scores are based on the calculated performance before evaluating the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. The same calculation is converted to a number within 200-800. 

The score is reported in intervals of 10 and the standard error of GMAT score measurement is 40 points.

What is GMAT Percentile Ranking?

GMAT scores also comprise a percentile ranking which refers to the percentage of candidates you scored higher than. For instance, a percentile ranking of 75% indicates that 25% of GMAT candidates obtained the same score or performed better than you. One amazing thing about GMAT percentile ranking is that it may change, unlike your GMAT score. This is because rankings are recalculated every summer with exam data from the last three years.

Total Score

GMAT Score

Percentile Ranking

800

99%

750

98%

700

88%

650

73%

600

54%

550

38%

500

25%

450

15%

400

9%

350

5%

300

3%

250

1%

200

0%

Integrated Reasoning

Score

Percentile Ranking

8

91%

7

81%

6

66%

5

50%

4

33%

3

19%

2

9%

1

0%

Verbal Reasoning

Score

Percentile Ranking

51

99%

46

99%

40

90%

35

76%

30

58%

25

38%

20

22%

15

10%

10

2%

Quantitive Reasoning

Score

Percentile Ranking

51

97%

46

57%

41

38%

36

26%

31

17%

26

10%

21

6%

16

3%

10

1%

Analytical Writing Assessment

Score

Percentile Ranking

6

88%

5

56%

4

18%

3

4%

2

1%

1

1%

0

0%

Note: Above figures are based on data collected between January 2018 and December 2020.

 

GMAT Scores in a Test-Optional World

What is a good GMAT score in a test-optional world? Given that many B-schools across the world have gone test-optional and many applicants are confused about whether to take the GMAT or not. Still, you need to know what is a good GMAT score and what impact it can have on your MBA admission.

  • If your GMAT scores are not good enough according to university standards, you might end up reducing your chances of getting into even a test-optional b-school.

  • One year of being test-optional will not lead to universities doing away with GMAT scores altogether considering how the test has been a crucial part of MBA admissions.

  • Even when a school makes the GMAT optional, there are higher chances of it looking at GMAT scores and it is not optimal to apply without a GMAT score. According to data released by Menlo Coaching, applicants who scored above 730 on the GMAT benefited from the scores by as much as 197%.

  • Most B-schools abroad tend to offer scholarships to stronger applicants who also have good GMAT scores for MBA. This is because this helps the program get a higher rank in the U.S. News MBA Ranking.

  • When an MBA program’s overall average GMAT score is higher, the B-school further gets a better ranking in the U.S. News MBA Ranking. This eventually makes submitting a good GMAT score more important given that most schools are looking for a more competitive group of applicants.

Our experienced study abroad consultants have helped students with test preparations for various standardised exams including the GMAT.

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FAQs

How hard it is to get a good GMAT score?

Many aspirants believe that it can be significantly hard to get a good GMAT score as the exam is a computer adaptive test with a high difficulty level. Test-takers cannot skip questions asked in the exam and come back to them later. Moreover, it is mandatory to answer all the questions. They are marked on the number of correct questions as well as on the correct answers to questions that are difficult. Students also need to be very agile while answering questions. Having said that, the difficulty level of GMAT can vary between candidates depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

What is a good GMAT score in analytical writing assessment?

A good GMAT score in analytical writing assessment is above 5. The average score of GMAT test-takers in analytical writing assessment was 4.43 in 2021. Therefore, a GMAT score above 5 or a perfect score of 6 plummets the overall GMAT score. A score of less than 4 can affect your chances of getting admission to a MBA program abroad.

What is a good GMAT score for Stanford University?

A good GMAT score for Stanford University is above 700. The average GMAT score for students of Fall 2021 was 738. Therefore, a score of above 700 keeps you in the safe zone for MBA admissions. Stanford is one of the most competitive business schools in the world, making it significant for applicants to get a high GMAT score. 

What is a good GMAT score in Canada?

A good GMAT score in Canada is above 600. The top business schools in Canada have higher GMAT score requirements than others. The University of Toronto, Queen’s University and the University of Ontario have an average GMAT score of 645-660. Those who are targeting famous schools must strive to achieve a GMAT score of 650.

What is a good GMAT quant score?

A good GMAT quant score is above 45. The quant section is scored between 0-60 and is added to your total GMAT score. The average sectional score for quantitative aptitude was 40.5 in 2021. It is necessary to get a score above average to get admission to the top business schools. 

What is a good GMAT verbal score?

A score over 35 is considered a good GMAT verbal score. The average GMAT verbal score in GMAT in the 2021 academic year was 27.26. Therefore, you can understand that the verbal section is challenging for test-takers. A verbal score above 35 increases your chances to get into the top 20% of the test-takers.

What is a good GMAT integrated reasoning score?

A good GMAT integrated reasoning score is above 6 and the average GMAT integrated reasoning score was 4.6 in 2021. A perfect score of 8 in the section, which is scored between 0-8, will give a necessary boost to the overall GMAT score but a score above 6 is also considered higher than the average.

Where can I study with a GMAT score of 700?

You can study at top business schools like Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, Yale, Wharton and others with a GMAT score of 700. These business schools have students with an average GMAT score of above 700 and the GMAT score range is between 600 and 790. Therefore, you have a high chance of getting admission to almost all top MBA programs.

How can I score 740+ on GMAT?

You can score 700+ on GMAT by studying consistently and effectively. There is no alternative to that. Besides, you will have to study from the best study materials and practice from the appropriate test papers to get a good GMAT score. It is necessary that you have a fundamental knowledge of every aspect of GMAT from language to quant.

Is it possible to get into Harvard Business school with a low GMAT score?

Yes, it is possible to get into Harvard Business school with a low GMAT score but that should not be too low. Harvard Business School has accepted a GMAT score of 590 for admissions to 2023. So, students with a GMAT score a little lower than 600 can be accepted for admission at Harvard.

How is GMAT percentile calculated?

The GMAT percentile is calculated by comparing your scaled Quant and verbal scores to the scores of other test-takers. The percentile for each GMAT section shows the percentage of applicants whom you have outperformed in that particular section. For example, if you are at the 90th percentile, it denotes that you have done better than 90% of the GMAT candidates.

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