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If you are preparing to take your GMAT, you probably know what to expect. An essential part of your preparation process is knowing what you need to score on your test. That said, you want to know what is a good GMAT score before getting started with your studies. Well, there isn’t a standard score when it comes to determining success in the GMAT exam. It all depends on your individual goals. The question you should really be asking then is, “What is a good GMAT score for me?”
A good GMAT score is one which will enable you to reach your specific goal. For instance, help you get into a particular MBA program or earn a scholarship to a university of your choice. Every candidate has their own unique goals. Therefore, what’s a good GMAT score for your friend may be different from what is good for you. It’s important that you determine well in advance the GMAT score or score range you should aim for. This article breaks down what you need to know about GMAT percentiles and scores. In the end, you should be able to determine your target score or score range and move on to create a suitable study plan.
The GMAT is scored in four sections; Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment. Your total score on GMAT is composed of your Verbal and Quantitative reasoning scores and ranges between 200 and 800. This is the score that most business schools are likely to focus on the most. The individual sections of the GMAT are scored as follows:
The quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are item-level adaptive. That means the difficulty level of subsequent questions depends on how well you score on previous questions. Your scaled quantitative and verbal reasoning scores are converted from your raw GMAT section scores based on three factors:
A good GMAT score is one that gets you to your target MBA program. To find out what score is good for you, you need to decide what parameters you are comparing your score against. The most common GMAT score benchmarks are averages and percentiles.
According to the most recent published data by the GMAC, the average GMAT score is 564.8. This score lies at approximately the 42nd and 43rd percentile. GMAC also notes that about two-thirds of all test-takers receive a total score of between 400 and 600. It’s worth noting that a GMAT score of less than 600 may still get you into a good MBA program. However, it will limit the number of business schools you are competitive for.
The average score for the verbal reasoning section over the past three years is about 27/51, and 40/51 for the quantitative reasoning section.
It’s essential to target a score above average in all sections of the GMAT exam. However, note that most test takers score above average. Therefore a score that is simply above average will not help you stand out. To understand better where you stand in relation to other test takers, it is better to look at your percentiles. The percentiles will tell you what percentage of test takers you scored better than.
A total GMAT score of 600 puts you at the 53rd percentile. This means you have scored better than 53% of all test takers. You can get into many good MBA programs especially if you have a good undergraduate GPA and outstanding work experience. However, if your target is to get into some of the best and most competitive MBA programs, this score will not make you stand out.
A 650 GMAT score places you at the 72nd percentile and a 670 score places you at the 80th percentile. This range of scores is a good starting point for a high score. This score doesn’t guarantee you entry if your goal is to enter a top 25 MBA program, and neither does it rule it out either. If the other components of your application are stellar, for instance, a high GPA, an outstanding essay, or even an impressive work experience, you still stand a chance. If you are not keen on necessarily entering the top 25, there are still a good number of business schools with excellent MBA programs that you can still get into.
A 700 score will place you at the 88th percentile. It is often not necessary to score this high to get into most MBA programs. However, if you are set on joining the top 20 business schools or earning a merit scholarship in one such school, you will need to target a score of 700 or above.
A 720 score places you at the 94th percentile and puts the topmost MBA programs in the world within your reach, including Harvard Business School, Stanford Business School, and the University of Chicago. A GMAT score of 740 is at the 97th percentile and places you above the average GMAT score of all MBA programs. If you get to the 99th percentile, you may just have access to a scholarship in any school of your choice.
The Integrated Reasoning and AWA scores are not part of your total GMAT. Most business schools do not place great emphasis on these scores. However, you should not ignore the AWA and Integrated reasoning scores if your target is to get into top business schools. If your goal is to get a scholarship or you want to get into the top 10 business schools try to ensure that both your AWA and IR scores are at least at the 80th percentile. This is a score of 7 for Integrated Reasoning and 5.5 for AWA. It is worth noting that while an excellent score in these two GMAT sections may not count for much, a poor score could badly damage your chances of admission.
To determine your target GMAT score, it is essential to first of all understand your goal in taking the exam. It could be a part of a business school admission application process, to win a merit scholarship to a business school, or even as a part of a job or internship application process. Different business schools judge scores differently, your first task is to establish the score that will help you reach your unique goals. How do you go about this?
Your first step in determining your target score is to list the schools you’d like to attend and if you are hoping for a scholarship, note that down as well. You should apply to a number of schools, not too few or you may miss out on a good opportunity, and not too many or you may spread yourself too thin in the process. Try to include in your list your dream schools, schools that you know you qualify for based on the means of the latest entrants, and schools that you can afford, you want to go to and you feel confident you will get admitted to.
Search for the name of your chosen program and look for the average GMAT score. You are likely to find this information on the school’s website in a section detailing the student profile. Write this down for each of the schools on your list. You may also include the average GPA.
Arrange your chosen business schools in order of average GMAT scores from the highest to the lowest. Your target score will be about at the top of your list which will make you a competitive candidate for all schools on your list. Schools tend to use both GPA and GMAT during their selection process, if your GPA is below the average for a particular school, you may need to target a higher GMAT score to make up for the difference. Do note that for every average, there are scores below and above, so this method gives you a small leeway, that even if you fall slightly below the average, you may still get a chance for admission especially if the other parts of your application such as work experience and recommendations are impressive.
Now that you know your target score, work towards meeting it. Practice, work on your weaknesses, do as many practice tests as you can prior to your exam, and if you still don’t pass you can retake the test.
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