A 9 minute read

[Updated 2021] Understanding GMAT Score & GMAT Percentiles – What do they mean?

GMAT score is the first milestone on the road to your dream business school. A good GMAT score is an indicator of the student’s ability to cop-up the demanding MBA curriculum. It assures business schools that you can not only ‘get in’ but also ‘get through’ their MBA program.

As GMAT score is a key component of your application process, I am sure each one of you has wondered about one of the following aspects:

Understanding GMAT Scores GMAT Percentiles | GMAT Percentile Rankings | GMAT Score Percentiles

Of all the above questions, the most commonly asked one is, “What is a good GMAT score?” An apt answer to this question is, ‘It depends on your target business school and your profile’. But before we delve into ‘what is a good GMAT test score’, let’s first understand the various nuances of GMAT percentiles, scores, and how they are calculated.

Understanding GMAT Score – A general overview

In this section, we’ll cover common queries related to GMAT Score Range, GMAT Total Score, Highest GMAT Score, and Average GMAT Score. You can also watch this video to understand how the GMAT score translates to percentile.

The GMAT score range between 200 and 800, with 800 being the highest GMAT Score possible. GMAT is scored in increments of 10. (for example – 700, 710, 720 and so on). GMAT assesses certain analytical, writing, quantitative, and verbal skills that are critical for admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA. About 70% of the test takers score between 400 and 600.

understanding gmat score percentiles | good gmat score

How are different sections of the GMAT scored?

There are four sections in the GMAT i.e., Quant, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning (IR), and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). You get a scaled score for each of the sections. Note that the GMAT Total Score is calculated using the scores of Quant and Verbal sections only.

How is GMAT Scored
GMAT SectionScaled Score
Quantitative6-51
Verbal6-51
Integrated Reasoning1-8
Analytical Writing Assessment0-6

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What is the Average GMAT Score?

This is an interesting aspect to cover. Every year approximately 150,000 unique students take the GMAT test including repeat attempts, which translates to a total of approximately 250,000 test attempts.

Of these, only 9% of the students score 700 or more, 1% score 760 or more, and 93% usually fail to get what is considered a good GMAT Score.

According to GMAC, here is the average GMAT score based on 695,794 test-takers between the period of January 2017 to December 2019:

  • The average GMAT score is 564.84
  • The average GMAT Verbal score is 27.11
  • The average GMAT Quant score is 40.38
  • The average GMAT AWA score is 4.45
  • The average GMAT IR score is 4.51

In contrast, when we look at the top 10 business schools, like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and Yale, we have an average GMAT score of 730 — which is in the 96th percentile.

Next, let’s look at how the breakdown of people scoring above 750 in a year looks like:

ScoreNumber of People with the mentioned test ScoreCorresponding GMAT Percentile Rankings
7602,10099.0%
77036099.84%
7806099.97%
7901099.996%
800100%

How do GMAT Test Scores translate to GMAT Percentiles?

gmat score percentile confusion

Here’s what the GMAC says about GMAT Scores and GMAT percentiles: “GMAT Scores also include a Percentile Ranking. This number indicates the percentage of test-takers that you performed better than.

They further explain that while your GMAT score will not change, the Percentile Ranking may as GMAT Percentiles are recalculated every summer using exam data from the prior three years.

The percentile associated with a GMAT score is the percentage of people whom you have outscored by getting that score.

For example, a total GMAT score of 750 is about the 98th percentile. This means: if you get a score of 750 on the GMAT, you have performed better than 98% of the GMAT test-takers.

Take a look at the table below to understand the relation between GMAT Test Scores and GMAT Percentiles.

GMAT scores and percentiles

The GMAT score is in the range of 200 to 800 and each GMAT score translates to GMAT percentile figure. The same is the case with GMAT scores of Quant, Verbal, IR, and AWA sections. For all these sub-sections your score will translate into a percentile.

Take a look at the following table to understand how to convert GMAT scores into percentiles.

This table is the updated GMAT score percentiles based on 695,794 GMAT scores between January 2017 and December 2019

GMAT scoreGMAT percentile
80099%
79099%
78099%
77099%
76099%
75098%
74097%
73096%
72094%
71091%
70088%
69085%
68082%
67080%
66077%
65073%
64067%
63065%
62062%
61058%
60054%

 GMAT Quant scores and percentiles

GMAT Quant scoreGMAT Quant Percentile
5197%
5086%
4974%
4867%
4760%
4657%
4554%
4448%
4345%
4241%
4138%
4036%
3933%
3831%
3729%
3626%
3524%
3422%
3321%
3219%
3117%
3016%
2914%
2813%
2711%
2610%
259%
248%
238%
226%
216%
205%
195%
184%
173%
163%
143%
132%
122%
112%
101%
91%
81%
71%
60%

 GMAT Verbal scores and percentiles

GMAT Verbal scoreGMAT Verbal Percentile
5199%
5099%
4999%
4899%
4799%
4699%
4599%
4498%
4296%
4194%
4090%
3989%
3885%
3782%
3680%
3576%
3471%
3368%
3266%
3161%
3058%
2956%
2851%
2746%
2643%
2538%
2436%
2332%
2230%
2126%
2022%
1919%
1817%
1714%
1612%
1510%
149%
137%
125%
113%
102%
92%
81%
71%
60%

GMAT AWA and IR scores and percentiles

GMAT IR scoreGMAT IR Percentile
891%
781%
666%
550%
433%
319%
29%
10%
GMAT AWA scoreGMAT AWA Percentile
688%
5.581%
556%
4.546%
418%
3.511%
34%
2.53%
21%
1.51%
11%
0.51%
00%

Now, let’s address the next question – How is the GMAT score calculated?

How is GMAT scored?

The most important thing you need to understand is that the GMAT is an adaptive test. This means that the difficulty level of questions keeps changing according to your performance. For example, the test might keep increasing the difficulty level of questions if you keep answering them correctly.

But why does the test adjust the difficulty level of questions?

For one simple reason, it wants to assess your ability level. A person who can answer higher difficulty level questions has a high ability level as compared to one who is not able to answer those questions. Therefore, your GMAT score depends on two factors:

  1. Number of questions answered correctly
  2. The average difficulty level of questions answered correctly

GMAT does not allow you to skip questions, so you have to answer all the questions presented to you. Hence, even if you don’t know the answer to a question, you shouldn’t waste your time on them. Mark an answer and move on to the next question. Unlike other tests, there is no negative marking for marking a wrong answer on the GMAT.

My Target GMAT Score – Is there a GMAT Score Calculator I can use?

e- gmat planner easy to understand gmat score chart

You’ll find a lot of complicated GMAT Score charts or tables which will explain Quant and Verbal scaled score requirements to achieve a target GMAT Score. At e-GMAT, we strive to make the students’ life easier at every level and therefore, we have built this fantastic tool called the GMAT Personalized  Study Planner. With this tool, you can not only find out the Quant and Verbal Sectional scores but also Sub-sectional scores in Quant (Algebra, Arithmetic, etc.) and Verbal (CR, RC, and SC) to achieve your target GMAT Score! Moreover, this tool will craft your very own study plan in 5 minutes.

e- GMAT’s GMAT Personlized Study Planner – An amazing tool to calculate GMAT Score. 

Here are the features of this GMAT study plan tool 

GMAT study plan - The personalized study planner tool

Understanding GMAT Score Reports and GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)

There are two types of GMAT score reports:

  1. Unofficial GMAT score report – You’ll receive it as soon as you complete the test, and if you choose to accept the score. You’ll get 2 minutes to either accept or cancel your score. You have the option of canceling your GMAT score within 72 hours after the scheduled start time of your exam- this can be done online for a nominal fee of $25. This report includes all your test scores except for AWA.
  2. Official GMAT score report – You’ll receive this report within 20 calendar days. It includes scores for all the sections of the GMAT.

GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR) –

gmat esr

An ESR presents you with the following comprehensive set of post-exam diagnostic information-

  • Total GMAT score and percentile
  • Sectional scores and time management
  • Sub-sectional scores and time management
  • Accuracy level during the test
  • The average difficulty level of questions you answered correctly and incorrectly
  • Average time per response for both correctly and incorrectly answered questions

Learn about the features added in the new GMAT ESR

This information will help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and provide additional insight into the skills tested within each section. This report will be highly beneficial in case you want to retake the GMAT. It will help you refine your GMAT test preparation.

Recently, GMAC has changed the format of the GMAT exam. Read more to know about the new GMAT format.

What is a good GMAT score?

This question requires a more subjective answer than just a number. At the outset, a score above 700 might be considered a good score. But it might not help all the test-takers achieve their dream. Therefore, we have answered this crucial question in 2 different contexts:

Question 1 – What is a good score for MBA Admissions?

Look at the table below for the average GMAT score of the incoming batch of the top 10 business schools. A good GMAT score is something that is at least 20 points higher than the average GMAT score of the incoming batch. For example, if you are targeting Harvard Business School, a good GMAT score would be around 750.

Take a look at this article to know the average GMAT scores of tup business schools in the US and Europe

Five most important steps on how to get into a top business school
MBA program2019 GMAT2018 GMAT2017 GMAT2016 GMAT 2015 GMAT 2014 GMAT 
The Wharton School732732730730732728
Harvard Business School730729729729725726
Stanford Graduate School of Business734732737737733732
Booth School of Business730731730726726724
Kellogg School of Management730732732728724713
MIT Sloan School of Management727728722724716713
Dartmouth Tuck723722722717717716
Columbia Business School727732724720715716
UC Berkeley (Haas)725726725717715717
Yale School of Management720724727725721719

As you would have noticed, average GMAT scores are increasing year on year for top business schools, and we can expect this trend to continue in the coming years.

Scope and Importance of GMAT – Know more about how important is GMAT for your MBA Admissions and beyond

Question 2 – What is a good GMAT Test Score for MBA Scholarships?

Scholarship committees evaluate many factors before awarding a scholarship and GMAT score is an important factor considered by them.

If you are stressed out about paying for your MBA but have an envious GMAT score, you stand a good chance of getting a business fellowship or scholarship.

As this is an important topic that requires comprehensive information, we’ve written another post covering this topic in detail – What is a good GMAT score for MBA Scholarships?

Question 3 – Which GMAT Score Admission Committees consider if I have taken GMAT multiple times?

It is an important question in the mind of most applicants. The answer to this question is that the Admission Committees (Ad-coms) get a report which includes only those GMAT scores which you have accepted in the last five years. If you have canceled a score, that score will not be shared with the Ad-Coms. Additionally, if you have more than one GMAT score, which you have accepted, most Ad-Coms look at your highest GMAT Score. Because the GMAT score has a high weight-age in the application process, Ad-coms always consider your best GMAT score.

What is the GMAT Score weightage and other Evaluation Factors for MBA Admissions?

Takeaways – GMAT Scores and Percentiles

  • A good GMAT test score depends on your target business school and is 20+ points more than the average score of the incoming batch.
  • GMAT test score depends on the following factors:
    • Number of questions answered correctly
    • The average difficulty level of these questions
  • Business School Admission committees get access to your accepted GMAT scores only. Out of these scores, they consider the highest GMAT score in the MBA application process.
  • There are 2 types of score reports – an unofficial report which you receive immediately after the test and an official report which you receive within 20 calendar days.
  • GMAT score has the highest weight-age in the MBA application process and is an important factor in getting a scholarship for your dream MBA Program.

Are you aiming for a 740+ GMAT score? Kickstart your preparation now by signing up for a free trial. Learn from the most reviewed company on gmatclub.

FAQ – GMAT score and percentile

What is the score range of the GMAT?

You can score anywhere between 200 and 800 on the GMAT.

What is the score ranges on GMAT sections?

You get a scaled score for GMAT sections and you can score in the following ranges
1. Quantitative: 6-51
2. Verbal: 6-51
3. Integrated Reasoning: 1-8
4. Analytical Writing Assessment: 0-6
Know more about the format of the GMAT

How much should I score to get a 99 percentile on the GMAT?

You should score 760 or above on the GMAT to get a 99 percentile. Here is Ashray’s story who scored GMAT 760 in 20 days.

What percentile does GMAT 700 translate into?

GMAT 700 means you have an 88-percentile score.

What is a good GMAT score?

A good GMAT score is one that makes your MBA application competitive. Therefore, a good GMAT score would depend on your MBA profile. Here are the 5 steps that’ll help you identify a good GMAT score.

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