A good GMAT score is the one which will help you get an admit from your dream Business School. Therefore, what we need to understand first is that ‘good’ is a relative term. One GMAT score might be good for one business school but might not be good for another. So, in this article, we’ll discuss what is a good GMAT score for you and what are the factors to consider while deciding on a good GMAT score.
Here’s the outline of the article:
- Purpose of taking the GMAT
- Purpose of a good GMAT score
- What is the scoring system of the GMAT?
- 5-Step process of identifying a good GMAT score
- What is a good GMAT score for you?
Purpose of taking the GMAT
GMAT is required as a part of the MBA application process. Admission committees judge your intellectual aptitude and academic readiness with your GMAT score. In short, Ad Coms try and assess if you have the potential of successfully completing the rigorous MBA program.
But admission is just one of the three main purposes for taking the GMAT. Other two are an MBA scholarship and a successful post MBA career. You can read about these in detail in our article – Top 3 reasons – Why take the GMAT?
Purpose of a good GMAT score
A good GMAT score is an indicator of your sound intellectual aptitude and academic readiness. By scoring high on the GMAT, you are assuring the admission committees that you have the potential to not only ‘get in’ but also ‘get through’ the rigorous MBA program. It’s one of the reasons why the GMAT has the highest weightage in your MBA application. So, the purpose of a good GMAT score is to increase your chances of getting an admit into your dream business school, preferably with a scholarship.
But before deciding on a good GMAT score, first, we should understand the scoring system of the GMAT.
Scoring system of the GMAT
GMAT has 4 sections
- Quantitative – scored between 0 and 60
- Verbal – Scored between 0 and 60
- Integrated Reasoning – Scored between 0 and 6
- Analytical Writing Assessment – Scored between 1 and 8
Only the scores of Quantitative and Verbal sections are considered for the total GMAT score. The total GMAT score ranges between 200 and 800.
According to GMAC, the average GMAT score of all test takers between 2014 and 2017 is 561. This score is based on a sample size of 761,738. So, at this point, we can say that any score above the average score will be a good GMAT score. But that would not be correct. Why?
Because, everyone has unique goals and therefore a common answer to the question, “What is a good GMAT score?” cannot fit in.
There is a process you’ll have to follow to know what is a good GMAT score for you. So, let’s understand this 5-step process.
5 Step process of identifying a good GMAT score
Step – 1: Self-Assessment
To reach to your target business school, you must first know your starting point. There are two aspects to assessing yourself.
- Identifying your current GMAT score. The best way to achieve this is to take a diagnostic test.
- Assess your profile on the basis of the following factors:
- Pre-MBA industry
- Average GPA
- Average age
The purpose of this step is to establish a baseline. It will give you an idea of where you are as of now and following step 3 will give you an idea of where you want to go and the gap you have to fill.
For example – If you get a score of 450 in the diagnostic test and you have 2 months left for the application deadline then it would be difficult to improve to a 700+ score level in that amount of time. Moreover, at this time you’ll also have to work on your application essay.
Therefore, establishing a baseline score is essential.
Step – 2: Identify your target Business Schools
Once you are done assessing yourself, you should then identify your target business schools. The factors to consider here are your career goals. If you want a career in Finance Wharton is a business school you should target. If you want a career in consulting, Booth is the school you should target.
Step – 3: Research your target business schools
There are two aspects you need to research on, for your target business school
- Average GMAT score of last year’s incoming batch
- Last year’s class profile
Average GMAT score of last year’s incoming batch
A good GMAT score can be identified by looking at the average GMAT score of last year’s class. At this point, you should target a score which is 20+ points higher than this score. For example, Wharton’s average GMAT score in 2017 was 730. Therefore, a good GMAT score for Wharton should be 750+. Refer this article to know the average GMAT scores of other Business Schools.
So, now you know what is a good GMAT score according to your target business school. But, this calculation of a good GMAT score is still not personalized. To understand a good GMAT score according to you, you must research one more aspect, which is the latest class profile of your target business school.
Profile of last year’s class
Let’s pick Wharton as an example. 750+ is a good GMAT score which will increase your chances of getting an admit from Wharton. However, the chances of your admission will depend on the level of competition in your candidate pool. At the end of the day, Wharton like any other business school is trying to build a diverse class.
For example, if you are a software engineer from China, your candidate pool is highly competitive. A good GMAT score for you would be at least 30-40 points higher than the average GMAT score of Wharton. So, a good GMAT score for you would be 760+.
On the other hand, if you are an investment banker from Mexico, yours is a low competition candidate pool. You could get an admit from Wharton with a GMAT score of 720.
Anuj, an Indian engineer with a 6-year work experience in Petroleum and Energy industry received an admit from Duke with a 770 on the GMAT. On the other hand, Guillermo received an admit from Wharton with a 710 GMAT score and a 5-year work experience in Finance.
The crux of this whole analysis is that a good GMAT score is the one which will distinguish you in your candidate pool.
Step – 4: Refine the list of target business schools
Now you have an idea about a good GMAT score for you and are clear on your career goals, you should refine your list of business schools and divide them into three categories
- Reasonable ones (Your profile and GMAT score are a good fit)
- Optimistic ones (You are pushing your luck here, but there is a small chance of admission)
- Safety nets (You are almost sure of an admit)
Step – 5: Arrive at a good GMAT score for you
Once you a refined list of your target business schools, compute a good GMAT score for yourself by
- Understanding the competition level in your candidate pool
- Average GMAT score of the last incoming class
What is a good GMAT score for you?
A good GMAT score for you is the one which will help you stand out in your candidate pool. To identify this, follow this 5-step process and you’ll be able to identify a good GMAT score for you.
- Shortlist your target business schools
- Research your target business schools
- Average GMAT score of the incoming batch
- Latest Class profile
- Refine the list of target business schools
- Arrive at a good GMAT score for you
Let’s end this article with an example to solidify your understanding of the process.
- You are an Indian Engineer with a 4-5 year work experience and your baseline score is 680 at the moment. At this point, you wish to target the top 10 business schools.
- Considering your candidate pool competition and average GMAT score of your target business schools, a good GMAT score would be 30+ points higher than the maximum average GMAT score of the business schools.
- Stanford GSB has an average GMAT score of 737. Therefore, a GMAT score which would give you an edge would be 770 and above.
- If you are not left with enough time for preparation, then you can refine your list to the Business Schools from rank 6 to 15. With the same process, a good GMAT score for you would be 750 and above.
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We are sure that by following this process you would have arrived at a good GMAT score for you. Your next step would be preparing and acing the GMAT. We would be more than happy to help you with your GMAT preparation.