Fact: GMAC recently announced the Enhanced Score Report (ESR) feature.
Fact: The ESR is available for all GMATs completed after October 1, 2013.
Fact: The cost of the ESR is $24.95 (US)
Fact: You can download an official fact sheet.
Fact: You can watch the official online demo.
Fact: You can decide to get this right at the end of your GMAT, but you don’t have to make a decision right then, on the spot: you can make the decision after you go home and think about it.
OK, those are the basic facts. Now, what exactly are they offering here?
What is the GMAT Enhanced Score Report?
As you may know, when you finish your GMAT and walk out of the testing room, they will hand you an unofficial basic GMAT Score Report. This will tell you your V & Q subscores, your IR, and your composite GMAT score. A couple weeks later, they send you your official score report, which has all that information plus your AWA (which takes a couple weeks to process). All that, you get for “free”—that is, they are included in the price of a GMAT. You can figure out basic percentile rankings yourself, for the total score and for the Q & V sections, by reading about GMAT percentiles.
For the ESR, you have to pay another twenty-five clams, $25 US, over and above what you paid to take the GMAT in the first place. What do you get? The ESR give you a full breakdown.
For the Verbal Section, the ESR tells you your percentile ranking for Verbal (which you could figure out yourself, but it also gives you your percentile ranking for each of the three Verbal question types: Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction. It also give you the time you spent on average on each Verbal question, an average time for each of the three question formats, and the average time spent on a Verbal question for the average test taker.
Similarly for the Quantitative Section, the ESR gives you your percentile and average time spent for the entire section, for each of the two question types (Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency), and for two broad content areas: Arithmetic and Algebra/Geometry.
For the Integrated Reasoning, it tells you your IR score, your percentile rank for the section, the percent of questions you answered correctly, the average time you spent on questions you got right, and the average time you spent on questions you got wrong. It also tells you the average time that an average test taker took on IR questions.
The online demo is designed as if the AWA had not been graded yet for the hypothetical GMAT student shown, but the AWA section of the ESR just shows the “meaning” of the different AWA scores: basically, this is a rehashed version of the information in the OG13 or OG2015 on pp. 791-792. It’s not clear that, even when your AWA were graded, any information about your essay would be shown here, other than perhaps a percentile rank. The rest of the GMAT is computer-scored and processed, so it’s very easy to generate all kinds of information from this bank of data, but the AWA is not computerized in nearly the same way, so they are likely to give far less detailed feedback on it.
Should I get the GMAT Enhanced Score Report?
Well, it depends. In the official info sheet, GMAC says: “The GMAT ESR will help you better understand your performance on the exam and its potential impact on your graduate school applications. It can help you speak to admissions staff about your skills . . . ” Hmmm. I would say: if you get, say, a 760 on the GMAT, that’s a score that simply speaks for itself. Any extra analysis of a very high score would be entirely gratuitous. In fact, if your GMAT score is above the median for the schools for which you are applying, you don’t need the ESR.
If you are not planning to take the GMAT again, and your score is more or less at the median, or perhaps even a bit below the median, of your target schools, then certainly you are going to have to think how you are going to “sell yourself” to the schools. How are you going to spin your application? It may be about “look at my fascinating work experience.” It may be about “listen to my dream business and how I plan to change the world.” It may be that other parts of your application are awesome enough that a middling GMAT score will not matter. If you feel the need to apologize for anything about your GMAT, or explain away any part of it, then perhaps the ESR would help you make your case.
The ESR & Retaking the GMAT
The one case in which the ESR undoubtedly would be particular helpful is when you know that you are going to retake the GMAT. In this case, you need as much data as possible about what your weak areas are and how to improve. If you have been practicing, and using GMAT Prep, you probably already have a good idea of your relative strengths and weaknesses, but the time data in particular, the average time spent on each question type, could be golden.
Keep in mind, though: even this data only captures broad swathes. Suppose you are low, say, in Algebra/Geometry: what does that mean? There could be any one of a number of topics that you need to learn in greater detail. More likely, it’s not so much a lack of knowledge of particular math factoids, but your mode of thinking, the way you analyze and unpack problems. It might be an over-reliance on formulas, or you may have to understand mathematical thinking more deeply. Math happens in the details: you may not get much help from high-level data, such as the ESR provides, but much more from individualized explanations for specific problems—not unlike the video explanations that each Magoosh question has! Overall, the ESR is not going to tell you everything, or even most, of what you going to need to add 50 or 100 points on your GMAT retake. It tells you what it tells you: take it for what it’s worth.
If you are not retaking the GMAT, and especially if your GMAT score is high, then you don’t need the GMAT ESR. If you plan to retake, and especially if you have taken more than one GMAT since October, 2013, the ESR can be very helpful. The ESR will not tell you everything you will need for a successful retake, but it’s a good start.
If you have any questions about the GMAT ESR, or you have your own experiences with it that you want to share, please let us know in the comments sections below!