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Understanding Your GMAT Score Report

What is contained in the GMAT Score Report?  When do you get your hot hands on this information?  That’s what we’ll discuss in this blog article.  The short answer is that you get everything except the essay results as soon as you walk out of the GMAT (for more details on that “everything,” see below!)  You walk out of the high-security Pearson testing room, and immediately they hand you a printout of your results before you even can retrieve your stuff from the lockers.  Then, about 20 days later, you will get the whole shebang, everything you already know plus the essay results, either electronically or by snail mail, whichever you chose.  That’s the big picture: now see below for the details!

gmat score report, gmat total score, 460 gmat score

You can take the GMAT more than once.  The total GMAT score report sent to adcom will include all GMATs you have taken in the past five years, except the ones you have canceled.  There is no trace of any cancellations on your score report (this last fact is new, a change from pre-2016 policy).

What is in the GMAT Score Report?

The total GMAT Score Report has the following components

1) Your Quantitative Score (0 – 60), with percentile

2) Your Verbal Score (0 – 60), with percentile

3) Your Total GMAT Score (200 – 800), with percentile

4) AWA Score (half-integers from 0 to 6), with percentile

5) Integrated Reasoning score (integer from 1 to 8)

Item #3, the “Total” score combines your Quantitative and Verbal scores, but doesn’t take any other parts into account.

Once again, as soon as you finish your GMAT in the test center, you will get almost the entire GMAT score report right away—everything except your AWA score, because that requires a human grader to review it.  The total GMAT score report arrives about 20 days later, finally including your AWA score.

What is a percentile?

The percentile associated with a particular score is the percent of the population whom you have outscored by getting that score.  For example, a total GMAT score of 700 is about the 89th percentile.  This means: if you score a 700 on your GMAT, you have done better than 89% of the folks who took the GMAT.  (The scoring has been relatively consistent for years, so GMAC can say: it’s not just 89% of the folks who took the GMAT when you took it, but 89% of everyone who took the GMAT in the past three years.)  Another way of saying that: scoring above 700 puts you in the top 10-11% of folks taking the GMAT.

A Verbal subscore of 40 would be in the 91st percentile, definitely in the top 10%.  By contrast, a Quant subscore of 40 would be only the 43rd percentile, not even in the top 50%!  The two subscores rare definitely not equivalent.  This in part reflects a vast asymmetry in the GMAT test-taking pool: many more GMAT takers in an international market excel in math and struggle in verbal, so commanding performances in math are reasonably common, whereas commanding performances in verbal are less frequent.

The charts below show the most recent GMAT percentile data provided by GMAC. The data comes from a sample of over 750,000 students who took the GMAT between 2013 and 2015.

GMAT Score Percentiles


GMAT Scaled Score Percentiles

Quant PercentileQuant Scaled ScoreVerbal PercentileVerbal Scaled Score

AWA and Integrated Reasoning Percentiles

AWA PercentileAWA ScoreIR PercentileIR Score

What is a “good” GMAT total score?

This is an impossible question to answer in general.  In some sense, the answer is: a good GMAT score is a score sufficient to help you get into the Business School that is right for you.  What makes a Business school “right” for you?  A panoply of factors, including location, cost, requirements, the feel of the school, etc. If you’re interested in knowing the average GMAT scores of top business programs, take a look at this helpful GMAT scores infographic.

Obviously, the higher the score, the more options you will probably have.  It may be that, to some extent, you can offset a lower college GPA with a stellar GMAT score report.

It is a fact that a solid test prep source, such as Magoosh, can raise your GMAT grade substantially.  In fact, Magoosh has a 50-point score increase guarantee: if you have already taken an official GMAT once, then Magoosh guarantees that if you use the product extensively, your score will increase by at least a minimum of 50 points (many users see much larger increases).  That’s extraordinary: such an increase can bring you from 650 (77th percent = top 23%) to 700 (89th percentile = top 11%)!

By all means, strive to do the best you can do, and use the effective help of Magoosh or another source of similar quality.  At the same time, it’s important to be realistic about your abilities and the time & energy you have to prepare.  If your first GMAT score was a 460, then with concerned effort and the support of Magoosh, you will be able to get up into the 500s and maybe even the 600s, but it may be that a GMAT score in the high 700s is unrealistic for you, and that’s OK.  Always strive for your personal best, but it’s hard to compete with everyone out there.   The goal of the GMAT is to get you into Business School, the goal of business school will be to get an MBA, and the goal of an MBA is to get into management positions in the business world.  Many folks who are wildly successful in upper management in the business world had less than stellar GMATs and went to unrecognizable un-prestigious business schools.  Conversely, some folks are brilliant test takers, and ace the GMAT, but then wind up not so successful in the rough and tumble of the business world.

A big part of success is being canny enough to know how to leverage your particular gifts to the greatest effect.  Trust the unique combination of gifts and talents you bring, seek to learn the skills that will most complement and bring forth who you are, and learn to recognize the environments in which you can most effectively thrive.  Do the best you can do on the GMAT, and trust that this will be good enough to lead you to where you need to be in the big picture.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July, 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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8 Responses to Understanding Your GMAT Score Report

  1. Neha August 8, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    I have a 96 percentile. While I know it means that 4% of the people who take the GMAT got higher scores that me, I wanted to know if that can be quantified in more absolute terms. Essentially, 4% of how many people?

  2. Faruk July 3, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    My first score was 460 (V17 ,Q38 AWA 4)…Is it possible for me to score 650-680?I have two months in my hand…Please suggest ..Thanks

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike July 3, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Faruk: Whether that is possible depends on (a) your background; (b) how fast you learn; (c) how much time you will be able to work *each day* over the next two months. I strongly suggest getting a full Magoosh account, which will help you immensely, and I strongly suggest seeing our study plans on the sidebar of this page (you could tailor a three-month plan down to fit the time you have). I hope that helps.
      Mike 🙂

      • Faruk July 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

        Thanks a lot Mike..If I subscribe only with the verbal section,will that help?I think I will able to do well in Quant by myself..but really frustrated with my verbal score..

        • Mike MᶜGarry
          Mike July 4, 2012 at 9:35 am #

          Faruk: it does sound like you are much stronger in Quant, but I think I would recommend signing up for everything. The reasons are (a) the cost difference between Verbal only vs. the whole schmiel is minimal, and (b) you are already good in Quantitative, but if Magoosh gives you the ability to move, say, just 3 points further, that additional edge will move your overall GMAT score that much higher. Yes, the biggest gains will definitely be in Verbal, but don’t underestimate the additional advantage that might come from even a small increase in Math. We want to move your whole GMAT score forward as far as possible. Does that make sense?
          Mike 🙂

          • Faruk July 4, 2012 at 9:58 am #

            ya Mike you are right..Will I able to complete the course within two months?I have a deadline coming up for the Jan session so can’t take more than two months..I am currently off of job for the GMAT preparation..So I can devote a large amount of time( If you say I can promise 10 hours a day).What do you think ? Will I able to cross atleast the 600 barrier within this time period?

            • Mike MᶜGarry
              Mike July 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

              Faruk: With 10 hr/day, you easily will be able to complete the 3 month plan in two months. As for whether you break 600 — so much depends on you, on how you learn and so forth, but I would say, 10 hr/day with Magoosh for two months — that sounds like a *very* promising plan for breaking 600. Keep up the commitment, work hard every day, and it will pay off.
              Mike 🙂

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