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What Is a Good GMAT Score?

What is a good GMAT score, and who defines this abstruse and perplexing standard? Can good GMAT scores and average GMAT scores differ by a single point? Do business schools agree on a single definition of good and bad scores at some top-secret GMAT Scores for Business Schools Convention?

what is a good gmat score

When we discuss what’s a good GMAT score versus a bad score, there are a lot of questions to answer (see above). But the most important thing to know is that a good GMAT score for one person is not necessarily the same as a good GMAT score for another person. Your goal GMAT score may be 10 points above or below that of your friend or peer. So the question really becomes: What is a good GMAT score for you?

Before we get into a discussion of setting a target GMAT score for yourself, let’s take a step back and discuss GMAT scores in broad strokes.

GMAT Scores: Percentiles

The GMAT is scored from 200 to 800. Two-thirds of students score between 400 and 600 on the exam. According to GMAC, the folks who create the GMAT, the GMAT score percentiles reveal the link between GMAT score and percentile of everyone who takes the GMAT. To start, here are some of the correlations between GMAT score and percentile.

The mean GMAT score is 551.94.

ScorePercentile Ranking
80099%
75098%
70089%
65076%
60059%
55043%
50030%
45019%
40011%
3506%
3003%
2502%
2000%

Sample Size: 757,035
Standard Deviation: 120.88
Data Period: 2013 – 2015
Note: GMAC has not yet released percentile data for 2016

Notice that 780 and 790 and 800 all mean about the same in the great scheme of things.  What constitutes a “good GMAT score” to some extent depends on what you mean.

If you score anywhere over 600, you have done better than the majority of folks who take the GMAT — you have an above-average GMAT score but far from a perfect score.  If you score over 600, and certainly if you score over 650, that will be high enough to get you into relatively respectable schools.  But what if you have set your sights higher?

What is a good GMAT score for top business schools?

Each year, US News & World Report ranks the “Best Business Schools”, and if you sign up with them, you can get the full information for these schools (tuition, enrollment figures, average GMAT scores, average undergraduate GPA, acceptance rates, and percent of students employed at graduation).  Harvard and Stanford top the list.  The 2016 average GMAT scores for students at these two universities are 725 and 733 respectively.

Remember, those are average GMAT scores, which means that individual scores at each of those schools can be either above or below those numbers.  If your GMAT score is, say, 740, then it would be above-average for every business school in the world.  For the other “top ten” schools, the average GMAT scores are between 715 and 733.  If you score above 710, your score is in the territory of the elite schools, and if you score anywhere above 750, your GMAT score is stratospherically high.  At that point, business school admission depends far more on the other aspects of your application, especially your work experience, your references, your interview, and your essays.  A high, even perfect, GMAT score will not help you if you have no valuable work experience or cannot make a compelling case for yourself.

For more information on the GMAT scores needed for top business schools, I highly recommend taking a look at our GMAT Scores for Top Business Schools infographic.

GMAT Scores for Top Business Schools Infographic

Perfect GMAT score, average GMAT score, or in between

If you are currently at 600, getting up to 650 would be a huge move — a push from the 59th percentile to the 76th percentile.  If you are at 680, then getting up to 710 would be enormous — crossing the great 700 threshold, moving from top 25% to top 10%.

BUT, if you already have scored between 710-750, adding another 30 points to your GMAT score really won’t do much for your application — and if all the extra blood & sweat & tears it takes to get that additional 30 points take away from the rest of your application, it’s not worth it.  With a GMAT in the 710-750 zone, you have already abundantly demonstrated that your academic ability is quite sufficient to prosper at Wharton, Sloan, or Kellogg.  There are other dimensions you need to demonstrate as well.

If you take the GMAT once, and score higher than 750, that’s great.  If you take it once, get a 720, and want to take it again in an attempt to score higher, think again.  There’s a diminishing returns problem here.

In simple terms, once your GMAT score is more than about 700, the “academic achievement” box is checked.  The schools know you can handle the academic load — both a 720 and a 770 make that same basic statement.  What matters after that is whether the rest of your application is well-rounded — whether you are good fit for the school and whether the admissions people think you have promising leadership potential.  If you have that, then all you need from the GMAT, even for the top schools, is something in the 700+ range; if you don’t have the well-rounded stuff, adding another 50 points to an already high GMAT score will not do bupkis for your application.

Once you get a 700+ GMAT score, it’s insanity to spend more time trying to improve it: at that point, you are done with the GMAT, and you should work to make the rest of your application show that you are a well-rounded candidate.  Getting a 770 GMAT score is a neat trick, but if that’s the only thing you have to your credit, you’re just a “one trick pony” as far as elite business schools are concerned.

Want a higher GMAT score?

What if the hazards of the stratosphere are not your concern? If you have little idea of your own starting point, I would suggest beginning with the Magoosh GMAT Diagnostic Test.

What if your GMAT score is currently in the low 600s and you would like to move to the high 600s or even low 700s?  Read the articles on this free blog and check out our resource recommendations.  We have a series of study schedules you may find helpful — check them out here. Also, read our review of the best GMAT books and resources!  Your personal best GMAT score is not necessarily a perfect score, but it’s what you can do when you are fully prepared and on your game — that’s exactly what Magoosh can do for you!

So, what’s a good GMAT score for you?

Ultimately, you need to identify the GMAT score you would need to get into your target program or programs. Many students apply to target schools, safety schools, and reach schools. At the very least, you should apply to programs that you have a reasonable chance of getting into. Once you have your list of the schools you’d like to apply to, do some research:

  • Identify your target school
    • Research the programs you’re interested in attending and make a list of the business schools you plan to apply to.
  • Research the program’s application requirements
    • Go to the school’s admissions website and figure out what their application entails. Make note of important application deadlines so that you know how long you have to prepare for your GMAT and complete the rest of your application requirements.
  • Research stats on the program’s most recently admitted class
    • GMAT score ranges can vary widely from one program to another. Most business schools will openly state the average GMAT score of their recently admitted class on their admissions website. Some even offer GMAT score percentile ranges for the recently admitted class. Start there. You can always subscribe to US News & World Report to get more information if you can’t find it for free.
  • Talk to current students and the admissions committee
    • In addition to learning more about the program and the culture of the school, talking with current students and the admissions committee can help you gain insight into the admissions process. Maybe your chosen program values your essay and recommendation letters more than a top 20% GMAT score. Or maybe you really do need a 710 to get in. Either way, it’s useful to know how things work.
  • Set your target GMAT score
    • In order to increase your chances of admission, you’re going to want to aim for a GMAT score that is higher than the average score of the recently admitted class. If you’re scoring in the 75th percentile of students, then you’re in good shape. If you’re in the 50th percentile, then you’re going to either need to try for a higher score or spend a lot of time perfecting the rest of your application.
  • Prep with your target GMAT score in mind
    • Determine your baseline score, sign up for a prep course, start using a study schedule, take timed practice tests, and be sure to focus your energy on your weaknesses, not on re-affirming your strengths.

GMAT Scores: Summary

Who knew that determining your “good GMAT score” would be a challenge in and of itself? Hopefully you now have a better idea of how it’s accomplished and can go about researching your target schools and setting your goal GMAT Score.

So tell us: what are your GMAT score aspirations?  What are your plans for the GMAT and for business school?  What has been your experience in the B-school application process?  What about taking the GRE instead? Maybe check out this GMAT to GRE score conversion to see where you would stand. We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Mike McGarry in February of 2013, and has been recently updated by Rita Kreig for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh GMAT Prep!

28 Responses to What Is a Good GMAT Score?

  1. Arpit November 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    Mike,
    Thanks for another great post. I took my test yesterday and got a 730 (Q49, V 40). Kinda disappointed, I was targeted 780 and was achieving 750 on the gmat prep, but, bygones are bygones. I bombed the IR though, a weak 5 (54%).
    While your post is great in general, but I heard the schools have separate cut offs depending on nationalities. So, while a 730 may be a great score, but owing to the large applications from let’s say India, 730 isn’t a great score. After all, to keep the class diverse, there’s only as many people from the samw nationalities you can admit. Is it true, and does this indicate I need to retake the test to get those extra 30points?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

      Hi Arpit,

      Congrats on the great score, and I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the post! So, most schools will not have (or at least will never state that they have) an explicit cutoff or quota for nationality or any other criteria. However, you are correct that they want to have a diverse class, so they may be more selective for students with similar backgrounds. That being said, remember that the GMAT is just one piece to your application. Diversity goes beyond just the score. With a 730, you are competitive and sometimes the other pieces of your application will make the difference. At the same time, obviously having a higher score may make you feel more comfortable. At the end of the day, it becomes a personal decision. How do you think you can most strengthen your application. Will retaking the exam and getting a 760 do the trick, or will time be better spent focusing on your essays? Good luck!

  2. Ray April 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Mike,

    I just finished taking the GMAT and received an unofficial score of 740. I did not study a whole lot for it because I was confident that I would test well. When I entered the test, I was completely unprepared for the AWA, and I definitely bombed it (wrote very little and did not finish my arguments or provide good examples.) If i have a solid score otherwise, but a very weak AWA, is it worth retaking the exam just to improve this less important score?

    Thanks!

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike April 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

      Dear Ray,
      Congratulations on a fantastic GMAT score. NO, do NOT retake. I would say: just make sure your personal statement to B-school is a masterpiece, so that they know you can write.
      Mike 🙂

  3. Jyoty April 9, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Dear Mike,
    Thanks for the great post. Kindly advice me further pl.
    I have a 730 Q50 and V38 (Well, I scored better in GMATprep (750,760) though, however reading the post above and other such advice I feel retaking is no good,What do you say?)
    IR score is 8.Awaiting my AWA scores.
    I have 2 years of experience as of now and since I am trying for class of 2017, it would add up to almost 3 yrs by then.
    By GPA at Undergrad is 9.1 on a scale of 10. Academics have been fairly good overall.
    I have some good enough leadership experience in college.
    Can you advise me as to in which schools do I have a better chance of admission? As I aim for a career in Strategy, I would love the top notches (H/S/W). I also really like CBS.Kellogg and Booth also seem good. Kindly suggest some qualified admission consultants in India.
    Cheers 🙂 Have a great day!

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike April 9, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      Dear Jyoty,
      I would definitely say: do not, DO NOT, think about retaking the GMAT. As for the rest of what you ask, blog comments are not really the place to get one-on-one counselling, and furthermore, while I am a GMAT expert, I am not an admission consultant. What you ask, about individual schools, are issues you need to bring to a qualified admission consultant. Unfortunately, Magoosh does not recommend any admission consultants, either in the US or abroad.
      Best of luck!
      Mike 🙂

  4. Shahin April 8, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Hai mike,

    I have started GMAT study in last 18 march. Still now I have completed Kaplan and half-way of Princeton review. But my problem is that some of my friends saying that after finishing the KAPLAN and Princeton Review, I require to start OG. In contrast some of them are saying that I require to start Manhattan. I am in a perplexed situation. Plz give me a suggestion what is the best to do after finishing Kaplan and Princeton review?

  5. Niranjan February 11, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    Dear Mike, I am pursuing my final year engineering in India. My CGPA is 5.7/10 and I plan to do an MBA in the US. Would I be able to fill the gap of my CGPA with the GMAT score and get into a good institution?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike February 11, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Dear Niranjan,
      I will share with you my thoughts, but first, I must caution you —- it would be best to consult with a qualified admission consultant. I know tons about the GMAT, but I am less qualified in giving overall admission advice. I would say — since your low CGPA could raise questions, everything else must be very strong: your GMAT score, your recommendations, and your personal statement. All of those must give resounding evidence of your intelligence and talents if you want to place into one of the better business schools. That’s my two cents, although again, it’s important to talk with an admission consultant about your chances at specific places.
      Mike 🙂

  6. Chandni January 19, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Hi!
    I’ve scored 700 (Q47 V39 AWA 5.0 IR 8) on the GMAT. I’m an undergrad student graduating in Summer 2014. Should I retake the exam?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike January 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

      Dear Chandni,
      No, no, no, no, no, no. You already have an excellent score, good enough to get into any B-school on Earth. Taking the GMAT again would be gratuitous. Focus on making yourself the best B-school candidate in every other way as well.
      Mike 🙂

  7. aparna December 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi Mike,I scored a gmat score of 700 but my IR score is disastrously low,just 2.Should I rewrite the GMAT. Do I have any chance of getting into a top school with this?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike December 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Aparna,
      Hmmm. That’s a tricky combination — high GMAT but low IR. I’m inclined to recommend not retaking, but I would recommend discussing this unique situation with a qualified admission consultant.
      Mike 🙂

  8. Jayant Patel November 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Whether a score of 690 (47Q 38V) is safe for an Indian male applicant or a quant score of 47 (70th Percentile) in present times necessitates retaking the GMAT. Target is top 10 programs in US.

    Thanks !

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike November 17, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Dear Jayant,
      Your GMAT score is fine. I don’t believe you need to retake the GMAT I would recommend a consultation with a quality admission consultant. I’m a GMAT expert, but I don’t know everything there is to know about admissions.
      Mike 🙂

  9. Cody August 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Mike,

    Great post and thank you for your work with Magoosh. Using your three month advanced study guide, which utilized Magoosh, Manhattan GMAT and the Official Guide, I scored a 770.

    Seriously, thank you. I had little to no direction when I began studying and having something to keep myself on track was incredibly helpful.

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike August 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Cody,
      Thank you for your kind words, and CONGRATULATIONS! Best of luck to you in the future!
      Mike 🙂

  10. Ritayan July 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Dear Mike,
    Thanks for the great post!! If anyone looks into the GMAT score middle 80%, it will simply reveal that there have to be people getting GMAT score somewhat above 680 and still getting into B Schools. As mentioned by you GMAT only helps you get a SINGLE checkbox ticked in your application portfolio. Moreover, if you have a great under grad GPA, a 700 GMAT is more than enough to suffice. But selection of a school where you fit best, writing the application essays, getting strong recommendations are way too difficult. To get a good GMAT score there are plenty of resources, guidelines adhering to them indeed earns good GMAT score, whereas while shaping up your profile you’ll have to do a great deal of introspection that needs tremendous amount of time. So it’s always better to get into the tougher job of shaping up your profile once you have achieved in the middle 80% GMAT score of your target school.

    Thanks

    Ritayan B

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike July 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Dear Ritayan,
      You are quite welcome. Best of luck to you.
      Mike 🙂

  11. tarot July 7, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this issue here on your web page.

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike July 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Dear Tarot,
      You are quite welcome, and I’m happy for you that you got a meal out of it. Best of luck to you.
      Mike 🙂

  12. BankerHBS June 8, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    Hey Mike,

    Great article! Im struggling with a similar question. I also have a 710 (Q48, V40) – 92 percentile. I have pretty diverse work-experience (investment banking at morgan stanley for 3 years + a startup experience (6 mnths) + non-profit consulting in africa for a year. GPA of 3.74 + a bunch of extra-curricular activities that are pretty cool

    I was just wondering if demographics would alter your hypothesis. Does it hold true for say Indian Male 25-27. Indian kids crack the GMAT far more frequently than other (750+).

    I have 7 months to Round 2 applications and I’m focused on HBS / Wharton / Stanford and Columbia. Do you think it’s worth another shot, given the context?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike June 8, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      My friend, I don’t believe that demographics are a game-changer in terms of this issue. At least my opinion, FWIW, is that you should stick with the 710, and spend your time crafting an application that demonstrates why your diverse work experience has been the ideal preparation for what you want to do with your MBA. That’s my two-cents.
      Mike 🙂

  13. Bizwiz April 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Great insights, Mike.
    I do have a different point of view, though. I believe in the past scoring above 700 would put you in a very good position at any elite school, but we’ve seen the average gmat score for admitted students at elite schools follow an upward trend in the past few years. As you pointed out, atudents at Harvard and Stanford have an incredible average of almost 730! And this year, I’ve seen waitlisted applicants at a top-10 school, with a score of 710, receive feedback from adcoms that they should consider retaking the test and try to get a higher score. I do know there are a lot of aspects to consider during the application process, but I believe that, to paraphrase an old expression, ‘a 720 is the new 700’. Specially for schools like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Tuck and Haas, just to name a few.
    Even though you can get into these schools with a 680+, I believe nowadays the odds are the same only above a 720.
    What do you think?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike April 12, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Bizwiz,
      Many of these questions I treat in this related blog:
      http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/should-i-retake-the-gmat/
      As I explain in that blog, there’s a problem fixating on the score alone (American culture tries to turn us all into number-fixators!) A person with a 710 GMAT but not well rounded, not a good fit, will certainly have lower odds. Furthermore, our fast-food culture is all about quick fixes — what is adcom going to say to this not-well-rounded 710 person? Perhaps not all the stuff that would make him a better candidate overall, but simply — get a bigger & better number. Or, perhaps adcom tells him 5 or 6 different things, but the only one the 710 person reports to the rest of the world is, “I need a bigger and better score.” Be aware of this insidious tendency to quantify everything — it’s pervasive, it obscures more than it reveals, and it’s a bias that ultimately limits success.
      By all means, do your absolute best to get a good GMAT score, but if you get one score, think carefully about the cost-benefit before committing to a retake.
      Mike 🙂

      • Ruchit February 4, 2014 at 4:18 am #

        Hey mike,
        I have score 400 in my GMAT exam, can I get admission in any college. I want to do MBA in hotel management. How should I go on further?? Please do reply.

        • Mike MᶜGarry
          Mike February 4, 2014 at 10:39 am #

          Dear Ruchit,
          Here’s what I would say. It will be very hard to get into most business schools with that GMAT score. I would suggest: strengthen you understanding of English. Practice every day: especially read every day. Here are some suggestions about what to read for the GMAT: http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-reading-list/
          When you can read sources such as the New York Times & Economist magazine with little difficulty, then you will be ready to take the GMAT again. Here’s a study schedule you can follow:
          http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/3-month-gmat-study-schedule-for-beginners/
          I hope all this helps.
          Mike 🙂


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