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How to Understand Your GMAT Percentiles

This post has been updated to include GMAC’s most recently published GMAT score percentiles, which represent a sample of more than 700,000 students who took the GMAT from 2014-2017.

How do you figure out what your GMAT percentiles are? After all, there’s a lot to take in when assessing your GMAT scores and decoding your GMAT score report.

First off, you’ve got a raw score in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Then there’s the ever-confusing Integrated Reasoning score. Then, you’ve got an Analytical Writing score. And, if you’re still with me, there’s the Total Score!

So what precisely matters when it comes to GMAT score percentiles?

We know it’s hard to keep your brain from seeping out your ears when trying to get a handle on your score report, but we’ve broken down everything you need to know in the following tables and explanations.

Table of Contents

The Basics of GMAT Percentiles

Your total GMAT score ranges from 200-800, and your section scores have their own score scales as well. If you don’t know your total score, use the GMAT score calculator to figure it out, then come back to find out your percentile.

How can you turn test scores and section scores into GMAT score percentiles? Simple! You’re in the 75th percentile if 75% of students scored lower than you, the 90th percentile if 90% of test takers have lower scores, and so on.

In other words, the higher your percentile number is, the better. At the 99th percentile, only 1% of students got a better score than you, and the 100th percentile places you at the very top among all GMAT test-takers.

In contrast, if you’re at the 50th or 60th percentile, you’re not that competitive. And once you drop below the 50th percentile, your score is quite poor, and you may need to retake the GMAT (and, unfortunately, pay the GMAT exam fee once more).

Knowing the percentiles lets you know if you’ve merely achieved an average GMAT score, or if you’ve shot through the roof with your scores. GMAC produces this information on GMAT score percentiles tables, and for your convenience, we’ve broken these scores down below.
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GMAT Score Percentiles Chart

Let’s start with the big one: your overall GMAT score percentile, which is on a 200 to 800 point scale. This 200 to 800 score range is a pretty common one in standardized testing. See which score corresponds to your percentile in the GMAT score chart below.

While schools will see your sectional percentiles, this is the one that they’ll use as their main consideration. (To find out about how these are calculated from sectional scores, check out information on GMAT score calculations!)

Click here for the GMAT Score Percentiles Chart


Percentile
Score
Percentile (cont'd.)
Score (cont'd.)
99%
760-800
31%
520
98%
750
29%
510
97%
740
27%
500
95%
730
25%
490
94%
720
23%
480
90%
710
21%
470
88%
700
18%
460
85%
690
17%
450
82%
680
15%
440
80%
670
14%
430
77%
660
12%
420
73%
650
11%
410
68%
640
10%
400
66%
630
9%
390
63%
620
8%
380
59%
610
7%
370
56%
600
7%
360
52%
590
6%
350
49%
580
5%
340
46%
570
4%
320-330
42%
560
3%
290-310
39%
550
2%
250-280
37%
540
1%
220-240
33%
530
0%
200-210

 

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GMAT Quant Percentiles

Where does your overall GMAT percentile come from, you might be wondering? It comes from your sectional scores in Quant and Verbal. And yes–there are percentiles for both of these sections as well!

GMAT Quant is scored on a scale of 0 to 60. To get a sense of how your scores stack up, take a look at the GMAT Quant score percentiles below. This isn’t a chart of GMAT raw scores and percentiles–rather, it’s a chart of your scaled sectional score in Quant and its percentile.

Click here for the GMAT Quant Percentiles Chart


Quant Percentile
Quant Scaled Score
96%
51
85%
50
74%
49
67%
48
61%
47
58%
46
55%
45
50%
44
47%
43
43%
42
41%
41
39%
40
35%
39
33%
38
32%
37
29%
36
26%
35
24%
34
23%
33
21%
32
18%
31
17%
30
15%
29
14%
28
12%
26-27
10%
25
9%
24
8%
23
7%
22
6%
20-21
5%
18-19
4%
17
3%
14-16
2%
11-13
1%
6-10

 

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GMAT Verbal Percentiles

So you already know that your GMAT quant and verbal scores combine to give you your overall GMAT score (and thus your overall percentile). It would make sense for GMAT Verbal to be scored on the same scale as Quant (from 0 to 60), right?

For once, yes! GMAT Quant scores and percentiles are different than they are for GMAT Verbal, but at least the scoring range is the same. Here’s the GMAT score and percentile table for GMAT Verbal.

Click here for the GMAT Verbal Percentiles Chart


Verbal Percentile
Verbal Scaled Score
99%
45-51
98%
44
96%
42-43
93%
41
90%
40
88%
39
85%
38
82%
37
80%
36
76%
35
71%
34
68%
33
66%
32
61%
31
58%
30
56%
29
51%
28
46%
27
43%
26
39%
25
36%
24
32%
23
30%
22
26%
21
23%
20
19%
19
18%
18
15%
17
12%
16
10%
15
9%
14
7%
13
5%
12
4%
11
3%
10
2%
9
1%
7-8
0%
6

 

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GMAT AWA Percentiles

Okay, so far we have your overall GMAT score and percentile (200 to 800) and your GMAT Quant and Verbal scores and percentiles (0 to 60). Just for fun, let’s make this a little more complicated with your AWA (essay) scores!

GMAT essays are scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. That’s right–on the writing section, half a point changes your GMAT AWA percentile, and sometimes drastically. Take a look.

Click here for the GMAT AWA Percentiles Chart


AWA Percentile
AWA Score
88%
6
79%
5.5
53%
5
42%
4.5
17%
4
11%
3.5
4%
3
3%
2.5
2%
1.5-2.0
1%
0.5-1
0
0

 

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GMAT IR Percentiles

At this point, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that GMAT Integrated Reasoning (IR) has its very own grading scale: it is scored on a scale of 1 to 8. Unlike the AWA, IR does not use half-point increments; these are scored in whole points. As you might imagine, this affects IR percentiles drastically.

Here’s what GMAT score vs percentiles look like for IR.

Click here for the GMAT IR Percentiles Chart


IR Percentile
IR Score
92%
8
82%
7
70%
6
54%
5
38%
4
24%
3
11%
2
0%
1

 

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How Does GMAT Calculate Percentiles?

To come up with these tables, the GMAC (not a typo–that’s the GMAT test-maker) takes a look at the most recent cohort of test-takers. Currently (for the GMAT score percentiles 2019), this includes 761,738 test-takers from January 2015 – December 2017.

You may be wondering why they don’t compare your scores to people who took the same test you did. Well, remember that the GMAT is an adaptive test–you see harder or easier questions depending on how well you answered the previous questions. So in theory, very few GMATs are exactly alike.

But in that case…why not compare your score to everyone who ever took the test to get a sense of how you stack up to GMAT score percentiles over time? First of all, because the test does change every few years, sometimes a little bit and sometimes a lot, so that wouldn’t be entirely fair.

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Secondly, and more importantly, it would be meaningless. GMAT scores are valid for five years, but realistically, most people will use their scores to apply to business schools within a year or two of taking the exam.

By giving percentiles from this most recent group of test-takers, the GMAC helps admissions committees see exactly where each score stacks up in a group that is very similar to the one currently applying.
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GMAT Percentiles for Top Schools

To understand the GMAT percentile you’ll need to obtain for a top school, the best thing to do is look at averge GMAT scores for top programs. As you can see from running down this list, they all tend to be above 700–sometimes well above 700, as in the case of Columbia (736–wow!).

Put this in terms of percentiles using the chart above. A 700 on the GMAT is in the 88th percentile, while a 736 would be around the 96th percentile. From this information, we can draw the conclusion that top schools need top scores.

Rankings don’t correspond precisely to score percentiles–but in this case, it’s pretty fair to say that if you’re applying to a top-10 school, a score in the top 10% of GMAT test-takers (i.e. placing you in the 90th percentile above) is definitely a helpful tool.

At this point, you may be wondering about the number of test-takers who get each top scores each year–what’s the competition like? Some simple calculations can help us figure this out. If around 250,000 test-takers take the exam each year (as they did in 2017-2018), that means around:

  • 2,500 scored between 760-800 (99th percentile)
  • 2,500 scored between 750-760 (98th percentile)
  • 25,000 scored between 700-750 (88th-98th percentile)

Starting to see a trend? Yep! The GMAT scores fall along a bell curve: very few people with very high or very low scores, and most people falling somewhere in the middle. In fact, the GMAC tells us that around two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600 on the exam.
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Takeaways about GMAT Percentiles

So many numbers! So what do you need to remember about GMAT percentiles?

  • GMAT percentiles show the percentage of whose scores you beat.
  • You’ll receive a GMAT percentile for Quant, Verbal, IR, and AWA sections.
  • Your overall percentile comes from a combination of your Quant and Verbal sectional scores–NOT their percentiles.
  • Top schools need top scores–preferably in the top 10% (90th percentile) or above.
  • Very few students score above a 750 on the GMAT each year–those who do put in long study hours!

Getting into a top percentile on the GMAT can seem overwhelming, even impossible–but if there’s one thing that these percentile charts should show you, it’s that it’s not! Thousands of students get great scores on the GMAT every year. With hard work and smart studying, you just might be among them!

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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19 Responses to How to Understand Your GMAT Percentiles

  1. Wafa Damlaj November 1, 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    Hey would someone help me out
    I just need 450 score
    but my question is what I am supposed to get right answer over 36 verbal questions ?
    and same for 31 quant questions?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Wafa,

      The GMAT is not graded like a normal test; there is no specific raw score that leads to a specific scaled score. However, in this blog post we outline a range of correct answers that correspond with different scaled scores, so you can estimate how many questions you need to get right in order to reach your target score 🙂

  2. Michael September 11, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    Should I work on my verbal or quant to improve score? My math score is a lot higher than my verbal but the percentile is lower in my math vs verbal. Am I better off concentration on verbal or math if I want to see the quickest improvement in the least amount of time.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 12, 2017 at 9:59 am #

      This can be a tough decision to make. One thing to consider is whether you need to learn new academic content (such as vocabulary, geometry, etc…), or whether you simply need to refine your test-related strategies (such as pacing, mental math, elimination and selection for multiple choice and so on).

      Strategies are a “high yield” skill. You can master strategies much more quickly than you can master new academic content, so learning and applying new test strategies is your fastest route to an improved score. In terms of rapid score improvement, it sounds like it may be best to focus on Quant. If you’re already doing well in Quant, you probably know the content. In that case, improving on your strategies could be a fast way to push your Quant score to even higher levels.

      On the other hand, it’s also important to give your schools what they want. Are they looking for higher percentiles, or higher scores? If it’s percentile that the schools want, then a focus on math is a good idea. But if the schools want to see higher scores, than it could be better to focus on boosting our Verbal score, even if your Verbal percentile is already higher than your Quant percentile.

  3. Michael Jones January 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    So I wanted to share my score and story. I focused entirely on quant after scoring a 41 Q and 36V three weeks ago for a 630 overall. My Quant fell to a 40 despite improvement in studying and after multiple diagnostics indicating a 47-50 under time scenarios. Unexpectedly, my verbal rose to a 42 despite no additional study. So in total I got a 680. I can’t help but think if I had achieved my expected quant and near my achieved verbal I’d be in the mid 700s range but I’ll take the 50 point improvement as it puts me squarely ahead of the PT program averages. Thanks Magoosh for your prep help!

  4. Clive September 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    I find the above does not lead to an improvement in understanding the best tactical approach.
    I want a chart that correlates % questions correct in quant + % correct in verbal, versus official GMAT score.
    For instance. I have developed a strategy for some students (I am a GMAT tutor with 10 years experience) which would allow them to achieve 50% as described above. But what will that get as a GMAT official score?

    • Jessica Wan
      Jessica Wan September 21, 2015 at 1:24 am #

      Hi Clive,

      We have another blog post about calculating GMAT scores (we update it regularly with what we hear from students). It may be a useful resource to you.

      All best,
      Jessica

  5. Sarah March 24, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    I am confused about the whole percentile thing. If I am at a 81 percentile what does that say about me.

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig March 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

      Hi Sarah,

      If your score puts in you the 81st percentile, that means that you scored better than 81% of test-takers, or that only 19% of test-takers scored higher than you on the GMAT. You’re in the top 25% of test-takers, which is very good. You can see which b-schools accept students within this range by checking out this infographic.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any follow-up questions. 🙂

      Best,
      Rita

      • Hasam February 10, 2016 at 11:13 am #

        Better than 81% of test takers in the past 3 years that is, right?

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 11, 2016 at 5:52 am #

          Hi Hasam,

          More or less! Generally the percentile charts will show you a roughly 3-year period for which you are compared. For whatever period is listed, being in the 81st percentile means you are above 81% of test takers in that period. 🙂

  6. well wisher January 22, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    As of late last year, V37 is 82 percentile.

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel January 23, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Hi there!

      Thanks for letting us know. 🙂 We’re in the process of updating this post!

  7. Herpal Pabla September 29, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Greetings,

    I have a quick question. For each of the Quant and Verbal percentiles. Whichever raw score they entail, do we add them to get our total score? I am not sure if I understand the grading correctly. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    Herpal Pabla

    • Kevin Rocci
      Kevin September 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Great question, Herpal!

      Unfortunately it is not a simple answer. The GMAT is scored using an equating system. Your total score and your score in a each section is calculated based on how many questions you answer correctly, how many you miss, how many you leave blank, and the difficulty level of all those questions. Ultimately, only the people who write the GMAT know how this happens. Everyone else tries to make educated guesses about how to calculate a total score or a scaled score. So there is no easy way to say that if you get 35 questions correct in the Verbal section, you will end up with a certain total score or scaled score. I wish I could be of more help, but this is a tough question to answer.

      Best of luck and happy studying! 😀

  8. Eric July 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    I took the GMAT today – the percentiles must have just changed – 49Q was a 79th, 41V was a 94th

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig July 2, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for letting us know! We’ll do some research and then update this post.

      Congrats on your great verbal score, by the way. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Rita

      • Ari K September 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

        Took it today. 40V/91st, 42Q/51st, 670/83d

        • Rita Neumann
          Rita Kreig September 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

          Hey Ari,

          Thanks for sharing your scores! It looks like they’re still using the score percentile rankings from July 2014, which is very good for us to know. 🙂

          Congrats on that amazing verbal score! I hope you’re relieved that the test is over. Have fun celebrating!

          Cheers,
          Rita


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