How to Understand Your GMAT Percentiles

closeup of people sitting in waiting room indicating waiting for GMAT percentiles

How can you turn test scores and section scores into GMAT™ Focus score percentiles? And what about GMAT Quant percentiles, Verbal percentiles and Data Insights percentiles? Don’t worry—we’ve got all the info you need to know to understand your score.

First off, your total GMAT Focus score ranges from 205-805, and your section scores have their own score scales as well. But focusing on your GMAT Focus percentiles can give you extra insight into your strengths and weaknesses on the test.

The GMAT is all about competitive advantage. Your score is literally determined by how well you perform in relation to hundreds of thousands of test-takers over the past three years. In a nutshell, a ranking in the 75th percentile means that 25% of test-takers performed as well or better than you, and 75% did not.

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 percentile charts. For your convenience, we’ve broken these scores down below.

This post has been updated to include GMAC’s most recently published GMAT score percentiles, which represent a sample of 866,640 students who took the GMAT from 2017-2022.


 

Table of Contents


 

GMAT™ Focus Edition

With the introduction of the GMAT™ Focus Edition, there has been a significant shift in the scoring system which impacts percentile rankings. This new version introduces an updated score scale ranging from 205 to 805, with each score ending in a 5, a clear departure from the traditional GMAT™ Exam’s 200-800 range. This adjustment enables a clear differentiation between the scores from the GMAT™ Focus Edition and the traditional GMAT™ Exam.

Click here to see the GMAT™ Focus Edition Total Score Percentiles

Percentile
Score
100%
735-805
99%
705-725
98%
695
97%
685
96%
675
94%
665
93%
655
89%
645
85%
635
83%
625
80%
615
75%
605
72%
595
65%
585
62%
575
56%
565
53%
555
47%
545
44%
535
38%
525
36%
515
31%
505
29%
495
24%
485
22%
475
19%
465
17%
455
14%
445
13%
435
10%
425
9%
415
8%
405
7%
395
5%
375-385
4%
365
3%
345-355
2%
325-335
1%
275-315
0%
205-265

 


 

GMAT Quant Percentiles

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

GMAT Quant is scored on a scale of 60 to 90. To get a sense of how your scores stack up, take a look at the GMAT Quant 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
100%
90
97%
89
95%
88
94%
87
92%
86
89%
85
85%
84
81%
83
76%
82
71%
81
66%
80
59%
79
52%
78
46%
77
40%
76
35%
75
29%
74
25%
73
21%
72
17%
71
14%
70
12%
69
9%
68
7%
67
5%
66
4%
65
3%
64
2%
63
1%
60-62

 


 

GMAT Verbal Percentiles

GMAT Verbal scores and percentiles are different from GMAT Quant percentiles and scores, 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
100%
90
100%
89
99%
88
99%
87
98%
86
96%
85
91%
84
86%
83
79%
82
70%
81
60%
80
51%
79
42%
78
33%
77
25%
76
19%
75
14%
74
11%
73
8%
72
5%
71
4%
70
3%
69
2%
68
2%
67
1%
66
1%
65
1%
64
1%
63
1%
62
1%
61
0%
60

 


 

GMAT Data Insights

The Data Insights section is new to the GMAT Focus edition, and the scoring range is the same as for GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal. Take a look.

Click here for the GMAT Data Insights Percentiles Chart

Data Insights Percentile
Data Insights Scaled Score
100%
90
100%
89
99%
88
99%
87
99%
86
99%
85
98%
84
96%
83
94%
82
90%
81
86%
80
79%
79
73%
78
66%
77
58%
76
51%
75
45%
74
39%
73
34%
72
28%
71
24%
70
20%
69
17%
68
14%
67
12%
66
10%
65
8%
64
7%
63
6%
62
5%
61
4%
60

 


 

How does GMAT calculate percentiles?

To come up with these tables, the GMAC (the GMAT test-maker) takes a look at the most recent cohort of test-takers. Currently, this includes 866,640 test-takers from January 2017 – December 2022.

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 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.

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.


 

Quant vs. Verbal Percentiles and How to Interpret Them

Here’s where it gets interesting, from a strategy point of view. You may find while your scaled score for the Quantitative section is higher than your scaled score for the Verbal section, you rank lower from a percentile point of view. This is because many test-takers have excellent quantitative abilities but are not fluent English speakers.

This means that while your Quant abilities can be amazing, you might not rank near the top of the pile of GMAT test-takers. Your scaled scores, therefore, are not the best way to judge your relative abilities on the GMAT. Focusing on your percentiles is much more accurate in terms of accessing your relative performance between the two sections.


 

When are GMAT score percentiles useful (and not so useful)?

Percentiles are a great way to access your relative ability—between Verbal and Quant as well as compared to other test-takers.

Your GMAT score is determined not only by how many questions you answer correctly but by how difficult these questions are. Thinking about GMAT questions in terms of higher and lower percentile/difficulty levels can give you insight into the nuances of the test while you are practicing.

Given that the question ‘level’ is important, it can be hard to tell how you are performing during your practice. Remember—official mock tests from MBA.com are the best way to get an accurate idea of how you are performing before test day. Magoosh also created a free GMAT practice test for you to practice with before test day.

While it’s important to understand how GMAT percentiles and scoring work, it is super unhelpful is during the test itself. It’s a waste of mental energy and effort, in part due to the experimental questions in the test, that doesn’t count towards your total score. Given the stressful nature of test day, it can also be very hard to accurately gauge a question’s difficulty relative to other questions. On test day the most important thing is for you to answer all the questions as efficiently and accurately as you can.


 

How much should I score to get in the 100th percentile on the GMAT?

A score between 735 and 805 will get you that elusive 100th percentile GMAT score.

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 125,000 test-takers world-wide take the exam each year (as they did in 2022), that means around:

  • 1,250 scored between 760-800 (99th percentile)
  • 1,250 scored between 750-760 (98th percentile)
  • 12,500 scored between 700-750 (87th-97th percentile)

Starting to see a trend? Yep! The GMAT scores fall along a bell curve. Very few people get very high or very low scores, and most people fall 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.


 

GMAT Percentiles for Business Schools

As always, the admissions process is holistic and not only focused on the GMAT. However, 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 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).

Bear in mind that some schools will have minimum sectional scores for the Quant section as well. Others may insist on a ‘balanced score’ between the two sections.

To understand the GMAT score you’ll need to obtain for a top school, the best thing to do is look at average 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 (an average of 732!).

Put this in terms of percentiles using the chart above. A 700 on the classic edition of the GMAT is in the 87th percentile, while a 732 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.


 

Takeaways about GMAT Percentiles

So many numbers! So what do you need to remember?

  • The GMAT is about competitive advantage, and GMAT percentiles show the percentage of test-takers whose scores you beat.
  • You’ll receive a GMAT percentile for Quant, Verbal and Data Insights.
  • Your overall percentile and score (205 to 805) come from a combination of your Quant, Verbal and Data Insights 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 a great score 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!

Author

  • Cara Skikne

    Cara is a communications specialist, admissions consultant, and one of those lunatics who genuinely loves the GMAT. Cara is the Senior Editor at Studyportals, a global study choice platform used by over 50 million students each year. Prior to working at Studyportals, Cara wrote for BusinessBecause, an MBA news site owned by the GMAC, and co-founded a company dedicated to admissions support for business school candidates from Africa. She has an MBA from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Journalism from Rhodes University. Reach out on LinkedIn if you’d like to get in touch!

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