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 score percentiles? And what about GMAT Quant score percentiles and Verbal score percentiles? Don’t worry—we’ve got all the info you need to know to understand your score. First off, your total GMAT score ranges from 200-800, and your section scores have their own score scales as well. But focusing on your GMAT 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 nearly 700,000 students who took the GMAT from 2017-2019.


 

Table of Contents


 

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. Your overall score is made up of your sectional scores in Quant and Verbal. Very importantly—your Verbal score counts slightly more in the weighting!

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 scores, 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
30%
520
98%
750
27%
510
97%
740
25%
500
96%
730
23%
490
94%
720
21%
480
91%
710
19%
470
88%
700
17%
460
85%
690
15%
450
82%
680
14%
440
80%
670
13%
430
77%
660
12%
420
73%
650
10%
410
67%
640
9%
400
65%
630
8%
390
62%
620
8%
380
58%
610
7%
370
54%
600
6%
360
51%
590
5%
350
47%
580
5%
340
44%
570
4%
320-330
41%
560
3%
300-310
38%
550
2%
260-290
35%
540
1%
220-250
31%
530
0%
200-210

 

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GMAT Quant Percentiles

Where does your overall percentile for the GMAT 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
97%
51
86%
50
74%
49
67%
48
60%
47
57%
46
54%
45
48%
44
45%
43
41%
42
38%
41
36%
40
33%
39
31%
38
29%
37
26%
36
24%
35
22%
34
21%
33
19%
32
17%
31
16%
30
14%
29
13%
28
11%
27
10%
26
9%
25
8%
23-24
6%
21-22
5%
19-20
4%
18
3%
14-17
2%
11-13
1%
7-10
0%
6

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GMAT Verbal Percentiles

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
94%
41
90%
40
89%
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
38%
25
36%
24
32%
23
30%
22
26%
21
22%
20
19%
19
17%
18
14%
17
12%
16
10%
15
9%
14
7%
13
5%
12
3%
11
2%
10
2%
9
1%
7-8
0%
6

 

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GMAT AWA Percentiles

While your AWA (and IR) scores do not count towards your overall 200 to 800 score, business schools will still see how you performed. 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
81%
5.5
56%
5
46%
4.5
18%
4
11%
3.5
4%
3
3%
2.5
1%
0.5-2
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
91%
8
81%
7
66%
6
50%
5
33%
4
19%
3
9%
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, this includes 695,794 test-takers from January 2017 – December 2019.

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.
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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 native 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.

And, as we mentioned before, your Verbal sectional score counts slightly more than Quant in the weighting calculation for your final score—so don’t neglect the Verbal section! Boosting your score in the Verbal Section will add more to your final score than boosting your score in the Quant section, by the same amount.

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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.

The one-time thinking about the scoring algorithm, percentiles, and the difficulty level of questions 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.

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How much should I score to get in the 99th percentile on the GMAT?

A score between 760 and 800 will get you that elusive 99th percentile GMAT score. About 0.02% of GMAT test-takers, or about 30 people a year, will score a perfect 800 on the test.

Improve your GMAT score with Magoosh.

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 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.

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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 GMAT is in the 88th 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.

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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, IR, and AWA sections.
  • Your overall percentile and score (200 to 800) come 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 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!

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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