Rachel Kapelke-Dale

GMAT Score Reports (with Video)

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It’s all been leading up to this moment–after weeks (or months!) of study, more than three hours at the test center, and dozens of questions, you submit your final answer on the GMAT exam. But instead of seeing a simple GMAT score report, four different scores pop up–along with a two-minute timer, already counting down, asking whether you want to keep or cancel these scores! 😱

If this sounds stressful, you’re not alone. A lot of test-takers find this moment overwhelming. But by preparing for what you’ll see on test day, and knowing what types of score reports are available, you’ll be in a much better position to make the right decision for you when that final screen appears.

So just what do those scores mean? What is the GMAT out of? In this post, we’ll take a look at how the GMAT’s scored and what your scores mean before doing a deep dive into your score report and how admissions committees will use it.


Table of Contents


In this video, our GMAT expert Kevin breaks down exactly how the scores themselves work.

How Do GMAT Score Reports Work?

Once you submit your final question, your unofficial scores are provided to you when you are emotionally exhausted and in a highly vulnerable state. A two-minute timer is counting down, there are four scores on-screen, and you have to make a decision: would you like to keep or cancel your score? While you get most of your intial GMAT score report right away as soon as you are done with your test, you won’t receive the rest, the whole kit-and-caboodle, until about 20 days later.


Types of GMAT Score Reports

In short, there are three types of GMAT score reports:

  • initial
  • official
  • enhanced

How long does it take to get your GMAT score report? Like we mentioned above, you’ll get the initial unofficial score report immediately after completing the test, while the official report will follow about three weeks later. You’ll only get an enhanced score report if you order it.

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Initial GMAT Test Score Report

The computer will give you a preview of your overall GMAT test scores (everything except the Analytical Writing Assessment score), and ask you if you want to cancel your score. You have two minutes to make this decision and if you do nothing, your score will be automatically canceled. If you keep your score, trudge all the way home, and decide you’d like to cancel, you have the option to cancel your score online for $25 USD within 72 hours of completing the exam.

Anyway, this is the very first time you will see the most important number, your total score. Obviously, it’s extremely important to be strategic and to have worked out in your mind well beforehand the minimum scores you would cancel the whole GMAT for, based on your previous practice tests.

If you choose to cancel your score at that moment, you don’t see anything else. You can choose to reinstate this GMAT within 60 days, to the current tune of $50 USD. (Essentially, that’s a financial penalty you would pay for not thinking strategically and carefully enough beforehand.)

  • In general, you should only consider canceling your GMAT score if something wildly unexpected takes place: for example, if you were healthy on your way to the test center, but during the test, you were hit with, say, a bout of food poisoning or something of that sort.

If you do not choose to cancel your score, you’ll get the initial score printed at the test center, which will include the following:

Section Number of points
IR Integers from 1 to 8
Quant subscore Integers from 0 to 60
Verbal subscore Integers from 0 to 60
Total GMAT score (composed of quant + verbal) Integers from 200 to 800

Notice that the AWA section is not yet included, because it still has to be graded.

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Official Score Report

About 20 days later, you’ll receive the official score report via email or snail mail (you will have told GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council, the test-maker) before the test how you want the official report mailed to you). The official GMAT score report is what GMAC automatically supplies to each and every GMAT taker. That information is free (i.e. included in the cost of the GMAT itself).

Basically, you get a score for each of the four separate sections (the Quantitative section, the Verbal section, the AWA section, and the IR section), as well as an overall score. Thus, the official score report contains:

Section Number of points
AWA Half-integers from 0 to 6
IR Integers from 1 to 8
Quant subscore Integers from 0 to 60
Verbal subscore Integers from 0 to 60
Total GMAT score (composed of quant + verbal) Integers from 200 to 800

The total score is derived from the Quantitative and Verbal subscores only; the AWA score and IR score have absolutely no effect on the total score.

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Enhanced Score Report

If you want a more detailed analysis, then you can purchase the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR). This data-rich document will show you your breakdowns, percentiles, and time spent in each question formats. It’s useful if, say, this was your first GMAT and you decide to analyze this one and plan strategically to retake the GMAT.

For the ESR, you have to pay another $25 US, over and above what you paid to take the GMAT in the first place. What do you get? The ESR gives you a full breakdown.

For the Verbal Section, the ESR tells you your percentile ranking for Verbal scores (which you could figure out yourself, but it also gives you your percentile rankings for each of the three Verbal question types: Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction). In addition, it includes the time you spent on average on each Verbal question, an average time for each of the three question formats, and the average time spent on a Verbal question for the average test taker.

Similarly for the Quantitative Sections, the ESR gives you your score percentile breakdown and average time spent for the entire section, for each of the two question types (Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency), and for two broad content areas: Arithmetic and Algebra/Geometry.

For Integrated Reasoning, it tells you your IR score, your percentile rank for the section, the percent of questions you answered correctly, the average time you spent on questions you got right, and the average time you spent on questions you got wrong. It also tells you the average time that an average test taker took on IR questions.

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Getting Your GMAT Score Reports

Let’s assume that you didn’t cancel your score. After you are done with the computer, you raise your hand, and some Pearson person will lead you out of the hermetically-sealed testing room. Immediately outside that door is a desk, and someone at that desk will magically hand you a print-out: your initial GMAT score report. This will have everything except the AWA score, because it takes time to grade the essay.

Thus, moments after your GMAT is done, your will be holding a sheet of paper with your total score, your Quant and Verbal subscores, and your IR scores, all with percentiles. Technically, that piece of paper is unofficial for legal purposes.

About 20 days later, you will receive the full GMAT score report (everything including the AWA score), either by snail mail or electronically. Once you have this, you can tell GMAC to send copies to any business schools you want—of course, for a fee for each report.

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How to Send Scores to Schools

If you’re wondering how to send scores to schools, you basically have two options:

  1. Test Day: On test day, you can select up to five schools to receive your GMAT score report. This service comes at no cost to you—your registration fee covers it. However, once you’ve made your selection, you cannot go back and change it (so, plan ahead if you want to go with this option!)
  2. After Test Day: If you have more than five schools to send scores to, or you decide not to send any reports on exam day, you can send scores to additional schools afterwards for a fee of $35. To send additional score reports, login to your online GMAT account or call GMAT customer service (an additional $10 fee applies to all phone transactions). Your score reports will be sent out within seven calendar days.

Whether you send GMAT score reports before applying to schools or after is up to you, so long as you factor in enough time for your scores to be received before the application deadline. Ideally, you should take your test at least two months before your school or program’s application deadline to ensure that your GMAT score report is delivered on time.

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What Does Your Score Mean?

As you can see, you get a lot of data back about your scores! Understanding your scores can seem like a puzzle! To get a better understanding, let’s put them in context. For more info, you can also check out our post on GMAT score ranges and what a good GMAT score is.


Understanding Percentiles

One of the best ways to understand your scores is to compare them to the scores of others taking the exam. In other words, look at your GMAT percentiles.

Use this chart to see how your overall scores stack up in terms of percentile. Want to know how you arrived at this score? Check out Magoosh’s GMAT score calculator for more info (including GMAT score charts)!

Percentile (cont’d.)
Score (cont’d.)


Average Score

Another way to put your scores in context is by comparing them to the average scores. This doesn’t give you the full overview of the test-taking cohort the way that looking at percentiles does, but it can still be helpful.

The average total score on the GMAT is 563.43.

However, the average overall score isn’t the only important average. Here are averages by section, as well:

  • The average GMAT Verbal score on the GMAT is 27.08.
  • The average GMAT Quant score on the GMAT is 40.02.
  • The average GMAT IR score on the GMAT is 4.41.
  • The average GMAT AWA score on the GMAT is 4.49.

This is useful information as you’re taking practice tests. Don’t worry about calculating your official percentiles yourself, though–you’ll see them all on your score report!

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How Long Are Scores Valid?

If you’re wondering how long scores are good for, you should know that they do have an expiration date. Once you’ve taken the GMAT, your scores are valid for five years from the date of the test. However, you can have scores reported for up to ten years—but remember, they won’t be valid, so there are pretty limited circumstances in which you’d actually need to report them! Once ten years have passed, though, those scores are gone.


How Do Schools Use Scores?

First of all, let’s clarify what schools will see. The total final score report sent to adcoms 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 (pre-2016, there were!).

All scores, sectional and total, are reported to business school admissions committees. However, the overall score is currently way more important in the admissions process than any of the other scores. The AWA and IR scores generally count for less. Still, that doesn’t mean you can ignore them! If you flub either one, admissions might see that as a red flag.

It’s important to note that your score is just one factor admissions committees at business schools use–even top business schools like Columbia and Harvard. Other factors include your previous relevant work experience, undergraduate academic performance, and your essays. If you want to see how your scores measure up, check out our post on evaluating good GMAT scores.

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 high score.

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A Final Note

That’s everything you need to know about GMAT score reports! But remember, test scores aren’t the be-all and end-all of admissions for MBA programs. By all means, strive to do the best you can do. At the same time, it’s important to be realistic about your abilities, and the time and energy you have to prepare.

If your first score was a 460, then with concerted effort, you will be able to get a higher score up into the 500s and maybe even the 600s, but it may be that a score in the high 700s is unrealistic for you, and that’s OK.

Always strive for your personal best; it’s hard to compete with everyone out there. If you’re still at the start of your business school admissions test prep, this may mean making a decision about whether to take the GMAT or GRE, as different people do better on different tests (see more about GRE to GMAT conversion here!).

At the end of the day, the goal of the GMAT is to get you into business school; the goal of business school is to get an MBA; 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 test scores and went to less 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 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.

GMAT test takers, let me know in the comments below, what is your target score?


  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin’s Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn’t strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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