GMAT Scaled Score Range, Composite Score and Incremental Point


GMAT exam (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is a standardized test that is prepared and administered by GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council). All prospective B-school applicants who wish to pursue MBA or other specialized management programs are entitled to write this test. The GMAT is a computer adaptive test intended to assess analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills for use in admission to a management program. There are four sections in the GMAT: GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), GMAT Integrated Reasoning (IR), GMAT Verbal Reasoning, and GMAT Quantitative Reasoning.

Before you start preparing for the GMAT, it is essential that you set a target score that could be based either on your choice of dream university or on the average score set by B-schools.


Getting Started

The first step towards setting a target score is getting acquainted with the different types of scores/score ranges, composite scores and understanding the criteria involved in calculating these scores. Let’s take a quick look at the score range for each of these four sections.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) 0-6 0.5
Integrated Reasoning 1-8 1
Verbal Reasoning 6-51 1   200-800 (10-point increment)
Quantitative Reasoning 6-51 1


NOTE: This table indicates that the AWA and IR section scores do not form part of the composite score on a scale of 200-800. The scaled scores of Verbal reasoning and Quantitative reasoning are used to calculate the overall score, which is calculated in intervals of 10.


What is Scaled Score Range?

Most of us might be accustomed to calculating the scores based on the number of questions answered correctly, which also means that each correct answer earns about one point. Yet, this is not so in case of GMAT scoring. The GMAT scores are reported using a scaled score, which ranges between a least score and a highest score for each section.

Now, let us first understand what is meant by a scaled score. GMAT is a computer adaptive test; in more specific terms, it is a question adaptive test. The term, question adaptive, means that each question varies in difficulty level depending on the student’s performance/accuracy in the previous question. Therefore, at the end of a section, there are three criteria that would help GMAC arrive at the score for that section:

  • Number of questions attempted or answered
  • Number of questions answered correctly
  • Number of difficult questions answered correctly

The three factors stated above play a crucial role in determining a student’s section score and the total score. Besides this, the scaled score shows a range of 6-51 because scores below 6 and above 51 are very rare.

Thus, for example, if a student has attempted all the questions in the Verbal reasoning section and has answered 31 out of 36 questions correctly, then the student is likely to earn a score of approximately 42-44 (on a scale of 6-51). 31/36 is the raw score and 42 (approximately) is the scaled score (arrived at using the three criteria).


Arriving at Composite Score

The composite or overall score is arrived at by an algorithm used by GMAC. Although this algorithm is not completely revealed by GMAC, a rough interpretation of the calculation has been decoded for you:

  • Verbal reasoning scaled score: 44 (on a scale of 6-51)
  • Quantitative reasoning scaled score: 50 (on a scale of 6-51)
  • Based on these two scores (44 & 50 respectively), we can say that the total score of a student would be between 740 and 750 (approximately)


Interpreting Results

On the day of the test, a test taker would receive these scores upon completion: Integrated Reasoning score (1-8), Verbal Reasoning score (6-51), Quantitative reasoning score (6-51), and the overall score (200-800). This is called the unofficial score report. Apart from these, a percentile ranking is also awarded for each section score and the total score. Percentile ranking indicates the percentage of test takers that a student has outperformed in the last three years. Each section score has a percentile ranking. Similarly, the composite score also has a percentile ranking. Hence, while your scores would remain the same, the percentile would differ as more candidates take the test. The percentile rankings are updated every summer (June or July) on the official website of GMAC i.e. mba.com.

The AWA score i.e. the official or comprehensive score report is published after about 15 days from the date of the exam.


There’s More….

A GMAT score is valid for five years. In case a student cancels his/her score, it would appear as a “C” on future score reports sent. Yet, if you do change your mind about any cancelled score, you are entitled to reinstate that score up to 4 years and 8 months from the date of that attempt.

Fret not! Your admission consultants in the universities will not be able to see the cancellations. The official score report sent to the B-schools would include each section score, the composite score, percentile ranking, and the background information furnished by you on mba.com.


Setting Targets: Hitting The Bull’s Eye

Now, that you are familiar with the scores, let us revert to our discussion on target scores.

The most commonly asked question is ‘how do I set a target score?’. One way to do this is to begin researching the colleges and/or B-schools that provide the curriculum or program of your choice. You could choose up to five universities to which the GMAT official score reports will be sent free of cost. Next, you could login to each university’s website to get an overview of its expectations in terms of GMAT score. This would be a good way to decide your target score perfectly.

Another way to fix the target score is on the basis of the average GMAT score set by all B-schools for a candidate’s admission. In case you do not find information about the minimum score for a university, you could use the average score that would help you decide what score would be considered competitive. Mba.com gives a list of universities worldwide and the average score for each B-school. In India, the average GMAT score is 660-680, but in the US, the average score is 733.


What is a Good GMAT Score?

There is no clear definition of a good or ideal GMAT score. Seriously! A GMAT score is considered good if it meets or exceeds the expectations of a student’s target B-schools or colleges. Hence, if you are able to beat other candidates to your dream college, then you are the winner!

Related Blog: What is a Good GMAT Score?


How to Choose Universities

If you feel like you are swarmed by a huge list of B-schools across the world, you are not alone. Manya-The Princeton Review has a huge team of experts who will help you shortlist universities based on the program or course of your choice.


Your Takeaway

There are hundreds of universities to choose from for a student who wishes to pursue a management program, either in India or in any country abroad. This would not seem so overwhelming if you take the help of an expert who will be able to assist you in preparing a compelling profile that would help you stand out from among the crowd.

Finally, whatever target you decide to pin your GMAT preparation on, make sure that you are aware of the different scores, score ranges, and the way these scores are calculated by GMAC and interpreted by B-schools.

Take the plunge and nail your dream with your fabulous GMAT score!


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Is 51 the maximum score in Verbal and Quantitative sections respectively?

Until now, this is the maximum score that any test taker has received in both Verbal and Quantitative sections.

If I choose not to cancel my score, will my universities see the lower score in a previous attempt?

B-schools will see only the score that is mentioned in the official score report that you choose to share with the B-schools. B-schools will not be able to see cancelled and/or previous scores.

When should I opt for an Enhanced Score Report?

You can opt for an Enhanced Score Report to get a detailed analysis of your performance. This applies even to cancelled scores.

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