How are the GMAT Scores Calculated?


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an assessment test taken by students who are aspiring to pursue a management course at one of the business schools around the world. Almost every business school has a similar application process with students applying their candidature with an application form along with their GMAT score.

The GMAT exam is a computer adaptive test. It has 4 sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).

Almost all GMAT aspirants ask how the GMAT is scored and how the percentiles are calculated. Before we calculate GMAT score, we must know that a test taker gets two score reports – an unofficial one and an official one.

How is the GMAT scored? The GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800, with each GMAT score corresponding to a percentile statistic. The same is true for the Quantitative, Verbal, IR, and AWA sections of the GMAT. Your score will be converted into a GMAT scores percentile for each of these sub-sections.


How to Convert GMAT Score into Percentile Ranking?

“A Percentile Ranking is also included in GMAT scores. This figure represents the percentage of test participants who you outperformed” says GMAC about the GMAT scores and percentiles.

While your GMAT score will remain the same, your Percentile Ranking may change since GMAT Percentiles are recalculated every summer using exam data from the previous three years.

The percentile associated with a GMAT score refers to the number of persons you outperformed by achieving that score.

A total GMAT score of 755, for example, is in the 100 percentile. This means that if you obtain a 755 on the GMAT, you will have outperformed 100 percent of GMAT test takers. Find below the GMAT scoring table having the GMAT score distribution:

the GMAT scoring table having the GMAT score distribution:

GMAT Score GMAT Percentile
805 100%
755 100%
705 99%
655 93%
605 75%
555 53%
505 31%
455 17%
405 8%
355 3%
305 1%
255 0%
205 0%


Official GMAT Score Report

This is the one which you will receive about 20 days after taking the test.

  1. Quantitative score on a scale of 60– 90 along with percentile
  2. Verbal score on a scale of 60 – 90 along with percentile
  3. DI score on a scale of 60 – 90 along with percentile
  4. Total GMAT score on a scale of 205 – 805 along with percentile

You will get to see the first four as soon as you are done taking the test (Unofficial Score Report). You will get a letter describing how to access your GMAT Official Score Report. You can also access your GMAT Official Score Report by visiting www.mba.com/mygmat 48 hours after receiving the mail.

You must know that the scores on the scale of 205-805 comprise only the Quantitative, the Verbal score and the DI score.

You cannot send your own scores to the programs that you wish to apply for. Before you take your GMAT exam, you can select 5 programs to which you wish to send the scores. You can choose to apply to more than 5 programs, but you will need to pay an additional fee for each additional score report that you wish to send.

GMAC can also cancel scores if it finds any testing issues or policy violations. If there were testing issues beyond your control you may be offered an option to retake the test on a later day, for free. On the other hand, if there were policy violations (malpractices), the scores will be withheld and the universities that you selected will be notified. You can even be banned from taking the GMAT again in the future.

The Official GMAT Score Report sent to schools includes the following scores from every reportable exam completed in the past five years: Total GMAT, Data Insights, Verbal and Quant scores. It will also include the background information you provided when you created your GMAT profile.


Interpreting Your GMAT Results

Total Scores, Verbal and Quantitative Scores

GMAT scores range from 205 to 805, with two-thirds of test takers scoring in the 400-600 area. Scores range from 6 to 51 in both verbal and quantitative categories; scores below 6 and beyond 51 are rare.

Although verbal and GMAT quantitative scores are on a fixed scale and may be compared across all GMAT test administrations, they cannot be compared since they assess separate constructs.


Analytical Writing Assessment Score

One Analysis of an Argument essay determines the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) score. The AWA scores range from 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

A combination of trained and approved human raters and a machine algorithm score AWA essays. If the algorithm score differs from the human score, the score will be examined by a second human rater and changed if necessary.

If you believe your AWA score is incorrect, you can use the Essay Rescore Request Form to have your essay rescored.


Integrated Reasoning Score

In single-digit intervals, Integrated Reasoning (IR) scores range from 1 to 8.
The majority of GMAT Integrated Reasoning questions require multiple responses. Because the questions are designed to assess your ability to integrate data to solve difficult problems, you must correctly answer all of the responses to gain credit; no partial credit is provided.


How Does the GMAT Scoring Work?

If you have ever wondered about how the GMAT exam is scored – this is the post for you! Read on to find answers to every question you ever had about how the GMAT exam is scored.


What does Computer Adaptive Mean?

The GMAT is a computer-administered and computer adaptive assessment. What does this mean? This means that the actual exam is taken on a computer either at a test center or at home. Previously, one could take the GMAT exam only at the test center. But now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible to take the GMAT online and at home. To take the exam at home, you need to fulfill a number of criteria for the testing set up.

Let’s move on to the adaptive nature of the test. On the GMAT exam, the quant and the verbal sections are computer-adaptive. The first question in these sections is of medium difficulty. The difficulty level of the questions then changes in real-time, based on your performance. You cannot skip a question or move to any other question during the exam. This is because the computer uses your performance on the current question to determine the difficulty level of the next question.

How is this done? When you answer a question correctly, the next question will be of the same difficulty level or a higher difficulty level. On the other hand, if you answer a question incorrectly, the next question will be of the same difficulty level or a lower difficulty level.


What is the GMAT Exam Structure?

The GMAT exam consists of 4 main sections: The Analytical Writing Assessment section or AWA (essay), the Integrated Reasoning section (IR), the Verbal section and the Quantitative section. Of these, the verbal and quant sections contribute to the 200 to 800 score that we speak of when we talk about GMAT scores.

Does that mean that the other two sections are not important? No, all the sections on the GMAT are important. If they were not important, they would not be part of the exam. Each university and program uses and/or prioritizes the AWA and IR scores in their own unique way. So, it is important to do your best in every section of the GMAT exam.

If the essay and IR sections do not contribute to the 200 to 800 score, then how are these sections scored? The Analytical Writing Assessment section and the Integrated Reasoning section are both scored separately. The Analytical Writing Assessment section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in 0.5-point increments. The Integrated Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8 in 1-point increments.

When you take the GMAT exam at the test center you also have the choice of selecting the order of the sections in your exam. Sometimes, the order of the sections can affect your score. Some test takers want to begin with a section they are confident about and build their confidence. On the other hand, some test takers may want to start with a challenging section, as they are fresh and alert at the beginning of the test. You can choose an order that works for you from the three possible options:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
  2. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment


How is the GMAT Exam Scored?

For the computer adaptive sections (verbal and quant sections), your final score depends on the number of questions you answer, the number of questions you get correct and the difficulty level of the questions to which you got the right answer. If you run out of time and are unable to complete all the questions in a section, there is a penalty for that on the GMAT.

So, work to answer all the questions in a section. The raw quant and the verbal scores are each scaled to GMAT score range of 0 to 60. The scores for the verbal and quantitative sections are reported in 1-point increments. Though the actual GMAT score scale ranges from 0 to 60, realistically the quant and the verbal scores each range from 6 to 51 only. The quant and verbal scores (out of 60) are then combined for a final scaled score ranging from 200 to 800.

So, you will earn a higher score if you answer more questions, answer more of the questions correctly, and qualify for questions of a higher difficulty level. But you cannot identify the difficulty level of a question at any point during or after the exam.


What are Experimental Questions?

Approximately 25% of the questions in the quantitative and verbal sections are experimental. These are also alternatively referred to as unscored or research or pretest questions. These questions do not contribute to your final score as they are not scored. These questions do not affect the difficulty level of the next question. At no point during the actual exam, you can identify any of the questions as experimental questions.

So, if you suddenly face a very easy question or the reverse, a very difficult question – do not panic. Remember that any question can be an experimental question and do your best to answer the question in front of you, as quickly as possible.


How is the Verbal Section Scored?

The verbal section has 36 questions, which you have to answer in 65 minutes. So, on average, you have 1 minute and 48 seconds to answer each question. The verbal section measures your ability to read and understand passages on a range of topics, evaluate arguments and correct sentences to conform to standards of written English. The question types on the verbal section are reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning.

The verbal section on the GMAT is computer adaptive. This means that the difficulty level of a question is determined by your performance on the previous question. However, the scoring for the reading comprehension questions works in a slightly different way. Questions for a passage can have varying difficulty levels. Each passage can have 3-4 questions associated with it. For reading comprehension questions, the difficulty level is adjusted after you have completed all the questions for a particular passage.


How is the Quant Section Scored?

The quant section has 31 questions that need to be answered in 62 minutes. So, on average, you have 2 minutes per question. The quantitative section measures your ability to solve math problems, reason mathematically and interpret graphical data. The two main types of questions in the quantitative section are problem solving and data sufficiency. The quant section is also computer adaptive.


How is the Analytical Writing Assessment (Essay) Section Scored?

In the AWA section, you have 30 minutes to evaluate an argument. The argument topic comes from a range of topics related to business, but prior knowledge about the topic is not needed. The AWA only tests your ability to analyze the argument and write a cogent essay. The essay that you write is evaluated by a human and also by a machine algorithm. If there is a difference between the way the human and the machine have scored your essay, a second human evaluator is brought in, and your essay score may be adjusted. You receive only one essay score, which is an average of the evaluations.

The AWA score is available within 20 calendar days from the day of your exam on your official GMAT account. For the AWA section alone, you can choose to request rescoring. Rescoring the essay is possible only once. For rescoring, you need to make a request within 6 months from your GMAT exam date and also make an additional payment for the rescoring.


How is the Integrated Reasoning (IR) Section Scored?

The Integrated Reasoning section has 12 questions that you need to answer in 30 minutes. But most of the questions require multiple responses, so the actual time per question is less. The IR section tests your ability to evaluate information from multiple sources that are presented in multiple formats. What this means is that the IR tests both quantitative and verbal skills – this section can be seen as a test of data interpretation and logical reasoning skills. The Four Types of Questions in the Integrated Reasoning section are:

  • Multi-Source Reasoning
  • Table Analysis
  • Graphics Interpretation
  • Two-Part Analysis.

So, In the Integrated Reasoning section, how is the GMAT score calculated? The score is calculated based on the number of questions you answer correctly and is reported with 1-point intervals. But, many of the questions in the IR section have multiple parts, and all the parts of the question must be answered correctly to get the mark for that question.


What About the Percentile Scoring?

GMAT score report structure has a percentile ranking associated with them and the percentile rankings keep changing over time. So, what does percentile rank mean and how is it different from a percentage? The percentile rank refers to the percentage of people who have scored less than you. For example, if your score is in the 95th percentile – this means that you have scored more than 95% of the people taking the exam.


Can I Make Mistakes on the GMAT?

It is impossible not to make mistakes on the GMAT. But do remember that if you make a mistake the next question is of the same or lower difficulty. The difficulty level that you are able to maintain affects the final score. So, it is better to make errors at intervals rather than in consecutive questions.

Making no mistake on the GMAT may be next to impossible. So what should one do?

Here is a simple solution for you:

  • Start slowly and carefully and avoid careless mistakes.
  • Steadily pick up speed so that you can finish the section.
  • Don’t waste time on a killer question, make an educated guess, and move on.
  • As you answer questions correctly, you will be served increasingly difficult questions and you are virtually guaranteed to see a few questions that you will not be able to solve or not have enough time to solve.
  • Don’t waste your valuable time on these killer questions; take your best guess and move on. Students do score in the high 700s even after guessing on a couple of questions.


Does the Score on One Section Affect the Score on Another Section?

No, each section is evaluated individually. Your performance in one section does not affect the score of another section.


How Does Time Matter on the GMAT?

Time is a critical factor in the GMAT, one of the biggest challenges is to complete all the questions in a section within the time limit. There is a penalty for not completing all the questions in the quant and verbal sections.


What is a Good GMAT Score?

A good score is one that will help you join the program of your dreams. Remember that the GMAT score is only part of your application to a program or university. Your GMAT score, academic scores, resume, work experience, letters of recommendation and application essays are all important parts of your application.

If you look at the website of a program that interests you, the website will usually mention the average GMAT score of the current set of students. An average GMAT score can possibly be offset by a unique personal profile. So along with your GMAT prep, work on the other aspects of your application.


5 Strategies to Boost Your GMAT Score

It is almost an unwritten rule that the top international MBA programs expect excellent GMAT scores from applicants around the world. As every GMAT applicant already knows, this is not easy. GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test which is a way to get absorbed into MBA programs across 21,000 business schools and 7,100 courses.

Once you have looked up the basics that you need to know about the GMAT exam, preparation time kicks in. In order to help you boost your overall GMAT score, here is a list of strategies that you can follow:


Exploring Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Take a mock GMAT test, without revising, preparing, or reading. Analyze your score in each of the 4 sections. Further, break it down into particular sections to see where you have scored low. This will give you a clear picture of your weak points in a particular section. Follow the same method to discover your strengths. Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses in order of the ease or difficulty of sections for you.

Plan your preparation timetable, giving maximum time on the difficult sections and lesser time for the easier topics. It is a popular myth that the GMAT Vocabulary section is a difficult one to score high in, but it is not true. Referring to previous years’ papers will give you a clear picture of the types of questions that are expected.


GMAT Mock Tests

Take as many GMAT practice tests as you can. Make sure to stick to the time for each of them. It’s not only important to pick the right answers, but also to keep up with the time limit. During the mock test, you will realize the type of questions that take up more than the expected time. You can work on more questions of this type to solve them quicker. The questions that take up less time means that you are at ease with those types of questions.


Maintain an Error Log

Whenever you solve questions as a part of the preparation or during mock tests, keep a detailed log of the errors that you make in each section. Compare the errors of the previous tests to this one. Your preparation is going the right way if you begin eliminating those errors. Ensure that you don’t repeat previously made errors. This way, you have a better chance of boosting your score by eliminating errors that result in a low score.


Familiarise Yourself with the Definitions Used in GMAT

Some of the terms that you have to understand include: assumption, evidence, logical flaw, inference, paradox, etc. You can familiarise yourself by attempting more questions that use such terms. If you are confused, look up the meanings and write them down. When you understand the small technicalities of the question, you will be able to answer it with more accuracy. Refer to some popular GMAT Books to understand these concepts.


Reasoning Pattern

Analyze the most commonly used methods of reasoning that are used in GMAT papers. Though, there may be multiple reasoning methods that end up in the right answer. Logical reasoning questions in the form of positive or negative statements, assertions, reasons, etc. are intimidatingly similar to each other. Once you understand the reasoning method that the question is pointing to, you will be able to choose the right answer with ease.

Thus, by implementing and following the above simple yet effective strategies, you will be able to boost your GMAT score with ease.


How to Score 700+ on the GMAT?

What is so important about a 700+ score? In real terms, not much, as 710 is just a little better than 700. But 710 hits the psychological mark of a 90% percentile ranking. It means you are in the top 10% of test-takers. With a score of 700, your percentile ranking is 88% and you are in the top 12%. [The percentile rankings change with time]

You can get to 710 with different combinations of Quant and Verbal scores. A very rough-and-ready approximate formula, from looking at recent scores, is that you will score 710 if your Quant and Verbal raw scores are at least 42 and 35 respectively and add up to between 85 and 88. So you can get 710 with Quant 51/Verbal 36, Quant 50/Verbal 37…. up to Quant 42/Verbal 46. With Quant 51/Verbal 35 you will probably get 700, not 710.

This means 700+ is not possible without solid performances in both Quant and Verbal. If you get the top score of 51 in Quant, you need 36 in Verbal. But nobody can be sure of getting 51 in Quant, as even a single mistake can take the score to 50. So, however, strong your Quant may be, you must prepare well enough to score 38+ in Verbal. Conversely, even if you are confident of the 98% percentile Verbal score of 44, you need at least 43 in Quant.


Systematic Approach

Getting to these levels of proficiency requires time and effort. How much time and how much effort will be different for different people. But, whatever be the starting point, GMAT preparation must be systematic and focused. Otherwise, it is possible to practice for months and end without any improvement.

One prerequisite for a high GMAT score is the ability to understand college-level English. If this is a problem, make up the deficiency before you start preparing for the GMAT.


Practice and Consistency

The road to a 700+ score starts with a mastery of basic content and skills. First, you must learn (or revise) some basics. For instance, you should know how to simplify exponents and know the Pythagorean Theorem and common Pythagorean triples. For Sentence Correction, you must learn basic grammar rules that the GMAT tests. For Critical Reasoning, you should know how to break an argument into its parts and spot flaws in arguments and you should be familiar with common argument patterns. Then you must learn skills too – processes and techniques by which you apply basic knowledge and do GMAT questions.

You could learn all this on your own or by taking a self-paced online course. However, GMAT classes with a teacher are a much more efficient method of learning. Many types of classes are available. You could take individual coaching or join a structured, scheduled small group course. You could take the classes online or in person.

Once you learn something, you need practice to achieve mastery. Try to learn something from each practice question, especially from each mistake. Read explanations and talk to your teachers. Look for faster, more efficient ways to do questions. Maintain a record of what you learn and go through it regularly. Otherwise, it is easy to forget things and repeat old mistakes.


Time Management

Knowing how to do the questions is not enough. Time management in the exam is equally important. You have a very limited budget of time during the GMAT, so it must be used wisely. Your teachers will advise you on GMAT pacing. To perfect and practice your pacing plan, do mock tests at regular intervals.
With systematic practice, questions will require less effort and time, mistakes will reduce, and you will keep learning more. Your aim is to reach a stage where you get easy and medium difficulty questions right, effortlessly, and consistently. When that happens, you will get many hard questions right too. You need a tried-and-tested pacing plan. If all this is in place, you can be sure of the 700+ score on the GMAT.


Understanding the GMAT Scoring Algorithm

In order to score well on the GMAT, it is very important to understand how the test is scored. The Quant and Verbal sections of the GMAT are computer adaptive — that is why the GMAT is often referred to as a CAT or Computer Adaptive Test. The GMAT-CAT is scored using a three-parameter logistic model based on Item Response Theory. More about that later, but it is important to know in the first place the different sections and scoring scales used for the different sections.

Section Scoring How the Section is Scored
Analytical Writing Assessment 0.0-6.0 Each essay is scored at least twice, once by a human reader and once by a computer. The scores are averaged to provide one section score, reported in intervals of 0.5.
Integrated Reasoning 1-8 The Integrated Reasoning score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Some questions may have multiple parts; you must answer all parts to a question correctly to receive credit for that question.

Scores are reported in intervals of 1.

Quantitative and Verbal 0-60 The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections are item-level adaptive, and your score is based on three factors:

1. Number of questions you attempt

2. Number of questions you answer correctly

3. Difficulty levels of the questions you answer

You will earn a higher score if you answer a more number of questions, answer more of them correctly, and qualify for higher difficulty questions.

Scores are reported in intervals of 1.

Quantitative and Verbal scores usually fall in the range 6 to 51

Total 200-800 GMAT Total Marks are based on your calculated performance before scores are given for the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections. The raw GMAT calculation is then converted to a number in the Total Score range.

Scores are reported in intervals of 10. The standard error of measurement is 30-40 points.

GMAC – owner of the GMAT exam – provides liberty to interpret GMAT official score reports in several ways. A percentile ranking is also provided for each section. This percentile corresponds to the percentage of people whose score is lower than yours. If you are at 70th percentile, this means 30% of people have scored better than you and you scored better than 70% of the population taking the exam. This percentile is based on the last three years of the GMAT scoring system.


The GMAT is an examination that you can easily succeed in by adopting an effective Preparation Strategy. The central tenets of the GMAT Self Preparation revolve around the usual aspects in terms of preparation:

A. Developing an understanding of the exam
B. Preparing a plan for the exam
C. Being consistent with your GMAT Self Preparation


Understanding the Exam

The best way to understand how the GMAT works is to take the GMAT Prep test or “Princeton Review’s Online GMAT Practice Test”. Take the test and analyze the exam content and question types. Your analysis of the test will help you a lot in establishing the strategy you adopt for the exam. You must also get a clear understanding of the pattern, question types, formats etc. by exploring the authentic resources like the GMAC website or The Official GMAT Guide.


GMAT Preparation Plan

The next step involves formulating a GMAT Self Preparation Plan that works best for you. You should divide your overall plan into the following:

Prepare the Fundamentals

You can only fine-tune your preparation once you have fully familiarized yourself with the basic fundamentals tested on the exam. With the help of the diagnostic test, you will be able to check your subject knowledge and you will be able to identify how good you are in the core topics tested on the GMAT.

In case your scores and attempts show particular weak areas, you can opt for the GMAT Test Preparation Program to ensure you are able to prepare the basics. Remember, without a good grasp of the concepts, you would struggle to move further.

Establish an Efficient Testing Regimen

Take as many complete online GMAT Practice tests as possible. Tests are the best tools to establish an objective benchmark for your preparation. Also, ensure you take a sufficient number of topic specific tests for all the GMAT topics to understand how well you have grasped these topics. Do make sure you analyze your tests well so that you achieve improvements in subsequent tests.

Focus on Core skills such as Reading and Basic Mathematics Skills

GMAT is an exam that tests your basics and you need to make sure your basic skills are up to the mark. Do not get lost in preparing too many complex concepts; always keep your focus on basic skill development such as reading comprehension and basic mathematical skills.


Consistency in Your Approach

It is not that difficult to study in short spans, but it is hard to maintain the same energy for a sustained period of time. Make sure you take GMAT Online tests at regular intervals, stick to your GMAT Online Preparation Plan, and be honest with yourself. Do not give yourself excuses to shirk work. As a small tip for motivation, always keep your targets in mind. They help you focus.

The above form the three core essentials of the approach you should adopt for the GMAT Preparation. Keep these in mind while preparing for the test and you will surely do well in the examination.


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How to send GMAT scores in B schools?

You will have to deliver your test scores to the business schools of your choice by requesting GMAC® to send Additional Scores Report for a fee. If you want to send your official GMAT™ scores to more than five schools, you have to order Additional Scores Reports for a fee.

How is the GMAT score calculated?

According to the GMAT Evaluation Report:

  • Verbal Score (on a scale from 6 to 51)
  • Quantitative Score (on a scale from 6 to 51)
  • Scaled Total Score (on a scale from 200 to 800)
  • Analytical Writing Assessment Score (on a scale from 0 to 6).

What is the average GMAT score in India?

GMAT scores range from 200 to 800, with a current average total score of 565.

How is the GMAT percentile determined?

The percentile associated with a GMAT score represents the percentage of people you outperformed by obtaining that score. A GMAT score of 750, for example, is in the 98th percentile. This means that if you score 750 on the GMAT, you outperformed 98% of GMAT test-takers.

What does a 75% mean on the GMAT?

Each of your five GMAT scores includes a percentile ranking, which shows what percentage of test takers you outperformed. A 75% ranking, for example, indicates that 25% of test takers performed as well or better than you, while 75% did not perform as well.

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