by Margo Diewald, Senior Tutor, The MBA Exchange
Your Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores are valid for five years, but your GMAT percentiles can change with the field. As business school admission competition heats up, with higher Quant scores coming in each year, will your GMAT score still get you into the top university of your dreams? What about your Quant percentiles? Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding GMAT scoring: does the GMAT score by points or percentile?
The GMAT scores with both points and percentiles. That means that GMAT point scores, ranging between 200-800, are only part of the test score hustle. Your GMAT percentiles also make a difference in the strength of your score.
Your GMAT scores indicate your quantitative and qualitative skills, and your percentile points show university and business school admissions committees your strengths and weaknesses at a glance by comparing you with other test takers.
What do percentiles mean in GMAT scoring?
On the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) calculates your percentile relative to other test takers each summer. GMAT percentiles fall as the field of competition gets stronger, even if your GMAT Quant scores remain the same. Hence, the problem of “sinking” GMAT quant percentiles.
What does your GMAT percentile mean?
Your GMAT percentile compares you to other test takers within a three year period. If you score in the 50th percentile, you performed better than half of the test takers. A 75th percentile means you did better than three-quarters of test takers, but less well than the top 25%. A 90th percentile means you scored better than 90% of test takers.
What is a Quant score?
Your GMAT Quantitative score shows how you stack up when it comes to math skills. The Quant section provides stiff competition, due to the increasing numbers of STEM superstars in the applicant pool. As applicants with less Quant confidence opt for the equivalent Graduate Record Exam (GRE), that only makes scoring in the top GMAT Quant percentiles more of a challenge.
Optimizing your GMAT score and GMAT Quant percentiles
How can I check my GMAT percentile?
To check your GMAT percentile score, request a GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR), or check GMAT score charts and percentile equivalents online   .
You should know that you can cancel scores if they don’t match your targets. Increasing use of score cancellation is one reason why scoring in the 99th GMAT Quant percentiles poses such a challenge.
Tips for how to get into the 99th percentile in the GMAT field
Based on your confidence in your Quant and test taking abilities, and the score you’ll need for your admissions goals, put together a GMAT test prep plan to get you ready to take the GMAT and succeed. You might need to pull together your full focus to get a top GMAT score this year!
The test-prep tutoring experts at The MBA Exchange can help you in your pursuit of a 98th or 99th GMAT Quant percentile. Read our list of top tips for acing the GMAT. We can also assist you to strengthen other aspects of your application if your GMAT percentiles fall below the ideal level.
We’ve helped more than 5,000 applicants in our three decades of MBA admissions consulting excellence. Get in touch with us for your free, complimentary initial evaluation, and test prep and admissions support.