When you have a strong Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT™) score, your application rises to the top of the heap. A good GMAT score is at your back and you can take on business school admissions no problem.
A good GMAT score packages your skills into a set of easy-to-show numbers. Your target schools use your Quantitative and Qualitative GMAT percentiles to assess your readiness for today’s fast-paced international business world. Obviously, you want to make sure to lock down a good GMAT score before you apply.
So now you’re asking yourself: what GMAT score do I need to succeed? And, how do you know when you’ve got your good GMAT score secured, or if you’re in a situation where your score isn’t your greatest strength?
The MBA Exchange has GMAT optimization down to a science, from test prep to effective strategies that can sell a strong or less-strong score. We keep track of the latest on GMAT score averages at top-5, top-10, and top-25 business schools. If you’re wondering if your GMAT score is good, we’ve got you covered.
Understanding your GMAT score
GMAT scores distill everything down to a single top number, but that score is only part of the package. Here’s what you need to know about how to calculate a GMAT score, and percentiles, too.
How to calculate a GMAT score
The GMAT exam contains four separate sections. These are:
- Quantitative, scored between 0-60
- Verbal, scored between 0-60
- Integrated Reasoning (IR), scored between 1-8
- Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), scored between 0-6
How your GMAT score is calculated only takes the Quantitative and Verbal sections into account, for an overall number ranging between 200-800. Your score report also includes your IR and AWA scores.
What are GMAT percentiles?
The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) calculates your GMAT percentiles based on a comparison of your scaled Quantitative and Verbal scores to those of other test takers. Your percentile shows where you rank among other applicants.
As more test takers hit higher GMAT scores, you have to do better to win an 80+ percentile number. And, you’ll need high scaled scores in each of the sections to achieve a 780 or above.
Quant percentiles, in particular, pose a particular challenge, as STEM superstars set a steep curve. For many, the best strategy to boost an overall GMAT score is to pay more attention to the Verbal section, where you can achieve a higher percentile with fewer points.
Adcoms look for evidence of balanced and well-rounded candidates, so both Quant and Verbal scores can make the difference in your applications.
2021’s GMAT averages
Business school admissions targets never stop. The answer to the question of what is a good GMAT score changes every year. You’ve got to be quick on your feet to hit this moving target!
In 2021, the overall average GMAT score stands at 564. But that’s not enough for business school admissions success.
At top-50 business schools in the US, the average GMAT score is a 696, with a 634-734 range, Stanford topping out the field in terms of elite scores. In Europe, scores at top schools average at 676, with a range of 638-709.
Finding a good GMAT score for your goals
Typically, a 700-740 counts as a good GMAT score, a score of more than 740 as excellent. But, in order to hit your application targets, you should take some specifics into consideration.
Obviously, a 780 score opens doors. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed with a lower score. Once you’ve assessed the situation, you’ll have a better sense of what a good GMAT score is for your unique goals, strengths, and weaknesses.
Get the numbers on your target schools
You can find information on the average GMAT score by school for all incoming students at top MBA programs each year. When you know the average GMAT score at your target schools, you can assess where you stand.
The score reported for the “middle 80%” of admits at your target school gives you an idea of what is a good GMAT score to support your candidacy.
If you’re at or above your target schools’ average GMAT score level, you’re probably set, especially if you’re confident in other aspects of your applications.
Research scholarship test score requirements
Scholarships you’re counting on to float you through business school might have GMAT/GRE score requirements attached. As part of your research, figure out what is a good GMAT score for these cutoffs, and plan accordingly. For merit scholarships at top-20 schools, target a 720 GMAT or above.
Consider your whole application
A good GMAT score can make a big difference, but it’s not the sum total of your application package. A low GMAT score can be balanced out with other strengths, like a stellar personal story, an excellent interview, or coming from an under-represented group. The admissions experts at the MBA Exchange can help you fully optimize your candidacy.
Is your GMAT score too low?
If you’re worried that a low GMAT might be the end of your candidacy, you might not need to be concerned – or you might need to look into retesting, maybe with a different approach to test prep this time.
The MBA Exchange has successfully helped clients with scores below 500 gain admission to top-10 business schools, so even a low score might not be a dead end. Your GPA, the rigor of your college background, your career experience, personal background, and any CPA, CFA, or FINRA credentials, can all make a difference in countering a low GMAT score.
If you’ve only taken the exam once or twice, retesting might be your way to replace a low GMAT score with a good GMAT score. Schools only look at your highest scores, so you don’t even need to worry about getting a lower score than you achieved previously. Still, take retesting and improving your score seriously. Get serious about professional tutoring and test prep before you sit the exam again.
Don’t despair. Assess your situation, decide if you want to try retesting or work on crafting applications that mitigate the impact of your low test score, and keep pushing for admissions success.
Your GMAT score stays valid for five years after your exam date, and remains in your account and accessible for as long as ten years.
Just 5-20 days. Most people get GMAT scores back after 5-7 days. Schedule accordingly to allow for retesting as desired!
Absolutely. You can retroactively cancel scores going back to 2015. And, if you change your mind within five years and want to reinstate a canceled score, that option stays on the table, as well.
You not only can retake the GMAT, you should probably plan on it. The first time facing off against the GMAT exam is intense, and many test takers want a second bite at the apple, and beyond. You won’t be penalized for retesting, and only your highest score is reported.
Great question! Many top business schools accept either the GMAT or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) exam. If the GMAT repeatedly stumps you, making a run at the GRE might be the best use of your time and energy. The GRE can produce higher scores for applicants with less quants confidence.
You could do a lot worse than checking out the extensive test prep services available through The MBA Exchange. Or, read our recent blog on studying for the GMAT.
Pull Quote Boxes:
The GMAT switched to computers back in 1997. Today, the Computer Adaptive Test format, which gets harder as you do better, is offered in 113 countries, including the US.
Did you know that GMAT scores have a standard error of measurement of 30-40 points? That’s huge! Because of this, you might need to retake the GMAT as many as three times to ensure you make your “real” good score.
A good GMAT score is within your reach. Score a 720 GMAT, and you’re in the 94th percentile worldwide.