Thinking about business school but nervous about the GMAT? Luckily, some business schools, especially online programs, may not even require the GMAT. That said, the majority absolutely will require a standardized test and also an above-average GMAT score.
As you decide whether or not you will take the GMAT, it’s important to gain an understanding of your testing options. The GMAT is an investment of time and money on your business school feature.
Read on to learn about how the GMAT is scored, average GMAT scores, and what to expect when taking the test.
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GMAT Score Range
The GMAT score range is 200 to 800, meaning that it is impossible to score below 200 or above 800. That said, two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600.
The average GMAT score is 556, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). The GMAT also provides you with percentile rankings of how you did on the test compared to everyone else who took it that day. For example, if you get a ranking of 85 percent, only 15 percent of test takers did better than you.
Understanding GMAT Scoring
A GMAT exam score ranges between 200 and 800, but what exactly does that mean? It’s a bit confusing because the total score, which is the score that ranges between 200 and 800, is a different score range than the actual individual section scores. Here’s a breakdown of the GRE sections and their score ranges.
The analytical writing section is one 30-minute section that asks test takers to analyze an argument and respond in written form. GMAC scores this section between 0 and 6 in increments of 0.5.
Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning
These two sections are very similar and are scored using the same range from 0 to 60. The verbal section is one five-minute session with 36 questions while quantitative reasoning is one 62-minute session with 31 questions.
GMAT has an additional section that the GRE, another standardized test for graduate admission, doesn’t have: the Integrated Reasoning section. Integrated reasoning includes graphics interpretation, table analysis, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis. It’s a section that seeks to ensure test takers are prepared to think critically and analyze data in business school. Scores for this section range from 1 to 8.
The total score is a calculation of your performance in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. This is part of why it gets confusing, considering that those section scores range from 0 to 60 and the total ranges from 200 to 800.
In any case, it’s important to understand that the GMAT scores we discuss below are referring to the total scores. You will get individual numbers for the analytical writing and integrated reasoning sections, which also matter and will also be taken into consideration as part of your business school application.
What’s a Good GMAT Score?
That said, whether or not you can consider your GMAT test score “good” depends on a few things. First of all, which business schools are you applying to? Not all MBA admission offices are made the same. A 703 for a middle-of-the-road program may be excellent but it might not be considered competitive for a top program. Scores above 650 are considered competitive for top-20 schools, for example. Meanwhile, if test takers score in the 600s, they would be considered quite competitive for top-50 MBA programs.
The average GMAT scores for the top 10 business schools in the country, from Stanford to the Yale School of Management, range from 721 to 734. Considering that this is an average score of admitted applicants, it’s easy to understand how competitive these top programs are. It means that a good chunk of admitted students scored well above 734.
Now that you understand the exam’s sections and the different score ranges for each section, let’s look at what you can do with your scores.
Receiving Your Scores
You do not get your GMAT test scores back immediately after the test. Typically, you will be able to see your scores and access an official score report online within 20 days of taking the test.
You can print this out but remember you cannot send that to a school directly. Coming from you, it will be considered an unofficial score report. During test day and registration, you can choose up to five schools to receive your score report. Then, after you have taken the test, you may request additional score reports online at no additional cost.
Canceling Your Scores
When you finish the exam, you may feel like you really didn’t do well. You have the option to cancel your GMAT scores immediately. This means that those scores will not be sent to schools and you can register to take the exam again.
There is no cost to cancel your scores. If after the test you decide you would like to cancel your scores, you can cancel online for up to 72 hours after taking the test and pay a $25 fee. Once you receive your official score report, you cannot cancel your scores. If after canceling your scores you decide you would actually like to reinstate them, you can reinstate them for a $50 fee.
Note that GMAT scores are good for five years. After five years, you can no longer use your GMAT score for business school applications and will have to retake the exam.
Taking the GMAT
GMAT test takers should remember that the exam is only one aspect of the MBA admissions process. Taken with information about your undergraduate coursework, any professional experience you have, and your other application materials, your GMAT will add to your overall applicant profile.
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