For anyone wanting to attend business school in an English-speaking country, the GMAT is essential. The Graduate Management Admission Test not only proves that you can speak English but also well enough to cope at the levels required by an MBA.
As well as being the most popular exam of its type for the last 60 years, the GMAT is taken by 200,000 people a year. It’s accepted by 7,700 MBA and Masters programs from more than 2,400 schools. So it’s clear why it could be the right test for you if you’re looking to apply for an MBA.
You’re bound to have questions of course, and one of these might be about the GMAT results. How do they work? What is a good score on the test? How does the GMAT score chart work? Do you receive score reports?
That’s why we’ve created this guide with everything you need to know about GMAT results and the score chart.
GMAT results explained
The first thing you need to know about the GMAT test results is what you’ll be assessed on and how the test breaks down.
The GMAT measures your verbal, mathematical, analytical writing and integrated reasoning skills. These are the ones that are most relevant for the kinds of courses you will be applying for, which is what makes this test so valuable to schools.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what those sections involve:
- Integrated Reasoning: You will be interpreting and analysing information from various sources and in various formats. You’ll then need to use them to solve some complex reasoning questions.
- Verbal Reasoning: This tests how well you can understand and evaluate something you’ve read.
- Quantitative Reasoning: In this section you’ll need to show that you can analyse data and use reasoning skills to draw your conclusions.
- Analytical Writing Assessment: You’ll need to think critically about a subject and communicate your complex ideas about it in writing.
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How is the GMAT scored?
The GMAT uses computer adaptive testing. This means that each question is delivered to you via computer (whether you’re taking it remotely or at a test centre), one question at a time. Every time you answer a question, your answer will be evaluated and how you have done will determine what the next question is.
So, if you clearly struggled and got that question wrong, the next question is likely to be of a lower difficulty level. If you got it right, you are likely to get a more difficult one to test your skills at a higher level.
This means you’re being assessed before you’ve even finished the test. Usually when you are around a third of the way through, the computer will have picked out your level from the previous answers. This means your answers to the early questions are especially important.
Here’s how each section is scored:
- Analytical Writing Assessment - This is marked by a combination of a machine algorithm and professional (human) essay raters.
- Integrated Reasoning - Your score for this is based on the number of questions you got right. For multiple part questions, each part needs to be right for you to get the credit for the question.
- Quantitative and Verbal - These two sections are where the computer adaptive testing is used. You’ll be measured on the number of questions answered, how many are right and at what difficulty level you’ve been operating at. So the best scores will be for people who correctly answered the most questions at a higher difficulty level.
How the GMAT score chart works
After you have finished your test, you’ll immediately see four of your five scores. These are the Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasonings and Total Scores. The Total Scores are based on the Quantitative and Verbal sections, despite the name.
At this point your scores will be ‘unofficial’ and you’ll have two minutes to think about them and either accept or cancel them. If you accept them, you’ll receive a print-out of your Unofficial Score Report before leaving the test centre. This report will help you decide if you can apply for your course or whether to retake the test. It cannot be used for applications at this stage.
If you cancel them you’ll need to retake the test at a later date. You can only do this once in a 16-day period, so make sure you have time to reschedule to try and improve your score before any admissions deadlines.
If you don’t make a decision in that two minute window at the end of the test, it will be automatically cancelled, so don’t think for too long. You do have up to 72 hours afterwards to still cancel your results, but this incurs a fee.
You don’t have to wait long after the test for your official GMAT Score Report, which should come between 7 and 20 working days. This has the scores from the unofficial report, your Analytical Writing Assessment score and percentile rankings.
Percentile Rankings explained
The GMAT results include these percentile rankings to show what percentage of other test takers you performed better than. So if your percentile ranking is 87%, only 13% of test takers did better than you.
The Total Scores for GMAT range from 200 to 800 with a current mean score of 574.51. The Percentile Rankings change each summer, so while your score will remain the same, the Percentile Rankings may go up or down.
The Total Scores Percentile rankings are currently as follows:
When it comes to highly competitive MBA applications, your Percentile Ranking is a useful tool to show how your GMAT score might be seen by schools.
GMAT Enhanced Score Report
For an extra $30 you can purchase an Enhanced Score Report, which includes more of a breakdown of the details of your GMAT score chart. This could be particularly useful if you are planning to retake the test because it shows where you need to focus as you prepare for the next one.
The Enhanced Score Report includes:
- Overall GMAT score and percentile
- Scores for each section and information on time management
- Your level of accuracy during the test
- Your average time to answer questions, both correctly and incorrectly
- The average difficulty level of questions answered
It does not include data from your Analytical Writing Section and is instead based on your Unofficial Score Report.
The Enhanced Score Report does not get sent to your chosen schools, it’s simply a tool for you to understand how you performed on the test. It is available for up to five years after you have taken the test and is available for tests where you decided to cancel your results. It is not available for any test results cancelled by GMAT.
Sending your results
When you register for the GMAT, you will have picked up to five schools to receive your Official Score Reports. You can select additional schools, but these will incur an extra fee.
These results are not automatically sent after your Score Report is generated. You can choose when you are happy to send them to the schools of your choice.
GMAT results are valid for five years and your Official Score Report sent to schools will include the results of any of your tests taken in this time. This does not count any that you have cancelled.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if GMAT cancels your results?
As well as being able to cancel your own results, it is possible that GMAT could do it if they suspect a testing issue or policy violation. This will be marked up on your Score Report under one of the following codes:
- T - This refers to a testing issue, which could be administrative errors, a payment error or disruptions out of your control at the testing centre. This will be noted on your Official Score Reports for five years but you may get the chance to retake the GMAT at no additional fee or receive a refund.
- P - These are ‘common policy violations’ which could include using electronic devices during the test or accessing study guides. In this case your score would be revoked, your prospective schools would be notified and you could be banned from testing for up to three years.
- S - ‘Serious policy violations’ include disrupting others at the test centre, falsifying score reports or taking the test for others. Again, your score would be revoked, your schools would be notified and the potential ban would range from 1 year to a lifetime ban, depending on the violation.