2021 GMAT Score Chart and Percentiles Explained
Prospective grad students take the GMAT as part of the application process. Learn what the GMAT score chart is, how it changes and what a good GMAT score is.
Prospective graduate school students take the GMAT as part of their application process. It is an adaptive test whose goal is to test your knowledge and reasoning skills. The test serves as a predictor for graduate school success. As a standardized test, it allows graduate schools to compare applicants from across the United States and around the world. The GMAT score chart translates GMAT exam results to create a total GMAT score that schools use as part of the application process. In this article, you learn what the GMAT score chart is, how it changes over time and what a good GMAT score is.
What is the GMAT score chart?
The GMAT is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), and more than 2,100 universities around the world use it as part of their admissions process. This test has four sections — analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning — and each tests an applicant’s knowledge, skills and potential for academic success.
Scores for each section of the GMAT are:
- Analytical writing: 0 to 6 (half-point intervals); average score 4.43
- Integrated reasoning: 1 to 8 (single-digit intervals); average score 4.60
- Verbal reasoning: 6 to 51 (below 9 and above 44 are rare); average score 27.26
- Quantitative reasoning: 6 to 51 (below 7 and above 50 are rare); average score 40.70
Each section of the GMAT is individually scored, yet only the quantitative and verbal scores are included in a total GMAT score. The GMAT score chart creates a composite score that allows students to compare results against each other.
What do the GMAT score percentiles mean?
In addition to receiving a GMAT score, you'll also receive a percentile ranking. This ranking puts your score in perspective compared to other graduate school applicants. Your GMAT percentile ranking indicates the percentage of test takers you scored better than. For example, if your percentile ranking was 80%, that means that 20% scored better than you, while 80% scored worse than you. While your score will never change, your percentile ranking may change when the GMAT score charts are refreshed.
Does the GMAT score chart change?
Yes, GMAC updates the GMAT score chart each summer based on the previous three years’ scores from all students who took the exam. By updating the scores annually and using data from multiple years, the GMAT score chart remains relevant without allowing one year’s scores to skew the results up or down.
Will this affect my GMAT score?
Your GMAT score remains the same, no matter what happens with the GMAT score chart. However, your percentile ranking will most likely change. In general, average scores trend upward, which means your percentile ranking should decrease over time.
How to calculate your score with the GMAT score chart
GMAT scores are calculated in 10-point intervals. While the average GMAT score is 568.21, actual scores range from 200 to 800, with two-thirds of scores in the range of 400 to 600.
Your total GMAT score is based on the scores of your quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning sections. Each section is graded not by the number of questions you miss but by the difficulty of the questions you miss. Because of that, it is entirely possible for two people to miss the same number of questions but have completely different scores.
To calculate your total GMAT score, use the chart below to align your quant and verbal scores. Start by finding your quant score on the vertical axis and then move horizontally until you find your verbal score on the horizontal axis.
As you can see, there are multiple combinations of quant and verbal scores that result in each total GMAT score. For example, a verbal 40 and quant 44 make for a total score of 690, as do a verbal 34 and quant 50.
Image credit: Menlo Coaching
Are all GMAT scores included in the score chart?
Each section of the GMAT is scored; however, only the quantitative and verbal scores are included in your total GMAT score. The integrated reasoning and essay scores do not affect your GMAT Score.
What is a good GMAT score?
The average total GMAT score is 568.21; however, total scores range from 200 to 800. On average, two-thirds of all test takers score between 400 and 600. The higher your GMAT score, the better.
A “good GMAT score” depends on which graduate school you are applying to. Most graduate schools publish the average GMAT score of students on their websites. To increase your chances of being accepted, your goal should be to score 20 points or higher than your target school’s average score.
When do I receive my GMAT exam results?
Upon completion of your GMAT exam, you’ll receive an unofficial score right away. This preliminary score does not include the results of your analytical writing assessment (AWA) and is not accepted by schools.
Your official score report is available to you and your designated score report recipients (schools that you’re applying to) approximately three weeks after the test date. Your results are automatically sent to each school when they are available.
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What happens if I don’t like my GMAT Score?
When you don't like the unofficial score results from taking the GMAT, you can choose to cancel the results. A self-canceled score appears as a "C" on your official score report, which means schools will see that you took the test and decided to cancel your score. All attempts within the previous five years on your official score report are sent to your chosen schools. If you want to reinstate your canceled score, you have 60 days from the test date to change your mind. To reinstate your canceled score, there is a fee of $100.
Can I improve my GMAT score?
Yes. Many people take the GMAT multiple times when preparing for graduate school. In between tests, prospective students often read books, take prep courses and use other strategies to increase their GMAT scores.
Do my GMAT scores get shared with graduate schools?
When you submit your results to a graduate school, the school receives each of your GMAT exam scores from the past five years, your most recent AWA and your student profile. Your student profile includes information such as your GPA, undergraduate school, date of graduation, date of birth, gender and country of citizenship.
The bottom line
GMAT scores are one of the many tools universities use to compare applicants and predict their potential for academic success. The GMAT score chart translates a prospective graduate school student's exam results into a GMAT score. The chart also provides percentile rankings so universities and test takers can compare scores against those of others who have taken the exam. When the score chart is updated every summer, an applicant's test scores don't change, but their percentile ranking may go up or down.
Lee is a travel writer and podcast host based in Nashville, Tennessee. Lee spent 18 years in banking and investments and now uses that insider knowledge to write about credit cards, travel, and other personal finance topics.
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