A good GMAT score is a score that will help you get admitted to the school of your choice—or, at least, a score that won’t keep you out. Here’s how to determine the score you’ll need to be competitive at your target schools.
How is the GMAT scored?
Business schools typically care the most about your Total score, followed by your Quant and Verbal scores and possibly your Integrated Reasoning (IR) score (for some schools); here are the score ranges for each section, in rough order of importance:
- Test Section
- Total (Quant + Verbal)
- Integrated Reasoning
- Score Range (low to high)
- 200 to 800
- 6 to 51
- 6 to 51* (6 to 45)
- 1 to 8
- 0 to 6
*Although the score range is the same for Quant and Verbal (6 to 51), in practice, it’s rare to score above 45 on Verbal—and vanishingly rare to score above 48 on this section. So the practical top score for Verbal is really a 45—keep this in mind for later, when we talk about how to set score goals.
GMAT average scores for top business schools
- Top-10 programs
- Total Score
- Top-10 programs
- 700 to 740
- Top-20 programs
- 680 to 740
Average GMAT scores are almost the same for top-10 business schools and top-20 business schools, as you can see in the table. Overall, top-10 and top-20 programs are highly competitive, so the GMAT score averages at these schools are high.
If you are coming from certain overrepresented demographics (for example, bankers, management consultants, and engineers), a top-ranked school may want to see a 48+ from you on the Quant section.
Manhattan Prep’s score calculator will show you the combinations of Quant and Verbal scores that can get you to any particular 3-digit score.
What is a good GMAT score for MBA programs?
By any measure, a Total score of 750 is an excellent GMAT score and a score of 700 is a very good GMAT score. But it really depends on where you want to apply.
Your GMAT score is highly competitive if it is at or above that school’s average. (Competitive means that this statistic will help your chances of admission.)
Most schools publish both average scores and the full range or “middle-80%” range (the range of scores that most of their admitted students fell into, omitting outliers at the very top and bottom of the range).
For example, if you want to go to Stanford GSB, get ready to study hard: Stanford is typically the highest or one of the highest schools, most recently reporting a 737 average GMAT score and a range of 630 to 790.
But while the average was nearly 740, a good number of applicants were successful even though they scored below 740. The GMAT is just one component in your overall application. If you have other attributes that really stand out, then your overall application may be competitive even if your GMAT score is not at or above the school’s average.
GMAT Score Ranges: Average, Good, and Excellent Scores
[ RELATED: How to prep for the GMAT in 2 months ]
What’s a competitive Integrated Reasoning score?
Many schools are looking for a “good enough” score of 5 or higher on the Integrated Reasoning section of the exam. The top score on Integrated Reasoning is an 8.
If you are applying to top-20 business schools, aim for a 6 (or higher) on the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT. If you hope to work for one of the top-ranked banks or management consulting firms, aim for a 7 or 8.
What’s a competitive Essay score?
Schools just want to see a “good enough” score of 4.5 or higher on the essay (Analytical Writing Assessment) section of the exam—and a 4 is often considered acceptable. 50% of all test takers score 4.5 or higher on the essay and 80% score 4 or higher, so the essay section is typically the easiest section for which to prepare.
What GMAT percentiles are good?
The short answer: Percentiles don’t matter.
A percentile is a ranking measure. For example, if your score is in the 90th percentile, then you scored better than 90% of the people taking that test within some certain timeframe.
Percentiles change from year to year, though, depending on the pool of people taking the exam. Scores, on the other hand, don’t change—the skill level needed to earn a certain score is always that same skill level. As a result, most schools don’t scrutinize percentiles; they generally focus on scores.
The Quant and Verbal scoring ranges are also not actually the same (even though both sections officially use the 6 to 51 scoring range), which you can from the percentiles. For example, on the Verbal section, a score of 45 is the 99th percentile—you scored better than 99% of test-takers! By contrast, a Quant score of 45 is about the 50th percentile, which sounds a lot less impressive.
But a Quant score of 45 measures a certain level of quantitative capability—and that never changes. The quant skills needed to score 45 (or higher) are strong enough to signal that you’ll likely be able to handle the quantitative work you’ll encounter in business school. The percentile doesn’t matter.
How do I determine my GMAT goal score?
For a school like Stanford, which has an average GMAT score of 737, your GMAT score is competitive if it is 730–740 or higher. A score at or above the school’s average is a positive attribute for your application.
But Stanford’s full range is 630 to 790. Since the average is 737, most admitted students probably fell into about the 690 to 790 range (+/– 50 points from the average)—so you are probably still in an acceptable position if your score is 690 or higher. A score from 690 to 720 isn’t necessarily a positive, but it won’t keep you out.
What about that person who got into Stanford with a 630? That person likely had something else pretty extraordinary on their application, and Stanford determined that the 630 was good enough in that person’s case. If this applies to you, then you may be able to get away with a goal score at the lower end of a school’s range. (This is pretty rare, though.)
Go to the websites of the schools you’re interested in and note down their reported score averages (and ranges, if available), as well as their average GPAs.
If your GPA is higher than a school’s average, you may be able to get away with a GMAT score that’s a bit lower than that school’s average. If your GPA is lower, then you may want to aim for a slightly higher GMAT score to offset the GPA statistic.Next, it’s perfectly fine to apply to some reach schools, or schools for which your statistics aren’t highly competitive. It’s common for people to apply to three categories of schools:
- Safety (1–2 schools): My stats are more than good enough for this program and the school admits a significant percentage of applicants; I will probably be admitted.
- Regular (2–4 schools): My stats are competitive for this program; I have a good chance to be admitted.
- Reach (1–2 schools): My stats are within range for this school, though on the lower end, or the school admits only a tiny percentage of applicants. But I’m going to try and we’ll see what happens!
For example, if Stanford is on your list, alongside Anderson (UCLA, 711 average GMAT) and similar schools, then you might want to set your goal score at 710 and consider Stanford your reach school.
Use the collective data to set your goal score—and then get started on your studies. (Take full advantage of free study resources!)
How long are GMAT scores valid?
GMAT scores are valid for 5 years from the date of that test.
How long does it take to get GMAT scores?
You will see your unofficial scores on the test screen as soon as you finish your exam (for everything except the essay).
GMAC, the organization that makes the GMAT, says that your official scores are typically available within 7 business days of your test date but they could take up to 20 business days. In our experience, your scores are usually available in your mba.com account within about 5 business days of the exam date. (Though it can take longer, so don’t panic if your scores do take longer!)
How can I cancel my GMAT score?
If you take the test in a testing center, you have two options to cancel your scores:
- At the end of your test, in the testing center, the screen will ask whether you want to keep or cancel your scores. (If you do not answer this question, your scores will be canceled.)
- Within 72 hours after completing the exam, you can cancel your scores (for a fee) via your mba.com account.
If you cancel your test-center scores, you can later pay a fee to reinstate your scores.
If you take the test online, you cannot cancel your scores.
Can schools see canceled GMAT scores?
Schools cannot see your canceled GMAT scores. You will be able to see all of your scores in your mba.com account, including the canceled ones, but schools will see only non-canceled scores.
Will schools know about GMAT accommodations?
Schools will never know that you received accommodations when taking the GMAT. You may later want to apply for accommodations at the school, but you don’t need to do that until after you are admitted.
How do I find my GMAT score?
You can find your official GMAT scores in your mba.com account—just log in to your account.
Does the GMAT still help for test-optional schools?
Yes, submitting GMAT scores to test-optional schools can give your application an advantage.
In Manhattan Prep / Kaplan’s annual survey of more than 100 business schools, nearly 80% of test-optional schools said that a competitive GMAT score would still help a candidate’s application, even though the test isn’t required at that school.
So you basically get the best of both worlds with test-optional schools. Study for the exam, see how you do, and then choose which schools will get your results. If your scores are competitive for certain programs, send your scores to those schools. And just don’t send your scores to programs where they’re not competitive.
There are also significant possible benefits beyond the admissions decision itself. Many schools will take GMAT scores into consideration when offering scholarships, fellowships, grants, or other financial incentives to attend that school, helping to lower your cost/debt to attend graduate school.
What’s the best way to prepare for the GMAT?
Most people study for the GMAT for 2 to 6 months. If you are looking for an especially high score (700+) or an especially high score increase (200+ points), plan to spend at least 4 months getting ready for the GMAT.
First, take advantage of free material to build up your fundamentals. Manhattan Prep’s Foundations of GMAT Math live workshop and syllabus are completely free. And you can also get free Kindle versions of our Foundations of Math and Foundations of Verbal ebooks.
Take a few weeks to work through whatever foundational material you need, then take a free practice test to learn your starting scoring level. At that point, you’ll know the gap between your starting level and your desired goal score, and you can make your prep plans accordingly: study on your own or with a friend, take a course, or work with a private tutor.