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How is the GMAT Scored?

The GMAT is the most popular exam to take for students who are interested in pursuing a graduate business degree. Most people who are looking to apply to business school know that they need a high GMAT score in order for their applications to be successful, but in order to do well on the GMAT it is important to first understand how the exam itself is scored. On this page, we’ll break down how each section of the GMAT is scored and how you can use this information to your advantage come test day.

 

Breaking down the sections of the GMAT

The GMAT is comprised of four main sections: the Quantitative (Quant) section, the Verbal section, the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), and the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. The maximum number of points you can get on each section, as well as the total number of questions you will be given on each section are as follows:

 
Section Length of Section Total Questions Maximum Points
Quant 75 minutes 37 60
Verbal 75 minutes 41 60
AWA 30 minutes 1 (Essay) 6
IR 30 minutes 12 8
Total 3.5 hours 90 + Essay 800

Reading this chart, you may get confused as to where the final total of 800 points comes from. The total GMAT score is made up of only the scores a test taker receives on the Verbal and Quant sections of the exam. As you can see, a test taker can receive a maximum of 60 points on the Verbal and Quant sections – this is the scaled score of these sections. After a student has completed the exam, the scaled scores for both of these sections are combined and converted to the final total score.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Integrated Reasoning section is not used in the calculation of overall scores. This is an experimental section – the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC (the creators of the exam), uses the questions in this part of the test to determine test takers’ abilities to analyze data from different sources. Test takers should also understand that the Analytical Writing Assessment is also not included in their total GMAT score. Both the AWA and IR scores are included on the Official Score Report the test taker will receive after the exam.

 

What does an average GMAT score look like?

According to GMAC, the average GMAT score is a 540, however two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600 points. Looking at the individual sections of the exam, the average Verbal score is around 26-27 points, and the average Quant score is around 38 points.

As you can see from this information, many test takers – especially international test takers, or test takers for whom English is a second language – score higher on the Quant section than they do on the Verbal section. This does not mean that the Quant section is easy by any means (in fact, the GMAT Quant section is considered very difficult, compared to the Quant sections of other graduate admissions exams), but if you want your GMAT score to truly stand out from the scores of others, it will be beneficial to focus ample time on both your Quant and Verbal studies, rather than just getting caught up studying Quant.

In preparing to take the GMAT, it will be helpful to take a GMAT practice exam to determine which areas of the test you already perform well on, and which will require more focused efforts. Veritas Prep offers 7 different GMAT practice exams. Not only is each test computer adaptive – and thus, similar to what you will see on the actual test – but when you have completed each exam, you will be given pacing analysis and data on how well you performed on the test vs. how other students performed. This information will allow you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are on each question type, and develop a better study plan moving forward.

 

What GMAT score do you need to get into a top business school?

This question is asked frequently by test takers, however the answer depends entirely on where you are applying to. At Veritas Prep, we recommend that our students aim for a score that is no lower than 35 points below the average GMAT score published by their target school. So, for example, if you plan to apply to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, which has an average GMAT score of 732, your GMAT score should be no lower than a 700 for your application to stay competitive.

If you don’t have a score high enough to get into your dream school, that’s okay! Veritas Prep is here to help. Every Veritas Prep instructor has scored in the 99th percentile on the official GMAT exam, so they know how to help you achieve your highest score possible. Don’t believe us? Try one of our classes for free to see why over 300,000 students have chosen Veritas Prep to help them get into their dream schools.