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GMAT Percentiles

GMAT Percentiles

Once you have taken the GMAT, you are provided with your total GMAT score, which is computed on your scaled Quant and Verbal scores, your Quant score, your Verbal score, your IR score, and your AWA score. At the same time, you will be also provided with percentile rankings against each of the section scores as well as the total GMAT score. The following table provides you a brief overview of the percentile ranking that corresponds to respective average section scores on GMAT and average total score on GMAT.

Sections Average GMAT score GMAT Percentile
Quantitative Reasoning 40.02 38%
Verbal Reasoning 27.08 47%
Integrated Reasoning 4.41 43%
Analytical Writing Assessment 4.49 34%
Total GMAT Score 563.43 42%

Source: mba.com

It is always recommended to determine your learning needs before you start preparing for GMAT. Take a free GMAT practice test to determine your preparation schedule for GMAT.

What are GMAT Percentiles?

GMAT percentile rank tells you the proportion of students that you performed better than on GMAT. The following table provides a brief overview of the percentile ranks for the corresponding GMAT scores.

Total GMAT Score Percentile Ranking
760-800 99%
720 94%
700 88%
680 82%
650 73%
620 62%
600 55%
550 38%
500 26%
400 10%
300 3%
200 0%

Source: mba.com

Thus, if you take a close look at the table, you will understand that the 88th percentile indicates that 88% of the total test takers scored less than 770. Similarly, the 39th percentile indicates that 39% of the test takers scored below 550 and so on. Please note that 200 is the lowest score on GMAT and the percentile rank for the same is 0.

GMAC, or the body responsible for administering the GMAT, revises the percentile rank basis the GMAT score data of the previous 3 years. Thus, every year the percentile rank will change, irrespective of the GMAT score. Alternately, every year, as the average GMAT score will improve, the GMAT percentile rank will come down by a few points. For instance, the average GMAT score in 2017 was 551. 94 and the percentile rank for the same (computed on a sample size of 750,000 students in the period 2013-2015) was around 44%. In 2019, the average GMAT score improved to 563.43 and the percentile rank for the same (computed on a sample size of 739,752 students in the period 2015-2018) was around 42%.

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Total GMAT Percentile

The following table highlights, in detail, the GMAT percentiles for corresponding total GMAT scores:

Total GMAT Score Percentile Ranking
760-800 99%
750 98%
740 97%
730 96%
720 94%
710 90%
700 88%
690 85%
680 82%
670 80%
660 77%
650 73%
640 68%
630 66%
620 62%
610 58%
600 55%
590 51%
580 48%
570 45%
560 41%
550 38%
540 36%
530 32%
520 30%
510 28%
500 26%
490 24%
450 16%
400 10%
350 5%
300 3%
250 1%
200 0%

Source: mba.com

Let us now take a closer look at the individual sections on GMAT and the percentile rank in each:

GMAT Percentile: Quantitative Reasoning

The Quant section on GMAT consists of two types of questions, namely, data sufficiency and problem solving. The student needs to answer 31 questions in this section and each is scored on a scale of 6 to 51, in 1 point increment. Interestingly, as this section is computer-adaptive, the scoring on this section depends on the level of difficulty of questions correctly answered and the number of questions correctly answered. The average score on this section, as of 2018, is 40.2 and the percentile rank, 38. That is 38% of the test takers scored in the range of 30 – 42.
The following graph illustrates the percentile ranking for corresponding scores and the mean score in the GMAT Quant section:

GMAT Scores

Source: mba.com, sample size: 739752, TY 2015 – 2018

GMAT Percentile: Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal section on GMAT consists of three types of questions, namely, reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning. The student needs to answer 36 questions in this section and each is scored on a scale of 6 to 51, in 1 point increment. Interestingly, as this section is computer-adaptive, the scoring on this section depends on the level of difficulty of questions correctly answered and the number of questions correctly answered. The average score on this section, as of 2018, is 27.08 and the percentile rank, 47. That is 47% of the test takers scored in the range of 20 – 30.

The following graph illustrates the percentile ranking for corresponding scores and the mean score in the GMAT Verbal section:

GMAT Scores

Source: mba.com, sample size: 739752, TY 2015 – 2018

GMAT Percentile: Integrated Reasoning (IR)

The IR section on GMAT consists of four types of questions, namely, multi-source reasoning, two-part analysis, graphical interpretation, and table analysis. The student needs to answer 12 questions in this section and each is scored on a scale of 1 to 8, in 1 point increment. This section is not computer-adaptive and for one question to be considered correctly answered, all parts of the question must be correctly answered. The average score on this section, as of 2018, is 4.41 and the percentile rank, 43. That is 43% of the test takers scored in the range of 4 – 5.
The following graph illustrates the percentile ranking for corresponding scores and the mean score in the GMAT IR section:

GMAT Scores

Source: mba.com, sample size: 739752, TY 2015 – 2018

GMAT Percentile: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The AWA section on GMAT consists of only one question – the analysis of an argument and is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in 0.5 point increment. This section is not computer-adaptive and graded twice, once by an e-reader and once by a human reader. The two scores are averaged to obtain the final section score. The average score on this section, as of 2018, is 4.49 and the percentile rank, 34. That is 34% of the test takers scored in the range of 4 – 5.

The following graph illustrates the percentile ranking for corresponding scores and the mean score in the GMAT AWA section:

Source: mba.com, sample size: 500503, TY 2015 – 2018

Take the GMAT practice tests to understand your preliminary GMAT percentile stand

Are the Percentile Rankings on Quant and Verbal Sections Same?

Interestingly, the percentile ranking does not remain the same for particular scores on different GMAT sections. The following table indicates the difference in percentile ranking with respect to Quant and Verbal scores:

Percentile Ranking – Quant Scaled Scores Percentile Ranking – Verbal
96% 51 99%
85% 50 99%
74% 49 99%
67% 48 99%
67% 48 99%
61% 47 99%
58% 46 99%
55% 45 99%
50% 44 98%
43% 42 96%
41% 41 93%
39% 40 90%
35% 39 88%
33% 38 85%
32% 37 82%
29% 36 80%
26% 35 76%
24% 34 71%
23% 33 68%
21% 32 66%
18% 31 61%
17% 30 58%
15% 29 56%
14% 28 51%
12% 27 46%
12% 26 43%
10% 25 39%
10% 25 39%
9% 24 36%
8% 23 32%
7% 22 30%
6% 21 26%
6% 20 23%
5% 19 19%
5% 18 18%
4% 17 15%
3% 16 12%
3% 15 10%
3% 14 9%
2% 13 7%
2% 12 5%
2% 11 4%
1% 10 3%
1% 9 2%
1% 8 1%
1% 7 1%
0% 6 0%

Source: mba.com

If you take a closer look at the figures, you will realize that a 51 on the Quant section indicates the 96th percentile while a 51 on the Verbal section indicates the 99th percentile. The disparity rises owing to the fact that most of the GMAT test takers are non-native speakers of English and hence, tend to perform better in the Quant section than in the Verbal section.

Further, the individual percentiles obtained on each section of the GMAT do not influence the overall percentile rank. For instance, closely observe the following data that plots the Quant and Verbal scores on a 200 point chart:

GMAT Scores

One can easily understand that there is no definite way to obtain the 99th percentile on GMAT, because:

  • A scaled score of 50 on both Verbal (99% percentile rank) and Quant (85% percentile rank) sections will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 790
  • A scaled score of 51 on Verbal (99% percentile rank) and 49 on Quant (74% percentile rank) sections will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 790
  • A scaled score of 50 on Verbal (99% percentile rank ) and 48 on Quant (67% percentile rank) sections will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 780
  • A scaled score of 48 on Verbal (99% percentile rank) and 50 on Quant (85% percentile rank) sections will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 780
  • A scaled score of 47 on Verbal (99% percentile rank) and 48 on Quant (67% percentile rank) will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 760
  • A scaled score of 48 on Verbal (99% percentile rank) and 46 on Quant (56% percentile rank) will help you get the 99th percentile, or a cumulative scaled score of 760

Does B-school Consider GMAT Percentile or GMAT Score?

GMAT percentiles do not necessarily determine your chances of admission to B-schools. In actuality, the chances of admission to B-school programs are not dependent on any one factor. Rather, the entire decision of the Admissions Committee is based on a holistic consideration of your profile – your GMAT score, professional experience, expertise, future goals, etc. GMAT score help the Admission Committees determine your specific quantitative and analytical reasoning skills, skills that are essential to the making of the dynamic industry leader. Similarly, the GMAT percentile helps the Admission Committees to understand your stand in the applicant pool. In other words, GMAT percentile is the simplest tool to help you stand apart from the rest of the crowd. Further, your GMAT score, and consequently your GMAT percentile rank may also influence your chances of getting good merit scholarships. Thus, although GMAT percentiles do not influence admission decisions, they definitely help the Admissions Committee in the decision making process.

What should be your GMAT Percentile for applying to B-school?

Although your GMAT score or percentile is not the sole determining factors of your chances of admission to your dream B-schools, you must target getting a good GMAT score. A good GMAT score is typically any score that will help you add a competitive edge to your profile and ideally the 99th percentile stand or GMAT score in the range of 760 – 800 should indicate your profile as strong. GMAT scores in the range of 730-750 or the 95th,97th, and 98th percentiles indicate your profile as brilliant. The 56th percentile stand or a GMAT score of and below 600 are typically considered weak scores.

The following table lists the average GMAT score requirement and the corresponding percentile stand for the top-25 MBA programs

School Average GMAT Score Percentile Rank
Stanford 708 90%
Harvard 730 95%
INSEAD 700 88%
Wharton 732 95%
CEIBS 685 84%
LBS 707 89%
Chicago Booth 738 97%
MIT: Sloan 730 95%
Columbia Business School 732 95%
Berkeley: Haas 726 95%
Yale 724 94%
IESE 690 85%
Oxford: Said 690 85%
Northwestern University 732 95%
Dartmouth 722 94%
Cambridge: Judge 696 87%
NUS 662 78%
HKUST 680 82%
HEC Paris 690 85%
Duke: Fuqua 704 89%
ESADE 660 77%
IMD 670 80%
Darden 718 93%
ISB 709 90%
NYU: Stern 716 92%

How to Set Your Target GMAT Percentile?

GMAT percentiles are subject to change over the years while your GMAT score remains the same. Further, GMAT percentiles only help to indicate your percentage stand among the crowd of applicants. Hence, it is recommended that you focus on setting your target GMAT score for applying to your dream schools. To set your target score you must start with short-listing the B-schools that you want to apply to. Ensure that you conduct thorough research in terms of financial services, program curriculum, career opportunities, scholarship prospects, location, etc., while short-listing your target schools. Next, research the average GMAT score requirement stipulated by each of the schools. You may also study the profiles of the recent batch at the school to analyze the competitiveness of your profile. At the same time, you may also contact with current students or alumni to obtain first-hand understanding of the entire admission process. Once you have thoroughly completed your groundwork and finalized your list of schools, add 30 points to the average GMAT score stipulated by each school – this should be your target GMAT score.

The performer needs all the support and guidance he/she can avail of to ascertain that his/her individual goals are met. A dedicated GMAT prep and MBA admissions consultant recognizes the effort and aspires to help every student meet his/her career goal.

All the best!

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