How to Use GMAT® Scores

Guidelines for using GMAT exam scores in admissions.

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The GMAT exam is only one factor in the admissions decision.

It does not measure every discipline-related skill necessary for academic work, nor does it measure subjective factors important to academic and career success, such as motivation, creativity, and interpersonal skills.

Find out How GMAT Scores Work for Your Program

Our free Validity Study Service (VSS), available to schools and institutions that accept the GMAT exam, is designed to help schools demonstrate empirically the relationship between test scores and performance in a specific academic program.

Avoid the Use of Cutoff Scores

Cutoff scores should only be used when clear empirical evidence shows that a large proportion of students with scores in that range were less successful in the curriculum. Schools must also demonstrate that the use of cutoff scores does not result in discrimination based on sex, age, ethnicity, or any other characteristic not proven to indicate their competence or predict their success.

Do Not Compare GMAT Scores with Scores on Other Tests

The GMAT exam has not been equated with other tests. GMAT score scales may seem similar to those of other standardized tests, but comparisons with scores from other tests [such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®)] are not appropriate. Likewise, GMAT scores cannot be estimated from scores on other tests. In addition to the differences between the tests, the populations taking the tests have different characteristics.

Use GMAT Scoring Guides to Interpret AWA Scores

The Understanding and Using the Analytical Writing Assessment Scores page provides more guidance for using AWA scores.

Score Comparison

Scores by themselves have no significance; they take on meaning only when compared against a standard or norm. Using the "percentage below" numbers, you can relate the performance of one test taker to those of all test takers in the last three years. It may be more useful, however, to know how a test taker compares with others applying to your school.

Understanding Percentile Rankings

The percentile rank of a score shows you the percentage of test takers who scored lower than that score for the most recent three-year period. Every year, each test taker’s score is updated with the most recent year’s percentiles.

Using a combination of GMAT scores, transcripts, work experience, essays, and interviews, admissions professionals strive to build strong, cohesive cohorts each year. Comparing each individual GMAT score with the most recent three years of test takers gives them a more complete picture of the business school applicant pool.

You receive an application with a total score of 690, putting that applicant's score in the 88th percentile. This indicates that the total score and skill level for this candidate are greater than or equal to 88 percent of all GMAT test takers over the last three years. Use our GMAT Benchmarking Tool to review percentiles in summary and detailed formats and to apply filters (login required) to further inform your admissions decisions.

Direct Score Comparison

We recommend caution in directly comparing the scores of two applicants. The standard error of difference for the Total GMAT score is about 41, so chances are about two out of three that the difference between the Total GMAT scores received by two test takers is within 41 points above or below the difference between the test takers' true scores. The standard error of difference for the Verbal score is 4.3, and for the Quantitative score, it is 3.9.

Educationally Disadvantaged Test Takers

We advise that you use special care in interpreting test scores when the test taker is believed to be educationally disadvantaged as a result of social and environmental circumstances. Scores may, under those circumstances, reflect the extent of educational damage resulting from unequal opportunity, rather than potential to succeed academically in the first year of a graduate management program. However, GMAT scores should still be considered as part of the applicant's overall application.

Test Takers with Limited English Proficiency

In assessing the ability of a test taker whose native language is not English, it is important to carefully consider how much the scores may have been affected by a limited proficiency with English. GMAT scores, especially the Verbal and AWA scores, may reflect the test taker's deficiency in English rather than his or her reasoning ability.

Score Cancel/Score Reinstate

GMAT Test takers are provided with the ability to see their unofficial scores prior to making a decision to accept or cancel those scores. A self-canceled score will appear as a "C" on the official score report, along with all GMAT attempts for the previous five years. Test takers that self-cancel on test day have the opportunity to reinstate those scores within 60 days of the test date, for a fee of $100.

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