Guidelines for understanding and using scores in admissions.
About GMAT™ Focus Edition Scores
The GMAT™ Focus Edition’s Total Score ranges from 205 to 805. If you’re familiar with the previous version of the GMAT, you’ll notice the total score scale is different. All GMAT Focus Edition Total Scores now end in a 5. This change has been made to ensure you and candidates can easily distinguish between a GMAT™ Focus Edition and GMAT™ Exam score.
GMAT™ Focus Edition: 205–805
- GMAT™ Exam: 200–800
Additionally, the GMAT™ Focus Edition Total Score is no longer based on just Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning scores. It’s now based on all three sections: Quantitative, Verbal, and Data Insights. Section scores range from 60 to 90, with each section equally weighted towards the Total Score.
Evolving the Score Scale
The score scale for the GMAT™ Focus Edition has been adjusted to reflect changes in the test-taking population, which has become more diverse and global. Over the years, scores have shifted significantly, resulting in an uneven distribution. The updated score scale fixes that, thus allowing schools to better differentiate candidate performance on the exam.
In addition to the score scale recalibration, the following key changes distinguish GMAT™ Focus Edition:
- The Total Score is now comprised of all 3 section scores (as mentioned above)
- The content areas and test constructs have been refined to narrow scope to focus on data literacy, critical thinking, and problem solving skills
- The scoring algorithm has been updated
- The new Question Review & Edit feature will have implications for testing behavior
Understanding GMAT™ Focus Edition Scores
After receiving a GMAT™ Focus Edition Official Score Report, your immediate question will likely be how you can understand the relative competitiveness of a candidate with a GMAT™ Focus score as compared to one with a score from the previous version of the GMAT™ Exam. Because the score scales AND the score scale distribution have both changed, it is not possible to directly compare total scores or section scores from a previous version of the exam to the GMAT™ Focus Edition, as it would not result in a meaningful comparison of performance. However, exam scores can be linked and compared using percentile information. Let's review how to interpret percentile information next.
Percentile rankings indicate what percentage of test takers a candidate performed better than. For example, a percentile ranking of 75% means that a candidate performed better than 75% of other test takers.
If you are trying to understand a candidate’s relative competitiveness, you can use the percentile tables below to show score distributions between the two versions of the exam by percentile.
As previously stated, the GMAT™ Focus Edition’s Total Score ranges from 205 to 805, while the GMAT™ Exam has a Total Score range of 200-800. Because the exam scores are not on a common scale, GMAT™ Focus Edition scores cannot be compared to scores from the previous version of the exam. While scores of 600 and 605 may look similar, they represent very different performance levels on different skills.
If you are trying to understand a candidate’s relative competitiveness, you can use the concordance tables below to show score distributions between the two versions of the exam by percentile. You can also access the information below (updated January 2024), as well as section scores, at School Resources.
Guidelines for Using Scores
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. Follow these guidelines when using scores in admissions:
- 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 Focus Edition has not been equated with other tests. GMAT Focus 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 Focus 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 caution in direct score comparison. In addition to not comparing scores between different tests, we recommend caution in directly comparing the scores of two applicants as there is a standard error of difference in Total Scores.
- Fairly evaluate 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 Focus scores should still be considered as part of the applicant's overall application.
- Consider a test taker's 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.