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by Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions | March 10, 2009


Your GMAT score

GMAT scores--valid for five years--are used in the business school admissions process to provide a common yardstick to compare candidates for admission, and to predict student success in business school. What exactly does your GMAT score look like? Believe it or not, you will actually receive four scores on the GMAT.

  • An overall score, ranging from 200 to 800
  • A math subscore, ranging from 0 to 60
  • A verbal subscore, ranging from 0 to 60
  • A score for the Analytical Writing Assessment, ranging from 0 to 6

Percentile Rank

Each of the scores above is also accompanied by a percentile rank. The percentile rank highlights what proportion of test takers scored lower than you on the test. The higher the percentile rank, the better you did. For example, if you received a percentile rank of 85, you did better than 85 percent of test takers. This number tells business schools exactly where you fell with respect to other candidates who took the GMAT.

Analytical Writing

On the analytical writing section, each essay is given a separate grade on a 0-6 scale by two different graders--a human and a computer called the "e-rater." These grades are assigned holistically, taking into account all aspects of content, writing style, and grammar. If the two grades for an essay agree, that score will be assigned. If the two scores are markedly different, then a third scorer, a person, will read the essay to determine its grade. In addition, business schools may receive copies of your typewritten essays. The essay score is separate from the math and verbal sections of the test in that it does NOT affect your 200-800 overall score.

So, What's Average?

Although the mean GMAT score is approximately 530, the latest U.S. News and World Report guide to graduate schools reports that the average GMAT scores of the top business schools in the country--such as Stanford, Sloan (MIT), Kellogg (Northwestern), and Wharton (Penn)--hover around 707. As you can see, the environment is extremely competitive. In fact, 707 translates to a percentile figure of approximately 94 and up.

But whats a GOOD score?

There is no exact answer to the question of what a good score is, as it depends on what schools you are applying to, though obviously the higher your percentile ranking, the better you are scoring when compared with other test-takers. What you consider a good score should depend on your own expectations and goals, and you should research what the average GMAT scores are at the schools you are interested in applying to. Keep in mind that top business schools consider a score of at least 600 as competitive. Information on average test scores at different schools is readily available. Find out what their average GMAT scores are and then develop a preparation plan to achieve it.

Average GMAT Scores at top Business Schools*

Business SchoolAverage Score
Harvard University707
Stanford University720
U Penn (Wharton)714
MIT (Sloan)702
Northwestern (Kellogg)702
University of Chicago703
Dartmouth College (Tuck)710
UC Berkeley (Haas)707
Columbia University (NY)708
New York University (Stern)700

*U.S. News & World Report, Best Business Schools, 2008 edition

Find out how you would score! Take a free practice test here.

For more information about GMAT preparation and business school applications, please see

About Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, a division of Kaplan, Inc., is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With 4,000 classroom locations worldwide, a comprehensive menu of online offerings and a complete array of books and software, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 80 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as English language and professional licensing exams.

To prepare students for the GMAT exam, we offer a variety of comprehensive, realistic preparation options, including: one-on-one private tutoring, classroom courses with flexible schedules, Advanced classes for high-scoring students, online courses for the ultimate option in flexibility, and admissions consulting to help you submit compelling applications to business school. Our website features tips on each aspect of the business school application, free GMAT practice, and free event listings.

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Filed Under: Education|Grad School