Taking the GMAT - GMAT Scores

How and Why Business Schools Use GMAT Scores

business students in class

What Is a GMAT Score?

A GMAT score is the score you receive when you take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). The GMAT is a standardized exam designed specifically for business majors who are applying to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Nearly all graduate business schools require applicants to submit a GMAT score as part of the admissions process. However, there are some schools that allow applicants to submit GRE scores in place of GMAT scores.


Why Schools Use GMAT Scores

GMAT scores are used to help business schools determine how well an applicant will do academically in a business or management program. In most cases, GMAT scores are used to estimate the depth of an applicant’s verbal and quantitative skills. Many schools also view GMAT scores as a good assessment tool for comparing applicants who are similar to each other. For example, if two applicants have comparable undergraduate GPAs, similar work experience, and comparable essays, a GMAT score can allow admissions committees to fairly compare the two applicants. Unlike grade point averages (GPA), GMAT scores are based on the same set of standards for all test takers.

How Schools Use GMAT Scores

Although GMAT scores can give schools an impression of academic knowledge, they cannot measure many of the other qualities that are necessary for academic success. This is why admission decisions are usually not based on GMAT scores alone.

Other factors, such as undergraduate GPA, work experience, essays, and recommendations also determine how applicants will be assessed.

The makers of the GMAT recommend that schools use GMAT scores to:

  • Help select applicants for graduate study
  • Help select applicants for merit-based financial aid programs (i.e., programs that consider academic achievements or potential)
  • Assist in counseling or guidance programs

The makers of the GMAT also suggest that schools avoid using "cutoff GMAT scores" to eliminate applicants from the admissions process. Such practices could result in the exclusion of relevant groups. (e.g. candidates who are educationally disadvantaged as a result of environmental and/or social circumstances). An example of a cut-off policy might be a school that does not accept students who score under 550 on the GMAT. Most business schools do not have a minimum GMAT score for applicants. However, schools often publish their average GMAT range for admitted students. Getting your score within this range is highly recommended. 

Average GMAT Scores

Average GMAT scores always vary from year to year. If you are interested in learning more about average GMAT scores, contact the admissions office at your school(s) of choice. They will be able to tell you what the average GMAT score is based on the scores of their applicants. Most schools also publish average GMAT scores for their most recently accepted class of students on their website. This range will give you something to shoot for when you take the GMAT.

The GMAT scores shown below can also give you an idea of what the average score is based on percentiles.

Keep in mind that GMAT scores can range from 200 to 800 (with 800 being the highest or best score). 

  • 99th percentile: 800
  • 98th percentile: 750
  • 89th percentile: 700
  • 76th percentile: 650
  • 59th percentile: 600
  • 43rd percentile: 550
  • 30th percentile: 500
  • 19th percentile: 450
  • 11th percentile: 400
  • 6th percentile: 350
  • 3rd percentile: 300
  • 2nd percentile: 250