The GMAT adjusts to your individual ability level, which both shortens the time it takes to complete the exam and establishes a higher level of accuracy than a fixed test. At the start of each multiple-choice section of the exam, you are presented with a question of medium difficulty. As you answer each question, the computer scores your answer and uses it—as well as your responses to any preceding questions—to determine which question to present next. Correct responses typically prompt questions of increased difficulty. Incorrect responses generally result in questions of lesser difficulty. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area. In a computer-adaptive test, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.
How does it work?
For each multiple-choice section of the GMAT exam, there is a large pool of potential questions ranging from a low to high level of difficulty. Each section of the test starts with a question of moderate difficulty. If you answer the first question correctly, the computer will usually give you a harder question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, your next question will be easier. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area.
In a computer-adaptive test, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.
Your Score Report
Score reports include all your GMAT scores from tests taken in the last five (5) years. The contact and demographic information that was required for you to register for the test will also appear on your score report.
The digital photograph you provided at the test center will be sent with your score report to the score recipients you select, if those recipients have asked to receive such information. In addition, if you provided the following background information during registration or on the day of the test, it may also appear on your score report: telephone number; undergraduate institution, grade point average (GPA), major, and date of graduation; intended graduate study; and the highest level of education attained. This information is self-reported and will be marked as such.
For each of your scores on the GMAT test (Verbal, Quantitative, Total, and Analytical Writing Assessment) you will receive a percentile rank. Each rank indicates the percentage of examinees who scored below you based on the scores of the entire GMAT testing population for the most recent three-year period. Your percentile rank may change from year to year. However, your scaled score never changes.
You have the opportunity to cancel your scores at the test center on the day of your test—immediately after you complete the test, but before you can view your scores. On occasion, GMAC cancels scores because of security breaches, misconduct, or other violations by the test taker. In the interest of full disclosure and to assist schools in making informed decisions, GMAC will provide reason codes on the score report for any score that is canceled.
On June 2014 GMAC introduced a new option for cancelling the score:
Prospective business students taking the GMAT exam will now be able to preview their unofficial scores before deciding whether to report or cancel them. This score reporting feature is available to all test takers at all 600 test centers around the world that administer the GMAT exam.
As a test taker, you are given the option of reporting or canceling your scores immediately after taking the test and before leaving the test center. Under the new process, you will see your unofficial scores — Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal, and Total — and will be given two minutes to decide whether to accept them. If you do not make a choice, your scores will be canceled.
In addition, if you decide to cancel your scores at the test center, you will be able to reinstate them within 60 days of the test date for a $100 fee. After that, scores will not be retrievable.
Analytical Writing Assessment scores are unaffected by the change. They are not included on unofficial score reports available immediately but are reported on official score reports delivered within 20 days.
Total, Verbal, and Quantitative Scores
Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800. Two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600.
The Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 6 to 51. Scores below 9 and above 44 for the Verbal section or below 7 and above 50 for the Quantitative section are rare. Both scores are on a fixed scale and can be compared across all GMAT test administrations. The Verbal and Quantitative scores measure different constructs and cannot be compared to each other.
Please note that, if you do not finish in the allotted time, you will still receive scores as long as you have worked on every section. However, your scores will be calculated based upon the number of questions answered, and your score will decrease significantly with each unanswered question.
How AWA Is Scored
Each of your essays in the AWA section will be given two independent ratings, one of which may be performed by an automated essay-scoring engine. The automated essay-scoring engine is an electronic system that evaluates more than 50 structural and linguistic features, including organization of ideas, syntactic variety, and topical analysis.
If the two ratings differ by more than one point, another evaluation by an expert reader is required to resolve the discrepancy and determine the final score.
College and university faculty members trained as readers for the AWA will consider the following:
• the overall quality of your ideas about the issue and argument presented
• your overall ability to organize, develop, and express those ideas
• the relevant supporting reasons and examples you used
• your ability to control the elements of standard written English
In considering the elements of standard written English, readers are trained to be sensitive and fair in evaluating the responses of examinees whose first language is not English.
Your Unofficial Score Report
If you accept your score at the test center, you will receive a print-out of your Unofficial Score Report prior to leaving the test center. The unofficial report includes your Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores. You may use this report to determine:
- If you are a competitive applicant to the schools of your choice
- Whether you want to retake the exam
Although this Unofficial Score Report can be very helpful, you may not use it for your admissions applications.
Within Three Weeks Following Your Test Date
We will send you a notice by email that your official scores are available. The email will include instructions for online access to your scores. In addition to the scores from your unofficial score report, your Official Score Report will include your Analytical Writing Assessment Score, your GMAT percentile rankings, the personal data you provided at registration, and scores from other GMAT exams you have taken within the past five years.
Your official score is valid for five years, giving you the flexibility to take the exam and send your GMAT score to schools when you are ready. In addition to your GMAT scores, your Official Score Report includes:
- Digital photograph taken at the test center
- Self-reported background information, such as telephone number, undergraduate institution, grade point average (GPA), and intended graduate study
- Percentile rank
Enhanced Score Report
Choose to purchase an Enhanced Score Report. Through the GMAT Enhanced Score Report, you will receive personal insights by question type, area of focus, and pacing, providing you with actionable information to help you better understand your performance on the exam.
Your Official Score Report
Prior to taking the exam you will have selected up to five schools to receive your Official Score Reports. This is included in your original registration. You can select additional schools to receive your scores online for a fee.
Your GMAT scores are valid for five years, and are available for reporting for up to 10 years. Scores over 10 years are not available.
Your Official Score Reports, which include copies of your essays and your digital photograph are released only at your specific request—either when you take the test or when you request an Additional Score Report. Review more information about GMAT privacy policies.
You have the option to cancel your scores on test day following your Score Preview, or for a fee, within 72 hours of your scheduled exam time.
If you cancel your scores, but then later decide to reinstate them, login to your mba.com account or call GMAT customer service. Canceled scores can be reinstated up to four years and 11 months from the exam date.
Can I cancel my score?
The GMAT exam’s Score Preview feature allows you to make the choice to report or cancel your GMAT score immediately following your sitting of the GMAT exam. That means you need to be ready to make this decision in advance before you sit down to take the GMAT.
After you complete the test, you will have the opportunity to view your score. You may choose to cancel your scores at this time.
If you cancel your scores:
– You will not be able to view them at a later time unless you choose to reinstate your score. Fees apply.
– You will not be eligible for a refund of any test fees.
– The score cancellation will not be reported or otherwise indicated on all future score reports.
– The “C” that represents a candidate’s cancelled scores will not be shown on any future GMAT score reports generated by GMAC. This means that when a test taker cancels their score, only the test taker will know. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools. However, score reports with cancelled scores have already been sent to schools, they can’t be modified.
– You must wait 16 calendar days to retake the exam.
If you do NOT cancel your scores:
– You will receive a printed copy of your unofficial report for Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and Total scores at the test center.
– An Official Score Report, including the scores for the Analytical Writing Assessment, will be made available to you and your designated GMAT programs within 20 calendar days after you take the test.
Enhanced Score Report
By using the GMAT® Enhanced Score Report (ESR), you will gain control over your GMAT exam and better understand your results. Your Enhanced Score Report gives you a detailed analysis of your performance—by question type, areas for focus, and pacing—so you can hone your studies and do even better next time around. Your ESR will also guide you through your last results, providing an inside look at how you did on each section with response timing to show you which questions took you the longest to complete.
For more effective pacing and time management, your ESR makes it easy to see what sections of the test you’re spending the most time on. To pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, the ESR gives you an in-depth breakdown by question type and section for a more complete overview of how you did on your exam.
Retaking the GMAT® Exam
Sometimes it is necessary or desirable to take the GMAT test more than once. For example, a graduate management program may request more recent scores than you have on record. However, unless your scores seem unusually low compared with other indicators of your preparation for graduate management study, or unless there are other reasons to believe that you did not do your best on a test for which scores have been reported, taking the GMAT test again may not be helpful.
Statistically, retesting is unlikely to result in a substantial increase in your scores; in fact, your scores may decrease. If you repeat the test, any scores for tests you have taken in the past five years will still be reported to the graduate management programs you designate as score recipients. If you repeat the test and want to resend your scores to programs that previously received your scores, you must reselect the programs at the time you take the test or order an Additional Score Report after your exam with the appropriate fee. Any repeated GMAT testing is subject to the GMAT retest policy.
How much does it cost to take the GMAT exam?
The cost to take the GMAT exam is US $250 globally.
What are the test dates for the GMAT exam?
The GMAT is available year-round and on demand, which offers test takers greater flexibility in scheduling. Available time slots change continuously based on capacity and ongoing registration.
How often can I take the GMAT exam?
You can take the GMAT once every 16 calendar days and no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period and no more than 8 times total.
If I don’t have the AWA scores when I apply, can I leave it blank?
Some schools allow the applicant to leave the AWA blank on the application and report unofficially the rest of the score parts. The school will retrieve the AWA score from the official score report later.
If I’ve taken the GMAT exam more than once, will the score report contain all the scores?
Official Score Reports include all GMAT exams you’ve taken within the past five years. If you have taken the exam and canceled your scores, your report will note that scores are unreportable and not include what they were. Schools will usually consider your highest score.
Is there a minimum score required?
Schools usually don’t require a minimum GMAT score. You should consider the average GMAT score of students in a certain program, and the scores range, in order to evaluate your chances.
Should I already have my score when I submit my application?
Yes. You should report your score unofficially on the application, and later arrange that the official score will be sent directly to the school by the testing agency.
How important is the AWA score?
According to our experience, the weight given to the AWA is relatively low in most leading programs. A grade of 4 will usually not be a concern for the school, and in some programs it might raise a slight concern regarding the applicant’s English level.
A grade of 3.5 is borderline, and usually it will raise the school’s concern (unless you can compensate with a strong GMAT verbal score or very high TOEFL score).
Can I skip the AWA or just write gibberish?
For those unfamiliar with the AWA, it is the writing assessment portion at the beginning of the GMAT exam. As for skipping it: Please don’t. Some people are tempted to do this in an effort to shorten the exam (and enter the subsequent portions) more relaxed, but the AWA is reported on your final exams sheets. Schools can see you’ve done this, and while the degree to which they might care is arguable, it certainly isn’t a warm start. Some schools have also stated that they do read the AWA, while others have indicated they use it to compare writing samples with essays (e.g. if your essays are fabulous but you scored in the 30th percentile on verbal, they might take a look at your AWA). Just practice at home until you find yourself capable of concentrating for that long. As for writing junk, don’t do that either. Yes, it is graded by computer, but it also graded by a human (the scores are then averaged, but if they differ too much, then a second human reads and the two human scores are averaged). Bottom line: Gibberish won’t work. GMAC publishes all of the AWA topics for their essays. There is also an official tool (automated) from the GMAC that can help you evaluate your essay using the same methodology as it would on the real GMAT.
Can schools see on my score report which other schools I sent my score to?
What ID do I need to bring to the test center?
The ID must be government-issued, valid (not expired), original (no photocopies), legible and include:
– A recent, recognizable photo
– Your name in the Roman alphabet, spelled exactly as you provided when you registered
– Your signature
– Your date of birth as you provided at registration
Acceptable IDs include a driver’s license, government-issued ID, military ID, permanent resident/green card, or passport.
What if I want a score report for a GMAT exam taken over five years ago?
Score Reports from tests taken from five to 10 years ago are available, but they are sent to schools with the caveat that they should be interpreted with caution. Check with the school before requesting an old score report, because many do not accept them. Scores over a decade old are not available. If you have a score within five years, only scores from the last five years will be reported.
What if I am a citizen of one country and testing in another?
You must present a valid, unexpired passport. If you do not have proper identification, contact GMAT Customer Service in your region before your test date.
How can I prepare to take the GMAT exam?
The Graduate Management Admission Council® provides free test preparation software and preparation materials to purchase as well as suggestions about how to prepare for the exam. Most GMAT test takers start preparing about three to six months before the actual test date. Think about how you can best prepare, given your discipline, motivation, and personal preference (e.g., self-study, one-one-one tutoring, study groups, and prep courses).
What happens if I don’t finish a section of the test?
There’s a version of this question that’s a bit of a myth as well – “Leaving questions blank is better than getting them wrong”. That’s not true. In fact, the opposite is the case – you get penalized more heavily for leaving it blank than getting it wrong. In a 2007 presentation at the Test Prep Summit in NYC, GMAC showed how combined percentile rankings changed based on the number of missed items. An individual who would have scored in the 70th percentile with zero unanswered questions drops to around the 55th percentile with just five questions left unanswered! (Each missed question is worth 3 percentile points of that section’s score, not total GMAT score but that’s still a considerable set back). In other words, even if you have to guess – do it and finish the test. Also, it is recommended that you pick a random answer on the last question while you are working on it so that in case you don’t confirm it before the clock runs out, you at least “answered” the question, even if incorrectly.
How many times can someone retake the GMAT and how does it affect admission chances?
(from multiple sources)
“I don’t think there is any one universal answer, but here are a few points to consider:
(1) The average number of GMAT exams taken for accepted applicants at the Top 10 ranked MBA programs is 2.5 (and some schools have indicated that the median isn’t far from that). It seems clear that admissions officers aren’t spooked by candidates who have taken the GMAT three or more times.
(2) Nearly every admissions officer feels some MBA rankings pressure, and average GMAT scores are an important criterion in most of the respected surveys. If an applicant can improve her score by 30 or more points, she can improve her chances significantly at top MBA programs. The cost/benefit is particularly favorable for candidates applying to top schools with a GMAT score in the 640-700 range. The difference between a 740 and 770 is negligible, but moving from a 670 to 700 is meaningful. That is a big percentage increase, and it moves a candidate from the bottom quartile of accepted applicants at top schools, squarely into the middle of the pack.
(3) Low quant scores can cripple an otherwise competitive candidacy. If an applicant earned a decent overall score, but a low section score (particularly in quant), I almost always recommend re-taking the GMAT. This is especially true for candidates with “softer” backgrounds.
(4) It seems admissions officers are particularly forgiving of international applicants who take the GMAT multiple times. One of my Japanese classmates at Yale took the GMAT eleven (!) times before submitting a score he liked. It’s anecdotal, but it seems that those stories are more common among international applicants.
Caveat: not everyone improves the next time around! If one of your students is re-taking the GMAT to shore up a low section score, be sure to remind him to devote some of his preparation time to the other section, too. If he improves his quant score but his verbal declines, he hasn’t helped his candidacy very much.“
(5) GMAC has stated that roughly 20% of test takers are repeat candidates, so don’t fret if you have to retake the GMAT – you are not alone. There are many people who take it twice or three times, and I’ve even known a few who hit five. As a rule of thumb, the generally accepted ‘maximum’ is four times. Again, I come back to the prior point, if you think you can substantially raise your score then it’s likely worth retaking. A word of warning however, I would not recommend simply taking the exam four times on the ‘off chance’ you happen to improve. This isn’t like flipping coins. There are diminishing marginal returns to each attempt and at some point, it starts to look like you don’t have ‘big picture’ skills. A final note: Unlike the SATs, schools will see all scores in your score report, so it is not a good idea to just go in and ‘wing it’ hoping for a good score.
Is the quant score matter more than the verbal score?
It depends a bit on what one means by “matters”. If the question is whether or not quant is more or less predictive of your expected performance in graduate school programs, the literature is mixed. Virtually any study conducted in the last twenty years agrees that undergraduate GPA and total GMAT score are predictive of overall MBA performance, but at least one study suggested that the verbal score, not a quant score, better differentiates high performers. Odds are however, most people really mean to ask whether or not one is weighted more heavily in the application decision process. Although Admissions offices typically respond to such queries with poetic yarns about “holistic” approaches and “no cutoffs”, there’s at least some anecdotal evidence that there is such a bias. There is however some truth to the other side of the coin as well – there are no “hard” cutoffs. By themselves GMAT scores just don’t tell enough of a story. A weak quant score can be mitigated by any number of other factors: A strong undergraduate performance in math intensive courses, a high mathematical job, a strong alternative transcript, etc. It is this combination that truly provides more of a picture of where a candidate falls. The bottom line is that you should evaluate your GMAT score in conjunction with the rest of your application, because, quite simply, so will admissions.
IS A 40Q/40V SPLIT OR AN 80TH PERCENTILE MINIMUM (IN BOTH SECTIONS) A MUST FOR TOP SCHOOLS?
Similar to the pseudo-truth that quant scores are more important than verbal, this claim tends to live on. Those of you who have had too many cups of coffee may have noticed that a 40Q/40V split isn’t even – a 40Q is roughly 60th percentile while a 40V is closer to the 90th. Setting aside the fact that people who call this an even split are just flat out wrong, let’s address the myth that there’s some magical “balanced” score at the 80th percentile. The short answer is that there is no such mythical “balanced score”, but any particularly weak performances (<60%) in either of the sections are likely to invite some scrutiny. The importance of the “imbalance” is only meaningful in the context of the rest of an application. A weak verbal score is mitigated by strong essays, a quality interview, etc. Similarly, a weak math score is mitigated by alternative transcripts, undergraduate coursework, etc. Keep in mind that an imbalanced score doesn’t mean a “bad” score – a 99th percentile in the verbal section and an 80th in the math will still combine to a 700+ score – while both the verbal and math raw scores are respectable. In other words, focus not on the relative difference (the spread between the two areas) but rather on each section’s individual performance.
I’VE HEARD THE FIRST TEN QUESTIONS MATTER MORE THAN THE OTHERS, TRUE?
NO. This is a myth that needs to be eradicated. GMAC themselves has indicated that this is a myth. Finally, consider the logic behind the arguments that the first ten matter more. The argument usually goes something like this: “If Bob and Mary both start with a 600, and Bob gets the first three right, then Bob will have a 650.If Mary gets the first three wrong she will have a 550. Now Mary has dug herself into a hole and she’ll have to fight to get out – she needs to get six right in a row to get to 650! Bob just needs to keep cruising along getting one or two right and one or two wrong and he’s done!” The problems should be obvious. First, why would Mary be any less likely to get six right in a row than Bob would be to get six wrong? If anything, isn’t Bob more likely to get six wrong simply because Bob is getting harder questions? Couldn’t Mary get to 650 by also getting a few right and a few wrong? Doesn’t the above argument essentially hinge on the idea that Bob is penalized less for wrong answers than Mary is, or that Mary somehow doesn’t have enough ‘time’ to catch up?
SHOULD I RETAKE THE GMAT?
This question is posed an awful lot and invariably the concern goes something like this: “I just finished my 2nd attempt at the GMAT and scored a 620 with a split of 32/34. I want to apply to Chicago, Stanford and Cornell – should I retake?” The answer to the question, as you may have guessed, isn’t as simple as a yes or a no. It depends on a variety of factors, all of which, fortunately, you can do a pretty good job of assessing yourself. First, there’s the question of time commitment, effort and opportunity cost. What will you give up by taking the exam? If you believe you can score better with minimal effort, then presumably, you only lose money by re-attempting. However, more often than not, improving your score will either require substantial effort or the exam timeline will overlap with the same period in which applications are due. The risk is that you overextend yourself into both GMAT studies and preparing applications – and rather than doing an excellent job on both, you do a so-so job on both. Unfortunately, a mediocre GMAT score combined with a mediocre set of essays won’t get you far. The first question therefore that you should ask yourself is: Do I have the time? The second question, very much related to the first, is one of return on investment. How likely are you to improve? GMAC conducted a survey of almost 30,000 applicants (of which 18% retook the exam) and found that, on average, individuals improved 31 points. That sounds pretty good, but the standard deviation was 56 – so no guarantees! In fact, 30% of test takers did worse on the retake (20% reducing their score by up to 40 points, and 10% by more than 40). However, 30% also increased their score 10 to 40 points, 30% increased by 50 to 90, and 10% increased their score by an astounding 100 or more!
Can I apply without GMAT score?
Several programs offer GMAT waiver.