GMAT Scoring: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GMAT Scoring

Students who want to apply to business school understand that getting a good score on the GMAT exam is a critical factor in the admission process. Understanding the GMAT will help you better prepare and get that high score you need.

To help you better understand the GMAT scoring process, here are five fast facts you need know:

1. GMAT Scoring Comes With Five Scores

After taking the GMAT, you receive a report with Five scores. They are:

1 – The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essay score
2 – The Integrated Reasoning score
3 – The Quantitative score
4 – The Verbal score
5 – A total score which is a combination of the Quantitative and Verbal scores only.

The Total score ranges from 200-800. Two-thirds of test takers typically score between 400-600. The total score is the most commonly reported score of the GMAT and that’s the score you generally see when business schools report the range of GMAT scores for their incoming class.

The AWA essay is scored on a range of one to six at half-point intervals and is scored twice by two independent scorers. The two scores are averaged.

The Integrated Reasoning Section is scored from one to eight in single digit intervals. One important note about the Integrated Reasoning section – this section tests the ability to merge different types of data, therefore the scoring system requires that test takers correctly answer all the questions related to a particular problem in order to get credit for that problem.

The Verbal and Quantitative section scores each range from 0-60 at single-digit intervals. The total score is a combination of the Verbal and Quantitative scores with a total score range from 200-800.

2. The GMAT Is A Computer Adaptive Test

The GMAT is administered completely by computer, one question at a time. Each time you answer a question, the test will evaluate your response and determine the difficulty level of the next question. This is called a computer adaptive test (CAT).

The test is able to identify skill level by about one-third of the way through the test and will tailor the remaining test questions to your ability.

As a result, early questions determine your skill level but be careful not to lose focus with the last set of questions as your score can slide quickly.

You cannot return to questions you’ve seen previously and you cannot save difficult questions for later. You need to answer each question as best as you can when it comes – once you’re done, that question is gone.

3. The GMAT Contains Experimental Questions

The GMAT includes several experimental questions in each test, which are questions that are not being scored. These questions are in the test to measure how students perform on them for their possible inclusion in future tests.

The questions could be easy, hard or of mid-level difficulty, and there is really no way of knowing which questions are experimental.

4. The GMAT Penalizes You For Leaving Questions Unanswered

The GMAT imposes a steep penalty if you leave more than a question or two unanswered.

If you understand the questions well enough to eliminate some of the answers, then the odds are in your favor for guessing. Never leave that type of question blank and always guess randomly from the remaining answer choices.

However it turns out that skipping questions on the verbal section might be a better strategy. GMAC, the company who designed the GMAT, did a study in 2009 where they look at patterns in thousands of GMATs, and it turns out that on the verbal section there is no substantial difference between guessing on the last few questions or omitting them. Your score will be, on average, the same regardless of which route you choose.

5. Scores Are Valid For Five Years

GMAT scores are valid for five years. This means that every time you take the GMAT, your record will show that score for the next five years. Many people take the GMAT more than once, so while you should certainly retake test to try and improve your score, be aware that if you keep re-taking the test, business schools will see all of your scores from the last five years.

The best scenario is to prepare thoroughly and then take the test once or twice, rather than keep taking the test to try and score higher.