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The GMAT Score: Key to Your Test Results

As of February 1, 2024, the Graduate Management Admissions Test has been replaced with a new exam: the GMAT Focus Edition. With it comes a new scoring system. Many aspiring MBAs preparing to take a test before applying to B-school are wondering how to make sense of your new GMAT score. 

If you’re considering taking the GMAT Focus Edition, it’s important to understand what your new GMAT test score means, how it compares to scores on the old exam or to Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, and how it can be compared to business schools’ average scores for admitted students. 

Fortuna Admissions’ MBA experts have rounded up the answers here. (We’ll also be covering this in a free live webinar hosted by Poets & Quants on March 7.)

In this article we cover:

The Basics of the New GMAT Focus Edition Scoring System

The old 800 target of a perfect score is gone. The GMAT Focus Edition introduces a new scoring range from 205 to 805, with score intervals of 10 points. Your score on the new exam will end in a five, to set it apart from scores on the older exam. 

Since GMAT scores are honored as valid for five years after the date of the test and are accepted as such by MBA programs, candidates with a strong score from the old exam may choose to submit that one in their application. That means that schools may be receiving a mix of scores from applicants for a few years to come. This new scoring method, with the new GMAT scores ending in a five, is a convenient way to distinguish them.


What’s in Your GMAT Focus Score? 

It’s important to note that while the scores may appear similar, they represent different test elements, performance levels, and skills. 

The new GMAT Focus Edition consists of three equally weighted sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. Each section is scored on a scale of 60 to 90, providing insights into your performance in each specific area.

GMAC, the producer of the GMAT,  says the scoring algorithm has been updated and scoring scales have been adjusted to more accurately reflect a more diverse and global test-taking population and present a more even distribution of scores. Because the test is adaptive, adjusting the difficulty of questions based on your performance as you take the test, your score will reflect the relative difficulty of your exam.


Rely on Percentiles

GMAC emphasizes, “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.” 

Instead, to understand your scores, it’s important to compare your performance using percentiles. While the scoring range and intervals have changed, the percentile rankings remain consistent. Percentile rankings indicate the percentage of test-takers you outperformed. For example, a percentile ranking of 75% means you scored higher than three-quarters of all other test-takers over the past five years.When you receive your score, you will also see your percentile rank based on the most recent five years, and the mean score for comparison. Note that practice tests will give you very detailed information on your performance on each section of the test and different test types.


The GMAT Score Chart

B-school admissions committees have long used percentiles to assess and compare candidates’ scores and will continue to do so. GMAC has provided a handy, interactive GMAT score chart for both schools and test takers to see where a score falls. One chart shows you the mean score and percentiles for the overall score (see graphic). Score charts are also available for the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights sections.

Also useful is the GMAT to GMAT Focus Edition conversion chart, or concordance table, available here. This GMAT score chart lets you compare your results on the new exam to the old scores. As shown in this partial sample of scores from the chart, Focus Edition scores range lower than old GMAT scores. A 720 GMAT – a score in the 95th percentile  – is equivalent to a 675 on the Focus Edition.

GMAT to GMAT Focus Edition Concordance Table 
GMAT Score              Percentile Ranking      GMAT Focus Edition Score
800 100% 805
760 99% 715
740 98% 695
730 97% 695
720 95% 675
710 93% 665
700 90% 655
690 87% 645
680 83% 635
670 80% 615
660 78% 615
650 75% 615


How to Compare Your GMAT Score to Business Schools’ Averages

Of course, the important thing you will want to know is how your GMAT Focus Edition score compares to the average scores of admitted students at your target schools. 

Admissions committees often use average GMAT scores as a benchmark to evaluate applicants, and most schools publicly post this average, along with a range of scores accepted, as part of their admitted class profile each year. Some schools like to share this number as a signal of their selectivity, and it does give some sense of the level of the class you seek to join. 

However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to what constitutes a competitive score. As former admissions directors and insiders, we can affirm that admissions committees evaluate applicants holistically. Your work experience, leadership skills, academic achievements, and personal qualities play a significant role in the admissions process along with your score. Few admissions committees rely on an absolute lower-bound test score as a cutoff when making admissions decisions. 

All that said, you will want to have a sense of the average scores at your target schools to give you an idea of where you stand. Again, the percentile conversions from the score chart will be valuable here. To compare your GMAT Focus Edition score, seek out the average score for each of your target schools on the school website; if you can’t find it there, consult a reliable MBA program ranking that publishes this information. 

Then, use GMAC’s score chart, also called a concordance table, to translate that score into a percentile, and do the same for your score. For example, Wharton’s average GMAT for the class of 2025 was 728, which falls in the high 96th percentile. If your score is 685, it may seem like you’re far below the average in terms of your numerical score, but you’re actually in the exact same percentile — and in a very competitive position! In fact we’ve done the work for you in the table below.


Top Schools’ *Average Admitted GMAT Compared to Focus Edition Scores
School Average GMAT GMAT percentile GMAT Focus Edition
HBS 740 97-98% 685-695
Stanford GSB 738 96.8% 685
Northwestern 731 96.7% 685
Columbia 730 96.1–96.7% 675–685
 Wharton 728 96% 675
Chicago Booth 724 95.6% 675
MIT Sloan 722 95.4% 675
INSEAD 708 89.6% 655
London Business School 702 89.3% 645
HEC Paris 690 85.1–86.7% 634–645

*Average GMAT scores for the classes of 2025

You can use a similar process to compare your score to GRE scores and percentiles.

Strategies for Maximizing Your GMAT Score

Nailing a competitive score on the GMAT Focus Edition requires more than advance study; it also calls for a clear understanding of how the test works and some advance strategizing. For example, the new Question Review & Edit feature allows you to mark and revisit questions you are unsure of. You will need to plan how best to use this option and allocate your test time to maximize your strengths.

Here are some strategies to help you achieve a competitive score.

  1. Take a practice test when you start your test prep.

This will familiarize you with the format and structure of the GMAT Focus Edition. You’ll learn the question types you will encounter, and the time allotted to each section. This will help you develop effective study strategies and a plan for managing your time for the test. It’s a good idea to also take a practice GRE and compare your performance on both to decide which test is most suited to your skills and knowledge.

  1. Plan to use test options strategically.

A new option in the GMAT Focus Edition is that you can choose which section you take first. That means you can decide whether you want to breeze through the parts you find easier first to build confidence or tackle the tough parts first while you are fresh. Taking practice tests will help you develop a strategy for this. Also, familiarize yourself with new functions like Review and Edit and plan how best to use your time. 

  1. Develop a study plan.

Once you have taken a practice test to help pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, create a study plan that suits your schedule and learning style. Set realistic goals and allocate dedicated study time. Break down the material into manageable chunks and incorporate regular practice sessions to reinforce your understanding.

  1. Take advantage of test prep resources.

Use official GMAT Focus Edition prep materials, such as practice exams, study guides, and online resources, or seek reliable test preparation services and resources. Some applicants may be concerned that detailed prep materials and coaching might be scarce while the test is brand new. GMAC has committed to providing materials, but if this is a concern, consider taking the GRE instead. The primary change in the new GRE is that it is much shorter, and closer in length to the GMAT. 

  1. Seek additional resources.

Consider enrolling in a GMAT prep course or working with a tutor if you feel you need additional support. These resources can provide expert guidance, personalized feedback, and targeted strategies to help you optimize your performance.

Test prep centers and consultants have been working hard to make sure they are ready to help applicants study effectively with the new versions. While they don’t have deep experience with the new exams yet, they do have deep familiarity with the content covered — and the most experienced test prep tutors have been through major changes in these standardized tests before, so they are equipped to help.

  1. Practice time management.

In addition to studying the content on the test, it’s also crucial to plan your test time management on the GMAT Focus Edition. Regularly practice timed sections to improve your pacing in order to be sure you can complete each section within the allocated time. This skill will help you maintain focus and accuracy during the actual exam.

  1. Analyze and learn from your practice tests.

Thoroughly review and analyze your performance on practice tests to identify patterns, areas for improvement, and strategies that work best for you. Use this feedback to refine your study plan and target your weaknesses.

  1. Take care of yourself.

Don’t overlook the importance of self-care during your GMAT preparation. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and engage in regular physical activity. Taking care of your well-being will help you maintain focus and maximize your learning potential.

By implementing these strategies and maintaining a disciplined study routine, you’ll be well-positioned to achieve a competitive GMAT Focus Edition score.


More than Your Score

Understanding what your GMAT score means and how it compares to scores on the old exam is essential for any test-taker. Understand the new scoring system, comparing your score to business schools’ average scores, and developing effective study strategies will help you approach the GMAT Focus Edition with confidence. 

While you study and strategize, remember that your GMAT score is just one piece of the admissions puzzle. Throughout your application, you need to show the admissions committee a full picture of who you are and what you hope to achieve with your MBA. 

Fortuna’s expert coaches can help you create a compelling story that showcases all your strengths and qualities. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to learn how we can help. And good luck on your GMAT Focus Edition journey!


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