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Understand your GMAT Score Report

This article is dedicated to understanding more about your GMAT score report. So without further ado, let me dive straight into the details.

Firstly, you will receive a printout right after the exam detailing your score. Keep this piece of paper safe, as it contains the code that you will need to access your official score online at a later date.

Now, as you might know, your score is valid for 5 years, and thus your report will have details of all your attempts over the past 5 years. Unlike some tests, such as the GRE, the GMAT does not allow you to select specific scores for your Business School to receive. Not to worry, though—schools are aware of the fact that many take the GMAT more than once, and hence your most recent score will probably be the one they will consider. Starting from June 2014, test takers had the opportunity to preview their scores before accepting or canceling them. Note that canceled scores will still appear on your report as “C—self canceled”. As such, there is little incentive to cancel your scores willingly, as schools would obviously figure out that you’re trying to hide a low score. If you cancel your score and change your mind within 60 days of your exam, you can have them reinstated for a fee of $100.

Your final GMAT score will consist of 4 distinct marks—AWA (out of 6), Integrated Reasoning (out of 8), Quantitative and Verbal (each out of 400, with a minimum score at 100). The Quantitative and Verbal scores will appear both separately and as total, along with their respective percentiles. Note that marks for one section do not influence the marks in other sections—there is a common misconception, for example, that the AWA score is also factored into the Verbal score. This is not the case.

Your AWA will be out of 6 with half-point increments. The mean score for AWA is 4.34; so if you get 4.5, you’re in the top half of all test takers and should be proud of yourself. Overall, AWA is a relatively easy section, and many students get 5 or 6 just following a few simple tips and guidelines. Have a look through our previous AWA articles to see how you can score 6 out of 6 the smart way.

The printout you will get on your test day is considered an “unofficial” test score. This is because it does not have an AWA score, which has to be awarded by a person (and not a computer). Most schools accept an “unofficial” score report if the deadline is approaching, on the condition that you send them the “official” score as soon as it becomes available, and before the decision is due for release. Needless to say, you should check with your Business School of choice to see if that’s the case (just to be on the safe side). That said, it’s a good idea to plan your GMAT attempt a couple of months before the deadline anyway—this way you can resit your exam if something goes wrong.

Next, the Integrated Reasoning section—IR is a newcomer to the scoring system, having been launched only recently. The mean score for this section is 4.33 out of 8, almost the same as AWA. Bear in mind that IR is still pretty much in “test drive” at this point of time, as your application will potentially be compared to the application of a candidate who wrote another essay instead of IR. However, do not think you can get off with skipping this section entirely—I’ve had students in the past who were declined entry into their program specifically because of a low IR score.

Finally, you get the most important score—the combined Verbal and Quantitative score, out of 800. This score may make or break your entire application. The average total score is 550, which is, sadly, not enough for most top schools. Granted, I have personally seen people get into SMU and NUS with as little as 560, but these are exceptions, and their applications were exceptionally strong on many other aspects. You need a score of 600 and above to get into a school worth going to. As of now, the SMU average score stands at around 650—which means you can give it a shot at 600, provided the rest of your application is solid. A score of 700+ will get you into most elite Business Schools in the world, such as INSEAD, Wharton, Stanford and Yale. Note, however, that at that point, the returns on your GMAT score start diminishing rapidly. The difference between 600 and 650 is quite impressive; the difference between 700 and 750 is not as pronounced because you’re already in the top 10% of the applicant pool!

That’s all for today! Hope that your score report is less confusing now. If you have any further GMAT-related questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at ICON+.

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