How much better is a 700 than a 690? Is a 5 on the AWA section “good?” Whether you’re figuring out your goal score or trying to interpret your most recent test results, percentiles help answer such questions and build a picture of where you stand. They’re also used by admission officers to evaluate your readiness to handle the rigor of business school curriculum.
Percentiles show how your quantitative, reasoning, verbal and writing skills (as measured by the GMAT) compare to the same skills of hundreds of thousands of other business school applicants who have taken the test over the last three years. In essence, they indicate the strength or weakness of these abilities in comparison to your peers — all those other people who, like you, are trying to get into business school.
While such a comparison is useful, percentiles cannot predict your admission chances: Scoring in the 98th percentile, while impressive, does not guarantee entry to the school of your choice. Percentile rank only indicates the strength of your scores, but it’s the strength of your complete application that matters. Use the tables below to find the associated percentile rank for scores and then read on to learn how to interprete these ranks.
Below are the current percentile ranks as released by GMAC in July 2013.
|780 – 760||99%|
The average total score is 545.6
|60 – 51||97%|
The average quantitative score is 37.5
|51 – 45||99%|
The average verbal score is 27.3
The average integrative reasoning score is 4.34
The average analytical writing assessment score is 4.3
The percentile rank attached to a score shows what percent of test-takers scored below this score. For example, a total score of 630 has a percentile rank of 71 percent. This means that 71 percent of all test-takers in the last three years scored less than a 630 on the exam.
Because percentile ranks are comparisons, they are also fluid, and it is important to separate the meaning of your score from the score’s percentile rank. As explained in this previous post, your score is a standardized measure of ability level while your score’s percentile rank is a measurement of how this ability level compares to other candidates ability levels.
For example, scoring 55 on the verbal section means that you have the same ability level as someone who scored a 55 on verbal nine years ago. However, a score of 55 now has a much lower percentile rank than the score had nine years ago. The verbal ability of test-takers has risen over the years, and a score of 55 is now more common.
New GMAT percentile ranks are released every year as more exams are taken. Because GMAC calculates percentiles using multiple years of test scores, percentiles generally change gradually: Don’t expect a steep jump from one year to the next. The only exception is the IR section. Since this section is new, the pool of IR scores is much smaller, and therefore, new scores have a greater effect on percentile ranks for IR scores.
Check back for updates when GMAC releases the latest percentile rankings for 2014.