Worried about how your GMAT quant score stacks up? Wondering where your score fits in relative to other test-takers?
In this article, I’ll go over what makes a good GMAT math score, how much business schools care about section scores, what GMAT quant percentiles mean, and how to set a target score for the quant section.
The Basics: What Is a Good GMAT Quant Score?
On a basic level, a good GMAT quantitative score is one that gets you into the program you want. There isn’t one specific quant score that will guarantee your admission into any business school you like.
Quant scores range from 0 to 60. Scores above 50 or below 7 are rare, and the mean GMAT quantitative score of all test-takers is 38.91. You’ll need to do better than average to get into most MBA programs, though.
The GMAT quantitative score is also included in the total score along with your verbal score, which can also range from 0 to 60. The total score ranges from 200 to 800, and it’s what people are generally referring to when they say “GMAT score.” The separate quant and verbal scores are important, but the total score is more important. It’s also important not to have a large gap between your individual section scores, an issue we’ll go over in more detail below.
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How Much Do Business Schools Care About GMAT Section Scores?
The total GMAT score is the most important figure in terms of business school admissions. It’s the total score that usually helps to determine school rankings and eligibility for scholarship funding.
Section scores, however, do still matter. In particular, business schools like to see aptitude in both main sections (verbal and quant). It’s OK to have a particular strength in one or the other, but a large disparity between the two scores may be a red flag. Your quant score will be especially important to admissions officials if your academic background is in the humanities, arts, or another field that doesn’t emphasize quantitative skills.
Bottom line: Business school requires aptitude in both quantitative and verbal skill sets, so MBA admissions committees will want to see that reflected in your scores.
GMAT Quantitative Percentile Rankings
Along with your GMAT scores, you’ll receive percentile rankings on your score report. GMAT percentile rankings tell you how you performed in comparison to other test-takers.
So, for example, according to the below chart, if you scored a 47, you’d be in the 65th percentile of test-takers in the last three years, meaning that you scored equally to or higher than 65% of fellow test-takers and lower than 35% of them.
Here are the most recent GMAT quant percentiles, released by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC):
|GMAT Quant Score||Percentile Ranking|
Do GMAT Quant Percentiles Matter?
The rule of thumb (which you may have heard) used to be that you should score at or above the 80th percentile in both the verbal and quant sections to ensure a score of at least 700 or above and the possibility of admission to top MBA programs.
This standard no longer applies, as the influx of international students and the increasing diversity of test-takers have shifted the average scores, with quant scores going steadily up in the past years and verbal scores going down.
So, for example, a quant score of 45 would have landed you in the 80th percentile in 2000. Now, a 45 would put you in the 59th percentile of test-takers, and being in the 80th percentile would require a quant score above 49. This means that the old 80th percentile rule is outdated, as average quant scores have gone up, so it’s more important to pay attention to your scaled score than your GMAT quant percentile ranking.
How to Set a Target GMAT Quant Score
So if you can’t go by percentile rankings, how can you tell what your GMAT math score should be to impress a particular school? A good quant score for you is one that gets you to your goal total score, so the key is to estimate roughly where you need to score on the quant section to reach your overall goal. Unfortunately, doing so is a bit tricky.
The first step is to make a chart with the business schools you’re targeting and their average (or median, if they don’t list the average) total GMAT scores. Next, determine your baseline score by taking an official practice test under realistic conditions (a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted, no food or water except during timed breaks, etc.). After you’re done, the software will calculate your scaled scores, total score, and percentile rankings for all five sections, including the quant.
Based on the difference between your total score and your goal score, you can estimate how much you need to improve on Verbal and Math: a 2-3 point increase on verbal or quant corresponds to a 20 point increase of the Total score. These numbers are based on crowdsourced data and therefore not entirely reliable, but they should give you at least a rough idea of where to set verbal and quant score goals in order to get the total score you’re aiming for.
For example, if my baseline is 650 Total, 33 Verbal, and 47 Quant and my goal is a 700, I’ll want to increase about six points across the two sections. I’m currently right around the 70th percentile on both sections, but I have a lot more room to improve on verbal, so I could set my verbal goal as 37 and my quant goal as 49.
Ultimately, a good quant score for you is one that enables you to hit the total GMAT score that would put you safely in the average for your target schools, without letting your verbal score dip too far below it. You want to ensure that your verbal and quant scores don’t suggest a wide discrepancy between your skill levels in the two subjects.
If your GMAT quantitative score is significantly lower than your verbal score, but you have a background in undergraduate success in courses requiring quantitative skills, the score won’t matter as much to many admissions committees. If your quant score is low but you don’t have that background to highlight on your transcript, consider taking some additional courses in statistics, calculus, or other subjects that could highlight your proficiency in that area.
Review: Understanding Your GMAT Quant Score
There’s no doubt that your GMAT quant score matters for MBA admissions. However, the GMAT total score is still the most important number on your application, you should focus primarily on 1) setting a target total GMAT score rather than a section-specific one and 2) making sure there isn’t a wide gap between your verbal and quant scores.
Our overall guide to what a good GMAT score is will give you more insight into your overall GMAT score and what it will mean for MBA admissions.
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To learn more about the quant section, check out our full review of the GMAT Quant Section.
To learn how to prep for GMAT quant questions effectively, head over to our list of the best sources for GMAT quant practice.