What’s the highest GMAT score possible, and how can you get it? How common is the GMAT max score? Do you need it to gain admission to your MBA program of choice?
In this article, I’ll go over the highest score in each GMAT section, tips on how to get it yourself, and how a perfect GMAT score can help you get into business school.
What Is the Highest GMAT Score?
The highest GMAT score possible is an 800. When we discuss the GMAT score, we generally mean the total score, which includes both the Verbal and the Quantitative sections. The Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment sections are not included in the total score.
Below are the score ranges for the GMAT total score, as well as each individual section:
|Total Score (Verbal and Quantitative)||200-800|
|Integrated Reasoning||1-8 (scored in single-digit intervals)|
|Analytical Writing Assessment||0-6 (scored in half-digit intervals)|
How Can You Get the Highest GMAT Score?
So, how can you score that coveted perfect 800 GMAT score? There are a few reasons why we can’t know for certain how many questions you need to get right in order to get the GMAT max score. Firstly, the GMAT is a computerized adaptive test (CAT), which means that the test adapts to the test-taker’s abilities as he or she takes the exam. Getting a medium question incorrect will result in fewer moderate or advanced-level questions and more easy ones, while getting easy or medium questions correct will lead to more moderate and difficult questions to gauge your overall level relative to your peers.
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Since your GMAT score relies not only on how many questions you get right, but on how many easy, moderate, and difficult questions you get right, there is no one magic number of right answers that will guarantee you an 800.
Secondly, the GMAC (the Graduate Management Admissions Council) doesn’t offer specific annual stats on how many questions you can get incorrect and still get an 800. There are actually three ‘scores’ you receive in each section: the raw score (as in, how many questions out of 37 you get correct on the Quant section, how many questions out of 41 you get right on the Verbal section, etc.), the scaled score (1-60 for both Verbal and Quant), and the percentile ranking (which tells you how well you did on that section or the total score in relation to your peers).
Recent unofficial student reports indicate that a scaled Verbal score of 51 (approximately raw score of 35-37 out of 41) and a scaled Quant score of 48 (approx. raw score of 30-34 out of 37) , could result in an 800. So could a scaled score of 48 on the Verbal section and a 51 on the Quant section.
The important things to note here are that 1) you can have a slight discrepancy between your Verbal and Quant scores and still get an 800, but not a significant one, and 2) you can get a few questions incorrect and still get the max GMAT score.
What we can know for sure is that to get the GMAT highest score, you’ll need to do well on both the Verbal and Quant sections, get very few answers incorrect in each section, not skip any questions, and answer difficult questions correctly.
How Common Is the Max GMAT Score?
Not very. GMAC reports that very few students score very low or very high. In fact, two-thirds of GMAT test-takers score between a 400 and a 600. Very few students score below a 9 or above a 44 on the Verbal section, or below 7 or above 50 on the Quant section.
GMAT percentile rankings tell you how you did in comparison to other students—for example, a percentile ranking of 40% would mean you scored higher than 40% of students, and 60% of test-takers scored the same as or more highly than you—and they can tell us something about the highest GMAT scores, too. Here are the GMAT total score percentile rankings for the last three years for scores between 650 and 800:
|Total Score||Percentile Ranking|
Note that a 760 or above would put you in the 99th percentile, meaning that only one percent of fellow test-takers get a 760 or above. This means, of course, that the number of students who actually get the GMAT highest score of 800 is exceedingly small. Out of the approximately 200,000 GMAT tests taken every year, only 2,000 score 760 or above.
Even though an 800 is a lofty goal, it’s not impossible.
Will a Perfect GMAT Score Get You Into Business School?
So does a perfect GMAT score really matter? Will a perfect GMAT score get you into the business school of your dreams? First, for reference, here are the average GMAT scores for recent incoming classes at five top-tier MBA programs:
|Top-Tier Business Schools||Average GMAT Score of Recent Incoming Class|
|Harvard Business School||730|
|Stanford Graduate School of Business||737|
|University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business||717|
|Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business||717|
|Yale School of Management||730|
Note that all five of these top-ranked MBA programs have average GMAT scores of 710+, and in many cases incoming students have average GMAT scores of 720 and above. So you certainly don’t need an 800 to get into these top schools.
Score ranges give even more clarity: At Stanford, the most recent class profile lists a range of 590-790 among admitted students (which means no one scored a perfect GMAT score of 800!). At Harvard Business School, the incoming class of 2018 has a middle 80% score range of 690-760, which means the bulk of students fit into this range, and a few students scored even higher.
Generally, you’ll only need a GMAT score of 720 and above to be admitted to a top-ranking MBA program, so don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect score. Most of the students that your favorite business school admits don’t have one either. The rest of your application is important: GPA, work experience, letters of recommendation, and essays and other writing samples.
Of course getting an 800 can help you stand out, since getting the GMAT max score is so rare. But keep in mind it’s not a guarantee of admission, since in the admissions officers’ eyes, a 780 is quite similar the same as an 800. After you pass the academic GMAT cutoff, the rest of your application is what matters.
How To Get the Highest GMAT Score: Prep Strategies
So if your goal is the highest GMAT score possible, how can you get there? There’s no guarantee, but here are a few strategies:
1. Prep extensively. You’ll need to put in a lot of prep time if you want the max GMAT score, even if you start out strong in your first practice tests. Use the GMATPrep study software to complete practice tests under simulated test conditions and track your progress.
2. Target your weaknesses. Aiming for a perfect 800 on the GMAT will take some fine tuning. When you review your practice tests, take note of your weaknesses. Do you have trouble with trigonometry or geometry? Do you find Critical Reasoning or Sentence Correction questions more challenging in the Verbal section? Get more specific than that if you can, too: Do you have trouble correcting run-ons in Sentence Correction questions? Focus your review on that weakness. Honing in on your weak spots is the only way to shoot for an 800.
3. Make sure you’re strong in both the Verbal and Quant sections. As I noted, you’ll need high scores on both the Quant and the Verbal section to end up with a perfect GMAT score. If you’re a little weaker in one, focus the bulk of your prep time on that.
4. Analyze official questions on GMAT practice tests. Particularly for question types you struggle with, try breaking them down into their various parts. Which part of the question confuses you? Find an answer explanation and compare it to your own line of thinking. Where does your logic break down? Getting an 800 will require this level of specificity in your GMAT prep.
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GMAT Highest Score: The Bottom Line
You don’t need to obsess over getting a perfect GMAT score of 800. Getting a 720 or higher will get you into almost any business school, and a 750 or higher would be considered highly exceptional at even the most selective MBA programs.
However, if your goal is an 800, plan your GMAT prep accordingly. Devote many hours to your prep, target your weaknesses, break down question types to analyze where you’re getting it wrong and make sure you’re scoring well in every GMAT section.
Check out our guide to GMAT Percentiles for help understanding GMAT percentile rankings in more detail.
Still confused about how the GMAT is scored? Our complete guide to GMAT scoring will give you more in-depth info about GMAT scores as a whole.
The GMAT is intimidating, but is it hard? Read our expert analysis of how difficult the GMAT actually is for more info.