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1a. What is the GMAT?
1b. GMAT Scores & B-School
1c. How the GMAT CAT Works
1d. GMAT Pacing Strategies
1e. GMAT Tips & Strategies

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GMAT Prep Guide: 1b. GMAT Scores and Business Schools

You'll receive four GMAT scores:

  • Quantitative (math) scaled sub score, ranging from 0 to approximately 51*.
  • Verbal scaled sub score, ranging from 0 to approximately 51*.
    (*Note that the max scores for these sections varies from year-to-year. 800score tests have been updated for 2011 with the most recent scoring adjustments.)
  • Overall scaled score, ranging from 200 to 800. This is a cumulative score that is the combination of your Quantitative and Verbal scores (hence the name "800score," an 800 is a perfect score). The 200 to 800 cumulative score is what business schools primarily use.
  • Analytical Writing Assessment score, ranging from 0 to 6. This is a separate score that is less important than the 200 to 800 cumulative score.

The test is graded on a curve so that your scaled score will correspond to a certain percentile. An overall score of 630, for example, corresponds approximately to the 90th percentile, meaning that you scored at least as well or better than 90 percent of test takers.

Sample approximate percentiles within the score range of 200-800. Percentiles may vary from year to year.
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Rising Average GMAT Scores
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The average GMAT score of accepted students at Harvard Business School is 707.

Those six-figure starting salaries have had an impact on MBA admissions... everyone wants to go to business school. In the early nineties, the average GMAT score of accepted students at New York University (Stern) Business School was 610. As of last year, NYU's average GMAT test score for accepted applicants had jumped 90 points to approximately 700. Getting a high score on the GMAT is crucial because the business schools are getting flooded with applicants. Expect around a 700 average score for the top-ten business schools this year.

That 700 average is deceptive because it includes many students who were accepted for favorable traits (diversity, unusual accomplishment or success, etc.) that allow them to gain acceptance with a lower score. If you have none of these types of traits, then you probably need to break 730 (that's the 99th percentile) to have a good chance at a top-ten school.

What Recession?

London Business School graduates had an average starting salary of $175,000 for year 2011. Business school graduates, particularly from those from programs in Europe, are faring well. Corporate profits are holding up in this recession, so companies have the money to pay for MBA graduates and need them to manage growth. Certain makets, like legal services, aren't doing so well. If you are deciding between business school or law school, business school seems the better choice right now.

Competition at business schools may be fierce, and you may not get into your first choice school, but getting an MBA right now might be a wise way to ride out a once-in-a-lifetime economic storm. GMAT preparation is of prime importance in this brutally competitive MBA admissions cycle.

Average GMAT scores of major MBA programs (2011)
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How the GMAT CAT Works (page 3 of 5 in Chapter 1)

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