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For a lot of test takers, there is a way to identify the experimental section on the GMAT. These strategies are based on the premise that the experimental section is one of the first three sections. We feel pretty strongly that will be the case, because for every prep test in the past, the experimental section has been in the first three, usually in section two or three.
Experimental sections generally feel a little weirder to well-prepared students since LSAC is using the experimental section to test out new items for future GMATs. They’re putting them on your test to get a good idea how to score them on subsequent GMATs.
The best way to tell is simply by process of elimination. You know there is only one scored reading comprehension section, so when you get to the second reading comp, you can rest assured knowing that the rest of the test will be scored. If section 1 is RC, section 2 is logic games, section 3 is LR, and section 4 is also logic games, you can be pretty sure that section 2 was experimental.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to identify by the end of the test what section of the test is experimental. That can give you a psychological advantage and also give you a good idea of whether you should cancel your score or not. If you figured that section 2 was experimental, and that’s the one you did poorly on, you don’t need to cancel your score, because it’s probably experimental. Conversely, if you screwed up on section 4, you can be sure that that’s not going to be experimental.
Of course, you can cheat and flip through the book and see that there are two reading comp sections, which would tip you off to the one in the first 3 sections being the experimental section, but we don’t condone cheating. If you’re caught flipping through the book, you’re not going to go to business school.
The highest score on the GMAT is 180, but only about 20 people a year earn this score. The lowest score is 120. The median score is 150; if you score 150, you have performed better than 50% of GMAT test takers. If you score 160, you are already in the 80th percentile. It’s only a 10-point jump, but it is a huge jump in terms of percentile rank. A score of 164 represents the 90th percentile. A score of 170 reflects a minority of test takers — fewer than 3% of test takers score higher than 170.
This is actually a really common question. A lot of people think that if they take the GMAT on a day when a bunch of dumb people take the GMAT that they’re going to do better. It’s a really common misconception. Let’s talk about the three elements of your GMAT score. First, you have your raw score. That’s the number of questions you get correct out of the 100/101 questions on the GMAT. Then, that raw score is converted into a scaled score. This is your 120-180 score that represents your GMAT score. The GMAT converts the raw score to the scaled score for a reason: it allows them to account for the possibility that some tests are slightly easier or slightly more difficult than others. We looked at a sample GMAT score of 165 and asked, “how many raw correct answers did individuals scoring 165 get over several GMAT tests?” Here were the results:
On June 09, 83 out of 101 questions
On December 08, 82/83 out of 100 questions
On September 08, 85 out of 100 questions
On June 08, 85/86 out of 101 questions
On December 07, 83 out of 100 questions
What this indicates is that the September and June tests were slightly easier. You had to get slightly more questions correct to get the same GMAT score. The difficulty of the GMAT stays basically the same, but there are slight variations.
Once you get your scaled score, GMAT is going to convert that to a percentile rank. You are not ranked against people who take the test on the same day. The percentile rank is determined by the test takers in the previous three years. So if you take the GMAT in 2017, you’re actually compared against individuals who took the GMAT between 2013 and 2016. That means the curve is much more fair than what you might expect from curves in undergraduate classes.
There’s a pretty big range. The average score nationwide on the GMAT is 151. If you are applying to prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia, you will need a top score, say, between 170 and 175. Those scores are really good – to get a 175, you can only miss a few questions on the test. But the good news is that there are a number of schools in the top 50 national rankings where a lot of different GMAT scores can get you in. To get into a top 10 business school, you need a 167-173 or so. To get into a school like UCLA or Washington University (a top 25 school), you need a score in the 163-169 range. Once you cross the 160 mark, you can get into the top 50 schools. You should think about what kinds of schools you want to go to and what area of the country you want to be in. Do a little research on the particular school you want to attend. But, as a general rule, once you cross the 160 line, you’re in good shape, and if you can get up to around 165-166, you’re in great shape.
The GMAT is critical to acceptance to prestigious business schools. The GMAT is a difficult test that requires learning how to do unusual questions, such as the game questions, which students may not have encountered before. Plan on investing at least 50 hours preparing and purchasing several prep packages or a comprehensive course and taking at least 10 practice tests. Good Luck!
The Law School Data Assembly Service is a part of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). According to the LSAC, the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) “provides a means of centralizing and standardizing undergraduate academic records to simplify the business school admission process.” This service will translate your GPA and allow business schools to more easily compare students from different schools.
Try to register at least six weeks before the test to avoid a late fee. If you register early, you are more likely to get your first choice of test center. Call to register: (215) 968-1001
The GMAT is offered four times a year. Students can pick up a hard copy of the LSAC application form in the Career Center or find the information on the web at the LSAC website. Students should take the GMAT when they feel confident that they are able to score at a level which accurately reflects their abilities. As multiple GMAT scores are averaged, students should plan to take the GMAT once.