What is a good GMAT score? It usually depends on where you want to do your MBA. The best MBA programs in the US and the best MBA programs in Canada typically look more favorably on the most competitive scores. But you shouldn’t think that only the highest score will get you in. Business schools (elite and mid-range) consider all applications holistically, meaning they consider you as a whole (background, education, work experience, extracurriculars). So even if your score is a little below the average of that school, don’t count yourself out. This article will give you various answers to the “what is a good GMAT score?” question, and help you figure out what your ideal GMAT score should be based on who you are as student and what your goals are. 

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Article Contents
10 min read

List of Schools that Require the GMAT What is a Good GMAT Score? Why Is It Important to Get a Good GMAT Score? How is the GMAT Scored? GMAT Percentiles What are Good Scores for the GMAT Sections? How to Get a Good GMAT Score How to Study for the GMAT How to Prepare for the GMAT Should I Retake the GMAT? Conclusion FAQs

List of Schools that Require the GMAT

Elite Schools

1. MIT – Sloan School of Management

GMAT Score Range: 690-760

Median GMAT Score: 730

2. London School of Business

GMAT Score Range: 590 to 790

Average GMAT Score: 708

Minimum GMAT (not a cut-off): 600

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3. University of Cambridge – Judge Business School

Average GMAT Score: 690

Minimum GMAT Score: 640

4. Stanford University – Stanford Graduate School of Business

GMAT Score Range: 630-790

Average GMAT Score: 737

5. University of Oxford – Saïd Business School

GMAT Score Range: 650-700

Median GMAT Score: 690

Mid-Range Schools

1. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Kenan-Flagler School of Business

Average GMAT Score: 696

2. USC Marshall School of Business

GMAT Score Range: 700-770

Average GMAT Score: 732

3. Carnegie Mellon University – Tepper School of Business

GMAT Score Range (80 percentile): 640-750

Average GMAT Score: 702

Median GMAT Score: 710

4. NYU Stern School of Business

GMAT Score Range (80 percentile): 700-760

Average GMAT Score: 733

5. Northwestern University – Kellog School of Business

GMAT Score Range: 620-780

Average GMAT Score: 729

What is a Good GMAT Score?

Exceptional GMAT Total Scores: 715 or higher

Above-Average GMAT Total Scores: 650-715

Average GMAT Total Scores: 560-650

Why is it Important to Get a Good GMAT Score?

Getting a good GMAT score is an important part of how to get an MBA, but it is not the only one. Of course, it is impressive to have a high GMAT vs GRE, as much as it is to have a high GPA, but there are many different MBA requirements that, taken together, can influence an admissions committee’s decision about you, aside from your GMAT score.

If, for example, your GMAT score is a few points lower than either the average or the minimum to be competitive, you can explain why in your personal statement, MBA admission essay or MBA interview. Seeing a disconnect between other aspects of your application that are stellar (glowing MBA recommendation letters, high GPA, an impassioned MBA motivation letter) and an average GMAT or GRE scores can spark curiosity, maybe even, hopefully, an invite to an MBA interview.

But, of course, this could work against you as well; they might assume that you are not thorough or unable to handle a large workload and pass on your application. So, you shouldn’t count on this. Leaving something to chance is never the right attitude for any high-stakes application process; rather you should ensure that as many aspects of your application are as excellent as they can be and that takes planning and preparation.

How is the GMAT Scored?

There are four scored sections on the GMAT, which are similar to the GRE sections, except one, which is unique to the GMAT. The four GMAT sections are:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Intergrated Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

The scores from the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are the only ones used to calculate your total score, which is the figure that schools see as your “GMAT” score. However, schools are also able to see your individual scores for each section, which is illustrative to them of where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

The score range for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning is the same (6-51) although it is unusual for people to get a perfect score in either section. Your scores in Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing are not used to calculate your total GMAT score, but they will both be visible to MBA admission committees. The Integrated Reasoning section has a score range of 1-8, while the Analytical Writing section has the same incremental score between 0-6.

GMAT Percentiles

The GMAT uses percentiles to organize GMAT scores in relation to one another. You and the schools you apply to can see your percentile score, as well as your raw score and your individual section scores. You can group GMAT percentiles into three:

  • 90-75 Percentile
  • 75-50 Percentile
  • 50-below Percentile

Where you land on these three percentiles only matters if you score on the lowest ones, which means you should retake the test. Scoring in between the 50-75 percentile matters if your school has a higher average GMAT score, but as we’ve said, you can still apply as long as you back up your application with excellent essays, recommendation letters and MBA extracurriculars. You should also apply to various MBA programs where an “average” GMAT score for an elite school is an excellent score. If you score in the highest percentile, it is impressive, certainly, but don’t make it the only thing impressive about your application.

What are Good Scores for the GMAT Sections?

Verbal Reasoning: 35-41

Quantitative Reasoning: 44-48

Integrated Reasoning: 5-7

Analytical Writing: 3.5-5.5

It’s important that you score as high as possible on every section of the GMAT, but having uneven scores in each section is not necessarily a bad thing. Again, we’re taking an optimistic (maybe unrealistic) view of the kindness of business school admissions committees, but getting an outstanding score in the Quantitative section, and scoring low in the Verbal section, for example, may spark interest in your application, in terms of what is behind the discrepancy.

Your school could decide (based on your entire application, not just your GMAT scores) that you are not the perfect candidate (very few people actually are), but still believe that you could bring value to the program precisely because of your imperfection and your potential. But, again, this is all based on a rosy understanding of a highly competitive process, and you should strive to get as high as score as possible on each section.

The takeaway from this is that you should not punish yourself for not hitting your ideal marks. The nature of the GMAT, and all standardized tests, is that you can only prepare so much, but there are factors that are beyond your control, especially you actually write the test and are under a clock. Many schools will have an understanding of these uncontrolled variables and give you a chance to explain, the same way that they would ask you (if you get the interview stage) to explain gaps in your MBA resume.

How to Get a Good GMAT Score

According to GMAC, the more you study, the more likely you are to get a high score. But if you study for anything long enough, you’re bound to get good at it, and GMAT prep works on the same principle. However, with all the other things you need to prepare for your application, you need to parcel out your time effectively, so you don’t ignore any of them. One of the first thing to do when preparing for the GMAT is to take a practice test. Taking a practice test cold (with no prior preparation) is helpful in revealing where you need to focus and how much time you need to devote to studying, in general.

How to Study for the GMAT

Take a Practice Test

Taking a practice test is the first thing you should do to prepare. From your practice score flows your study schedule and where you need to focus your attention when studying – Quantitative Reasoning or Analytical Writing, depending on where you score highest or lowest. You should try to take as many practice tests as possible, but, again, if your practice scores are anywhere near or above the average for your preferred school, don’t stress about raising your scores only a few more points. Speaking of a study schedule...

Make a Study Schedule

Making a GMAT study schedule is essential to managing all your responsibilities within the time you have before the MBA application deadline. In fact, your application deadline is just as important as that first practice score to helping you build your schedule. You should use the deadline as the gauge for how long you should study and incorporate things like a possible GMAT retake into your schedule. Ideally, you should give yourself at least eight months to prepare for the GMAT, but you can adjust if you feel that you’ve made enough progress or if you feel like you need to allocate more time to other parts of your application.

Take Advantage of GMAT Prep Resources

Regardless of whether you’ve just graduated or whether you’ve been out of school for a long time, you don’t have to study for the GMAT on your own. There are several resources available that can make studying easier and more effective. You can review GMAT prep books to get in-depth on the mechanics of every section and all the different question categories. You can also sign up for an online or in-person GMAT prep course that will treat the test as any other university exam that you have to prepare for with personalized advice, insightful strategies, and practice for the real test.

Get Yourself into a Routine

Once you’ve created your study schedule, stick to it! Your schedule should go into detail for every week and every day with all your time regimented into specific activities, such as:

  • Attending a GMAT study group
  • Review GMAT questions and answers
  • Creating flashcards to memorize specific words, formulas
  • Taking practice tests
  • Getting expert advice online or in-person from professional GMAT tutors

You don’t have to do all of this every day, every week, but you should start strong in the beginning of your prep, and cut back on some activities that you either don’t need or haven’t been as effective for you, as you get closer to test day. For example, you can cut back on reviewing question and answer strategies or taking online courses, if you feel like you’ve already mastered a specific section.

How to Prepare for the GMAT

8 Months Away from Your Deadline

When you’re eight months from your application deadline, you should already have a study schedule and an initial test score to use as a baseline. You should be sticking to your study schedule and spread out your daily or weekly study activities across as much time as possible. You don’t want to “cram” for the GMAT. You have enough time at this point to study, take several practice tests, and even take a few retakes if you need, so don’t put pressure on yourself like time is running out.

6 Months Away from Your Deadline

By this point, you should be getting ready to take your first real GMAT test. Taking your first test now is the sweet spot for giving yourself time to study and retake the test if you need to, while also having plenty of time to work on other parts of your application. You’ll see your GMAT scores as soon as you finish the test and you can decide to send them to your schools or cancel them and take the test again. It’s a fateful decision that you should think about carefully, especially if you end up scoring below your expectations, but take consolation that you have plenty of time to take the test again.

One Week Before GMAT Test Day

In the run-up to your first GMAT test you should think about whether you should continue studying or find ways to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the actual test. Taking timed tests should be a part of your prep so you can get used to the pressure of the actual test, but you should also be more proactive and find techniques to help de-stress and take the pressure off while the clock is ticking.

If you feel exhausted, and instinctively know that it's time for a break, then take a few days off to do something you enjoy; you’ve earned it. But you can also incorporate mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises to get rid of the tension that could affect you cognitively. A lot of things can happen during the test (nerves, anxiety, distractions) but you should prepare for those too, just as you’ve prepared for the test.

GMAT Test Day

You can take the GMAT either at home, online or at an authorized GMAT testing center. Obviously, your GMAT test day itinerary will depend on what format you’re using. So here are a few things you should be aware of in both instances:

Preparing for the Online GMAT Test

  • Make sure your internet connection, device (laptop, PC) are functioning properly and try to arrange back-ups if you can
  • Make sure that you’ll be taking the test in the quietest place in your home; if you live with others, tell them not to disturb you for at least four hours
  • Make sure you have everything you need to complete the test (writing materials, pen, paper or whiteboard, glasses, contact lenses, water or food) in your room so you don’t have to waste time to get them

Preparing for the In-Person GMAT Test

  • Review your GMAT test date and time (the night before) and plan your commute to the test center so you arrive at least half an hour early
  • Remember to bring your ID and other important documents
  • Arrive before the actual test time so you have enough time to sign-in and get your palm scanned (for security purposes)
  • Don’t overdo it with studying, in fact, you should probably not study at all before the test, but if you want to glace over a few GMAT sample questions, go ahead

Should I Retake the GMAT?

Whether you decide to send your first GMAT score to your list of schools depends on what it is, and whether it meets your expectations. If you have done well enough to be at the very edge of the minimum for the most elite programs, then you can take a shot, while also sending your scores to mid-range schools where they’ll be more favored. But if your happy with your score and it is higher than you expected (well above 700 or higher), then you should definitely send your scores.


What is a good GMAT score? It’s different for everyone. A high GMAT score is always the goal, but if you feel like preparing, writing, and rewriting a Stanford MBA personal statement or Cornell MBA essay will be harder for you than the GMAT prep, you should focus on them instead. If you want to apply to the best MBA programs in the world, a higher-than-average GMAT score will make your life easier, even though you still have to pay attention to your essays and other materials. But if your program accepts average scores then you can submit the scores you have and not stress about the GMAT anymore.


1. What is a good GMAT score?

A good GMAT score depends on the program you are applying to, but a score anywhere between 690-715 is exceptionally good. A score in the next percentile – 650-690 – is good, but if you are applying to an elite program, it may not be enough. 

2. Should I take the GMAT?

Whether you take the GMAT depends on the program you are applying to, and what kind of candidate you are. If you have years of professional working experience in leadership roles, you can probably apply for a GMAT waiver. If your GPA is well above-average (80% and up), your program may also allow you to skip the test. Whether you should take the test depends on whether you are confident that you can get high scores and if your program requires them. 

3. When should I take the GMAT?

You should take the GMAT at least six months before your application deadline to give yourself time to retake the test, if necessary. 

4. Is the GMAT hard?

Standardized tests are supposed to be hard, and the GMAT is no exception. If you prepare in advance, stick to your study schedule and take a lot of practice tests, taking the actual test may not be difficult, although it can still be nerve-wracking. 

5. How can I get a good GMAT score?

According to GMAT, there is a direct correlation between the number of hours your study and your GMAT score, so the more you study, the higher your score, supposedly. While this may seem obvious, one of the most effective ways to ensure a high score is preparation and lots of it. 

6. What do I need to prepare for the GMAT?

You should be taking a lot of practice tests, formulating a study schedule to dedicate enough time to each part of your application, and using approved GMAT test prep resources like online classes and tutors. 

7. Does the GMAT matter?

Yes. Even though other tests like the GRE may have taken a hit to their reputation and utility, the GMAT remains an important part of how you get into an MBA program. It is not the only important part of your application, but you should take it as seriously as all the rest. 

8. Will a good GMAT score help my application?

Yes, if you get an excellent or above-average score, it will help your application. If you get an average score, you can still apply to programs where that score will be accepted, but you can also reach for elite schools, if you have other, equally interesting, and revealing aspects of your application (work history; volunteer experience; professional development). 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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