If you are looking to apply to business school in the hopes of earning an MBA or a similar degree, then you may be required to take the GMAT before applying to schools. Though not all schools require the GMAT, those that do may be more competitive than those that do not.

Students who think that they may want to apply for an MBA program should consider studying for the GMAT well before they begin sending out applications. By understanding not only what's required of you on the GMAT but also the score for which you should be aiming, you can have a better idea of how to approach the test and what your options may be in terms of prospective programs.

Tip

The average GMAT score was 556.04 as of 2018.

What Is an Average GMAT Score?

Before taking the GMAT, it’s a good idea to know what an average GMAT score is. This can help you understand how much studying is needed in order to keep your options open. While your GMAT scores are not the only criterion that admissions considers when looking over applications, a better score will certainly give you more advantage over a score that's not so good.

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As of 2018, the average GMAT score was 556.04. Of course, what's considered "average" for one school might be considered a high score or a low score for another school. It is best to check with the schools to which you're considering applying to see what GMAT scores they expect.

Despite the average score, the highest score you can get on the GMAT is 800. Therefore, even a 650 might be considered a low score if you're looking to apply to the top business colleges around the world. However, every student may have different goals when it comes to striving for a specific score.

GMAT vs. GRE

Many students might be wondering what the difference is between the GMAT and the GRE, which are both exams required by many graduate programs around the world. There are a few key differences between the two exams that are important to understand depending on the programs to which you're interested in applying.

First and foremost, the GMAT is taken primarily by those interested in applying to business school. For a long time, it was the only test that MBA programs accepted. However, nowadays, many business schools and MBA programs are accepting the GRE as well.

The GRE is an exam that is used for admission to many graduate programs and not just business school and/or business programs. This is the biggest difference, as both tests have similar sections and scoring methods. However, it is believed that the GMAT is a bit more difficult than the GRE, as it requires more critical thinking and analysis. Even if your prospective school does not specify which test you need to take, the GMAT may boost your application more than the GRE would.

What Are GMAT Score Percentiles?

Your GMAT score percentile is a number that is calculated to see how you compare to other test takers. For example, if your score falls within the 90th percentile, that means that 10 percent of the test takers did as well as you or better than you. Likewise, if you scored in the 20th percentile, that means that 80 percent of test takers scored higher than you.

Percentiles on any test like this are important because they help to understand if the test is fair, but ultimately, the only person with whom you are in competition is yourself. Percentages in the individual sections can help you see how you did. Best of all, if you did not do as well in one section as another, most business schools look at your total score as opposed to your individual score in each section. Therefore, you can make up for a weakness in one area by having a strength in another.

What Score Do I Need on the GMAT?

To determine what score you should aim for on the GMAT, you will need to not look at the average score across all test takers but the average score among the students accepted to the school to which you want to apply. This can help you determine a realistic score for yourself, and you can use a GMAT score chart to write down the target score for each school.

To get an idea of what scores some of the best business programs expect, do a web search or visit that school's website. Here are some examples:

  • Harvard Business School: 730
  • Yale School of Management: 730
  • George Washington University School of Business: 643
  • University of Maryland College Park (Smith): 660
  • University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business): 635
  • UMass Amherst (Isenberg School of Management): 570

How to Study for the GMAT

There are a few ways to ensure that you can be successful on the GMAT as long as you have the right tools at your disposal. First, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time beforehand to prepare for the test. Six months prior to your test date would be considered enough time to prep and study for the GMAT, though some students might want to give themselves more or less time depending on how comfortable they feel with the material.

Secondly, buy yourself a copy of a GMAT practice test book. A test book is a great way to not only see what questions you can expect to find on the test and how to answer them but also how to reach those answers. You can also time yourself on practice tests to get an idea of how you're pacing yourself.

Lastly, if you have concerns about your performance in a specific section, make sure to sign up for some added practice tools. The GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool is a great way to get instant feedback on math-based questions that are actually on the GMAT. Another test prep tool is the GMAT Write. This is designed to help you with the analytical writing section of the exam. It helps with examining your strengths and weaknesses and gives tips on approaching the writing section. Of course, online is a great place to find additional study tools too.

How to Sign Up for the GMAT

Signing up for the GMAT is easy, but again, make sure that you take into account how much time you'll need to study before booking a date. To sign up for the GMAT, sign up and create an account on MBA.com. Then, visit the sign up information page. You will see a yellow button that says "Register for the GMAT Exam." Click on this button when you're ready to start filling out your application.

Once you register, you'll be able to reschedule or cancel your test date if needed. After registering for the test and taking the exam, you’ll have access to your scores through this website as well as the ability to search, compare and save schools to which you might be interested in applying. Make sure you keep your account information in a safe place.

Which Country Is Better for an MBA?

An important part of your MBA search is seeing which program is best for you. Fortunately, there are great MBA programs all over the world that can help you get a great career in the business world. If you're interested in going abroad for your studies, keep in mind which countries tend to rank better in terms of the quality of their programs and where their students end up after graduation:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Australia
  5. Germany
  6. France
  7. Spain
  8. Singapore
  9. Switzerland
  10. The Netherlands

Remember that in order to get into the MBA program or business school of your choice, you will need to put plenty of effort into your studies. While the core you get on your GMAT is important in the eyes of admissions, they will also take into account your GPA, your skills and experiences overall and what makes you stand out as a candidate.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.