Why A 750 GMAT Will Fall To Just 695 On The New GMAT Exam

new GMAT

When GMAT test takers sit for the new, shorter exam starting next month, they may well be shocked to find how difficult it will be to score a 700 or more on the test. That’s because a new scoring approach will substantially lower test scores.

A 750 on the current GMAT, which puts a test taker in the 98th percentile, will convert to just a 695 on the new GMAT Focus Edition, according to the new concordance tables released by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the administrator of the exams. A 700 score on the existing test will become a 645 on the new GMAT.

(To better prepare for this more challenging scoring system, explore these effective study strategies that aim to boost your score on the new GMAT.)

“My big fear is that we have this psychological anchoring around these numbers,” says Charles Bibilos, founder of GMAT Ninja. “We think that 700 has long been the magic number to achieve on the test. Now with the changes, a 700 has been made way harder to get. A 645 on the new GMAT will be the same as a 700 on the old test. Over the next application cycle, I worry that the applicant with a 645 is going to be disadvantaged because an admissions official is going to immediately think that’s a low score. The difference between a candidate with a 680 and a 730 would make you apply to a completely different set of schools. If admissions staffers are stuck in that thinking, it is huge. I am sure some will use the tables and be careful about it but it’s hard not to have that psychological anchoring.”


The new scoring — 205 to 805 — for the GMAT will come into play when test takers first begin sitting for the Focus Edition on Nov. 7. What’s more a score of 750 on the existing GMAT could on the new test equals anything from a 695, representing the 97.9th percentile, or a 715, representing a 98.6 percentile score (see below table). Some test prep consultants are urging candidates to take the current test which will be available through Jan. 31, 2024.

“Because the exam scores are not on a common scale, GMAT™ Focus Edition scores cannot be compared to scores from the previous version of the exam,” according to GMAC. “While scores of 600 and 605 may look similar, they represent very different performance levels on different skills.”

The change will pose a new challenge to ranking organizations, such as U.S. News & World Report,  that use class GMAT scores in their calculations for where MBA programs rank “The averages aren’t going to be what they used to be and now we have another element,” explains Bibilos. ” It puts the ranking systems in a pinch. I hope U.S. News is going to be thoughtful about it but who knows? If you are really paying attention, you can look at the tables GMAT provides. But the GMAT spans generations and people who evaluate candidates coming out of business school took the test 20 years ago and judge people on what they know.”

Scott Woodbury-Stewart, founder and CEO of Target TestPrep, believes the new scoring is an attempt to correct grade inflation on the exam. “It seems pretty clear that GMAC’s new score scale was designed to address two major imbalances in the current scoring system,” he says. ” For one, Quant scores were becoming really inflated. For example, a Q50, despite being just one point from a perfect score, was ranked in the 86th percentile. With the new rankings, a Q89, one point from a perfect Quant score, is associated with the 97th percentile. Of course, there are certain unknowns, given that no one has taken the GMAT Focus yet, so we can’t be sure exactly how much these new score percentiles will be adjusted after GMAC has accumulated data for a few years. Nevertheless, the data GMAC used to project percentile rankings is meaningful and substantial, and the rankings appear to be more sensible.”


He adds that it wasn’t just quant scores that were increasingly inflated.  “Scores overall have been climbing, and so it really seemed necessary for GMAC to make this recalibration,” says Woodbury-Stewart.”The fact is, the test becomes less useful if the space at the top is so crowded.”

He agrees with Bibilos that the change will require getting used to. “Of course, because of the changes in the score scales, there will need to be a shift in the perception of what a good GMAT score is and what a competitive GMAT score is, both on the part of schools and test-takers,” he says. “Now a 695 is a 98th percentile score — what would be a 740 or 750 on the standard GMAT. So, percentile rankings, at least in the initial adjustment period, will be even more important, because adcoms and applicants have become accustomed to a sub-700 score not being considered that competitive for many schools. We even have heard from TTP students using our GMAT Focus course who are wondering why some sub-700 scores are associated with the highest-difficulty study plan. So, this may be a tough adjustment for people at first, especially while the standard GMAT and GMAT Focus are being administered at the same time.

“The second major imbalance that the new scoring system corrects is that Integrated Reasoning, now Data Insights, will no longer be sidelined; now it’ll count equally along with Quant and Verbal toward the total score. This is a welcome change for both test-takers and adcoms. From a student perspective, they get credit for those important business-related skills that the standard GMAT wasn’t emphasizing, at least in terms of the total score. From an adcom perspective, they now get a more complete picture of the student’s skills that relate to business school programs. Now IR is packaged in a way that schools can really use it to evaluate the student; it’s on par with Quant and Verbal. So, overall I think the new scoring system is a win for adcoms and for students because adcoms have a more meaningful basis for evaluating applicants and students get rewarded for skills that really matter for business schools.”

In fact, Bibilos believes the new GMAT is a better test than the current one overall. “I think GMAC did put a lot of effort into reengineering the new GMAT,” he adds. “They made the test shorter but still meaningful in what the exam measures. They did some great work there. They have fundamentally strengthened their test with of data insights and a shorter exam that will help folks with test anxiety. And 60% to 70% of GMAT test takers have anxiety. They also strengthened test security. They have done a lot of tinkering, including with things that are not visible. It is tailored more to business school needs. The test now tells you more about the applicant in less testing time. But at the same time, it’s going to be harder for test takers to hit that magic 700 number.”


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