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GMAT Focus Edition- Score Chart and Percentiles

A 9 min read

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has officially revealed the highly anticipated GMAT Focus edition score chart and percentiles and the scoring scale for the GMAT Focus, a revolutionary approach to evaluating candidates for business schools. This innovative scoring system promises a fairer, more comprehensive assessment of applicants’ abilities. If you’re considering taking the GMAT Focus, this article will provide you with essential insights into the GMAT Focus edition’s score chart and percentiles, the groundbreaking scoring architecture, and how it could impact your test-taking experience.

In addition to detailing the new scoring scale, this article also outlines the key dates applicable for the new exam, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the next chapter in your educational journey.

Those who are unaware of the GMAT Focus edition may also benefit from our earlier article on GMAT Focus Edition.

Here are the key takeaways explained in this article:

  1. New and more discerning scoring architecture: The test is scored from 205 to 805 – with 61 different ability levels, the same number of levels that are there in the current GMAT (200 to 600). However, with 40% more levels allocated to high scorers, the Focus edition provides more granular scores to high scorers (Section 1) and does more justice to their hard work (in our opinion)
  2. Three vs. Two Sub-sections: The total score is composed of three subsection scores (Quant, Verbal, and DI) – each of which is weighted equally and has scaled scores from 60 to 90. This is different from the current GMAT, where the score out of 800 is composed of two subsections (Quant and Verbal).
  3. Fixes the mess with Quant scoring: By assigning 11 scoring levels (3X as many compared to the current GMAT) to the top 40% of all test takers, the GMAT Focus Edition delivers a more accurate assessment of test takers’ Quant ability.
  4. Current GMAT vs GMAT Focus Edition: The GMAT score translation chart rewards higher percentiles to high scorers, probably because GMAT Focus Edition’s scoring architecture is more granular for high GMAT. This trend reverses for low scorers.  

Here is a brief outline of this article:

If you are planning to take the GMAT, we can help you with a personalized study plan and give you access to quality online content to prepare. Write to us at acethegmat@e-gmat.com. We are the most reviewed GMAT prep company on gmatclub with more than 2500+ reviews. Why don’t you take a free trial and judge it for yourself?

Important dates for OFFICIAL prep materials

A comprehensive set of free and paid prep resources will be launched on mba.com on June 6, 2023. Designed to help you succeed in the new exam format, these resources cater to different learning styles and needs.

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect:

  1. GMAT™ Focus 6-Week Study Planner – FREE! This essential tool will help you organize your study schedule and optimize your preparation time for the GMAT Focus Edition.
  2. GMAT™ Focus Official Starter Kit – FREE! Kickstart your GMAT Focus journey with this foundational resource, packed with valuable tips and strategies.
  3. GMAT™ Official Guide Series – This series includes physical books and ebooks, along with section-specific supplements to provide a comprehensive study experience.
  4. GMAT™ Focus Official Practice Exams – Simulate the real testing environment and familiarize yourself with the exam format, boosting your confidence and readiness.
  5. GMAT™ Focus Practice Questions – Hone your skills with a vast array of practice questions, targeting different areas of the exam.

Mark your calendars, as registration for the GMAT™ Focus Edition opens on August 29, 2023, with testing scheduled to commence in Q4 2023. However, it’s important to note that the current version of the GMAT will continue to be available until early next year. So, stay focused on preparing for the present exam while keeping an eye on the exciting opportunities offered by the GMAT Focus Edition.

New and more discerning scoring architecture | GMAT Focus Score Chart

The new GMAT Focus Edition, while introducing several innovative features, also shares some similarities with the current GMAT exam’s scoring system. Both versions of the test have 61 scoring levels, providing a comprehensive assessment of candidates’ abilities. Additionally, the GMAT Focus Edition’s total score ranges from 205 to 805, which is a slight modification from the GMAT Exam’s total score range of 200 to 800. This change allows for easier differentiation between GMAT Focus Edition and GMAT Exam scores.

Number of Ability levels Score Scales
GMAT Focus Edition 61 205 – 805
Current GMAT 61 200 – 800

Major differences in how the exam is scored

The GMAC has introduced a much-needed overhaul to the GMAT Focus Edition’s scoring system, including an update to the scoring algorithm, adapting it to the increasingly diverse and global test-taking population. Over the years, significant shifts in scores have led to uneven distribution, making it challenging for schools to differentiate candidate performance. The updated score scale addresses this issue, ensuring a more equitable assessment that accurately reflects the evolving composition of the GMAT test-takers. There are two major changes to the scoring architecture.

  1. The Total Score is now comprised of all 3 section scores (Quantitative, Verbal, and Data Insights), ensuring a more comprehensive assessment. This is explained in point 2.
  2. The scoring scale has evolved and assigns more ability levels to higher scoring levels, making overall scoring more in tune with the current test-taking population.

Evolved scoring scale = More balanced Scoring

The current GMAT is scored from 200 to 800 in 10-point intervals. This means that it has 61 scoring levels. The GMAT Focus Edition also has 61 scoring levels and is scored from 205 to 805. However, the scoring scale for the current GMAT was designed in the 1990s. With the GMAT Focus Edition, the GMAC has used this opportunity to enhance this scoring scale to align it with the needs of the current test-taking population.

GMAT Focus Edition Current GMAT
Segment Number of Ability points %age ability points Number of Ability points %age ability points
76-100 percentile 20 (+6) 33% 14 23%
51 to 74 percentile 6 10% 6 10%
26 to 50 percentile 6 (-3) 10% 9 15%
0 to 25 percentile 29 (-3) 48% 32 52%

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The table above compares the number of ability points assigned to various percentile segments in GMAT Focus vs. the current GMAT. The GMAT Focus edition assigns 20 ability points to the top 25 percentile of test takers. This is 40% more ability points than the current GMAT. This means that the GMAT Focus edition can do a much more precise assessment of your ability than the current GMAT. Most of this improvement has come from two changes:

  1. A much-improved Quant scoring architecture
  2. A balanced scoring Data Insights scoring architecture.

Another major addition to the GMAT Focus is the inclusion of a 100 percentile score. This is a major change from the current GMAT, where even a score of 800 mapped to the 99th percentile. In fact, as per the current scoring table, any score above 735 results in a 100 percentile score.

Do these ability levels do much good?

If you look at the score chart below, you will observe that 11 out of the 20 levels are assigned to 100 percentile scorers or 99 percentile scorers, indicating that these expanded levels may not yield many benefits to most high scorers.

While this may mathematically seem true on paper, it ignores two key aspects:

  1. This data is built around the stats the GMAC currently has, especially the stats for IR. Since most people currently don’t prepare for IR, those stats are likely to change, which in turn will change the percentiles that these ability levels map to.
  2. Even with these IR stats, the GMAC has a conclusive way to distribute the top 25 percentile of test takers into 20 different buckets. The current GMAT’s scoring architecture only allows 14 such buckets.

We strongly believe that the score chart for the Data Insights section will undergo a considerable change in the near future, allowing many more people to score higher, which in turn would allow more individuals to perform better on GMAT Focus Edition. In other, while a 745 on GMAT Focus today is a 100th percentile score, it may well become a 99th or even a 98th percentile score in the near future.

GMAT focus scores and percentiles

GMAT Focus and the current GMAT Scoring Scale | GMAT Focus scores and percentiles

Please look at the tables below for GMAT Focus Edition scores and percentiles:

Revamped Quant Scoring architecture

Here is an interesting fact for you: The quant section of the current GMAT has 46 ability levels from 6 to 51. In other words, if the testing items had infinite granularity and we could run the test for as long as we wished, we would be able to assign one ability level to 100/46 = 2.17 percent of students. The current test and its corresponding scoring fail miserably on that expectation. Please see the table below as evidence.

Current Scaled Score (out of 60) Percentile Ranking
51 97%
50 87%
49 73%
48 65%
47 57%

As the table above shows, the current GMAT’s Quant scoring has exactly 4 ability levels for the top 40% of students. This is despite the fact that the test currently has 31 questions – or about 50% more questions than planned for the Focus Edition.  In other words, a student whose ability is estimated to be 90th percentile will likely get a Q50, the same score that an 85th percentile. Similarly, someone at the 79 percentile is likely grouped with someone with the 71st percentile since both of them will likely be assigned a Q49 score.  

By grouping all of these together, the test does not do justice to test takers.

Compare this to the Quant scoring table for the Focus Edition. Even though the Focus Edition has 21 questions or about 10 fewer than the current GMAT, it assigns 10 ability levels for the top 30 percentile of students – or about 3X as many levels. Moreover, the test now conclusively differentiates between a 95th and a 97th percentile student, assigning them different scores.   

Scaled Score Percentile
90 100%
89 97%
88 95%
87 94%
86 92%
85 89%
84 85%
83 81%
82 76%
81 71%

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Why do we need more granularity for high scorers?

Current GMAT GMAT Focus Edition Takeaway
90th percentile 1 level 5 levels 1)Better scoring in GMAT Focus
2)GMAT Focus test is harder
80th percentile 1 level 3 levels 1)Better scoring in GMAT Focus
2)GMAT Focus test is harder
70th percentile 1 level 2 levels
60th percentile 1 level 1 level Similar behavior in both versions
Below 60th percentile 42 levels 20 levels
GMAT Focus Edition 11 out of 31 levels(60-90) – 60th percentile or more
GMAT Current Edition 4 out of 46 levels(6-51) – 60th percentile or more*

*Refer to the section Evolved scoring scale = More balanced Scoring for more information on ability levels

The table above compares the granularity of the Quant score for GMAT Focus Edition and the current GMAT. One question that you may ask is – why we need higher granularity for high scorers when clearly it comes at the expense of lower granularity for those with lower percentile.

Let us illustrate this with an example:

Let us take a scoring paradigm in which one percentile = 1000 students. Furthermore, let us take two students, John and Jay.

  1. John’s actual ability is 98th percentile. However, given the limitation of the scoring scale, he is assigned a 96th percentile score.
  2. Jay’s actual ability is 72nd percentile. However, given the limitation of the scoring scale, he is assigned a 70th percentile score.

While the overall error for both John and Jay is two percentile points, which translates to 2000 students, the overall ranking error is very different.

Here is the definition of ranking error = ABS (Assigned rank – Real Rank)/ (100-Rank)

The test tells John that there are 4000 students who are at the same level or ahead than him. However, in reality, only 2000 students should have been ahead of him. In other words, to the outside world (B-schools), there are twice as many students who are just as good or better than John. Hence, his ranking error is (2000/2000) 100%.

However, for Jay, the test tells that there are 30,000 students who are just as good or better than Jay, whereas the real number is 28,000. In other words, the error percentage of his rank is 2000/28,000 = 1/14 = 7%

So even though the error in ability estimation for both John and Jay was 2 percentage points, the overall ranking error was 15X as high for John as for Jay, making the test much more unfair to John.

Current GMAT vs GMAT Focus Edition- Scoring Architecture

When you receive a GMAT™ Focus Edition Official Score Report, you may wonder how to compare the competitiveness of a candidate with a GMAT™ Focus score to one with a score from the previous GMAT™ Exam. According to the GMAC, due to changes in both score scales and score scale distribution, a direct comparison of total scores or section scores between the two exam versions is not meaningful. However, you can link and compare exam scores using percentile information.  To do this comparison, the GMAT provides a Score Concordance Table.

Here are some observations from the table below:

  1. There are 11 levels (705 to 805) for 99 percentile scorers or above. The current GMAT only has 5 levels there.
  2. A score of 710 on the current GMAT equates to 655. Note, 710 is a 90th percentile on the current GMAT while it is 93rd percentile on GMAT focus edition.
  3. The mean score for the GMAT Focus Edition is 546.01 – much lower than the mean score for the current GMAT (574.51)
  4. For scores above the 60th percentile, the GMAT Focus Percentiles are always higher than the corresponding percentiles of the current GMAT. For scores lower than the 60th percentile, in pure percentile terms, students score higher on the current GMAT than on the Focus Edition.

Overall Summary

The GMAT Focus Edition introduces major scoring changes that favor high scorers, offering a more precise assessment of their abilities. By fixing the quant scoring, it aligns the scoring with the needs of test-takers, ensuring a more accurate evaluation. By equally weighing each section – DI, Quant, and Verbal, it ensures that those strong in either quant or verbal will have a similar opportunity to ace the test provided they work towards it. While it is uncertain if the test would be easier to prepare for, the new scoring system indicates that it would be a more fair assessment of candidates’ abilities.

Did you know 9 out of 10 MBA Admissions decisions are made using a GMAT score? We can give you access to quality online content to prepare for GMAT. We are the most reviewed GMAT prep company on the GMAT club with more than 2500+ reviews and have delivered 10x 700+ scores than the average GMATClub partner. Why don’t you take a free trial and judge it for yourself? 



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