The GMAT Focus: grading and scores explained

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) has been replaced with the GMAT Focus, the next-generation test. It is often a required or recommended qualification for those seeking admission to postgraduate business programmes, especially the MBA. 

There is a lot of unknown and confusion about the new grading system for the GMAT Focus, as well as what scores students should aim for. It’s important to understand these aspects so that you can prepare, set achievable goals, and aim for the scores you need for your dream universities. After all, your GMAT Focus score could be what makes or breaks your offer!

Here at The Profs, we have access to coveted sources, like INSEAD and ex-LBS admissions officers and more. This article divulges some of their insider advice. We also have plenty of expertise in admissions tests, GMAT waivers, and applications to top universities. 

We can provide you with expert guidance and support throughout your GMAT journey. Our experienced GMAT tutors are well-versed in both versions of the GMAT and can help you achieve top scores.

Well, this article breaks down everything you need to know about the GMAT Focus’s grading system and scores!

We also have previous articles you might find useful on how to prepare for the GMAT Focus, the GMAT, the Executive Assessment (EA) and the GRE. There’s also this helpful video on GMAT scores by our founder.

We also have articles on how to get GMAT waivers for Bayes Business School, Imperial, LSE and LBS.

Understanding the GMAT Focus’s grading system

The GMAT Focus Edition introduces a slight change in scoring compared to the original GMAT. The total score now ranges from 205 to 805, with all total scores ending in a 5. In contrast, the total score for the original GMAT exam ranged from 200 to 800.

In the GMAT Focus Edition, each section’s score contributes equally to the total score. The GMAT Focus total score is no longer based solely on Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning scores but now includes the Data Insights section as well. Section scores range from 60 to 90, and each section carries equal weight in determining the total score.

The content areas and test constructs of the GMAT Focus Edition have been refined to emphasise data literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, the scoring algorithm has been updated, and the new Question Review & Edit feature will impact testing behaviour.

To address changes in the test-taking population, which has become more diverse and global, the score scale for the GMAT Focus Edition has been adjusted. Over the years, scores have shifted significantly, leading to an uneven distribution. The updated score scale aims to rectify this issue, enabling better differentiation of candidate performance on the exam.

Now, you may wonder how the Admissions Committee can assess the relative competitiveness of a candidate with a GMAT Focus score compared to someone with a score from the previous version of the GMAT Exam. Due to changes in both the score scales and score scale distribution, it is not meaningful to directly compare total scores or section scores from the previous version to the GMAT Focus Edition. However, exam scores can be linked and compared using percentile information.

Feeling overwhelmed by the GMAT Focus Edition? Allow our expert GMAT Focus tutors to guide you through the process so that you can confidently smash this exam!

Graded sections within the GMAT Focus

GMAT Focus scores are divided into four main sections; each section score ranges from 60 to 90 and is 45 minutes long. These sections are scored individually, and the scores are then combined to give you a total GMAT score. 

Let’s explore each section:

Data Insights

This section has 20 questions which focus on data sufficiency, multi-source reasoning, table analysis, graphics interpretation and two-part analysis.

Quantitative reasoning (QR)

This section has 21 questions. It measures your algebraic and arithmetic foundational knowledge, and how you apply this knowledge to problems. This will be structured as problem-solving questions.

Verbal reasoning (VR)

This section has 23 questions which incorporate reading comprehension and critical reasoning. 

For further information on each section, see here. For more on grading, see here.

Accept tailored support from our expert GMAT tutors so that you can get the best grade possible!

Please note: All GMAT tests are in English. However, if English is not your strong suit don’t let that stop you. You should never allow language to be an obstruction. At The Profs, we have skilled English Language tutors who can support you!

GMAT total score and percentile ranking

After obtaining individual section scores, they are combined to calculate your total GMAT Focus score, which ranges from 205 to 805. The total score reflects your overall performance on the test. 

Additionally, GMAT Focus scores come with a percentile ranking, indicating how well you performed compared to other test-takers. Percentile rankings provide valuable insight into a candidate’s performance compared to other test takers. 

For example, if you got 655 you’d be in the top 93%, according to GMAT data from 2017-2022. A percentile ranking of 93% indicates that you performed better than 93% of your peers which is a great boost to your application! However, if you got 455, it places you in the bottom 17% and shows that you performed worse than most of your peers.  

Percentile rankings are particularly helpful when trying to translate a GMAT score to a corresponding GMAT Focus score. For example, the GMAT website indicates that a GMAT score of 780 is on par with a GMAT Focus score of 775, and both are in the top 100%. Similarly, a GMAT score of 650 is on par with a GMAT Focus score of 605-615 and in the top 74.5%.

To assess a candidate’s relative competitiveness, you can refer to percentile data, allowing you to make meaningful comparisons. 

Don’t accept achieving average final grades and allowing your application to fall through the cracks. Reach out to our expert GMAT tutors today to put your best foot forward.

Importance of GMAT Focus scores for university applications

Top universities often consider GMAT scores as a crucial component of their admissions process. 

The GMAT Focus helps universities and business schools assess your academic potential and gives a more consistent point of comparison between applicants from a range of academic and professional backgrounds. 

Your GMAT Focus score is also one part of the application process you can control (you can improve your score through hard work and effective test preparation) so it gives business schools an insight into your work ethic. A high GMAT Focus score can demonstrate your academic readiness and intellectual capabilities, setting you apart from other applicants.

For these reasons, the GMAT is often a mandatory requirement for top universities/business schools. It’s important to work towards achieving the strongest possible score to show your commitment to your chosen course and to help you stand out amongst many competitive applicants from the outset.

Moreover, a high GMAT Focus score can compensate for a lower undergraduate degree score or lack of work experience.

So, don’t underestimate the importance of your GMAT Focus score! Ensure that it’s as high as possible. Our expert GMAT tutors know how to help you. If you’re serious about your future, reach out. 

The GMAT Focus score you should aim for

According to GMAT data from 2017-2022, the mean score from an 866,640 sample size is 546.01. So, you should aim to top this as an absolute bare minimum.

However, our INSEAD and LBS admissions sources have offered us insider advice. They state that the new recommended scores for the GMAT Focus are as follows:

  • Verbal reasoning: 80 (60%).
  • Quantitative reasoning: 80 (66%).
  • Data insights: 77 (66%).
  • Total score: 565.

So, it’s advised that candidates have a minimum overall target score of 565+. This corresponds with the GMAT website which shows a 565 score to place in the 55.1 percentile. 

The above guidelines are extremely useful to keep in mind when setting goals because most universities do not disclose their required GMAT Focus scores. 

However, Bayes Business School is an exception to this as it requires a minimum GMAT Focus score of 555 on its website. 

Similarly, Imperial College London specifies a GMAT Focus score within the 55th percentile or higher, which seems to be about 565.

LSE does not officially demand a specific GMAT Focus score, however, it asks for a minimum score of 650 for the regular GMAT. Hence, a GMAT Focus score between 595 and 615 should equate with this.

LBS does not specify its minimum required GMAT Focus score. However, its MBA class has an average GMAT score of 700. So, if you convert this to the GMAT Focus, this is probably around 645 to 655.

You should bear in mind that there may be different guidelines for the United States. If you’d like to apply to a US university with a GMAT Focus score, contact our expert US admission team.

It goes without saying that you should aim for the highest GMAT Focus score possible. Of course, you should always seek to exceed the minimum required scores for maximum competitiveness. 

However, your goal score should be shaped by your chosen universities. For example, it’s a good idea to aim for a GMAT Focus score of 600 for LSE and LBS, whereas that might not be necessary for Bayes and Imperial. Although, applications are often made on a case-by-case basis and take all elements into account (personal statement, historic grades, other qualifications, work experience). So, a candidate with an amazing GMAT Focus score might not receive an offer, whilst another candidate with a subpar score might get one.

Here at The Profs, we understand the overall application process, especially for esteemed universities. We can identify your weak points and improve them or present them in the best light. We can assess your application holistically and maximise our chances of success. Just chat with our expert admissions team.

Tips to improve your GMAT scores

  1. Start early: Begin your GMAT preparation well in advance to give yourself enough time to cover all the necessary topics and practice effectively.
  2. Understand the format: Familiarise yourself with the structure, timing, and sections of the GMAT Focus Edition.
  3. Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Take a practice test or a diagnostic test to identify areas where you excel and areas that require more work. This will help you tailor your study plan accordingly.
  4. Create a study plan: Develop a structured study plan that covers the topics and sections of the GMAT Focus Edition. Allocate sufficient time for each section and ensure you have a good balance between theory and practice.
  5. Utilise reliable study materials: Use reputable GMAT Focus Edition study guides, practice tests, and other educational resources to ensure you are prepared with accurate and up-to-date information.
  6. Practice time management: The GMAT Focus Edition is a timed exam, so it’s crucial to practise proper time management during your preparation. Work on improving your speed and accuracy to answer questions within the given time limits.
  7. Learn key test-taking strategies: Familiarise yourself with effective test-taking strategies specific to the GMAT Focus Edition. These strategies can help you navigate through the exam and make the best choices, especially in challenging or time-constrained situations.
  8. Take regular practice tests: As you progress in your preparation, regularly take full-length practice tests to simulate the real exam environment. Analyse your performance and identify areas of improvement.
  9. Review and analyse mistakes: After each practice test or study session, carefully review and analyse your mistakes. Understand the concepts you struggled with and work on strengthening those areas.

Seek professional personalised support from our skilled GMAT tutors! They can provide invaluable insights and tips to maximise your performance.

How we can help

In the competitive world of university admissions, a strong GMAT Focus score can be a game-changer. Understanding GMAT Focus grading and scores is crucial for improving your chances of securing admission to top universities. By preparing strategically, focusing on your weak areas, and seeking expert guidance, you can maximise your GMAT scores and unlock exciting opportunities for your academic journey. 

At The Profs, we offer expert private tutoring to help you achieve your best possible GMAT score. Our experienced tutors provide personalised guidance and support tailored to your specific needs. 

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All of whom have a track record of success and can help you achieve your specific goals!

Contact us today to schedule your tutoring sessions and secure your dreams.