GMAT™ Focus Edition: What is a Good Score?

GMAT™ candidates in 2024 are taking the new GMAT Focus Edition Exam, a new version of the GMAT that has replaced the classic test. Your GMAT Score on the Focus Edition is DIFFERENT from your GMAT score on the former GMAT Exam.
So what is a good score on the GMAT Focus Exam? And how does it compare to the old GMAT score?

Understanding GMAT Focus Edition Exam Scores

The GMAT Focus Edition Exam includes three sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Data Insights
GMAT Focus Edition logo

For each section, you’ll get a Scaled Score (from 60 to 90) and a Percentile Ranking to help you understand how you compare to other candidates. The three Section Scores are combined in GMAT’s black box to produce your GMAT Focus Exam total score (between 205 and 805) and Overall Percentile Ranking.

Let’s look at part of a sample Official GMAT Focus Edition Score Report:

In the above example, the candidate had a Scaled Score of 84 on Quant (85th percentile), a Scaled Score of 79 on Verbal (51st percentile), and a Scaled Score of 76 on Data Insights (58th percentile). These three Scaled Scores produced a GMAT Focus Edition total score of 595 (72nd percentile).

By focusing on the Percentile Rankings in the Score Report, we can understand how well this candidate did on her GMAT Focus Exam. Her overall score of 595 places her in the 72nd percentile of all GMAT candidates. If you are used to looking at scores from the old GMAT, the 72nd percentile may seem high for this GMAT Focus score of 595. In fact, to reach the 72nd percentile on the old GMAT, you would have needed a score of about 650 !

GMAT Candidates minds are blown learning about scores for the GMAT Focus Edition

Photo credit Andrea Piacquadio

Newsflash: Do not use old GMAT benchmarks to understand GMAT Focus Edition scores.

A 700 on the old GMAT is not the same thing as a 695 or 705 on GMAT Focus.

Actually, a 700 on the Classic GMAT is comparable to a 645 or 655 on GMAT Focus.

My target business school requires a minimum of 650 on the old GMAT Exam. What is the GMAT Focus equivalent of a 650?

Scores of 595, 605, and 615 on the Focus Edition would have a percentile ranking comparable to a 650 on the Classic (old) exam: around the 72nd percentile. You can see the comparisons of old GMAT scores to new GMAT Focus scores on the chart below:

Key benchmark comparisons between the GMAT Focus score chart and the Classic GMAT score chart:

Classic GMAT Score GMAT Focus Edition Score Percentile Rankings
550 515-525 35.0 – 35.6%
600 555-565 51.4 – 52.7%
650 595-615 70.7 – 74.5%
700 645-655 86.7 – 89.3%
750 695-715 97.9 – 98.6%

You can download the full score concordance table from GMAC here.
When in doubt, reach out to the admissions office of your targeted programs to clarify if they have decided on minimum GMAT Focus scores for the programs you’re considering.

So is the GMAT Focus harder than the old GMAT?

Not necessarily. It means that higher scores are harder to achieve on the GMAT Focus. Scores above 700 are more rare. And it means everyone needs to change their thinking about what certain scores mean. The best way to think about it is to focus on the percentile rankings. (And this is the testmaker’s advice to everyone, too!)

Depending on when it was achieved, a 700 on the Classic GMAT represented around the 87th to the 89th percentile of all test takers. So if we lined up 100 representative GMAT test-takers in order of their scores, the person with the 700 on the Classic GMAT would be in front of most of the other test takers, but there would still be 10 or 11 people with higher scores standing in front of the person with the 700. And this is approximately the same picture for a score of 645 or 655 on the GMAT Focus: it places a candidate in front of roughly 88% of the other GMAT test takers.

A 705 on the GMAT Focus, however, represents the 98th percentile! This means that the GMAT candidate with a Focus Edition score of 705 stands in front of 98% of the other test-takers. A 705 is an elite score on the GMAT Focus, similar to a 750 on the Classic GMAT.

Wow. A much smaller number of people will achieve a 705 or higher on GMAT Focus. Do the business schools know this?

Yes, the business schools do know this. GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, have encouraged business schools to focus on the percentile rankings of GMAT Focus scores in order to compare them with Classic GMAT Exam scores. Since GMAT scores are valid for 5 years, business schools will be dealing with several more admissions cycles in which some candidates have a Classic GMAT score and others have a GMAT Focus score.

What else should I know about the new GMAT Focus scores?

As we mentioned above, you’ll receive individual Section Scores for Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. The business schools you apply to will receive these individual scores too. Check each program’s requirements carefully, because some Masters and MBA admissions teams may have targets for individual Section Scores as well as your overall GMAT Focus score. For example, some programs may want to see all Section Scores reach at least the 60th percentile. Admissions for a quant-heavy program like Finance may want to see the Section Score for Quant hit at least the 65th percentile.

Why did they change the scores for the GMAT Focus Exam?

The Focus Edition is a meaningfully different version of the GMAT, so the testmakers wanted to have a new type of scores to help candidates and schools know they were looking at results from a different exam. This is why all Focus edition scores end in a 5, while all Classic edition scores ended in 0.

How is the new GMAT Focus Edition different from the old GMAT?

  • Shorter exam: A total of 2 hours and 15 minutes, made up of 3 45-minute sections, plus an optional 10-minute break. (Quantitative Reasoning: 21 questions, 45 minutes. Verbal Reasoning: 23 questions, 45 minutes. Data Insights: 20 questions, 45 minutes.)
  • Overall score incorporates everything: All three Section Scores are incorporated into your GMAT Focus Edition Score.
  • Question review: in the old GMAT, you could never return to a previous question. But in the Focus Edition, you can flag questions to review later, and change up to 3 answers.
  • Removes some content:
    • Eliminates all Sentence Correction questions from the Verbal Section, and nearly eliminates Geometry from the Quant Section. (Initially, we were told that Geometry was gone completely, but I have seen a number of Official Practice Exam questions that require very basic Geometry knowledge, like the area of a circle or the Pythagorean Theorem.)
    • Eliminates the entire Analytical Writing Assessment (essay) section.
  • Reorganizes some content:
    • Moves Data Sufficiency questions from Quant to the new Data Insights Section. Eliminates “pure” Data Sufficiency questions based only on Algebra or Number Properties; all DS questions are now Word Problems.
    • Moves Integrated Reasoning questions such as Two-Part Analysis, Graphics Analysis, and Multi-Source Reasoning to the new Data Insights Section.

What’s the best way to prepare for the new GMAT Focus Edition exam?

It can be helpful to get started with an official GMAT Focus practice exam to benchmark your current skills in Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. Next, research the typical scores for the Master or MBA programs that interest you most. With this information, you’ll be able to set an informed target for your GMAT Focus score, and begin to understand how much work is needed to reach your goal.

We will begin a new cohort of our GMAT Focus Prep Course in Berlin in late Spring 2024, or work with us online or in Berlin for GMAT Focus Private Tutoring. In either format, you’ll save time and frustration while building the skills, strategies, and mindset you need to reach your best GMAT Focus score, thanks to expert guidance from Jennifer Post Draeger.

To sum up:

Good GMAT Focus scores will look lower than comparable old GMAT scores. Check our table above for a quick conversion of benchmark scores, or consult the full concordance table (PDF) to see how Classic GMAT scores compare to GMAT Focus Edition Scores.


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Schedule a free 30-minute consultation call with Jennifer Post Draeger today.

“I only wish I had started working with her sooner!” – Florian, HEC Paris MBA alum

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