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# How is GMAT combined score calculated

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Joined: 10 Jan 2003
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How is GMAT combined score calculated [#permalink]

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20 Jan 2003, 18:58
I have a stupid question. I know that GMAT is standardized, but nonetheless, I am curious how GMAT Verbal and Quant score weighted to produce a total score of let's say 650 or 700. (What is the total combined score, if lets say Q45 V35 ?)

The second question, how does ETS standardize the test and is still able to give a "correct" percentile score, since obviously it calculates percentiles with some delay (1 month, 6 months, etc), does it mean that there is a margin off error for the percentile ranking?

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Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 15456

Kudos [?]: 27966 [0], given: 5052

Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
Re: How is GMAT combined score calculated [#permalink]

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20 Jan 2003, 23:37
VN wrote:
I have a stupid question. I know that GMAT is standardized, but nonetheless, I am curious how GMAT Verbal and Quant score weighted to produce a total score of let's say 650 or 700. (What is the total combined score, if lets say Q45 V35 ?)

The second question, how does ETS standardize the test and is still able to give a "correct" percentile score, since obviously it calculates percentiles with some delay (1 month, 6 months, etc), does it mean that there is a margin off error for the percentile ranking?

I have a few answers to this probably.
1. I will try to go out and talk to ETS about a few things, to try to clarify. After my pleasant experience with one of the GMAC employees (sometimes she is around on this forum), I will probably try to go and ask ETS and see what they give me.

If not, I think I have accumulated enough statistics to derive a formula. I am sure it won't be that easy since thier algorithm is probably more complex than just a standard condition, but an approximation will work just find for our needs. I think the findings will be quite important just seeing how ETS weighs sections. It may be a breakthrough. or it may not That's when large masses of people come handy. Together we can actually pull it off.

Another project I want to undertake is actually to take a PowerPrep several times over and over again. (I would love if somebody would volunteer for this). What I will try to accomplish is taking the math section 5 times: 1) answer all questions correctly. 2)answer first 2 wrong, the rest correctly 3)answer 2 last wrong 4)miss 2 last ones 5) miss 2 middle ones and compare the results. I am sure this analysis would be helpful too should ETS be stingy about information.

Anyway, those are dreams, aka projects
Back to your question, my current blief (not supported by any scintific research) says that a more balanced score will lead to a higher percentile. I got 49 on Math and 42 on Verbal which was 92% and 96% and the total was 750, 99% percentile. Pretty bizzare, but I think few people who scored 96% on verbal scored 92% on math and vice versa, thus though the percentiles are lower than 99, combined they make a 99% percentile. (Well, I guess it is pretty obvious, sorry for boring you).

Anyway, I can try to guess more, but I won't be able to tell until I actually try to take a look at a large sample of raw/final scores. An interesting thing is that I saw a person with the same percentiles as mine, but 740 total score. He had 49/42 and 740 total. That surprized me cause I don't think anybody would intentionally lower their score by 10 points, or maybe the guy just made it up. I saw it on the PR forum.

As to the second question, If understood you correctly, my guess would be that ETS folks accumulate data over time, for the last 3-5 years, say. I know that scores did get inflated in the last few years. It used to be that 700 would get you anywhere, just the score. Not anymore I dont' know actually... I have an old GMAT score guide and I think there is a newer one. I will try to compare them and see if there are any differences. However, I don't think it is due to the flaw in the software of question difficulty, but due to more professional and focused GMAT prep. There are more resources out there, more software, more books that allow people to practice more, thus improving their test taking skills.... According to the ETS bulletin on the test scores, the Standard Deviation (or marginal error) for each individual test taker is 29 points.

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21 Jan 2003, 19:00
To give an example, I know a person who got 550 getting 49 on math and 23 on Verbal. 49 is 92%. so Even if he got a perfect 60, he probably would not score more than 600 ... my guess.

The more puzzling things is a person who scored 250, I have no idea how she managed to get that... I wonder what the probability is.

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21 Jan 2003, 20:40
bb, thanks. What you are saying confirms my hypothesis, that a balanced score would yield a higher percentile. I think this is a result of a screwed distribution of scores in two sections, and I bet ETS uses some kind of crazy formula to combine the two or simply has a third distribution for the combined score. I suppose (this is completely my guess) that native speakers of English, primarily Americans score higher on Verbal, than they do on math, the opposite is probably true for most international test takers.

If this is true then, a completely unbalanced score, would have a percentile score that is closer to the percentile of the section with a higher raw score.

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21 Jan 2003, 22:20
VN wrote:
I suppose (this is completely my guess) that native speakers of English, primarily Americans score higher on Verbal, than they do on math, the opposite is probably true for most international test takers.

If this is true then, a completely unbalanced score, would have a percentile score that is closer to the percentile of the section with a higher raw score.

If you are interested, I can ask around at the bschool how Americans did on the verbal part (let me know), but I think it is close to be just as hard for the Natives. I got 42 on the Verbal and it was 96 percentile and I am a freaking Ukrainian. I got impressed that I did better than 96% of other test takers that included native speakers, a whole lot of them. Here is a little diagram (I am linking to it from the GMAC's site):

It shows number of test takers by year US/International, and there is a whole lot of the US folks there, actually more than the rest of teh world. I think one of the advantages I had was that I did not have to change my grammar or re-learn it, but still I had to do a whole lot of job studying it. I am not sure why it is hard for the native speakers. If I had it in my native language, I think I would have busted the thing.

Just thoughts.

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21 Jan 2003, 22:20
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# How is GMAT combined score calculated

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