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# percentiles and scores

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05 Dec 2006, 09:46
The more I read about gmat scores, the more I realize that percentiles may be a better indicator of who scored higher. For example, a 790 is probably not significantly better than a 760. Granted 790 is clearly a better score, it does not distinguish itself much apart from a 760 since both scores are in the 99th percentile.

So this is what I noticed
760+ (possibly a 750 as well) = 99%
740=98%
730=97%
720=96%
710=94%

So what happened to the 95%? I heard that breaking the 720 barrier is tough, maybe accounting for the extra percentile?

Can a score of 720/710 veer into the 95% If so, what would be the explanation? I would guess that the breakdown of the score might account for the percentile difference, but who knows?

What do you guys think?

Last edited by kidderek on 05 Dec 2006, 10:04, edited 1 time in total.
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05 Dec 2006, 09:57
I just wanna get in that range!!! That's all I care about
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05 Dec 2006, 10:30
I wouldn't mind being in that missing 95%!
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05 Dec 2006, 10:35
I can live extremely happy with a poor 700
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05 Dec 2006, 12:05
The percentile is simply an indication of the number of people that scored above a certain score. We know that about 230,000 people will take the GMAT this year.

That means about 2300 will score in the 99th percentile, or 760+. The breakdown will probably be something like this:
760: 1400
770: 550
780: 250
790: 70
800: 30

So in terms of percentile, all of these people will be in the top 1%, however a 790 is substantially more rare than a 760. The question is whether schools will differentiate between the scores. My guess is that all but the top 3-5 schools will in fact view 790-800 differently than 760 simply because these scores are so rare.

Now regarding the "missing" 95th percentile. That just means that enough people score 710 to establish a break in the percentile, while the next score up resulted in fewer additional scores at that level. The percentiles mean this:

6% or 13,800 people this year scored 710 & up.
4% or 9,200 people this year scored 720 & up.

These numbers are all approximations based on the number of reported test-takers projected for the year.

Here's one additional nugget for you to ponder. There are about 4000-4500 total seats at schools ranked in the top 10; so it's pretty clear why the median scores at these schools are now all 710-720.
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05 Dec 2006, 12:39
Has anyone received a 95th%? I wonder what his/her total score and breakdown was compared with people who scored 94%/95%.

Also,

if 760 is the new 99th%, then did everything move down 1%ile to

760 99%
750 98%
740 97%
730 96%
720 94%
710 93%
700 92%

Can anyone with an official report comment? Mine is due sometime next week.
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05 Dec 2006, 12:41
pelihu wrote:
6% or 13,800 people this year scored 710 & up.
4% or 9,200 people this year scored 720 & up.

These numbers are all approximations based on the number of reported test-takers projected for the year.

Here's one additional nugget for you to ponder. There are about 4000-4500 total seats at schools ranked in the top 10; so it's pretty clear why the median scores at these schools are now all 710-720.

Taking into consideration that they accept a decent number of sub 700s, it just goes to show that a 700+ guarantees nothing.
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05 Dec 2006, 18:10
760-800 99%
740-750 98%
730 97%
720 96%
710 94%
*700 92%
*690 91%
*680 89%

670 88%
660 86%
650 83%
640 80%

*such a small difference! Why the 700 barrier and not the 690 barrier?

(This score break down is from October 2006)
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05 Dec 2006, 18:13
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
6% or 13,800 people this year scored 710 & up.
4% or 9,200 people this year scored 720 & up.

These numbers are all approximations based on the number of reported test-takers projected for the year.

Here's one additional nugget for you to ponder. There are about 4000-4500 total seats at schools ranked in the top 10; so it's pretty clear why the median scores at these schools are now all 710-720.

Taking into consideration that they accept a decent number of sub 700s, it just goes to show that a 700+ guarantees nothing.

you are right. There is another post in this sub-forum in which the poster has a score of lower than 600, but got into the mighty Kellogg. But he has good 4+ years of managerial experience in a big firm and great essays. I guess for his case, the last 2 counts more. Having managerial experience of 4 years in such a firm already makes you stand out, considering nowadays MBA applicants are not as experienced in working as they used to be.
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05 Dec 2006, 18:51
josh478 wrote:
760-800 99%
740-750 98%
730 97%
720 96%
710 94%
*700 92%
*690 91%
*680 89%

670 88%
660 86%
650 83%
640 80%

I see, so only 750 gets affected.

josh478 wrote:
*such a small difference! Why the 700 barrier and not the 690 barrier?

I still think it's the first-digit-syndrome (Pelihu, help me trademark that). I firmly believe that even if 700 was 89th% and 710 was 90th%, people would still aim for a 7XX.

My grading system in HS was on a 100 scale and everyone would kill for a 9X average. Students wanted at least a 90 average and would be disgusted with an 89.9--classic first-digit-syndrome.
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05 Dec 2006, 18:55
tennis_ball wrote:
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
6% or 13,800 people this year scored 710 & up.
4% or 9,200 people this year scored 720 & up.

These numbers are all approximations based on the number of reported test-takers projected for the year.

Here's one additional nugget for you to ponder. There are about 4000-4500 total seats at schools ranked in the top 10; so it's pretty clear why the median scores at these schools are now all 710-720.

Taking into consideration that they accept a decent number of sub 700s, it just goes to show that a 700+ guarantees nothing.

you are right. There is another post in this sub-forum in which the poster has a score of lower than 600, but got into the mighty Kellogg. But he has good 4+ years of managerial experience in a big firm and great essays. I guess for his case, the last 2 counts more. Having managerial experience of 4 years in such a firm already makes you stand out, considering nowadays MBA applicants are not as experienced in working as they used to be.

Thank goodness that score isnt the sole criteria for selection
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05 Dec 2006, 19:12
trivikram wrote:

Thank goodness that score isnt the sole criteria for selection

so when is your Gmat coming? and any particular B-schools you are aiming at?

I wish you do well.
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05 Dec 2006, 23:50
kidderek wrote:

I still think it's the first-digit-syndrome (Pelihu, help me trademark that). I firmly believe that even if 700 was 89th% and 710 was 90th%, people would still aim for a 7XX.

My grading system in HS was on a 100 scale and everyone would kill for a 9X average. Students wanted at least a 90 average and would be disgusted with an 89.9--classic first-digit-syndrome.

I agree with you there. I have seen admissions consultants say that they believe there is a psychological difference between 690 & 700. Really, they are within the testing error (which is about 26 points if I recall), so essentially they should be the same.

From a statistical standpoint, based on the testing error, you really need to have a 30 point difference to matter. But hitting the various plateaus does changes things, and I believe can make a difference in close admit/deny cases. The plateaus are as follows:

640-650 - really the minimum score necessary to have any chance at an elite or ultra-elite. If you are below this, the only realistic chance would be if you are an underrepresented minority. If you have at least 640, you can try to make up for it in other parts of the application; if you are below, it will be almost impossible to overcome the score elsewhere.

700 - this is the most popular psychological barrier, and I believe, for the top schools, it means that you're pretty right in range with their average. This score will not help or hurt your chances at an elite or ultra-elite (although an imbalanced score could still hurt). The median scores at the top schools have actually all moved past 700, but the psychological barrier will probably stand for another year or two. I'd bet money that 2 years from now, people will be looking at 720 as the average competitive score, unless they re-balance the scoring somehow.

760 (used to be 750, but things changed this year) - the cut-off for the 99th percentile. This is an additional level that schools tend to view as indicative of highly capable students. They are statistically distinguishable from those that score 710-750.

Anything higher probably does nothing to help your candidacy, although achieving very high scores on both Q & V sections probably does have some additional benefit.
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06 Dec 2006, 04:49
pelihu wrote:
Anything higher probably does nothing to help your candidacy, although achieving very high scores on both Q & V sections probably does have some additional benefit.

What if the total score is constant but the Q or V percentiles change.

Q 50 + v 44 = 770 (or 760 in some cases)
Q 50 + v 45 = 770
Q 50 + v 46 = 770
Q 50 + v 47 = 770

In this case the Total percentile is 99, Quant percentile is 95th but the verbal percentile changes from 95th to 99th percentile.

Will the schools go the trouble to distinguish these scores from each other? Highly unlikely. Therefore it would seem, given a constand Quant percentile, that a 95th percentile in verbal is as good as a 99th percentile since the overall percentile, as well as the total score, is same for all the cases.
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06 Dec 2006, 05:31
tennis_ball wrote:
trivikram wrote:

Thank goodness that score isnt the sole criteria for selection

so when is your Gmat coming? and any particular B-schools you are aiming at?

I wish you do well.

Long way to go....Need to get many stories straight.
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06 Dec 2006, 07:25
pelihu wrote:

The median scores at the top schools have actually all moved past 700, but the psychological barrier will probably stand for another year or two. I'd bet money that 2 years from now, people will be looking at 720 as the average competitive score, unless they re-balance the scoring somehow.

That's probably true, but I think, at that point, the gmac will re-adjust the test so that the average once again falls back down to 500 and therefore bring down the elite/Uelite to 700 again.

The same thing happened to the SAT about 10-12 years ago. Kids were scoring lower than their predecessors and ETS(?) or whoever handles the SAT readjusted their scoring so that scoring is higher. I believe the post adjustment added roughly 50 points to the older scores.
06 Dec 2006, 07:25
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