GMAT Integrated Reasoning Percentile Distribution Scale
Data, data, data… After 20 days and 6,229 test takers since the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section went live on June 5th of this year, GMAC has compiled and published the first IR percentile distribution table. A mean score of 4 out of 8 will land you in the 46th percentile and a 5 will get you to the 54th (See below for the complete rankings).
So what does this mean for you and your GMAT prep? Well, a couple of things. First, your IR score goal ought to be somewhere between 5 and 8. As I’ve mentioned before, anyone’s target score needs to be relevant to their respective programmatic goals. Since no one—including schools—have any idea what to do with IR scores just yet nor what the average IR score of an admitted applicant is/will be, your best bet is to focus on turning in a score that is at least better than most.
Second, I want you to note the corresponding percentile rank to a perfect IR score. As you can see from the table above, an 8 will land you in the 94th %-tile. Thus, just like the perfect score of 6 on the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) does not mean that you’ve written a perfect essay, an 8 on IR does not mean that you’ve submitted a perfect Integrated Reasoning section. While I believe it is easier to learn how to write an essay on the GMAT that garners a 6 than it is to pull off an 8 on IR, it is nonetheless doable. At least, it is much more doable than earning an 800 on the rest of the test!
GMAT percentile tables are regularly updated to reflect three years’ worth of scoring data. Since the IR section is so new, GMAC will be updating the distribution range every month for the first six months, then annually, as with the test’s other tables, thereafter. While we should expect some nominal fluctuation in the scale, updated GMAT scoring data traditionally does not wildly alter the percentile rankings. From the test maker’s website: “Shifts tend to be gradual over long time periods.” In short, I expect the 4/5 demarcation to remain generally stable for quite some time.