How Many GMAT Questions Can I Miss? What the Data Really Says

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - How Many GMAT Questions Can I Miss? What the Data Really Says by Chelsey Cooley

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This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how many GMAT questions you can miss. But it’s time to revisit it, because we’ve got something that’s even better than birthday presents (when you’re a test prep nerd): new data.

A few years back, the GMAC started providing the Enhanced Score Report. This report gives you a ton of extra data about your performance on the GMAT—you can even use it to figure out approximately how many questions you got right.*

For this article, I looked at 44 different Enhanced Score Reports, with scores ranging from 410 to 750. I focused on two things: the score each test taker got on each section of the GMAT, and the percent of the questions he or she got right in that section.

Quant

Here’s what you need to know about the Quant section.

1. Nobody got an A.

Even though several students got a 49 on Quant—two points from a perfect score—nobody got more than 82% of the Quant questions right. In fact, more than half of the test takers got between 55% and 70% of the questions right. Statistically, that’s where you’ll probably end up on test day!

If you’re getting about that many GMAT Quant questions right when you practice, you’re probably working at a realistic level. If not, consider either challenging yourself more or backing off a bit.

2. You can miss a lot of questions and still get a high Quant score.

One student who earned a 49 only got 68% of the Quant questions right. That would be a lousy grade in almost any college class—but it can correspond to a nearly perfect GMAT score. Several others got even fewer questions right, and still got (excellent) Quant scores of 45 to 47.

The numbers don’t lie! You don’t have to get every Quant question right to get a strong score, or even a truly excellent score. You will get GMAT questions wrong! The trick is to recognize those questions, move on from them quickly, and not let them mess with your head.

3. You can get a lot of questions right and still get a low Quant score.

Good test-taking strategy means you don’t have to get a ton of questions right to score well. Unfortunately, poor strategy can keep you from scoring well overall, even if you really nail some hard GMAT questions. One test taker scored a 38—in the 36th percentile—despite getting 75% of the Quant questions right. The ESR doesn’t include enough data to figure out exactly why this happened, but it’s probably down to poor timing, careless errors, or missing lots of questions in a row.

This might seem like bad news, but you should actually find it heartening. Getting a lot of GMAT questions right won’t get you a 700, so you can stop beating yourself up over missed problems and start focusing on the test as a whole. Taking the GMAT is about much more than just each individual problem—it’s a challenge for your executive reasoning skills.

4. In fact, the number of GMAT questions you get right doesn’t have that much to do with your score.

There is some relationship between how many GMAT questions you get right and the score you get on the Quant section. For instance, test takers who got 55 to 65% of questions right got an average score of 39.9, while test takers who got 65 to 75% right got an average score of 46.3.

However, the variance within each group is huge. Check out this table:

Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - How Many GMAT Questions Can I Miss? What the Data Really Says by Chelsey Cooley

The numbers do trend upwards, but they’re also all over the place. Test takers who got virtually the same ‘grade’—55 to 65% correct—scored anywhere from 25 to 47 on the Quant section. The number of GMAT questions you get right might be related to your score, but it definitely doesn’t determine your score.

That’s the situation for the Quant section of the GMAT! Everyone misses questions on the Quant section, and most of us miss a lot of GMAT questions. But that isn’t a problem—you can still get an excellent score with a lot of wrong answers, provided you approach the test thoughtfully. How to do that (and what the data says about Verbal) will be the topics of a couple of upcoming articles! 📝


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Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.

  1. Sidharth Sharma May 6, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Hi !
    Thank you Chelsey Cooley for the awesome article .
    This insight helped me a lot in my time management for Quants section.

    I am eagerly waiting for similar strategy to tackle verbal section.

  2. Saurser April 24, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Chelsea! Thank you so much for this article. Do you have similar data for the Verbal section too?