If you are thinking about taking the GMAT exam, you might have a target score in mind. But you should know that there are many ways to achieve that score. Using this chart you can find the best combination according to your situation.
In your GMAT score report you will see three scores:
The second and third scores are separate scores and do not affect the 200 - 800 scores. This score is only based on the Quantitative and Verbal section of the exam.
For the Quant and Verbal score, there are two scales that are used:
Currently, both Quant and Verbal scores only go up to 51, which is what you will see in the chart. The percentile ranking represents the percent of test takers that you performed better than (based on data from the last 3 years). For example, a ranking of 80% means that 20% of test takers performed as well or better than you and 80% did not do as well.
A common misconception is that people think that the percentile means the percent of correct questions. Now you know it's not.
You can click on the image to enlarge:
I have made some color coding so that it's easier to understand.
First, you will notice Low, Medium, and High on the rows and columns. Those are the difficulties that I have seen students feel (in my experience). For example in Quant, obtaining a 43 is not too hard for most people, while in Verbal, obtaining a 42 is very hard. You can see that this correlates with the percentile rankings too.
This will give you an idea of what to aim for in your preparation. If you are starting in a low verbal score, it might be too optimistic to aim for 50 or 51 in quant to compensate (for most people).
Also, I have highlighted the score combinations for 650 (which is considered a good score for schools in Europe) and 700 (which is considered the minimum score for top schools in the US).
There is a blue rectangle that I have highlighted, and those score combinations are the ones that I consider the most balanced and you should aim for those in your GMAT preparation.
If you found the chart useful, consider sharing it so other people benefit as well. Also, if you would like to know the strategy that I use to increase the score of my students in the most efficient way, check out my Ultimate Guide to Hacking the GMAT Algorithm. You will find the opt-in on this page.