How to read your GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)

How to read your GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)

After taking the GMAT, you have the option of buying an Enhanced Score Report (ESR), even if you cancel your score. While the report won't contain the actual questions you saw in the exam, it can reveal important information about what to improve in your next attempt.

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The GMAT Enhaced Score Report includes three important charts that paint the picture about one's progress during the exam:

  1. Percent correct
  2. Average difficulty
  3. Time management

Let me show you an example and what insights you can get from it: (note: this is not my gmat score)

Percent correct

Since the Quant section contains 31 questions, each column represents about 8 questions questions. So we can estimate that this test taker only had about 2 or 3 errors in the first 8 questions, in the next 8 there were  no errors, and in the last 16 questions, about 6 to 7 errors. In total, about 9 questions out of 31. That's nearly 30% of the exam, and the result is 48 out of 51! 

Average difficulty

Now we can combine the data about percent correct with average difficulty. This test taker did well overall. In the first part, he or she got right answers on the questions that should be correct (the easy ones), and only made the 2 or three mistakes on questions that were harder.

In the second part, all the questions increased in difficulty but there were no mistakes, so the next part should increase in difficulty even more.

The thid part was harder than the second part, and more mistakes were made, even though they were more difficult. This time though, it seems that the number of mistakes was enough to lower the overall score (notice the green line).

In the last part, the level of difficulty dropped. But notice that the "easier" questions were answered correctly and only the "hard" questions were incorrect. This is important because sometimes at the end, with little time left, many people rush and make mistakes in questions that should be answered correctly, and it hurts their score even more.

Time Management

Even though the time per question does not affect the score (if you get a question wrong in 10 seconds or 3 minutes it has the same effect), this chart tells you how you have spent your time, if you were stubborn in some questions that you got wrong in the end or if you rushed in the final questions.

In this example, the first part is interesting because even though the test taker had 71% correct, and only two or three incorrect, you can see that a significant amount of time was spent on those incorrect questions. Even so, the average time is 1:48. This indicates that he or she went ahead pretty quickly on the easy questions, and even though more time was spent on the hard questions, the overall average was less than 2 minutes which is good.

There is something else that you can conclude which is not obvious, and it happened to me too: sometimes in the first 8 questions, even though you are answering the easy questions correctly, you notice that the difficulty doesn't suddenly get harder until the question number 6 or 7. This throws some people off because they are thinking "why are they still giving me easy questions? am I making silly mistakes? Keep that in mind.

In the second part, you can clearly see that the average time 2:41 shows that this person was extremely careful in these questions, taking more time than average, but it wasn't so bad because he or she already had some time to spare from the first part.

You can give yourself this "luxury" on some questions when you are skilled, because you solve easy questions fast (1 minute), that way you can spend 3 or 4 minutes on harder questions and it won't impact you negatively.

In the third part, timing was average at 2:07, and the proportion for correct and incorrect questions means that the test taker took around the same time to solve each question.

In the last part you can see that 1:47 average time is not far from the 2 minute average. I wouldn't say he or she was rushing, which shows good time management skills for the overall exam.

Even though the percent correct and incorrect was the same as in the third part, you can see that significantly more time was spent on the harder questions. This tells me that the test taker spent "just enough time" on the questions that were at his or her level.

Conclusions

For this particular example, I can tell that time management is not a issue, and easy/ intermediate questions are not an issue. The test taker was presented with questions of difficulty 49 or 50. It might have been possible that the score ended in 49 or 50 if the test taker had been able to sustain a high number of correct answers at that level.

From my experience, the level of difficulty that you end the exam with is the score that you will get. So getting hard questions at the end is actually a good thing, and you want to do your best in those questions.

In general, the GMAT Enhanced Score Report will give you insights, and you can use this example to reconstruct and better understand your GMAT exam, for both verbal and math.

Here are some aspects that you want to look for:

  • Mistake distribution (you want most of your mistakes in the second half of the exam).
  • Correct in easy questions, incorrect only in hard questions (if you have incorrects in easy questions, that is not acceptable).
  • Time distribution (take just enough time for the easy/intermediate questions, so that you can take a little longer on hard questions)

If you have other questions feel free to post them on the comments below. If you found it useful, also share this with your friends!

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