7 reasons why the GMAT Enhanced Score Report doesn't work!

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Hello All,

You perhaps have heard about the GMAT Enhanced Score Report feature and are wondering what it means for you. I have had a lot of my students at CrackVerbal ask me this question so I did some research and wanted to share it with you.

Before we get into the details please read this excellent summary from GMAC on what the ESR is - https://www.mba.com/esr. You may view a sample enhanced score report here: mba.com/esr-demo

I assume you are reading this post in 1 of 2 cases:

(a) You took the GMAT and it bombed so are planning to retake so you want the ESR to show you how you need to prepare

(b) You took the GMAT and are okay with the scores but are curious to know more (& are willing to spend $25 for that!).

If you have not taken the GMAT then don't worry about this. You can always come back after you have taken the test.

Let me break it down into the sections, and the reasons

Reason 1: The Dashboard:
This gives you the section-wise performance but this is stuff that you ANYWAYS would get from your official score report. So not useful


Reason 2: The IR Analysis

Firstly you shouldn't really be bothered too much about your IR score (unless you really bombed it!) but even if you want to see the performance the ESR just shows the number of questions you got right / wrong. As there are 12 questions and 8 of them count towards your IR score you kind of know how many questions you got right or wrong. So really GMAC should have given more insights by providing the number of multi-source questions you got right etc.


Reason 3: The AWA Analysis

This section is a waste as it just details your performance on the AWA on a scale of 0 to 6. The same chart/table is given to you in the OG. So absolutely of no use.

Reason 4: The Time Management by Section

This section is again useless because if you completed the test then you know you solved 41 Verbal questions in 75 minutes and 37 Quant questions in 75 minutes.


Reason 5: The Time Management for Verbal & Quant

This one LOOKS very important for re-takers as it should tell you where you are spending the most time. However, this data could be obscured if you ended up guessing towards the end. For example let us say you did poorly in RC and you ended up in trouble by the time you reached the last passage and so quickly guessed the 3-4 questions in under 1minute. So though you took 12 minutes for each of the 3 passages - you end up with a decent looking 9minutes per passage.

A chart which gave you an idea of how you managed your time overall (how you did in the start, how you managed to do in the end) would have helped a student lot more than this graph.



Reason 6: Percentile scores for individual topics with Verbal & Quant

This one is again in the could-have-been-useful category especially if you are retaking (or are just curious to know your strengths and weaknesses). The biggest flaw here is that the GMAT adaptive algorithm works across all the sub-sections. So even if you are really good in SC you might end up not seeing very high %ile scores because some other section (say CR or RC) pulled you down.

For example, each time the adaptive algorithm puts you in a higher bracket because you answered some SC or CR questions correctly, your next RC passage might pull you down. So net-net in all sections you see around the same %ile ballpark though RC is really your problem area. So in a nutshell, the problem here is it doesn't REALLY tell you what your areas of strength or weaknesses are.

Also in Quant the report individually reports PS, DS, and the topics Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry. But those preparing for the GMAT would know that the better way would have been to tell if they had issues with DS questions in Algebra, or Word Problems in Arithmetic. The level of detail provided doesn't help much.



Reason 7: Why make money from providing the correct information to students

This one is not based on the ESR itself but on the way GMAC should function. As already mentioned in Poets & Quants article: https://poetsandquants.com/2015/01/22/fo ... t-results/ asking students to pay $25 for understanding a test that you have set is unfair. To quote:
"Test takers, who already pay $250 a pop to take the exam, will be charged an additional $25 for the enhanced report, even though GMAC's gross profit margins already are better than the margins Apple makes on either an iPad or an iPhone. GMAC says it collected $87.7 million in fees in 2012, yet it cost the organization only $45.7 million to administer the test, according to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The effective gross profit on the actual exam is roughly 47.9%. If just 20% of the people who take the GMAT pay for the enhanced report, it would add more than $1.2 million to the annual revenue of the non-profit organization."

As another blogger, Sameer Kamat of MBA Crystalball put it rightly "Many folks who aren't happy with their scores shell out $250 to re-take it anyway. I spoke to someone recently who took it 6 times (with disastrous results!) before giving up on it. While GRE is trying to gain inroads into the GMAT turf, it would've helped if GMAC could've included this new feature without charging extra for it. The incremental effort for them to provide these insights is minimal."

In summary, if you are thinking about this. My advice is not to go for it. Instead if you want to reserve a consultation where I could walk you through your problem areas on the GMAT then let me know :)

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by ReasonGMAT » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:35 pm
I would agree that a lot of what GMAC does seems to be a kind of shameless pursuit of profit - the exam probably doesn't need to be as expensive as it is and surely they could provide the diagnostic service for free (heck, it probably facilitates retakes, so they can make their money back there).

And I would also agree that a lot of what you see in the enhanced score report is not that helpful - its not like they breakdown how much time you spent on each question.

That said, I think the breakdown of what your actual scaled score is on each of the question types within Quant and Verbal is helpful and I would definitely be willing to cough up 25 bucks to see that. I think it is very telling to see exactly what your score is on each question type. A student of mine just bought the Enhanced Score Report after getting around a 40 Verbal and it was extremely helpful and very telling to see that he had something like 44 CR, 42 RC, and 33 SC (can't remember if that was the exact breakdown but it was something like that). I mean, we already knew that SC was his issue, but to see that he was at a roughly 43 level on CR and RC and that SC was dragging him down like that was very interesting and telling.

Is $25 really fair for that? Probably not, but if I were spending a ton of time and money preparing for the exam I would probably skip a few trips to Starbucks and just pony up the 25 bucks to see that breakdown.
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by Andras P. » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:32 am

I agree that nobody should pay extra for this information.
However, the ESR helped me a lot after my previous exam 3 months ago because I got only a 33 on the verbal part. Without the ESR, I would not have known what I needed to improve to get a better score. I had 41CR, 44SC, and surprise: 19RC. :) If I guessed on the RC, I would have gotten a better score.

I made CR and especially RC my top priorities because of that report.

I took the GMAT earlier this week following another intensive 3-month preparation. Now, my verbal score was 44. However, I do not really understand how I got that score because my CR was 44, my RC was 51, and my SC was 46. Based on these scores, I would expect a higher overall Verbal score.

Can someone explain that result to me?


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by edison » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:39 am
I don't mind paying even a $100 for the esr if they give a detailed breakdown of every question that i did on the gmat, the right answer to those questions and the wrong attempts that i made.


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by [email protected] » Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:39 am
Hi edison,

Unfortunately, that level of detail is likely never going to be offered. While the 'pool' of available questions that you'll face on Test Day is big, it is limited. If the 'right-sized' group of Test Takers took the GMAT on the same day and all ordered the ESR, then it would be possible to assemble that pool of questions and then sell it (or give it away) online. GMAC can only replace questions so quickly (considering that the questions have to be written and 'tested' before they appear as fully-active questions on the GMAT) - so releasing the specific questions that a Test Taker faces is probably never going to happen.

While the ESR doesn't provide much information, in certain situations some big deductions can be made about a Test Taker's performance.

1) Are you currently studying for the GMAT?
2) When are you planning to take the Test?

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by edison » Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:54 am
Hi Rich,

You've brought across a good pt where you admit that integrity can be compromised just for that score. Thanks that you're concerned about me as you find that you can help me out on this issue. Just to let you know that I would most probably not be involved in it again. Will let you know here if i do change my mind.