Everything You Need to Know About the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR) in 2019

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ESR – The acronym ESR stands for ‘Enhanced Score Report’. The ESR is a report which gives an in-depth analysis of a test taker’s performance on the GMAT. However, the ESR is not an alternative to the official score which a student receives on completion of the test. It can be used in conjunction with the official score report to obtain valuable insights into the performance of the aspirant.

The ESR is not generated automatically, like the official score report. A student has to subscribe for the ESR separately, by paying a prescribed fee, which is not included in the GMAT examination fee.
A student who wishes to subscribe to the ESR can do so by paying an additional fee of $30, over and above the $250 which he/she would have paid for taking up the GMAT.

In monetary terms, we feel that this is slightly unfair on the student who has already paid a substantial amount to take up the GMAT; we feel that the ESR should have been made a part of the official score report, so that the student could reap the benefits of the test fee that he/she has paid. However, since this is something which is neither under your control not ours, let us focus on the more important question which is –


Should you take the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)?

The answer is – YES.

Effective June 2018, GMAC has brought in some changes into the ESR report, which will let you extract more data than ever before, on your performance in the GMAT. Therefore, it is worth paying the additional $30 for the ESR, since it allows you to extract a lot of useful information about your performance in the GMAT, both at the macro and micro levels.

For someone who was not satisfied with his/her performance in the GMAT and wants to better it by taking the test again, the new ESR is just what the doctor ordered.

The ESR is now more informative than ever and interpreting it in detail will provide you answers to most of your questions on your performance, which otherwise would be mere surmises/predictions.


How to Interpret & analyze a GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)

Let us look at the different parameters about which the ESR can provide you information:

1. Overall score and percentile
2. Time management – overall
3. Section wise scores
a. Accuracy
b. Time management
c. Difficulty level
d. Sub section scores

1. Overall Score and percentile:

This parameter measures your performance in terms of your final score and the relevant percentiles, which you obtained in the four sections viz., IR, QA, VA and AWA. Essentially, the difference between the ESR and the official score report is that, the official score report only provides your scores in the VA and the QA sections.

The overall score of 650, corresponds to the 73rd percentile, which means that this student has scored more than 73 percent of the students who have taken the GMAT, in the past 3 years. Similarly, the IR score of 6 corresponds to the 70th percentile, the Verbal score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile and the Quant score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile.

To give you a perspective, an overall score between 740 to 750 corresponds to the 99th percentile; a score of 51 in Verbal corresponds to the 99th percentile and a score of 51 in Quant corresponds to the 97th percentile.

2. Time Management – Overall:



This statistic talks about, the mean time per question, taken by the student to answer questions in the respective sections.

For example, the sample ESR under consideration tells us that the student took

  • an average of 2 minutes 43 seconds to answer a question in the IR section;
  • an average of 1 minute 48 seconds in the Verbal section;
  • and an average of 1 minute 57 seconds in the Quant section.

This should not be mistaken to be the time taken by the student to answer every question, since the data talks about the AVERAGE time per question.

To offer a perspective, the average time per question in the different sections of the GMAT is as follows:

  • An average of 2 minutes 30 seconds per question in the IR section
  • An average of 1 minute 48 seconds per question in the Verbal section
  • An average of 2 minutes per question in the Verbal section

On comparing the ESR and the ideal times, it may be observed very clearly that the time management could have been better in the IR and the quant sections.


3. Section Wise Performance:

Here, the student can view his performance in the individual sections and perform a granular analysis of his performance, which will in turn help him/her to improve on his/her weak areas (this is especially relevant for aspirants who want to re-take the test in a shorter timeframe.)

Integrated Reasoning:

Let us have a look at the scores from the IR section:



The IR section has a total of 12 questions which have to be answered in 30 minutes. Out of the 12 questions, some are experimental questions.

From the above statistic, we can do some quick calculations and arrive at the breakup of the experimental and the non-experimental questions.

The percentage 67 percent can be applied only on numbers which are multiples of 3, because, 67% represents (2/3). Therefore, out of 12 questions, either 3 or 6 or 9 can be experimental questions. Since the score of the student is 6 and he has not answered all of his questions correct, we can conclude that the total number of non-experimental questions are 9 in number. Therefore, there were 3 experimental questions out of 12, in the IR section.


From this statistic, the student has clearly spent almost half a minute more on all the questions which he/she has answered incorrectly. This has done two things:

  • It has increased the average time taken per question by almost quarter of a minute (~ 15 seconds)
  • Had the student managed this time to improve his/her accuracy, he/she would have almost the same time for the last few questions which would have had a positive impact on the accuracy.

Verbal Section:

The new ESR provides lot more information than ever before, about the performance of the student in the Verbal and Quant sections. This is the strongest reason why we recommend the investment on the ESR, especially for test takers who are bordering on the 700 range and want to improve their scores in their next attempt.

Let us have a look at a sample and put together, the pieces of the puzzle:



The student’s score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile which means that the student has fared better than 61 percent of the people who took up the GMAT in the last 3 years.



The GMAT is a computer adaptive test – this means that the computer continuously adapts to your level of competence and delivers questions which will test you appropriately. Hence, the difficulty level of a particular question depends on how many questions the student has answered right till that point, and not only on the previous question.

Therefore, answering the first few questions right, sets the tone for you to achieve a higher plateau for your scores. But, unfortunately, the contrary is also true. If you answer your first set of questions wrong, then you are pulling your score down.

In the above statistic, it is very clear that the student has a higher proportion of wrong answers in the first quarter and hence his overall score has never risen up to where it could have been, if it was the other way round.



Now, this is one statistic that is going to give you a lot of insights into the Verbal section. First, let us try to understand the total number of non-experimental questions:

In the first quarter, the student has answered 25% of the questions incorrect. 25% is represented by ¼. Hence, the total number of questions on which this percentage can be applied has to be a multiple of 4 i.e. 4 or 8 or 12 and so on.


Quarter 1 9
Quarter 2 9
Quarter 3 9
Quarter 4 9


The Verbal section has 36 questions. As the graph itself says, each section in the graph represents approximately one quarter of the questions which means to say that each section represents 9 questions.

So, the number of non-experimental questions in this quarter is 8.

The percentage value of 43% is represented by 3/7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in the second section should have been 7. 29% represents 2/7, so the number of non-experimental questions should have been 7. In the fourth section, 50% represents ½; so the number on which the 50% can be applied should be an even number and naturally, it should be 8 non-experimental questions in the last section.

When we compare the current breakup of experimental and non-experimental questions in the GMAT, with the previous version, the comparison looks like the one shown below:



So, we can summarise that a total of 5 experimental questions have been taken off the test and also that there has been no change in the number of non-experimental questions.



A careful observation of the above statistic reveals the fact that the accuracy rate has been severely compromised in the last section, because the student has rushed through the questions, probably in an effort to complete in time or has just panicked.



The student has consistently maintained an average time of around 1 minute 45 seconds in all the other sections except CR, where he/she has taken almost 15 seconds more. This points towards a situation where the student was probably over-analysing the questions, especially given the nature of the topic.

What are the newest features of the new GMAT Enhanced Score Report?



This is a new feature which has been added to the ESR to let the student identify his rankings, if he/she were to be ranked solely based on the sub-sections. Comparing the performance of the student and the respective times taken by the student per question in the sub-sections, it is a fairly straight-forward conclusion that Critical Reasoning is a problem area for the student, where a drastic improvement is needed.



This is another new feature that has been introduced – measurement of performance in the three fundamental areas on which the GMAT tests a student – CR, RC and SC. Again, clearly, the student has not given his/her best performance in the CR section, with the best strike rate being 50%.

In addition, this statistic also tells us about how the student performed in the different subsections under each fundamental skill, which is exactly what a student looks forward to, from a report of this caliber – agreed, this feature could have been introduced much earlier so that more students could have benefitted from it, but, as they say, ‘Better late than never’.

Quant Section:

In the quant section, the ESR provides data about the overall performance in the section and also based on fundamental skills like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry etc., similar to the Verbal section.



The above score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile and hence this student has scored more than 67 percent of the students who have taken the test. It is pertinent to note, here, that the Quant section is quite demanding in terms of accuracy; this is to say that a decrease of even 1 point in the score brings your percentile down by several points.



Similar to the performance of this student in the Verbal section, the first and the second quarters show a trend where the student has answered more questions incorrect and hence this has had an impact on where his score settles down at. We can also observe that, in the third quarter, the student has made some amends by improving his accuracy, as can be seen in the following statistic.



We can do a similar analysis of the number of non-experimental questions in each quarter of the Quant section. By now, you will be familiar with the interpretation of the percentage values and using them to calculate the number of questions on which the said percentage is applied.

In all the four quarters, the percentages represent a fraction with a denominator of 7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in all the four quarters is 7. The total number of questions in the GMAT, as per the revised pattern, has reduced from 37 to 31. These 31 questions can be broken up into approximately four equal quarters in the following way:


Quarter 1 8
Quarter 2 8
Quarter 3 8
Quarter 4 7


Hence, except the last quarter, we can see that there was one experimental question in each of the other quarters. So the reduction in the number of question in the entire section has happened by way of reduction in the number of experimental questions from 9 to 3.

A comparison of the breakup of the experimental and non-experimental questions in the present format and the superseded format is as shown below:




Analyzing the time management chart in conjunction with the one on accuracy, although the student has improved his/her accuracy in the second quarter, it has come at a cost since he/she has taken almost 3/4th of a minute more than the allotted 2 minutes per question. This has had a cascading effect on the time management in the subsequent quarters, where the student has probably realized his/her folly and tried to compensate. But, in doing so, he/she probably overdid it and has rushed through the last quarter, which has resulted in reduced accuracy, as discussed earlier.



This is an additional statistic that the new ESR provides which gives information about the mean time taken to solve a question, based on the different fundamental skills. Looking at the sample data, the student has taken marginally more time per question in the Algebra and geometry questions, which if they were more in number, could have affected the time management in that segment of the test.




The above statistic corroborates the conclusion that we drew from the sub-section timing statistic – the student has fared relatively well in Arithmetic, compared to Algebra which is reflected in the increased average time per question in Algebra. We can draw a similar inference on the performance of the student in the Data Sufficiency section, although, in this case, the increased time per question has translated to a better accuracy rate.



This is probably the most important piece of information, for someone who wants to identify grey areas in his/her performance and improve on them. Geometry and Algebra are clearly the areas where this student has to make rapid improvements if he/she wants to improve his/her score in quant and therefore, his/her overall score.


ESR for canceled GMAT score:

If you have reached this point in the Blog, it can mean two things – you are someone who really wanted to know whether it is worthwhile or not to invest on the ESR, which is something that should be relatively clear by now; or you are someone who is wondering if this blog also has information on whether an ESR is available for a test which was canceled by the aspirant.

If a test taker cancels his/her GMAT score, he/she can still use the same ESR authentication code to access his/her ESR. However, this will not be possible if his/her scores were revoked due to a policy violation.

Note that, there have been cases where the ESR authentication code was received by the test taker after 2 or 3 days (sometimes even more) from the test date. In case this does not happen on its own, a mail can be sent to GMAC following which the activation of the ESR authentication code should happen.

We hope that this clarifies the slight confusion which may have prevailed on this particular topic.


CrackVerbal Tip on time management in the Verbal and the Quant sections:

The time allotted for the Verbal section is 65 minutes. We recommend the following strategy to maximize your right answers, whilst not compromising on the timing:


45 minutes left 10 questions completed
27 minutes left 20 questions completed
9 minutes left 30 questions completed
End of allotted time 36 questions completed


Coming to the strategy for the Quant section, we recommend that you follow the following:


45 minutes left 8 questions completed
27 minutes left 17 questions completed
9 minutes left 26 questions completed
End of allotted time 31 questions completed

The Way Ahead:

The revised ESR report, in keeping with the revised GMAT, has become more student-friendly and allows you more elbow space to fine-tune your strategies, especially if you are planning to take the GMAT again.

Although it costs you an additional $30, we feel that it is still worth the money you pay for it, since it pays you back in terms of providing you with all the information you require to better your efforts. Additionally, if you are thinking of getting your ESR analysed by a mentor, it provides the mentor with enough inputs to be able to guide you towards your goal of a great score on the GMAT.


  • February, 13th, 2019
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What do schools look for in the MBA Admission essay?

MBA Essay
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Giving GMAT and acing it, is just the first step on the long road towards the admission to a b-school. There is no guarantee that a great GMAT score (upwards of 750) will get you the final admit to a top b-school.
As the b-school themselves say, GMAT scores play a vital role in the selection of a candidate but are not so vital that a great score guarantees an admit by itself.
B-schools abroad only take students who they think will bring a lot to the class in terms of skill, experience and quality. 85 percent of the learning in an MBA program abroad is from your colleagues rather than from the professors.
Keeping this in mind, the schools want you to present an accurate portrait of yourself, helping them gauge who you are and what you will bring to the table.
It is for this reason; they have what they call, The Admission Essays.
Admission essays are the first round of the admission process, after you have taken the GMAT. Typically leading b-schools will ask you 3-5 questions on an assortment of questions that aim to bring out your real self. Questions may test you on different aspects of your personality and bring out your creativity and originality.
Here we give you some sample questions asked by b-schools in their essays and what they are looking for in an applicant based on their questions.

The quintessential Why MBA question

Almost all the b-schools want to know this. The questions may be direct or may acquire different avatars, but seeking the same truth, “WHY MBA”

Here are the different avatars of the question asked by different b-schools

1. Why MBA from X b-school?
2. What are your career aspirations? What do you need to learn at Stanford to achieve them? (Stanford)
3. (a) What choices have you made that led you to your current position?
(b) Why pursue an MBA at this point in your life?
(c) What is your career goal upon graduation from NYU Stern? What is your long-term career goal? (NYU Stern)
4. Describe your career goals. How will the Ross MBA help you to achieve your goals? (Ross Michigan)
5. Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path (Duke Fuqua)
6. What are your professional goals immediately after you receive your MBA? What are your long-term career aspirations? Why are you choosing to pursue an MBA and why now? (Yale)
7. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (INSEAD)
8. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (Harvard Business School)
This is the most important and the most frequently asked question by almost all b-schools. And it is this question that they want to separate wheat from the chaff.
B-schools, ask this question to understand your past and what made you to take this decision of pursuing an MBA. They want to weed out people who do an MBA, without knowing what to do with it. And believe us they know a serious candidate when they see an answer to this question,
This is the question that will allow you to show your personality and your thought process. This is the place where you display your lucidity and clarity of thought. Here is where you show the pains that you have taken and your hunger for the MBA.
You can show what homework you have done about the course, the b-school and your career in general. Don’t let this question be a tribute to yourself, but a eulogy about the school and how it will help you achieve your short term and long term goals.

Remember some basic facts while answering questions


Be Realistic:

Do not portray your aspiration to a Steve Jobs by day and Mother Teresa by night. Remember an MBA is not something that will guarantee future success and it depends on individual talents as much as the education.
The career aspirations must be high, but no so high that they sound ludicrous. You have to draw the line between realism and incredible, and stop at realism. (Also remember Steve Jobs never thought he will be what he is today. And in all probability he would not have written an essay as he is not an MBA).

Align your future goals to your current career:

Remember MBA abroad is an enhancement degree and not a degree in itself. So it makes better sense for you to align your future goals to your present career.
So it will make sense for you tell, ‘Right now I am a senior software engineer where I have noticed all these flaws in delivery. I want to do an MBA, get into a management role and correct it.”
This will give you a better chance than telling, “I am a PL/SQL expert and after doing my MBA, I want to be a marketing guru and sell soap.” In the latter, the admission committee reaction in all probability will be “Are you smoking bro?”

Do not save anything for the swim back:

This is a line from the movie ‘Gattacca’. Here the main protagonist and his brother play a game called ‘Chicken’ where they swim out to the sea and the first one who gives up and swims for the shore is the loser.
The brother always wins, because of his better stamina. However at a critical juncture in the movie, the protagonist challenges his brother and wins the contest. When asked how he did it, he simply says, “I never saved anything for the swim back.”
This might be the story of your MBA application essay. If you say, I want to start a mobile application company and with an MBA, I will also have a fall-back option, they will think that you are not confident of yourself. And they don’t like people who save something for the swim back.

What you should not do?



Do not feel sorry for yourself, If you think you have not done extraordinary things. No b-school expects you to be a Bill Gates when you apply there and quite frankly no one is. Remember, even the World’s youngest ‘Billionaire’ Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of  Facebook) stole his idea.
So be proud of yourself and don’t lie to get that edge. And also know if you are honest you don’t have to remember anything.

Make it all about yourself:

If you fail to talk about the specifics of the program and the course and how that will help you, the schools on their part will consider you to be another self-obsessed narcissist who has applied for reasons other than genuine.

Set your mark at such a low level that you do not need an MBA:

If you state that, at the end of my MBA, all you want to be is the Manager of your project, which quite frankly does not need an MBA, you will get the dreaded ‘dunk’ mail. Set your goals sufficiently high but not as high as they deem it to be incredible.
If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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