Trend from the last 24 months clearly shows the cut-throat competition to get a good score on the Quant part of the GMAT exam. The raw score of 50 often correlates to an 88th percentile performance in Quant, while a raw score of 49 approximately correlates to a 79th percentile performance in Quant and that is by any standards a huge difference in percentile ranking. To say the least, raw score of 49 or less effectively kills your chances to get in to the super elites like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford.
So what should a candidate do who scores 49 or less in Quant?
Now there are 2 schools of thoughts:
1) If I would be doing admissions consulting, I would probably be fooling you around trying to sell my admission consulting expertise and will definitely suggest that this is a very solid performance. But since my association with GMAT is quite old now, I know how most admission consultants play with your future by suggesting schools outside the super elites. Now the question is why? When your score is not good enough to get you in to a top US MBA program, you might be tempted to prepare a little more and then retake the test. Now the only thing is if you get a real good score it shows in your confidence level as well, and with top GMAT scores you might not opt for services from the admission consultants.
2) To tell you the truth, a raw score of 51 (the top Quant score) or may be 50 (in some cases, where the candidate scores exceptionally well in Verbal part of GMAT) is any day better than a mediocre score of may be 49 or less. If someone is eyeing anything in one of the top US MBA programs, then my money is always on Quant 51 or worst case scenario 50. The reason is that top B-schools get so many applications with QA 51 that they have the luxury to not consider someone scoring less than 80s (percentile). If someone is scoring above 95 percentile he/she is giving the admission committee a reason to look there application completely. Now if you aim for the top US B-schools, you better fasten your seat belt and take a GMAT ride again.
With this post, I hope I clear any doubts that you may have with your GMAT score and your chances of getting in to any top US MBA program. I wish you all the best for your GMAT goals.