Q- What GRE percentiles are competitive for MBA programs?

A- We’re often asked about whether the GRE score is welcome by top MBA programs.  The answer is exactly what the MBA program application websites convey: the GRE is accepted and welcome and there’s no downside to submitting the GRE score.

But here is the fineprint:  MBA programs will expect a higher GRE score percentile because the test is known to be easier quantitatively. We encourage our clients to aim higher on a percentile basis, relative to the quant percentile on the GMAT.

Opting to submit the GRE instead of the GMAT doesn’t mean that any GRE score is acceptable. The GRE score itself, especially the quantitative score, matters and that’s not to be ignored.

Below are percentiles associated with scales scores for verbal and quantitative. Without accounting for an applicant’s career path and education foundation, we generally like to see 70% minimum or higher if the goal is to increase admit chance for top MBA programs.

Another proxy for a good score can be found by using this conversion tool to see your GRE score on a GMAT scale.

Request a free MBA analysis of your candidacy and get feedback on what test score you should aim for.

GRE Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning
Scores: Scaled and Percentiles

Source: ETS
Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning
170 99 96
169 99 94
168 98 91
167 98 89
166 97 86
165 96 84
164 94 81
163 92 79
162 90 76
161 88 74
160 85 70
159 82 67
158 79 64
157 75 61
156 72 57
155 67 54
154 63 50
153 59 46
152 53 43
151 49 39
150 44 35
149 39 32
148 35 28
147 31 25
146 28 21
145 25 18

Q- What do the GRE percentiles mean?

A- The percentiles represent the number of test takers who scored below the select scaled score between 2017 and 2020.

Q- But, why can’t I just aim for the average reported GRE score that is listed on the MBA program website?

A- The reported GRE scores on the MBA program websites aren’t entirely reflective for any given applicant because they are averages. They reflect only a fraction of the admitted class. These averages are not adjusted by crucial variables such as demographic, function, industry, career path, college caliber, or the extent of quantitative exposure.

There are always low GRE score applicants accepted each year.  We encourage our clients to put their best foot forward– aim for the best possible score.

In our work at SBC, we see perfect or near perfect GRE scores at least several times on a weekly basis. So, we see the range of scores as reflected in the chart above to be accurate relative to our inquiry and client pool.  MBA programs are seeing a similar range of test scores.

Q-   What are examples of good GRE scores for a school like HBS?

Here is a sampling of GRE scores from our HBS admits from the current season to demonstrate the range:

V161, Q167 V160, Q163
V160, Q159 V168, Q166
V166, Q170 V170, Q170
V169, Q164 V165, Q165

Request a free MBA analysis of your candidacy and get feedback on what test score you should aim for.

Here are additional helpful test prep articles:

Test retaking, reporting, cancellations and online test options

New GRE updates here

GMAT vs GRE: What’s the right strategy?

Should I take the GMAT or opt for a test waiver?

What practice test options are there?

What is a good test score?

GMAT Score Chart: How to Use It?


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