What is a good GMAT score?
In our last blog post on test requirements, we shared the reasons why top MBA programs evaluate applicants on different dimensions, such as test scores. Latest media reports have touted that average GMAT scores are rising for reasons explored here by our friends at FindMBA.
Here we present the average test scores and test score range for the top US and European programs. We will also share a snapshot of the internal dialog among our consultant team about MBA applicants and test score scenarios. Both dimensions should help you to address the topic of: What is a good GMAT score.
GMAT Scores by Program
Harvard and Stanford
Harvard and Stanford’s class profile stats inclusive of GMAT and GPA are comparable between the two programs, as the chart below shows. Notably, GPA and GMAT score averages for both programs have increased in recent seasons.
|Class of 2022 Admissions Stats||Harvard||Stanford|
The GRE has become more common and is considered an acceptable replacement for the GMAT. One in four and one in five students got in with a GRE score for GSB and HBS, respectively.
Wharton and Columbia
|Class of 2022 Admission Stats||Wharton||Columbia|
Kellogg and Booth
|Class of 2022 Admission Stats||Kellogg||Booth|
MIT and Haas
|Class of 2022 Admission Stats||MIT Sloan||Berkeley|
INSEAD and LBS
|Class of 2022 Admission Stats||INSEAD||LBS|
|GMAT Range*||670-750||Not available|
Duke and Darden
|Class of 2022 Admission Stats||Duke||Darden|
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GMAT Score Scenarios
Q– Should my client show the track record that she has at least tried it twice by reinstating her original score? I have a client who has taken the GMAT twice. The first time she took it, she got a 670 and canceled it. The second time, she got a 710 V 41/94%, Q 46/62%. She has zero desire to retake it and has adjusted her school expectations accordingly.
A- A former Rice MBA Admissions Officer on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team shared, “I only used the highest, reported score in my evaluation–other test attempts neither factored in nor biased me on the highest score.”
A former MIT Admissions Officer on our team clarified, “I don’t think a specific mention of the lower score adds value in any way. That 710 is strong enough to stand on its own without explanation.”
A former NYU Admissions Officer on our team took a different approach and said, “I always liked to see that they took it more than once. So I would vote to reinstate the score.”
Q– What overall score should my client aim for?
A- A former Kellogg Admissions Officer on our team shared, “My rule of thumb is that if you’re less than the average by more than 10 points (so a 720 would be ok for M7 programs), you should try and address any issues with the GMAT score and/or retake.
Q– What quant score is risky or needs an explanation?
A- “In my opinion, a quant score in the 45+ range does not require any explanation, as it is a strong score. A quant score in the 40-44 range is competitive for top 25 programs. Whether to address will depend on other factors (e.g., bachelor’s degree, amount of quant courses, how analytical/quantitative the professional experience is, etc), ” shared a former Rice Admissions Officer on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team.
Q– Can you share an example of a recent client test-taking scenario?
A- Yes, let’s review a scenario together. We had a client who took the GMAT three times, but he was still not quite in range quant-wise for his top choice Wharton. Here are his stats:
Male with a strong track record of leadership in prestige consulting firm and then PE associate position at a small, mid-market firm with less than one year of experience. Graduated Magna cum laude from a top 50 college with a liberal arts major. Strong leadership-oriented extracurricular activities. GMAT- 690, quant (41, 45%), verbal (44, 98%). Latino.
Which of the following should we do?
1) Take the GRE
2) Retake the GMAT
3) Apply Rd 1 with the current score.
“For a high-achieving, under-represented minority candidate, a 690 is not a problem for Wharton. The quant is the hurdle, we usually advise 56% or higher. Otherwise, apply to Consortium schools to mitigate risks,” shared a LATAM expert on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team.
Another expert, a former Rice Admissions Officer, added, “A 41 quant score is not outstanding, but it’s not bad despite what the percentile is (quant percentiles are bit misleading these days). With analytical work experience and good grades in quant courses in college, there is evidence he can do the work. A short optional showcasing this evidence is his best course of action.”
Q– Have average GMAT scores for MBA programs increased and does that affect me?
A- Recent media stories have asserted that, “GMAT scores have risen.” From our experience, we know this reflects the bias in reporting only GMAT scores so that MBA programs can get a flashy headline. MBA admissions has become much more flexible on test options; this allows programs to cherry-pick the higher GMAT score candidates. For example, Georgetown saw a one-year 14-point increase in average GMAT scores at the same time that the school has started to accept the Executive Assessment, and that its share of GRE submissions has grown to 48%.
Many test takers who would otherwise score much lower on the GMAT have opted to take alternative tests such as the Executive Assessment or the GRE exam. MBA programs who tout higher average GMAT scores for marketing value are likely just accepting far more applicants who opt to take these other exams or those who opt to submit without a test altogether.
Test-optional or test waiver features, another avenue through which programs can cherry-pick high GMAT score applicants, are much more common now — as a result of the pandemic — among the lower-ranked programs and even a top-7 school: MIT Sloan.
Across our client pool, we see test scores that are in line with the score ranges from the previous seasons; we don’t see that scores are higher but rather we advise our clients on alternative test options more commonly. Applicants would be wise to consider alternative test options unless they have test scores for the GMAT that are at or above average, unless their profile has true differentiating qualities.
Of course, there could be variables contributing more directly to the increase in GMAT scores, such as applicants’ taking the test multiple times to cancel their lower scores. Also, the pandemic afforded much more discretionary time for candidates to study harder and go for the retakes.
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Here’s additional test-taking advice: