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A good GMAT score depends on the b-school you apply to, says experts

SOURCE: Wojtek RADWANSKI/AFP
Some universities list their average GMAT scores on their website, which should give students a good idea of what score they should strive for, say experts.


By U2B Staff 

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If you’re planning to enrol in an MBA programme, chances are, you may be required to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). The GMAT is part of the admission process to many business and management schools in the world, including top ones in the US. But what makes a good GMAT score?

While the pandemic has meant that some business schools are making the GMAT optional, some schools still recommend that candidates submit their results to demonstrate academic preparedness. 

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GMAT scores are not always the sole predictor as to whether or not you’ll be successful in business school, but they are typically held in high regard by many universities, which means it’s important to strive for a strong score anyway.

For the uninitiated, GMAT is a computer-adaptive test that serves as a standard measurement tool graduate business schools use to predict students’ chances of success. A GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800, while the test takers’ score is valid for five years after the test date.

With the GMAT being a requirement for entry into many business schools, you’ll want to ensure you aim for the highest score possible when sitting the test. 

A good GMAT score varies depending on the school you plan to enrol in

If you’re wondering what a “good score” entails, it’s worth noting that some universities list their average GMAT scores on their website, which should give students a good idea of what score they should strive for, say business school admissions experts.

Speaking to US News and World Report, Gordon College in Massachusetts’ Executive Director of the Master of Science in Financial Analysis programme, Alexander S. Lowry said the goal of a b-school applicant should be to get a GMAT score that is so high that admissions officers have no doubts about academic preparedness. 

Lowry said applicants to the top 10 b-schools prefer applicants with impressive test scores, which means applicants with a score ranging between 700 and 800 stand to wow the admissions officers.

He added that a perfect score of 800 can compensate for any weaknesses in the non-score portions of a business school application, which can help students to attend a highly selective school.

Meanwhile, Phil Strazzulla, a former venture capitalist with an MBA from Harvard Business School, told the US News and World Report that gaining admission to a top 10 business school in the US is difficult without an impressive GMAT score.

“Almost any student at a top-tier school thinks of 700 as the baseline for a ‘good’ GMAT score,” he said, adding that anything that is in the 99th percentile, 760 and up, is “truly stellar”. He believes a score below 680 will hurt candidates’ ability to get into a top-10 school.

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For students targeting a mid-range b-school

If you’re planning to pursue your MBA at a lower rank school, a lower GMAT score might be acceptable. 

Lowry said a score of 650 and above would typically qualify candidates for consideration at the top 20 business graduate programmes, but a score in the 600s might suffice for a top 50 programme.

But what happens if you get a low GMAT score? That doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for candidates.

Supposing you have an otherwise flawless credential, Lowry said this could convince admissions officers to overlook that flaw in students’ applications. 

“If everything else you’ve got is amazing, you can have a lower score and still get into a top school,” he was quoted saying. “But if you’ve got a weakness somewhere else, you’ve got to have a good GMAT.” 

GMAT scores may not be the be-all and end-all

Despite the importance of getting a good GMAT score, Ivy Groupe CEO Shaifali Aggarwal said prospective business students should be aware that many factors besides GMAT scores matter in the MBA admissions process.

Also evaluated are a candidate’s undergraduate GPA, professional trajectory, and extracurricular involvement; a candidate’s gender, demographic, and vocation also come into play. 

“In general, though, business school applicants should see what the average or median GMAT score of a business school is and then aim to at least meet that level in order to demonstrate to the admissions committee that they can handle the rigor of the MBA curriculum,” he said.