GMAT Scores

What are the relevant GMAT scores for top schools. Do you really need a 720 to be considered a good candidate?

First let’s define “top” schools. That is a bit of a loaded term and I am USA-centered. So, niceities aside, top school by definition on this page simply means – Harvard, Stanford, Wharton. Second Tier Schools are defined as the top 10 schools – so basically, the next 15+/- schools. You’re looking at Columbia, Duke, Tuck, and even a few more prestigious state schools: Haas, UVA, UNC, UT – though the state schools really have more of a regional pull. For Third tier, we define those as great regional schools. The fact that you have an MBA from a regional school won’t hold you back professionally relative to the other tiers, unless you move out of the region. Third tier schools are hampered by a more limited network, they are essentially great schools for the education with limited network reach – no matter what the school brochure says.

TOP Tier: International Recognition
Second Tier: Super-Regional and decent US recognition, Most of the better International Schools land here
Third Tier: Great Regional programs

When I provide personal advising services for those ready to dive in to b-school, I help the candidate assess his overall fit depending on his career aspirations. A low GPA, low GMAT can be overcome by the right student with the right objective at the right school.

Here’s how I look at GMAT scores in relation to your overall application. Keep in mind I have done admission counseling for over a decade now so this is an experiential chart, not a hard and fast rule.

Nothing in this process is set in stone.

The $ signs indicate an increased chance of having a little cash thrown your way. Schools have different needs. Some need to pick up GMAT points to look better in the various MBA rankings, but others need different forms of diversity: ethnic, social, geographical, etc.

For the “white males” who lament the seeming demise of opportunities for admission (one referred to himself as an endangered species…), I’ve worked with plenty of white males who have been offered FULL merit-based compensation packages at second tier schools with scores around 730, even the over-abundant “white male investment banker.” So, stop with the belly-aching. Man-up.

Here’s the real deal, if you are an ordinary person with ordinary aspirations and ordinary talents, don’t expect an extraordinary school to be interested. Period.

If, on the other hand, you can tap into that part of yourself that is extraordinary, then you have a story to tell and can potentially carve a place for yourself in the next class.

So, go get as good a GMAT as possible, but do not despair if you fall below your initial target.

The GMAT is totally learnable – the question is, do you have the time it will take YOU to do the work to make that happen. I have had students prepare in as little as 2 weeks and I have students who come to me after 2 years of self-study to finish the process. How dedicated are you?

Leave a Comment