What are the GMAT scores you need to be aiming for in order to win admission to one of the leading full-time MBA programs in the US? An analysis of the averages seen among 2016’s entering classes at 20 top schools has much to reveal.
Average GMAT scores
Students in the MBA class of 2018 at three business schools in the US hold a median average GMAT score of 730 among the 20 institutions analyzed here. Those schools are Wharton, Yale and Harvard. In case that number isn’t high enough for you already, an average (rather than median average) of 737 is recorded at Stanford GSB.
While only two schools among the 20 have median or average scores in the 720s this year (MIT Sloan and the Kellogg School), there are seven in the 710s. In addition, Michigan Ross isn’t too far off the 710s with a recorded average of 708 for its class of 2018, while UT Austin and Cornell both have averages bang on the 700-mark this year.
Only three schools have an average GMAT score beneath 700 this year (not counting Goizueta, which does not post an average). Those schools are USC Marshall (692), Owen Vanderbilt (691) and the Kelley School (670). The average of all averages recorded here is 713, which only serves to emphasize how many admitted MBA students in the US are surpassing the 700 threshold. Time to get to work!
* Sources: Official b-school websites. Please note that some schools record the median average score while others record the mean average
Ranges recorded for the class of 2018
If you found that the first section made for truly terrifying reading, then it’s important to bear in mind that while the annual average GMAT score can give you an indication of what an admissions team might be after, most business schools also publish the range in which most of their admitted class scored. These can be more illustrative of the ballpark you need to aim for.
The standard thing for leading US schools to do here is to publish the range in which 80% of their admitted class scored. This information is supplied by 14 of the schools in our analysis, and might make for more encouraging reading. This is because only one of the 14 schools (Wharton) begins its 80% range at the 700 threshold. Scores of 690 or 680 (each of which are recorded by four schools) are much more common for the bottom end of these ranges.
Of course, it is equally prudent to consider the top end of these same ranges. Among our sample, a range of 70 points is fairly common among students enrolled in the class of 2018, meaning that an 80% range beginning at 690 might stretch all the way up to 760, for instance. This particular range is posted by MIT Sloan and suggests that just as many students scored between its average of 724 and 760 as they did between 690 and 724.
GMAT highs and lows
One of the most common questions applicants ask about the GMAT is whether a relatively low score can ruin an otherwise top-notch application. In response, admissions staff will often point to the reason they seek a GMAT score in the first place – as evidence of your suitability for the academic rigors of an MBA degree. However, most will also emphasize that it’s the full profile of a candidate that they’re interested in and, consequently, a strong showing in all other aspects of an application can indeed compensate for a lower-than-average GMAT score.
Need proof? One candidate admitted to Wharton’s class of 2018 was admitted with a score of 570 – a full 160 points below its median. Elsewhere, a score of 560 was good enough for one member of the latest class at NYU Stern in which, incidentally, 11% submitted a GRE score in place of the GMAT and 3% submitted both tests.
It seems counterproductive to end with a look at some of the lowest successful GMAT scores seen in the US this year, so consider instead the highest score among the latest crop of MBA students at Goizueta (780) and at Stanford (790) – and that’s out of a total possible score of 800. Good luck!