What is a good GMAT score? With so much information on GMAT scores out there, it's one of the biggest questions prospective business school students have
Each business school has a different policy for considering the GMAT in applications. Some will have minimum scores, others will require a minimum score in both the verbal and quantitative sections.
Some business schools may take regional GMAT averages into account, while others may waive the GMAT based on a candidate’s work experience. As a rule of thumb, the top-ranked programs will require either the GMAT or the GRE and expect competitive scores from candidates.
Average GMAT scores
Looking at the stats for admitted students at different business schools can give you a good idea of the ballpark you should be aiming for. Most business schools will indicate the average GMAT scores for their admitted students. Some will also indicate the range of scores.
Harvard Business School’s MBA class of 2020 has a median GMAT score of 730, and scores range from 610 to 790. Stanford Graduate School of Business has an average GMAT of 732 for their 2020 MBA class.
At Chicago Booth, the average GMAT score of students admitted for fall 2018 was 738 with an average quantitative score of 49. These scores put accepted candidates in the top 5% of test takers.
How do business schools view the GMAT?
Business schools see the GMAT as a way to compare international candidates across industries and disciplines. It can also be seen as a predictor of academic success in the MBA program.
Although the GMAT is an important part of your business school application, it is just one part of it. A high GMAT score is no guarantee of acceptance. Top programs are highly competitive, and most applicants have a 'good' GMAT score.
While you should take averages into account when applying, there is no straightforward calculator to predict your chances of acceptance. The rest of your profile matters. Excellent work experience could compensate somewhat for a lower score, just as poor interpersonal skills could detract from a higher score.
Note that business schools care about diversity in the classroom, so your application could be more or less competitive based on how similar or different you are to other applicants.
How is the GMAT scored?
The GMAT is a computer adaptive test which means that the difficulty level of questions changes depending on your answers to previous questions. The test will get harder as you get harder questions correct, and easier as you get questions wrong, but the difficulty level of questions as well as the number of questions answered correctly will determine your final score.
GMAT scores range from 200 to 800 and according to mba.com two thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600. The GMAT consists of four sections: the verbal section, the quantitative section, integrated reasoning and an analytical writing assignment. While business schools have access to scores from each section, your all-important score out of 800 is made up of the verbal and quantitative scores only.
You’ll be given a breakdown of your scores (from 0 to 60) for the verbal and the quantitative sections, and these will be converted to your score out of 800. Note that the verbal section is weighted slightly higher in this total score.
GMAT scores also include percentile rankings. This means if you score in the 60th percentile that you’ve done better than 60% of test takers and worse than 40% of test takers. Scoring 700 in the GMAT means you’ve scored better than 88% of test takers.
Ultimately, the definition of a good GMAT score changes from business school to business school and candidate to candidate.
If you are applying to Stanford, a 700 GMAT score is below average. At many schools a 650 GMAT score is considered a good score.
Think critically about the strength of your application and how competitive your GMAT score is before choosing which schools to apply to.