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GMAT Score Range For Top Business Schools Like Stanford & Harvard

Find out what the GMAT score range is for top business schools like Harvard and Stanford, and what GMAT score to aim for to get accepted

Wed Sep 13 2023

The GMAT is one of the most important aspects of a business school application as it is a quality indicator for schools when measuring your suitability for an MBA program.

GMAT score ranges tell you what both the lowest and highest-scoring students in an MBA class earned on their GMAT exam.

Like average GMAT scores, when applying to a top MBA program, understanding the range of GMAT scores that current students at your target school submitted—and were accepted for—will help you understand what GMAT score you should aim for.

Applying to business school can be expensive, so if your GMAT score is significantly below a school’s GMAT test score range, it may not be worth applying. 

By analyzing GMAT score ranges, you can determine which schools you have a higher chance of getting into, or where you may need to increase your score to get accepted.

The traditional GMAT exam was replaced by the shorter GMAT Focus Edition on February 1st, 2024. This updated version of the exam has a new scoring system. Below, we show the most recent class averages based on the pre-2024 version of the test, alongside an approximation of how the competitiveness of these scores compares to scores on the GMAT Focus Edition. We delve more into these changes below.

* These business schools provided no score range, only a class average. All scores are based on the most recent class data. 
** Based on 2022 data
These score ranges are based on relative competitiveness and are not a direct conversion of the 2023 scores. See the GMAC concordance chart for more information.

What is the new GMAT Focus Edition score comparison?

On February 1st, 2024 the GMAT Focus Edition replaced the traditional version. Alongside changes to the format of the test, this also brings changes to the scoring.

Don't worry: If you sat the GMAT before February 1st, 2024, your GMAT scores will still be valid for five years as normal. However, it may be challenging to work out whether your score on the GMAT Focus Edition is strong enough for your target programs. 

To help you better understand the competitiveness of your score compared to average GMAT scores from previous years, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), creators of the GMAT, have provided a concordance table.

When we discuss average GMAT scores below, we quote the old scores as they appear in the schools' class profiles. We may offer a comparative score range that represents the same level of relative competitiveness based on the GMAC concordance table in brackets. Note that this is not a direct conversion of the scores but rather an indication of similar performance strength compared to other candidates.

What GMAT Focus Edition score to aim for?

Total GMAT Focus Edition scores range from 205 to 805. A score of 605 would put you in the 75th percentile, meaning you'd scored higher than three-quarters of test-takers. As a result, scores beneath this might be considered low by top schools. However, this is not always straightforward.

While in previous years, top business schools have accepted students with an 800 GMAT (a perfect score, equivalent to 805 in the new scoring system), accepted MBA students at the likes of Harvard Business School at Harvard University and Stanford Graduate School of Management at Stanford University scored a maximum of 790 this year. This is as competitive as scores of 775 or higher in the GMAT Focus Edition.

Harvard also accepted students who scored as low as 540, in the 35th percentile, which was the lowest accepted GMAT among the top 10. Spain’s IESE Business School accepted at least one score of 580. 

Stanford University, a school that is historically the hardest to get into worldwide, accepted students with scores as low as 630. This is in the 64th percentile; around as competitive as a score of 585 on the GMAT Focus Edition.

There have been years where top universities such as Stanford haven't accepted applicants with scores lower than 600, and years where accepted applicants scored 800.  

Scoring within the Stanford GMAT range does not automatically mean you will be accepted. However, you should aim to score on the higher end or above the GMAT range if you want a better chance of being accepted into your target school.

While it's important to use the information GMAT ranges provide, it's also important to remember there are some limitations as to what can be learned.

What GMAT ranges do not tell you is the specific scenario that comes with each submitted score. For example, was the applicant who scored the lowest in the cohort also a straight-A student in their undergraduate studies, who scored poorly on the GMAT because they were going through a difficult time?  

Likewise, was the applicant who scored the highest a C-student during their undergraduate studies who barely skated through business school admission due to their high GMAT score? 

Harvard vs Stanford GMAT range

Of course, different schools have different GMAT ranges. Harvard and Stanford accepted students who scored 600 as well as students who earned near-perfect GMAT scores.

How could it be that these top business schools accept students who scored low on the GMAT? 

This is where the limitations of GMAT ranges come into play. Maybe the student who scored a 540 at Harvard had a stellar GPA and was able to wow the admissions team during their interview. 

Maybe the person who scored a 790 at Stanford also had a poor GPA but an inspirational personal statement helped them with their admittance.

While your GMAT Focus Edition score is important, it’s not everything when it comes to applying to business school.

If you’re considering applying to MBA programs this year, download our free BusinessBecause MBA Application Guide

This article was first written by John Karageorge of MBA Insights and data is updated annually.