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What GMAT Score Do You Need For Harvard?

A good GMAT score is a key part of your MBA application to Harvard Business School. We tell you the MBA class average GMAT score for Harvard, the GMAT score range, and what score you should aim for

Tue Feb 8 2022

BusinessBecause  

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It’s always difficult to guesstimate the GMAT Focus Edition score you need to apply to Harvard Business School (HBS), without sight of the rest of your application. Like all business schools, Harvard will consider your application holistically. 

Your GMAT exam score forms part of your MBA application which includes your resume, references, academic transcripts, and essays. Although a good GMAT Focus Edition score is not a guaranteed ticket to Harvard, it certainly helps your application.

So, what GMAT Focus Edition score should you aim for?


Harvard MBA Average GMAT


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69% of the Harvard MBA class of 2025 took the GMAT, down from 71% for the previous class. A look at the MBA class average GMAT score for Harvard is a good place to start to get a ballpark figure of what GMAT Focus Edition score you should aim for when applying for the school

Harvard reports its class median, rather than average, GMAT score. Harvard’s median GMAT in 2023 was 740. This is in the 96th percentile, making its relative competitiveness similar to that of scores between 685 and 695 on the GMAT Focus Edition, which replaced the traditional version of the test on February 1st, 2024. This gives you an idea of where you are, at least in terms of your competitiveness around the GMAT. 

Based on the 2023 version of the test, when broken down by GMAT Quant and Verbal sections, Harvard's median quant score is 49, and Harvard's median verbal score is 42. 

Harvard’s median GMAT is one of the highest in the world—its closest competition is the Stanford MBA, whose class average GMAT is 738.

However, a GMAT Focus Edition score below 675 will likely not be a deal breaker for Harvard, provided the rest of your application is exceptional.


Harvard GMAT range


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As well as looking at average GMAT scores for Harvard, it makes sense to look at the GMAT range for the business schools you apply to. The GMAT range tells you what both the lowest and highest-scoring students in an MBA class earned on their GMAT exam

Harvard’s GMAT score range for the MBA class of 2025 goes from 500 to 790 on the pre-2024 edition of the GMAT, meaning HBS accepted at least one student with a 500 GMAT test score (considered low) up to 790. This is in the 100th percentile on the GMAT and is near to a perfect score; scores with relative competitiveness on the GMAT Focus Edition range from 785 to the maximum GMAT Focus Edition score of 805.

While GMAT scores in the 500s are considered low, many of the world’s best business schools admit students with these scores.   

Shaifali Aggarwal, HBS alumna and founder of Ivy Groupe, a boutique MBA admissions consultancy, says she’s seen candidates overcoming weak GMAT scores by demonstrating strength in the other areas that HBS values—namely, a ‘habit of leadership’ and ‘engaged community citizenship’.

“The GMAT score by itself will not get a candidate admitted to HBS. Who an applicant is holistically is much more important,” she says.

It is important to take an honest look at your MBA application as a whole to gauge how competitive you might be in terms of the areas that HBS values in applicants. It’s also worth noting that there is no minimum GMAT score requirement to apply.

However, as a rule, you should be aiming to score on the higher end of the GMAT range if you want to stand a better chance of being accepted into your target school.

Note also the Harvard MBA quant and verbal GMAT range. The lowest verbal GMAT score recorded by a Harvard MBA student in the class of 2023 was 28 compared with 32 for quant, meaning Harvard accepted MBA students with lower verbal scores than quant.


How I Got Into The MBA At Harvard Business School—And 4 Ways You Can Too

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Should you apply to Harvard?


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There are two important pieces of advice that admissions consultants, HBS MBA admissions, and alumni have shared over the years when it comes to applying to Harvard.

The first, from MBA admissions consultants, is quite practical: Apply to a vertical list of schools. That means choosing to apply across schools with different levels of competitiveness (in relation to your specific application). 

Bear in mind that Harvard Business School has one of the most competitive programs with an acceptance rate of about 9%. These numbers show that remarkable people are rejected from HBS all the time. Go for it, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

The second piece of advice is from HBS MBA admissions and alumni: don’t self-select out. There are a lot of misconceptions about the type of person and profile that Harvard is looking for. Some of the most capable and interesting applicants tend to underestimate themselves and are plagued by imposter syndrome. 

Don’t drop out of the race before it starts. Be authentic in your application. Put your best foot forward, but make sure you tell your story, as opposed to the story you presume the admissions committee wants to hear. 

The GMAT, or GRE, is an important part of that story, but it’s not everything.

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Next Read:

Average GMAT Scores For The World’s Top MBA Programs


This article’s lead image is credited to ©FlorianPilz and re-used under this license. The data in this article is updated annually and for the current Harvard MBA class of 2023.

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