EssaySnark has long been a fan of giving the adcom every reason to want to admit you and in the category of presenting a conservative approach to your app strategy, we traditionally have extolled the virtues of the GMAT over the GRE at least if you’re looking to get an MBA. We kinda cover this a lot here on the blahg — this is the full ‘snarchive of GMAT/GRE posts if you want to do further wandering and understand why.
However, tides have shifted and the GMAT vs GRE playing field is evening out, at least a bit.
We still think, all things being equal, the GMAT is a better test to present with your MBA apps. (Please take a gander through those ‘snarchives to understand why we say that if you need to get the reasons why.)
But we also know there’s lots of BSers who for a variety of reasons are opting for the GRE instead. At many top schools, 10-15% of applicants are presenting GRE scores these days (at next-tier schools it may be even higher) — though from what we’ve heard from the adcoms, their entering classes are not yet at 10% GRE. So that tells you straightaway that the GMAT still is at least correlated with greater success, though you also know that that does not mean it causes it.
If you are looking to put together your MBA app strategy with the GRE as the basis, then what type of score do you need to have a real shot at a top school?
Thankfully we don’t have to guess at such things.
Here’s what Stanford has reported for its 2019 class:
That may look very encouraging for anyone with a not so great GRE score. And it also would be encouraging for anyone with a not so great GMAT too. And we have to caution you, don’t succumb to false encouragement!
While yes, Stanford is clearly to be commended for the transparency, it’s all too easy to get lulled by those numbers and believe that they’re giving you a pass. Please don’t get your hopes up just because they’re showing you that yes, they’re willing to accept applicants with a wide range of scores. Just as we said recently about Harvard, Stanford has the luxury of cherrypicking whomever they want. Those with a lower GRE or GMAT got in because everything else about their profile was outstanding.
Here’s what Yale has published , also from their Class of 2019:
Pay careful attention to the data being reported, as they are not apples to apples (average vs median, full range vs 80% range) — which hopefully gives you some insights into the differences between what these schools might accept. Nobody is as picky as Stanford but there could be an argument to be made that Yale is actually more competitive. (If the distinction we’re making there is not clear, then first of all please go back to our “secret to getting into HBS” post and if you’re still not sure, you can hit us up in the comments with any questions.)
A good GRE score is wholly dependent on the specifics of your individual profile — that’s why our Comprehensive Profile Review is so valuable — but as a ballpark answer to “What’s a good score?” we’ll tell you, we start getting extremely nervous when we see a GRE quant below that 164 that these schools have reported. We had some clients with a 161 GRE quant get into top schools last year but they were distinctive in other ways — and notably, they were turned down by the tippy-toppest of all. Was it the GRE? No, not entirely, but it couldn’t have helped that the score was lower.
Remember, one of your primary objectives with your application strategy is to not give the adcom cause for concern.
If you’re sitting here in May thinking, “Hmm, is my score high enough?” then we’d argue it is not simply by the fact that you’re asking the question, and that that’s not the right question to be asking.
Instead you should be asking, “When should I schedule my retest?”
(And we’ll give you the answer! All testing for Round 1 applications needs to be done within the next six weeks!!!!)
You may also be interested in:
- “Is a 710 GMAT enough to get in?” (2018 edition)
- “What’s a good undergrad GPA?”
Tell us what you think.