With our recent posts encouraging BSers to take advantage of this moment in time to improve their profiles, including on the very important topic of GMAT score, you may be wondering, “Well heck EssaySnark, it would help for you to let me know if I’m really in trouble on the GMAT or not. I’m hearing so many different things. What’s a good GMAT score, anyway?”
Ah, if only there were one simple answer to this question!
We do discuss this topic quite a bit here on the blahg so doing some digging into the ‘snarchives might be worth the time. All of these posts are categorized under the “GMAT/GRE” topic, or if you’re already knowing that you’re not in the best shape on this dimension, you can jump straight to the “low GMAT” section instead.
The main caveat we can offer on the “low GMAT” posts is this: “Low” is relative.
What will be considered “low” at one school would be seen as a totally healthy and absolutely acceptable score at another.
What might be seen as “low” for one candidate could be a kind of midrange or normal score for another — so again, totally acceptable.
What might be considered “low” in one highly competitive season might be considered standard in another.
What we know is that we’re currently in a more normalized admissions environment at many of the very good schools, including Columbia and Tuck and Duke. It’s still an extreme situation at the most competitive programs like H/S/W and perhaps including places like Kellogg too.
For several years running, we saw app volumes push higher, and average GMAT scores went right along with them. It was becoming downright ridiculous at places like Darden and Ross. We believe that things have settled out again and that the statistics for the Class of 2021 (the admissions season that’s just wrapping up) the app volumes will be about the same at these schools, and the GMAT means will moderate or even start to tick down at some places.
This is all good. It was unsustainable for scores to be pushing higher and higher every year and it was royally unfair, because there were just too many well-deserving candidates who were being edged out by another person with an also-solid background and a touch-higher test score. That hardly seems fair. It’s oversimplistic to claim that schools were making margin decisions based on test scores but sometimes it did seem like that.
So in this era and the 2019-2020 admissions season to apply for the MBA Class of 2022, what would be seen as a “good” score at these schools?
Well, if you’ve got a 730 then we’re not feeling too nervous about your chances from a topline perspective; but as always, it depends on the entirety of your profile, what you offer by way of distinction, and the schools that you’re aiming for. (Shameless plug for our Comprehensive Profile Review goes here. /endshamelessplug)
Many applicants seem unaware of the importance of each individual subscore, so don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency based only on your GMAT total. If you landed a 730 but it was on the back of a superstar verbal score only, and your quant score is mired in the muck and the mud, well then we still could be concerned about your chances.
Also be careful about listening to assurances surrounding the relative safety of submitting a GRE score instead. Yes, in the past, the GRE has allowed some candidates to gain acceptance to a perhaps higher-tier school than a similar GMAT score would’ve allowed them — and that prompted boatloads of fresh candidates to go for the GRE instead of sweating through the GMAT. We haven’t seen too much shift in the data to indicate a significantly more competitive GRE landscape, but these things tend to be status-quo for quite awhile and then spike suddenly. The data that you see reported for the Class of 2020 is not necessarily what you should expect to see on GRE scores admitted to the Class of 2021, and that data won’t be released at most schools until mid to late summer at the earliest. And that will be much too late to do a pivot on your test strategy if we all discover that the GRE admissions tightened up in this past season. It’s not information that most schools are very open about, and only recently did any of them even publish any data on GRE scores. So tread carefully if you’re doing a GRE strategy. Past patterns may still hold this year, but at some point those tides will turn and the GRE pool will start becoming significantly more competitive compared to what it traditionally has been.
So, the question “Is my GMAT score good enough?” is a very important one to be asking!
Unfortunately it’s not one that anyone can answer for you without digging into your profile in some depth.
Sure, if your GMAT is a 620 then it’s easy to say that Harvard is a long shot. But even that is not something anyone can be definitive about. Because yes, it is possible to get into Harvard with a 620. Likely? No. But possible, yes.
It’s actually sometimes more probable that you can crack HBS with a lower GMAT than some other schools like Wharton. But it all comes down to the actualities of everything in your profile. There are many moving parts, and not one will be the definitive reason that you are in or you’re not. So please be cautious when you see all the consultants on the admissions boards trying to rank your chances or tell you a thumbs up or thumbs down based on scant information. It requires spending time with the entirety of a profile before you can offer any insights at all, and even then, y ou cannot say for sure how things will turn out. The actual application is needed to make a truly informed assessment. Don’t let an admissions consultant decide your chances for you; that’s the admissions director’s job at the school.
One heuristic we can offer by way of self-assessing your GMAT score: If your score is below 750, and you think you can do better, then do it. Take the test again, and nail it.
If it’s already above 730, then you probably don’t need to take it again. But if in your heart of hearts you know you can do better — and you have not tested more than 3 times already — then yeah, it’s worth it to do it one last time and nail it down.
Can you test too many times? Oh yes absolutely. This too needs to be taken into account — and please don’t be fooled by this “But I can cancel them” idea. That is a wobbly strategy — and that myth about canceling scores is so important that we’re going to dig into that topic coming up soon too.
For now, we apologize for the squirreliness of this post, where we pose a question and then never really answer it. Hopefully we’ve offered at least some tools or bumper-rails that let you examine your own current score and figure out a next step approach. If this year is your first application, then there’s a learning curve involved of who to listen to and what really matters, and all of that is totally context-sensitive, dependent upon the details of your own profile and the schools that you’re targeting. GMAT is one element under your full control. If you truly want to aim high, then do all in your power NOW to give the schools every reason to want to accept you. You don’t want to end up a reapplicant at this point next year, looking around at options and wishing you’d taken action when you first got word of it (which would be now).
Questions? We’re open for business! Lay ’em on us in the comments and we’re happy to give input, or go for that Comprehensive Profile Review if you want to roll up your sleeves and get started.
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