You know your GMAT (or GRE) score is low. You’ve debated whether to take the test again, but it’s August. You’re getting stressed about deadlines coming. What if you just write the optional essay about your low score? Shouldn’t that be sufficient? You can tell the adcom that you’ll take the test again if they…
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…
This is a follow-on to some previous GRE vs GMAT posts. In case you missed those: GMAT vs GRE strategy questions: Which to take for an MBA? “I took the GMAT. If I take the GRE now, do I still have to submit the GMAT score in my MBA app?” This question isn’t about admissions…
In continuation of our recent GRE vs GMAT discussion, here’s what an intrepid BSer asked us recently: Hi snark. I’m sorry I keep asking questions but you guys are such a great source. I couldn’t find this information anywhere. I want to take the GRE because it better suits my strengths. Since I have already…
Received these inquiries almost back-to-back recently: One big question I have is the perception that schools have regarding GREs as opposed to GMATs. I know most admissions offices advertise there’s no preference, but I understand that may not necessarily be the case. I’ve taken the GREs already, mainly because there are a few joint/dual degree…
We got this question submitted through our Ask a Question! Submit an Essay! form right before Round 2 deadlines in January and we didn’t manage to tear ourselves away from the deluge of essays we were reading to deal with it then – not only because we were super busy with (paying) Brave Supplicants, but also because the answer to this person’s query is quite well covered already on this here blahg. It just required a little bit of digging.
In fact, most of your questions are likely covered on the blahg. There’s several ways you can look for those answers. You can type stuff into that little search box on the front page righthand column (you know, where it says “Search this website”) or you can browse through categories of topics using the dropdown menu beneath it (where it says “Select Category”). If you’re a super techie type you could even use good ol’ Google to do the heavy lifting for you.
Anyway, this question is not a bad one, it’s just misunderstanding the way things work.
Here’s what we got:
I just purchased the HBS Strategy Guide and I think its an incredible resource. In fact, I’ve already shredded through 2/3 of it and I literally purchased it about an hour and half ago.
I had a quick question as relates to the GRE vs. GMAT at HBS. The guide advises that a GMAT score should be submitted over a GRE score if you haven’t yet taken a test (pg. 19), but there is no advice provided – and apologies if I am incorrect on this – on what to do if you have both a GMAT and a GRE score, especially if your GRE score is better than your GMAT score.
I have taken both the GMAT and GRE, of which my GRE (especially quant) is light years beyond my GMAT, the 47th %ile on the GMAT vs. the 75th %ile on the GRE, with additional gains in verbal on the GRE to boot.
Additionally, this leads to some ambiguity in the guide as it seems to subtly suggest that the GMAT is preferred over at HBS. Given Dee Leopold’s public revelation that the adcom is agnostic as to which test to submit, it would be wonderful to have a scenario, such as the one above, addressed in the guide. I’m sure there’s others here that would benefit from such insight. If only we could submit both scores this year…
At any rate, kudos on a fantastic school guide series. The HBS guide was so informative I bought 4 others. Keep up the good work!
Here’s the deal, Brave Supplicant: Yes you shredded the GRE. And yes, HBS is agnostic to which test you submit (Dee Leopold said as much in a post on her blog on the subject last Fall and the school was one of the first to even allow GREs at all, and we also touch on it in that HBS essay guide). But just because you can submit a bright and shiny GRE score to Harvard or any other school, does not mean the happy GRE result you received is necessarily equivalent to its GMAT counterpart.
We actually cover this quite a bit here already – which again is why we didn’t feel too terribly awful when we weren’t able to directly respond to this very nice compliment-spewing BSer at the time.
If you perform well on the GRE, great! You should probably submit that instead of a low score from a GMAT test. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that what the GRE reports as an xxth percentile is automatically equivalent to the same xxth percentile on the GMAT side. It’s almost definitely not. It still may be a “good” score to use.
Whether it’s “enough” is a different question entirely…. or simply the wrong question, if we’re talking HBS.
* * This post is part of the Class of 2018 Start Your Engines! series. Make sure you don’t miss a single one – either subscribe through bloglovin’ or enter your email in the “RSS feed” field in the right column. * * The obvious first step in planning your MBA application is…
Dee Leopold said, “Don’t overcrunch the numbers” but did she really think we could let such a prime opportunity pass us by?
Here’s the data from her post – from the HBS Admissions Blog:
Let the number-crunching commence!
Lessee what we got… OK:
|Percent of applicants with GMAT scores:||87%|
|Percent of applicants with GRE scores:||12%|
|Percent of matriculating students with GMAT scores:||90%|
|Percent of matriculating students with GRE scores:||9%|
|Percent of applicants submitting GMAT scores who are matriculating*:||10%|
|Percent of applicants submitting GRE scores who are matriculating*:||7%|
If we lump the ones who applied with both scores in with the GRE-only group, then it brings that category of candidate almost up to parity with the GMAT-only people. Those who applied with both almost definitely had a higher GRE score (or else, why bother including it?). In this year’s app, that GRE category is probably where such people would end up, since HBS is no longer allowing you to submit scores from both of the tests on your app. So if you do the data that way – that GRE+GMAT people are really GRE people – then the numbers don’t look quite so extreme. We don’t know for certain which test those 10 admits who’d submitted both scores would have used, if they’d been forced to choose as they are being this year, so rightly or wrongly, we’re just ignoring them in the calculations made in this summary view.
*Another important point to note: They actually accepted more applicants than are reflected in the “matriculating students” number; we’re guessing that there’s no difference in percent breakdowns around choice of test among that very tiny slice of candidates, but we do need to caution you that the “students” number omits a handful of people who were in fact accepted and simply decided not to go. You’d probably need to get access to the Stanford GSB “matriculating students” data to find out about them. 😉
While we appreciate that this is not being presented by HBS as causal – it’s not like they turn away more people with GRE scores BECAUSE OF the GRE – we still cannot overlook the patterns.
One side note too: Last time Dee reported on data, there were 940 people matriculating in the HBS Class of 2016. Now it’s down to 935. They call this “summer melt.” Can you imagine, getting accepted to go to Harvard, and saying a gleeful “yes” to them and paying your deposit, and then something coming up that prevented you from going? Hopefully in all five of these cases, it was some unbelievable job offer that they just couldn’t turn down.
Many other schools will go to the waitlist in such cases and admit a grateful BSer. HBS just allows the class to slim down. Happens every year, and it’s never huge numbers, but always fascinating to speculate about.
‘Cuz speculation on such matters is infinitely more pleasing than reading essays. Which is what we’re supposed to be doing right now.
EDITED TO ADD: Thank you, HBS, for this insight, and sharing these data!! More transparency is ALWAYS appreciated.
Short answer: Probably not. Many schools will only accept one score anyway, in terms of what they’ll use to evaluate your candidacy. (8/25/14 EDITED TO ADD: SEE THIS POST ABOUT HBS AND GMAT VS GRE FOR 2014-’15 APP SEASON.) Their online forms might allow you to enter both scores but to EssaySnark, you could be…
Way back in 2010 we wrote a post about how to convert your GRE score to a GMAT equivalent. The gist of it was, and is, that if you submit a GRE score in your application for an MBA, then it’s highly likely that the bschool adcom will convert that GRE to a GMAT-equivalent before processing your application. And we gave you a couple links to conversion tools that ETS publishes:
GRE – GMAT conversion tool (XLS file) provided by ETS, the makers of the GRE
An updated and very fancy ETS GRE/GMAT predictor is available here (if you have a GRE score it will extrapolate what your GMAT score should be).
Now before you get too crazy with those tools, keep in mind that they’re published by ETS – the makers of the GRE. We don’t accuse ETS of intentionally skewing these results but they do have a vested interest in showing the marketplace that the GRE is a valid equivalent to the GMAT for bschools. Importantly, ETS admits to having a huge range in what the same test-taker’s GMAT score might be. They cannot “predict” an equivalent score with much accuracy. Go play with the online conversion tool and you’ll see.
As an example: Someone with a GRE of 166 Q (94th percentile) and 162 V (87th percentile) comes up with a respectable 720 GMAT equivalent – but that little footnote at the bottom of the tool says that the “predicted score range” could be from 650 to 780.
650 to 780?!?
Doesn’t that render this “predictor” near-meaningless? Hmmm.
Now, we used that score from an actual EssaySnark client who had a very decent profile overall. We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say yes, he probably could’ve scored a 720 GMAT. We get a strong sense of where candidates fall out, given how closely we work with them.
But here’s the deal: The GRE has a reputation for being easier on the quant side. That 94th percentile score is NOT equivalent to a GMAT score of Q51; it’s just not. And the schools know it. In fact, we know of one school that very explicitly tells candidates that they need to come in with a higher GRE score than if they were presenting a GRE.
(EDITED 8/24/13: Actually, a bunch of schools are being more straightforward this season saying yes, they do in fact prefer the GMAT – Tuck and Columbia are two that come to mind. Others will express this privately even if they don’t state it on their websites.) What it means is that these tests are not equivalent.
That doesn’t mean that they prefer the GMAT.
If you’re submitting a GRE score, then it’s hopefully a bright and shiny score – shinier than you may have assumed it has to be.
This is one reason why we say, all things being equal, you should go for the GMAT test instead of a GRE if you’re applying to a top MBA program.
If you’re sitting here with only a GRE score in hand and wondering what to do: Then use the ETS converter tool, but be sure to recognize that full range that they’re predicting. The entirety of your profile will be evaluated and if you’re shown to have certain weaknesses, then the schools may “convert” your GRE to the lower end of the GMAT scale.
If you want some one-on-one advice into your own specific situation, you can either go for the Comprehensive Profile Review, where we’ll slice and dice the GRE along with all the other elements of your profile, or you can simply ask us a specific GRE question (or any other MBA question) using the evisors service and we’ll tell you what we think about your case.