I want to talk about a common question on the GMAT, which is, is my score good enough?
If you’re hoping for me to say that as an admissions consultant we can do a lot of magic, we can just get you in with any score, I regret to inform you that that’s simply not true.
This is actually the wrong question, is my score good enough?
The right question is, how much time and effort would it take me to raise my score and is that worthwhile?
The schools are looking at the score for a couple of reasons, so, number one, they are looking at the score as a measure of whether you can do the coursework, but the bar is relatively low on that. Once you pass 700, 710, you can clearly handle the basic finance and economics coursework.
The schools are instead considering what’s the impact of your GMAT score on the school’s ranking, and to some degree, they may also look at the score in terms of your recruiting opportunities. The schools know very well that firms like McKinsey, Bain, or BCG use the GMAT as one of the indicators for who they want to interview.
In those regards, managing the rankings and your employability, higher is better with no limit.
There’s no official data here. The schools do not publish a report like the class profile for the declined candidates, but there is some crowdsource data, so I’ve spent some time looking at a site called MBA Data Guru that sources data from forums like the GMAT club. People will post their scores and then also their admissions outcomes and they’ve run some analysis on that. As you’d expect, it shows that as your score goes up, so do your chances of admission.
What this means, you look at your test score and you think, “Well, I could spend my time increasing on increasing my score, I could spend it on networking with the schools, on extra-curricular, writing my applications.” You have to think about which one of those is going to give you the most bang for your buck because you’ve got a limited amount of time to spend on all these different things.
There are a few clear indicators that you should retake the GMAT
- number one indicator is if you’ve taken an official practice exam and you had a better score than what you got on your live exam, you should probably retake.
The official practice exams are quite reliable in assessing your progress because they’re based on retired questions from old live exams.
- Number two, if you haven’t spent much time on studying yet and you still got a great score, that’s a sign that if you put some work into it, you could get an even better score. That’s another clear sign you should retake.
- Number three, sometimes there’s a little clue in something else on your profile, so if you did a great SAT performance, but only a mediocre GMAT, or if you’ve just graduated summa cum laude in mathematics, you may have a little more in you than that middling GMAT score, so if you fall into one of these categories, you really should do a retake.
You’re gonna force me to give a number here. I’m gonna tell you that it works like this,
- that you start with a class profile for the school and we can see the range and the average score for the admitted class.
- Then from there, you need to look at what kind of cohort of applicants you fit into. In some cohorts, it’s simply more competitive than others because of how many applicants there are.
- There are a few of the big things that if you are a man rather than a woman, there are more men applying. They may want a little bit more.
- If you’re an international applicant from a country where there’s a very large number of well-qualified applicants, for example, China or India, the school may have the luxury to demand a score that is significantly higher than the average. Whereas, if you come from an under-represented group where the school is desperate to enroll more people to build the different viewpoints in the class, then you may get away with a little bit less.
That’s what I’ll tell you in terms of roughly what kind of score is gonna put you in the ballpark.
Last thing I want to say, and I know you’ll understand what I mean because you’ve been studying all of these data sufficiency problems, is that a good score is necessary, but not sufficient for your admission. That even if you get a great score, 760, 770, this does not mean on its own that despite the rest of your profile not being up to par, you’re gonna get into Harvard or to Wharton, that a low score can keep you out, but a high score is not an automatic ticket to admission. Good luck with your studying and if you didn’t get it, we’d probably prefer that you would retake the exam.