Schools Accepting Lower GRE Scores

As more business schools agree to accept Graduate Record Exam scores in lieu of GMATs, some admission consultants have been advising clients to submit GRE scores when they perform poorly on the GMAT. The stated reason for the strategy: Some ranking organizations, such as U.S. News, use GMAT scores to rank MBA programs. So an admissions office might be overly sensitive to a low GMAT score, but might pass on a lower GRE.

Newly disclosed data, provided by the schools to U.S. News & World Report for its recently published annual business school ranking, support the notion that MBA programs have been willing to accept lower scoring GRE candidates compared to those who submit GMAT scores.

At Duke University’s Fuqua School, where only 4% of applicants submitted GRE scores last year, the average GRE verbal score was 159, while the average quant score was 156. That roughly translates to a 77th percentile score. The equivalent GMAT score for those GRE scores, according to the Educational Testing Service’s comparison tool, is 640. Duke’s average GMAT score is 690, the 88th percentile on the GMAT test, is a 50-point difference from the GRE results. The reported scores are for GRE’s newly revised test.


At the University of Michigan’s Ross School, average GRE scores are the equivalent of a 670 GMAT. But enrolled students who took the GMAT have an average score of 703–a difference of 33 points.

At Washington University’s Olin School, the difference between GRE and GMAT percentiles was even greater–nearly 100 GMAT points. The average GRE scores (156 verbal and 152 quant) were in the 67th percentile for the latest enrolled class of MBAs, the equivalent of a 590 GMAT. But the average GMAT score (698) was in the 89th-90th percentile.

In some cases, the differences are small. At Yale’s School of Management, where a sizable 18% of the applicant pools submits GREs, the average verbal score of enrolled students was 164, while the average quant score was 161. That roughly converts into an 87th percentile average versus Yale’s average GMAT of 717, or the 93rd percentile. The difference? An equivalent GMAT score of 710 vs. the actual average of 717.

Generally, the numbers seem to show that applicants who have trouble with the GMAT exam should consider taking the GRE instead. Generally, however, a higher proportion of non-traditional MBA students take the GRE so this could also be a factor in admissions decisions.


The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which said that 5% of its applicants last year submitted GREs, provided U.S. News with average scores for the old GRE test–not the newly revised exam. The school reported that the average verbal score for enrolled MBAs was 560 and the average quant score was 635. Combined, that’s roughly equivalent to scoring in the 65th percentage. Wharton’s average GMAT, meantime, is 718, nearly the 94th percentile. So the difference at Wharton has been fairly significant.

Just how long this difference will exist is unclear. For the first time, U.S. News attempted to use the average GRE scores in addition to the GMATs in its methodology to create the ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. Many schools, however, failed to report those scores to U.S. News. Average GRE scores are rarely, if ever, published by business schools so this is also the first time users can see comparative average scores.

The percentage of MBA applicants submitting Graduate Record Exam scores instead of GMATs varies greatly among the top business schools. The percentage of applicants submitting GRE scores on their MBA applications ranges from a mere 2% at Columbia Business School to a high of 31% at Washington University’s Olin School of Business in St. Louis, according to data provided by the schools to U.S. News.


Several prominent business schools reported that GRE applicants are now in double-digits, including Vanderbilt University’s Owen School (23%), Yale’s School of Management (18%), the University of Texas’ McCombs School (13%), Notre Dame’s Mendoza School (12%), and Wisconsin Business School (11%).

Several of the most prominent business schools, including Harvard, Chicago Booth, and Berkeley, did not provide U.S. News with any data on GRE scores–not even the percentage of their applicant pools submitted GRE instead of the GMAT. Several other schools, including Stanford, MIT, Columbia, and New York University’s Stern School, merely reported the percentage of applicants with GRE scores but not the averages.

Still, enough schools supplied the data to allow a first glimpse at what the averages are for enrolled MBA students and how they compare with average GMAT scores (see following page for table on top schools reporting average GRE and GMAT scores).

  • yonas

    what school and their point

  • jimismash

    Yeah, but how does that 90 point range between the two tests compare with the 60 point range on the GMAT itself.

    From a GMAT test report:
    “However, our research indicates that you will most likely earn a Total score within about 30 points of a score reflecting your true ability.”

  • Conversion

    For anyone who stumbles across this like I just did, this is slightly misleading in regards to GMAT equivalency. If you use the official ETS GRE to GMAT score converter, the score it shows you is the mid-point in a 90 point predicted score range (which it also shows you in smaller print right underneath the score). For example, it may show your GRE score is equivalent to a 650 GMAT, but it will show right below a predicted score range between 610 and 700. It’s basically an admission that there is no real way to compare the two tests, and we need to get use to taking them in isolation.

  • fuckyou

    useless POS

  • GRE

    Has this changed since last year’s rankings?

  • JohnAByrne

    Last year, for the very first time, U.S. News & World Report added GRE’s verbal and quant scores to its methodology.

  • Astraeus

    Does anyone know if GRE scores will be included in MBA ranking formulas soon?

  • AGW

    yeah, because that makes sense… alll

  • DSHN50

    Wish I had read this article a month or so ago!

  • edbtz

    I took both tests recently and interestingly the ETS GRE-GMAT score conversion tool predicted my score perfectly. It’s on the ETS site.

    I had read on some blog a while back that top consultancies want you to take GMAT because they consider your score in their recruiting, but I checked with a friend at BCG and Bain and they said that they had never heard of this and no one had ever asked for their scores (although they did go to Chicago and Northwestern so maybe no one cared).

  • method

    This has been somewhat well known in the admissions environment for a while. I’ve even been to official school visits where the admissions director would recommend taking the GRE if you’re not a great test taker because it’s not incorporated into the formulas used by the major publication rankings.

  • ChetT

    I am no psychometric expert, but I am not sure that the GMAT/GRE percentile comparisons are an accurate concordance of the two tests. It would be helpful if the author could provide a justification for this method of aligning the two tests.

  • GRE

    GRE is a joke and is for losers. Take the GMAT, it’s much more difficult.

  • responsiblemanagers

    Clearly some kind of clerical error here. “The equivalent GMAT score for those GRE scores, according to the Educational Testing Service’s comparison tool, is 640. Duke’s average GMAT score is 690, the 88th percentile on the GMAT test, is a 50-point difference from the GRE results.” and “That roughly converts into an 87th percentile average versus Yale’s average GMAT of 717, or the 93rd percentile. The difference? An equivalent GMAT score of 710 vs. the actual average of 717.” How can the 88th percentile be a 690 and the 87th percentile be a 710?

  • InsMBA

    Your article states that GRE averages for Yale are 164 V/161 Q, and that these translate to an 87th percentile on the GMAT. I wonder how you derived at this conversion? According to the GRE-GMAT comparison tool (, these GRE averages translate to a 710 GMAT score, which is a 92th-94th percentile score.