‘770-PLUS SCORERS OFTEN LACK OTHER SKILLS OR MATURITY’
If you assume that the Top Ten programs wouLd generally turn away anyone with a score below 700, it would easily mean that only one-seventh of the applicants who score 700 and up on the GMAT would get in. Luckily, the schools don’t merely admit the highest GMAT scorers into their programs. Harvard Business School, for example, enrolled in its Class of 2017 a student or students with GMATs as low as 510, while Columbia Business School gave at least one of its seats this year to a student who only scored 500.
How high can average GMAT scores possibly go? Symonds believes it would not be in the best interest of schools or students to drive GMATs up higher. “Scores of 700 and above that are well-balanced in both the verbal and quant section already demonstrate a level of critical reasoning and quant skills to master the core content of the MBA curriculum,” he maintains.
“Once those skills have been established, the focus should be on personality, values, accomplishments, experience and attitude, not an extra 10 points on the GMAT. And plenty of schools observe that applicants with scores over 770 are often lacking in other skills or maturity. There is a reason why the range of GMAT scores at the top schools never reach 800!”
‘A PERFECT STORM’
Symonds says that he hopes Stanford will plateau at 735, two points higher than its current average. “Otherwise they will lose out on some extraordinary individuals who really will change lives, change organizations and change the world given the wings to take flight,” he says. “We could see Wharton with the highest average just once in that period. Yale under Ted Snyder will be hot on their heels.”
One thing seems certain. There remains every incentive to keep scores high. Most business schools dole out scholarship dollars to attract high GMATs and some of the more lucrative paying companies, especially in prestige management consulting, seek graduates who entered school with GMATs above 700.
“It is kind of a perfect storm,” acknowledges Shinewald of mbaMission. “I am not sure that the averages can go much higher but I don’t see this trend reversing.”