More students at leading business schools are getting into prestige MBA programs with a GRE (Graduate Record Exam) score than ever before. Yet, while GMAT scores for incoming classes of MBA students are well reported by the schools, average GRE scores are often hard to come by.
Many schools choose not to report GRE scores for their incoming cohorts, and when they do, the data is often incomplete. But one trend is clear: More applicants with GRE scores are being admitted into the very top MBA programs than ever before (see table).
The percentage of enrolled MBAs at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business have tripled in the past three years alone, to 12% last year from 4% at Fuqua, and to 14% from 5% at Ross. At Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, GRE-enrolled MBA students have more than quadrupled to 13% of last year’s incoming class from just 3% in 2012.
NEARLY ONE IN FOUR YALE MBA STUDENTS GOT IN WITH A GRE
The high-level mark for GRE-enrolled students among highly ranked schools clearly belongs to Yale University’s School of Management, where 23% of the students entering last fall had GRE scores, up from 18% three years earlier. Some 16% of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Class of 2018 got in with GRE scores, while 9% of Harvard Business School’s incoming students last year took the GRE.
Most admission officials publicly say they have no preference. “A standardized test is a standardized test,” insists Niki da Silva, managing director of the full-time MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It’s just ticking off the box.”
Yet, some consultants seem to think it can matter at some schools. “While most MBA applicants benefit more from submitting a GMAT rather than a GRE score, there are some instances where the latter is the right option,” believes Dan Bauer, CEO of The MBA Exchange, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. He encourages the GRE as an option for applicants who “can’t crack the ‘middle 80%’ for admits at the targeted school even after three GMAT attempts, especially individuals with a qualitative undergraduate major and no rigorous quant courses.”
Applicants who are not yet 100% sure whether they want to attend business school versus a different master’s program also should take the GRE, adds Bauer. “Candidates who have the time and energy to take only one standardized test to cover all possibilities should opt for the GRE.”
Bauer also favors the GRE for applicants who target an elite business school where GMAT scores are already high and getting higher each year. “B-schools don’t report ‘average GRE’ scores, so there’s no impact on reputation or ranking by accepting an applicant with a less-than-stellar GRE.”
MANY SCHOOLS DECLINE TO REPORT GRE SCORES
In fact, for the past three years U.S. News has 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. But many of the leading business schools aren’t declining to provide this data, including Harvard, Chicago, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Northwestern, Dartmouth, and Columbia.
The upshot: They can enroll students with significantly lower equivalent GREs, refuse to report those scores, and then not get penalized in U.S. News’ ranking. That will soon end, according to Robert J. Morse, U.S. News‘ ranking guru.” Currently, U.S. News does not adjust the ranking calculation for schools that fail to report GRE scores,” he says. “U.S. News will seriously consider adjusting scores in the future now that GREs are becoming more widely used in MBA admissions.”
So what do schools expect on a GRE from a competitive MBA applicant? The highest average GRE scores are not surprising reported by Stanford GSB which also claims the highest average GMAT score for any leading MBA program. Last year, the average new GRE verbal and quant score for Stanford’s incoming class was 164, with an average writing score of 4.8. No other school which reports GRE data had higher numbers, though Yale’s School of Management matched Stanford on the verbal portion and was only two points behind on the quant score with a 162 (see table).
In comparison, the latest incoming class of MBA students at Michigan’s Ross School boasted a 162 average verbal score and a 159 quant score, with an analytical writing score of 4.5. The top 50 school with the lowest scores? Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business, where the average verbal and quant score was 153, with a 3.9 in writing.