Getting Into HBS With A Subpar Quant

student studying

Grinding for three months through a big box GMAT course, Craig fought for the GMAT score that would give him a chance at admission to Harvard Business School, the only place he wanted to get his MBA degree from. Yet, after so many hours of studying and practice, his GMAT score had only gone in one direction: down.

The course he was taking was based on overly tough, out-of-focus, non-official material which had put a dent in his confidence, leaving him in a GMAT free-fall unable to crack 700. He seemed like a smart, not-afraid-to-put-his-back-into-it kind of person, so I wasn’t put off by his low test scores and lofty ambitions. After a brisk six weeks of working together, he pinged a 710 with a 45 Quant score and a 40 Verbal score.

But wait, 45Q is in the 63rd percentile! Isn’t that a failing grade? As many as 47% percent of all GMAT takers did better than that. So how could Craig possibly get into Harvard, with its super low 11% acceptance rate? Here is an in-depth look at GMAT percentiles, but the short of it comes down to the difference between two types of GMAT scores: scaled versus percentile.

GMAT PERCENTILE SCORE

Your percentile score is a relative score based on your position in a group of test takers. In itself, it doesn’t indicate your quant skill level. You could be in the 99th percentile and still know little to nothing if the rest of the pool of people were more clueless than you are — think of how meaningless it would be to be the best skier in Egypt. On the GMAT, we have the opposite effect. Over the last decade, the quant percentiles have become ever more competitive as greater numbers of foreign test takers with sharp-as-a-tack quant skills have sat for the exam. There is a huge amount of quant talent. So the 63rd percentile actually indicates that you’re pretty good at quant (think a middling scientist at NASA). Still, “the 63rd percentile” looks terrible. Luckily that’s not the only way your score is reported.

GMAT SCALED SCORE TO THE RESCUE

The scaled score ignores the pool of people. It is an absolute measure of your skill. The great thing about scaled scores and why they can be more useful than percentile scores is that they don’t change over time. So a scaled score from 2016 represents the same expertise as a scaled score from 2000. That makes the scaled score a great tool for admissions committees who count on reliability. So the upshot is that a 45Q was sufficient for Harvard in 2000 — and still is in 2016.

A GMAT PERCENTILE HAPPY ENDING

Craig was accepted to Harvard with his deceptively acceptable 63rd percentile Quant score. As was another of my students who scored an on-the-surface stinky 43Q (56th percentile!). A lot of MBA admissions success comes down to the numbers, but, clearly, you can fail Quant percentile-wise and still be accepted to your dream school. As long as your overall score is in the ballpark and your application is strong, your Quant percentile won’t necessarily be the deciding factor.

WILL ANY QUANT DO?

Probably not. Though schools do not release statistics on Quant/Verbal breakdowns, there is an indication that the Quant score matters. So even if you manage to sneak past 700 with a stupendous Verbal score, you might still get snubbed. I’d break things down into three basic ranges.

Score below a 40Q and you’re in a tough spot. Not only are your quant skills in question but you need a 45+ (99th percentile) on the Verbal to reach a 700. Even if you obliterate the Verbal and achieve a 700+ GMAT score, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to re-take the GMAT if you have any hope of getting into an elite MBA program. An extremely unique background might give you a shot, but the odds are stacked against you.

Between a 40Q and a 44Q is a gray zone. First off, it’s still tough to nail a 700 from here. You would need a really sharp Verbal score. Second, at least on the lower end of the scale, there is still some suspicion that you’re not going to hack it on the more quantitative aspects of your MBA. If you’re in a competitive bracket, this score could be in need of a mulligan. That said, if you’ve got a 700+ combined score and some special sauce on your application then you may sail right in.

A 45Q and above isn’t a problem. In the year 2000, this was the 82nd percentile. At this point, your quant skills are just fine.

WHAT ABOUT VERBAL?

A 700+ GMAT score with a questionable Verbal sub-score is a rare bird. It’s very tough to achieve. That said, you could be at the extreme with a 51Q, 32V earning you a 700 but leaving you with a Verbal score in the 67th percentile. Is that an app-killer? I don’t have any personal experience with someone getting dinged for a low Verbal score (with a total score in the right place). Still, I’d hazard to guess that a little balance would be better. Also consider: It’s not possible to hit the average GMAT scores (all 720+) at Harvard, Stanford, Penn, Chicago, Northwestern, NYU, or Yale without getting at least a 36V that lands you in the 81st percentile.

Agree, disagree, have a different experience? Comment away!

Andrew Geller of Atlantic GMAT

Andrew Geller of Atlantic GMAT

A tutor since 2002, Andrew Geller currently heads Atlantic GMAT, a leading private tutoring service that serves clients nationwide. Before that, he prepped GMAT test-takers McElroy Tutoring, where he held a 9.9 rating (i.e. “Exceptional”) from clients. A consummate teacher, Geller joined the Poets&Quants team in 2014, providing readers with expert advice on topics ranging from bumping up quant scores to setting priorities. 

DON’T MISS: INCREASING YOUR GMAT SCORE — THE BEST OF ANDREW GELLER

  • Collin Breitman

    Hey Andrew,

    I previously messaged you about my 700 GMAT score so I decided to take it again.

    Took it again and scored a 710 47Q 40V and IR8.

    My verbal went up 4 points and quant went down 2 points.

    I am too close to deadlines to retake and focus on essays. Should I wait until next year and take again or do I have a shot?

    Target schools; Sloan, HBS, wharton

    Collin

  • Hi there,

    A 700 is an excellent score. That said, if you still have the energy and time to give it another go I would certainly consider trying (especially if you’ve done better on official practice tests). Without knowing the breakdown on the 700 it’s tough to give you any GMAT advice but I would stress that even if you are strong at verbal you should still study verbal because boosting that score can have a big impact on your overall GMAT score. Good luck!

    A.

  • mikk98

    Hi Andrew I got a GMAT score of 700. I am an equity analyst (3 years experience) at a $50bn fund with a strong alpha track record. I have a undergraduate degree from Oxbridge (strong 2.1). I am looking to get into a top 10 business school, do you think I should retake the GMAT and aim for a higher score?

  • Collin Breitman

    Hey Andrew,

    Took it again and scored a 710 47Q 40V and IR8.

    I am too close to deadlines to retake and focus on essays. Should I wait until next year and take again or do I have a shot?

    Collin

  • al_5k

    Andrew, many thanks. I couldn’t find any mention of a minimum Quant score which I’m taking to mean that at this stage it’s down to the essays and the overall pitch, including references. I wish everyone in this thread success with tests and admissions!

  • Hi Al,

    Amazing GMAT score! Unless the program has specifically noted that you need a certain quant score I can’t imagine that the 44q/730 overall would present any issues. The percentile on the 44q was actually pretty decent a bunch of years ago and as a score a 44 still represents decent quant skills.

    In terms of the admissions help. If you’re a stellar writer and have a strong idea of how to present yourself in your essays then you can probably go at it on your own. That said, you could spend 2-3 hours with someone to hone your message and get some outside editing. The other Atlantic GMAT teacher did this recently and had a great experience. The difference in his essay was night and day. I’d probably avoid doing a full admissions package.

    Good Luck,

    A.

  • Hi Mandy,

    Nice work on the 700! The IR score probably won’t make a difference. I do not think that a 4 is a “disqualifier”. I had a student get a “1” on the IR and still get admitted to a great school. Just to be clear for everyone reading: don’t aim for a 1. Do the best that you can on the IR. But, still, it is dramatically less important than the Quant/Verbal/Overall score. Good luck with admissions!

    A,

  • Hi Moe,

    Solid job on your GMAT! Straight by the numbers you’ll be well below the median for Harvard and crew. If you’ve got some great things on your application to balance that out, then sure, you could be one of the many people admitted with sub-700 GMAT scores. That said, if you feel that you can put in a bit more effort on your GMAT then it might make sense to do so. My guess is that if you can a get a 38 on your verbal that you can get a 40+ there. Most people scoring decently on the GMAT verbal don’t bother doing a lot of verbal studying. That’s a mistake. A verbal score into the 40’s can make a massive difference on the overall score. Shoot over any questions!

    A.

  • al_5k

    Andrew, would love to get your take on my GMAT score for the purposes of PhD: 730 (44Q 46V), IR7, AWA6. I’m over 40 and have done over a solid decade in the industry but have decided on academic pursuits, having done an MSc in Economics back in my twenties. Aiming for the PhD programs of top-5 level US business schools… Was getting a bit worried over 44Q and this thread came up. Also would love to hear views on whether it’s a good idea to hire an admissions consultant for PhD!

  • Mandy

    Hi Andrew,
    I did my gmat and took a 700 (48Q and 38V) but what really frustrated me was the IR score of 4! I am applying to the top Business schools and don’t feel like repeating the test. Do you think that a score of 4 is a disqualifier? Would appreciate your thoughts and thanks!

  • Moe

    Hello Andrew,

    Hope all is well.

    I did my GMAT last week and i got a 690 (46 Q and 38 V, IR: 7, AWA: 6)

    I have a GPA of 3.91 on my undergraduate degree and 2 years of experience with EY – advisory services. For the record, i am an international student with a bachelor of science in finance from an AACSB accredited university. I am only planning to apply to MBA programs after completing 4 years of work experience. What are your thoughts on applying to the top B schools – Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and others?

    Thanks a lot.

  • Hi Collin,

    Thanks for the question. The quick answer is: if you want to be competitive for HBS, Wharton, and Sloan then you will likely need a sharper GMAT score. A 700 is an excellent score and there are plenty of people at those schools with 700s and below. But you can’t escape the reality that the median score at each of those schools is higher than your score. All of that isn’t to say: You must retake!!!! But, you’ve displayed that you can achieve more so if you have more gas in the tank then my vote would be to go for it. Again, if the word GMAT is causing gag reflex then focus on other parts of your application – a 700 is a solid score. Shoot over any questions!

    A.

  • Collin Breitman

    Hey Andrew,

    I just took my GMAT and scored lower than i wanted. I got a Q49 V37 for a score of 700. I am a Chemical Engineer from a solid Engineering School with a 3.89 GPA Undergraduate and I have a graduate degree in BioEngineering with a 3.96 GPA. I have been working in the Nuclear Energy Field since college first as a civilian contractor with the Navy at their training site and then at a public power plant where I am a licensed Senior Reactor Operator. The only extracurricular activities i do is that I am on my fraternity alumni board. I am on the older side of applicants (30 years old) and was wondering if you believe I need to retake the GMAT to boost my Verbal. On all practice tests my verbal was better than what I got, but I don’t want to waste my time for minimal gain if it wont effect my admission.

    I am applying to HBS, Wharton, and Sloan

    Thanks

  • apoena

    Andrew,

    Thanks very much for your answer. It certainly helped placate part of my anxiety.

    I have just one more question if you don’t mind.

    I know candidates are divided in “buckets” – the “Indian IT Male”, the “Consultants” etc. I would probably be counted among Brazilians in general, as we are this very large cohort, probably the largest after Indians and Chinese among internationals, but I could also be counted as a Latin American international I guess. Anyway, I also know Brazilians and Latin Americans tend to get lower GMAT scores than the Chinese and Indians, but that’s an average, I don’t know how top candidates from my region usually fare. Does my GMAT look better coming from a Brazilian/Latin-American? Does my origin helps?

  • Hi Apoena,

    Thanks for reaching out. Really stellar job on the verbal! A 99th percentile verbal score is tough to come by. My two cents: your quant isn’t going to hold you back. A 730 is an excellent score any way you slice it. If you have the energy and time to do more GMAT studying then sure, go for it. There’s no downside. But, again, the 730 is great. Feel free to follow up with any questions!

    A.

  • apoena

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m a 30yo Brazilian, graduated from the best business school in the
    country, but with a GPA-equivalent of 6,5 on a 10-point scale, with 7
    years of work experience, with Mckinsey, Procter & Gamble
    (internship), the two largest companies in my country and an internet
    venture I started on my CV. It has been 5 years since I got into the
    largest company in the country and my responsabilities and roles have
    been growing consistently and I currently plan and control finances and
    schedule for a portfolio of Oil & Gas projects of over US$300 MM.

    I just got a 730 on GMAT, but my split is not that good: Q44 V45. I am not a native English speaker, I learned it by myself and I have never lived in an English speaking country, so I think I could leverage my Verbal-score into an argument for capacity for learning and general smartness with these things, but my quant was definitely low. Would my quant kill my chances on top schools such as HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

    My last official gmac practice exam was a 760 Q50 V44, but would it be
    necessary for me to try to reach it in the real exam by retaking it? SHOULD I RETAKE THE GMAT?

    Thanks very much for your attention!

  • You’re welcome! Yes, math heavy course work is certainly a plus and can add balance to a saggy GMAT quant score. Again, it’s tough to accept what seems like a crappy quant result but a 49q is a solid score which leaves no doubt that you can juggle numbers. Follow up with any questions!

    A.

  • James on Poets and Quants

    Thanks, Andrew! I read most of that discussion and others. I’m just so used to weighting relative scoring much higher than absolute scoring on standardized tests, so I still had a lingering feeling of insecurity, especially since I went in expecting to hit 50 on the quant (although the 45 verbal was higher than anticipated). Is there any wisdom in thinking that admissions committees would look at my math-heavy academic background and see that I’ve checked that box regardless of what quant score I have? Thanks again for your advice.

  • Hi James,

    Thanks for the addition. Happy to help. AWESOME work on your GMAT. You killed it. The 49q is excellent – it’s an asset. Percentile-wise it seems low but the current GMAT quant percentiles are screwy. If you want a more in depth discussion of that go ahead and read the GMAT percentiles article on the Atlantic GMAT website. I think there’s a link in this article. The gist of it is that a 45q used to be the 80% and a 49q was the 93% (in 2000). Those score still represent the same level of quant skill and are still sufficient for admission to the best of the best MBA programs. Short answer: don’t even think about re-taking! You did great. Good luck with admissions.

    A.

  • James on Poets and Quants

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for taking the time to read everyone’s situation. When you have a moment, I’d be interested in your take on mine. I’m a white US male with a BS in math and econ and an MA in applied econ, both with 3.8GPA. My total GMAT score, which I took today, was 760 (49Q-45V). I know that appears like a solid score, but the 49Q is only in the 75th percentile (hence my appearance on this thread), compared to 99th for both V and composite. This was a bit uncharacteristic for me since in the past I aced the SAT, ACT, and GRE quant sections while struggling on the verbal. I’ve read other places it’s the quant that matters the most, so having 25% of takers test above me in that section wouldn’t seem to be good enough for schools with 5-10% admissions rates. Your article calmed me a little, but I’m also interested in whether my academic background helps make up for the lower-than-desired quant percentile.

    Many thanks!

  • Christine Marie

    Hi Andrew,

    I just took the gmat and scored a 700 (46 Quant which is the 62nd percentile and 40 verbal which is the 91st percentile). I’m looking at the top business schools (specifically Stanford & Berkeley) and wondering if I should retake it. My gpa is fine (3.55 from a top 15 school in psychology with both a business and a communications minor). I’m planning on applying after two years of work experience and starting in a rotational program in July with a good company which guarantees advanacement after a year. I think I could do stellar on the gre based on my practice test and I am wondering if I could take that and just send both scores? I don’t want to just send my gre scores as I’ve read that taking the gmat shows you’re serious about getting an MBA. Your advice is much appreciated!

  • Lots of 710s cropping up lately!:) Nice work on that. The basic idea is that if your GMAT is below average then something else needs to balance it out. If you feel confident that you have the other piece in place then forget about the GMAT score. If the rest of your application is good but not great then it might make sense to put more effort into your GMAT because at this stage of the game that’s probably the only thing you can really change. From a GMAT standpoint, the verbal looks improve-able. All that said, if you feel you’ve topped out at 710 or if you’re completely burned out from studying you may not want to beat a dead horse. A 710 is an excellent score. Follow up with any questions!

    A.

  • Akash Kapoor

    Hey Andrew, I am in two minds about retaking the GMAT – I wrote twice, scored a 710 second time (Quant 49) and (Verbal 38) – I was hoping to get a 40 in Verbal. I am aiming for M7 schools, so do fall below the average. My GPA is 4.0 in undergrad and Master in Accounting and hold a CPA designation (top writer in the country). Not sure if retaking is advisable – admission consultants say I should because its below average… aiming for 49/50Q and 40/42V. I am coming in from Canada, most likely in the consulting bucket as I transitioned out of accounting a couple of years back. Thoughts?…

  • I don’t know that there’s a “right” answer here. A 710 is an excellent score and there are plenty of people with 710s (and lower) at top 5 schools. As already noted though for the tippy top of top programs your GMAT is in the bottom 50%. I don’t think it leaves anyone thinking that you’re not capable but straight by the numbers you’re at a disadvantage. So, if you feel good about putting in more GMAT study hours then by all means I’d go for another test. If you feel done with the GMAT and want to get on with the applications then that’s also a solid option.

    A.

  • AMoe

    A,

    It’s nice to meet another tennis player! I really appreciate your time; thank you for writing back. To answer your question, I prepared for the GMAT using Manhattan Prep books and substituted out the CR Manhattan book for the Critical Reasoning Bible. I was all self-study and tried to read on the side to help with my RC. My first attempt was a 680, one year before I scored a 710. To be honest, I never scored over a 720 on a practice CAT, I was consistently scoring around 690-720. I agree, based off of my Q49 V36, I definitely have some Verbal upside; however, I feel like I outperformed my normal quant score, which had been around a 47. I would say my normal test score would have been a Q47 V39. I don’t think I mind the “trade-off”, but I wish I would have scored around my normal verbal and I would be sitting at a 720-730… sigh!
    Since I attained the 710 GMAT score, I have been focusing my efforts on leadership opportunities. I mentioned the coaching for a well-respected division I university and the founding of the ECP Network at work. I thought to myself, “if a school really wants me and wants me for who I am, I am better off focusing on doing the things I am passionate about and leaving footprints in different places than grinding to *maybe* score 10-20 more points on the GMAT with my free time.” If this is the wrong mindset to have, please let me know! What do you think? For these programs, the wishful thinking in me is that if a school did want me with my 710, then there could be plenty of people with 750s that could balance me out and get the two-person average to a 730, which would be right around the program’s average. As I said, this is the wishful thinking in me.
    What do you think about it all? Where do you think I should focus my efforts?
    Thank you for your help!
    Future B-school Applicant

  • pwt

    Hi @ CBS19: What does the rest of your profile look like, and did you apply early? I scored a 710 (Q44/V44) and am planning on applying early.

  • AMoe,

    It’s my pleasure to help out as I can! I’m a tennis player myself (not as accomplished as you!). Nice work on your GMAT. How did you prepare? I’ve had students gain admission to the schools your after with similar stats/stories. It does seem that you have the extra juice to balance out the GMAT. Still, those schools are incredibly competitive and the odds of success are tough to gauge regardless of the GMAT score. If you don’t feel like re-taking the GMAT I’d proceed with confidence. If you do feel like re-taking there seems to be plenty of space on the verbal side for improvement. Shoot over any questions!

    A.

  • AMoe

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for taking the time to address all of our posts; you are a good man! I got a 680 (Q47 V35) IR 5 AWA 5.5 on my first attempt and scored a 710 (Q49 V36) IR 3 AWA 5.5 on my first attempt. Yes, I bombed the IR on my second attempt which is frustrating, but I have to hope I don’t get dinged too badly after getting a score of 5 on my first attempt and having a finance background. I typically scored anywhere between a 5-7 on my CATs but remember the questions being very difficult on my second attempt and I struggled big time. Anyways, I have a BS in Finance from a Liberal Arts school (think Davidson) with a 3.8 GPA. I played Division I college tennis and was the team captain for three years. I have worked in Big Pharma for 2 years and am looking to apply in Fall 2019 and will (hopefully) be sponsored entirely by my company as they sponsor a select few financial analysts to go back to b-school full-time. At work, I have worked in two different financial analyst positions, one in the Midwest and the other in the Northeast. I have also created an Early Career Professionals Network which has been a huge hit at my company as we are trying to promote more Diversity and Inclusion. Outside of work, I am a volunteer assistant coach for a Division I tennis program and spend time volunteering in the community, in which case I have connected community involvement with the Early Career Professionals Network at my company. Although a brief background, how well do you think my chances fair at an HBS/GSB/Booth/Kellogg? Do you think I have some offsetting factors for my lower-than-average GMAT score? Through work, I have connections to all of these schools, which would hopefully be helpful as well!
    Thank you for your time!
    Future B-school Applicant

  • Hi Diegoas,

    Good to hear from you! Solid work on your GMAT. How did you prepare? A 680 is an excellent score and you could potentially get in anywhere with that (I’ve had students go to HBS with mid 600 GMAT scores). But I’m sure it’s not news to you that it’s below the median of the MBA programs to which you want to apply. If you’re balancing out the lower GMAT score with something else in your profile then you might be fine. If you want to leave no stone unturned a re-take would be an excellent idea. Do you feel like you maxed out the verbal side? That’s where I’d focus for the next test. Follow up with any questions!

    Have a good day,

    A.

  • Diegoas

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for this great article. I got a 680 (Q49, V34) and IR 8. I have a BS Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech with 3.82 GPA. I am looking to apply to the top b-schools (HBS, Sloan, GBS). I am not sure if I should retake the GMAT, my GPA combined with the GMAT should demonstrate my academic skills. I wanted to get your opinion on this.

    Thanks

  • Hi Anisha,

    Thanks for the note. Excellent work on Quant! For verbal I’d do 2-3 months of LSAT critical reasoning and perhaps reading comprehension as well. After that I’d go for about 7 weeks of GMAT CR/SC/RC work and practice tests.

    Good luck!

    A.

    PS: For school selection/admissions questions I’d ask an admissions specialist. There’s one here on P&Q.

  • HBS

    You can try dating an american and improve your English that way.

  • Anisha Chamaria

    Hi Andrew,

    Needed your help. I got a 680(Q50,V32), IR 7. Finance Graduate from a top university in India; CA from India; CFA Level 1, working in financial consultancy relating to Investment Banking and M&A. What are the colleges that I can target given my strong quant skills. Regards the Verbal, have tried everything possible known to me. If retake is more feasible an option, how should i improve my verbal?

  • Gojira

    It’s such a big relief to hear that. Thank you!

  • Hi Gojira,

    Great work on your GMAT! A 740 (q49) is a stellar score and not keeping you out of any b-schools. I would focus on the rest of your application. Again, nice work. Good luck with admissions.

    A.

  • Gojira

    Hi Andrew, I got a 740(Q49,V42) on the GMAT. Is Q49 going to cut it for schools like Kellogg/Haas/Booth considering I’m in the highly competitive pool of Indian males? (I have been in the US for ~7 years but I am an Indian citizen) I know I can do better and I plan to apply in Rd 1 this fall BUT my job is very demanding (I’m a combustion physics guy…) and I don’t want to retake the GMAT if I can get away with it. (I have a GRE score of 1600/1600 which is sadly no longer valid. )

  • JohannesDT

    Haha glad I passed the test. Thanks for the interesting article!

  • Just testing you Johannes:)! Thanks for pointing out the mistake. Will put in for a revision.

    All the best,

    A.

  • JohannesDT

    Andrew, I’m quoting you from your article above: “But wait, 45Q is in the 63rd percentile! Isn’t that a failing grade? As many as 47% percent of all GMAT takers did better than that.” If you think someone in the 63rd percentile has been beaten by 47% of test takers, you’re really not the right person to train people for the GMAT. JK, but suggest you edit this 🙂

  • Hi Greg,

    Thanks for the question. By the numbers you’re starting from behind. Still, a 700 is an excellent GMAT score and a Q47 demonstrates excellent quant skills. If you are a part of a group that’s underrepresented or highly desired (demographically or work/life experience) at a particular school then your numbers should be fine. If not then it’s going to be tough to get the green light to the top of top MBA programs. I’d chat with an admissions expert who knows the ins and outs of the particular schools that you are interested in. If you feel up for it, putting a bit more umph into your GMAT score would likely help. If the 39 on the verbal wasn’t a huge amount of work for you then I bet you can boost it a few points. Good luck!

    A.

  • greg9243

    Hi Andrew,

    Want to hear your thoughts on my candidacy for top programs (HBS, Wharton, Booth, etc.). 700 GMAT (Q47, V39), associate at private equity fund in new york, graduated cum laude from top 2 liberal arts college (history major – 3.45ish gpa), varsity soccer, owned/operated business in college.

    Thanks!

  • Hi SF,

    Great work on your GMAT! Even with the low-ish GPA the 740 puts you in a great position for a majority of top MBA programs and certainly leaves the door open for HBS, GSB, and CBS. The GPA puts some strain on things but how relevant that is really depends on your personal story. And, if you’re in a more sought after contingent then the GPA will matter less. The opposite is also true. I’d chat with an admissions consultant about your specifics. Hope that is helpful!

    A.

  • guest

    no chance at HBS/GSB. Apply ED to CBS

  • SF

    Hi Andrew,

    Want to hear your thoughts for chances at HBS/GSB/CBS:
    740 GMAT (Q49 V40), Top 20 ranked Finance & Accounting undergrad (3.2 GPA), worked in consulting for 5 years (Management – non MBB) in financial services vertical, currently in Corporate Strategy as a Manager for a F500 Media company

    Thanks!

  • Out of this world verbal score! Nice work. Did you do anything special on the verbal side in your GMAT preparation? Thanks for adding to this I think it’s really helpful for people to see that you don’t need the 80% Quant or anything near that to be admitted to a top MBA program.

    Good luck with school,

    A.

  • Hi MBA Chaser!

    Great job on the 710! The 47 on the Quant side is excellent and certainly puts any Quant concerns to rest (regardless of the percentile score). Just curious: How did you prepare for your GMAT? Where did you start from?

    Overall your numbers look really solid and should give you a shot absolutely anywhere. I’ve had several students get into top 5 programs with less impressive numbers. That said, the GMAT score is below the median at a few of the schools on your list. Does that matter? I think it depends. Let’s say there are three types of candidates in terms of their scarcity with a 1 being extremely scarce and a 3 being extremely common. If you’re a 3 then the lower GMAT score could be an issue. If you’re a 1 I wouldn’t think about it at all. Whether you are closer to a 1 or a 3 for a specific school is something I’d discuss in more detail with an admissions consultant.

    Again – a 710 is a stellar score. Really nice work on that. Feel free to follow up with any questions!

    Good luck,

    A.

  • CBS19

    Throwing in my two cents – I recently got into Columbia with a Q43 (52nd percentile). Overall I had a 720 with a V46.

  • MBA Chaser

    Would love to hear your thoughts on my early planning for an elite MBA:

    Studied 6 months and scored a 710! Quant 47 and Verbal 40 with a 6 AWA and 6 IR. 3.9 GPA double major (econ with honors/film) from top 50 lib arts college, Phi Beta Kappa, graduated early. Club 2 sport Athlete/theater/screenwriting.

    Work experience: Interned at top tier entertainment companies in film development/finance (WME, three A-list production companies). Was a financial consultant at EY after graduation for 8 mos and currently doing film finance at top 4 talent agency. I’m 22, probably will work another 2 years and am hoping to go to: UCLA, Harvard, NYC, Columbia, Stanford, USC, Vanderbilt in that order or interest. Also planning on volunteering at an animal shelter in LA because hey, who doesn’t love animals!

    Wondering if i have the stats to have a shot at any of these schools! Thank you!

  • Hi Yasser,

    Thanks for the note! Great work on your GMAT. A Q47 is a solid score. It doesn’t seem great because the GMAT percentiles are whacky. With that in mind, I haven’t seen any evidence of a 47 Quant score keeping someone out of an elite MBA program and in my mind a 45+ seems to be a safe zone. Could you make up for the GPA with a higher composite score? I think that’s possible but I don’t have a data point to back that up. Whether the higher score comes from a better Quant or Verbal shouldn’t matter. My guess is that if you can muster a 40 verbal you should be able to hit a 42. If you haven’t done any LSAT for GMAT work that could be helpful should you decide to retake. You might want to get some direction from someone with more admissions experience. Maybe the rest of your application completely balances out the GPA even with your current GMAT score. Hope that is helpful – good luck!

    A.

  • Yasser Clor

    I scored a 710 with a 47 Quant and 40 Verbal (IR of 7 and AWA of 6). I’m not coming from a math/engineering background; I majored in political science in undergrad and am actually an Attorney. Do you recommend I retake to try to boost my quant score? The only issue is that I have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 (but with upward progress and a decent explanation since I was a division one athlete). I’m looking at schools like Tuck, Sloan, Ross, Darden, and Johnson. Would I need a higher quant for these schools? I did do well in math courses: A’s in Financial Accounting, Statistics, Microeconomics and B+ in Calculus.

    Thanks so much for the help!

  • Hi J,

    Hope you are doing well – great work on your GMAT! A 44 is monster verbal score. In terms of a retake that depends: where are you applying? I should have also asked Daphne this same question. If you’re looking at the top 3-4 schools then your GMAT is on the lower side. It’s not really the Quant that I’d be concerned with but the overall score. That said, considering your verbal score, it will likely be easier to boost the overall score by improving the Quant. If you’ve got something else on your application that’s a big plus then perhaps the slightly lower GMAT score doesn’t matter. Take all of this advice lightly. I am not an admissions expert. I’m just giving you insight based on the experience of my GMAT tutoring students. Hope that is helpful!

    Good luck,

    A.

    PS: Also, same idea as with Daphne, if you feel the 44Q is on the low side for you then I’d be more inclined to recommend a retake. If it’s the highest you’ve scored on your official practice tests then that creates a tougher decision. You might also take a look at your enhanced score report to see if there was some big issue on the Quant with timing or with fatigue (fading or running out of time at the end).

  • JSmith

    Similar to Daphne below, I scored a 44 on Quant and a 44 on Verbal (98th). My GPA is average, but my background is in engineering a top 3 engineering school. For some reason, I had a hard time with the quant, but have never had a problem with math. Is it worth retaking?

  • Hi Daphne,

    Thanks for the note! Super job on verbal and great work overall. At this point the rest of your application is more important. That said, if you feel that the 44Q is way below what you’re capable of and you don’t mind working more on the GMAT then go for it again. If the 44Q is near the top of the range of the Quant on official practice tests you’ve taken then you might think twice about more studying. But, just to be clear, I don’t think that the 44Q is something to be concerned about. It’s a solid score. If you really want to make sure, perhaps consider asking an admissions expert.

    Good luck,

    A.

  • Daphne

    I got a 44 in Quant and a 42 in Verbal (96th percentile), and a 3.8 GPA. I’m nervous that I won’t get into a top business school because of my quantitative score – do you think it’s unlikely given my scores?

  • NULL NULL

    Ahh..that makes much sense now..

  • Hi there,

    The combined score does vary although I’ve never seen more than a 10 point swing. It seems that a V35 Q51 could be a 700 or 710. I haven’t seen a 720 for those sub-scores. I think the variation has to do with rounding. Your V35 might have been a 35.1 while someone else’s might have been a 35.9. I do not have facts to back that up but have no other explanation for this variation.

    A.

  • NULL NULL

    I opine that this score varies incredibly with the year/ time of GMAT. I appeared for GMAT and scored 710, with V-35 and Q-51. In a different time, that might well be 700 or even 720. That’s so confusing!!

  • Good to know – thanks for the addition. My guess is if you are at or above the average GMAT (the 710 would have put this person above the average for Ross) with a massive tilt towards Quant then in many cases you will be just fine. It would be great to hear from more people with real experiences. I don’t have a lot of data for people with perfect quant/middle of the road verbal 700+.

  • AP

    Since you asked, I know a guy from India who got into Ross with a 710. 51Q and 32V. Strong tech background and now works at Microsoft