Yale | Mr. Project Management
GRE 310, GPA 3.3
Yale | Mr. Environmental Sustainability
GRE 326, GPA 3.733
Harvard | Ms. JMZ
GMAT 750, GPA 3.47
Harvard | Mr. Renewable Energy Investing
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Kellogg | Mr. Boutique Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.67
INSEAD | Ms. Startup Enthusiast
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Food & Beverage
GMAT 720, GPA 3.75
INSEAD | Ms. Humble Auditor
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. Markets Guy
GMAT 760, GPA 3.62
Kellogg | Mr. Hope-I-Get-In
GMAT 720, GPA 3.62
Yale | Mr. AI & Fitness
GMAT 720, GPA 3.88
Stanford GSB | Just Jim
GRE 335, GPA 3.99
Harvard | Mr. RIPKobe
GMAT 750, GPA 3.87
HEC Paris | Mr. Indian Journalist
GMAT 690, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Andrew
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Sales Engineer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.00
Kellogg | Ms. Clean Tech
GMAT 690, GPA 3.96
Chicago Booth | Mr. Masters To MBA
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
NYU Stern | Mr. Long Shot
GRE 303, GPA 2.75
Kellogg | Ms. Kellogg Bound Ideator
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Tuck | Mr. Winning Team
GMAT 760, GPA 7.95 out of 10
Tuck | Mr. Strategic Sourcing
GMAT 720, GPA 3.90
Tuck | Mr. Recreational Pilot
GRE 326, GPA 3.99

How To Overcome A Low GMAT Score


“What I have seen as being successful in the past with my clients are very heavy involvement in a unique community activity,” adds Blanchette. “For example, I had a client develop a wheelchair seatbelt mechanism to help stop kids with Tourettes from hitting themselves. I also had a client lead the solar car team to the national championship.  It was not only significant leadership – but not your run of the mill stuff like habitat for humanity or big brother big sister, etc.

“I have also had clients be successful with low GMAT scores who have taken significant risks in the workplace,” adds Blanchette. “For example, starting their own business before going to college, or trying out for a professional dance company, or becoming an Olympic athlete – again very impressive and unusual/unique characteristics.”

Students who are admitted to top schools with low GMATs have certain characteristics in common, says Shawn O’Connor, founder and CEO of New York-based Stratus Admissions Counseling which recently helped a client with a 510 GMAT get into Harvard Business School. “Almost without fail, they have a strong undergraduate GPA (3.6+) from a good undergraduate institution,” he says.


“They tend to have robust, though quite traditional work experience at a leading consulting firm, financial institution, or marketing powerhouse. If their score is low due to poor quantitative performance, they instead demonstrate quantitative proficiency through their coursework and/or work experience. Contrary to popular belief, most of those students do not have a particularly out-of-the-ordinary personal story, though of course there are the occasional individuals who grew up in a war zone or played a professional sport and are therefore admitted notwithstanding a low GMAT.”

Stacy Blackman, head of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says that she sometimes will counsel applicants to take the GRE rather the GMAT if their score is low. “We understood that schools were willing to take risks on very strong clients who happened to have a low GMAT score,” says Blackman. “However, a big hesitation was often the rankings. Because the GRE was not yet reported out for rankings, we felt that even if our client received an equally low score on the GRE, she should submit her application with the GRE rather than the GMAT score.”

Blackman concedes the strategy felt a bit risky because the GRE was new and her client’s score was still very low. But the applicant’s highest GMAT score was only 600 with her quantitative percentile an extremely low 40, which was half the target score. Nonetheless, she decided to go with the GRE for two reasons. “One, we felt that a low GRE (vs. GMAT) would at least eliminate concerns around reporting to rankings,” she says, “and two, her GRE was overall lower but boasted a much higher quant score.” The candidate, says Blackman, is in the new entering class at HBS.



About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.