Does HBS Favor GMAT Test Takers?

“There is a cliche out there,” added Kreisberg, “that schools are looking for 80 percent on GMAT or GRE on both sides–that is true-ish,  but Leopolds remarks refine that. Your splits count, and they count depending on your background and transcript of courses. It is possible to get a 3.9 from classy U.S. tech colleges and still not really speak English.  That concerns them.”

Leopold did not disclose the average or median GRE score of Harvard’s admits. Previously, the school said that the median GMAT score for the Class of 2016 was 730, with a range that went from a low of 580 to a high of 790 on the test which has a maximum score of 800.

A Poets&Quants analysis of reported GMAT and GRE scores by top schools showed that admission committees are willing to accept candidates with lower GRE equivalent scores. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, for example, reported an average GMAT score of 690 for the MBA class that entered last year. That score is the 88th percentile on the GMAT test, but the average GRE score the school accepted was the equivalent of 50 points lower.

SOME SCHOOLS INTERPRET THE SCORES ON THE TESTS DIFFERENTLY

She also did not say whether the bar for a GRE score or any of its components is higher than it would be for the GMAT. Some elite business schools want to see higher quant scores in particular on the GRE from applicants.

At Yale University’s School of Management, were roughly 20% of its admits to the MBA program come in with GRE scores, there is little difference in the admit rates between applicants who do either test. “We do go back and calculate acceptance rates on our enrollment students, and every year we find that we accept GRE test takers at the same rate as GMAT test takers,” said Bruce DelMonico, admissions director at Yale SOM. “Both the quant and verbal breakdowns are viewed the same across the two tests.”

But Yale interprets the scores “with a slight shading in a few ways,” added DelMonico, at a webinar sponsored by Poets&Quants in May. The admissions office looks at percentiles rather than raw scores on the test. “On the GMAT quant, there is no minimum or threshold but we like to see people in the 60th percentile and above,” said DelMonico. “For the GRE, we like to see it closer to the 70th percentile or above. We believe that equates to each other. That might change as we look at this further.”

LOW VERBAL SCORES WILL RAISE MORE FLAGS FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS

Overall, admission consultants praised Leopold for sharing the numbers. “This is great news for applicants who will now have more flexibility in deciding which test result to send based on how well they perform in the GRE vs the GMAT,” said Chioma Isiadinso, founder of EXPARTUS consulting and a former member of Harvard Business School’s Admission Board. “But applicants should pay close attention to Dee’s point about reviewing subscores in the context of the candidate’s profile.

“Low verbal scores among international applicants will raise more flags than for native English speakers. A lower than average quantitative score will be more of an issue for someone from a non quantitative background because it may suggest that he/she cannot handle the quantitative courses for business school. It could be less of a deciding factor for someone who has very strong quantitative background. Applicants, regardless of whether they take the GRE or the GMAT, should aim to do well across the different components of the test to give themselves the best chance of securing admission at their target school.”

DON’T MISS: A REVEALING INTERVIEW WITH HARVARD’S DEE LEOPOLD or 2014-2015 APPLICATION DEADLINES AT TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS

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.