GMAT scores at the top business schools keep inching higher.
The average score on the Graduate Management Admission Test rose at 10 of the Top 25 MBA programs in the U.S. last year and some of the largest increases were at public universities. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flager Business School led all Top 25 in posting a 14-point rise in GMATs to 697 for its latest entering MBA class. The University of Washington’s Foster School reported a 12-point jump to 682 last year, while UCLA’s Anderson School of Management saw an equally impressive nine-point increase to 715.
The average GMAT scores of entering MBA classes at the top business schools often tell you more about the institutions than the applicants. That’s because schools with stable or increasing GMATs are generally re-investing in their MBA programs, while schools with declining GMAT scores are more often than not milking the cow.
COMPETITION TO GET INTO A TOP MBA PROGRAM IS AS SEVERE AS IT HAS EVER BEEN
A new Poets&Quants study of average GMAT scores shows that the competition at the top is more severe than ever, especially when you examine the numbers over a five-year span. Some 16 of the top 25 U.S. schools are reporting higher GMATs since 2010, with just eight programs reporting a decline in average scores.
Call it grade inflation or just plain GMAT creep. But most of the truly elite full-time MBA programs have seen ever-increasing scores for their latest entering classes. In the last five years, for example, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has boosted average GMAT scores by 10 full points to a record 728 last year from 718 in 2010. In fact, the average GMAT score for Wharton’s latest entering class exceeds Harvard Business School for the first time ever. Wharton is now two points higher than Harvard’s 726.
Hot on Wharton’s heels for one of the largest increases among the elite schools is the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business which is up nine points to a record 724 in the past five years.
THE BIGGEST FIVE-YEAR GAIN IS BEING REPORTED BY MICHIGAN STATE’S BROAD COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
Yet, several schools managed to post even more sizable gains in the past five years. Vanderbilt University’s Owen School has increased its average GMAT score by 15 points to 688 since 2010. Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business had the highest single gain of 30 points to 666 last year from 636 five years earlier.
Gains like these don’t happen by accident. They occur because of a concerted effort by leadership to boost the school’s standing. Sadly, the reverse is true when GMAT scores go the other way. Double-digit declines, in particular, are a bright red sign that a school is losing the competitive fight for the best and the brightest. It’s also a sure bet that a school is not investing in its MBA program, but rather milking it for revenue to fund other parts of the university.
Top 50 Schools With Biggest Five-Year Increases In GMAT Scores
|School||Five-Year Change||Average 2014 GMAT||Average 2010 GMAT|
|Michigan State (Broad)||+30||666||636|
|North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)||+11||697||686|
Source: Poets&Quants analysis from available GMAT data