Stanford Graduate School of Business has achieved yet another new record for its incoming class of MBAs this fall: A 740 average GMAT. That score is 11 points higher than Stanford’s average just five years ago and three points more than it was in the previous year.
Yet far more revealing than a simple GMAT score is the percentile ranking of one’s score. This number indicates the percent of test takers who you outperformed. A ranking of 97%–which is where the average Stanford score is at this year–means that only 3% of test takers performed as well or better than you–and 97% didn’t do as well.
That’s lofty company to be in. Fewer than 7,500 test takers out of a total of roughly 190,200 in 2016 scored at that level or higher—and not all of them would have used the GMAT to apply to a two-year MBA program. Many applied to specialty master’s programs, part-time, executive and online MBA programs. In fact, only 43% of test takers overall send their GMAT scores to full-time MBA programs.
THE OVERALL AVERAGE GMAT SCORE FOR THE GMAT IS ONLY 552
While total GMAT scores range from a low of 200 to a high of 800, GMAC says that two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600. The average for all test takers is currently 552, though GMAT scores are only reported in increments of 10. More important than the overall average, however, is the average for applicants to the highly ranked global schools.
In an unusual disclosure, GMAC shed some fascinating light on how high the scores are in the applicant pool for the top schools. GMAC took the scores for eight countries: the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, India, and South Korea. Then, GMAC examined the scores sent to what it calls “global programs ranked highly around the world,” a subset of just 10 undisclosed schools (with five in the U.S., one in Canada, two in Europe, and two in Asia). It found that the average GMAT score was 651 — a score in the 76th percentile and an average that is 100 points higher than the overall average for the test. Only two years earlier, the average GMAT score for the group applying to the top 10 global programs was 22 points lower, at 629.
In the past two years, moreover, there’s been a marked flight to quality. Globally ranked programs are attracting more scores from test takers scoring 690 or higher — 13,262 in 2016 versus 12,022 in 2014 — despite there being fewer exams with this score in GMAC’s dataset. In 2016, GMAC revealed that candidates scoring 660 or higher accounted for 57% of the scores received by the highly ranked global schools. GMAC says that roughly one in six GMAT scores, about 19%, were cancelled in 2016, with the average score being cancelled at 603.