Lower GRE Scores Accepted By HBS?

the golden passport review

HBS students at graduation

MBA applicants to Harvard Business School are getting into the school with GRE scores that are the equivalent of 20 points below the median GMAT results for successful candidates.

That’s one conclusion from the school’s recently published final profile for the Class of 2019 which, for the first time ever, includes median GRE scores. HBS revealed that the median GRE scores are 164 for both the verbal and quant sections of the test. That roughly translates into a 710, 20 points under the actual average 730 GMAT score at Harvard, based on the score comparision tool from the Educational Testing Service, the administrator of the GRE. Harvard’s GRE scores are similar to Stanford GSB’s 164 verbal and 165 quant last year (see GRE Scores At Leading Business Schools).

In releasing the GRE numbers, HBS admissions chief Chad Losee mainted he has no preference between the two tests. In a blog post , he said “we are truly indifferent about which one you submit.” About 12% of this year’s entering class got into HBS with a GRE. That’s above such peer schools as Wharton and Columbia Business School, where the previous percentage were 9% and 7%, respectively, but slightly below Stanford Graduate School of Business and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, both at 13%, and MIT Sloan, which enrolled 18% of its MBA class last year with GRE scores.


“These numbers show that people seem to be getting into HBS with slightly lower GRE scores than GMAT scores,” says Linda Abraham, founder and CEO of accepted.com, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. “But Losee’s advice is spot on: ‘Choose the one that allows you to best show your strengths, then move on to other parts of your application.’

Harvard isn’t the only leading business school willing to accept slightly lower GRE scores. An analysis by Poets&Quants several years ago of data from other top MBA programs showed a similar trend (see Schools Accepting Lower GRE Scores). Because this is the first time HBS has disclosed GRE medians, the differences at Harvard had been unknown until now.

“If an applicant does better on the GMAT than the GRE, that person should take the GMAT,” says Abraham. “If an applicant does better on the GRE than the GMAT, that person should use the GRE. However having these numbers is going to be very helpful to applicants trying to decide if they are competitive or need to retake an exam. I hope more schools start to post their GRE numbers also.”

The numbers in the final class profile are largely the same as the preliminary results the school released on June 8th (see HBS Apps Up 6%, Topping 10,000). Besides the release of GRE data, HBS also disclosed that the full range of GMAT scores for the just entered class was 580 to 790. Previously, the school revealed only the mid-80% range.


Abraham believes, however, that that Losee may be giving work experience greater weight in the school’s admissions decisions due to the flat average GPA of the class, 3.71 again, and the flat median GMAT score of 730 at a time when several peer scores are reporting higher GMAT numbers.

“It seems to me that Chad and team may be emphasizing experience over GPA,” says Abraham. “Given the GMAT arms race, the fact that Harvard’s GMAT did not go up and the average GPA stayed the same despite an 11% acceptance rate tells me the folks in Dillon (the name of the building where admissions resides) are weighing experience and other factors slightly more than academic stats.”

Other noteworthy changes in this year’s class profile:

  • HBS’ yield inched up 1% to a stratospheric 91% from 90% last year.
  • The percentage of women edged down slightly from last year’s 43% to this year’s 42%
  • The percentage of U.S. citizens remains unchanged so it appears that a potential Trumpian impact on international enrollment hasn’t affected Harvard.
  • Enrollment from Africa while still low increased from 12 to 16.
  • The percentage of the class coming from a business or economics educational background increased this year by about 10%, from 41% of last year’s class to 45% of this year’s class. STEM and Humanities each declined roughly five percentage points.

Source: Harvard Business School class profile for the Class of 2019


  • anon

    You all wished you went to HBS

  • jjjy

    I think we should not be misled by the ETS GRE conversion tool for GMAT. The tool does not correctly represent the numbers

  • Jason

    @Molly Above is just noise about acceptance of low score. A great sound bite. Most importantly, frankly your comments make you sound like the label you posted. Sometimes life changing events may be the reason for people’s outcomes. Don’t judge people so easily, challenge yourself to be more understanding.

  • anon

    Yes, it is just an awful state of affairs for Harvard isn’t it? lol. Just awful. I’m sure they were all blushing at orientation or upon reading our stupid comments.

  • henry

    Wow, i am glad you understand anon. It really is a sad state. I agree the mighty have fallen- just wait until next year. You know they will work as hard as possible to boost their scores to stave off further embarrassment.

  • anon

    I know right. How sad that they rank only 7-9 at taking mostly multiple choice tests (amazing that the U.S. uses dominantly multiple choice exams for entry into graduate and professional programs and people glorify them as metrics despite the fact that any good school using them as admissions metrics will hopefully not employ faculty that will use such examinations as the primary mode of assessment in their class. Seems to be a misalignment if you ask me)? They are just so important in measuring the ability to make very complex decisions in business or life. Those poor dummies. I’m sure they will screw everything up and be crippled by their intellectual disabilities. Just so sad. I’m sure they have no other abilities, experiences, skills, or other types of intelligence to compensate. Poor things.

  • Truth

    fake news. the propaganda machine is strong. not quite as much manipulation as another well known school.

  • check the numbers

    The HBS average GPA is still 3.71 this year, not sure what this article is talking about.

  • Right

    sure people will still go based on the history and name. That doesn’t mean the students are smart.

  • Right

    Yeah, that 90% yield is pretty bad, they must be down in the dumps

  • Molly

    wow hbs really takes some dumb cats. I guess their interview is more of a BSing exam.

  • roy

    Everyone has to remember that that is a median. Wharton and Booth have medians of 740 and means of 730. Kellogg has a mean of 732 Having a median of 730 may result in a mean of only 720, maybe 725 at very highest. They say they don’t care about test scores, but that class quality is bad. Probably ranked 7th or 8th overall by test score. Oh how the mighty have drastically fallen.