Consider “GRE Advantage” When Choosing A Test & Targeting Grad Schools


Poets&Quants’ Resident Expert, Seth Gilmore of The MBA Exchange

Serious MBA applicants are likely to consider the average GMAT and GRE scores for admits when assessing their competitiveness for specific business schools. Although just one factor in the overall application, having a below-average score is a definite constraint on the chances for admission. So, it’s very useful information when deciding where to apply.

For decades, average GMAT scores have been reported on school websites and published by the media. However, only recently have most of top 50 schools also reported their average GRE scores. This expanded disclosure reflects the growing popularity of the GRE among applicants and schools alike.

The opportunity to compare average GMAT and GRE scores for a given school is more valuable than some applicants may realize if they take the analysis one step further. Armed with P&Q’s report on average GRE scores at top MBA programs, candidates can use the free online GRE Comparison Tool to determine the “GMAT equivalent” of each school’s average GRE score. For all of these schools, the GMAT equivalents are lower than their average GMAT scores, indicating that the bar for MBA admission is relatively lower for GRE takers. The greater that variance, the greater the edge for GRE takers.

The average variance – between the average GMAT score and the GMAT equivalent of the average GRE score –  is a substantial 70.5 points for the 38 schools that reported both scores. This variance ranges widely, from a whopping 154 points at #29 Michigan State to just 6 points at #15 UCLA Anderson. Among schools ranked in the top 15 by P&Q, #7 Tuck and #11 Michigan feature an above-average “GRE advantage.” Five additional schools, including highly selective #3 Stanford, offer GRE takers a double-digit advantage:

  • #7 Dartmouth Tuck (92 points)
  • #11 Michigan Ross (76 points)
  • #12 Duke (52 points)
  • #9 Berkeley Haas (45 points)
  • #13 Virginia Darden (40 points)
  • #3 Stanford (27 points)
  • #10 Yale (17 points)

Of course, MBA applicants should always strive for the highest possible test score in order to increase their chances for admission. The options of cancelling a sub-par score and engaging an expert tutor enable every candidate to maximize his or her test performance. However, based on the above data, the odds of success for applicants with a below-average GMAT score might be enhanced by taking the GRE and targeting those schools with the largest “GRE advantage.”

The MBA ExchangeSeth Gilmore, Tuck MBA, is Managing Director of Test Prep Services at The MBA Exchange. Seth oversees a team of expert tutors and a test-anxiety specialist serving business and graduate school applicants worldwide. The team’s experience, process and guidance span the GMAT, GRE and LSAT.

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