Your GMAT score doesn’t need to be perfect to be admitted to a top-tier business school. However, it does need to be high enough so that you’re seen as a serious contender. You don’t want the rest of your application to have to compensate for a GMAT that simply underwhelms.
Here are the questions to ask yourself to decide if your GMAT score is high enough.
- What demographic am I a part of?
Admissions committees look at a large number of factors when deciding on who to admit to their programs. Since there is no exact science to this decision-making process, who you are matters. If you’re a male from India who has been working in IT for the past five years, your score will need to be higher than a South American female who has been working for a non-profit for the past five years and traveling the world. Both applicants need to have competitive GMAT scores. However, once the admissions committee sees her high score, the South American world traveler will have an easier time keeping their interest in the rest of her application.
- What is in the rest of my application?
Not everyone who is accepted to top-tier MBA programs has the highest GMAT. As we saw from out South American world traveler, many of our clients have successfully overcome less than ideal scores by assuring that the rest of their application is outstanding. An application that includes an amazing GPA, well-written, engaging essays, fantastic recommendation letters, and a resume that demonstrates your hard work and leadership qualities may help you get past a below-average GMAT score (keeping in mind that it has to be high enough to persuade the committee you can handle the academic demands of graduate business school). You can still prove that you’re an exceptional candidate, despite a less- than-stellar GMAT score.
- Which MBA programs am I sending my applications to?
Our most successful clients understand that their GMAT scores might be highly competitive at some programs and totally outside the ballpark at others. In order to see how competitive your score is, you should visit your target schools’ websites and look at the GMAT range, not just at the average. Checking out the range will let you know how low a score a program will consider before rejecting an application on just the GMAT score.
- What is my GMAT score?
Schools will evaluate both your total score and the different components of your test score. If both your verbal and quant GMAT scores are above the 80th percentile, you should certainly consider applying to top-tier programs—as long as the rest of your application is top-tier as well. Scores lower than the 80th percentile don’t have to necessitate re-taking the GMAT, but they probably do require you to contemplate applying to excellent programs outside the top 10.
Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions and taken the time to answer honestly, you’re much better equipped to decide what you should do next. Will you apply to your target MBA programs this year, or wait for a year or two to give yourself an opportunity to improve your profile, or will you apply to lower ranked programs where you are more competitive?
Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, and Poets&Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.
Need help deciding what your next move should be? The expert advisors at Accepted have helped thousands of applicants decipher their stats and build successful admissions strategies based on those numbers. Check out Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting & Editing Services for more information on how you can get ACCEPTED.