GRE Scores At The Top 50 MBA Programs In The U.S.

More and more students are opting for the Graduate Record Exam over the Graduate Management Admission Test, though some top schools have seen their proportion of GRE test score submitters drop.


The craziness of 2020 had a profound effect on GMAT scores, driving them down at 30 of 37 top schools, including seven of the top 10 — most dramatically at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which saw its average fall 10 points to 722. Only three schools in the top 25 avoided GMAT declines.

Were GRE scores similarly affected? Yes, but not as dramatically.

The GRE has three scored sections: a Verbal Reasoning score reported on a 130-170 score scale; a Quantitative Reasoning score, also reported on a 130-170 scale, and an Analytical Writing score reported on a 0-6 scale. In 2020, all six top-10 schools for which data is available saw declines in their total scores, averaging 1.5 points. In the top 25, 11 of 20 schools saw decreases, averaging 2.8 points, while two were even and seven were up an average of 1.4 points. The biggest drop-off: UCLA Anderson School of Management, which lost 10 points to 316 thanks to an equal 5-point drop in both Quant and Verbal. (The biggest score increase came at the school with the fewest test takers: UC-Irvine Merage, which gained 11 points to 322 thanks to a 6-point jump in Quant and 5-point jump in Verbal.)

Once again, the top overall score belonged to Stanford GSB, which slipped a point from last year’s 330, followed by Yale SOM at 328 and both HBS and Northwestern Kellogg at 326. (However, the latter schools report medians, not averages.) Stanford was the only school with 165 in the Verbal portion of the test, and one of only two — along with Yale — with 164 in the Quant. CMU Tepper notched a 163 in Quant, and NYU Stern recorded a 163 in Verbal. The only schools to report a 5 in the Writing portion of the test were Stanford and Virginia Darden.

Nine schools reported higher Quant scores than Verbal, with Tepper having the widest gulf (163-158); 23 had higher Verbal scores. Sixteen schools had the same score in each.

Twenty-one of 52 schools saw an increase year over year, in their total score, at an average of 2.4 points; the same number saw a decrease, wit the average loss being 2.8 points. Two schools — HBS and Texas McCombs — were even, and eight could not be calculated because of missing data.

An interesting question: Did a big jump in the percentages of admits submitting GRE scores translate to big changes in score averages? Not really. At Pittsburgh Katz, which gained 24 percentage points to 58% submissions, average total score dropped 1 point. At Washington Olin, up 22 points to 71%, average score climbed a point. Ohio State gained 2 points after jumping 18 to 53%; Dartmouth Tuck lost 4 points after an 18-point jump to 39%.


And what about that five-year window? GRE scores for only three top-10 schools can be calculated over that 2016-2020 span, and all are even; in the top 25, eight schools are down an average of 4 points, five schools are even, and four schools are up an average of 2.25 points. Ten schools out of 52 saw increases averaging 3.3 points, but 22 schools saw decreases averaging 3.1 points. Seven schools were even, and 13 have not published sufficient data to determine.

Interestingly, eight schools are up in both the two- and five-year spans, and 12 are down in both.

The biggest five-year increase occurred at three schools: UC-Irvine, Tennessee Haslam, and Purdue Krannert, all of which gained 6 points. And the biggest five-year declines were at Virginia Darden (-7 to 319), Georgia Tech Scheller (-6 to 318) and Wisconsin (-6 to 312).

Did a big gain in GRE submissions over five years correspond to a big gain in scores? Again, no. The three schools with the biggest five-year increases — Washington Olin (+37), Pittsburgh Katz (+36), and Georgetown McDonough (+32) — saw, respectively, a 4-point loss, 2-point gain, and 2-point gain in that span.


Paul Bodine, founder and CEO fo admissions consultancy, says the GRE is now a permanent player on the admissions landscape.

“It used to be with the GRE that people perceived it as if ‘I’m a non-traditional, I will pick the GRE,'” Bodine tells P&Q. “But now I’m seeing people who are coming right out of finance or right out of consulting who are taking the GRE, because they figured out that they can do better on that. And I think people are also looking at the acceptance rates for GREs being higher with a lower score. Once you’re converted into the GMAT, it’s still higher. They’re thinking that this is maybe a backdoor into a top school if they’re not confident in the GMAT score they can get.”

Bodine says schools are embracing the test in part because of recent lost application volume — and though that trend has turned around, at least in the short term, the GRE is here to stay.

“I guess part of me is thinking that this is a reaction on their part to the loss of applicant volume,” he says, “because the MBA’s becoming more expensive. So they’re saying, ‘Okay, let’s open up the field by dropping the barriers to submitting an application. So let’s take GREs.’ I mean, Columbia’s taking the Executive Assessment. So I feel like they’re saying, ‘We see the writing on the wall in terms of the long-term loss of applicant volume, so we’re going to do what we need to do to get that back.'”

See the next pages for all the GRE data for the top 50 U.S. business schools as ranked by Poets&Quants, including quant, verbal & total score averages as well as the percentage of admits who submitted GRE scores since 2016.


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