GMAT scores  


A 780 and you're in, right?

Sorry, not quite. One of the biggest misperceptions that applicants have is that a high GMAT score alone somehow confers "most favored applicant" status on them. The fact of the matter is that most who apply to a top school have good GMAT scores, and many have exceptional ones. Yet we've interviewed countless prospective students who honestly believe that a score in the 700s is almost a guarantee of admission to their top choice. They tell us their score and then fall silent, as if expecting us to heap praise on them for their accomplishments in this area. Needless to say, they're still waiting. Yes, the GMAT is important. It's important to do well and to get within a certain range of your targeted school's average score for admitted students, at which point the GMAT becomes a non-issue. You've proven you have certain capabilities, but not much more than that. Should you bother studying? If you're applying to one of the top schools and you're reasonably certain that you can get a score solidly in the upper 600s, then your time would be better spent elsewhere. The time and effort required to incrementally raise your score another ten or twenty points is simply not worth it. Why not? Well, while the GMAT is the one standardized measure of your academic capabilities, it's important to do as well as your peers so that the committee doesn't have to wrestle with the issue of whether or not you can handle their rigorous MBA curriculum. Acing the exam helps solidify your position as a candidate who "walks on water," as long as all your other accomplishments are equally stellar. However, if you're within the range of a school's average score, retaking the test and doing better will not improve your chances. If you're iffy, it won't put you over the top. If the rest of your application isn't up to par, a higher GMAT won't get you in either. This is not the make-or-break point; struggling to eke out an extra ten points on your score will simply not give you a competitive advantage. If a school's average score is 710, aim for a score within 50 points above or below that, and you'll be in good shape.

Since schools report the average GMAT scores of their incoming classes, the GMAT remains a benchmark through which b-schools will compete with each other, thus maintaining the role of this exam in the admissions process. The best way to jump this hurdle is to prepare adequately for the test, take it once, get a score in at least the upper 600s, and then stop worrying about it entirely. While a low score will raise some concerns with the admissions committee and is something to be avoided at all costs, a high score in and of itself will never be enough to get you in.



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