How do admissions officers use GMAT scores?

There is no universal or uniform use of GMAT scores. For example, Rotterdam, Erasmus considers only the Verbal Section of the test as a relevant selection tool, using it primarily to evaluate your English abilities. Schiller International University, on the other hand, has found a high correlation between GMAT math scores and eventual success in their MBA program and therefore concentrates on the Quantitative score to select, or “weed out,” applicants. Further, HEC Montreal considers the overall GMAT score to be a good indicator of future success in their MBA curriculum, especially for applicants with little or no scientific background.

You might also consider the policy of certain schools toward applicants who have taken the GMAT several times. Harvard Business School, for instance, does not discriminate against the applicant and simply accepts the highest score. Wharton, however, averages the scores submitted. The best tactic, in general, is to achieve the highest score possible the first time you take the test.

Another important issue is the score policy of your target school(s), and how admissions officers, in their evaluation, treat the GMAT. Studies show that a very strong correlation exists between the average GMAT score of an MBA class in a given school and that school’s rank. According to Business Week, the average GMAT score in the top 10 United States MBA programs ranges from 637 to 710. Although it is true that the GMAT is just one criterion for admissions among others (personal essays, letters of recommendation, professional and academic background, interviews,...), the test remains one of the most important criteria, if not the most important.

One thing is certain: the higher the ranking of the school, the more closely considered your GMAT score will be. Indeed, Business Week reports that the GMAT counts for 20 percent of the admissions criteria at the top schools, while U.S. News and World Report puts the figure at 30 percent. For recognition and credibility, it is to their advantage that highly competitive and well-known business schools require a high GMAT score. For slightly less competitive schools, the GMAT score and evaluation policy is typically more flexible. For any school you consider, we advise contacting the admissions office and asking for their GMAT admissions policy.