Do you need a perfect score on your GMAT to gain acceptance to a top-tier business school? No. But you definitely need your score to be high enough so that your application is seriously considered, so that the rest of your application isn’t fighting an uphill battle to overcome a sub-par GMAT score.
So, is your GMAT score good enough? To figure this out, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who am I?
Who you are matters because admissions decisions don’t follow a strict formula or algorithm based entirely on numbers. You need to evaluate your score in the context of your demographic profile.
For example, if you’re a guy from India in the IT field who just spent the last five years sitting at a desk coding and crunching numbers, then you’re going to need a more competitive GMAT score than if you’re a gal from Chile who spent the last five years working for a energy-related non-profit that shuttled back and forth between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica.
Again, even our Chilean social enterprising world explorer will need a score high enough to get her application looked at, but once she makes it past that point, she’ll have no trouble keeping their attention.
2. What does the rest of my application look like?
It is possible to recover from a not-so-ideal GMAT score, but that is if and only if the rest of your application is flawless (or nearly so).
If you have an almost perfect GPA, stunning application essays, amazing letters of recommendation, and a resume that shows that you’ve worked hard and succeeded, then you’ll be in a position to prove to the adcom that you’re a fantastic candidate and that the GMAT is just not your thing (again, it still needs to be good enough to get your app looked at).
3. Which b-schools am I applying to?
It goes without saying that some GMAT scores will be highly competitive at some programs and not even close to competitive at others. To see if your score is “good enough,” you need to visit your target schools’ websites and see what their GMAT range is. Don’t just look at the average; the range will give you a better idea of how low they’ll go before weeding out an application based on GMAT score alone.
4. What is my score?
If you scored above the 80th percentile on both the verbal and quant sections of the GMAT then you should consider yourself in the clear and good to go to apply to highly ranked MBA programs (assuming that the rest of your application is top-notch as well). If you received lower than that, that doesn’t mean that you need to retake the GMAT (necessarily), but does mean that you need to look at your GMAT in the larger scheme of things and consider retaking the GMAT if you feel your profile needs it and you are aiming for those top programs.
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and done some serious soul-searching, you’ll have a much better idea of what your next steps should be – going ahead and applying to your target b-schools this year, waiting and applying to your top choices next year (or even the following year) while you work on improving your profile, applying this year, but to lower ranked programs, etc.
Last but not least, please be in touch if you need help analyzing your stats and determining where and when you should apply to b-school. We’re here to help!