What GMAT score do I need?

Competency vs. Competition 
The required score - on the GMAT, GRE or EA, depends, in part, upon the diversity you bring to the class. For POC, women, those from underrepresented countries - or even those with a unique work background – admissions is mainly looking for competency. They are motivated to qualify you because diversity is key to the whole value proposition of an MBA, what they are selling.

One case in point would be a recent HBS grad I worked with: female, from a French-speaking North African country, working in finance. She also came from a prestigious EU undergrad and established a track record of leadership there. She got in with a 650 but the quant and TOEFL was solid.

I mention the part about her quant and TOEFL score because HBS needed to know she could participate fully in class and handle the coursework. If someone flunked out, it would be a financial loss for the school…. possibly a reputational loss.

For diverse native English speakers, the biggest concern is usually establishing competence in numeracy. Sometimes, a poor test score can be mitigated with good grades in quant-based UG or Masters courses. If this is you, consider finding the course descriptions and including these in the additional information or additional upload area.

Showing quant skills on the job, preferably buttressed in the recommendation letter, can also help.  

But if you fall on the side of overrepresented, Indian, SEA, white males…even consultants…the pool of candidates similar to you is larger, which BIDS UP the GMAT/GRE/EA score you need to be competitive.

If admissions has 2 similar candidates, they will accept the one with the higher test score, of course! This is partly why it’s so critical to create a highly differentiated avatar through your applications! This is why I am extremely proud of helping overrepresented candidates with poor test scores crack M7 schools.  

The class profile – especially GMAT median/averages - signals the quality of an MBA program’s graduates to recruiting companies. But the GRE is NOT always on the class profile, and the EA is NEVER on the class profile for full-time programs.

So, if the GMAT isn’t working out there is a bit of a back door to schools accepting GRE/EA, etc but those corresponding median/average scores are not published in the class profile. Or, similarly you can focus on schools that accept waivers. But remember this is IF you can establish competency AND have an application that shows you would complement the class (add a unique contribution.)  

Hope this sheds some light! Some of you need to plug away for a score 20 points over the median/average for your target school. More “rare” candidates can still get in 20 points under the median/average. There is a whole constellation of factors involved to summate how unique you are, what unique contributions you would make to the class, and how to show competency you can handle the rigor of the program!


Having worked for many large MBA prep firms earlier in my career, I am proud to be a boutique provider who only handles 4-5 clients per round. I get to know my clients inside and out, which allows admissions to as well.

Partner with me to significantly increase your chances of being admitted to your top choice MBA program. Complete my contact form to receive CV and profile feedback.




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