How Important Is My GMAT Score?

by Target Test Prep, Apr 20, 2022

If you’re planning to apply for admission to MBA programs, you’re likely already thinking about the various parts of your applications, such as your work experience, undergraduate GPA, and essays. Of course, another component of many people’s business school applications is their GMAT scores. So, you may be wondering how important your GMAT score is in your quest for admission to business school.

In this article, I’ll discuss the role and importance of GMAT scores in business school admissions, so that you have the information you need to make informed decisions about the GMAT.

Let’s begin by discussing how important the GMAT is to MBA admission officers.

How Important Is Your GMAT Score for MBA Admissions?

There are three main reasons why GMAT scores are important to MBA admissions officers:

  • GMAT scores confirm applicants’ readiness to handle a school’s program.
  • GMAT scores correlate with the performance of admitted applicants.
  • GMAT scores matter for business school rankings.

Let’s consider each of these reasons.

GMAT Scores Confirm Readiness

MBA programs can be intense. So, admissions committees want some assurance that applicants will be able to handle the rigors of the programs. One way they can get that assurance is by seeing that an applicant has scored above a certain threshold on the GMAT.

Furthermore, schools are often especially concerned with knowing that applicants have the quantitative skills necessary to thrive in their programs. So, in addition to preferring that applicants’ GMAT total scores be above a certain threshold, many business schools seek applicants with strong GMAT quant scores. For example, top MBA programs tend to want to see GMAT quant scores in the 70th percentile or higher.

GMAT Scores Correlate with Performance

Business schools want to admit the applicants who will contribute the most to the educational experience of their fellow students and generally perform at the highest level while attending business school. So, another reason why GMAT scores are important to MBA admissions officers is that both research and schools’ experiences have shown that GMAT scores are strongly correlated with the performance of business school students. Thus, all else equal, the higher an applicant’s GMAT score, the higher the expected business school performance of that applicant. So, for business schools, the higher an applicant’s GMAT score, the better.

GMAT Scores Matter for Business School Rankings

Both U.S. News and The Economist use average GMAT scores of admitted applicants as one of their criteria in ranking MBA programs. So, naturally, since GMAT scores matter for well-known rankings, business schools want their admitted applicants to have high GMAT scores.

We can see that business schools have multiple reasons to want accepted MBA applicants to have high GMAT scores. So, it is not surprising that, in a 2015 survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the makers of the GMAT, MBA admissions officers said that GMAT scores are among the most important MBA admissions criteria. In fact, they allocated 20 percent of the weight of factors underlying their admissions decisions to the GMAT.

Another top MBA admissions criterion is GPA, and in the GMAC survey, admissions officers said that they give GMAT exam scores and GPA about equal weight. However, that’s not the whole story. So, let’s discuss what the real deal is with GMAT scores and GPAs in MBA admissions.

Is My GMAT Score More Important Than My GPA?

There are some key differences between GMAT scores and GPAs that affect how MBA admissions officers view the two measures. One is that, whereas GMAT scores are standardized, GPAs from different undergraduate programs mean different things. After all, universities, and even professors within universities, grade in different ways. Also, most MBA applicants take the GMAT years after they graduate from undergraduate programs.

So, because of these differences, MBA admissions officers consider the GMAT a more reliable indicator of a candidate’s abilities than GPA. Thus, you’re better off with a GPA that’s lower than your target school’s average and a good GMAT score than you are with a solid GPA and a relatively low GMAT score.

So, your GMAT score carries a little more weight than your GPA. Also, for the same reasons, you can to a degree make up for a weak GPA by scoring high on the GMAT.

Of course, test scores and GPAs are not the only criteria that MBA admissions committees consider when making admissions decisions. So, let’s now consider the importance of your GMAT exam score in the context of your entire MBA application.

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