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Why You Should Look Beyond Business Schools' Average GMAT Scores

Studying on the Steps

Are you looking for business schools offering MBA and business master’s programs that could help you take the next step in achieving your career goals? There is a wide variety of business schools available across the globe, finding the right one can be challenging.

When you do find a program that seems like a good fit, you might be tempted to automatically look at the average GMAT score of students who were accepted onto the cohort, especially if it's higher than your own.

But average GMAT scores are not necessarily the right things to focus on. Read on to find out everything you need to know about your GMAT score, and why you should look beyond business schools' average scores when searching for MBA or business master’s program.

What is the GMAT?

The GMAT™ – short for Graduate Management Admission Test – is a standardized exam administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). It is a prerequisite for applying to most top business schools around the world.

The GMAT is split into four key sections. They are: the analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

The analytical writing assessment is an essay task, while the other three sections provide a number of questions for you to answer which test your quantitative and reasoning skills.

How to work out your GMAT score?

If you are searching for a place at business school, you're probably familiar with the score that GMAT test takers receive after taking the exam. Total GMAT scores range from 200-800. This provides a standardized metric that business schools can use to assess applications to their business and management programs.

You will receive your final score on your official score report, which is typically available within seven business days of taking the exam. While there are four factors involved in the GMAT, your final mark is made up of a combination of your verbal score and quantitative score.

While we would recommend that you prep for each section of the exam equally, some schools may value one part of your GMAT score over others: "most candidates focus on the total GMAT score. And while that is important, some schools value the quantitative score a bit more than the verbal," says Shelly Heinrich MBA admissions director at Georgetown McDonough School of Business.

"If you're getting down to the final days in which you need to study and you can only choose to sharpen up on one section, choose the quantitative section," she advises. We would recommend that you understand whether this is the case for the programs you are applying to while you prepare for the exam.

What is a good GMAT score?

It is one of the most common questions that incoming students ask admissions teams and consultants and, of course, the answer depends on your target business schools.

Top-ranked schools like the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School or University of Chicago Booth School of Business typically require a higher GMAT score than those who feature lower down the business school rankings.

That is why it's always a good idea to check out the website of your target school to find out what kinds of GMAT scores they're accepting into their programs.

You can do this by looking at the average GMAT score of your target program, which will give you an idea of what GMAT score is likely to give you a good chance of getting in. Average scores are also a metric that allows you to compare business schools with each other and figure out where you have the best chance.

But while it's useful to checkout your target business schools' average scores, you can also go further by checking out their GMAT score range to get a more in-depth insight into what's possible.

The GMAT score range

The minimum GMAT score is 200 while the maximum you can score on the test is 800. Although schools consider your application holistically, at the vast majority of schools worldwide, scoring above 700 is highly competitive.

A score of above 600 will also put your application in good stead, with many MBA and business master’s programs considering this a good score. Even the most competitive business schools are known to accept scores in the 500s each year.

Admissions teams assess each candidate based on the strength of their entire application. B-school applicants are more than just GMAT test-takers, they are working professionals with varying amounts of work experience, hailing from diverse backgrounds, and often showing different GPAs.

This means every year top business schools across the globe accept hundreds of applications with varying GMAT scores.

"MBA admissions is a holistic process," says David White, MBA admissions consultant and founder of Menlo Coaching. "Applicants can be admitted with below average GMAT scores if they bring value to the program in other ways."

Your target business schools may accept lower scoring applicants who have impressed the admissions committee during their interview. Candidates who have a wealth of experience to bring to the classroom may also gain acceptance with a lower score.

David identifies some key characteristics that help admissions teams look beyond the GMAT exam. They include: expertise in a topic that will be exciting to your peers; previous career success that suggests potential for further success later on; and a personal story that shows you've overcome hardship.

But, he adds: "these types of applicants are even stronger if they also have above average GMAT scores."

GMAT score ranges for top business schools

So if business schools are prepared to accept candidates with below average GMAT scores, what are the GMAT score ranges at top business schools?

You can find out the GMAT score range for your target business schools by looking at the incoming class profile for the MBA or business master’s program online. Many MBA programs report this information, among the top 10 business schools ranked by the Financial Times in 2022, only INSEAD does not report its GMAT score range.

The Wharton MBA is the top-ranked program in 2022, according to the FT. It accepted scores ranging from 530 to 790 for its most recent class. This gives a greater indication of the possibility of acceptance than the average GMAT score, which sits at 733.

At second-place, Columbia Business School’s average GMAT scores are 729, with a range of 540 to 780.

Harvard Business School and INSEAD are joint third. INSEAD only score r an average GMAT score of 708, while Harvard accepted scores ranging from 590 to 790, with a median GMAT score of 730.

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management is the fifth highest ranked school in the FT list, accepting an average GMAT score of 727. All accepted test scores range from 630 to 780.

Stanford Graduate School of Business has the highest average GMAT score among the top 10 with students on average scoring 738. But the school did accept far lower scores, with a GMAT score range of 610 to 790.

At the Booth School of Business, test takers score 732 on average, while the GMAT score range is between 590 and 790. Other GMAT test takers at eighth-placed London Business School have an average score of 708, while scores range from 590 to 790.

While many business schools report GMAT score range data, some opt to publish only the middle 80% range of GMAT scores they accept. Yale School of Management is the only school among the top 10 to do this, reporting a range of 690 to 760 and a median score of 730.

IESE Business School is the final school ranked among the top 10. It accepted a range of between 680 and 750, with the average sitting at a comparatively low score of 670.



GMAT Range

Average GMAT


University of Pennsylvania Wharton




Columbia Business School




Harvard Business School








Northwestern University: Kellogg




Stanford Graduate School of Business




University of Chicago: Booth




London Business School




Yale School of Management

690-760 (80%)



IESE Business School



* refers to a median GMAT score, rather than the average; (80%) means that the reported range is the middle 80%, rather than the total range

Why you should look beyond average GMAT scores

A quick look at the GMAT score ranges accepted across the world's top MBA programs shows that scores in the 500s are accepted – top-ranked Wharton accepted a score of 530 for its current class.

Clearly those candidates with scores substantially below the class average are likely to be exceptional in other elements of their application. But if you are looking to apply to business school, checking out the range of scores that are accepted will prove to you that it's possible to land a place even if your GMAT score isn't the strongest part of your application.