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What is a Good GMAT Score in 2024?

Applying to business school is never an easy process, especially when juggling your personal and professional life. You don’t want to take the GMAT more times than necessary, but you definitely want the highest possible chance to get into your target business schools.

Whether you should re-take the GMAT depends not only on the question of whether you already have a good GMAT score, but also on the question of how much effort it would take you to raise it.

If you have a great score, just outside or in the 90th percentile, and you’ve already spent a lot of time on your GMAT study, you may be ready to move on. Everyone else should consider the merits of a retake, even if they’ve already achieved a good score. At many MBA programs, average GMAT scores are increasing (for example, see Poets&Quants article Average GMAT Scores Jump 11 Points For Wharton’s Fall Cohort), and raising your score can benefit you.

Watch our video to understand why you owe it to yourself to truly maximize your GMAT score:

What Is a Good GMAT Score?

Rules of thumb such as “anything in the 80th percentile or better” are categorically false, which we’ll explain later when discussing how GMAT scores feed into MBA rankings.

Your target score depends on where you’re applying and on your profile (which determines who you’ll be compared against).

The starting point here is to research the average GMAT scores for your target schools (provided in the appendix at bottom) and use this as a baseline. A lower score may suffice if you have distinctive experiences or come from an under-represented group, but you may need to have an even higher score if you come from an over-represented group. Be honest about whether your experiences are truly distinctive; top MBA programs attract many accomplished applicants.

This average GMAT score, adjusted for your profile, can give you a guideline for the score that will make you competitive. You should also consider:

Why Do Business Schools Care So Much About the GMAT?

There are several reasons why MBA admissions officers care about your GMAT score.

Good GMAT Scores Prove That You Can Handle the Coursework

Business schools look at your GMAT score to ensure that you can keep up with their academic program. Here, your score is used to evaluate whether you have the necessary quantitative, verbal, and critical thinking skills to complete the coursework, which includes subjects like finance, economics, and strategy. The #1 job of an admissions team is to recruit students who can succeed in the program!

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GMAT Scores and MBA Rankings

Business schools care about rankings because… applicants care about rankings! When a school’s ranking improves, it will attract a larger and better-qualified pool of applicants. Enrolling a stronger group of students enhances the classroom experience and leads to better employment outcomes, both of which tend to further strengthen the school’s reputation and ranking. Naturally, business schools love this.

Until the 2023-2024 U.S. News MBA ranking, the GMAT was a direct factor in a program’s position on the list. That is, the average GMAT score of the incoming class was a major rating factor and one that the school could directly influence with its decisions.

However, in the 2023-2024 ranking, median GMAT/GRE scores replaced mean GMAT/GRE for the first time. U.S. News wrote that this change was intended to “limit the rankings impact of outlier scores, including low scores from otherwise promising applicants.”

Though it is too soon to tell how MBA programs will react to this change, the use of median test scores may impact admissions decisions in subtle ways. Namely, extremely high scores may become less valuable, and extremely low scores may present less of a handicap. David White, Founding Partner of Menlo Coaching, explained the logic in a recent note.

Imagine two artificially simplified classes an MBA program could recruit:

Group A: 650, 700, 730, 730, 740

Group B: 650, 700, 730, 750, 780

The median for both groups is 730, but the means would be 710 and 722 respectively. Under the old U.S. News ranking system, Group B’s higher scores would be more likely to sway the admissions committee, as the 750 and 780 would bring up the school’s rating in the test score section. But under the new system, there is no inherent reason to choose Group B over Group A.

Of course, there are other reasons that AdComs might still prefer high GMAT scores—for more on this topic and an in-depth discussion of the U.S. News MBA ranking methodology, visit our page, “Should You Trust the U.S. News MBA Rankings 2024?

GMAT Scores Matter to (Some) Post-MBA Employers

In many cases, your GMAT score is important in terms of potential employment opportunities. Many employers in finance and consulting (such as Bain, McKinsey, and BCG) use the GMAT as a factor when deciding which students to interview. Having a high score can position you as a strong candidate and give you a competitive edge.

How Much Effort Would it Take to Increase Your GMAT?

There are several clear indicators that you have extra points in the tank that could be unlocked with the right GMAT study plan and knowing how to best prepare for the exam.

MBA applicant studying for GMAT

Your (Official) Practice Exam Scores Were Higher Than Your Results on the Live Exam

Because the official practice exams include questions that have been used on past live exams, official practice exams are an accurate diagnostic tool for assessing your progress. (Read more about why you should trust only the official practice tests). If you were overwhelmed on the day of the live GMAT and didn’t perform nearly as well as on your practice exam, you should consider retaking the exam.

You Never Used a Tutor

For the reasons described on our GMAT tutoring service page, you should strongly consider using a tutor if you’ve relied only on self study or group classes until now. Tutors can help you to reach a higher score, and to do so faster than you could on your own. For example, the GMAT tutoring page features a video from our tutoring client Skylar describing how after 250 hours of study using materials from Kaplan, he achieved a +80 point improvement in only 10 hours of tutoring (plus homework!) with Menlo Coaching.

At Menlo Coaching, our GMAT prep program is designed around efficiency: we help you get you the maximum test results possible, in the least amount of time.

You Got a Great Score Even Without Studying

It is not crazy to retake if you have received a 98th or 99th percentile overall score.  On the GMAT Focus Edition, there is now more room to move on the far end of the curve so retaking the test could result in a 10-point increase that impacts your admissions decision.

As explained in the section about MBA rankings, the question is not “Is my score good enough?”, but “What’s the marginal effort to raise my score, and is it worthwhile?”

You’re a Great Test Taker But Didn’t Do Very Well on the GMAT

Graduated summa cum laude? Incredible score on the SAT or the ACT? If so, you should be able to score well on the GMAT. If your GMAT doesn’t measure up to your other academic achievements, it’s a sign that you should probably study more and retake.

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Other GMAT Questions

How Does the GMAT Score Chart Translate my Raw Scores Into an 805-Point Score?

Good question. We discuss this fully in our article about the GMAT score chart. Understanding the scoring table can help you to figure out whether to study for the verbal section or the quantitative section.

Is it OK to Take the GMAT Multiple Times?

Yes. In fact, taking the GMAT more than once can show your desire to improve your profile. We once coached an applicant with a low GMAT score who had been waitlisted at a Top 10 program. We advised him to retake immediately, which he did, scoring 20 points lower than his existing score. Shortly after that, the school called to admit him! They told him that they appreciated the effort and saw it as a sign of the effort he’d put into the MBA program.

Taking the GMAT once, getting an OK-but-not-great score, and moving on can signal the opposite. Don’t let the school believe that you shy away from putting effort into self-improvement!

If the best study methods have been used, prep has been consistent, expert help has been enlisted, and no improvement on the GMAT score is being made, then you might consider switching to the GRE. Nevertheless, we will always recommend that you start with the GMAT, since it is tailored to MBA programs.

I Got 60th Percentile on Quantitative, But 90th on the Verbal, So I’ll Focus on Quant Because I Want to Get to 80th Percentile on Both.

This is a big mistake that can cause you to waste time chasing a near-perfect Quantitative score when you could have raised your overall 805-point score much faster by focusing on the Verbal. In another article, we talk about GMAT percentiles and why they don’t usually matter. There’s a rarely discussed issue that we explain fully: the percentile curve is broken by test takers from STEM backgrounds who are unlikely to be admitted to MBA programs even with a perfect Q51.

Appendix: Average GMAT Scores at Top MBA Programs

To get an idea of how competitive your GMAT score is, review the average GMAT score of your target school. Many business schools’ admissions websites like the one from Harvard Business School state the average GMAT of their incoming students.

Note that if you are comparing a GMAT Focus Edition score, you’ll need to use this concordance table. This will give you a rough conversion of your score back to the Legacy format, which you then can weigh against averages from top business schools.

Class profiles are also a great source of information to discover how you compare to the school’s average GMAT. Not only that it allows you to gain a better understanding of how you might fit into the class in terms of undergraduate major, work experience, and demographics.

Here’s a quick overview of average GMAT scores for some of the top ranking business schools.

Business Schools2023202220212020201920182017
Stanford GSB738738733734732737
Harvard Business School*740730730730730730729
The Wharton School728733733722721717714
Northwestern Kellogg731729727727730732732
Chicago Booth728732724730731730
Columbia Business School729729729726727732724
MIT Sloan*730730720727728722
Dartmouth Tuck726726724720723722722
Berkeley Haas733729726727725726725
Virginia Darden716720715703713718713
Yale SOM*720730720721724727
Duke Fuqua**715720713700705704702
Michigan Ross719720722710719720716
Texas McCombs704708704704703703
Cornell Johnson*710710710700697699700
UCLA Anderson710711714706719719716
NYU Stern732733729723714712714
Carnegie Mellon Tepper710691680687690691
UNC Kenan-Flagler696706696694697703701
Emory Goizueta**709690692690684685682
USC Marshall722732716707708705703
Georgetown McDonough695697705691694693692
UW Foster710704692695696693
Rice Jones702705689710706711
Note: a) GMAT scores listed above are sourced from the business school’s official website.
b) *Median GMAT
c) **Estimate
d) (-)GMAT score not out yet

To hear how we can help you raise your GMAT score, check out our GMAT prep course, our GMAT tutoring, or send us a note directly at [email protected].

Fitting the GMAT into the MBA Application Timeline

Many MBA applicants struggle with fitting their GMAT preparation in alongside their application materials and external commitments, like work and family. And this only gets more difficult as deadlines approach.

We’ve compiled a guide to the MBA application timeline, outlining what you need to do and when you should do it.

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