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Average GMAT scores: What are the MBA admission chances for Indians?
Written by Sameer Kamat
Got an average GMAT score in your recent attempt? Chances are that your ‘average score’ isn’t as average as you think it is. If Indian IT Male (and Female) Engineers score a 690 on the GMAT test (a very respectable score by global standards), we still label them as average GMAT scorers. In fact, even a 700 or 710 doesn’t seem to impress the powers that be i.e international MBA Admissions officers of the top business schools.
But statistically, that’s far from the truth. The real average score for GMAT test takers around the world is…hold your breath…a whopping (!) 540.
That should make our 690 scorer a superstar in comparison, right? But the top schools don’t seem to agree, as the average GMAT score for the top MBA programs (Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, INSEAD, ISB, IIMA PGPX and many others) consistently falls in the 700-730 range.
So where does that leave our friends who have the real average GMAT score? There are quite a few business schools that generally do not figure in popular conversations on discussion forums. But they do have a class average that hovers around 540. Here’s a list of some of them.
Average GMAT scores & Schools where your chances are good
Here’s a list of bschools that might open the door for you despite your average GMAT score.
So now that we have seen a nice, long list of schools offering MBA programs where your average score may not be a problem, should you go ahead and apply?
You may want to hold on to your horses for a while more, till you have more information about the programs.
It’s true that a GMAT score says little about the managerial potential of the class participants. It’s also true that admissions to MBA programs consider several other data points (experience, industry, accomplishments etc). It’s incorrect to generalise, but several of the programs that accept candidates with low GMAT scores (or ‘average’, if we want to be statistically correct) are not as selective as the top programs. This means the filtering mechanism in the application process might not be on par with the best MBA programs. In fact, one of the schools in the list above has a close to 100% selectivity. This means almost everyone who applies can expect good news from the bschool.
The low market credibility could mean that many of the top recruiters that flock to the best ranking MBA programs may not come to the MBA campuses of these bschools. Of course there might be gems in there that we’d never know unless we dig deeper.
Average GMAT scores for Indians
Alright, after reading so far, as an Indian MBA applicant you know that your average GMAT score isn’t really that bad. But you are still curious to know what your score of above 600 or under 700 is competitive considering the mean GMAT scores for Indian bschools like ISB, IIMs (IIMA PGPX, IIMC PGPex, IIMB EPGP), XLRI GMP and others. Or for that matter the median GMAT for an MBA abroad. The best foreign MBA colleges have high averages too. This is also a significant factor when it comes to getting MBA scholarships (read these related posts –> GMAT Scholarships for Indian students & MBA Scholarships for Indian students).
You might wonder about the culprits who push up the average GMAT scores so high. Well, look no further, it’s your friendly neighbourhood IT Male Engineer from India probably sitting with a serious ‘busy-do-not-disturb’ expression on his face in the cubicle next to yours preparing for his GMAT diligently.
You’ll find inspiring average GMAT score success stories. These are applicants who played smart and used their strengths in the best possible manner. Several of them worked with good MBA admission consultants in India to ensure that their essays, recommendations, resume and interview were super strong. However, do remember that admission consultants can’t work any magic on a profile that is inherently weak. Content and presentation work together to go beyond average GMAT percentiles. And the MBA college choice matters too.
Read these stories about how much Indian applicants with an ‘average GMAT score’ (in relative terms) approached their MBA admissions process. You might be able to pick up some ideas on what worked for them.
INSEAD: After 6 Rejections & 4 GMAT attempts, Praveen gets into INSEAD Paris (France)
ISB: An average GMAT score for ISB didn’t stop Bodhi from getting a seat
Smeal: Fixing a low GMAT score helped Pushkal get a full scholarship + stipend at Smeal
NUS: NUS Singapore MBA and 4 other admits for Indian IT Engineer Male
SP Jain: Admit from SP Jain Global MBA with a 680 GMAT score
ESMT Germany: MBA in Germany with 50% scholarship (20,000 Euros waiver)
Search on our blog and you’ll find many more stories.
But do keep in mind that these are more likely to be exceptions rather than the norm. The best MBA colleges wouldn’t have had such high median scores if they had too many such exceptions. A majority of applicants lose the battle as they are purely fighting with a weak GMAT, weak essays and a weak overall strategy.
What if you are an Indian with a below average GMAT score?
Option 1- The simplest recommendation you’d get on most discussion forums – Crank up the GMAT preparation, dissect the entire GMAT syllabus, join the GMAT Club of 700+ scorers and apply to the better programs. Well, sounds logical. But if you could, you’d have done that in the first attempt or at least come close to your target score. Getting a 70-80 point jump in the GMAT score is very different from getting a 160 point jump (from 540 to 700).
Option 2 – The other option is to join one of the programs that accept the lower GMAT score, being completely aware of factors that’ll go for and against you when you head back into the job market.
Option 3 - This might be more obvious to those who’ve read Beyond The MBA Hype (if you don’t have a copy yet, get one right now). Before you answer it in MBA applications, ask yourself – Why MBA? Do you really need the degree to achieve what you want in life? How else can you get what you want?
Seriously consider working with a credible MBA admissions consultant to develop and execute the best possible application strategy, given your current profile. It’ll be nice if you can include MBA Crystal Ball among the possible list of teams to work with.
If you aren’t sure where to start, the MBA MAP MBA Profile Evaluation & Application Strategy would give you a solid platform to build your story.
Stop feeling sorry for what you don’t have. Think about what you can do with what you have.
Whatever option you choose, keep your chin high and don’t let perceptions of others shake your self-confidence.