Another set of questions that gets added to the ever-growing GMAT FAQ list – ‘What’s the minimum GMAT score for Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, IIM?’
This question is not as obnoxious as it sounds though, compared to the other most frequently asked query – ‘What’s the average GMAT score for Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, IIM..?’
Unlike the latter, which can easily be answered by a quick visit to the official MBA website, the answer to the former question is more elusive.
The official stand that most Admission Officers take when answering such questions is – “We don’t consider the GMAT score in isolation. There is no minimum GMAT cutoff for our MBA program.”
Technically speaking, the GMAT score range varies from 200 to 800. That means the lowest GMAT score ever possible is 200. So, what the Adcoms’ answer implies is that the minimum GMAT score for being eligible to apply to their program is 200 (!). But that’s not very helpful, is it?
When you look around for more information, instead of the lowest cut-off score, you see an 80 percentile depicting the GMAT score distribution. The average GMAT score range for the top MBA colleges abroad is 650 to 750.
And of course, there’s the more visible number depicting the average score for the matriculating class. But that’s not helpful either, as you probably already know that you are way below that number.
And thus, the teasing continues in the official responses.
[Read this related post: Average GMAT scores for Indians]
Persistent, aren’t we? Alright, here’s some more (real, but useless) data if that’s what you want.
In 2011 the lowest GMAT score at Harvard MBA was 490. In the same year, at Stanford and Wharton, the minimum GMAT score was 530 and 560 respectively. Over the years, candidates with abnormally low test scores continue to crack into elite schools, leaving those with strong profiles and high scores fuming, jealous and confused.
At MBA Crystal Ball, last season we helped an international candidate (not an Indian) get an admit from a full-time, top ranking European MBA program. His GMAT score was 510.
That’s the lowest score we’ve ever worked with. So we were looking forward to publishing his story on our blog (with a glowing photograph added for credibility, like we’ve done with many other applicants). But Murphy’s law played spoilsport. He wasn’t able to afford the fees and had to reject the offer. Now he’s applying to other (non-MBA) programs where there’s better scope for getting scholarships.
In short, it’s their life story.
While it is easy to be distracted and enthralled by their complete failure to deal with computer adaptive tests (CAT), there’s something about these candidates that helps them stand out among the other MBA applicants trying to get into the super-elite Ivy League universities.
We don’t know the specific backgrounds of the minimum GMAT scorers at Harvard, Stanford or Wharton. But we can surely guess that there were some overlaps with the candidate we helped – about fighting against odds, about showing resilience, about achieving unusual success in the fields they’ve chosen and demonstrating an uncanny ability to be a leader in testing situations.
In addition to their professional and career accomplishments, often there’s a strong personal storyline as well that makes those achievements even more commendable.
If you don’t think you have all those qualities and it’s too late to build your profile for the best bschools, there’s an easier option. Get your GMAT score up! Here are some tips and tricks to improve your GMAT score.
Easier said than done, we understand. But you don’t have to go from one extreme (lowest score) to another (highest in the class). Achieve a balance of your score and other elements from your profile.
Don’t allow one parameter (like test scores) to dip so low that the rest of your application components (essays, recommendations, resume, interview) struggle to get you out of the hole.
Stop worrying about the minimum GMAT score for IIM, NYU, Columbia, ISB, INSEAD…and focus on the overall application.
There are many low GMAT score success stories on our blog. They didn’t score the lowest in the class, but were pretty low by Indian application standards. Yet, they managed the application process wisely and ended up with admits from good MBA colleges abroad and in India.