Q. What’s a good GRE score for MBA?
A. Any score that can get you into your dream school is a great score.
Q. Hah! Spoken like a true consultant. Can we get a little more specific? Some numbers, statistics maybe?
A. Anything higher than the average GRE score for your target business school should be good.
Q. Hmmm, what’s the average GRE score at the top business schools then?
A. For that, my dear, we need a longer discussion. The short answer as it stands today is that most business schools don’t reveal their average GRE scores.
Grab a coffee and sit back as we try to understand how international business schools have been dealing with GRE scores and how you should interpret the limited data available.
ETS (the company behind the GRE test) has been actively promoting the fact that a huge number of MBA programs (around 1500 and counting) that traditionally accepted only GMAT scores have started accepting GRE scores as well. Apparently that number includes 85% of the bschools in USA. The overall number of GRE test takers is 655,000. Compared that to the GMAT test taker population (250,000) which is a much smaller fraction.
All this sounds pretty impressive. Enough for GMAT-challenged MBA applicants to start doing cart-wheels into the horizon.
Makes one wonder why bschools are acting shy and hiding their average GRE scores for MBA courses. To find the probable answer, we’ll have to dig deeper.
Consider the relevant statistics.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this is old data (2013) as we couldn’t find any other survey / article with the most recent data. Do check out any new statistics that may be available directly from the school website.
Here’s the proportion of GRE scores submitted by applicants to some of the leading business schools:
18% of Yale applicants submitted GRE scores. Wisconsin Business School was at 11%. At Duke (Fuqua) this number dwindles down to 4%. For Wharton it was 5%. We’ve got a bunch of other schools in the table below.
For the few other bschools that revealed similar stats, the proportion of GRE to GMAT ranges between 4% to 30%. Though we aren’t aware of what the median might be, let’s keep things simple and assume it’s somewhere in the middle i.e. 17%
Fact 1: GMAT scores (at over 80% of the overall mix) still dominate the MBA applications game versus their rivals GRE. This is what gets shared with all the top MBA rankings.
Hang on to that thought for a moment while we move on to the next important finding from the limited data that’s accessible in the public domain.
GMAT and GRE exam formats are different. Since MBA courses started accepting two unrelated scores, the powers that be came up with a mapping table to convert GRE scores to GMAT scores. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here – GRE to GMAT converter.
This allows us to compare apples to tomatoes (which technically is a fruit). Good logic to convince regular folks like you and me that it’s a like-to-like comparison.
Botanical analogies aside, the basic takeaway so far is that it’s possible to compare and contrast GRE and GMAT scores.
Time for some more statistics now.
A smaller number of the schools that revealed the percentage of GRE scores vs GMAT scores submitted to their MBA courses, were kind enough to also share the average GRE scores along with the quant / verbal score breakup.
|Business School||%||Verbal / Quant
||Average GRE||Average GMAT||Difference|
|Duke (Fuqua)||4%||159 V, 156 Q||590||690||100|
|Yale||18%||164 V, 162 Q||690||717||27|
|Michigan (Ross)||5%||159 V, 160 Q||630||703||73|
|Texas (McCombs)||13%||161 V, 161 Q||660||692||32|
|Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)||4%||161 V, 156 Q||600||693||93|
|UNC (Kenan-Flagler)||9%||157 V, 155 Q||570||692||122|
|Washington (Olin)||31%||156 V, 153 Q||540||698||158|
|Georgia Tech||14%||158 V, 158 Q||610||678||68|
|Notre Dame (Mendonza)||12%||160 V, 155 Q||590||687||97|
|Vanderbilt (Owen)||23%||153 V, 154 Q||530||682||152|
Source: 2013 data from P&Q
We need to highlight that these numbers don’t match up exactly with the source table (in P&Q). We used the 2 year old GRE quant / verbal scores from their site and reconverted them into GMAT equivalent scores using the latest conversion excel tool from ETS. That probably resulted in amplifying the difference.
However, as we were looking for some general trends rather than accuracy, we didn’t bother much about these numbers not matching with the source data. The conclusion is pretty much the same.
Fact 2: Average GRE scores accepted by the top MBA programs have been lower than the average GMAT scores for the same business school, sometimes by a big margin.
For all we know, the students who got in with lower GRE scores might’ve been the outliers with very strong overall profiles. But there’s no way for us to know that.
Now let’s put this and the earlier finding together. We’ve got a minority factor (GRE scores) bringing down the average of the majority (GMAT).
While most bschools are trying hard to get their average GMAT scores higher, it doesn’t help to highlight a lower benchmark for GRE exam scores. Even with a weighted average calculation, the overall average for the blended score would go down. Not a good sign for bschools as far as perception management is concerned.
It may take a while before all MBA programs start sharing their average GRE and GMAT scores.
Let bschools worry about that issue. As an applicant, your best strategy is to avoid getting entangled in statistics. Don’t assume that a lower GRE score will get you in because it’s worked for some early birds.
Focus on getting the highest possible score you can. Whether it’s on the GMAT or GRE exam is secondary.
There are more important aspects (like applications, essays, recommendations, interviews) to stress out over. Save some energy for that phase too.
Sources: WSJ, Kaplan, Poets & Quants