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Low GMAT score success stories: Never give up

Got a low GMAT score and wondering what to do about it? This post is for you.

If you aren’t aware of statistics yet, this article lists the average GMAT scores for the world’s best MBA programs.

And to make matters worse, you’ll find many Indian applicants (specially engineers) who crack the test as if it was child’s play.

Here’s the story of an Indian who got a 790 score on the GMAT exam. But not everyone can achieve such a high score.

Entrepreneur MBA applicant ShipraFor example, Shipra had a low GMAT score compared to the tough Indian applicant pool she was competing in. But she did not allow that to stop her from trying.

For those who know their business school data, you’d know that HEC Paris is one of the toughest schools to get into. Small class, very competitive program, mature students with solid professional track record, very selective admissions process.

Like most MBA candidates, it would have been easy to assume that a low GMAT score would sound the death knell for most top schools. As Shipra’s story suggests, that’s not true.

My Success Story with a Low GMAT Score

by Shipra

As if the stress during the 04 hours was not enough, the 640 on the Pearson Vue screen dropped another bombshell on me. Multitude of questions went through my mind- “Is this my score?” “Has the system conked off?” Unfortunately rather fortunately this is my GMAT score. I have to admit that I never qualified in the super intelligent category.

All mocks scores ranged from 660 to 690, though never as low as a 640. As much as I wanted the 700 miracle to happen, a 640 in my first attempt did mar my MBA hopes.

I retracted myself from the world for 02 whole days. I did not speak with anyone, began to feel dumb but that is how it is in our part of the world. The most popular way to prove intelligence is by cracking numbers.

So after days of introspection, advices from loved ones and counselling from my MBA experts. Here’s what I decided for myself. I will go ahead and apply to business schools with 640. I took my GMAT in end May this year, so it wasn’t a question of running out of time.

My story is not to encourage people to apply with low GMAT scores, it is for people who have already decided to apply to their dream schools irrespective of their low GMAT scores.

I want to share with you the factors, in order of priority, that helped my through my entire application journey:


I never let anybody or anything shake my self confidence. There are phases of ups and downs but in spite of everything I believed in myself. This is only thing that kept me going all the way through. The day you stop believing in yourself, the world will stop believing in you.


I had the courage to take a chance in my life and I succeeded. Some of us take calculated ones, I personally am an instinct driven individual. So, I mustered up all my courage and delivered my best when writing my essays. I had to. I am ambitious and I wanted the best for myself.


Having known that the 640 will be the weakest link in my profile, I did not want to leave any stone unturned with strengthening other aspects of my profile. I write for pleasure, so language was never a problem for me. Yet mentoring from a good consultant can make a great difference in the way you project yourself.

At this point, I have to admit that before I signed up with MBA Crystal Ball, I had a horrendous experience with another MBA admission consultant. Choosing the right consultant is as important as choosing as right book to prepare for the GMAT.
From my personal experience, I have to say that Sameer is the best mentor and MG, the best coach you can find in the MBA application game, how else can I justify getting an admit from HEC Paris.

If you’ve digested this another piece of news – this was the first application I put in and I cleared it.

Update to the post: Here’s an addition to my story. Not only am I looking forward to begin the journey of a life time at this prestigious 130 year old university, HEC-Paris but I have also managed to secure some scholarship for myself.

640 on the GMAT score sheet and MBA scholarship awards may not sound logical. A couple of weeks ago I was muddled up in my head when contemplating whether to apply for scholarships. Considering I had worked on my application essays for over a month, 72 hours in hand just did not seem enough to churn out not one but two 1500 word essays.

The head said “You anyway wont get it because of your GMAT score” while the heart signalled to give it a shot. The feelings driven person that I am, I chose to follow my heart. Geared up to pen down essays and along with myself decided to give MG sleepless nights as well. I tirelessly wrote, composed and he like a coach guided me to re-write and re-compose.

Just when I had lost all hopes on receiving any monetary aid, an email popped my eyes out today. Apart from securing some monetary amount as scholarship, I have also been selected to represent the Forte Foundation Fellowship program which aims to recognise and inspire future women business leaders.

Some people may say that this may be the effect luck, destiny and fortune cookie. I like to believe that with effective guidance and the work I put in this was meant to be.

– Shipra

Like Shipra, there are others who’ve surmounted their GMAT score challenges. Here are some more average & low GMAT success stories of Indian applicants:

Also read:

Don’t get carried away with these stories, and don’t take your GMAT preparation lightly. It is an important piece of the puzzle, so give it your best.

But at the end of the day, if the GMAT score is not the strongest component in your profile, don’t throw in the towel and accept defeat.

Do a little more groundwork on the choice of (practical to ambitious) schools, your application strategy and go for it. Here’s a success story where an ISB reapplicant used career counselling for MBA admissions.

If you need professional help from MBA Crystal Ball admission consultants, drop us an email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

32 thoughts on “Low GMAT score success stories: Never give up”

  1. Hi,
    Congrats Shipra !! 🙂 Thanks for this post. It would be good if you could mention Shipra’s profile details also i.e degree, work exp etc.


  2. hmm, you think you got a low gmat score? i got 280!! thrid time doing my gmat. i have a GPA of 3.81… what do i do?

  3. 640 is way above the average score and very likely to be considered even by top B schools. But, yeah your post definitely proves that you don’t have to die to get a 700!
    My battle with GMAT is just getting more wearisome. After intense studies for three months, I got a meager 550! I knew I messed up Quant toward the end, but was quite sure I was doing well in verbal – only to land up with a 30 in it! I feel totally lost and don’t know where to start from again – I had exhausted a lot of material and even achieved 680, 700 on two practice tests!

    Really clueless as to how to revise the strategy.

  4. Its good to see how balanced is the application selection process by leading B schools. Proper weight -age to each section matters a lot. While preparing for GMAT one should not forget the other aspects of his/her application strategy.

  5. I’m sorry…i dont really like experience with them is thay they are good people but starving all the time…they just cannot be trusted!

    • U r giving comments about this post. so does it matter that u like Indians or not.and for ur kind information no one in this world can be blindly trusted.after meeting 2 or 3 Indians U can’t judge whole Indians.

  6. hey!
    i am too interested at HEC paris with a 100% scholarship.Her journey seems incredibly dodged and well read in your mind, please guide me how to start with the prep and the things to follow onwards ,( i have a year in hand )

  7. Juhi: From your comment on another post, I know that you don’t have any work experience yet.
    Shipra had a considerable amount of corporate and entrepreneurial experience which allowed her to achieve what she did. So my suggestion would be – don’t rush into the process when you aren’t ready.

  8. Hi,
    Well i just fiished and gota 640 too. Kind of broken hearted i am, this post gives me some hope though.
    Is it still possible for me to try any of the schools this year?
    I am giving rewriting another thought though.

  9. Hi Sameer,
    I took my GMAT and scored a 660. Although I am unsure whether this score is good enough to get me into a decent college, I am going ahead and applying with this score. Would it be advisable to apply to HEC with this score? Also, what other universities should i consider?
    I am a Software Engineering Analyst for an MNC and have been working in the Banking domain. I have a work ex of 2 years and 9 months.


  10. Hi Sameer.Your post is really inspiring.Gud that u finally made it to your dream b school.M a bit new to GMAT.Gave a free test.Got 630 in 1st attempt.M planning to give GMAT in december end/Jan 2014 coz I don’t have a passport right now.M a mechanical engineer and I have 26months of work ex. Some r saying that jan 2014 will be too late for the 2014 session in international universities and I won’t even make it for scholarships.Is it so?? M a bit confused.Your advice is needed.

  11. Dear Sameer,

    Your blog is simply great. Need your help in evaluating my profile.

    1. Qualified accountant from India ( CMA India – Cost And Management Accountants Institute/ICWAI)
    2. Total work ex 8 years in the finance and accounting domain.
    3. Started as an articled clerk in an accounting firm – to accounts officer- finance manager – Country CFO in a reputed MNC now. I am currently based out East Africa. Its been an year in Africa.
    4. GMAT score 620(Q 42,V 33).
    5. Secured an All India rank in my Final exam of my accounting qualification.

    Need your help regarding the below.
    1. Target schools in US,UK. Looking for Finance specialization to make the shift to IB/Hedge Funds/PE.
    2. I plan to apply in Round 2 – 2013/2014. The deadlines are in the first week of Jan.
    3.Do you suggest that I retake the GMAT.( This is my second attempt) Or focus on my essays and applications and apply on the basis of 620.

    Thanks a lot in advance

  12. hi sameer,
    I just got a 520 score on gmat,I’m shattered,don’t know what to do,was expecting at least more than 640,I am an engineer with 1 year work experience.what are my options??

  13. Hi Sameer,

    I have almost 4 yrs of work ex in an Indian IT major ,I took my GMAT last September and scored 640 , I knew I was screwed big time after the drape was removed from the result screen.Though not to mentioned as every Indian do I took CAT,and yes I screwed there also.I want to take admission this year but don’t know where and how I can apply,as I have a very normal profile,more than that I am in a dilemma that whether I should sit for another GMAT attempt.

    I know I can get a score round 680,but I also know scoring more than that would be tough for me to be frank.

    Can you suggest something,as I seriously need help and counselling.

    Thanks in advance.


  14. Hi Sameer, I got a score of 580 on my GMAT in Nov 2013. I was hopeful of getting into a decent college and I started to apply to Indian colleges only. But as the time passes and I still don’t have any GD-PI calls and I am getting worried. Some of the colleges that I applied to are Great Lakes, TA Pai, IMT, BIMTECH etc. BIMTECH hasnt shortlisted me for the GD-PI process. Now I think that I should apply to some colleges in the US after seeing your list of colleges accepting mediocre scores. But the greatest doubt I have in my mind is about the job scenario after the MBA. Would an Indian with 3 years of exp. in healthcare and alternate energy and Biotech background with an MBA from a mediocre college stand any chance in the US job market. Please reply soon, the deadlines are approaching fast.

  15. @Sameer: Take it again, sir. Your practice scores show that your potential is higher.

    @Dhirendra: 680 would be a better score than 640. A 40 point jump surely helps. Why not take it again with some more prep?

    @Ravindra: Not sure if you’ve got the full message from that post that talked about schools accepting mediocre scores. It’s always a risk going into mediocre colleges as you’d be surrounded by, well, mediocre folks. In a tough economy, where even the top bschool grads struggle, your battle will become even more difficult. Be careful!

  16. Hi Experts,

    Will a poor graduation performance impact the selection process to any top B-schools, considering the work experience of about 11 years in top IT brands, 680 in the GMAT and age 39. Please advice.

  17. Hi Sameer,
    I have been planning to write GMAT from last couple of years , but looking at my weak educational background I am not very confident of getting into a good MBA school. My profile details are mentioned below. Please advise what I need to do.

    Work experience – 9 + years in IT
    BE – 59 %
    Intermediate – 56 %
    matriculation – 66 %

    Thanks & Regards,

  18. Hi Sameer,
    I am working with a Pharma Analytics domain with A MNC for last two years. I have been planning to write GMAT. My only concern is about Math (Quant) section. i want to know the difficulty level of quant questions they asked in GMAT. Also which time should be more apt for taking the test so that i will have ample time to apply for the Scholarships. Please guide me.,

  19. Hi Sameer,

    I am working with an MNC for last 2 years and now i am thinking of taking GMAT. I want your advice on what will be an appropriate time to take the test so that i will also be able apply for some scholarship. please help me.

  20. Hi Sameer,

    I have worked with leading IT company for 3.5 years and then started my own firm 1.5 yrs ago. Do you have any colleges in mind which value entrepreneurship more than others.

    Please let me know.

  21. @Sekhar: Yes, it will. And the higher than average work experience will be considered too.

    @Sameer: Might be better to focus on the GMAT for now and stop worrying about the rest. Take it one step at a time.

    @Parag: The basic concepts tested are things that most have learnt at the high-school level. Keep around 3 months for the GMAT prep and around 3 months for the application work.

    @parag: Answered it above.

    @Krishna: Almost all the top schools have a focus on entrepreneurship. This might help: Best Entrepreneurship MBA Programs in the top business schools

  22. Hello Sameer,

    i took the gmat practice tests thrice and all were ranging between 240-280. this is freaking me out a lot ….if i take coaching classes will i be able to improve my score to a 680 something? need assistance here.
    thank you

  23. @Asin: Seems like you are doing something fundamentally wrong in your study plan to get those scores.

    Joining a class won’t help, as their pace will be faster than what you need.

    Personalised mentoring may work better. Ask a friend who has taken the GMAT for help.

  24. Hi sameer,

    Feels good to see someone around providing useful advices.

    I took GMAT the previous week and scored a 640. I am a fresher just completed my graduation and beginning with my job. I want to get into a reputed Indian B-school after some quality work exposure. With that score and a few years of good work experience, do i stand a chance to get into colleges like S.P.J.I.M.R or I.S.B .

    A response would be highly appreciated by my restless soul.


  25. Hi Sameer,
    Wrote to you on Facebook. I need some MBA career counselling/help from you. I had appreared for GMAT in 2012 but got a score of just 500. Though my acad has been good throuhout. I am an Engineer with 5.5 years of varied workex and currently working with Reliance Industries (E-Commerce). I have 1year international workex too.
    I want to apply for HEC Paris and Said Business school. Do you think I should prepare and give the test again?
    Please help.

  26. Hi,

    I took my GMAT a few days back and scored a 640 (Q47/V32). I am aiming for fall 2017 intake and I would have approximately 4 years of work experience (in a top Indian IT firm) by then.
    Undergrad(B-Tech) : 84%
    I am aware of the fact that aiming for the top 20-25 US B-schools is a far-fetched thought. Could somebody be kind enough to help me with my options? Which B schools are reachable with my score/profile?


  27. Don’t ever give up or judge yourself too harshly. I had a GMAT score of 410. I had just gone through a severe divorce and was an absolute mess mentally. However, I had a life history of remarkable accomplishments. To begin with, a graduated from a high school for jet aviation mechanics and went to work for Delta Airlines at 18. I then saw opportunity and went to work for Burger King as a store manager. this quickly led to being a National Installation Manager helping to build and open about 125 units in 3 years. From that I became the youngest franchisee for Burger King at 25. I then built that up to 7 units and a Western Sizzlin Steakhouse. Then with all of that success, I entered in to the divorce zone and lost everything. While this was a hard lesson to learn from, eight years later with no career opportunity, the college doors opened. Four years later, I had completed 2 Associate, BBA/CIS, MBA/MISM. I completed about 200 credit hours in 4 years with GPA from 3.71-3.93. Then after a short rest, I entered in to and completed a PhD/Cybersecurity. After completing the PhD, I completed an MPA/Homeland Security/Emergency Management masters degree. With all of this in my folder, I have been a professor teaching about 190 classes, completing over 35 certifications in CIS and Emergency Management over 20 years. I have received teacher of the year and External Employee of the year. Now, I am hoping to assist others in the position of Emergency Preparedness and Cyber Mission Officer with the Civil Air Patrol. Now I am working with my county emergency management team. So, when someone tells you that your score is too low, you tell them that your faith in God and yourself is higher. Look up for the sky is your limit! Desperation is a great motivator. Being pruned can hurt but the result is new growth. I even was recruited by the CIA.

    Dr. Joseph Marnell


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