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Outliers in MBA Admissions

Written By: James Supplee - GMAT and GRE Director

GMAT Statistics

Poets & Quants (a well-respected authority on graduate business education) recently published an article entitled “High & Low GMAT Scores at the Top 25 B-Schools.” In this article, writer Marc Ethier explores the outliers of MBA admissions. He highlights two key aspects of this process: the data reported by b-schools and the impact of that data on potential applicants.

Ethier distinguishes between the range (the highest and lowest) and the middle 80% (the 90th and 10th percentile) of GMAT scores of accepted students. Each statistic has its benefits and detriments, but there’s one big lesson we can learn here.

The Role of the GMAT in Admissions

The GMAT is not the only deciding factor in b-school admissions. Instead, it is one significant piece in a holistic application. Applicants can have low GMAT scores and still gain acceptance to elite MBA programs. For example, one student gained acceptance to Wharton with a GMAT score of 500. Conversely, elite b-schools consistently reject applicants with high GMAT scores.

Sometimes this encourages potential applicants to apply to elite programs with lower test scores. They reason, “If someone can get into Wharton with a 500, I can certainly get in with a 540!” However, these students ignore the holistic nature of the MBA admissions process. Students who are accepted with lower test scores feature other exemplary achievements on their applications. For example, they cured cancer (or achieved some other lofty goal), had stellar letters of recommendation, or had flawless undergraduate transcripts. Maybe they had to have all three in order for elite programs to admit them. In summary, these students had perfect applications, allowing admissions departments to disregard their lower GMAT scores.

How Does This Impact You

Do you find yourself in this position? Do you have a perfect application? If so, congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment. For those who don’t have perfect applications, there is still hope. The GMAT is the great equalizer: it can make a less-than-stellar application competitive.

This is why we need to take the GMAT seriously. It has a major impact on the quality of your application. So why not work with an expert guide? We know the GMAT, and we can work with you either in-person in Charlottesville or online from anywhere in the world to help you get into your dream b-school.

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