Although an application has many components, there are two numbers that greatly affect the range of a candidate’s options: the undergraduate GPA and GMAT score. An article on the site Poets & Quants discusses these scores’ influence on admission chances, and reports on the great difficulty in gaining acceptance to the most selective top programs if these two scores are below average. There are a number of schools- especially Stanford, Wharton, and MIT– at which a high GMAT score can make all the difference, which is why it is important for applicants to know a bit about the GMAT range for top business schools.

Among the top-50, there is no school that boasts an average GPA lower than 3 or GMAT lower than 641. The highest GPA average belongs to students at Stanford and Kellogg at 3.69, and the highest GMAT average is also found at Stanford with 729. For anyone who wants to gain acceptance to Stanford, it is recommended to maintain a GPA between 3.40-3.94 and a GMAT between 680-780 (this is the range of 80% of the students who began their studies in 2012). Only a few schools publish the complete range of their GMAT scores, like Harvard where the range varies between 550-780, though the likelihood of getting into HBS with a GMAT below 700 is very low. The median score of the 2015 class at Harvard stands at 730. At Wharton, the 2015 class boasts an average GMAT score of 725, an increase of 7 points when compared with the previous year, when the lowest score was a 630.

The harsh truth is that a low GMAT score or GPA presents a big obstacle to acceptance. A Kaplan survey conducted last year among admission committee members at 265 MBA programs in the U.S. reveals that 49% of those surveyed state that a low GMAT or GRE score is the most significant reason for a candidate’s rejection, with a low GPA in second place (31%), and a lack of relevant career experience in third (18%). When asked what factor has the greatest influence on the admission process, only 2% mentioned recommendations and only 1% mentioned the essays!

One reason for the GMAT/GRE score’s importance is its objective nature in evaluating the candidate’s ability to cope with the academic demands of an MBA program. In addition, these scores allow for the comparison among candidates from different countries and cultures, what cannot be done using GPA or recommendations. It is important to note that a program’s GMAT scores average is a contributing factor to MBA rankings by The US News, Economist, Financial Times, and admission committees therefore aim to maintain a high average in order to improve the program’s ranking. The GMAT average serves as a measure of the quality of a program’s students, and is directly connected to the program’s ranking.

Below are the average GMAT scores at the top 10 programs:

1.Stanford – 729
2.Harvard – 724
3-4. Stern/Chicago – 720
5. Wharton – 718
6-7. Tuck/Yale – 717
8-9. Columbia/Berkeley – 715
10. MIT – 710

Put Me in Business (applying in less than a year)
Put Me in Business (applying in more than a year)