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All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same...

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All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 05:58
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I've seen this statement made repeatedly on both this and the business week forums; however, I have never seen any evidence to support it. Further, an analysis done by rhyme (http://gmatclub.com/forum/103-t34770?hilit=Kellogg+GMAT+yield) based on the acceptance rates by GMAT score provided by Kellogg (the only such provided data I know of) using a conservative estimate of yield by GMAT score gave the following acceptance rates:

640: 10%
650-690: 22%
700-740: 32%
750-800: 42%

Using a less conservative estimate the acceptance rates were calculated as:

640: 7%
650-690: 17%
700-740: 34%
750-800: 52%

While clearly a jumbo GMAT score is not a guarantee for admission, there is a clear, linear benefit to higher GMAT scores all the way up to the highest values.

Whether or not this is the way it should be is for another discussion; however, I think we owe it to other prospectives to put this misinformation to rest.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:40
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speaking of questionable information, i always disagree when people say that ECs are not an important part of an application.

i suspect that ECs do not matter much for someone in their late 20's or early 30's who is well established, but for young applicants (25 or under), i think they matter a lot. most of these people are still in the "crappy" job phase of their careers and need to add value any way they can. you may work at an impressive wall street job, but how much leadership experience do you have? you manned the copy machine for a while and put together some basic financial models? right, you have no meaningful leadership experience at work. so you'll make this up with grades and GMAT, right? wrong. everyone else has top grades and GMAT scores, too. you need to find a way to stand out. for some candidates, i think ECs matter a lot, but it has to be something meaningful and (preferrably) related.

in my own case, i manage a seven figure non-profit endowment (equity and fixed income) and decide which non-profit causes to support with the $45,000 budget the fund produces. additionally, i manage ~100 volunteers in connection with the non-profit. i suspect that my volunteer work is more impressive than a lot of candidates' actual work ex (mine included). sorry to thread-jack, but i have seen the notion that ECs are worthless repeated a lot lately and i think it is wrong.

anyway, regarding the GMAT, i doubt that there is any meaningful difference between 760 and 730. to start with, both scores are above the average at even the pickiest schools (Stanford). additionally, there is a 20-40 point standard deviation in the score anyway (i can't remember the exact standard deviation but it is around there). so i doubt that a 760 is very (if at all) statistically different than a 730. the difference may come down a luck of the draw between a few questions (e.g. if you get questions you click with on one particular test, you may get a 760, and if not, you may get a 730 -- it doesn't really matter). does the higher score subconciously influence the adcom's perceptions? probably, but the application is read by several people, so i think this affect is probably somewhat diluted by the time the final decision is made.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 06:19
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To sort of piggy-back on Dabots comment- take this forum as an example. We started out (or most of us did) using this forum for our GMAT-prep and then used this forum to improve our apps- so...Dabots probably has it spot on! :)
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:14
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livehard wrote:
and the fact that GMAT scores are the only fully objective evaluation point


I have often thought about this. Of the following admission criteria, only GMAT scores are objective
Essays: I know of many cases where the essays are drafted by admission consultants. Those essays are bound to be good. Even otherwise, most of the candidates spend weeks in writing the essays and get them reviewed by "experts". And frankly, everyone waxes eloquent, inflates achievements....
Recommendation: I once talked to a B-school professor, and he told me that they don't give much weight to the LORs cuz all candidates get good LORs. (My views: candidates select those recommenders that are likely to give good recommendation)
Extra curricular: These are not a decisive criteria - I believe you just need to show some ECs that shows you are a well-rounded individual.
Work-ex: This is objective as well. The brand matters a lot. A candidate with 3 years in one of the top IBs or McK, BCG has a far better chance than someone from a nondescript company - but hey, this is justified. The recruitment of these companies must have already done the candidtate-filtering that the B-schools can avoid. Again, views are personal, without enough data to back and I m open to contradictory viewpoints.

Any takers?
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:43
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parsifal - there was a thread with very similar research posted here a year ago. The poster then came up with results and conclusions similar to yours. When it comes to gmat obviously the higher the better, however, I find it difficult to say that "two candidates are similar in every other way."

To me, the essays are a big distinguishing factor. No two applicants are ever going to write two identical essays; this means that it is not very easy to say that candidate <A> 3years@IBMinNYC/3.5GPA/26Yo/700 and candidate <B> 3years@IBMinNYC/3.5GPA/26Yo/790 identical in every way other than GMAT. If <A> had a gmat of 700 and <B> a GMAT of 790, I'd be initially more intrigued by <B> ; its human tendency to look at easily quantifiable aspects of comparison first.

However, then <A>'s essays could make laugh and keep me interested till the last word, whereas <B>'s essays could bore me to tears. In this scenario I, as an ad-com, wouldn't hesitate to ding <B> straight away. So your analysis can be narrowed to "what is the probability that two such similar candidates will have such different essays ?" - very difficult to tell in my opinion.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 08:22
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I personally believe that not all GMAT scores are the same. That statement is probably more significant when the scores are further away from 800 and becomes slightly insignificant as scores approach the maximum(800). For instance, I believe there is a big difference between a 740 and 760. That difference is less significant when comparing 770 and 790. As for ad-com bias based on GMAT, I am sure that exists too. Just like bias exists based on brand name of UG, employer, country of origin, gender, perceived soft skills of certain ethnicities, etc...I dont buy the statement that GMAT scores above the schools average dont make ANY difference. So, I agree with livehard on this count.

Not everyone with a high GMAT has a good application. But there is enough number of high GMATs with well-rounded personality who put together great applications which helps them get in. So, I agree with dabots on this count. The % acceptances is probably indicative of a correlation rather than a cause and effect.

In the end, a lot of what happens depends on the subjective view point of the admissions committee. Perception matters. You can be a really great in your chosen line of work, but if the reviewer does not fully comprehend the level of difficulty associated, then you automatically become less favored. Multiply this randomness with the number of such admissions factors and the number of people involved, you get a huge level of unpredictability.

Net net, as an applicant our job is to do whatever we can to maximize every facet of our profile. That's why I dont pay heed to statements like "you are above the average GMAT for the school, dont waste time on your GMAT".
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 09:13
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I hate to bring this up but I think the importance of GMAT score depends a lot on the demographic. I believe for highly competitive groups like Indians, it is pretty important to have higher GMAT scores. Our backgrounds tend to be pretty similar and hence every bit of differentiation is critical. There have been cases, especially at a top 12 school, where applicants with a 720 have been asked to retake their GMAT. Our own ozmba being one of them if I remember right. If you are from a "rare" demographic or a group that a school desperately wants to admit, your scores are not the most critical.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 10:08
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livehard wrote:
Are you arguing that there is no advantage for business executives to be above a certain threshold in their ability to deal with numbers and written word? I'd love to hear an explanation of why this would possibly be the case. Adcoms aren't just looking for candidates who can successfully complete the program, they are looking for the best and brightest.


There is no arguing that a superior SKILL quantitative or otherwise is desirable. What is argued is the accuracy with which a test measures the difference. GMAC admits to a deviation of +/-38 points (if i am not mistaken). And that is why the rest of the application becomes important. Transcripts re-enforce that you are very good / average with numbers / language in conjunction with the GMAT score. I will have to disagree a little with the sipirit in which you say "Adcoms are looking for the best and brightest". I say i disagree a little because, the concept of best and brightest is not determined by numbers alone. The vision that people demonstrate, the kind of learning they show from past experiences, maturity, larger purpose in life and other soft skills matter a lot which i think most would agree. So while they are looking for best and brightest, it does not "necessarily" mean higher GMAT and higher grades.

livehard wrote:
Here is where I believe you are seriously mistaken. The Adcoms don't need to actually choose candidates with lower GMAT scores to get others with low scores to apply. They merely need to say that GMAT scores above a certain threshold don't matter. Applicants, because they are so desperate to believe, are more than willing to lap up the BS.

If you are implying that adcoms are willingly misleading applicants, i would say its not entirely true. Because if it were a complete lie, the numbers wouldnt just add up. But again, i am fairly new to all this, so its possible that they misrepresent or reword stuff to create ambiguity.
livehard wrote:
It is in the Adcoms best interest rankings-wise to:

1) choose candidates who will be the most successful post-mba,

Agreed 100%. Correlation of GMAT to post-mba success is hard to establish though. In fact it is hard to quantify success as it is because people have varied goals. How do you quantify the success of someone who wanted to do some non-profit work and how do you compare that with the success of a banker. Tough.
livehard wrote:
2) choose candidates with the highest average GMAT score, and

Do not agree. There is no dearth of people with high scores being rejected for people with lesser scores. The other parts of application probably were the overriding factors. I am fairly confident that someone who scored a 750+ would put up a decent application. The fact that he was rejected for someone with lesser score but a little extra "something else" re-enforces that the difference in GMAT is less important compared to what is in essays / work experience etc
livehard wrote:
3) convince as many applicants to apply as possible to apply in order to lower the acceptance rate.

While more applicants would surely lower the acceptance rate, it would also give them more to choose from making the resulting class better. So. it would not be fair to "assume" that adcoms encourage more people to apply based on a single point agenda of lowering the acceptance rate.
livehard wrote:
The best way to achieve all three criteria is to take the top candidates, using GMAT scores as a valuable data point, and at the same time tell future applicants that their low GMAT scores are not an obstacle to entrance. Given this contradicting agenda, it makes sense to look at the raw data. As the top schools' average GMAT scores are going up significantly faster than the average GMAT scores of all test takers, it seems clear that some precedence is being given to candidates with higher GMAT scores.


I agree with the fact that GMAT is a valuable data point. Although i do not necessarily think that it contradicts adcom encouraging lower GMAT candidates from applying. Why would they do that ? for the application money ? If their lies raise the app volume by 5% , a school like harvard (assuming 10k applications) would earn $125,000 a year. I doubt that is their motive. If they wanted to create an aura of exclusivity, it would be much easier to say that anyone with less than 700 need not apply. That would make them stand out and out of reach of majority, giving them the aura of superiority / excellence etc etc. I think they encourage people because they genuinely find good candidates from that group. After all GMAT is just a test. You could have had a bad day or spent too much time on one question or missed a few at the end and not scored that extra 20-30 points. or you could just be a bad test taker. I would agree though that scoring high never hurts your chances and probably that is why schools do not look at how many times you took the test. If there was more significance to the test scores, they would only look at the last attempt or look unfavorably upon people who took the test 5 times to score 750+ which is not the case.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 10:13
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I do not know how you say that a 30 point spread does not make a difference. There has to be some difference, if not a lot. We have heard stories in the past where a school has an applicant with a 7xx score to re-take GMAT in order to get off the WL. All of our opinions are colored in some fashion or the other. People with a 730 may say that a 770 is not different from 730 and those with 770 may argue that there is. If anything, there is this fashionable tendency to bash people with high GMATs. People need to get real, the applications game is all about maximizing every aspect of your candidacy. If you think a 30 point difference does not matter, then you are at the least risking your chances of admission. Countless people with 710s and 720s say that they were dinged because of their GMAT. The same people before submitting the application said vehemently that 30 points doesnt make a difference. For admission to good schools, you cannot be merely average. Thats why saying I met the schools average, and the rest doesnt matter makes no sense. Just my opinion. No offense meant.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 13:01
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OK here are my two cents...
I am sorry if parts of my response sound redundant.

*****
The GMAT is one area of the application that can be changed just before/after one applies. Your work experience/ ECs cannot.
So it is only natural that one gets this aspect of his application to the best possible level. Now this level is obviously different for different people and I am sure that it would be clear when one prepares for the GMAT and takes those practice tests.

It's been widely accepted that a low 700s/ high 600s score won't keep you out but a high 700s will certainly not get you in.

I am pretty sure that AdCom starts looking at each application with an idea of getting the student in and not otherwise.
One of the first things it looks for is the GMAT score, mainly because it is easily quantifiable and each school has set internal targets for their mean GMAT scores.

So I would think all GMAT scores around the mean would be cleared on that aspect of the evaluation and the AdCom would then move on to the more time-consuming task of reading through the entire application to look for the other aspects. If GMAT raises a red-flag the candidate obviously needs to have something out of the ordinary on his profile.

All this is just to select the candidate for an interview so a 700ish score should not be a deciding factor. Most schools have their GMAT averages around 690-710.

We all know that when the final decision is being made, the AdCom reviews the application in its entirety. Only this time, they have to manage multiple averages...
Country/Profile etc. Dosa's point on the demographic playing an important part at this stage is very true.

No offence meant to any Desi's here..but many of us have very similar profiles..
The "Indian IT Male Engineer" (I am one of these) pool has already been acknowledged as one the most competitive.

As a member of the AdCom making the final decision, if I am to choose between two very similar profiles...the GMAT score will be the differentiating factor, I'll pick the guy with the 750+ over the 700ish guy. Part of this game is also because schools are constantly looking to maintain/increase their averages. If the applicant does well to distinguish himself/herself through the essays etc, his decision would be easier.

I think it is up to each person to take a look at his/her own profile and do a very realistic assessment of what could make them stand out. If you are one of those who is an IT engineer but also represented your country in the Olympics.... I doubt the GMAT score will make any difference.

At the risk of repeating many others...I would say that if you want to get into the top schools be prepared to mitigate "all" red flags and also make sure that you truly stand out in a few. What category you want to put the GMAT in, is up to you.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 19:46
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Great discussion and hats off to everyone for keeping it objective. I'll just add my 2 paise here. For young applicants (<=25) from an extremely competitive demographic (Indian IT), the GMAT is a huge differentiating factor. I've seen people with great ECs, relatively good essays, average leadership and a sub 750 GMAT get dinged at not just the top 15 schools, but even at schools ranked as low as 35 - 40. OTOH, I've seen people with 760s and 770s with really average ECs, OK essays and average leadership break into the top-15. So I think that for applicants (from competitive demographics) to the very top schools, an uber-high GMAT is more a requirement than a nice-to-have. Let me put it like this: I am yet to meet an Indian I.T male with a sub 750 GMAT who has made it into the top-10. C'mon let's face it, I know that each one of us is very unique and we all have our own little things that make us special. But if you are a 25 year old male in the IT industry, chances are your job description and role will not be too different from the hundreds of others applying to B-school. And whether we like it or not, experiences from our career make up the biggest chunk of our essays. If I were an ad-com member and I had to pick between a guy with a 720 who plays the guitar for a Rock Band (pretty rare for an Indian) and another with a 770 who plays cricket (which pretty much every Indian has/does!), I would pick the guy with the 770 because of:
1. Rankings
2. Recruiters (MC, IB, etc.) ask for the GMAT
3. I can now admit someone with a low GMAT, but an exotic background and still have a high average GMAT.

To sum up:
1. Do I think that people with 720-740 are less smart or are less capable of being successful at B-school than someone with a 760 / 770? NO.
2. But is a 760 much more valuable than a 740? YES (for folks in competitive demographics).

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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 06:16
problem is there is generally a correlation between the gmat score and strength of the other parts of the application. i think applicants scoring 700+ are overall more qualified than the pool of those that score <600.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 06:29
dabots wrote:
problem is there is generally a correlation between the gmat score and strength of the other parts of the application. i think applicants scoring 700+ are overall more qualified than the pool of those that score <600.


Well everyone agrees that AdComs use GMAT scores as an evaluation point below the 700 or so level. Lets stick to whether or not above that level higher scores affect the AdCom's decision making process.

So given that, it seems you are arguing that stronger applicants tend to have higher GMAT scores but higher GMAT scores do not imply stronger applicants (at least at that > 700 level). Further, you seem to be arguing that weaker candidates tend to have lower GMAT scores but lower GMAT scores do not imply weaker applicants (again at the > 700 level).

This is an interesting premise but again one that I have seen no data to support. Further, given the correlation between the two, and the fact that GMAT scores are the only fully objective evaluation point, doesn't it make more logical sense that AdComs would take advantage of that correlation (whether or not it is direct)?
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 06:39
To continue with that thought, given two candidates similar in all other aspects but one with a 730 GMAT and one with a 760 GMAT, it seems likely that the GMAT score would at least bias the AdCom's decision process subconsciously (due to past correlations) even if they try not to consciously give that preference.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:30
parsifal wrote:
Work-ex: This is objective as well. The brand matters a lot. A candidate with 3 years in one of the top IBs or McK, BCG has a far better chance than someone from a nondescript company - but hey, this is justified. The recruitment of these companies must have already done the candidtate-filtering that the B-schools can avoid.


I agree completely both that brand of employer is very important and that it should be. AdComs know more or less how to compare titles and responsibilities at blue chip firms. However, that same criteria at an unknown start-up is easily inflated and is very difficult to compare objectively.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:51
bsd_lover wrote:
...


Well this all seems reasonable except it doesn't explain the correlation between GMAT and acceptance rate. Unless, of course, you are arguing that people who write better essays tend to have higher GMAT scores. I'm not sure that I am ready to buy that correlation.

Last edited by livehard on 17 Mar 2008, 08:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 07:59
sudden wrote:
anyway, regarding the GMAT, i doubt that there is any meaningful difference between 760 and 730. to start with, both scores are above the average at even the pickiest schools (Stanford). additionally, there is a 20-40 point standard deviation in the score anyway (i can't remember the exact standard deviation but it is around there). so i doubt that a 760 is very (if at all) statistically different than a 730.


Well just because two scores are within the standard deviation does not mean that there is no statistical difference. Just as there is the possibility of the test takers competencies being the same, the differential could just as easily be as large as 790 to 700. This certainly implies that on average the bias should be given to the 760 over the 730.

I also don't understand the argument that once the score is above the average at a school it is no longer an important data point. If the GMAT implies the degree in which a candidate possesses a valuable competency up to 7XX, then why would it not imply an even greater level of competency beyond that. This seems to me like someone arguing that once you are up to the "average" level of work experience, no credit is given to anything beyond that. Clearly, this is not the case.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 08:08
bsd_lover wrote:
However, then <A>'s essays could make laugh and keep me interested till the last word, whereas <B>'s essays could bore me to tears. In this scenario I, as an ad-com, wouldn't hesitate to ding <B> straight away.


I agree that essays do make a difference, but given your example, both <A> and <B> would spend weeks drafting their essays and have them reviewed by scores of friends/well wishers. In the end, the difference in the quality of essays wont be so high as to cause an outright rejection for <B>
Of course, the interview can do the further filtering to check if the candidate matches the quality of the submitted essays, but the adcoms will not invite candidate <A> for interiview - remember there would be too many such candidates with really good essays with low GMAT.
My point is that the adcom will invite <B> for interview to further probe him/her (assuming of course that he/she has written a reasonably good essay that have been reviewed by many).
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 08:45
livehard wrote:
Well just because two scores are within the standard deviation does not mean that there is no statistical difference. Just as there is the possibility of the test takers competencies being the same, the differential could just as easily be as large as 790 to 700. This certainly implies that on average the bias should be given to the 760 over the 730.

I also don't understand the argument that once the score is above the average at a school it is no longer an important data point. If the GMAT implies the degree in which a candidate possesses a valuable competency up to 7XX, then why would it not imply an even greater level of competency beyond that. This seems to me like someone arguing that once you are up to the "average" level of work experience, no credit is given to anything beyond that. Clearly, this is not the case.


based on the information available, it is reasonable to conclude that once you are above average in one category, the adcom turns its attention to other aspects of the application as you have effectively "cleared the hurdle" in that category. your competency has been proved -- the relative degree of compentency above a certain point has a deminishing positive impact on your application. a 790 will not save you from deficiencies elsewhere. if you have a 790 and perform well in every other relevant category, bully for you -- you will probably get in, but not because you earned a 790. success in the process is not dictated solely by your GMAT score. the schools are adamant about this, and even if you do not trust the commentary that comes from the adcom, it seems obvious that the schools could have average GMATs closer to 750 if they wanted to. yet they do not, because GMAT is only one part of the equation.

additionally, i am not sure that a one school sample is enough to base a theory upon. kellogg is at the low end of the m7 (sorry guys, i know some of you love kellogg) and is, as business schools do, trying to climb the ranks. it's natural to think that kellogg would have a penchant for higher GMAT scores as it tries to improve its rank and relative prestige. alas, we are limited by the available data here. i suspect, for what it's worth, that you would see a different trend at harvard. you would probably also see a difference within applicant demographics.

in terms of being above average in other categories, i suspect the same rule of thumb applies. 9 years of work ex with a 3.0 and 600 GMAT score probably will not get a person into kellogg. that person may have a lot of experience, but they "fail" in other categories, and the additional benefit of the extra work ex is not enough to offset those failures.

i acknowledged that there may be a small statistical difference. certainly the score that is 30 points higher should be given additional weight despite the random elements involved. the data you have provided indicates that higher scores are priveleged, and this seems reasonable and intuitive. the disconnect is that you are basing your entire argument on the easily quantifiable data rather than on the subjective aspects of the applicant pool that cannot be measured. it's not possible for us to prove that someone with a 760 should be accepted over a similar applicant with a 730 every single time. is the higher score applicant accepted most of the time? perhaps, but we can't tell. this is business school, not a pure measure of academic merit (see law school). it's tempting to try to prove something with the limited data set available, but in the end we cannot prove anything. the process remains a black box.
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Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same... [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2008, 08:50
ncprasad wrote:
For instance, I believe there is a big difference between a 740 and 760.


I don't understand why people believe that 20 points is such a large difference. Can you explain it to me? Twenty points represents a handful of questions on a randomly generated exam. Your score will almost certainly fluctuate 20 points every time you take it.
Re: All GMAT Scores Over 7XX Are Treated The Same...   [#permalink] 17 Mar 2008, 08:50
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