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What is a Good GRE Score?

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what is a good gre score

The burning question on many MBA applicants’ minds: What is a good GRE score? The fact is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In past application seasons, we would generally encourage a score in the 75th percentile or above, depending on the applicant and target business school. But, MBA programs are more flexible on test scores than ever before—a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic pressures.

Depending on the programs you’re targeting, a “good score” could take on various amounts.  Here is a sampling of GRE scores from recent HBS admits to demonstrate the range of GRE scores considered acceptable for top MBA programs.

GRE scores from recent HBS Admits

V159/Q166 V163V, Q161
V161, Q167 V160, Q163
V160, Q159 V168, Q166
V166, Q170 V170, Q170
V169, Q164 V165, Q165
V167, Q162 V165, Q163

What are the GRE score ranges?

The GRE allows for a score range between 260 to 340. Perfect GRE scores are 170 in each section or 340 total. The test below shows the Verbal, Quantitative, and combined scores:

SCORE RANGE PERFECT SCORES COMPETITIVE SCORES AVERAGE SCORES BELOW AVERAGE SCORES
Verbal 130-170 170 157+ 151 145
Quantitative 130-170 170 162+ 154 147
Combined Multiple Choice Scores 260-340 340 NA NA NA
AWA 0.0-6.0 6.0 4.5+ 4.0 3.5

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Is my GRE score good enough?

Let’s look at one case study.  A client—male/Caucasian/3.6 GPA in Mathematics/ Finance Manager with two promotions—is deciding between sharing his GMAT or GRE scores on his applications.

His GMAT score is 730 overall with a high V but low Q. Meanwhile, his GRE is a 700-equivalent with a more solid Q but lower V (see breakdown below). He is not interested in re-taking the exam(s) again.

Which set of scores would you recommend sharing?

GMAT: 730 (46Q – 58%, 44V – 98%, 6AWA, 8IR)

GRE: 700 equivalent (164Q – 84%, 162V – 90%, Analytical Writing TBD)

We asked the former HBS Admissions Officers on our SBC team and there were differing views here.  As one consultant explained, “In my mind there’s no right answer here.  I would not submit both.  I would lean on the GMAT with his grades in math on the transcript only because finance applicants have historically favored the GMAT.” But, we also know that the recent trend in MBA admissions is to view the GMAT and GRE equally, without bias for one over the other.

Does the importance of the GRE score vary by applicant?

Yes. For example, for non-traditional and/or liberal arts educated candidates, the standardized tests are even more important. This is because it’s one of the only ways the applicant can demonstrate quant proficiency, especially if they don’t have undergrad quant classes or analytical work experience.

We work with clients to also convey other areas of quant strength (work responsibilities, ancillary courses, etc). However, an essay alone explaining quant proficiency for some applicants is usually not enough for top MBA programs. This should be reinforced with a solid test score, as that objectively demonstrates one’s ability to handle the curriculum.

Curious to learn more about standardized testing and the MBA application process? Here is additional test-taking advice from SBC:

Test retaking, reporting, cancellations and online test options
New GRE updates here
GMAT vs GRE: What’s the right strategy?
Should I take the GMAT or opt for a test waiver?
What practice test options are there?
What is a good test score?
GMAT Score Chart: How to Use It?

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