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# Anyone with doubts as to the weight given to the GMAT

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Anyone with doubts as to the weight given to the GMAT [#permalink]

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13 Oct 2006, 00:05
Anyone with lingering doubts should check out the new BW rankings - specifically the mediam GMATs at the top ranked schools. Each of the first 12 schools other than Harvard, Stanford & Columbia now have median GMAT scores of 710. Harvard & Stanford are at 720 and Columbia was not given, but I'm confident it is towards the higher end. This continues the trend of ever higher GMAT scores at the top business schools. From their rankings just 4 years ago, only 4/12 schools had median GMATs of 710, (Harvard was not given). No schools had 720 median GMATs and several of the top 12 had 690 or 680 median GMATs.

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13 Oct 2006, 05:35
The more I talk to admissions directors, the more I talk to students, the more I hear things like "The GMAT wont get you in, but it can keep you out."

It seems true.

On a total aside:

I am involved with undergraduate admissions at one school. In the packet I recieve, it will list the candidates SAT scores. Next to that score is a % admit for that given SAT score. I also get these figures for AP scores.

So it might say:

SAT 1500 Admit Rate: XX%
Math: XX Admit: XX
Verbal: XX admit :XX
AP Calculus: 5.0 admit: XX

If only I could get this information for the graduate schools!

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Re: Anyone with doubts as to the weight given to the GMAT [#permalink]

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13 Oct 2006, 07:05
pelihu wrote:
Anyone with lingering doubts should check out the new BW rankings - specifically the mediam GMATs at the top ranked schools. Each of the first 12 schools other than Harvard, Stanford & Columbia now have median GMAT scores of 710. Harvard & Stanford are at 720 and Columbia was not given, but I'm confident it is towards the higher end. This continues the trend of ever higher GMAT scores at the top business schools. From their rankings just 4 years ago, only 4/12 schools had median GMATs of 710, (Harvard was not given). No schools had 720 median GMATs and several of the top 12 had 690 or 680 median GMATs.

Pelihu et al,

Yes I totally agree that GMAT is a very important criteria but I think this thing is being exaggerated, particularly at GMATCLUB. In my opinion 700+ is always competitive and rest depends on your profile. If the middle 80% range is 650 to 750 and median is 710 then among people in middle 80% there must be about 45% accepted candidates whose score were equally distributed between 650 and 700. As we all know that number of people talking GMAT is increasing and number of people scoring above 700 is also increasing. So its obvious that more people with higher score are applying and increase in median scores of b-schools can be attributed to these factors. IMO, the conclusion is that there is no score that can get you accepted but there are score that can get you rejected. If you have an average profile and a score within 20 points range of average score of your target b-school then foget thinking about GMAT and start working on your apps in full swing.
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Re: Anyone with doubts as to the weight given to the GMAT [#permalink]

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13 Oct 2006, 07:23
pelihu wrote:
Anyone with lingering doubts should check out the new BW rankings - specifically the mediam GMATs at the top ranked schools. Each of the first 12 schools other than Harvard, Stanford & Columbia now have median GMAT scores of 710. Harvard & Stanford are at 720 and Columbia was not given, but I'm confident it is towards the higher end. This continues the trend of ever higher GMAT scores at the top business schools. From their rankings just 4 years ago, only 4/12 schools had median GMATs of 710, (Harvard was not given). No schools had 720 median GMATs and several of the top 12 had 690 or 680 median GMATs.

Hey pelihu, I've always thought so. If you're not in the top ten percentile of gmat test takers, then you can't be expected to get into the top ten percentile of bschools. It's a very simple concept -- with all else being non-extraordinary, gmat matters most.

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Re: Anyone with doubts as to the weight given to the GMAT [#permalink]

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13 Oct 2006, 08:17
kidderek wrote:
pelihu wrote:
Anyone with lingering doubts should check out the new BW rankings - specifically the mediam GMATs at the top ranked schools. Each of the first 12 schools other than Harvard, Stanford & Columbia now have median GMAT scores of 710. Harvard & Stanford are at 720 and Columbia was not given, but I'm confident it is towards the higher end. This continues the trend of ever higher GMAT scores at the top business schools. From their rankings just 4 years ago, only 4/12 schools had median GMATs of 710, (Harvard was not given). No schools had 720 median GMATs and several of the top 12 had 690 or 680 median GMATs.

Hey pelihu, I've always thought so. If you're not in the top ten percentile of gmat test takers, then you can't be expected to get into the top ten percentile of bschools. It's a very simple concept -- with all else being non-extraordinary, gmat matters most.

I know lots of people with non top 10% who are in top 10 schools.

Just look at the ranges - many of them are not top 10%.

That being said, I agree that while the gmat cant get you in, it can keep you out.

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13 Oct 2006, 09:45
Well, my main observation was that the scores have been steadily moving up. In the last 8-10 years, the average GMAT at top schools has move up from about 670 (Harvard was 674 according to the '96 BW rankings) to 710 today. I suspect that many of the anecdotal stories we hear about people admitted with mid 600s scores comes from when the GMAT was not as highly emphasized. After all, if the school average is 660-670, then obviously the bulk of admitted students will have scores probably 630-700, with seats for even lower scores reserved for under-represented minorities and other preferred groups.

Fast forward to today, and the median has grown to 710; but also keep in mind that applications have been flat to lower during the time period when most of these scores were compiled, so selectivity should actually be down during this period. On the other hand, application volume is up this year, quite possibly up substantially at most of the top schools. It's not hard to imagine that other schools will be joining Harvard and Stanford in the 720 median club. Wharton is practically there already, and there's every reason to believe that Chicago will gain in application volume and quality now. Heck, even Michigan, Duke and Haas are up 20-30 points in median GMAT in just the last 1-2 years.

The current trend is that the GMAT score is becoming more competitive, but it's also becoming more important to admissions. Success stories from lower scorers in past years may not bear the same fruit this year (or in future years). Certainly I am in agreement with Rhyme that a high score will not get you in. I believe my score is solid, yet I'm still probably sending in at least 7 applications because it's just hard to gauge how the most selective schools will react. But I also agree completely with his assessment that a low score will keep you out. The trend is that scores are moving up and I believe schools that want to keep their place in the rankings (in other words every single one of them) will be increasingly interested in the GMAT.

I must disagree with one thing ps-dahiya said - that if you have an average profile and a score within 20 points of the average forget about taking the GMAT. I think this is bad advice. If you take a look at the people that are admitted to the top schools, most have extremely impressive profiles. I believe that an average profile and a GMAT 20 points under the average is a formula for rejection at a greater rate than the overall rate. For example the acceptance rate at Kellogg is 23% or so; if you believe that 10-15% chance of admission is OK then forget about re-taking the GMAT. To me, that's a long shot, and to quote an adcom from Chicago - the time and \$250 are well worth the difference that the right school will make for you. I'll also paraphrase Hjort regarding advice to "just go work on your essays". Application essays fail for 2 reasons, lack of execution and lack of content. Certainly working hard on your essays will help you maximize your execution. But no matter how hard someone works on their essays, they aren't going to do very well if they just don't have much to write about - and it's not like there is time to build up great leadership/extracurriculars/community in the short term. On the other hand, helping someone achieve a higher GMAT is a tangible result that will be reflected in black and white on the application.

Certainly, we will soon be seeing many reports from people receiving their admit notices over the next few months, and certainly all of them will not have 700+ scores. But, it's a mistake to ignore the trend.

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13 Oct 2006, 12:40
By "average profile" I meant to say average among the admitted candidates.

From your post can I interpret this? An 800 GMAT and above average profile is better than a 700 GMAT and an impressive profile.

If answer is yes then I think you are going too far my lawyer friend. I have never seen anybody (adcoms, admission consultants, MBA students and graduates) who suggest taking GMAT again if you have an average (for your target school) GMAT score and an impressive profile.

As far as top schools are concerned, after a 700+ GMAT, its your profile that will make you stand out (atleast 70% weightage) and not the GMAT. If there is a red flag such as relatively lower (compared to school average) GPA, bad quant or verbal scores in undergrad then GMAT will certainly help negating these factors.

Just my 2 cents. I know we engineers can never argue with lawyers.
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13 Oct 2006, 14:02
ps_dahiya wrote:
:btw By "average profile" I meant to say average among the admitted candidates.

From your post can I interpret this? An 800 GMAT and above average profile is better than a 700 GMAT and an impressive profile.

If answer is yes then I think you are going too far my lawyer friend. I have never seen anybody (adcoms, admission consultants, MBA students and graduates) who suggest taking GMAT again if you have an average (for your target school) GMAT score and an impressive profile.

As far as top schools are concerned, after a 700+ GMAT, its your profile that will make you stand out (atleast 70% weightage) and not the GMAT. If there is a red flag such as relatively lower (compared to school average) GPA, bad quant or verbal scores in undergrad then GMAT will certainly help negating these factors.

Just my 2 cents. I know we engineers can never argue with lawyers.

Well, I like to argue, but I hope nobody takes it personally. ps_dahiya, you are right. I agree with you that an impressive profile is absoutely more preferred by adcoms. But I think people need to be realistic about what an impressive profile actually is, and what it actually means to stand out from a crowded applicant field. To me, it actually seems much more plausible to distinghish oneself with the GMAT that it is to distinguish oneself through work experience etc. A truly impressive profile is probably much more rare than a 750 GMAT score.

Seriously, do all the people here believe that their profiles are more impressive than the blue-chippers from Mckinsey, Goldman & Citigroup that fill the classes of top business schools? I think it's an accomplishment just to get yourself onto the same level, much less blow away the competition. I'll paraphrase Sandy from the BW forum. He says that while the top schools all say that they want diverse work profiles and experiences etc., they always admit the great bulk of their students from all of the traditional sources.

Sometimes I wonder if people really stop to consider what "extraordinary" and "exceptional" mean. One of the key questions that admissions consultants ask when they review work experience is "how tough was it to get the job". If you're at McKinsey, the answer is d@mn tough because they weed out all but the best. If you can throw in promotions at an above average rate at a place like this, then you're distinguishing yourself. If on the other hand you were promoted the fastest at management training and are the youngest executive in your group at Target, well that may not be nearly as impressive because the talent pool is not the same.

I was looking through a packet of Wharton student resumes from about 3-4 years ago. Just skimming through the first 25 or so resumes, here are the employers prior to business school:

BofA securities
USMC Captain
JP Morgan (2)
Merrill Lynch
Cambridge Technology Partners (boutique strategy)
Citigroup (2)
Syncra Systems
Kaplan ... Architects
Estee Lauder
US Army Captain
Microsoft
Navy Lieutennant Commander F/18 pilot
Elan Computing
Royal Marine Commandos Captain
CSFB IBank (2)
Intel
Accenture (2)
OECD Reactor Project (non-profit)
American Express (US Olympic Fencing team)
McKinsey
Goldman

Ok, so what does this tell us? Well, first of all I'm not going to pick a fight at business school because there are a lot of people that can kick my @ss - it's clear that military officer = leadership in the eyes of business schools. By my count, only 2-3 of the first 25 resumes I looked at had experience that was not either military or traditional (banking, consulting, products). They are Syncra systems (I don't know what this is), Kaplan Architects & the nuclear non-profit. Other than that, all chalk (sports betting terminology for going with the favorite).

So I'm in total agreement with ps_dahiya that an impressive profile is more important than a high GMAT. I just think that we disagree with what an impressive profile is. Someone that is a product manager will be competing with the best from Intel and Microsoft. Someone from a financial background will be competing with the best from Goldman, Citigroup & JP Morgan. Somone that's president of their hiking club will be competing with someone that was a Royal Marine Commandos Captain (yikes!). Someone that is an analyst with an accounting firm will be competing with the best consultants from Bain & McKinsey.

I just think it is too easy to say - "go out there and knock them dead with your impressive profile". Certainly, that is the best way to gain admission to a top business school, but as I mentioned above, I'm afraid that a profile that really impresses adcoms is probably much rarer than a 750 GMAT score. Throw in the crap-shoot that is the application reading process and things get even murkier.

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13 Oct 2006, 14:21
I was looking further at those resumes and I had something else to add. Here's a list of the college/universities represented (US only because I have no reference point for international schools, and I am omitting the military training schools):

UNC Charlotte (4.0 GPA)
NYU
Harvard (3)
Wesleyan
Davidson (3.9 GPA)
Smith
Vassar
Johns Hopkins (3.99 GPA)
Oxford (I know, this isn't the US but I recognized it) (2)
Wheaton (3.9 GPA)
Princeton
Wharton Undergrad (3)
U Penn Med School
UT Austin / UVA Law School (yay)
NC State (3.97 GPA) / Clemson MS (4.0 GPA)

OK, so you get the picture. If you didn't go to an Ivy League school or a highly ranked liberal arts college, it sure seems like you better have a as near a 4.0 GPA as possible. Again, adcoms love to say that there are no grade cutoffs and school cutoffs, but you should try to examine the data yourselves.

I know that Wharton is super selective, so other top 10-15 schools will not have the same applicant profile. But really, do people here believe that they can distinguish themselves from a crowd like this? I'll repeat what I said before, that it would be impressive just to get on even footing with the average admitted applicant. If someone has stuff in their background that blows thes profiles away, I'd love to hear about it. Just to summarize my thoughts, it's a pipe dream for most people to think that they can truly distinguish themselves from such competitive applicant pools.

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14 Oct 2006, 14:54
just curious, why are you guys and girls getting MBAs?

especially Pelihu--I am just curious. You seem to have everything going for you, super-intelligence, law degree, lots and lots of free time (you seem to contribute more than any other member on gmatclub--and quite interesting contributions I might add) what do you gain from an MBA that you can't have now?

I ask this question to many prospective MBAs... usual answers: earning potential and career advancement. (Never is the answer the pursuit of knowledge). Anyway, just curious.

?

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14 Oct 2006, 15:15
josh478 wrote:
just curious, why are you guys and girls getting MBAs?

especially Pelihu--I am just curious. You seem to have everything going for you, super-intelligence, law degree, lots and lots of free time (you seem to contribute more than any other member on gmatclub--and quite interesting contributions I might add) what do you gain from an MBA that you can't have now?

I ask this question to many prospective MBAs... usual answers: earning potential and career advancement. (Never is the answer the pursuit of knowledge). Anyway, just curious.

?

I dont want to be too specific here for privacy reasons, but I'm pursuing an MBA for the following high level reasons:

1) A need for better business knowledge
2) An interest in working on an international scale, possibly even based out of a foreign country
3) The flexibility it will afford me long term - I can switch gears with an MBA, it's much harder to do without.

These three reasons are justified by the earning potential. There's a clear ROI - but thats not why I'm pursuing it - I'm pursuing it because of the above. The ROI just makes it possible.

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14 Oct 2006, 15:47
Well, I can only answer for myself, but my reasons are kind of similar to Rhyme's. I just wanted to note that I don't believe I necessarily have more free time than others, the main difference for me right now is that I run my own business and I work from home. So, I'm in front of my computer all the time and I don't have a boss looking over my shoulder. I'ver never worked in a cubicle before, but I'd imagine that with the same current workload, I wouldn't be able to post even 10% as much if that were my work set-up.

Ok, now to your question.

I worked as a securities lawyer in New York and I always wanted to be on the "action" side of the deal. Granted, I may not need an MBA to do this. For example, I was on a deal with an Ibank where the director had a law degree and started his career as an associate with the firm I was at. But, it seems to me that while I probably have access to a specific department at 2-3 Ibanks, an MBA (from a top school) would open doors to many many more opportunities.

My next reason is that my in my current business, I have had substantial interactions and dealings with the far east. I am a fluent Chinese speaker and I believe that the future of business lies in working with China and to a lesser extent India. In the current economy it makes sense to produce products cheaply and import them to the US. But in the near future, maybe five and certainly ten years from now, I believe the real growth will come from delivering services to economies that are growing far faster than the US economy. For example, China is already a consumer of banking and legal services (I worked on the financing for the three gorges project as a law firm associate). It's appetitie will only grow. It's also clear to me that as factories and industries privatize and grow, they will become voracious consumers of management consulting services. So whether you are interested in banking, strategy, or some other specialty, being able to deliver your expertise to China (and maybe 5 years later to India) is highly desirable. I hope that with my legal experience and (newly learned) management skills I will be uniquely positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

Finally, I often think about the idea that most people graduating from college will change jobs 10 times in their lives and change careers 5 times. Obviously, it's just a generalization, but there is some truth that people should think about. My law degree sets me up with jobs at any of the top law firms in the country, and could possibly be used as an entry into strategy consulting or banking, but flexibility is limited. I have spoken with friends that would like to work for some of the big tech companies here in the Bay Area, and those companies just don't know what to do with law degree holders. Certainly, there are openings in their legal departments, but they don't receive serious consideration of other types of jobs. In fact, a law degree probably hurts you if you are looking for a positing in marketing or general management with say, Google or Yahoo, because they are concerned with your salary demands. On the other hand, any large company knows exactly what to do with an MBA from a top school, and that will likely be the case in 5, 10 or 20 years. Can anyone predict right now wither Microsoft or Goole will be a more influential company in 10 years? Or will it be another company or an as-yet unknown company? Whoever it is, they will probably need people with management expertise.

Finally, most of the top MBA schools have cultures that promote strong alumni ties and relations. This simply is not the case with law schools, and alumni ties between undergraduates is superficial at best. If, when I finish business school, I decide that rather than join a company I'd rather start another business of my own, the ability to tap into a driven and qualified alumni base is huge. If I join a bank and 10 years down the road I decide I want to do general management in a different city (or country), a powerful alumni base could be invaluable. The best schools offer this type of access, and I guess you may never know how beneficial it can be until you need it.

So in terms of money and earning potential, I think I could do pretty well at a law firm (the partners I worked for in NY were taking home 3-4 million a year, the ones I worked with in LA over 1 million annually), but I didn't enjoy the work and I hated the rigid nature of the career path. An MBA from a top school (I hope) will let me call the shots with what I want to do down the road, especially since it isn't totally obvious what that might be at this point.

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14 Oct 2006, 16:51
Seriously, you scare me pelihu.
what a motivated drive you have!

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16 Oct 2006, 10:40
This is my theory:

Out of total applying,
20% of people will be eliminated because of poorly executing the essays. Either these don't have anything to tell or they don't know how to tell.
20% will be eliminated because of lower GMAT and lower GPA (than the average of the school)
20% can't be beaten (Seems like pelihu mentioned these above)

Remaining 40% is your real competition. These 40% are the average people. Among may other factors, major factors that will decide their admission should be (In my view):

1. How much introspection and retrospection you have done
2. Clearly defined goals, quantifiable leadership, team work, career focus etc.
3. Community work (Should be leadership, not volunteer)

I believe all big names can be beaten. Working at Goldman or McKinsey is not a certificate of leadership etc. I know of many people whom worked for small companies and they did not seem to possess any "true" leadership skills but made into top schools. You can't look at a person's life just by looking at his professional life or resume. That is the purpose of essays is to know you. So my strong advice is, if you have GMAT at or above the mean/median (assuming no other academic red flags) of your target school then in "most" schools its your essays that will make a difference. As pelihu said, this is easy said than done. It doesn't mean that GMAT is nothing. GMAT is like a hurdle in steeplechase. You just have to jump few inches , NOT few meters, higher above the hurdle. A higher jump can't help you win the race but can get your name in newspapers and record books.
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17 Oct 2006, 11:19
Well, I don't have much to add beyond what I've already said above, so I'll just post a few statistics and basic analysis.

The scoring percentiles on the GMAT recently (in the last month or so) moved so that 700 is now the 92nd percentile instead of the 93rd. This move means that, compared to a month ago (and the applicatoin pool from a year ago) there are about 2300 additional people with 700 scores. The 99th percentile now starts at 760 and 740-750 is now the 98th percentile. This means that there are about 1100 more people this year with 740 and above scores than last year. As far as I know, no top business school has added any seats this year (Duke and Virginia added seats a couple of years ago).

Combined with the fact that each of the top 12 now has a median GMAT of 710 or more; I believe the recent trend in GMAT scoring means that it is a near certainty that by the time the next poll comes out (in other words, the poll that reflects the application numbers for this year), the median GMAT will have moved to 720 for at least 3-5 more schools in addition to Harvard and Stanford. Wharton is a done deal, and several among Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, MIT, Tuck & Haas will no doubt be at 720 as well.

I think it's wrong to say that once you clear 700, then everything is the same; admissions bloggers almost universally agree that a 30 point improvement will make a difference. Also, if the average is 720 for this years applicant class (as I believe it is for most of the schools mentioned above), then 700 is obviously below. And do not forget that people in tougher demographics probably face average GMAT scores 10-30 points higher than the average.

Because of the shift in GMAT percentiles, a 700 this year is probably equal to a 680 two years ago. Combine that with the fact that schools are clearly weighing the GMAT more heavily each year. Draw your own conclusion.

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