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GRE Scores for Business Schools

This post was updated in March 2017 to reflect the most recent information available.

For decades, those who wanted to get their MBA from any respectable school in the country had one choice: the GMAT. However, in recent years, the ETS, the world’s largest testing service, has sought fiercely to change that. Now after a huge marketing push and an overhaul to their own graduate admissions test, the ETS has its GRE nipping at the heels of the GMAT for adcom acceptance. With purportedly over 1,000 MBA programs now accepting GRE scores for business school admissions, the GRE is slowly becoming considered a legitimate substitute for the GMAT in b-school applications. That means students who previously had no choice are now stuck weighing the GRE vs the GMAT. So when it comes to your decision, what GRE scores will you need to make the cut at your dream b-school?

ETS Intended Business Student GRE Scores

First let’s start with the hard data from the ETS. Here’s a chart of the average scores of those intending to apply to business school with GRE scores.

ConcentrationAverage GRE Verbal Scores of Intended Business StudentsAverage GRE Quant Scores of Intended Business Students
Business (overall)150153
Banking and Finance151161
Business Admin and Management150151

Finance aside, if you check the score percentile ranking, all of these scores hover right around the median score of all GRE applicants – about 151-153 in both sections. So what does that tell us? Not much, other than typical b-school aspirant is about average with all other graduate applicants when it comes to the GRE.

Estimating GRE Scores for MBA Programs

Because most schools are reluctant to release average GRE scores for their accepted students (probably because they’re still figuring it out themselves), I’ve come up with a handy estimation. Check the chart below to see the combined GRE score ranges.

SchoolAverage GMATGMAT PercentileGRE Range (Estimated)
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)73096th332-336
MIT (Sloan)72494th330-334
Top 10 MBAs72595th331-335

The Problems of Defining GRE Scores for Business Programs

The problem that you encounter when trying to determine what GRE scores you’ll need when applying for MBA programs is that GMAT sections are combined into an overall score, while the GRE gives two separate scores for its sections (plus an AWA score). That means there’s a singular percentile score comparison isn’t really possible. Instead to come up with the ranges above, I used the GRE to GMAT score conversion chart and then found the least possible corresponding combined GRE scores and the greatest corresponding combined GRE scores.

GRE Scores More Varied than the GMAT?

Since most MBA admissions committees are still pretty new at assessing GRE scores, there’s a lot of speculation that there’s quite a bit of variation in GRE scores compared to GMAT scores. Poets and Quants has pointed the discrepancy between scores here. Logically this makes sense considering their years of experience correlating GMAT scores with success in their programs. Without much data on a potential applicant’s success, it’s only logical that weight would be shifted elsewhere when considering the GRE. I foresee that as years pass, however, adcoms are going to get better and better assessing a candidate based on his or her GRE score, and that variation between GMAT and GRE will be minimized, just has been done on the undergrad level when comparing the SAT vs ACT. No matter what the discrepancy is, though, you should still pick the test that plays to your strengths. 🙂

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