The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
Test scores are one of the many factors that admissions officers at selective MBA programs consider when deciding which candidates to accept. Prestigious graduate business schools have multifaceted selection criteria, since their goal is to identify the applicants with the greatest leadership potential — so they also review undergraduate transcripts, professional resumes and application essays.
Standout performance on the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, does not guarantee acceptance into a prestigious MBA program, but it does improve admissions odds. Composite GMAT scores, which are based on a test-taker’s accuracy in answering verbal and quantitative questions, range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 800.
Among the 122 ranked MBA programs that disclosed their average GMAT score for incoming full-time students in fall 2020 in an annual U.S. News survey, the overall average was 609.
That is a better-than-typical score on the GMAT, according to a percentile ranking published by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the organization that creates and administers the test. According to GMAC statistics, the average score among GMAT test-takers who took the exam anytime between 2017 and 2019 was around 568.
Business schools with demanding admissions standards tend to enroll students with stellar GMAT scores that are well above the norm. Each of the 10 MBA programs that reported the highest average scores to U.S. News had scores exceeding 710, placing them above the 91st percentile. The average score among these 10 institutions was 724, which sits between the 94th and 96th percentile.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business in California reported the highest average GMAT score among incoming full-time students in fall 2020: 733, which surpasses the 96th percentile.
[Read: What Is a Good GMAT Score?]
All 10 of the MBA programs that boasted the highest GMAT scores placed within the top 15 of the 2022 U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings. Average scores on the GMAT and the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, known as the GRE, have a weight of 16.25% in the U.S. News ranking methodology. The formula places greater emphasis on quality assessments by B-school officials and corporate recruiters (40%) and outcome statistics for recent graduates (35%).
Five of the 10 schools that touted the best GMAT scores are based on the East Coast, three are located in the Midwest, and two are on the West Coast.
Two B-schools that appeared on this list last year — the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management — did not submit their statistical surveys to U.S. News during the fall 2020 data collection and are therefore not included in this new list.
Some B-schools that reported their GMAT figures to U.S. News had below-normal test scores. Among the 10 schools with the lowest average scores, the overall average was 402, which is only slightly above the 9th percentile.
Below is a list of the 10 business schools where incoming full-time MBA students in fall 2020 had the highest average GMAT scores. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|Business school (name) (state)||Incoming full-time enrollment (fall 2020)||Average GMAT score||U.S. News business school rank|
|Stanford University (CA)||436||733||1|
|Columbia University (NY)||571||732||7 (tie)|
|Harvard University (MA)||732||727||5 (tie)|
|Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)||559||727||4|
|University of California–Berkeley (Haas)||331||727||7 (tie)|
|University of Chicago (Booth)||621||724||3|
|New York University (Stern)||317||723||10 (tie)|
|Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)||289||720||10 (tie)|
|Yale University (CT)||350||720||9|
|University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)||359||711||13 (tie)|
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Business School Compass to find standardized test scores, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed 486 schools for our 2020 survey of business programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Business Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel or have room to grow in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The GMAT score data above is correct as of July 13, 2021.
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