Ask Kate: GMAT Score indicates which Round to Apply

GMAT score determines round. Is it time to up your scores?




I would love to hear your expert opinion on my GMAT score of 680 (Q47, V37), and this is my first attempt. I’m an Indian male IT guy, and hence a bit concerned about my Quant scores, given the very competitive applicant pool that I represent. I’m targeting the top 15-25 B-Schools in US.

What do you suggest my strategy be?

Option #1: Hold back on Round 1, retake GMAT and apply for Round 2 (hopefully with a better score)?

Option #2: Apply for Round 1 with the 680, coupled with stellar essays and take a call to retake GMAT depending on the response from R1?

Option#3: Divide my target schools into 2 lists – targeted for R1 and R2.
Apply to first list in Round 1 with the 680, coupled with stellar essays and in parallel retake GMAT so as to bump my round 1 application and/or apply to 2nd list in R2, with the new (better) score?

Please help me make this decision, so I can better concentrate on my time and effort in order to maximize my chances of getting into my target schools.


roundHi Jrnymn,
Round 1 isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Too many business school applicants who are better than average competing for a small number of spots relative to round 2 does not make for better odds. The percentage of applicants in the pool who are admitted is higher than for round 3 (and usually round 2 too), but that’s not the whole story.

Before you choose options 1,2,3, consider which of the schools will accept additional information. Some used to but no longer and others never have (gsb…), but many will accept updated GMAT scores. Read this year’s policy re: GMAT at each school. It is not one size fits all and it does change year to year!

Stellar essays will trump your 680. 47 is good enough, but not good. If you were my student and I believed your essays would indeed be stellar (which means – beyond well written, bring strong men to tears, move conceptual mountains, etc.) my push for round 1 versus round 2 would depend on precisely which school was your number 1. If the mba admission office accepts information updates, submit the app asap. If they do not, wait for round 2. Either way, plan to retake. Other than the time drain – cost of doing business – there is no downside to a retake. Bschools really only care about your best score. You will self report your best score on your app and unless you give them reason to, they won’t even look at your other scores when they verify your official score. Some schools even let you report your top scaled scores for quant and verbal – though no speculating on a franken-GMAT score had you earned those on the same test.



GMAT Scores Keeping Going Higher At Leading Business Schools

GMAT Score indicates which Round to Apply

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