Is my GMAT score too low?

In a competitive environment, it is not uncommon for us to hear this question from candidates who have scores of 90th percentile and higher. So, what constitutes a solid GMAT score?

With regard to top MBA programs, an overall score of 700, with an 80th percentile standing on both the quantitative and verbal sections is generally considered safe. However, if your score is lower than this benchmark, then this blog-posting should not be a source of anxiety. We have seen many candidates with sub-700 scores and more than a few with sub-600 scores, get into top-programs. As Admissions Officers are at pains to tell candidates, the GMAT is but one metric and must be viewed relative to other indicators - grades, professional experience, community leadership, international experience, personal accomplishments and more.

Candidates who are concerned that they have low-scores should consider them in comparison to a school's GMAT average and distribution (and again, relative to their own experiences as well). For example, Yale's website, states that its Class of 2011 has a GMAT average of 715 and the mid-80% of its class had scores between 660 and 760. So, that written, 660 and 760 form a range for candidates with low to average scores to consider. So, taking this range into account and offering a simplified example, a male investment banker with a 640 and limited community experience, might consider retaking the GMAT. A male investment banker with a 710 and significant community experience might be better off working on his her-applications.

The key point and the one that is most often missed amid GMAT hysteria is that candidates must be confident that they can improve their scores, otherwise retaking the GMAT is senseless. If your actual score is higher than your pre-tests, then you might consider that test-day was your best attempt and then focus your energies elsewhere; if you are confident that you under-achieved on test day and can boost your scores by at least twenty points (or more) and that this will not compromise your applications, then you should consider taking the test again.