The GMAT Isn't Everything (at Harvard)

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A recent article in the Harvard Crimson has several tips for would-be admits at Harvard Business School. I can't vouch for the entire thing, but I can speak to one of his points, the one that specifically concerns the GMAT:

Try to have a high GMAT, but HBS is not obsessed with this; they are more concerned with your GPA, and will not get too shook up with a 680 or even a 660 GMAT if they 'otherwise love you'...

Naturally, since we're talking about Harvard, all of these numbers are high. Getting a 660 GMAT takes some serious work for most people. But the average GMAT for Harvard admits is well over 700. You can get in with something less.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, half of admits will get in with GMAT scores below the median. Applicants often forget about this, because the GMAT is the one part of the process that is 100% measurable. You don't really know how your recommendations will come across, but you do know that a 730 is better than a 710.

So the temptation is to work on the GMAT score to the exclusion (or reduction, at least) of all else. It may be possible to improve your score, but if you are comfortably within the middle-80% range of admits, your time may be more profitably spent elsewhere.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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