Is my GMAT score good enough for Harvard Business School (HBS)?

If you are planning to take GMAT or already took GMAT, and considering Harvard Business School (HBS) is one of your your top choice of target B-schools, you are just at the right place. You may soon figure out what GMAT score is good enough for Harvard Business School (HBS).

Let’s see what is the median GMAT score and the range of GMAT scores for the current year’s class. The median GMAT score for Harvard Business School was 730. You might have seen the unbelievable range in scores in this year’s class; students scored anywhere from 510-790.
Oh My God! 510 – Yes, on the lower side. Hence one of the most unimaginable but frequent google search along the lines of “Can I get into HBS with a 500 [or 600 or 650] GMAT score?”

So what is a good GMAT score for Harvard?
If a 510 score on GMAT can deliver you the coveted Harvard seat, then why aim 750+?

Well, truly even a score of 800 cannot guarantee you an admission to Harvard Business School (HBS).

But still, the below will give you some idea –

1. Safe Zone (above 99 percentile): 760-800. If your scores are in this range, as long as your work experience, GPA, resume and recommendations are on track with the average Harvard hopeful, you stand a very decent chance, though you must understand that even an 800 on GMAT does not guarantee admission to Harvard. First, you must evaluate your profile honestly. If you think you have a decent profile but it is not extremely rare, you should be in this GMAT score zone.

2. Fight it out zone (90-99 precentile): 720-750. You must work really well on your application as you have to really fight it out for the admission in Harvard if you are in this GMAT score zone. Just FYI, majority of applications are from this GMAT score zone. If I were an admissions officer from Harvard, I would suggest that if you really believe that you are 99 percentile material, you may retake GMAT (760+ is ALWAYS better than 720+).

3. Debatable zone (80-90 percentile): 650-710. Your application will definitely be scrutinized a lot more than others as your overall GMAT percentile is in 80s, which the GMAT fraternity can say lame for a Harvard hopeful. You must have something exciting to offer Harvard Business School (HBS) that no one else is bringing. You can expect roughly around 12% (going by the data of past few years) of admission offers to applicants in this GMAT score range.

4. Long shot zone (below 80 percentile): less than 650. Let me tell you that the lowest score ever to be offered admission to Harvard Business School (HBS) is 480. But again, admissions to Harvard in this GMAT score zone is reserved only for godlike or superstars. Only for these godlike supreme fellas, Harvard makes exception and takes a considerable hit its published GMAT score median and ranges because they are that special. But one thing’s for sure there aren’t going to be too many of these supreme individuals Harvard considers special enough to be in this category.

If you have read thus far, and if your score lies in the ‘Debatable’ or ‘Long shot’ category, you have 2 options – either you retake the GMAT or give your application a serious make-over.

Your extra-curricular or other admission make-ups may fetch you the dream Harvard admission, but it sure is a herculean task. So why not make the admission committee’s task easier by giving them scores that are going to raise fewer eyebrows?

My sincere advise for anyone who is aiming for Harvard Business School – get yourself out of ‘Debatable’ or ‘Long shot’ category. You may plan to re-take the GMAT with some solid preparation. To do that you may opt for any online prep course offered by most GMAT prep organizations (comparatively cheaper but rarely helps you get there) or hire a damn good private GMAT tutor (chances are rare because only a handful of top GMAT tutors are out there), or find a top online GMAT tutor (all you need is internet connectivity; and it can prove extremely effective), who can structure the course precisely working on your strengths and weaknesses (most effective and can really help you go that far).

Stay tuned for my next post, which will give you more insight into which course is ideal for your GMAT preparation.

I wish you best of luck to get a top GMAT score, and you may need all the luck if you are gunning for Harvard Business School. :-)

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