What’s the lowest GMAT score possible, and how many test-takers get it? Will a low GMAT score ruin your chances of MBA admission? In this article, I’ll go over the lowest GMAT score you can get on the exam, how common it is, and the minimum GMAT score you’ll need to get into your MBA program of choice.
What Is the Lowest GMAT Score Possible?
So, how low can you go when it comes to a GMAT score? The lowest GMAT score possible is a 200. The range of possible GMAT scores is 200-800. This range applies to the total score, which combines the Verbal and Quantitative scores.
Below are the score ranges for the GMAT total score, as well as each individual section:
|Total Score (Verbal and Quantitative)||200-800|
|Integrated Reasoning||1-8 (scored in single-point intervals)|
|Analytical Writing Assessment||0-6 (scored in half-point intervals)|
It’s somewhat uncommon for students to get either very low or very high scores on the GMAT. Relatively few students receive below a 400 or above a 600; according to the GMAC, two-thirds of test-takers receive a score between 400 and 600.
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Percentile Rankings and the Lowest GMAT Score
As I explained above, a 200 and similarly low GMAT scores are not at all common, according to the percentile rankings released by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). Percentile rankings, which you’ll receive for the total score as well as for each individual GMAT section, tell you how your score fares in comparison to your peers. If you get a percentile ranking of 80%, for example, it means that you scored more highly than 80% of your peers, while 20% of your fellow test-takers scored as well or better than you.
Here are the percentile rankings for GMAT total scores of 350 and below from GMAC for the last three years:
|Total Score||Percentile Ranking|
A score of 200 corresponds to 0% percentile ranking, meaning that 100% of your fellow test-takers got a a 200 or higher. However, it’s not impossible to get a score in the very low range: the first percentile of test-takers (those who score a 200 or 210) includes more people than you might think, given that it represents 1% of the hundreds of thousands of students who take the GMAT every year.
So, while uncommon, a significant minority of students do get very low scores on the GMAT. Even if you start off with a low score on your GMAT practice tests, don’t panic. Many test-takers improve their scores significantly as long as they prepare well.
Minimum GMAT Score for MBA Programs
There is no single minimum GMAT score for MBA programs, and most schools don’t have a hard GMAT cutoff. However, if you’re looking at top 20 programs it will be almost impossible to get in without at least a 650 (and in many cases that will still be too low).
To find out what GMAT score you’ll need to get into a prospective business school, the best resource is the school’s incoming class profile on its admissions page. Class profiles generally list the average GMAT scores, or the middle 80% range of scores, for the most recently admitted class of students. These profiles will give you a good barometer of how your score fits into a given program.
Here’s a chart of the average GMAT scores of the incoming classes at a few top-tier and mid-tier MBA programs:
|Top-Tier Business Schools||Average GMAT Score of Recent Incoming Class|
|Harvard Business School||730|
|Stanford Graduate School of Business||737|
|Yale School of Management||730|
|Selective Business Schools|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Business||656|
|University of Iowa (Tippie)||676|
|University of Maryland, College Park (Smith)||660|
Generally speaking, you should aim for a score of 700+ to get into the highest-ranking MBA programs, while most mid-tier business schools accept students with GMAT scores of 630-680. There are some programs, particularly part-time programs aimed at working professionals, where a score as low as 550 is acceptable.
But remember, the important thing is the minimum GMAT score for MBA programs that you’re interested in, so make sure to look up the expectations for every school you’re applying to.
Top-Tier MBA Programs and a Low GMAT Score
Many students wonder if it’s ever possible to get into a top-tier MBA program with a low GMAT score. The answer is yes, but don’t count on it. Not all schools report their lowest admitted student’s GMAT score, but a few do. Harvard Business School rather famously admitted a student with a total score of 570 in 2014. The Stanford MBA Class of 2018 admitted a student with a total score of 590.
However, remember that these scores are outliers. Usually these students have an outstanding MBA application in other respects, such as exceptional personal circumstances (like overcoming significant obstacles to get where they are, for example). The vast majority of students admitted to top-ranking business schools have GMAT scores close to (or above) their school’s average. It’s better to aim for schools where your score is the norm rather than the exception.
There are also some business schools that don’t require GMAT scores at all. This policy is especially common for Executive MBA programs, which are geared towards working professionals who have already proven their capabilities with relevant experience in business. If you already have six or seven years of experience and your GMAT score is very low, an EMBA might be worth considering. Prestigious programs that don’t require GMAT scores are available at Stern School of Business at NYU, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, among others.
Want to understand your GMAT scores more fully? Learn the complete GMAT score range and what it mean.
To learn more about how business schools view your GMAT scores, check out our expert guide to the GMAT total score.
If you’re not sure whether to take the GMAT or not, check out our complete list of MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT.