“How much GMAT score should I get for XYZ school?” I have heard this question being asked consistently over the past six years, since MBA Decoder came into being. Now that b-schools have started accepting GRE, applicants have added GRE to that same question.
For the “cent percent” marks obsessed Indians, the answer could not be more different than an 800 on 800 (GMAT) or a 340 on 340 (GRE). Logically, you can only score the GMAT / GRE as per your capability to perform on the test. A few other factors can influence your performance- your preparedness and you luck on test day. In reality, a target score defined by a third person is not going to help much.
A better approach is to look at the average scores of target b-schools. An ideal score is several points above that. For example, if ISB’s average score is 704, its advisable that you get 710 or above. Having said this, we are aware of applicants who scored a 760 GMAT and were not invited for interview and we have also helped a few applicants with low scores of 660, who were admitted. The point is, your admission chances depend upon the overall strength of your application. The GMAT is an extremely important criterion, but it is still one among many others.
If you are applying to foreign universities, the situation becomes a little different. Admission spots for the Indian applicants are much smaller here as compared to ISB or IIMs, where the demographic is entirely Indian. This intensifies the competition manifold. It would be rare to find an Indian with a score of less than 720 at the top 20 US colleges. For these colleges, class average of GMAT score are not very indicative for Indian applicants, you should aim for atleast a 20-30 point jump over those. Another guiding factor is being closer to the top end range of the class GMAT (b-schools publish 20th to 80th percentile range of GMAT in their class profile summary). For colleges that rank beyond the top 20, a GMAT score close to 700 will still keep you in the game, although higher scores and competitiveness on other criteria will help you race up to scholarships.