Can I get into Harvard Business School with a 650 GMAT?
Yes you can.
But it becomes statistically less and less likely every year. One thing is certain: there’s lots of folks out there who have cracked the code on the formidable GMAT exam and scores continue to rise to stratospheric levels, pushing the average up, of course. Most schools publish the percentages of each level of the GMAT who gain admission every year, but Harvard is an exception. They keep this information close to the vest and will only say that the GMAT is “very important” in the admissions process and state their median GMAT score each year (it was 730 for class of 2015). Based upon the published stats from other top schools, it’s safe to say that not very many applicants with a 650 are getting into HBS. In fact, at other leading (top 10-ish) schools who do publish their percentages, fewer than 12% of the applicants have GMATs under 650 and fewer than 9% of admitted applicants have below that mark.
This puts you in a tight spot indeed if you are trying to get in with a 650. Not only are there very few applicants who are admitted with that score, there are far more applicants who achieved that score than those who achieved higher. Simply put, you are a small fish in a very big pond, and the odds of catching a baited hook are low.
A more telling statistic in the case of HBS is their score range, which they do indeed publish and as of last year was 550-780.
So technically, you can get into HBS with only a 550 on the GMAT! Don’t you feel relieved? What the number doesn’t tell you is that the person who had the 550 also developed a cure for cancer, or built a post-atmospheric earth orbiting vehicle out of spare parts from their garage, or some other incredible feat. If only HBS would officially publish an 80% range like other schools, we’d have a better idea at least of the extreme ends of scores for the remaining 20% (within which lies the 650).
The point, I guess is, the devil is in the details.
Can someone get in with a 650? Yes indeed someone can. Can YOU get into Harvard with your 650? It all depends on the story behind the score. Focus on what you have achieved that is extraordinary and what you offer that is unique and different than the average HBS applicant (keeping in mind the “average” HBS applicant is pretty impressive), and at least you will have the best shot with that 650 that you can possibly have. We would be happy to help you develop your story so it will position you as well as possible.