Stanford, you, and your GMAT score

Of all the steps that MBA applicants need to take as part of applying to a top MBA program, the GMAT might feel the most intimidating. Preparation for it requires the most time and effort, and when the day finally comes for you to take the test - many feel anxious as if everything depends on it.


Some people really become obsessed, taking the test over and over until they reach a score that they believe “represents” them. I’ve seen people with 720 retake it in order to get above 750.


All of you who seriously prepare for the GMAT, know the simple truth: if you practice more, you will probably improve and get a better score. This means that each of us could get a different score at a different time. Some start more ready than others, and some need more preparation. The GMAT doesn’t reflect anything about who you are as a person. It only gives some clue about your current math or English level. Fortunately, the top schools understand this. Understanding how they think about scores and grades will hopefully help to reduce some anxiety around the GMAT.


I graduated from Stanford GSB and since then I’ve helped many others apply to GSB. I can tell you one thing without a doubt:


For Stanford, YOU ARE WAY MORE THAN YOUR GMAT

GSB students don’t care about the GPA or GMAT of their classmates. They care much more about what kind of people they are: their characters, values, experiences that they can share and learn from each other. Further, there is a grade non-disclosure policy that sets the tone for a culture that focuses on things more important than grades.


It’s unfortunate that some people don’t apply because they think their score is too low. If your goal is to successfully apply to Stanford GSB, I’d encourage you to spend time and energy on your essays, rather than optimize your GMAT score beyond reason.

The interviews, essays and recommendation letters are there so that the people at the admissions committee can get some idea of who you are. The way they think about the GPA and GMAT is something like: “ok, so I see this candidate will be able to handle the classes we offer… now let’s learn who they are and how they fit a well-rounded class”.


How much is good enough? There is no clear number as this is just one data point to be considered as part of an entire application. If you feel that your score is good enough so that it shouldn’t be something that would get the admissions committee worried after considering the rest of your application… it’s probably good enough.