GMAT vs GPA: Which is More Important?

Today we are featuring a guest post by Nupur Gupta from Crack The MBA.

GMAT vs GPAF1GMAT: When you compare GMAT and GPA, which statistic is more important from an applicant’s perspective?


Please note that the response to this question is relative. Both GMAT and GPA are important. However, between the two, I believe GMAT is more important due to the following reasons.

  • Comparing apples to apples
  • Impact on rankings
  • Marketing
  • More recent statistic
  • Applicant’s self-belief

Comparing Apples to Apples

GMAT score is a common, objective benchmark that leaves no room for ambiguity when comparing two candidates from different schools, regions, or majors. The same cannot be said for GPA.

For example, some schools might follow a bell-curve whereas other schools might have a grading system that is top-heavy. Some schools might use a 4.0 scale whereas others might have a 100-point scale. Some applicants may have been arts majors whereas other applicants may have been engineering majors.

Impact on Rankings

GMAT & GPA numbers can also have a bearing on business schools’ rankings. There are different rankings available such as U.S. News, Financial Times, and Business Week. It is relevant to note that GMAT carries 0.1625 weight in U.S. News Rankings compared to 0.075 for GPA. Therefore, there is incentive for business schools to be biased in favor of GMAT scores.


If we look at the table below, it is evident that all leading business schools mention GMAT numbers in some shape or form (mean, average, range), whereas the same is not necessarily true for GPA. Therefore, this is another indicator showing GMAT score matters more than GPA.

GPA vs GMAT Range Top Business Schools

More recent statistic

With the average work experience statistic trending at north of five years for many schools, GPAs typically provide a more dated view of an applicant’s academic ability compared to the GMAT. On the other hand, GMAT scores enable schools to get a more recent statistic to evaluate applicants’ ability to handle the analytical rigor of their program.

Applicant’s Self Belief

The GMAT can be taken multiple times (within a year). Therefore, when an applicant hits the “submit” button, it is fair for schools to assume that the candidate has put his best foot forward. Therefore, the GMAT score is indicative of a candidate’s own perception of his potential

On the other hand, a GPA is a function of many factors (that could also be somewhat outside a candidate’s control). Therefore, schools have been seen to cut applicant’s more slack in this department.

How do Business Schools compare scores for GMAT? Do they look at total or separate verbal/ quant scores?

A balanced score is preferred as anything otherwise could raise red flags depending on how the rest of the application for a candidate looks.

For example, in the case of international students from countries where English is not the business language, verbal score can be more important (esp. with more and more schools eliminating the TOEFL requirement). It is possible to score above a 700, despite a lower verbal score, in which case schools may look at the verbal score and the essays written as part of the AWA section.

Alternatively, in the case of arts or humanities majors, a quant score might become more important as schools may wish to confirm the applicant’s ability to handle the analytical rigors of the program.

To study percentile rankings for Quant, Verbal and Total scores, look here.

How do Business Schools compare scores for GPA? Do they look at the course scores individually?

For reasons mentioned earlier, it is not always possible to compare GPA scores for two applicants who attended different undergraduate/graduate schools.

That being said, the transcript can provide a useful peek into the choices made by an applicant. Therefore, most business schools require you to upload your transcripts or provide scores for individual courses undertaken. This serves two purposes:

Your course roster provides schools a sense for the rigor of the courses you took. For example, you may have taken more advanced courses than your peers, which may have affected your GPA. Your transcript enables schools to consider that information in gaining context for your candidacy.

In cases where schools may be concerned about your quantitative or communication skills, they may wish to look at your performance on relevant courses in your transcript.

Overall, the transcript is a useful data point in combination with your performance on the GMAT.

About The Author

Crack The MBACrack The MBA (CTM) is a boutique education advisory firm founded by Wharton MBA graduate, Nupur Gupta. CTM has a focus on arming prospective MBA candidates with information, advice, and guidance to enable them to crack the MBA admission process. To get in touch with Nupur, email her at nupur@crackthemba.com.

School(Class of)GMATRangeMiddle 80% RangeGPAMiddle 80% Range
HBS (2015)730550-780NANANA
Stanford (2015)729550-790NANANA
Wharton (2015)725630-790690-760NANA
Booth (2015)723NANA3.573.1-3.9
Columbia (2014)715NA680-7603.53.1-3.8
Yale (2015)714NA690-7403.573.36-3.8
ISB (2014)710NA680-750NANA
Kellogg (2014)708NANANANA
Darden (2014)706NANA3.52NA
INSEAD (2014)702600-790650-750NANA
Tepper (2014)693NANA3.26NA
Georgetown (2015)688NA640-7403.342.89-3.77
Duke (2014)NANA640-740NA2.9-3.9
Emory (2015)*NANA620-7303.4NA
* 2 Year MBA

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