In this lesson, Joe Farr from Veritas Prep, discusses just how high of a GMAT score you will need to get into top-tier business schools and how to evaluate which schools to apply to on the basis of the GMAT score you already have.

What is average score?

When looking at scores, it mainly depends on where you are planning to apply, Farr says. In the US, the average GMAT score is 547. However, the top 14 schools in the country have an average score of more than 700. Stanford is at the top of this list with an average score of 732.

It appears, however, that many prospective students don’t know what “average score” means. It means that half of the applicants were below that level and the other half were above it. Most applicants tend to miss this and, if they aspire to study at Stanford, try to take 732 as their target score.

Aim for the middle 80%

Really what you want to target is the middle 80%, according to Farr. Based on the numbers released by the top schools, your GMAT score has to exceed 650 if you are aiming at a top university. For example, Kellogg’s middle 80% corresponds to a range of 680 to 760.

Should Harvard Business School or some other top institution be your dream school, you should focus on the quantitative part of the GMAT. Taking extra quantitative coursework in finance, statistics, microeconomics and accounting may help you a lot.

Check out: GMAT Scores for Top Business Schools

But what if your score is low for a top business school? Your best option in this case is to look at a Tier 2 institution. There are a lot of great schools out there that can give you just as great an education as the top 15 schools. If your GMAT score is not outstanding, you may want to look at schools such as Rice, Kelley and Boston College.

But don’t forget that the GMAT score is only one of the components considered by admission directors. So if your result is below your expectations, don’t despair. You still have a chance!