What is a Competitive GMAT Score for McKinsey?

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Question:

I scored 710 on the GMAT after studying for about five weeks. Do you know if this is a competitive GMAT score for comparison with the brainiacs working at McKinsey? And does the firm place any value on a good GMAT score when hiring Business Associates?


My Reply:

I don't recall the cutoffs off the top of my head, but 710 strikes me as the lower end of the range... but still within the range.
McKinsey does like looking at standardized test scores of any type - whether that be SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc... in particular they look at the math portion of the score.

So if I recall correctly, the GMAT has a math section sub-score, so if you had a 710 overall but math was much higher, that probably wouldn't stop you from getting an interview, especially if the rest of your application was strong.  So  the GMAT or any test score is just one factor.

Keep in mind the consulting resume / consulting cover letter screening process is a human process.

If you're recruiting on campus, it's usually alumni from that campus who are evaluating your application. Since I graduated from Stanford, I was on the Stanford recruiting team and read through hundreds of resumes and cover letters from Stanford.

(I know I keep harping on this, but 95% of cover letters stink!  They are an obvious mail merge in Microsoft Word. It is very, very painful to read 400 mail merge cover letters in a row. It is considered absolutely refreshing to read a sincere, original cover letter from someone who has done their homework and really wants the job (and can explain with specifics why they want it).

The historical reasons for have alumni read the applications is because they could tell if say a particular award / major / class was a "joke" or if it was incredibly impressive.

There are diminishing returns to GMAT and GPA performance as it correlates to on the job performance. So beyond a certain GPA (at last check it was a 3.5), a higher GPA does not correlate with a candidate doing better on the job. The same on test scores. Verbal scores did not correlate with on the job performance, but high math scores did -- to a point.

The ideal Business Associate profile was someone with a high enough GPA, a high enough standardized math test score, and a track record of leadership/ interpersonal activities. That was the right balance between analytical, practical, and client-oriented.

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12 comments… add one
  • Anthony Feb 28, 2013, 6:03 am

    Would you recommend retaking the GMAT to get a higher score? If I take it again it would be my 5th time and i’ve already been admitted to the B school of choice. Sorry for posting here, I could not find your FAQ blog.

    • Victor Cheng Feb 28, 2013, 3:12 pm

      Wendy,

      It depends on your score, but most likely its not worth the effort. Given you’ve already taken it 4 times, statistically its unlike you’ll improve it by enough to make a noticeable difference.

      If you took it once and you were sick that day or something, and you score was much lower than you practice scores, then it might be worth doing again. But that doesn’t seem to be your case.

      Better to spend your time getting better grades at school or working on building your contacts in the industry.

      -Victor

  • Anthony Mar 4, 2013, 10:35 am

    Hi Victor. Thanks for the prompt response. Its 720. Improved on av. 30-40 pts each time. Does the number of times an applicant has taken the gmat affect consulting applications?
    Thanks

    • Victor Cheng Mar 4, 2013, 6:50 pm

      Wendy,

      The number of times you take the GMAT doesn’t matter. There’s no material difference (from a consulting firm’s point of view) between a 720 and 750 GMAT score. Both are high enough to continue reading the rest of the resume. If it were me, I’d put my time in to exceptional resume writing (see http://www.caseinterview.com/consulting-resume ) to make sure you effectively communicate your achievements (many resumes are poorly written and don’t do the candidate justice), networking if you are from a non-target school, and/or case prep.

      -Victor

  • Arjun May 14, 2013, 3:22 am

    Victor,

    I got into a top 20 MBA program in the US but my GMAT is only 680. Does a sub 700 score bar me from all consulting firms? Is there a minimum GMAT bar that people have to meet for being considered? Thank you for your time.

    • Victor Cheng May 22, 2013, 1:35 pm

      Arjun,

      There is no hard cut off. If your score is lower, the expectations is that everything else would need to be stronger to compensate. For the top 3 firms, your score would be on the low end and the rest of the resume would need to be impressive to compensate. For the top 4 – 7 firms, it’s slightly below. For the rest of the top 25 firms, you’re competitive.

      -Victor

  • Ethan Wang Nov 11, 2014, 6:30 pm

    Victor, I am curious as to what you think of a physician in full practice transitioning into consulting? I am a hospital internist shortly out of residency and I feel the mundane daily routine to be depressing at times. I am very interested in business aspect of healthcare management as well as IT development, and I have been approached by hospital’s chief medical info officer to apply for business consultant role. Perhaps I want to program my own EHR (electronic health record) one day also and own a business, so I am learning programming in my spare time. I do not have much objective scores to show to apply to top firms, since most of my professional training is very subjective. My SAT score was below average overall but I scored much higher on math (680) than English, considering I did come from mainland PRC at the age of 14. My overall college GPA was 3.7 (non-target). I was referred to your site by my cousin who just got an offer from a top 10 firm and recently interviewed at Bain. I much appreciate your input and thank you for your passion to teach!

    • Victor Cheng Nov 12, 2014, 10:41 am

      Ethan,

      Overall full fledged MD’s are attractive candidates especially if you are willing to do health care related consulting. MD’s have more credibility with clients than MBA’s in many cases. Given your pre med school background, unless you are at a top medical school or residency program, you probably aren’t strong enough to compete at the MBB level. That said there are several second tier firms and health care consulting boutiques that would potentially be a good fit for you.

      Good luck,
      Victor

  • Ethan Wang Nov 14, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Victor, thank you for the reply, are there some second tier firms you are familiar with that has strong interest in medical business consultants? I am very interested in healthcare related business consulting, especially from an EHR perspective. I really appreciate your input.

    • Victor Cheng Nov 14, 2014, 9:38 pm

      Ethan,

      I don’t have a list off the top of my head. Good luck in googling.

      -Victor

  • jane Dec 29, 2014, 1:07 am

    Hi Victor,
    You touched on this in a comment earlier, but do you think I should retake the GMAT? I am hoping to work for MBB (or maybe a slight tier below). Went to Columbia undergrad and am going to Tuck next year. GMAT is 680 (Q46).

    I probably can’t do much better than 700. Do you think that would materially help my chances? How do my odds look with my current score? Thanks!
    -Jane

  • Saran Dec 2, 2015, 11:10 am

    Hi Victor,
    Greetings.

    Going through your website, I am really impressed with your comments and I request you to clarify my query.

    I want to be a general management consultant in the manufacturing sector. I have 7 years of experience in one of the automobile manufacuring companies in Asia. I have an undegraduate degree in engineering. I want to know whether my profile is good enough for the top 10 consulting firms.
    I scored a 700 (Q49 & V34) on my GMAT but do not intend to do an MBA soon.
    I would really appreciate your comments and feedback on the same.

    Thanking you,

    Regards,
    Saran.

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