Earning an HBS GRE Score from 155 to GRE 163!
Already a test prep veteran, Jason had been through countless hours of GRE tutoring and self-study; He'd trucked through a whopping five official GRE tests. Still, with scores in the mid 150s he was far short of his goal of scoring a 163 on both the verbal and quant sections of his GRE, something of a requirement for a competitive application to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, or any other top MBA program Jason was targeting (for 2019 the HBS GRE median score was 163Q 163V).
To make matters worse, since his first GRE practice test he'd done a ton of studying and on his subsequent 5 official GRE's his score had gone down. That said, he did have a solid set of fundamental GRE skills. With a foundation in place, we planned to optimize his skills and to keep him working a notch above GRE for the majority of the preparation so there would be no surprises on test day and a clear path to GRE 163.
For verbal we piled on LSAT critical reasoning and reading comprehension while for quant we worked on GMAT questions. Here’s a guide on using LSAT to improve GMAT verbal. Some of the suggestions also apply to using LSAT for GRE.
GRE Quant = Critical Thinking not Memorization (for the most part)
Jason was set on a Harvard MBA and dedicated to earning an HBS GRE score. He proved early on that he was indeed well-equipped with the fundamental GRE knowledge and solid critical reasoning skills he needed as he blazed through many of the early quant sets. His commitment never wavered (see earning a Harvard GMAT Score for a much less disciplined preparation). As difficulty increased though he sometimes struggled. Often, Jason was looking for a cookie-cutter approach to every solution, a common mistake that can smother your progress.
The key: get Jason to approach GRE quant questions with a mind to solve for the answers rather than to know the answers. To let the inferences come from basic organizing rather than from thin air. Yes, certain GRE question types have a very specific setup (overlapping sets) but, for the most part, the GRE, like the GMAT, is about critical thinking.
On the verbal, Jason had good instincts, but needed help on confidence and strategy. Effective time management and a swagger derived from hours of practice and review on grueling LSAT RC/CR worked wonders. There aren’t many critical reasoning questions on the GRE, but, still, practicing challenging LSAT CR can help you improve your RC as well.
GRE 163 achieved on Quant and Verbal but not simultaneously
After weathering the storm of the double threat GMAT/LSAT work we switched over to Official GRE sets and practice tests. It was clear Jason had improved significantly on both sections and was, at least on individual sections, hitting Harvard GRE scores even surpassing his GRE 163 goal. Most of his practice test results were coming out weighted heavily toward either quant or verbal. Frustratingly, he didn’t have a single practice test on which he was in scoring 163+ on both sections.
Since he had proven himself on difficult LSAT verbal and GMAT quant, I suspected the issue was more one of confidence than of content. In sessions I kept reminding him that he knew his stuff!
Effort, quality, and a willingness to change = Harvard GRE score
Jason was willing to change from a somewhat rigid framework to a more fluid “critical thinking approach” supported by an organized set of principles letting the inferences come from an organized setup. He also put in a ton of effort rarely missing a HW assignment and always putting in thorough review consistently bringing in challenging questions to our sessions. Test day results aren’t guaranteed but Jason put himself in a very high percentage position to achieve his HBS GRE score.
On test day, Jason finally put it all together (tutor sigh of relief). He didn't hit the magic GRE 163 but sailed to a 164Q 164V score, equivalent to a 710 on the GMAT, and good enough for his Harvard MBA application.
Earning an HBS GRE Score FAQ
Is there any disadvantage to using a GRE for MBA programs?
As of 2014 some admissions people still preferred the GMAT over the GRE for MBA. However, since then the GRE has gained a lot of traction. It really depends on the score. If you're going to excel on the GRE, even though the GMAT is the king of MBA, you're probably better off using the GRE.
Keep in mind that using the GRE for MBA isn't a way to avoid studying. For most people an HBS level GRE score will still require a solid effort and is far from guaranteed. If you're trying to decide between the GMAT and GRE take a look out our massively in depth GMAT vs GRE for MBA comparison which covers pros and cons of taking one test over the other.
What are Harvard MBA GRE Scores?
HBS GRE median is 163q 163v.
Are there any Harvard MBA GRE Requirements?
There are no listed GRE score cut-offs for HBS admission. However, use the HBS GRE median, 163q 163v, as a guide.
What's a Harvard Business School GRE?
See above. For Harvard Business School you should be targeting GRE scores around 163q 163v.
What are HBS GRE scores?
In 2019 HBS accepted a range of GRE scores from 147-170 on Quant and 145-170 in Verbal. The HBS GRE median was 163q 163v.
Does Harvard accept GRE for MBA?
Yes, Harvard does accept the GRE for MBA. That said, only about 20% of HBS candidates are admitted with GRE scores.