Liberal Arts College Boasts Best GMAT Scores

Photograph Courtesy Swarthmore College

The school that produces the highest-scoring GMAT test-takers in the world is Swarthmore College, according to new research conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek.

As part of the 2012 Best Business Schools ranking, recent MBA graduates from 114 top business schools were asked both where they earned their undergraduate degrees and what they scored on the GMAT, the standardized test primarily used for admission to graduate business programs. The numbers were averaged to produce a score for each undergraduate institution. Schools with fewer than eight responses were eliminated from consideration. Data are for graduates only; unsuccessful applicants who took the GMAT were not included.

At the top is Swarthmore, where grads reported an average GMAT score of 742.5, out of a possible 800 (97th percentile), besting the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology and Harvard University by two points. Diane Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs at Swarthmore, isn’t surprised at the results. “Swarthmore is a very rigorous school and we have amazing students,” she says. “They can be challenging to teach sometimes because they ask wonderful questions and they don’t duck when you challenge them.”

They also test well. Apart from their prowess on the GMAT, students at Swarthmore score in the 96th percentile of all SAT test-takers, with a median score of about 2170, according to the school.

Located just outside Philadelphia, Swarthmore typically finishes in the top three of U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of liberal arts colleges. The school is extremely selective, with only about 15 percent of applicants gaining admittance each year and total enrollment of 1,545. Popular majors at Swarthmore include economics, biology, and political science. The school does not offer a business major.

In total, 1,250 schools were mentioned by the more than 10,000 2012 MBA grads who responded to the Bloomberg Businessweek survey. Of the schools mentioned, the University of Pennsylvania appeared most often with 119 mentions, followed by Brigham Young University with 112.

Schools That Produce the Best GMAT Test-Takers

1. Swarthmore College 742.50
2. Indian Institutes of Technology (India) 740.74
3. Harvard University 740.06
4. University of Toronto 737.50
5. University of Delhi (India) 736.25
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 735.68
7. Stanford University 734.33
8. National Institutes of Technology (India) 734.00
9. Fudan University (China) 733.91
10. University of Cambridge (U.K.) 733.75

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